Real Kentucky Fried Chicken!

After a wonderful week in Florida enjoying a visit with an old buddy and near perfect weather, I made a 15 hour (almost non-stop) drive back to Kentucky with Lil-Bertha in order to prepare for my next adventure…. a Truck Camper trip South and West of Kentucky…. more details in the next few days…. but a little hint…California here I come?
I am currently living (homesteading….) in Central Kentucky only about 50 miles from the birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken in Corbin, Kentucky.  In 1930, the then 40 year old Colonel Harland Sanders was operating a service station and started cooking for hungry travelers who stopped for gas.  More than 80 years later, KFC is one of the largest restaurant chains in the world!  The original service station location in Corbin is now a museum and cafe.  This post really isn’t about KFC but rather real Kentucky Fried Chicken.  I’m talking about home-fried-Kentucky-Chicken.  My friend Ernie, a 64 year old black American claims he can “cook circles around Colonel Sanders…”  Having eaten his fried chicken 1/2 a dozen times before, I must agree with him!  He truly has mastered the art of frying chicken.  Today, Ernie gave me a quick class on how to fry chicken, Kentucky style…. What got me thinking about fried chicken was the scene in the movie “The Help.”  The chicken looked so tasty, I “suggested” that Ernie demonstrate PPP Techniques (Proper Poulet Preparation Techniques).  Lucky for me Ernie agreed and below are a few pictures of the results….. too bad the pictures are not scratch and sniff…..

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Breakfast With Alligators…

Early this morning I set out from Sarasota to the Myakka River State Park for a kayak trip.  The Myakka River flows through the park which consists of 57 square miles of wetlands, prairies and woodlands.  The entry fee was only 4 dollars.  To launch a boat there is no fee.  Upon entering the park, the ranger gave me a map and a small piece of paper with a warning notice.  I thought it would be an alligator warning, but to my surprise, the warning was for the dreaded black vulture?  I guess the black vulture has been eating the rubber off of cars?  They seem to enjoy tasty windshield wipers and the rubber molding that holds windshields in place?  Can you imagine going for a hike or a paddle and returning to your vehicle to find your windshield wipers missing?  I have never heard of that, I guess you learn something everyday!  I survived the morning visit with wipers intact!  Shelia and I launched from the Myakka Outpost ramp and immediately saw a 10 ft long alligator.  I got within about 15 ft of him and took some pictures, then he submerged… I was fine when I could see him, it was when he disappeared that I got a little spooked…. I mean, Shelia is an “inflatable” kayak and alligators do have teeth!  Luckily for me I don’t look like alligator food and was able to paddle for 3 hours without incident!  Along the way, I saw many interesting looking birds and a pair of alligators!  Beautiful day paddling away!

Above, a 10 ft alligator welcomes kayakers to the North Myakka Lake.
Below, a conspicuously placed sign warns boaters not to “bother” the alligators. ok no problem I can follow that sign!

Above, the South East shoreline of the Myakka Lake North.
Below, one of the many cranes fishing for breakfast.

Above and Below, a handsome crane lets me get within 20 ft of him before flying off…. one of the advantages of a kayak is that you can slowly and quietly sneak-up on wildlife!

Above, the dreaded “Black Vultures” take a break from eating windshield wipers.
Below, another shot of the beautiful shoreline of Lake Myakka.

Above, a wide variety of waterfowl dot the shoreline of Lake Myakka.
Below, the large “tour air-boat” waits for tourists.

Above, my alligator friend greets me after my paddle around the lake!
   

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The Little Manatee River and a Greasy Taco Shop…

Today I went for a paddle on the “Little Manatee River” near Sarasota, Florida.  I parked my truck at the “Canoe Outpost” located just South West of the junction of the Little Manatee River and HW 301.  The “Canoe Outpost” is a full service Canoe and Kayak business.  They rent all sorts of boats and offer pick-up services down river to get you back to your vehicle.  There is also a campground with showers and bathrooms if you want to overnight on the river.  Mike and Brian, two “Canoe Outpost” employees I met were very helpful.  Thanks guys!  Since I have my own kayak, I only needed a ride from the end of my paddle back to my truck, $20.00 was the cost, fair enough!  Unfortunately I didn’t see any Manatees, but it was still a beautiful way to spend the day!  The 5 mile paddle took just under 2 hours .  The river depth is a bit low now, normal for Winter months,  resulted in the need to drag my Kayak over 1/2 a dozen sandbars.  The tranquility of a lazy river was only temporarily disturbed by the buzz of 3 air-boats taking beer drinking tourists down river.  After a nice paddle what’s a guy to do…?  Eat Mexican Food!  I like greasy-spoon type restaurants and “Julia’s Tacos” certainly answers the mail.  I was the only “Gringo” in the place but it was full and that usually means the food is good, which it was!  Time to clean and re-pack my boat….. so many rivers……    

Above and below, the lazy “Little Manatee River.”

 

Above, Shelia (my kayak’s name) takes a break from a lazy day floating down the river.
Below, the air-boats jet by on their way down river, man are those things LOUD!

Above, even though I didn’t see any manatees this time, the sign above proves that they are in the river!
Below,  “The Canoe Outpost” bus.  If you want to use their services, the info in the below picture will help you contact them!

Below, “The Canoe Outpost” office, complete with everything you need to spend a great day on the “Little Manatee River.”

Above, my tasty lunch of chicken tostadas at “Julia’s Tacos.”
Below,  “Julia’s Tacos” located on HW 674 about 3 miles East of the junction of HW 301.

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An Afternoon at the Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida, 2012.

Yesterday I spent the entire day on the ocean, the day before yesterday I spent the entire day helping my buddy fix his boat so we could spend yesterday on the ocean, so… today I decided to take in some culture.  I don’t know what it is about me and art museums, but they make me feel good!  I know that’s an over simplification but there has always been something I really love about art museums.  As a young boy I always loved my class trips to the Cleveland Art Museum.  I guess I love a feast for the eyes, whether it’s a snow covered mountain range, a crystal clear stream, a european gothic church or a beautiful painting… I just love to look!  Looking at artwork, be it manmade or nature, provides an escape from the worries and troubles that we all experience.  Today I feasted my eyes upon the incredible works of art at the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida.  Yes, you guessed it…. the same name of circus fame, the Ringling Brother’s Family!  What an incredible place!  At first is almost seems like a contrast in the making.  A Museum of Circus History and wonderful works of art from all over the world in one place but then again, the circus is preforming art.  Today, the 20 acres of waterfront property purchased in 1911 by John Ringling and his wife Mable include an art museum, the Ca’d Zan Mansion, a circus museum, grounds and gardens and the historic Asolo Theater.  The courtyard of the Art Museum is truly incredible, beautifully landscaped and filled with numerous bronze statues.  I spent about 4 hours wandering the various museums and grounds, not really enough time to see everything but good for a first visit!

Above, whenever I think of the circus, I always think of the lion tamer!
Below, the human cannonball truck, what kid doesn’t want to do that?

Below, a bronze statue sits in front of a banyan tree on the grounds of the Ringling Museum of Art.

Above and Below, side and back views of the Ca’d’zan (House of John) next to the ocean.  It’s amazing what a sizable fortune John Ringling amassed by selling 10 cent tickets to see lion tamers and bearded women!

The 6 pictures below are from the courtyard of the Art Museum.  Non-flash photography is allowed inside of the permanent works of art but with all the people and limited space to take pictures, I couldn’t really have done the art justice so I stuck to taking pictures outdoors!

Below, a small crane posed on a bridge handrail long enough for me to snap his picture while exiting the museum!

  

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Fishing Near Siesta Key.

Today I spent the entire day in the Gulf of Mexico on a small fishing boat.  My buddy Steve is an avid fisherman and has a small 17 foot skiff.  We launched his boat in North Bradenton and went South to just below Siesta Key.  The day was perfect for a boat ride, sunny and in the mid-60s with almost no waves.  Not many fish were biting but we still managed to catch a few Snook and Redfish.  Along the way we saw numerous pods of porpoises, osprey, and manta-rays.  All in all a great day on the bay!

    
Above, my buddy Capt Steve on his fishing boat.

Below, the Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida as seen from the Bay.

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Welcome To Florida 2012.

I crossed the Florida State line this morning at about 9:00 AM and stopped at the Florida Welcome Center just South of Valdosta, Georgia.  The weather is nice and warm with light clouds!  I haven’t driven through Georgia in over a decade and saw the countless signs advertising peaches, pecans, boiled peanuts and to my surprise “Asian Spas”?  I don’t remember seeing so many “Spas” years ago?  Since I am now in the Bible Belt, I am sure the “Spas” are purely “Therapeutic.”  Most of the billboards have interesting names like “Osaka Massage”… “Paradise Massage” etc…  complete with a picture of a beautiful “Asian Lady.”  I am glad to see Georgians are becoming so health conscious with the addition of these “Heath Spas” maybe I should visit one…. no forget it….. I’d rather go fishing!
Boy I LOVE AMERICA, you could eat a bag of boiled peanuts while getting a foot rub!!! 

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Thanks Paul and Tanya.

For the last 3 months my brother Paul, his wife Tanya and two children, Dan and Jordan were kind enough to open their home to me.  I lived in their well outfitted basement since my return from Greece in mid-October.  Thanks guys for being such wonderful hosts!  My visit was a great opportunity to spend some time with the family, get some dental work done and some over-due medical check-ups.  The medical and dental visits all checked out A-OK.  It had been a while since I had seen a Doctor, having spent a year in Africa between 2010 – 2011, I was glad to see an American Doctor!  Now that I have had some great visits with family and friends in Ohio, Michigan and Kentucky, it’s time to feed the WanderLust!  The next week will be spent in Florida!

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Time To Get Some Road Under My Tires….. Go South Young Man.

This weekend’s “big” snow (an inch maybe…haha) in Central Kentucky made it all that much easier to start my trip South this morning.  For the last few months, I have been planning a trip South to Florida to see a buddy I haven’t seen since 1991.  My friend Steve and I served together in Okinawa Japan in the late 1980s with a Marine Corps Reconnaissance Unit.  I am excited to fish, enjoy the warm weather and of course, see my old buddy!

Above, The recent snow in Central Kentucky covered the wood pile, time to head South!

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Cooking On a “Deadwood Stove” and a “Thermal Cooker.”

Today I put the Deadwood Stove to the test and decided to make one of my favorite dishes, chicken curry.  The only source of fuel I used during the entire cooking process was a lighter, some paper and a bundle of dead sticks.   No gas or electricity was used at all!  Below is a series of pictures that shows the ingredients and cooking equipment.  I used a small enamel pot to cook on the Deadwood Stove.  First,  I cooked the chicken in olive oil for about 5 mins, then I added the rest of the ingredients and brought the entire pot to a boil for about 3 mins.  The food is then poured into the thermal cooker inner pot and then that pot goes into the outer pot.  The ingredients continue to cook in the Thermal Cooker for about 3 – 4 hours!  Remember, after the food is brought to an initial boil for about 3 – 4 mins, it then continues to cook in the Thermal Cooker without any heat source!  The Thermal Cooker maintains the ingredients at a temperature sufficient to continue the cooking process!

Above, the enamel pot, Deadwood Stove and chicken curry ingredients.
Below, close up of the ingredients;

Above, the chicken cooking in olive oil.

Below, the enamel pot, with chicken curry prior to going into the Thermal Cooker.

Can’t wait to taste the Chicken Curry tonight!

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