Why Grumpy Loves Florida
As summer winds down and the days get shorter and colder, is it any wonder that Grumpy’s mind drifts to his other favourite Summer-in-Winter Spot; that of the sunshine of Central Florida. The Grumpy’s have been making a yearly trek there for over 25 years. We look at this place as a second home. Grumpy and the Good Wife plan to spend a lot more time there when she retires.
Here are just a few reasons why keep going back.
Cherry Pockets Steak and Seafood Shack
Grumpy thinks this restaurant is one of Florida’s best kept secrets.
You can find this place at the Cherry Pocket Fish Camp near Lake Wales on Lake Pierce. Getting there involves a trip on the back roads, around sink holes, and through some significant orange groves. The old place was originally described as a “Cracker House”. Grumpy surely is a Cracker when it comes to Florida. The decor here is that of an Old Florida “low place” but the food is exquisite and definitely Five Star.
I think the Hurricanes a few summers back helped as there have been a few upgrades like, indoor washrooms, and a paved driveway, to name a few. In the past you would have to walk up the famous hill to use the outdoor facilities.
The menu is very diverse and you can select from items such as these.
Gator Nuggets Crab any way you like it!
Cracker Platter for Two
Filet of Wetlands
Blackened Steak or, Shrimp
Key West Grouper (Basa) Platter
Raw or Steamed Oysters by the Bucket
And, folks, there is so much more.
Grumpy’s personal favourite is their Bayou Gumbo. (Seafood gumbo made with a dark roux, andoulli sausage and dirty rice) This pot sticker has the texture of porridge and the burn of a blow torch flame.
A few years back, four of us, Grumpy’s Cutting Horse cowboy brother-in-law – Big Steve; Willy Boy, Uncle Butch and yours truly, sat outside on that porch after dinner and drank 8 pitchers of beer. We listened to a Jimmy Buffett impersonator sing the night away as we told tall tales and slurred our words until we could hardly understand one another.
The Shoppers (The Good Wives) who had left to go shopping picked us up at midnight and poured us into the vehicles as if our bodies had become boneless and amoeba-like.
A good time was had by all.
Grumpy will never forget Uncle Butch saying, with tears in his eyes and a broad smile, “This is show great shhh-pending some qw-ality time with my nephooooows!”
Three years ago 30 of us invaded Cherry Pocket with the prime purpose of celebrating Grumpy’s 60th birthday. We played Buffett on the jukebox, including a great rendition of Fins. The Smurf and the Grump’s led the Fin waving as we all sang the chorus. The place was jumpin’, my friends. We Canadians know how to party when we’re warm.
The Chef, a Hawaiian gal with a great personality, was so enamoured with our crew, she came out several times to do brief stand-up routine. She also told Grumpy he didn’t look sixty.
What a funny gal!
Grumpy’s birthday cake was Key Lime cheese cake, served along with a Manhattan chaser.
“MMMMMM MMMMMM Good!”
Anyway, if you ever find yourself in Central Florida do look this place up. You will not be disappointed.
The Desert Inn at Yee Haw Junction
Many times Grumpy has taken Route 60 from Lake Wales to Vero Beach. On this particular visit the purpose was to pick up The Skim Boarder (Phenom) who had flown down a week early with a couple of his buds. These three sixteen year old Canucks planned to spend their days on the beach “impressing the ladies”. Hey, if they can do it in Port Dover on Lake Erie, they can do it on an Atlantic Beach in March.
At least, that was their thinking.
Willy Boy volunteered to tag along with Grumps; especially since this was the very same day The Shoppers were off on their Beall’s run. There was no sense hanging around the pool appearing as if we were a happy couple, right. We figured it would take about an hour and fifteen to get to our meeting place in Vero.
But, Grumpy also had other plans for us. So, we left really early.
There is this little restaurant/bar in Yee Haw Junction called the Desert Inn that had caught my eye on many Florida “to the beach” crossings. Grumpy had heard and been told that he should just stop in there and check out the atmosphere. When the ladies were with us it was always, “EEEEEEWWWWWW, we’re not going in there!”
So, given our window of opportunity, Willy Boy and the Grumps made the stop and, we’re surely glad we did.
Oh, there were a few Harleys parked out front, but the place wasn’t busy, and the atmosphere was right up Grumpy’s alley. The decor was retro 1960’s and the feel of the place had Grumpy thinking, “What a great location for a period movie shoot.”
This place had atmosphere written all over it, including two stuffed Jackalopes on the wall. (JACKALOPE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackalope) The U-shaped bar was dark wood and the rickety stools were, at the very least, comfort for our aching butts. Grumpy had been told that, at one time, chickens were allowed to run freely around the inside of the place. I guess at one time this establishment had dirt floors.
The place was run by some very nice Mexican people. We didn’t have a drink because we were driving but instead ordered a platter of chicken fingers to share and two Pepsi’s. Willy Boy and the Grumps half expected to see Guy Fieri there doing an episode of Diners, Drive Ins and Dives.
The chicken fingers were made from scratch and were piping hot and delicious. We could look out the windows and in any direction watch the traffic roll by. This establishment is at a busy Florida crossroad (State HWY. 441 and Route 60) and close to the Interstate.
While we were there a sales lady dropped in to talk to the proprietor and it sounded like there’d been a bike rally at the Desert Inn a week before. Some of the decor suggested that this is a popular place with the Harley crowd, not to mention the two burly dudes sitting in the corner. This is one place where Grumpy didn’t want Willy Boy and himself to look like a happy couple.
BTW – our daughters often have said that if their mothers passed away or took off and left us, Willy Boy and I would live together like Oscar Madison and Felix Unger -a la THE ODD COUPLE!
On the post card Grumpy picked up it said the Desert Inn features “Cracker Style Home Cooking”. The place was built in 1889 and was originally a watering hole for Florida cowboys. It is on the National Register of Historic Sites.
I think you’re starting to realize that our visits to Florida aren’t your typical Disney World big attraction adventures.
Baseball in March
Every time we visit Florida in March we try to take in a spring training game. We’ve been to Winter Haven, Lakeland and the Braves facility at Disney World, to name a few. This year we found ourselves in Kissimmee watching the Washington Nationals play Houston.
Here are a couple of observations.
It was St. Patrick’s Day so they had Land Shark green beer for sale. We bought Bud in aluminum cans feted with Shamrocks and Green labelling for seven bucks a pop. Green Beer it was, my friends.
Houston spanked the Nationals 11 to 2. It was 5-0 after the first. No matter, we saw a few dingers.
Tickets were two for $26 for under cover seats, two drinks and two hotdogs. We gave the drinks and hotdogs to The Skim Boarder, because Grumpy and Willy Boy were determined to drink massive amounts of beer.
We had a bit of a problem because the game ended at 3:30 pm. You see Grumpy had suggested to The Smurf that she keep her cell phone on so we could keep in touch. The trouble was that Grumpy’s phone is Pay-As-You-Go and doesn’t work Stateside.
The bigger problem was that the girl’s were SHOPPING at the Florida Mall in Orlando, where time stands still and all thoughts of missing loved ones are like leaves on the wind.
Grumpy can hear the conversation.
“Weren’t there more of us in the van when we left the Saddlebag, girls?”
“I don’t remember. Didn’t we leave the boys at the pool?”
“What boys? We have boys with us?”
“OMG there’s a huge sale at Hollister!”
“Let’s go girls!”!”
Grumpy tried everything to reach them, including a pay phone – but with no success. We sat on the curb for two hours watching the parking lot empty and a Sherriff’s Deputy doing donuts in his Patrol Car all over the grassy lawns surrounding the stadium. I guess you’ve got to practice skid control somewhere!
The Shoppers finally arrived to pick us up at 5:30 pm.
“Well, we thought the game must be over, so we came right over.”
Willy Boy just sighed when he saw all the bags and packages in the back seat. At least we had a two for one happy hour at Carrabba’s to look forward too. Lucky Grumpy, the waitress put in her bar order wrong and he ended up with 4 Manhattans.
Oh, well, as my dear departed father always said, “Who has more fun than people?”
“Stupid people, maybe?”
The Bottom Line
Grumpy does not lament the return of fall and the looming winter. His thoughts simply turn to his other “special place”. If he added up all the days he’s spent in Florida in his lifetime –about 50 trips – he’s looking at maybe two years of his life spent there. He is looking forward to extended stays there in the not too distant future.