Wednesday, July 10, 2024

07-10-2024 RANDOM VAGABON ALERT - IF YOU FEEL THE NEED FOR SOUL FOOD WITH A TWIST - THIS IS THE PLACE

WE BELONG TOGETHER - OH MY!

I have never heard of a recipe like this - Shrimp, andouille sausage, chicken, and collard greens all tossed in a creamy alfredo sauce served over fettuccine. Well, this place serves this delicious creative culinary delight.


Now, to be truthful, I did not have We Belong Together. That's for the next time I eat at this cool, friendly, creative, high-quality restaurant with great service. 

From Jo Ellen's Web Site - All True!

"If ever a mother loved a son and a son loved a mother, then JoEllen's is it. Joe is the son and Ellen was the mother. Ellen poured all that she was into each of her six children, but she held a special place for Joe. Unfortunately, Ellen passed away in 2014 when we first began this journey of entrepreneurship. So that love and those memories now reside in JoEllen’s. . .a special place with great food, a warm and inviting atmosphere, and southern comfort that feels a lot like a warm hug a loving mother gives to her son. This is the foundation of JoEllen’s and this is what guides all aspects of who we are and the service we provide."

I can attest to every word. For Brunch, I had a make-your-own omelet with grits, toast, and coffee. Others at the table had Shrimp and Grits, Meatloaf, and other culinary delights. And our server was friendly and professional.

This place really gets it! It is one of the most creative food places I have ever had the pleasure of eating at. It's right downtown in part of Klemen Plaza with easy parking in the parking garage. For further proof that this restaurant can tickle your itch for innovative cuisine just click here for the MENU.

So, head downtown and have a creative dining experience. Trust me, you will need to plan a nap after brunch, lunch, or dinner! LOL!


D.L.Stafford

In honor of great Southern food - enjoy funny man Jim Gaffigan as he ruminates on the pleasures of eating with reckless abandon!






Thursday, July 4, 2024

7-4-24 THE DAY ALL AMERICANS - NORTH, SOUTH, EAST & WEST CELEBRATE THE GREATEST COUNTRY ON EARTH!

 USA - The Official Place of Refuge for Nomads With Dreams

The Grand Experiment is Still Grand!!

As we awake to another celebration of our founding this morning, I ponder the onslaught of attempts by powers, great and small, to destroy our great country, as well as our own self-inflicted wounds on the very freedoms that we have held up to the world for generations. When you view Lady Liberty or read of the sacrifices of men and women who have willingly fostered our freedoms, you must remind yourself that this country, this USA, came to be because men, rebels all, said ENOUGH!!  In a single act of incomparable bravery and genius, this nation was birthed to give refuge to the "Nomads" who wanted a better life in the new world, who wanted to worship their God in peace and determine their own destiny without government intervention.
 
Now this is not a political blog, but one cannot discuss this amazing country without some discussion of the one subject that is not supposed to be discussed in polite company. And when you watch the news or read a blog or do something really quaint like read a newspaper, you realize that we simply do not have any current-day Washingtons, Jeffersons, Franklins, Adams, or Hamiltons. No, we Americans shake our heads in flummoxed disbelief at the current crop of empty suits now running the place. I have a friend who believes the demise of this great country is imminent. It's not if but when. To that, I say - Balderdash!! If you have any knowledge of the history of this great country, you can rest assured that its greatness comes from its people, and their willingness to "throw the bums out" when righting the ship becomes necessary. With that greatest of documents to guide us, The US Constitution, we WILL defeat attacks of any kind on the virtues and ideas that came from the most unique concept of freedom ever envisioned by man. I am convinced we will, indeed, right this ship for generations to come. 

And What About Our Generations?  
Boomers, X'ers, Millenials/Y'ers, Z'ers,  and Alphas?


As we Boomers lament the latest crop of children who are now beginning to run the place, we discuss all the faults of the forty-somethings we have raised. And I must admit - it is somewhat disconcerting when one of those young Gen X'ers was asked, a few years back, by talk show host Jay Leno - Where is the Gaza Strip? They answered West Hollywood! Really? But we Boomers conveniently forget that we invented the basest of human traits - narcissism. You do remember Stephen Stills' mantra to self-indulgence - 
If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with - don't you? That one line and its impact on our culture is worth at least three credit hours of directed study on human behavior gone awry. As the most privileged, upwardly mobile generation, we grew up with TV, hot cars, and a vision of America that fit us like a glove. So, spare me the judgment of the "kids" that are working through their lives day by day in a world very different than the post-war world of optimism we seventy-somethings enjoyed. Numerous studies point out that this new generation is optimistic, hard-working, and more open to change than any generation before it. 

I recently had a long discussion about this with my forty-something kids. I am utterly convinced that this country, with all its challenges, is in good hands. These guys get it and will keep the dream alive. They may use their iPhones and iPads more than we wish, but they will pursue true happiness in their own way. It will just be - different! And on that note, I will share a text message from my son some twelve years ago  which reads as follows:
 
"Just landed in Denver - staying at The Curtis Hotel...be back Monday - Happy 4th - God Bless America!"

So, if you're a proud Boomer, you are more than likely blessed with the talking to, the loving of, and the caring for every age from old Boomer to young Alpha. And, guess what - Every generation will figure out the truth and ensure that everything remains copacetic! It's a new day! Whether it's on parchment or a smartphone, the love of this country means the same thing and it's ever-new. 
 
So - as you head out to Grandma's house or some other favorite place to celebrate this uniquely American day, I implore you to read our Declaration of Independence, written by one of history's greatest minds, Thomas Jefferson, at the ripe old age of thirty-three. A Gen Y'er we can all believe in. 
 
Oh, Say Can You See!
 
D.L. Stafford
 
Quote of The Week - "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."  Thomas Jefferson 
 
Video Artist of  The Week - I watched and listened to many amazing performances of our National Anthem and selected the one that brought tears of pride as I watched and listened to our nation's Joint Armed Forces Color Guard present the colors of the United States at the 2023 College Football National Championship followed by a powerful performance of The Star Spangled Banner by the Grammy Award Winning vocal group PENTATONIX.



Wednesday, July 3, 2024

07-03-24 DAYTONA - IT'S STILL THERE - WELL - KINDA PLUS - SOME THOUGHTS ON THE SMOKIES

First - a little personal travel history is in order. As a kid growing up in the fifties, with a stern, hard-working entrepreneurial father and a classic mother whom I adored, our family vacations were, well, not very exotic. Every summer, and I do mean every summer, Dad, Mom, my brother, and I would pack the car and head south to Daytona Beach for two weeks in early summer. Daytona Beach was THE place to go in the fifties and sixties before it became a tourist afterthought. Not that I don't have great memories of "The World's Most Famous Beach". I learned to swim there and saw my first real car race there. Even today, my brother is a rabid NASCAR fan. I learned what Nuttie Buddies were and I ate the best hotdogs on earth and washed them down with 6-ounce Cokes. But - the coolest thing of all? You could actually drive on the beach for free!! What more could a kid want?. 

FAST FORWARD 60+ YEARS!

Like they say - Things change. Nothing truer has ever been said about The World's Most Famous Beach. What once were hotels here there and everywhere are now condos here there and everywhere. And, you now must pay $20 to drive on the beach! The prices to rent a decent condo today will force you to take out a loan from your bank unless you have a high credit limit on your favorite credit card.

If you have a large crowd 
that needs 3-4 beds to sleep in, the best place to stay is not Daytona. As I shared last week - go North my fellow Vagabond - Ormand Beach! There are still some very nice hotels beachside on The World's Most Famous Beach, but, they are few and far between. Several years ago we stayed in a nice small place on the beach - Lotus Boutique Inn and Suites. There were some bad reviews after we stayed there, but, based on current reviews, they have revived their quality and service. And the prices are very reasonable.  Another nice hotel is the Delta Hotels Daytona Beach Oceanfront by Marriot. Comfortable, well-designed rooms with a large oceanfront balcony at reasonable prices will provide you and yours a pleasurable time at the beach.

School Was Just Around The Corner

Then as the dog days became  
longer and school was looming, we packed the car and headed north to the Smoky Mountains for two weeks of camping in the great outdoors. Sleeping in a tent, the bears, the streams, the woods, and even the simple food - I loved every minute. As a result of those times with my family in The Great Smoky Mountains, I have always been a lover of the outdoors and will forever 
be drawn to the hinterland.  

On our late summer trips north, because my father was a lover of music, he would tune the radio to the John R. Radio Show which played mostly rhythm and blues. Listening to that music on AM from WLAC Nashville and the legendary voice of John R. while riding in the back seat of the big car was always a treat to my ears. 
Of course, things have changed in the busiest National Park in the United States with 15.7 million visitors a year! You can pick and choose dozens of things to do as you travel The Blue Ridge Parkway. If you want to camp, there are dozens of campgrounds to choose from - just click Where to Camp in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

One question that must be asked if you go to the Smokies - Is Gatlinburg Tacky? Here's one local's opinion - "Yes, it can be. But here’s the important thing: There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Gatlinburg is like the Walt Whitman quote, it contains multitudes. It can be upscale, bordering on classy. Also, it can be fun, rambunctious, and energetic. Certainly, it can be educational, thrilling, and beautiful. But it can also be tacky. Tacky is, of course, subjective. Most places that attract tourists can be pretty tacky." So, if you feel the need - visit Gatlinburg and buy something you probably don't need! LOL!

If you are in need of enjoying America without traveling a long way - load up and go to the Smokies.

D.L.Stafford

Mountain Music is alive and well in this hip, progressive era of artists, such as Taylor Swift, circling the globe. Ugh! I am not a fan. Take a listen to one of the greatest Blue Grass songs ever written by the Blue Grass Legend Ralph Stanley - A Man of Constant Sorrow as performed by Allison Krauss and Union Station with Dan Tyminski.