• Category Archives Biking
  • Great Outdoors Restaurant – A Review

    So yesterday I went for a bit of a ride on the bike, despite the weather being not so warm (went by the dealer today to pick up some winter gloves… the summer gloves just don’t cut it!) and decided to stop off at a place in High Springs for lunch.

    Now, I went in during the lunch rush on a Sunday, so I hit them when they were getting hit by the typical church crowd in their Sunday finest, while I am sitting there in a pair of ripped up jeans and a T-Shirt.

    Their Website


    The service seemed to me to be on par with that of a diner, despite the decor of the restaurant. Really, the place is beautifully decorated, and really I figure it was a chain or something given the amount of cash that has gone into setting the place up. Oddly, it is a one-shot place. There must be about $30,000 invested in just canoing equipment hanging from the rafters alone in the place.

    Back to the service… I walked into the door and was somewhat ignored. Watching throughout my time there, the host was very lax in his job to greet guests and escort them to their seats… I blame this partially on the design of the entryway, whose view from the rest of the restaurant is blocked by a partition, so none of the servers can see people when they walk in.

    I was waited on by Kayla, a nice southern bell who obviously has grown up in the High Springs and Alachua area all of her life. She was nice, and had a good attitude, and knew the menu very well, including the current specials.

    The Food

    For a drink, I ordered the peach iced tea. This was a nicely flavored iced tea, and it was hard for me to discern whether or not it came from a pre-packaged mix or was brewed properly. Regardless, it was quite nice, and I enjoyed two glass-fulls.

    For an appetizer I ordered the chicken vegetable soup. It was a good soup, and had lots of chicken chunks in it. I am still not too sure about the corn that was in it, but it tasted fine. I am just not used to seeing corn put into a vegetable soup, I guess. Perhaps it’s a southern thing. The only real comment I could make about the soup is that I felt it needed a bit more salt to bring out the flavors more… but that is just me, and quite frankly I have no problem in adding a bit of salt to something, rather than having it come out to me too salty to begin with. Sure, it is a bit of an insult to the chef to have to salt their food, but this is not exactly what would be considered “High Cuisine” by any means.

    For my main course, I ordered the cheeseburger. I think it was called either the “Suwannee” burger or the “Savannah” burger… for some reason I didn’t write down the actual name of the burger… grrr. Anyway, it was your basic cheeseburger, which I ordered with jack cheese. It came with a slice of tomato and a huge slice of red onion (nice touch! It got me wondering what they do with the rest of the onion, because they probably only get about three of these slices of onion per full onion…) along with a piece of lettuce. This was all separated from the burger itself to be added on by the diner, which is how it should be done. The onion was incredible, and really added to the burger. The lettuce was useless, however. It was too big and unmanageable, and slightly wilted. Since it was on the bottom of the vegetable stack, it was also a bit soggy and somewhat unappetizing. The bun of the burger was slightly toasted, which was a nice touch, but I felt that the bun was a bit too small for the burger. There needs to be some amount of overlap of the bun compared to the burger patty, otherwise it is impossible to eat. These buns were the same size as the patty, which made it a bit hard to eat.

    Oh yes, there was a pickle spear as well, which I ignored. First of all, I dislike pickles. Second, I couldn’t see how it could be placed on the burger. You would have to eat it like a french fry. Also, pickles are annoying when they are placed on top of other things on the plate, because they have a habit of leaking into those other things and corrupting them. In this case it didn’t, but that is partially because I was quick enough to remove it from the good stuff underneath.

    The patty itself was done to perfection. I ordered it medium rare, and that is how it came out, with some bloody juices flowing. It finished cooking right there on the plate so the juices didn’t run too much.

    The burger also came with fries, and let me tell you, these fries were incredible. I would go back to this restaurant just for their fries. They fry them in some sort of flavored oil that makes them taste incredible. I felt there was no need to add salt or anything else to them, and that they could be eaten just as they were. I did try them with a bit of catsup as well, but really they did not need it at all.

    Other Things

    As nice as this place is, I think they need to put more emphasis on their service. It is too nice a place to have a diner-level service. Things may be different at night, but for lunch that is the feel that I got from it. One other thing that annoyed me… the booth that I was seated in had a light to the side… unfortunately this light was placed a bit too low, and the bulb in it was distinctly visible to me (I’m only 5’11”, so it wasn’t as if some tall freak had sat there…) and caused me to be slightly blinded.


    I would go back to this restaurant, if I happened to be passing through High Springs at the right time. I think I would first explore and see if there is anything else out there really quickly first, but I would consider this to be a place to fall back on for a meal if nothing else felt appetizing. There is a Mexican restaurant just down the road that I feel warrants a try sometime, but for meat and potatoes types of meals, the Great Outdoors Restaurant in High Springs is a decent choice.

  • The bike

    So, I haven’t posted about biking in a while, because I have been recovering from an accident I had down in Orlando about two months ago.

    It had just started raining, for the first time in about a month, and I lost control of the bike on a curve due to “Florida Black Ice”, i.e. an oil slick that appeared because of the rain.

    Personal damage: A banged up knee, a shredded arm, and my pride. Suck.

    Bike damage:

    • Headlight rim
    • Headlight casing
    • Brake lever
    • Right hand turn signals (front and rear)
    • Right hand mirror
    • Speedometer casing

    The brake lever was one of the more odd things, because it was bent way out instead of what you would think it would, which would be to bend in towards the handlebar. There are some other dings and stuff, a couple of dents in the tank, and the front tree is a bit…skewed. Wear pattern on the front tire is normal, and it rides straight, but when I am going straight down the road and I look down at the handlebars, they point a little to the left. A little bit disconcerting, but I am just going to leave it as it adds character to the bike.

    I also just replaced the battery, as it was no longer holding a charge. The bike is a 2006, so the OEM battery is about four years old. Now, as far as I am concerned, people should never have to do regular battery maintenance on car style batteries these days. You put them in the car and forget them. Not so with motorcycle batteries, apparently. The OEM battery I pulled out had zero water in it. How it had been working for so long I have no idea. One thought I do have is that it may have sprung a leak during the accident… no idea, and there is no apparent damage to the casing. Anyway, I replaced that with a G-Bat, which is a gel-style battery, and life is good. No maintenance on the battery, and I swear the whole bike is running better because of it. The battery was a bit of a bitch to install, however, because you have to remove the padding that is in the battery box in order for it to fit, and then the terminals are not in exactly the same place, so tightening down things was a bit of a nightmare.

  • Disney

    So, spent the week at Disney…staying at the Buena Vista Palace again. Rode the bike down, and now know the secret method for parking in VIP parking.

    First day was spent at Hollywood Studios. Nothing really new to see, but I enjoyed my time there. Afterwards I went over to Downtown Disney and picked up the Christmas Lego set (10199). I am still debating picking up the firehouse as well…have to figure out if I can fit it on the bike first.

    Tuesday went to Epcot, and did the whole food and wine festival thing. Some of the food was wonderful, but yet again Australia has managed to disappoint me because they didn’t have any meat pies. The festival has definitely taken a hit with the economy compared to last year.

    There is also a new ride in Innoventions, one that I think is going to be very crowded for a very long time. Got to ride it the day before it officially opens.

    Today went out to Animal Kingdom. Nothing has changed there, really. It is truly a half day park these days for me. Went on the safari ride twice, the rapids ride, then Kiliminjaro twice…that was enough for me, and I was hot enough at that time that it was time for me to hit the road.

    Rode out to the campground and got a rates sheet, which is quite nice and might be completely feasible in the cold months.

  • Riding and Interviewing

    So I have been riding a lot lately. It has been good, and I think I am getting better with the bike. Some things I have learned:

    • Boots are a must. You can get away with a little riding in tennis shoes, but the top of your left shoe will wear out quickly.
    • Make sure everything is battened down prior to moving off. It sucks to have something flapping in the wind at sixty miles an hour, particularly if it is something like a collar and it flaps into your clavicle.

    In other news, this past weekend I sat on the board to receive presentations for the next Hoggetowne Medieval Faire chessboard. Now, let me get this out right now: THIS IS A JOB INTERVIEW! When most people go in for a job interview, they dress up in order to impress… at least, they do this if they are going for a job of any sort of importance higher than that of a short-order cook. So why is it that year after year I have seen these presentations, and the same people keep turning up not dressed for the role?

    Anyway, the presentations went… well, the first two went poorly. Let’s just say that showing up with only one of your staff members for the production is not conducive towards getting the job. The third presentation group was incredible, however. They were organized, almost all of them were there, and all of the higher level members were there. The only one missing was the costumer, which was not a big deal because they had posters of what they were planning on doing with costume colors and designs. They ran the show for the most part, and we basically had to just sit there and watch instead of ask many questions to figure out what they were going to do. Instead, they simply told us. At the end, after they walked out, the five members sitting on the panel to make this decision simply looked at each other and said “is there really any doubt here?” It was a unanimous decision.

    Anyway, after that, I have some tips for people who are going to propose a show for our group:

    • Dress appropriately. This is a job interview, not a bunch of friends getting together to have some fun. The Guilde is giving you a good amount of money in order to make this thing happen, and we want to be sure that you are not going to be wasting that money.
    • Don’t bring your child along with you to the interview. You wouldn’t do this at any other job interview, even at a fast food restaurant, so why would you think it is appropriate to do it here? Your child will be a distraction to both yourself and to the members of the panel, and that is going to lower your chances in a couple of different ways. First, it detracts from your presentation. Second, the panel is going to look at the situation and wonder how that child is going to affect your production down the road.
    • Have as many members of your production team there that you can. The more the merrier, and it shows the panel members that you are all serious about what you are trying to do. If only one or two of you are there for the interview, what is going to happen come time for rehearsals? Are only one or two of you going to be showing up then as well?
    • Ensure that all of your members know their jobs and what they are going to be doing for the next year. Again, this is a job interview, and if you know the job you are that much more competitive.
    • Ensure that all of your members know the script that is being presented. One of our favorite exercises is to have the production team quickly act out their production in about five minutes.

    Obviously a bunch has to be left out, but the idea is to see whether or not everyone knows the general idea of the show from beginning to end.
    Finally, don’t tell the panel that you are going to be directing other shows during this time. We are going to take that into consideration for your capability to run this particular show.

  • Another Ride

    Took my longest ride yet yesterday, down through Newberry and Bronson. It was a good ride, and I passed the 1000 mile mark outside of Bronson near the township of Raleigh. I also managed to run out of gas and had to go to the reserve, and I didn’t really know where the nearest gas station was. Made it back to G’ville and filled up, but it was a bit touch and go there for me for a while.

    Vax party also happened last night. I brought the usual mini-quiches, which went over well, but I think they were a bit underdone and could have used a good five more minutes in the oven to brown a bit. At the party it was basically a “see old friends” thing, punctuated with playing Rock Hero way too much. I decided to leave early because… well… the game bored me.

  • Biking

    OK… I spent all of last weekend learning how to ride a motorcycle at a beginners motorcycle safety course. I am certainly not going to go into something like this without something like that to back me up.

    Let me tell you, it was worth the $185 to take the course. It taught me a lot in a controlled situation, and it also eliminated the nervousness of taking the exam at the licensing bureau, since all I had to there was show them the graduation card and I was endorsed. Besides, it gets me a discount on my motorcycle insurance.

    So, having finished the training and getting my endorsement, I went looking for a bike. I tried two different dealerships, as I want my first bike to at least be somewhat safe since I don’t really know what to look for on them in terms of things that would not be safe due to someone messing with them and modifying them.

    Both Streit’s motorcycles and Polaris had bikes that I thought were appropriate for me, appropriate meaning that I like the look of the bike and it is not too much of a bike for my experience level. There were two bikes, one at each dealership, that I thought were appropriate. A Suzuki S40 at Streit’s and a Suzuki S50 at Polaris. I went with the S50, as I think I would probably get bored with the S40 in no time and be looking for something a bit more powerful in no time. Having ridden the S50 for the last four days, I think I was right in my assessment.

    So Monday evening I plunk down seven grand for the S50, drove home and got a ride back to the dealership, and rode it home…. scared to death the entire way. Let’s face it… when I got on that bike to ride it home, all I could think of was that it was rush hour traffic on US 441, something that I really didn’t want to have to deal with on something that I was somewhat unfamiliar with. I made it fine, but still it was something that I don’t think I ever want to have to experience again.

    That evening I took it out again, and went to a training meeting for the Thieves Guilde. I had to leave early because there was no way that I was going to be driving that thing at night on the first day. No way in hell.

    Next day I take it into work and get a tag for it so that I can park without getting a ticket… tickets on campus have gone up to $30 a pop, so it just isn’t worth it. In the afternoon I drove down to the Brain Institute and talked to Larry there, and he offered to me a couple of books on riding that he thought I would be interested in. Had to follow him to his house, which was interesting for me, and he managed to beat me there despite leaving first. No big deal, since I don’t feel like pushing myself all that much yet on the bike. Got the books, then took Millhopper road out to 241->232->235->235A which spit me onto 441. Took 441 into High Springs and grabbed a burger at the Hardees there in town, then back to 235A->235->241->Millhopper road and home.

    Wednesday I took a long way around town to get to work, heading out to NE 15th and then heading south and winding my way through town until I got to 8th Ave, which I took west to NW 22nd, which took me straight into campus. In the afternoon I headed out to Williston road where there is a nice little windy road out of Robinson Heights out to Hawthorne Rd. Passed down along 2082 through Rochelle, then bounced up along 234 through Windsor until hitting 26, which I took back into town.

    This morning was nothing special, but this afternoon I took an interesting run up north through La Crosse, Brooker (mile 900 on the bike!) then south on 225 back home past the racetrack. It was a good run, and I enjoyed it. Found along the way that posture really helps in making the ride that much more comfortable at higher speeds, and the road was empty enough that I was able to practice a bit on swerving to avoid things.