Friday, July 8, 2011

Linger Lodge

I purchased a book earlier this year in anticipation of summer travels. It's called Meals Worth Stopping for in Florida, by The Gourmettes. You can get a little more info about the book and order it here(check out the reviews it got down at the bottom of the page!). It contains oodles of local restaurants within 10 miles of the 4 major interstates in the state: I-95, I-75, I-10, and I-4. I keep it in my car and have consulted it on the way down to and back from Granny's thus far.
S and I tried this place by ourselves last time we came back from Granny's. The description is what called us in... "Where Weird Rules" Linger Lodge Restaurant and Bar.
This sign located inside the restaurant, and the letters are made of snakes! How creative! : )
I had a close encounter with a resident black racer at the front door! Kinda ironic... : )

Located at 7205 Linger Lodge Road in Bradenton, you would NEVER find it unless you knew where it was!  It is in the middle of an RV park, that is in the middle of a neighorhood!  The directions given in the book are exact and still I was wondering...  But we made it just fine, and we were ready to eat!  
The inside of the establishment is COVERED(I do not use that term loosely here either!) in "taxidermic masterpieces"!  Now, Al Roker is the one who said it was one of the five wierdest restaurants in the US, but he's not a Florida native, so I'll cut him some slack.  It's not wierd, it is really cool
The bar-area display case
If you have lived in Florida for a while, I am sure you have come across Floridian taxidermy at some point.  If it's big or unusual, and we kill it, we want it mounted on our wall, preserved for all to see and to be passed down for generations to come!  All manner of animal, natural and not-so-natural, are diplayed in cases and ceilings and walls and tables(read: if it can be attached to it in any way, it is displayed there).   So if you are not accustomed to this type of thing, prepare to be amazed, or creeped out! 
Rattlers in the bar area

This is a not-so-natural taxidermy piece(sorry for the poor photo quality). 

Baseball squirrel
(We have really talented squirrels here in Florida! There is also one playing golf!)

View from the porch of the Braden River( through the screen-sorry).
There is inside, outside screened, with live band at times, and bar seating. 

An excerpt from the book:  "Also don't park in the space that says "Senators only."  That spot's reserved for Florida Senator Mike Bennett, who bought the place a few years ago on an emotional whim after having vacationed here as a boy.  Seems fitting somehow; the place is as wild and wierd as Florida politics."

I have to say that the food we had was not spectacular, it was ok.  S's hamburger, though good, was a "bubba burger".  I had loaded chips with pulled pork and cheese.  The pulled pork was good and the homemade potato chips were good, very crispy(think- kettle cooked).  In all fairness we just ordered bar food, not an entree or any specialty, so I can't judge on that.  We will be taking the kids to visit the taxidermy splendor and I will order something more entree-ish.  I like the close proximity to the Interstate, the fact that it is a local eatery(read: NOT Mcdonalds!), and it's cool!

Check out the book and the restaurant and go on your own adventure!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Appalachicola Nature Center

The Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve has a new home, and it is beautiful!  As of right now, it is still FREE!  However with Florida's budget woes, who knows for how long... 
I posted about the old place here last year.  We were looking forward to visiting the new place and checking out what was new.  Keep in mind they are closed on Sundays and Mondays. Their hours are 9am to 4:30pm Tuesday thru Saturday.   
The building is LEED certified at the silver level.  Some of the qualifying aspects of the LEED certification include, compact flourescent lights on motion sensors, design and construction of the facility with much of the property left undisturbed, pervious materials on parking areas, and rainwater capture system with storage cisterns underneath the building allowing the water to be collected for flushing toilets and irrigation.

This is the nature walk to the center, along this walk you will learn about pine flat woods, oak hammocks and marsh areas.  Nice and shady.  I love the sound of crushed gravel underneath me while walking in nature, don't you?
As you come to the visitor center, after you climb the steps, there is a local oyster boat built and donated by a local resident.  
As you enter the etched double doors, the first thing you notice is the mural stretching across the entire wall.  It tells the story, in picturesm, of the Apalachicola river traveling to the Gulf of Mexico. There are all sorts of critters depicted in this mural, and they are all labeled for your education.
The aquariums that were previously housed in a separate building are now new and incorporated into the general area in the new building.  They are very nice, and allow you to see underwater alongside the habitats.  The diversity in the old building is lacking in the new facility, however the presentation of what is there is very nice and we liked it better.  
Sweetie Pie making faces at the Alligator Gar that guards the front door.  No kidding, he sits right there and watches the front door! 
The Rocket making faces at me through one of the aquatic displays(That is a white terrapin.). 
A peek at the Gulf and Barrier island part of the mural.  There are mounted pelicans "flying" over head just like they do down the coast over Highway 98.  The sounds associated with the different areas of nature represented in the mural are playing in the backgound. 
The education room, is MUCH better than before!  We definitely enjoyed this room the most!  Here is The Rocket playing the matching game, matching up adult sea creatures with the "just hatched" babies.  It's harder than you think... 
Microscope area with slides, for your viewing pleasure. 
All of their preserved specimins, shell collection and bones are out on display for you to touch and examine!  The collection is vast and showcased in the way they should be!  Stadium seating is here in this room for educational presentations for kids.  My kids used it as a stage instead...complete with "spotlight"!  
Did you know that a dolphin's teeth are made of ivory? 
Whale bones and baleen display.
Overall we are pleased with the new facility, however, what's missing is the bird watching area.  I do hope they will eventually incorporate this area again.  There is also an auditorium with a short movie playing daily, but sometimes there are people giving presentations or special movies playing.  They have monthly meetings and programs for the public to enjoy and get educated about their unique setting in Florida.
If you are ever in the Apalachicola area, please stop by and check out this wonderful nature center!
The website for more information about the estuarine reserve is here