A Different Kind of Motorcycle Place….

Okay, not travel-related precisely, but I do think I have a few motorcycle followers who might travel this direction. Here’s the deal and it’s seriously cool. K&G Cycles opened a few months ago in Florida City. (http://www.kandgcycles.com) It’s more than 3,000 square feet of space selling all sorts of parts and accessories and a state-of-the-art service center. The motorcycles there are a mix of vintage and other, but “Dr. G” doesn’t actually sell motorcycles.

You can read the entire history on his website, but loving motorcycles led him into a fascination with vintage motorcycle restoration. More than merely tinkering, however, he’s won multiple national awards. His enjoyment wasn’t limited to vintage machines though and in 2006, he established K and G Cycles as a customer-friendly on-line business. He carefully selected the right kind of people for his staff and spent more than a year in creating the website to be as responsive as he envisioned. From that initial beginning, he  expanded their motorcycle parts and accessories offerings to more than 500,000 items and represents products from over 700 manufacturers as well as all major motorcycle parts and accessories wholesalers.

There were a lot of calls asking if he was going to have a full-service store in addition to the website. Although his staff had also posed the question, making the leap from on-line to a store was not a decision to be taken lightly. Two major elements came into play. As any realtor will tell you, “location, location, location” is key. The “where” was an ideal piece of property in Florida City. One of the representatives of a major supplier added this to the mix. “If you open a store, you know you’ll be the only one between Cutler Ridge and Key West.”

“Dr. G” knew if he was going to step onto this path, it would be with the people he trusted. He gathered them for a discussion and to ask for their input about the store’s design and function. He developed the drawing, turned to a builder he had used for other projects, and by Spring 2017, K and G Cycles Motorcycle Service Supercenter opened their doors to eager customers. Service, retail, and the impressive on-line offerings enable him to confidently say, “If you can’t get it from K and G Cycles, it’s probably going to be really hard to find.”

And, as icing on the cake,  if you read the post a few weeks ago, Joe’s Famous Burgers food truck us set up in the parking lot. Okay, maybe the middle of summer isn’t when you want to eat outside. You can do take-out though.

Swimming Lessons…..

When the kids were here last December, our granddaughter was 18 months old. She was immediately attracted to the pool, although was also willing to respect an invisible border we set for her. Not that I think she would have left to her own devices, but of course she was never unattended around it. We were able to get in the pool her first two full days here and the few times her face got in the water, she shook it off and wanted to play more. The temperature dropped too much though and their last couple of days she reluctantly accepted our exaggerated display of, “Brrr, shiver, shiver” as reason not to go in.

I’ve asked the kids to see if they can find someone to teach her to swim this summer because I’m certain this coming December will be entirely different. She is almost up to reasoned sentences and will no doubt employ every bit of two-and-a-half year old logic to explain why she ought to go in the water no matter the temperature. If we’re lucky, we’ll have plenty of warm sunshine and it won’t be an issue. If not, the simple fact is the water won’t be so cold as to worry about hypothermia, but might be uncomfortable for an adult. If she can swim, I’ll be fine watching out for her in case of a problem. If they haven’t been able to get her lessons, I suppose a wet suit might be in order and I’ll keep moving while we’re in. They make toddler size tops and if some sort of flotation device is needed, that will adequately layer her. I don’t want to get her anything too early though since children do tend to change sizes pretty rapidly with those growth spurts.

I always encourage parents to have their children taught to swim as early as possible. Even if you don’t live near the water or have regular access to a pool, it’s still important because you never know when a situation might come up to be around water.

Some Local History…..

Historic Homestead Town Hall Museum (Opened 1917)

The week has been extra busy as one of the boards I am involved with is the Historic Homestead Town Hall Museum. We put together a small reception for our Centennial yesterday and it also marked the retirement of the founder and director who recently celebrated her 97th birthday. (There is some question as to the precise number, but that’s close if not exact). She actually came here in the closing years of WW II and later married into one of the town’s pioneering families. She always worked which was a bit unusual in the 1940s and 1950s. She owned a couple of different businesses and thus became involved in local politics. As the first female Vice-Mayor, she had an impact in several areas. She was well-known around town and the surrounding communities. The Town Hall, which was the first municipal building opened after the town incorporated, was originally the Town Hall, Fire Station and Police Station. In the way these things happen, as the town grew and eventually built a new Fire Station, Police Station and Town Hall, there were  people who held no sentimental value for the original building. With a 5-2 vote to tear it down and create more parking, this lady stood firm at her approximate five feet tall and rallied like-minded citizens.

I can only imagine what some of the discussions must have been and yet, those who wanted to preserve the local history prevailed. The building was saved and then the effort was launched to turn the ground floor into a museum. Who better then to be the Director?  As I think I have mentioned in previous posts, this area has a young history because climate and topography prevented development until the late 1880s. In one sense though, that also means if the history can be preserved, there is a good chance it can be an uninterrupted history. Our museum has limited resources and only the single paid employee which means the volunteers do quite a few tasks. We’re entering a new era and will have to see how things unfold.

Rolling Hills and Red Barns…..

Aside from the delightful evening I spent with the members of the Darting Needles Quilting Guild and seeing my old friend for the first time in more than ten years, my trip to Wisconsin gave me the chance to visit a part of the country I had not previously been to. There were indeed lots of rolling hills, very green grass and trees, lovely wild flowers and plenty of barns and silos. Cows, of course and I passed multiple billboards showing various cheese stores. They must also have a huge deer population because there was a surprising number of dead deer along the roadways. I did go zipping past Wisconsin Dells, “The Water Park Capital of the World,” but didn’t have time to stop. It certainly looked like it would be a fun place.

The little town where my friend lives is very much a “Small Town, U.S.A” with only a couple of streets for the downtown, a park at the end, and the post office, City Hall, and senior center all clustered close together. The hospital is fairly new and in addition to robust medical services for a place the size it is, there was a very large fitness center. We did not go inside, but it looked to be well equipped and there was an indoor swimming pool. All of this makes good sense in a place with difficult winters.

A regional fast-food chain was Culvers, but it is a family-based business that emphasizes fresh ingredients and their specialty is frozen custard. It is apparently made fresh on the premises. They do have a small freezer stocked with to-go containers. It’s one of the kind of places where you order at the counter and they bring your food to the table. The staff was quite friendly and I could see why it was a favorite.

Day 3 into Day 4…..

Poignant thoughts alert. Although my time with the quilting guild was absolutely delightful, there was no way they could cover my expenses for this is trip. I came because it was truly fortuitous. Of all the places I could have been invited to speak, what are the odds there would be a group within a five-hour drive of my friend whom  I had not seen since 2003? If one chooses to not believe in such things, that’s fine.

My drive over yesterday was pretty much without incidence, other than the fact they failed to replace a directional sign I needed after doing some roadwork last year. As I was going along and felt perhaps I had missed a turn somewhere, I stopped for a bathroom/beverage break and being female had no problem asking if I had in fact missed a turn. The young lady immediately said, “Oh yes, everyone does that,” and explained the problem. I was only about ten miles off’ so that wasn’t too bad. I arrived within fifteen minutes of my original plan which from my perspective put me on target.

My friend and I passed a pleasant afternoon catching up and reminiscing. We had dinner that night with her daughter who is only a year younger than me and lost her husband unexpectedly Thanksgiving morning. The irony here is I met my friend years ago after she lost her husbandly unexpectedly at the too-young age of forty-five. However, since I lost my first husband unexpectedly at twenty-seven, I was able to help her sort through the intense emotions. And so, last night we were both able to sit there and offer support to her grieving daughter. Such is the power of female friendship.

Day 2 into Day 3 of Trip….

What a charming town Appleton is and what a vibrant quilting community. The presentation tonight was in the First Methodist Church and the lady who’s been coordinating the visit invited me to early dinner at one of the local favorites. Pullman’s is on the river and you go past the old Woolen Mills that have been converted to commercial and residential space. I always love to see that.

I had a number of things I had to deal with while I still have internet connectivity, but went out to scout the area (old Army training) in between. The downtown seems to be thriving (Lawrence College is here) with a couple of museums, a performing arts center, several restaurants, pubs and a beer factory I regrettably won’t have time to try.

Dinner turned out to be with several of the ladies from the quilting guild. Pullmans was a large place with an excellent menu and great ambience. They did do an order of fried cheese curds for the table which were delicious as was the walleye I had. The salads looked lovely, too.

There were I guess around 70 people at the meeting and they had me present, then do their break, then go on into the business meeting and show and tell. If I hadn’t been up since really early, I probably would have stayed because they had some very nice quilts and quilt items to talk about.

As soon as I post this, I’ll pack up and head to Baldwin to visit with my friend until tomorrow afternoon. It’s a bit of a drive, but the point is I will also see more of the state and that is one of my objectives.

 

 

Day 1 of Trip…..

Well, I have had better travel days and much worse. It is in fact the rainy season in South Florida. Therefore, we shouldn’t be overly surprised to have rain. The system did sweep in from the Gulf, but that’s not unusual either. So, when my first flight was already delayed and I noticed about ten minutes before we were to start boarding that we didn’t have a plane yet, I concluded we would be even later. My comfortable margin for changing planes rapidly diminished. Despite the almost 1.5 hours late in departing for the first time that I can recall, I arrived at and departed from the same terminal in Atlanta. Not that the gates were close together, but I was on board on time. The first flight was so turbulent, they couldn’t do cabin service although they did manage to get us a room temperature glass of water not quite 30 minutes before landing. There were lots of apologies even though there really wasn’t anything they could do to affect the situation. Oh, they also offered cookies or pretzels as we left the plane.

Anyway, my suitcase did also make the next flight. In landing during afternoon rush hour in a place I have never been before, it was nice to have sunny weather as I navigated through lots of construction. In all fairness, it’s not as if you can do construction year-round in Wisconsin. I did have good directions and I did By Gosh pass through Oshkosh on my way to Appleton. By coincidence, I also had dinner at Applebees which was next to the motel. Seemed appropriate. I am truly tired and will go explore a bit tomorrow.

A New DC Dining Experience……

In general if the wait to get a table at a restaurant is an hour, we don’t bother. However, it was a Friday night in DC and we were intrigued by the menu and look of Farmers and Distillers, a place we were not familiar with. (http://farmersanddistillers.com/about) We put our name on the list and decided to go to the bar. It was pretty crowded, too, and perhaps in an omen, a couple left as we walked up. More kindly, a trio gave up one seat so we could be together. I will begin with the bar which was quite large and designed as two-sided. Three bartenders serving the front where the stools were and two taking service orders for the back, plus a dishwasher, all of whom were quite busy, gives you an idea of the size of the place. The front bartenders also had flair with competition-level movements, friendly smiles, and not rushing us as we took in the wide variety.  You can read the entire background at their website, but the concept adds a twist to the “farm to table” and sustainable sourcing trends. The distilling aspect includes whiskey, vodka, gin, pisco (South American sugarcane-based liquor similar to rum) and of course craft beers. Even the ice was unusual. I know that sounds odd, yet true. Rather than standard cubes, there were ice chunks and therefore did not melt as quickly as most cubes do.

Okay, onto the food where the choices were almost as difficult. Since we’d done burgers for lunch, we were leaning toward seafood although the description of the lamb and pork chops was tempting. The oven roasted shrimp with crab called to me and as soon as Hubby saw cioppino, that settled it. We shared a lovely salad and the round loaf of fresh bread was excellent. Price-wise, it was not out of line with DC restaurants, although being a moderate-priced restaurant is a relative term.

Anyone who is familiar with service in our area is aware that good service is the exception rather than the rule. It varies from erratic to terrible and that includes a number of high-end places. It is a topic of discussion among most diners and newcomers are often startled. Many of us think it might be due to the large number of tourists who tend to not be regulars, but that really is the subject for a future post. Service at Farmers and Distillers was as good as everything else. The manager stopped by our table and we passed on all our compliments. If you find a Farmers and Distillers anywhere you are traveling, we highly recommend it.

Whirlwind Trip….

The annual trip to D.C. to see son’s performance with Bowen McCauley Dance (http://www.bmdc.org) was shorter than usual,but it’s the way the timing worked out. We crammed everything in and even though Mother Nature could have been nicer, the rain did go away for after the show and wasn’t too awful prior to that. Hubby didn’t get to spend the day taking great photos. He did, however, make it to the Spy Museum and into the National Portrait Gallery and enjoyed them both.

I was able to catch up with old friends and the performance was terrific. Amelia was as good as one can possibly expect a two-year old to be during an hour-and-a-half event with an intermission. She has been going to performances since she was tiny and she understands to watch, listen, and use an “inside voice” or whisper for the little bit she wanted to say – mostly “Daddy dancing”.

It was at the Landsburgh Theater this year instead of the Terrace Theater so we learned a new section of D.C. Traffic was of course as bad as always. We found some new restaurants as well, one of which I’ll blog about tomorrow. We dined before the show at Carmines which is also where the Gala after was held. I have no idea how many people the place can actually sit, but it is huge and has multiple rooms. Meals are served family style and the servers help guide you through the menu depending on the size of your party. A couple could dine alone as long as they have the ability to take leftovers.

We had early lunch with the kids at the airport and since Amelia loves to walk around, I let Hubby and the kids have coffee while Amelia and I got a little exercise. She enjoys climbing steps and then the escalator caught her eye. That was a little trickier, yet manageable. Anytime someone was behind us, I checked to see if they needed to pass. Flights were pretty good both ways so no complaints there.

Tweaked Menu, Right on Target…..

Grand Opening of Pub 935 at Capri in Florida City

Pub 935 opened a couple of months ago to quite a stir as something innovative in Florida City/Homestead. I’ve posted here, on Facebook, and Tweeted about it. As happens, there was a fairly quick reshuffling of staff, then talk of a revised menu. I wasn’t overly concerned although I was interested to see what was going to happen. I got the answer yesterday afternoon and am happy to report it is just as good, if not perhaps better. Hubby won’t have a chance to go for a few days, but I will get him there before too long.

Shrimp and grits and the wonderful skirt steak are still choices as are some of our other favorites like the great flatbread. Lasagna and Italian Nachos have been added. Not that I am a Little Neck Clam person, but for those who are, that inclusion met with full approval. The clams are done with andouille (or maybe it was chorizo) sausage, fresh tomatoes and some lovely herbs. There is also an option for a whole or half muffuleta sandwich. As the two of us familiar with the popular New Orleans fare explained, half is quite large. I am no more a fan of those than clams, however, the individual who ordered it was quite happy, took our advice of the half and took half of that home.

We do have another chain restaurant opening nearby soon, a Texas Roadhouse Grill, and while I enjoy those and wish them well, the family-owned Pub 935 is a big plus to local dining. It is in what was formerly called the King Richard Room of Capri Restaurant at yes, 935 Krome Ave, Florida City. (Many people refer to it as in Homestead)