More vacation stories to tell..

This vacation has taken almost three weeks to gel into a couple of blog posts. Why?  The trip to Fort Lauderdale, the Keys and Weston back in January had a pretty good running commentary. This vacation was done without a computer. I used my Droid phone to check email and really just stayed off the grid.  This was about connecting with my DW, she has had a tough few months.  As you remember her stepfather passed away a week before Christmas. Two days before Christmas her mom went into the hospital and she passed on January 3.  A rough month following a bumpy fall.

The Tampa trip was scheduled in October as a way to celebrate our 29 th. wedding anniversary . Who knew at the time that the need for a few days to connect would be so pressing as they were (and are) this winter.  The previous blog entry Small Steps covered several topics including the first day in Florida where we spent the afternoon on Clearwater Beach walking in the Gulf of Mexico (the water was cold) and experiencing the sunset.

Today we will go kayaking on the Hillsborough River. We used the same company this year as last year. Why re-invent the wheel if it works?  Canoe Escape rents kayaks and canoes for river trips.  Friday started out foggy on Tampa Bay. Our hotel was right by the bay and the fog shrouded the highway until we got about 3 or 4 miles east closer to the center of Tampa.  The drive to the canoe place took about 20 minutes or so.  When we got to the park, the sky was still overcast, but the temperatures were in the mid 70’s. And yes, a touch of humidity was in the air (more than a touch).  We were the only customers in the park during our rental and orientation.  Last year we kayaked on a sunny Saturday and the park was jam-packed.

The river was quiet. Just my DW and I in our kayaks drifting downstream. If you wanted to paddle, you paddled. If you wanted to drift, your drifted. There is enough current to keep you moving without the danger or excitement of rapids and white water. We did hear a few odd things as we kayaked down the river. Looking to either side we saw alligators, lots of bids and quite a few turtles. No people or building were visible from the water. We heard a dog barking off to one side. And later we hear the backup siren that some trucks make when backing up.  The noises were out-of-place in the dense forest.  We traveled 9 miles on the river. I took quite few pictures and some video as well.

We stopped on the way home at a farm stand where they make fresh milk shakes with local strawberries.  The shake was outstanding.  After we got back to Tampa we went to a fish market looking for dinner. We found stone crab claws, locally made smoked fish salad and Hog Fish. We ate the stone crabs Friday night and the Hog Fish Saturday night.  There is nothing like fresh seafood for dinner!

 

 

Here is a link to all the pictures from the river.

Enjoy!

 

Namaste

 

Where ya’ been, dude?..

Been, I’ve been. There and back in the last eight days of so. I’ve been dodging crazy people as I drive to work. I’ve been looking up at the sky and wondering when I moved to Scranton (not) and where the heck the sun has gone.

The last time we visited I wrote about attending three wakes, a funeral and a beer festival in one week. The next week, last week, was hell at work. If I was that hindu character (s) with the extra hands, I would still not have enough hands and hours at work.  Worked sucked, there is no other way to describe the week. By Wednesday night, I was a grouch at home. Come Thursday morning I was looking on the internet for sunshine, anywhere in the United States. I was on a mission to go where the weather suits my clothes.

My DW got Friday off and I called in sick (mental health day) and we headed south. Thursday night I bought two tickets to Tampa, Florida. The plane left at 8 am Friday morning and by 10:45 am we were in the 75 degrees weather enjoying some sunshine and humidity. I know, this summer I will be cursing that same humidity, but not last week. We picked up our rental car and headed west to Clearwater Beach.  There was quite a bit of traffic heading to the beach around lunch time Friday. I guess we were not the only people looking for some time in the sun.

We spent the afternoon at Sandy Key Park (on the beach). We walked, people watched, played in the water and took a nap on the beach.  After our beach afternoon we headed to the Westin in Tampa where we had a room reserved for the weekend. We ate dinner at Aqua in the Westin. The food was really good.  Tampa was under a boil water advisory Friday night into Sunday night due to a power outage at the water treatment plant. The hotel provided complimentary bottled water all weekend.

Saturday morning we went to Ybor City to walk around their Saturday Farmers Market. It turns out that Saturday was also the 10 annual Flan Festival. There was all kinds of food and booths set up in the area of the Farmers Market.  After we walked and ate our breakfast, we headed to Thonotosassa, Florida to rent canoes from Canoe Escape. We canoed for 4.5 miles on the Hillsborough River. We saw lots of alligators, lots of turtles and lots of birds. There are pictures and video from the trip. (Well of course there are pictures!)  The video can be found here in the You Tube link. The full folder of pictures can be found here in this Drop Box link

After our wildlife adventure we traveled to Tarpon Springs for a late lunch/early dinner.  We ate at Hellas Restaurant and Bakery.  The food was excellent.  Hellas is one of our favorite places to eat.  After dinner we headed back to the hotel in Tampa. We tried out the hot tub and pool. The hot tub was an intimate affair. Well, maybe affair is the wrong word. Intimate, it the right word to describe its size. If you went in with your significant other, the hot tub was the right size. If there were two couples in the hot tub, you would soon be friends. If there were younger children (under 10) in the hot tub, it was way too small. And the water was poorly filtered. We spent all of 5 minutes in the hot tub then went back up to our rooms for a hot shower. 

Saturday night was a few beers at the Bahama Breeze restaurant located about a half mile from our hotel.  We got back the room after midnight, soaking up as much of the humidity as we could. Sunday we were back on the plane for an 8 am flight back to Philadelphia.  We had a good time. Monday, back to work. I played lacrosse last night. I caught most of the passes thrown at me but scored no goals.

Thanks for reading!!

Here are a few pictures from the weekend. Enjoy!

Namaste