Our two weeks in Florida began on Sunday, November 2nd, 2014, when we departed the Norwegian Sun cruise ship after twenty-two days aboard ship.But a shuttle service took us there in just a few minutes. We paid an extra fee and picked our four door Kia up early.
Our home for these two weeks was located on the waters of Tampa Bay in the beautiful old town of St. Petersburg. Our good friends Bonnie & Terry have a lovely two house estate; we enjoyed a large bedroom and bath plus full use of the house shared with their granddaughter who is living with them while she attends the local university. They picked up this house in a bank foreclosure last spring; took down the fence between and are enjoying both homes. We frequently made the short walk between the houses and enjoyed many happy hours in both.
On Sunday evening of our first day we watched as our cruise ship sailed towards the Skyway Bridge on its way to another week of cruising with a whole new set of passengers. We’ve watched many cruise ships leaving and returning on their weekly cruises over the past two weeks. Seems like there is a new one every evening. They arrive early in the morning so we miss that portion of the adventure.
I had all of my siblings here during our stay. I have two sisters that live here year round and a brother who comes from October to April from Indiana. My third sister drove down from Indiana to be here with us during this time. They are in the Bradenton/Palmetto area so we crossed the Skyway Bridge almost daily for visits and activities. My oldest sister took a turn for the worst when we first arrived but by yesterday she was feeling and looking much better. She lives in an Assisted Living Home near my twin sister who looks after her when we are all elsewhere.
Our first tourist adventure was to visit the Chihuly Museum in St. Petersburg. Small but beautiful with all of the various forms that he melts glass into. It is located near the pier and we enjoyed walking the area after the museum. Then off to Gulfport for lunch at O’Maddy’s featuring the music of The Wandering Madman who parked a truck outside the restaurant and played a medley of tunes from over the years. The truck appears to have been a refrigerator truck with one side removed. It has solar panels on the roof for electrical power for the instruments. He often lives in the truck as he travels across the USA to areas that have sunshine and earns a living with donations. They never know when he will appear to play for the guests. Fascinating!
The sunrises and sunsets are all beautiful from our home away from home; only one day of light rain while we were here; but, I understand they’ve got rain coming this week. In the slideshow you’ll find a few of the hundreds of photos taken early morning and early evening. The photo of the sailboat at the opening of this blog was taken with a telephoto lens extended as far as it would go from the dock in front of the house where we stayed. One of my favorite photos along with this one that I entitled “Its four o’clock (should have been five o’clock) somewhere in the world” when I posted it on Facebook last week.
Many of our days in St. Petersburg were spent reading and enjoying the views. But we also took time to teach the Hand and Foot game to our host and also my sister. Mary and her husband Phil stayed with us overnight in St. Petersburg twice during our visit; providing extended time to visit and enjoy their company. Phil loves to fish off the pier when he is here and Mary loved the new card game that Jim, Bonnie, Mary and myself played whenever we could. During their first visit we also had Scott, Terry’s son-in-law, and another couple who live locally here for a BBQ. This house that we live in has four bedrooms and four bathrooms; a perfect “guest” house!
One of our mornings was spent driving north to Zephyrhills, about an hour, to my brother’s winter home in Florida. Enjoyed seeing all of his improvements and then a Chinese Lunch before returning home. While we were there he took us to see a most unusual development: People purchase their lots and build homes designed to use with their huge motorhomes that they drive down from the north for the winter months. Between the motorhome, the lot and the house; the value has to be well over a million dollars each. I’ve never seen anything like it before.
Last Saturday we went into downtown Tampa for the tour of the old Tampa Theatre that was built in the 1920’s and is the last remaining one in Tampa. It is now a historical building and is owned by the City of Tampa and managed by an organization with the goal of maintaining it in the condition of 1920; very art deco in style.
A great tour and it ended with music played on the massive Wurlitzer organ. The theatre is still active and has over five hundred events a year including Silent Films (with the organ playing), major first run films (on the old small screen) and musical events by well-known performers. If you’re visiting this area, try to attend a performance.
We then went over to the nearby Tampa Museum of Art to see a wonderful exhibit from The Dixon Museum in Memphis of French Impressionism paintings; Renior to Chagalle, Paris and the Allure of Color. Just enough to visit in an hour and really enjoy. From the upstairs balcony we could see the towers of the Tampa University where our friends Dave and Shari toured while waiting for their airplane after we ended our tour on the cruise ship.
Our two weeks went by fast; never enough time. Almost daily visits with family and a final lunch after attending Mass with everyone at Anna Marie’s Oyster Bar on Anna Marie Island. We purchased their famous key lime pie and enjoyed it at Mary and Phil’s home before taking the last piece over to our sister Betty. Her health is such that she was not able to attend the lunch with us. But she was there in spirit as we enjoyed family time.
This morning we’re preparing for our very long flight to Peru. We leave Tampa at 7 pm, stop in Miami, on to Lima, Peru and then finally arrive in Cuszo at 9 am on Tuesday. The time is exactly the same as here in Florida as we’re heading south and not east or west. See you in Peru. Hope you enjoy the slideshow below of our time in Florida.