About fourteen and a half years ago (almost to the date) I turned my Jeep around in the middle of a busy Boulder, Colorado intersection. It was a literal U-Turn in the purest sense of the word. As I floored my Jeep, I raced back hoping he was still there. This little brown chocolate lab mix, at the time, named MacGuyver. He was at the Boulder Humane Society and we thought it was best to “wait” after meeting this sweet little pup. Five minutes after leaving the lot and we were headed back to pick him up. So fast, and deep was the connection with this truly beautiful spirit.
After a quick rename to Cooper (aptly after a Cooper Tires sign after leaving the humane society the second time, with the dog in the Jeep) he was home and making himself a permanent part of my life.
The morning started off with the beautiful Florida sun peeking through the blinds. The smell of sunscreen and stale beer rang throughout our condo, signalling yet another day of Jeep Beach.
We headed to the Daytona International Speedway to hang out and meet vendors, and to take my friend Phil’s 1989 restored YJ out on the infamous obstacle course that was set up in the massive Daytona infield.
First things first, we hit the obstacle course with Phil’s YJ. Unfortunately his transfer case did not engage into 4WD properly and when he bumped some logs, he ended up snapping the front driveshaft yoke. So, we hobbled his rig off the course and ordered the parts from the show. Tomorrow morning, I will attempt a fix right on the Daytona infield.
The rest of the afternoon was spent meeting and greeting the various companies that my Jeep is made of (or that I plan to order from).
I had a great chat with Chris from SpiderWebShade and learned a bit about his fascinating company. They started in 2006 as an upholstery shop and made a few mesh screens for friends’ Jeeps. They started making 50 units per month, and now are at 5,000+. It is a VERY cool product and I look forward to giving it a full review on this site soon.
I also spent some time with Mike from Factor 55. His company makes some amazing winch/recovery points and I will also get on a review of their new FlatLink shackle thimble. I am really looking forward to testing it out in Moab next month and will also provide a full review.
At the end of the day, I met people from ACE Engineering, Rebel Off Road, Rock Krawler (have you ever held their control arms!?), Poison Spider, Rugged Ridge, Carolina Metal Masters, Bruiser Conversions, and many many more.
We retired to the condo to rehydrate, relax, and check out all the goodies we bought today, as well as formulate a plan to get Phil’s rig back on the trail tomorrow.
Tonight is also the VIP Tiky Party! Hope to post more on that later, beers providing 🙂
Today culminated one of the biggest achievements yet of Jeep Beach 2014: Completing the scavenger hunt.
We drove around between A1A and US 1, checking off an interesting list of hidden secrets such as the “mysterious” ruins of New Smyrna, a lighthouse in Ponce Inlet, and a manatee named “Cookie.”
But perhaps the most interesting thing we encountered was the “Tomb in the road.” According to the site “Weird Florida,”
“[Douglas] Dummett sent his son to school in the North and in 1860 when Charles was home from school, he was killed while on a hunting trip when his gun accidentally discharged. Douglas Dummett buried his son on the spot where he was killed. For the past century this area has been developed into a residential neighborhood, but Charles Dummett’s tomb still sits on a little island in the middle of Canova Drive.”
Pretty cool history off the beaten path.
After we completed all the items on the list, we headed back to the condo for some sun and some R&R before cruising out to the first “meet n greet” of the week.
The highlight of the meet n greet was roaming around the parking lot, checking out all the amazing rigs from around the country.
Here are some of my favorites:
After the drool-fest was over outside, we headed inside for some mingling, dinner, and drinks (the hotel made me a special vegan dinner of penne, fresh garlic marinara and garlic bread – super good!) but the drinks we pretty meh.
Today was the official first day of Jeep Beach in Daytona Beach, Florida.
This annual pilgrimage of Jeep owners is the Yin to Easter Jeep Safari’s yang, with Daytona offering a decent match to Moab.
Where Daytona can’t possibly compare with Moab’s terrain and trails, it delivers in spades better weather, beautiful beaches, and a coastal atmosphere.
Today was pretty chill; we started the scavenger hunt – a contest to take photos of your or your Jeep around Daytona Beach with various landmarks, waiters, and other curiosities.
The day culminated at the Daytona Beach Municipal Stadium, where hundreds of of Jeeps and Jeepers converged to meet with vendors, chat, and enjoy some local music and cold beers.
I spent some time meeting with the team from Spiderwebshade and Factor 55 where we discussed their newest products. I am looking forward to learning more. They snuck me some VIP tickets to the Tiky Party on Friday!
We saw some amazing rigs and saw some of the newer Jeeps from vendors – the Skyjacker jeep had some fresh damage from a crash at EJS!
Tomorrow we will continue the scavenger hunt and spend more time on the beach and in the Jeep!
Note: This is currently my review on Yelp for the Cafe.
Vegan Cannonball Run?
I recently roadtripped down US1 from Miami Beach to Key West, for a day trip with my wife. On our way, my wife found a listing for The Cafe in Key West that promised to have some decent food. Reading everyone’s reviews also gave her something to do on the rather monotonous drive.
Once we got there, I was soooo glad we went to The Cafe. The place was empty and we were seated promptly. We started our lunch with an order of BBQ “Unwing Dings” and they were perfect – little sticks of fried tofu (think more tempura than heavy breading) – with an amazing asian-style BBQ sauce. Super awesome.
I also went with the veggie burger – I know, I am lame. But I am also a dude, so what do you expect? We wanted something quick and filling…we had to have the rental back in Miami Beach by 5PM.
Melanie got a marinated tofu salad (I forgot the name). While she said it was “OK,” she was weirded out by the warm tofu on a cold salad. She also said the tofu didn’t seem marinated, more “dunked in sauce.” It seemed like something she could easily make at home.
For me, none of that matters as the house made vegan burger was phenom. I also paired it with a tropical Mango Pale Ale from some brewery in the USVI which I highly recommend for those steamy Key West Summer days.
FWIW, we left lunch at 1:30 and pulled into the car rental place at 4:45 – record time!
When vegans die, they decide to skip heaven and go straight to Sublime.
Tonight my wife and I took our terrestrial selves into this South Florida vegan mecca for a special evening of drinks and dinner. We have been to Sublime before (in years past) but every time we go it just seems to get better and better. The happy hour is awesome (BOGO on cocktails and half off apps when you buy one full price).
First, I ordered the Tangito (a tangerine infused Mojito) and Melanie went with the classic Mojito. Both were very well prepared and just about perfect. For apps, you can’t go wrong with the Frito Miso (we’ve had this staple before) – which despite the name is anything but Fritos. It is a bowl of crispy/tempura-like cauliflower in a seductive sweet chili sauce that will blow your mind. We also went with something new for us – the Sliders…which, also blew our mind with their cheddary, Gardein-y, awesomeness.
But enough of the chit chat about the little stuff. Let’s talk entrees.
The choices were very hard. I ended up with the enchiladas – a gamble for someone like me who is a total baby with spicy food. It was warm, for sure….just on the upper end of my spice-o-meter. But, it was still crazy awesome and just enough food to fill me up without needing a wheelchair and a linebacker to roll me out. Melanie ordered the Mushroom Ravioli, which she loved and I tried a bite – but I am also a mushroom baby and wasn’t a super fan. Not a dig on Sublime, but a dig on my needlessly picky self.
It’s also cool that Nancy – the owner- makes it a point to chat with customers.
Dessert was definitely to go (how could we NOT order something?). Melanie went with the Chocolate Nirvana and I ordered the Strawberry Cheesecake. We tossed them in the car for the long drive along A1A back to Miami Beach. But, the floor heat might have been too warm for them as they both experienced a degree of meltage and, would have been MUCH better if eaten back at Sublime. I won’t review them since we totally messed them up.
Bottom line, when I think of a top shelf Vegan experience in the US, I think of Sublime. Our annual(ish) visits here keep reaffirming that this is totally one of (if not, *the*) best places in the country.