Saturday, January 10, 2009

Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay

A cold front went thru the Tampa area on Wednesday – some good sized, almost Texas type winds and some rains! H came to the rescue of the neighbor’s awning that was flipping and flopping, trying it’s best to jump off of the framework that was holding it back. Another neighbor’s tent was trying to lift off like a huge gray balloon, so H deflated it, removed the poles and then secured it down with it’s own tent pegs. Yes, both neighbors were grateful when they returned!

This morning was calm with clear blue skies so the canoe went in the water and we paddled out to the Tampa Bay. It was pretty neat to look to the left and see the St Petersburg skyline and look to the right and see Tampa’s skyline, just as clear as could be.

We almost had a head on collision with 3 manta rays while paddling in the shallows! They split up and careened off at the last moment! There were plenty of low soaring pelicans, underwater soaring of manta rays and even some good sized crabs-possibly horseshoe, since we’ve seen plenty of their shells on the beaches. On the way back up the mangrove-lined canal, there were a bazillion, iddy biddy fish jumping up in front of our mighty craft! The water looked green but yet it was clear enough to see the bottom of the paddles as we dipped them into the water.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Remember you can left click on the pic to enlarge it

Post card from Florida

Post card from Florida

Another beautiful day to go explore the gulf coast of Florida! Today H chose the white sand Bradenton beaches out on the Anna Marie Island. Happy hour started at 3pm but H was hungry and could only wait till 1pm so we had yummy seafood out on the Historic Anna Marie City Pier that was built in 1910. The pier was lined with fishermen, surrounded by seagulls above the water, pelicans on the water and a million little fishes under the water. A walk down the beach and back was needed to walk off some of those delicious calories before wandering thru Bradenton to find the National Memorial for Hernando Desoto. In the museum was a lifelike resemblance of one of Mr. DeSoto’s bravest soldiers in a stylish silver helmet! Once he took off that heavy hat, we wandered the tunnel like path thru the mangroves, along the bay and enjoyed the cool shade.

Back at the campground, a quick bite for supper and off we went on our bikes to hunt for a good spot for a sunset picture.

January 6th is Epiphany in the Greek Orthodox religion and the biggest festival is in Tarpon Springs, just north of Tampa! Thanks to Dick’s son Rick – we knew about it and thanks to the local TV stations we knew the times! We found the park in time and parked the Jeep on Banana Ave and walked 3 blocks, past Lime, Lemon and Orange Streets to the Tarpon Bayou where the ceremony was to take place. A sermon in Greek was being broadcast from the Cathedral a few blocks away and then the procession of all ages of children in costume, the priests, the choir and the teenage boys who were to do the actual dive all walked to the bayou The boys dove into the water and swam to a circle of secured dingys that awaited them. The priest finished his singsong Greek and English message referring to Jesus coming out of the water after his baptism, a white dove was released and the gold cross was thrown into the water to sink to the bottom. The throng of teen boys dove from the boats into the water and one of them finally came up with the cherished token and good luck for the New Year was assumed.

Our day’s travel ended up being a big circle which was completed as we followed south on Rt 19 and then out onto Sand Island down to Treasure Island and finally across the big toll bridge on Tampa Bay, back to 275 and then up Rt 41. In the near vicinity of the county park where we’re parked there are a half dozen nesting platforms for Osprey and it was welcoming to see them perched there, as if waiting for us to return.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Moving on in 2009

Moving on in 2009

Monday, January 4, 2009 – talk about time flying – it sure has. We’ve had LOTS of problems with finding any wifi and then with our Juno email not working with it.

While staying at Trimble Park in Mount Dora, H decided we should drive over to Kelly Park, another Orange County campground. We were told they were full but he wanted to show me the pretty springs that were there. The head of the springs actually comes out of a cave and meanders down a clear river that looked great for snorkeling. My hopes went up, but first we needed to find the Central Florida Zoo, which is a bit closer to Sanford than the springs were. We had visited the zoo before and loved watching how the keepers work with their resident elephants, Maude and Mary. Our timing was off – the two huge lady pachyderms were done with their morning routines and were just rocking back and forth as tho to a slow dance record. Even the Howler monkeys were not howling. Since we were so close to Sanford, we decided to go find the library and “borrow” some wifi. We found the library but could not get Juno or the wifi to work. Oh well.

New Years Eve was quiet at the campground and in the morning, H called his favorite Hillsborough County campground- EG Simmons on Tampa Bay and found out they would have openings on Sunday. Off we went and made it as far as Lithia Springs County Park, southwest of Plant City, which also had a spring. This spring was bigger than the others we’ve seen but not nearly as picturesque. The campground was neat and woodsy. Good “facilities” but WAY too many speed bumps to drive over just to get to and from our camp spot! Our neighbors, Ray and Tawny were from Lake Worth area and were camping in a new huge trailer that had a pop-up loft on the top of it! Unique to say the least! While parked there we also went exploring and checked out yet another Hillsborough County campground that had a decent-sized lake/reservoir. The lake sprawled all over and around a bunch of coves and runs. It was complete with a fishing bridge with a tower on an island at the end of it. No one was catching anything and maybe it was because there were 2 alligators slinking in the shadows by the edge.

Sunday morning and here we are – site #20 for the next week. EG Simmons is a HUGE county park and is a half dozen mangrove surrounded peninsulas with lots of fishing piers, boat launches and a nice beach. We found several horseshoe crab shells and H even allowed me to bring back the smallest, which is sitting outside, sprayed down with bleach. We spent the afternoon riding our bikes around the park and then riding the Jeep down the road- Yep – to look for a library and wifi. We finally were able to download, albeit slowly because a friend had sent a lengthy video forward and it had really tied things up in a knot.