Thursday, January 15, 2009

A day at the zoo

A day at the zoo

Lowry Park Zoo, Tampa Florida - - Finally! And it was well worth the wait. According to the brochure it was voted America’s #1 Zoo. And it sure is! Sorry, Toledo Zoo, we now have a new favorite zoo. But, thanks to my Toledo Zoo Membership we did not have to pay the $17 per senior person to get in! Everything in the park was expensive, even the new patch for my jacket.

Lots of babies- from the twin white tiger cubs who were crawling and falling all over their poor mother, the baby orangutan hanging just within reach of it’s red haired momma, the baby baboon who was much cuter than it’s blue bottomed papa, and the biggest baby – the very thirsty African Elephant! By far the most babies we’ve seen in any zoo! There were Kangaroos in a walkabout, lots and lots of very unusual and very colorful birds in several different domed aviaries, 2 white alligators, a beautiful velvet coated Okapi (a big red antelope type with black and white stripes on its back legs), up close Giraffes- thanks to a high feeding platform, a strange looking red warthog creature from Asia, a hands-on experience with Cow Nosed Stingrays (Oh, so soft!) and of course Manatees! Lowry Zoo is the biggest Manatee hospital/rehab facility in Florida where injured Manatees are brought in, nursed back to health and then released back to the wild if possible. Quite informative!

After H changed his shoes to ease the pain on his new set of blisters, we attempted to go visit the RV Show at the Florida State Fairgrounds. The venue turned out to be way bigger than our tired legs were ready to endure and - - neither of us wanted to pay $5 to park and then yet another $7 for each of us to enter what should have been a free sales pitch for the vast multitude of RV’s and all the new and improved equipment for them.

On our way back south to our “motel” we found the turnoff road for the power plant in Apollo Beach. The folks at the power plant have built and maintained a really neat observation park to view and learn about manatees. The plant itself sits on the north side of a large creek/canal where the manatees come to get warm because of the hot water coming from the plant’s water discharge. The thermometer on the south side of the canal by the boardwalk registered 80 degrees. In just the area at the end of the canal we counted over 50 manatees and there were many more out where the water was being poured back into the canal.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sunday in the South

Sunday was the Lord’s Day and He gave us another lovely day! Breakfast at Mickey D’s and then off to find another beautiful beach. And we did! Imagine that. Back out to Anna Marie Island and made a left turn down to Longboat Key and parked at Coquina Beach. Beautiful snow-white sand and gently rolling waves! The end of the beach at the south end of the island was a pleasant place to sit and watch the boat traffic going from the bay to the gulf and the vehicle traffic on the bridge, which connects the island to the next. At Sarasota there is a little park and fishing pier that parallels the causeway bridge. As we were looking for Rt 41 to head back north we came across the 25 ft statue of the sailor kissing the nurse. She even had seams in the back of her stockings just like in the original photo from the war. Dinner was at the Oyster Bar just north of Sarasota and we would recommend it to anyone. My salmon was delicious!

Monday we met Sharon and Dick in Ellenton and had a good afternoon shopping and laughing. We met Nancy (Sharon’s friend from Toledo) at the Roaring 20’s Pizza Restaurant and spent the evening stuffing ourselves with yummy thin crust pizza and listening to the most amazing gentleman who played a HUGE theater Wurlitzer Organ that took up one entire end of the building with all its bellows, pipes and reeds. The magnificent organ sounded like an entire orchestra and the different cymbals, drums, horns and xylophone parts were placed all around the room and were lit up whenever their notes were called for. The American flag blew in the wind when a patriotic piece was played! When he played the Phantom of the Opera, the lights flashed and the bass boomed. The Wabash Cannonball had a very loud, very powerful train begin its slow churn to movement and then roared thru from one side to the other.

As we were chatting with Nancy and asking about her summer cottage up on the chain of lakes near Coldwater Michigan, the folks next to us overheard us and we found out they were from the same chain of lakes. Now what are the chances? The younger couple with them was down visiting from Marshall Michigan and we found out that Jackie works for State Farm! We had fun sharing the evening with them. Before they left, I dared her to email or call our State Farm office back home and tell them I said Hello!

Tuesday brought another “cold front” and it rained and was windy all afternoon. As the evening got closer, it got even colder and stayed just as windy. The forecasts all show cooler temps in the low 60’s for the rest of the week. Night temps are to get down into the low 40’s. Not nearly as bad as the reports up north tho!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sailing Tampa Bay

Sailing Tampa Bay

Remember the big gray tent that H rescued in the storm? He met its owner and found out that Claude was from North Georgia and also had a 28ft tri-maran sailboat that he had built and stores down here! He invited us to go out sailing with him and of course we didn’t hesitate! The tide was out in the early morning but as the water came in the canals/sloughs – we went out. Several other campers have since commented on how it looked to see this big wide white sailboat going out the canal, which at spots was just big enough to let him maneuver and make it thru or around the corners! Once we wound our way thru all the channel markers and into some deeper waters, we headed west across the bay towards St Petersburg at a pretty good clip. H thought he had the best seat because he got to mind the tiller and sail “Tootsie” – but I had the best seat on the boat!! OUT ON THE TRAMPOLINE - - - AND ON THE HIGH SIDE!!! I took lots of pictures and tried to catch the outrigger up out of the water as we were “hull flying” but the trampoline kept getting in the way and the camera didn’t catch it enough to blog a picture. The guys seemed to blend together well on their sailing techniques and Claude was impressed that H got more speed out of his boat than he did! On the way back to our side of the bay we did have a pod of 3 dolphins that jumped and swam back and forth behind the boat - not high enough to get a picture tho.

On our way back thru the maze of green and red channel markers, the jib sail was dropped and then the main. We anchored just off the boat launch to remove both sails and get them rolled up and bagged. When they were both packed away, we assisted in getting the mast lowered and the outriggers folded up and tucked up alongside the center section of the boat. Once beside the loading dock, it looked strange with its wings folded up, almost underneath itself, like a big seagull with droopy injured wings. Yes, the resident flock of pelicans sat on the ledge, supervising all the activity!

Saturday was quiet compared to all the excitement of Friday. Found a flea market, paid a bill via the library computer, sent some emails and drove over to Sun Center to find Wal-Mart. Sun Center is a pretty town, only 6 miles away, right next to I75 but is full of REALLY Senior Citizens and all their golf carts!!

We’ll be in EG Simmons for another week because there is still a lot to see and do. We haven’t been to the Tampa Lowry Zoo yet and the canoe has only been in the water once since we’ve been here. Oh, yeah, and we haven’t caught any fish.