To say that this is the trip of a lifetime would be an understatement. Right now Brandon and I are driving from Orlando up to Jacksonville where we will be spending our final 2 days in Florida. We have been here since last Sunday, and although the sunshine state hasn’t been sunny in the slightest, we’ve had an incredible time checking out what the state has to offer. (That John Tampa is full of ****! Dumb & Dumber, anyone?)
One of our first nights in the state was also the first time we had to sleep in the van. After exhausting our resources and realizing we did not know anyone in or near Gainesville, we decided to go camping just north of the city, but soon became aware of the fact that it would be raining that night. Rather than get the tent wet, we just rearranged all our crap in the van, laid the front seats back as far as they would go, and passed out in a park right near a river. That’s right, we slept IN A VAN, DOWN BY THE RIVER. When we woke up the next morning our alarm went off, so that was pretty sweet, cuz we had no idea we had an alarm and had even contemplated buying one at one point…
From there we headed into the Tampa/ Dunedin area where we stayed with Chris, a friend of one of my old co-workers whom we had never met before. He and his roommates were incredibly cool and all musicians, so we had a great time hanging out with them. We even got to play some Mario Kart and Goldeneye 007 on n64, so my gaming demons were able to be crushed for a little while. Man did I ever need that… Before we left, Chris told us that he had written a musical and sent us off with a copy of it on CD; we listened to it on our way to Orlando and it was both politically charged and hilarious. Also while in Dunedin/ Tampa, we visited 7venth Sun Brewery, Dunedin Brewery, and Cigar City Brewing. I now want to propose to the brewer at 7venth Sun, live at Dunedin, and hang out at Cigar City for the rest of my life. These places were incredible and it’s good to see them taking the lead to mold the emerging craft scene in that area of Florida. There was also a liquor store in Dunedin called Leuken’s Liquors that had one of the best selections of craft beer I’ve ever seen in my life.
When we headed out of town and over to Kissimmee just south of Orlando, we first spent nearly a full day in the library catching up on writing our blogs, and then met up with Jackie – a friend of ours from back in our home town of Plano, TX. She and her boyfriend Nick both prepare different types of food for the patrons of Walt Disney World, so they were able to get us into Epcot that night with guest passes to check out the fireworks show that happens every night at nine. After watching that and walking around to all the different countries in Epcot, we headed over to Sea Dog Brewing Co and met with their friend Marley. They had $2.50 pints of good beer that night – $2.50! I might have gone a little overboard there, but at least I wasn’t driving.
After sleeping through most of the next day, we went to Orlando Brewing where a reporter from the Orlando Sentinel interviewed us; he should be posting the article about us this coming Friday. While there we also had our first encounter with fans. Apparently these two guys, Mike and Joe, had read about us online, knew we were going to Orlando brewing at 6, and according to them they planned their entire day around being able to meet with us. This did not compute in our heads, but hey, these guys were cool as hell so we followed them over to a local bar near downtown called Tap & Grind. There was an incredible selection of beers on tap and in bottles there, so we tried some from Funky Buddha and The Bruery amongst others. We also met the bartender Mary, who actually also works at Orlando Brewing where we had just come from. The owner Jason took some time to talk with us as well, and couldn’t have been nicer. Mike works at the Fire Station across the street and recognized Jason one day; apparently they used to surf around the same places. If you’re ever in Orlando, definitely go check out Tap & Grind – they really have some cool stuff going on over there, like good beer and an amazing staff.
I need to get back to researching breweries, as that is my ridiculously awesome life now, so happy Groundhog Day and see you soon! Hope you liked the stats for January.