Sunday, August 26, 2007

Gator Country! -- posted by James

James Hamilton Allen here, reporting for blog duty, sir.

Last week Sarah Grace, John, and I went with Dad on a business trip to Jacksonville. Here's a picture of the sunset on the way.

We arrived in Jacksonville late Wednesday night. The next morning we had breakfast at The Courtyard where we stayed. Dad went to work and we studied while he was gone. When he returned, we went to Cracker Barrel across the street for dinner. We went back to the room and studied a little before we went swimming. Dad worked in the room while we were in the pool and we came back in just before he left for another meeting. While he was gone, we studied some more.

Once Dad got back from his meeting, he took John, me, and our boogie boards to the beach. I caught a 9ft wave that dragged me up on the shore. It felt like I was skidding on sandpaper! Dad and I went out way over our heads and it took me a while to get back to shore. We rode waves and collected shells and rocks before we had to get back to the hotel to clean up for supper at Beach Road Chicken Dinners.

Beach Road Chicken Dinners is a restaurant on the way to the beach that Dad used to go to with his grandparents when he was a little boy. We hear about it every time he goes to Jacksonville because he tries to fit it in his trip. It is a very homey place for Dad and we were glad to finally go. He was very proud to take us there.

As far as food goes, the chicken was better than most. A lot of "southern fried" chicken restaurants are way too greasy and not like the South we know. For example, Kentucky Fried Chicken is much too greasy and we never eat there. The best fried chicken is Cain's in Florence or Shealy's in Batesburg-Leesville if it is not homemade.

The coleslaw at Beach Road was slightly sweet, not too much mayonaisse and you could taste the cabbage- just how I like it. All in all, it was pretty good food. We took some home on ice. I think the best part of Beach Road Chicken Dinners is Dad's memories.

After supper, Dad gave us a tour of Jacksonville at night. We saw a building where an artist painted the windows to look like a huge jaguar was filling the inside. We saw the stadium and we went over a bridge that was lined in violet lights. Beautiful.

The next morning we ate breakfast again at The Courtyard, went back to the room, and studied and napped. I won't say who studied and who napped. Then we went to the pool and swam until Dad got back from his meeting. Then we packed, checked out, and headed to Fernandina Beach, Dad's hometown. We grabbed burgers on the way except for Sarah who got a lousy salad. It was so lousy, we got her a sandwich too.

Sarah makes salads with spinach or green leaf lettuce, black olives, cucumber, tomatoes, colorful peppers, pineapple or mandarin oranges, and sometimes carrots, avocado, and Vidalia onions. And she makes homemade salad dressings that are delicious! Sarah's salads pawn Wendy's! Sarah beat Wendy! Go Sarah!

Anyway, Dad was excited to show us Fernandina Beach and we were excited to see it since we've heard so much about his best friend Timmy Crumpler and Egan's Creek.

First, we went to Centre Street which is downtown. Then we saw Dad's 2nd house and Timmy's 2nd house.

Timmy's -

Dad's -

That is also where we saw Egan's Creek, which is where Dad and Timmy used to play.

Next, we went by Dad's 1st house and Timmy's 1st house.

Timmy's -

Dad's -

We saw the recreation center where Dad split his head open doing a back flip off the diving board. We saw Dad's Lutheran church when he was a Lutheran and he showed us where he used to swim at the beach. We also went by The Palace Saloon which is the oldest saloon in Florida.

Before we left for home we got ice cream (mine was chocolate fudge) and we walked around the marina.

We all had a really fun trip and it was great being in Gator country!

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