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Time Runs Out On Jacksonville; No Jag Love Detected

September 18th, 2008 · Tags:Coffee Shops

Before I left the Five Points area of Jacksonville, I was drawn to the freshly painted window of a little coffee shop called L@titudes, with the “at” sign in the name. Hmmm … you think they will have wireless Internet? I’m thinking yes. But, their sign also said “coming soon.” So, I may never know, since I was “leaving now.” No rating.

I terrorized the economy cars around downtown Jacksonville in the monstrous Ford diesel for a few minutes, then headed north to a resurgent historic district – Springfield.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Springfield,_Jacksonville,_Florida

Michael at the Flux art gallery recommended a couple of Wi-Fi hotspots in the Springfield area – mixed in their among the cool, two- and three-story refurbished, awesome homes. The first recommendation was a bar – Shanty Town. Gotta love that name. Michael’s band, Badlands Trio, had played a gig at the Shant. Man, it was a joint! I opened the door, and it was so wall-to-wall bar stools, one of the stools almost fell out the door — literally. It was total darkness barring a few neon beer lights, but there were a couple of colorful, friendly guys hanging out and getting their drink on a bit and getting the place ready to open for the night.

I was a little confused. The outside of the bar was painted with the Shanty name, and a giant baboon in colorful graffiti style. But, the t-shirts sported a gorilla. Can’t we get together on our primates, gentlemen? I bartered for a price break on an XL and considered myself shrewd. Oh … Wi-Fi? That’s why I was in this boom box of a place. Nope! Tex and Dylan explained to me that there had been a snafu with the Internet provider, so someone took the wireless router home “fo his own self.”

You gotta have a router, fellas. But, they were fun guys. I’ll give Shanty Town two pings, as the future home of Wi-Fi. The guys promised to bring the router back.

Michael’s other pointer was a few blocks away, but totally at the other end of the spectrum, style-wise. Three Layers coffee shop appeared to be the perfect blend of cool and clean, modern yet “neighbory.” So why they closed? That particular day – we’ll call it Monday – there was no one there. “What? Do you work barber’s hours?” Well, it looked nice. Their hotspot was brewing Wi-Fi, for me and me alone. I partook freely from the side walk.

Three Layers, “Where were you when I needed you?” I wrote three pings on their clean window with my finger and sped away, almost undetected in my getaway diesel.

Ah … just up the road on Main was a place I first saw in Chattanooga, if memory serves – Krystal. I had one of their burgers way back when. It was decent. But, when Krystal opened its first location in my home town (Fort Worth) the line of cars circled around for blocks. Are they just that good? Do they have beyond-happy meals? Could it be they have Wi-Fi? Of course they do. (I knew that, but I was trying to build the suspense.) I popped inside the Jacksonville location, and let’s see … how to say this? I was the demographic minority. For one thing, all the guys in there were much older. They were sitting around cussing and talking politics. They looked like there had once been a barbershop there, and someone went and built a fastfood restaurant in its place, without ever stopping the domino game. Well, that’s how it looked to me. It wasn’t burger time, so I had a Milk Quake and got online, in two shakes. I surfed for free and it was crucial timing for my trip because I needed to find and pick up a rental car and time was running out. Back to Krystal … excellent hotspot and they really have a fun splash page. It featured a panoramic journey through a malt shop/diner kind of thing. See fo yo own self: http://www.krystal.com/

Oh, and they even developed a fun little logo – in house – for their Wi-Fi service. I like it when people go all out.

The gents in the corner couldn’t cuss louder than my earbuds, so I was not fazed. Great Wi-Fi … not a bad frozen treat – and no line wrapped around this Krystal – 5 pings, even if the burgers are square.

While I was online, I had to look at the various Hertz locations in Jacksonville, and it was almost closing time at the car rental pick up point. The Ford 250 4-wheel-drive King Ranch edition had served me fine on the beach and in the hood (can I say that?) … but for the haul down south to Orlando, I regained my sanity and wanted something that burned gas, but not much of it.

Quickly, I trucked through downtown toward the river’s edge, but pulled over when I saw a cool little Mexican restaurant. The sign said “Hola – Best Mexican food in town.” I cannot vouch. Wi-Fi? No tengo. No pingo. Back on task …

To the river, and the Hyatt, where I would meet up with a Hertz representative. See http://jacksonville.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels/index.jsp

I got online at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront. In the bar area, outside the restaurant at the Hyatt, the Wi-Fi was quick, so quick. And the wait staff stepped over to chat and to tell me that the signal was good throughout the entire lobby.

Man I love a friendly staff especially when it accompanies a great hotspot – 6 pings for the Hyatt.

So, let’s talk about Hertz and let’s talk about customer service. It was my lucky day. I met a really nice person, who seemed to really like dealing with people. Was it a dream? Oh and get this, Trenece Purnell, the manager, was a Texas Longhorn (my school’s rival) so she jacked up the price. Just kidding. Hertz had the car ready and waiting.

Trenece

Trenece

I gave the Ford truck back to its rightful owner, and sized up the midnight blue Honda Accord that Hertz found for me. I won’t lie, they cut me a great deal on a fuel-efficient, yet comfortable car … complete with GPS (that’s a global positioning system, for those lost in a tech world). So, now with GPS, imagine, never being lost again … could it be?

Next stop, the NFL so to speak. In advance of my trip to Jacksonville, I contacted the PR offices for the Jacksonville Jaguars. “Could I tour ‘their house,’ and report on their Wi-Fi?” They pretty much told me to take a hike.

Check them out anyway at: http://www.jaguars.com

Undaunted, I drove the Hertzmobile over to their stadium anyway. I parked and went inside the entrance of the dining club and offices. A Wi-Fi network popped up in the lobby – and if it had not been for the security guard asking me to wrap it up, I might have surfed on the SMG site – sports marketing group, I presume(?).

The security guard couldn’t answer my questions about the Jaguar’s loss that week or the key injuries because he “only liked NASCAR.” And of course, no one else wanted to talk to a blogger. So, as much as I respect Coach Jack Del Rio, the Jags only get a ping for every game they have played this year, (which incidentally are all losses). Wasn’t this Alltel Stadium back in the day? The Jags get 2 pings. But they should have an easy time Sunday against Peyton Manning and The Colts … right.

Last stop in the Jacksonville area – Sneakers. This sportsbar in Jacksonville Beach was serving up a Packers Game on the largest indoor TV screens I had seen – six of them. Sweet. And yes! They had Wi-Fi, even though I didn’t see anyone checking scores on their iPhones … other than me. Check it out at: http://www.sneakerssportsgrille.com/

As luck would have it, some of the Jaguar players were in the grill with a live radio remote, just prior to my arrival. Me and the Jags just were not in sync. But, the radio crew hung around, and showered my group with classic rock t-shirts. But, no, I didn’t get to meet the talk show host known as the Love Sponge … whatever that means. My loss, I am sure. See: http://rock105i.com/morningshow/

Sneakers gets pinged once for every HD behemoth TV in the place. Excellent Wi-Fi, tasteful cheerleaders uniforms, ballcaps, Terp fans and an excellent fried banana, ice cream feast – 6 pings.

Overall, Jacksonville and the area – excellent beaches, artsy pockets and pretty good Wi-Fi to be had just about anywhere you look. But I have to say, I was not impressed with one of their home teams and how they were representin – 4 Pings.

Know what I sayin?