Knaus Berry Farm (or we waited almost an hour to have a snack and it was totally worth it)

Look, I know it’s been two months since my last post and you’re probably wondering where I went and what the heck happened.  I’ll get to that, I promise.  That’s not what this post is about, though.

This post is about dessert.  Sort of.

Last weekend, Amelie and I took a drive down to Homestead, Florida, into the Redlands Agricultural District.  For those who’ve never been to South Florida, Homestead is one of the southernmost cities in the state, just north of where the Florida Turnpike and US-1 meet.  Redlands is about 20 miles south-west of downtown Miami.  If you keep going south from there, you pretty much wind up in either the Florida Keys or the Everglades.

Inside of Redlands is a place called Knaus Berry Farm.   They’re a seasonal bakery that has been run by the Knaus family since 1956.  They also have you-pick-em strawberry and tomato fields, depending on availability.  Amelie has been raving to me about this place for more than a year, but we missed their open season last year and I had to put a reminder on my calendar to check in when they opened again in November.

knaus-berry-farms-1

Knaus Berry Farm has a dedicated following, and the line on a weekend to get to the bakery counter is often 45 minutes to an hour.   This wasn’t even all that busy, from what I understand.

knaus-berry-farms-2

The bakery counter has various fresh basked goods, which I’ll get to.  If I had more stomachs, I would have wanted to try one of everything.

knaus-berry-farms-3

The bakery counter is a cash-only operation, so the line actually moves reasonably quickly.

knaus-berry-farms-4

There are separate lines for produce and for milkshakes.  The produce counter only had one person step up while we were inside.  The produce looked amazing, but we were there for the baked goods.

knaus-berry-farms-5

This is what we went out for:  the cinnamon buns.  Fresh out of the oven, they were so, so good.  They’re also dense!  Just one of these is actually crazy filling.  Once we made it to the bakery line,  we just sat in the grass, in a patch of shade near the main building to eat one of these each.

knaus-berry-farms-6

Since I had a family thing the next day, I also took one of their Black-Bottom Cakes.  I’d never had this type of cake before, and it was damn tasty.  I know it may be blasphemy for me to say this, but I liked this cake more than chocolate chip cookies.

knaus-berry-farms-7

If you want to visit Knaus Berry Farm, I will offer some quick tips:

  1. Use the bathroom before you go.  There’s no restroom on site.   We were in line already, and had to duck out to go three miles away to a fast food restaurant on US-1.  Then we started the line over.
  2. Bring cash.  They don’t accept plastic here, and you’re gonna want to get more than one thing.  The prices are reasonable, but you don’t want to go all the way there and not be able to buy these delicious baked goods!
  3. Check the weather, and bring sunblock.  The line for the bakery is not covered.   The only time you’re really indoors here is at the bakery and produce counters-  the rest is basically outdoors.  Standing in the South Florida sun for even forty minutes will give most people a bit of a burn.  I’ve lived here almost all of my life, and I wore the same hat I wore to the Great Pyramid, and even I got a little pink in places.
  4. Come hungry.  Seriously, if you eat a big meal before you drive out, then you’re missing out on the joy that is these gooey wonderful cinnamon buns fresh out of the oven.

Knaus Berry Farm is open November through mid-April each year, at this location: 15980 SW 248 Street
Homestead, FL 33031
305.247.0668

You can see more reviews and photos here.

Have you ever been to Knaus Berry Farm?

Lost Photo Post: The Palm Beach Zoo

Here’s another one in a series of photo posts where I took a bunch of photographs, intending to make a blog post out of them, and then never got around to actually writing the post.

In late August, Amelie and I went to the Palm Beach Zoo.  We’d been meaning to go for a while because I kept telling her about various childhood memories of going there when it was still called the Dreher Park Zoo. The zoo was founded in the 1950s, and the name was changed to the Palm Beach Zoo in 1997.

As is my custom for zoo visits, I took the dslr camera and took a ridiculous number of photographs.  Here’s a sampling of my favorite shots.

A passing staff member took this first one:

palm-beach-zoo-1

This is Mardi, a nine foot long American alligator.  Mardi has Leucism, which gives him his white pigmentation and bright blue eyes.

palm-beach-zoo-2

Amelie wants to kidnap this African Serval, and to put a bow tie on it.

palm-beach-zoo-3

This sloth is one of my spirit animals.  Excuse me while I take an upside-down nap.

palm-beach-zoo-4

Golden Lion Tamarin.  These little guys are so fast!

palm-beach-zoo-5

Sleepy little Fennec fox!

palm-beach-zoo-6

This koala was wandering all over the enclosure because we got there right before his feeding time, and he knew it.  Also, I kinda feel like he looks like Bernie Sanders, right?

palm-beach-zoo-7

There were a couple of kangaroos hoppin’ around.

palm-beach-zoo-8

Most of the big cats like this tiger were pretty sleepy because it was a warm day.  I also have blurry pictures of sleeping cheetahs.

palm-beach-zoo-9

This one makes me giggle every time I see it.

palm-beach-zoo-10

I cannot remember what type of animal this little guy was.  He was smaller than a golden retriever.

palm-beach-zoo-11

Here’s another alligator.  He thinks we can’t see him.

palm-beach-zoo-12

Ah, the noble capybara!  He’s such a stoic fuzzy fellow!

palm-beach-zoo-13

Parrots!

palm-beach-zoo-14

Look, a bear!

palm-beach-zoo-15

Bush Dogs!  They’re technically canines, but they’re small and look a lot like sand otters.  The sign said they’re active during the day and sleep at night, but these two were totally bucking the system.

palm-beach-zoo-16

Big ol’ anteater!

palm-beach-zoo-17

Lastly, a regular otter.  I took at least thirty or forty pictures of the otter, and this is one of about three where he wasn’t moving.    River otters are a lot like small children on too much candy, I bet.

palm-beach-zoo-18

What’s your favorite zoo animal?

Editor’s Note:  I’m attempting to blog every day in November with CheerPeppers.  I don’t expect to succeed because life be crazy, but any blogging in excess of my previous post-free month is a win, right?

Lost Photo Post: The Orlando Eye

This is one in a series of photo posts where I took a bunch of photographs, intending to make a blog post out of them, and then never got around to actually writing the post.

Anyone who has read even a little bit of this blog has probably already figured out that I love tall things.  Tall buildings, tall ferris wheels, you name it.  I even have a tall-stuff tag for posts that involve being up high!

The Orlando Eye is one of those places that I wanted to go as soon as I found out it even existed.  I’ve been on the very similar London Eye several times now.  They were building it when Amelie and I went to Megacon in 2015, but it wasn’t quite open yet.  We planned on going on it the next time we were in Orlando, and we almost reached the location but there were thunderstorms and high wind, so we decided to postpone.

Fast forward to Megacon 2016, and we finally had time to stop back at the Orlando Eye.  I’ve got a bunch of pictures below, but first some details:

The Orlando Eye is on International Drive, not terribly far from the convention center, Universal Studios, and Sea World.

orlando-eye-1

The Eye is a 400 feet tall ferris wheel with enclosed and air conditioned cabins that rotate slowly around the ring.   It’s similar to the London Eye, although the structure and mechanisms are slightly different, and the London Eye is only 43 feet taller.

orlando-eye-2

Since July of this year, it has been rebranded as the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye.    From the capsule, you can see the Universal hotels.

orlando-eye-3

The ride is very smooth- a complete cycle takes about thirty minutes.  This view is the Orange County Convention Center, where Megacon has been held for many years.  You can just make out the Sea World roller coasters behind the Convention Center.

orlando-eye-4

This is another view from the Eye.  I honestly cannot tell which roller coasters are visible in this photograph.  I think it’s Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, but International Drive is in the heart of the biggest concentration of tourist attractions, so it could be almost anything.

orlando-eye-5

A little bit more of I-Drive, with one of the capsules visible.  The Orlando Eye capsules are heavily tinted, because this is Florida.   The view here isn’t as interesting as on the London Eye, I’m afraid.  For one thing, the Eye has no tall buildings around it to look at.  If they had built this in downtown Orlando, thirty minutes to the East, it would have had a better view I think.

orlando-eye-6

This restaurant is a short walk from the Orlando Eye.  I suspect that they did the roof lettering deliberately to attract the attention of hungry Eye-goers.   This appeals to me immensely:  I like when things are clearly labeled!

orlando-eye-7

Off in the very far distance, you can see Epcot.    This one required some zoom lens.  And, to be fair, the only reason I can tell that it’s Epcot is that Spaceship Earth is pretty distinct.

orlando-eye-8

Finally, here’s a couple of horses.  As crowded as International Drive can get, Central Florida is still covered in swatches of land that is either undeveloped or used for farming and livestock.  So:  horses!

orlando-eye-9

Have you ever been on the Orlando Eye?

Editor’s Note:  I’m attempting to blog every day in November with CheerPeppers.  I don’t expect to succeed because life be crazy, but any blogging in excess of my previous post-free month is a win, right?

So where were we? Oh, yes, Tampa Bay Comic Con!

For the last few months, it’s been increasingly more difficult to find the words for the little blank box of blogdom.  The painful truth is that this blog has always been primarily a travel blog, and I’m not really traveling any more.   Once I finish my photo sorting from Japan and I start those posts, I’m out of steam.  I took nearly 2500 photos while I was in Japan, and I foolishly didn’t sort them as I went.  Stupid, stupid Steven.  I’m nearly through them now, but it’s been crazy.

I have about three Minnesota posts to get out, and a dozen or so Japan posts, and then I’m done.  I have no travel planned in the near or distant future.  For me, that’s almost unheard of, but I needed time to re-balance my life and fix the financial burn that traveling like a fiend for the last few years has caused.

The blog needs a retooling, and I’m still not really sure what to do with it.  The people who came here for pretty pictures of faraway places won’t much enjoy me talking about the day to day grind of work-a-day life in South Florida.  If I blogged more like an old LiveJournal and started to talk about things like my terrible sleep habits, South Florida traffic, and regular day to day fluff, would anyone still want to read it?

Other things have been happening which have kept me away from the blogosphere-  On the bad side, things are happening with Mr. Company that make me more than a little uneasy.  On the good side, I’ve been spending oodles of time with my Amelie, and there’s nothing that makes me blog less than having a lot of happy stuff to do away from power outlets and Internet connections.  On the mixed side, my family is splintering again.  After six or eight months being close to all my siblings, my sister has relocated to Orlando for a new job.   Orlando is only a few hours away, but that really makes it difficult to continue our tradition of all four siblings getting together for dinner every few weeks.  This picture from about two weeks ago was the last time that all of us were together:

siblings

That’s enough focus on the question of bloggery for right now, because I have lots of entertaining pictures!  The weekend before last, Amelie and I were in Tampa for the Tampa Bay Comic Con.  We just did one soggy day of the three-day event, choosing to visit only on Saturday.    We suited up in the traditional questing garb of our people (translation: geeky t-shirts and jeans) and set out to enjoy the convention.

tbcc-1

Here’s some of the neat stuff we saw!  On our way in, we saw some great DC comics costumes, but it was a long line of people waiting to get into the building.   As a result, this is more a sneaky candid than a good prepped and posed shot.   I’m not sure whether this chap was Speedy or Red Arrow, but does it really matter? The weather was gorgeous for this part of the day, but it became an incredibly large monsoon-level storm system about an hour after this photo.

tbcc-2

I cannot get away from Frozen.  It’s everywhere.

tbcc-3

A very good Cap.  He loses points for using boot shams, though.  For sham, sir, for sham!  A real pair of boots would totally bring the whole costume together!

tbcc-4

I want this jacket.  I totally want this jacket.

tbcc-5

More DC characters-  Red Arrow, Black Canary, Green Arrow, and The Nefarious Frat Boy.  It’s almost like there’s a hit show on the CW with these characters or something.

tbcc-6

Miles Morales is a good father to his little princess.

tbcc-7

Optimus Prime’s got hairy knees.  This must be his summer look.  Not pictured:  The ridiculous Bermuda shorts visible from the back of the Autobot.  If you’re going to wear a full body costume, would it kill you to wear something that covers your knee-pits?

tbcc-8

Now this is what conventions are really for:  wizard-on-wizard violence.

tbcc-9

This was the first line-up for Carrie Fisher.  Everyone in this photo was in a very long folding single-file line.

tbcc-10

Carrie Fisher’s very short panel was great fun.  Not pictured:  Her little dog that goes everywhere with her now.  Including, apparently, the set of Star Wars: Episode VII.

tbcc-11

This girl’s Effie Trinket costume was kind of brilliantly done.

tbcc-12

The cast of Inside Out:  Sadness, Anger, Fear, Joy, and Homicidal Xenophobic Hatred.

tbcc-13

What would happen if the Venom symbiote latched onto Tony Stark?  Something like this, I guess.

tbcc-14

Russell from Up!  (Nice detail on the buttons, dude!)

tbcc-15

The Freema Agyeman panel was interesting, but not as interesting as Carrie Fisher’s panel.  On the bright side, I finally learned how to pronounce “Freema Agyeman.”  On a side note, the dude at the podium was an insufferable twit who made me want to kick him in the shins.

tbcc-16

I call this photo “Break room On The Watchtower.”

tbcc-17

We kept seeing this Avenger couple in lines for various panels.  I’m very impressed with their getup.  Bonus points: not a boot sham in sight!

tbcc-18

Every convention has its contingent of bizarre Deadpool costumes, but this one had a Dogpool puppet!  (Yes, Dogpool is a real thing in Marvel continuity.  Really.)

tbcc-19

They spook easily, but they’ll soon be back, and in greater numbers.

tbcc-20

This is one of the most interesting and innovative group costumes I’ve ever seen.  Amelie and I both especially dug these intrepid post-apocalyptic Muppet hunters.

tbcc-21

Agent Venom and probably-Scream.   They’re getting a lot of mileage with the original black costume these days

tbcc-22

Meanwhile, at Al Harrington’s Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm-Flailing Tubeman Emporium and Warehouse in Weekapaug, Rhode Island…

tbcc-23 tbcc-24 tbcc-25 tbcc-26

Captain Spider-merica?  Spider-Cap?  American Spider?  Red White And Blue Bug?  What do you even call this mash-up?  (Cool reflective silver eyes, though.  And nice job on the shield.)

tbcc-27

There were surprisingly few Harley Quinns at Tampa Bay Comic Con.  Megacon in Orlando was just lousy with ’em.

tbcc-28

I didn’t have the good camera with me for the Jena Malone panel.

tbcc-29

After the day’s geekiness, Amelie and I ate dinner at Columbia House, and then walked around a bit.   We did manage to find the fabled Tampa Bay Lightning.  Shocking!

tbcc-30

Have you been to a convention recently?  What were your favorite costumes?

Auf Wiedersehen, 2014.

2014_out

2014 was a hell of a year.  It was the last third of my time in Germany before my contract ended there.

In 2014, I visited old favorite cities and the friends that resided in each- Munich, Nuremberg, Frankfurt, Cologne, Hamburg, Berlin.  I visited new cities in Germany that I had not yet seen- Dresden, Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, Leipzig, Rothenberg ob der Tauber, Heidelberg.

In 2014, I visited cities in other countries that I had never seen before-  Belgium, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Egypt.

In 2014, I saw concerts by Ellie Goulding, Gary Numan, Baskery, Hayseed Dixie, Air Supply,  Eels, the Alan Parsons Live Project, and Lewis Black.  I saw stage productions of The Little Shop of Horrors (auf Deutsch) and the Book of Mormon.

In 2014, I saw America play Germany in the World Cup.  I saw Germany lose its collective mind with joy when they were victorious in the final game.  I attended beer festivals and blogger meetups.

In 2014, I went hot air ballooning over Bavaria.  I rode a camel through one tiny corner of the Sahara desert.  I rode Segways twice, and found them to be much smoother than a camel.  I saw the Great Pyramid at Giza.

In 2014, I saw two dear friends wed to their beloved, one in July and one in October.  I saw my Aunt Florence laid to rest over a funeral home’s live Internet video stream from my apartment in Germany.

In the last three months of 2014, I came home and began to reset my life here. My books and movies have been boxed up for four years.  and I feel like I have been too.   I’ve been stuck for a long while.

2015 is going to be a grand adventure, I think.  I’m starting the year off by taking my girlfriend with me to California in late January to see one of my all time favorite bands.  There’s other stuff on the calendar, but I won’t list it all out here.

I’m just glad to see 2014 on its way out.  I’m ready to be unstuck.

What are you looking forward to about 2015?