As anyone who’s ever made the road trip south from the Northeast to Florida on I-95 will tell you, highlights along the route are few. There’s the hellacious, bumper-to-bumper traffic between Baltimore and Richmond, Va. that will make you want to poke your eyes out.
This, of course, is more of a road trip lowlight, but the horror of it will stick in your memory for a long, long time, so much so, in fact, it will be the first thing you mention in a blog post.
Then, there’s South of the Border and it’s mascot, Pedro, the rather unfortunate rendering of a Mexican who seems — if one is to believe the many magnets, bumper stickers and other tzchokes for sale — to perpetually be napping under a saguaro cactus or smiling a daft, buck-toothed grin.
Just when you think there’s little more for a wayward traveler to enjoy down the endless stretch of highway other than the occasional truck stop proffering all manner of Slim Jim flavors (I had no idea there were more varieties beyond regular and spicy!), you’ll run aground in a town like Titusville, Fla., pull into a seedy (if totally functional) Super 8 motel, learn about the front desk woman’s brush with thyroid cancer upon check in, and be gifted a list of the town’s major restaurants.
Intermingled with the likes of McDonald’s and Hungry Howie’s, you may, if you’re lucky, notice the listing for Dixie Crossroads and the blurb, “Turn right at the giant shrimp.” Now, come on. Who can resist that sort of absurdity and the chance to spy a giant crustacean?
Imagine our sheer joy upon discovering the Dixie Crossroads is a bit of a local icon, famous for its rock shrimp platter, which, while truly delicious, paled in comparison to some of the restaurant’s other, less touted highlights.
Take for instance, the Krabby Bites. Lord knows, there didn’t appear to be an ounce of crab in the whole lot of ’em. But damn, they were delicious. Fried dough balls, with bits of corn in the batter, topped with copious piles of powdered sugar. Kind of like giant funnel cake balls. But better.
Then, there were the drink prices. A whopping $7.50 for a beer AND a glass of wine. What? No, really, and it wasn’t even happy hour.
Of course, I’d be remiss not to mention the decor, which included a wide array of homages to the manatee, including fabulous tablecloths, (see Krabby Bites photo above) and slightly less fabulous, but much more questionable pieces of art.
Finally, I give you Mr. Rock, the top hat-wearing rock shrimp. The memories he gave us were, in a word, priceless.
And the perfect send-off for our arrival in — MIAMI.
To be continued …