It is not often I travel these days. With a small army of young children and a full life in Minnesota, I don’t get out of the state much. Over the past week I did make one of those rare excursions into the wide world when I traveled to Tallahassee, FL to visit my sister. Usually I see a city and it leaves no impression on me, certainly not enough to be worth a blog post. Tallahassee is different. So sit back, relax, and enjoy my top ten observations about the mighty capital of Florida.
10. The Beautiful People
One does not need to be in Tallahassee long to realize that is full of lovely people. Through some combination of wealth, genetics, skin care, hair and nail treatments, gym memberships, and surgery the people of Tallahassee are an attractive lot. I’m sure having Florida State University there doesn’t hurt, but it is more than that. I began to wonder if I, as a gentleman of modest appearance, was going to be whisked away by the looks police and told I can’t go back into the city. Maybe being with my attractive sister protected me. I shall never know.
9. The Protesters at the Capitol
Throughout my stay there I drove by the Florida Capitol Building several times. It is a stately structure that represents well the people of Florida. In front of the capital, as is there right in a free society, were protesters. This is well and good for a people who possess free speech and use it. The only problem with these protesters is that after driving by several times, I still don’t know what they were protesting.
What was observable is that they were angry, wearing white shirts, and had signs that did not tell me what they were angry about. Not only that, these generic signs made such a firm impression on me that I can’t remember what a single one of them said. So if you are planning to protest in Florida or anywhere, please make sure I as a passerby can know what you are protesting.
8. Lucy and Leo’s Cupcakery
There is a quaint pink building on Thomasville Road with a cute little sign that says Lucy and Leo’s Cupcakery. Inside you will find a green entryway with an artsy appearance and a few tables that have some of Tallahassee’s beautiful people sitting in them.
The counter on your left is where the good stuff starts. Cupcakes! Lots of delicious and lovely cupcakes. I had the Strawberry Shortcake Cupcake and I must say it was delicious. At $2.75, this is well worth a visit
7. Gameday Chic
At the back of Lucy and Leo’s there is a cute little clothing and fashion shop called Gameday Chic (pronounced Sheek not Chick). Normally I not go into such an establishment as it is fashion related and I am actually a living Neanderthal. They don’t make good clothing for hominids with sloped foreheads like me.
This one has a special appeal to me because my sister owns it. I must say it is a cute little shop and I enjoyed looking around. If you should ever visit, check out the manikin in the back left corner by the dressing room. That one was my idea. My one and only business acumen.
6. The FSU Seminoles
One of the strange things about universities is how obsessed they get with their team names and colors. My own alma mater, The University of Tennessee at Knoxville, is awash with orange and white at all times. We even shout about being the Tennessee Volunteers despite the fact that I don’t think we are particularly good at volunteering for anything.
FSU (that is Florida State University) is no exception. They are bombarded and bombarding their world with how much they are Seminoles despite the fact that the university has only a nominal connection with the tribe itself. As an outsider, it was both amusing and strange to see all of the Native American based apparel and colors with little or no real connections to a Native American heritage.
5. The University Center Club
On the FSU Campus there is a prominent brick building (or I should say there are many prominent brick buildings) called The University Center Club. It has large meeting rooms and is rented out for various meetings and parties. I had the privilege of attending such a party with my sister and other family members. The occasion was Tallahassee’s Top Salon competition which my sister’s salon had been nominated for.
The decor is the classic southern pillars that I have been used to seeing since I was a child but never at this scale. We were in a large rectangular room that was dimly lit. Being with some of the most beautiful of the beautiful people of Tallahassee, we also got to see them becoming increasingly inebriated as the evening progressed.
Overall the evening was enjoyable and memorable. Unfortunately, Kiersten Smith Hair and Beauty didn’t win.
Outside The University Center Club there is a large statue of a horse-mounted Seminole with a spear prominently brandished. It is a striking sculpture that really creates a sense of awe. Below that there is a single word inscribed in the base.
Now this fits very well with the statue and with the school’s aforementioned obsession with the Seminole people. But the more I thought about it, I have come to believe that it is a liability.
As many of you know, FSU was the National Champion this year in college football so the inscription is actually quite fitting. They were, in fact, unconquered. It struck me that this is one of the very few times in FSU history that the inscription was actually true.
So imagine another year where they are repeatedly and severely beaten in any sport. The opposing team needs to simply pull their bus in front of that statue and allow the banal college humor to roll. While the moment I saw engraving was profound in its appropriateness, it must spend the vast majority of its time being humorously inappropriate.
3. The Roads
Tallahassee has many things going for it. It’s roads are not one of the them.
The road system in Tallahassee sucks. It is difficult to get your bearings and once you do, you will find you are going the wrong way on a one way street. If you would like to find out for yourself, try visiting the intersection between Thomasville Rd, N. Meridian Rd, and E. 7th Ave. If you are on Thomasville then you will pass by with no trouble. If you are on any of the other roads, Heaven help you. There is a special magic to this intersection that it reads your intended destination and somehow blocks you from going there.
The confusing nature of the roads can only be aggravated by the angry intensity of the other drivers. I think Tallahasseeans drink road rage with their breakfast. I had more people riding my bumper and blasting their horn than in any other city. One look at the complex streets and the MN plate on my car should have helped them to see my desperate plight. But no, better to hit the horn and give me the finger.
2. Meridian Road
Amidst this mess of one-way streets and angry drivers, there is a single and profoundly beautiful road. North Meridian Road is a straight drive of several miles with beautiful trees and spanish moss overhanging. In the full sunlight of north Florida it creates a lovely shaded ride that I would recommend to anyone visiting the area. Just don’t look in your rearview mirror because there will be someone riding your bumper and likely scowling at you.
1. Kiersten Smith
Let’s face it, I would never have visited Tallahassee except that my adorable and lovely sister lives there. What is Tallahassee’s greatest draw? Why Kiersten of course! Even though you may not be related to her, I would recommend getting a haircut from her and visiting Gameday Chic. She is a delightful person and, if you ask, I’m sure she can find a good look for you.
So, for all my adventures in Tallahassee, I had a good time. It is a city worth visiting. So go there, bring your GPS, have a cupcake, get a haircut, and take a cruise down Meridian Road.
That’s what I did.