Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Savannah’s in Wakulla Springs for Breakfast

Sometimes I can be too exclusive, literally, for my own good. The first time I saw this place, I said to myself “no no no no no.” The sign says it all. Not my kind of place. Full of things that are bad for me. Bad! Bad! Bad!

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And yet, when The Black Bean was not open, and we were on our way to St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge, one of the coolest places on earth, we needed breakfast. I needed coffee. You need a little fuel to run the engines, you know? So, sighing, we pull into Savannah’s.

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As soon as we walk in, I realize I might have made a big mistake, meaning, if we hadn’t come here, we never would have known how cool this place is. Sometimes snobbery can get in the way of having a good time, you know?

It’s exactly the kind of small town breakfast place – and restaurant – that I grew up with in Alaska, and my husband grew up with in his small southern town. The furniture is all locally made. The place is full of town folk, local people who all know one another, and a few birders on their way to St. Marks. There is a large menu of choices; yes, I don’t see any healthy choices, and at some point, it just becomes irrelevant. This is a great experience.

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AdventureMan orders the Biscuits and Gravy, a sort of quintessential Southern breakfast dish and I order a biscuit breakfast sandwich. It takes a long time – they are baking fresh biscuits. 🙂 The coffee is good, not fancy, but well brewed and fresh.

When the breakfast comes, it is delicious. The biscuits are crumbly and flakey. The sausage is tasty. Yep, Pork Fat is Where it’s At.

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Savannah’s Breakfast Buffet gives you an astonishing breakfast at very reasonable cost, great service. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming, and you can learn a lot about the community by listening to the local discussions. Here’s how you find Savannah’s:

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December 30, 2012 Posted by | Community, Cooking, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, Florida, Food, Health Issues, Local Lore, Photos, Restaurant, Road Trips | , | 2 Comments

Wakulla Springs Boat Trip

At Wakulla Springs, everything is separate. Like the entrance fee goes to the State. The Wakulla Lodge is run by some corporation with a state contract, I am guessing, and the Wakulla Boat Rides are another separately run concession. If you are staying at the Lodge, or booked for the lunch buffet at the Lodge, you get into the Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park for free, instead of paying the $6/vehicle entrance fee.

The boat trip is half the fun. On hot days in the park, you can swim right in the same spring as the manatees, but on chilly winter days – take the boat trip. We took the boat trip twice, it is so much fun, and because we love the late afternoon light. I will share my photos of some of what we saw on the hour long trip below; warning you that trying to get a shot of an underwater manatee is not such an easy thing to do. You may have to use a little imagination to see the manatee 🙂 but I swear, it is there.

These are leathery buzzards, wintering in Wakulla Springs:
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Great Blue Heron:
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Little ducks called Koots:
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Sunning Gator:
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Close up of Gator skin:
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Close up Gator head – he was so cold he didn’t even care about the boat being near, he just wanted to soak up as much sun as he could before it set:
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Wakulla Springs Cypress:
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The Wakulla Springs Lodge from the Springs:
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Old fashioned swimming platform:
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Buzzards roosting:
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Turtle soaking up some sun:
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Anhinga drying out his wings:
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Merganzer Duck – don’t you love his helmeted head?
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OK, there it is, the Manatee, otherwise known as a sea cow, a siren, and a sea slug – about the size of a small whale or a very large shark:

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December 29, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Birds, Education, Entertainment, Environment, ExPat Life, Geography / Maps, Hotels, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Road Trips, Travel, Wildlife | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Black Bean in Wakulla Springs and Tallahassee, FL

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So we’ve arrived in Wakulla, to be received rudely at the hotel, turned away until the 3:00 pm check-in, the restaurant closed as we were trying to check in, and there is a part of every human being that wonders if this is going to be the story of our trip.

And then, to save the day, we find The Black Bean.

We drove to the nearby crossroads, where I saw a sign to a restaurant to which we did not go, but we turned left, up 363 and saw an all-day breakfast buffet place with a sign saying “Pork Fat is Where It’s At” (no, no, it’s true, how could I make that up?) and I am praying “Please Lord, find us someplace else, please Lord” and we keep going. AdventureMan says “should I turn around?” and I see a sign just a little up and say “let’s go up there and turn around if it’s nothing.”

As we get closer, we see a big sign for Jerry’s Bait Shop and my heart sinks. But as we turn in to turn around, we see the sign for The Black Bean Cuban Food, and my prayer is answered. Yes!

As it turns out, this is not the REAL Black Bean, which is in Tallahassee, but this is the Black Bean Express, their outpost, for people on the run, going down to St. Marks to go birding, heading out in their boats, etc. The menu is almost the same, just a few things less.

We both ordered the same thing, which we never do, but the Habanero Pork BBQ just sounded so good, and oh, man, it was. It was SO good. We didn’t know how much sandwich there was going to be, we could have shared one, but no, we didn’t know, and we ordered the fabulous black bean soup, too, and we couldn’t eat it all.

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This is one of the owners, who fixed these fabulous sandwiches. He told us about their breakfasts, so we decided to come back the next day, but when we came back the next day, they were not open and we saw on the sign that the breakfast is only Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Black Bean Express.

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We went back around lunch and had their grilled chicken wrap, which – smarter now – we split, and we also split a red beans. You can read more about them HERE. We met the other owner (the are married to one another) and as we ate, we decided that rather than enjoy another perfectly uninteresting dinner at the Lodge, we would bet another sandwich, and split it for dinner along with some trail mix and water we already had with us.

The Black Bean saved the day. The food was so good; we even stopped for breakfast on our way out toward Tallahassee, having the biscuit sandwiches. I never knew Cuban food could be SO good, so tasty. It was fast, convenient, close to the Lodge, and very tasty. Let’s see, pay a lot more money for uninspired food at Wakulla Lodge, or pick up something at The Black Bean . . . . ? I don’t have to give it two seconds thought! Life is too short! It’s a Wakulla Red R! (Michelin Red R’s are given for good local foods at reasonable prices)

In the adjoining bait shop; a huge box full of live crickets, eeeeeeek!

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And a guard dog, Zorah:
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Here is how to get to The Black Bean Express, in Wakulla Springs. There is another, larger Black Bean in Tallahassee:

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December 29, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Community, Cooking, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Food, Geography / Maps, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment