Sunday, February 22, 2015

Tampa, Florida: Day 2 - Dinner with the Baums and a reunion with Bertrand

Travel Date: Thursday, Dec 04 2014

After getting up in the morning the first thing I had to address was getting some service work done on my car. So I headed to the local Midas store.

Tire rotation, oil change, and a couple of other small fixes.

And then I headed to St. Petersburg for a visit to The Dali Museum, and then Fort de Soto Park: an island/park on the banks of the Gulf of Mexico.

After the sunset, I head back to the house. Marcus is cooking a winner winner home-made chicken dinner.

Making sure the salad is setup.

It looks really really good. I am quite excited.

A fantastic dinner and great companionship with Marcus and Mary.

After dinner I head out to meet up with another friend: Bertrand at the Yard of Ale bar.

I met Bertrand in Lexington Virginia. He was part of a traveling musical/choir group singing at the Robert E. Lee Episcopal Church. Most of the group members were from Haiti and raising money for their church in Haiti.

I knew he lived in the Tampa area and decided to message him, letting him know I was in town and if he had we could meet up. I've only met him once and when we had our reunion at Yard of Ale it was like old times. Great reminiscing about stories from eons ago with someone you've just met once before but feels like a really good friend. He introduced me to his girlfriend Meg, who like him was genuine and friendly.

After a few beers, and a great night reconnecting and socializing it was bed time.

An overall great day visiting the Dali Museum, watching the sunset at Fort de Soto Park, having a delicious dinner with Marcus and Mary and then a reunion with Bertrand.

Thank you Marcus and Mary for the hospitality, dinner and hosting me for two nights. I really really appreciate it and enjoyed Tampa much. Marcus, that chicken was delicious. My mouth is salivating just thinking about it. Thank you for the many recommendations. They were spot on!!! Especially the Dali Museum and Fort de Soto.

Bertrand: Dude it was great to see you again. It will be one of my crazy stories of seeing someone I've only met once before and hanging out together like old pals. Thank you both (you and Meg) for the great company and making it out to see me for a few beers. You contributed significantly to my time and experience while visiting Tampa.

Expenses: $126.13
Car Maintenance: $109.99
Beverages: $14.00
Groceries: $2.14

Fort de Soto Park, Florida: Sunset at Fort de Soto

Travel Date: Thursday, Dec 04 2014

After the visit to The Dali Museum and the attempt of manatee viewing, I decided to try out Fort de Soto Park, a Pinellas County park. So my National Parks Pass would definitely not get me a freebie entry.

I stopped by a nearby parking meter and prepaid the parking fee.

Drove to the entrance, showed them my paid parking fee and I passed through.

I drive over to the Gulf Pier.

I drive around until I find some parking.

Oh neat, this is where I am according to Google Maps.

I walk to the top of fort and look over the Gulf of Mexico.

I walk back down to the late welcome sign. :-)

And walk around the Fort to see the old cannons.

Probably where they used to keep the good stuff.

My Oh My ... I'm too close.

After the long walk around the Fort and various holding cells I decide to check out the beach.

Finally dipping my toes in the Gulf of Mexico water. You are not allowed to swim due to the strong currents so this is as wet as I will get.

The pier that I make a mental note to check out later.

The beaches

Lots of sea gulls.

Some of the cannons were here.

I walk towards the pier and decide to check out the Snack Bar.

I noticed the ice cream sign outside so was tempted.

Nom nom nom.

The panoramic view.

Time to walk the pier.

Hello feathery friend.

At the end of the pier, I noticed three birds.

I decide to call the Larry, Moe and Curly (The Three Stooges).

I rest on the bench and almost fall asleep.

Time to head back to the car.

For a nice long nap.

.. in the relative shade.

After waking up I decide to drive around some more and visit the other ends of the island.

I drive to East Beach.

And take a picture of the bridge.

I drive to one of the Bay Pier

And notice this guy and his whatchamacallit? I want to play too.

I drive to the North Beach.

And learn about a nearby key called Egmont Key

Which is a wildlife refuge.

Unfortunately the ferry rides to Egmont ended about an hour ago. Darn it. Maybe next time.

I drive around to the other end of the park: the Arrow Head Picnic Area.

Park my care and enjoy the raccoon trying to get some food.

I walk to the beach.

And sit on this stump. The shoreline has degraded significantly.

The view is peaceful and there are very few people around.

I wait there for the sunset to begin.

The end. So magical.

I have to admit that while Marcus and Mary suggested Fort de Soto Park, I was hesistant to go initially. But fate would have it that I go because I didn't want to spend time driving around Tampa but rather be in nature. And I was glad that I went.

The old Fort was okay. I've seen better, but the cannons were amazing and in great condition. I loved walking around on the beach, and in the water. It was great to finally be IN the Gulf of Mexico after a long long time. Walking by the pier and seeing the other ends of the park were great. And while I kind of regretted not being able to go to the Egmont Ferry, I was grateful to stick around and watch the beautiful sunset on a near perfect day. It was priceless!

Fabulous recommendation Marcus and Mary... just fabulous!!!

Expenses: $18.21
Lunch: $6.96 (Subway)
Tolls: $1.25 (to get to Fort de Soto Park)
Icecream: $5.00
Parking: $5.00