Let me tell you that I indeed took the VERY long way home. My little trip over to the Gulf coast clocked in at 328 miles! Tuesday morning I asked Angela if she'd watch Baxter for me for a few days while Bruce was out of town with her heartily agreeing to the task. I called Laura and asked if she'd have me for the night knowing that because she is a neatnic no cleaning up for company would be needed. Perfect, she said, I'm getting off early today anyway. So, off I went. Now you are very familiar with the fact that I am no fan of bridges which heading anywhere on the coast involves but she assured me the causeway had only one minor hump which she was sure I could handle. And handle it I did. Arriving at her duplex 2ish she met me there with her boyfriend Jerry, a seriously nice guy. Their suggestion to go to John's Pass at Madeira Beach was perfect. We wandered around, sweating profusely I might add, enjoying the shops and scenery. Our wish to see some dolphins up close was not fulfilled, but we did watch some fisherman cutting up the day's catch with Laura critiquing their performance. From there we went to "Biff's Burgers", a local hole in the wall with a tradition for outstanding food. Asking for a wine list was out of the question--it's one of those places that serve red or white. I ordered the cabernet. The server brought me a plastic cup and a small bottle of Gallo--a first for me. Fortunately it was super cold which somewhat masked the taste and helped cool me down. Live entertainment is part of the package with the singer opening up with Fire and Rain , followed by more James Taylor and the obligatory Margaritaville, a song I told Jerry that if I never heard it again it would be fine with me. He likes it more simply because he's about half my age so he's not been subjected to a hundred different renditions like I have. He's a classic rock guy--no surprise there--his request for Lynrd Skinner (sp?) was granted.
The above picture is the happy couple back at Madeira Beach where we went to catch the sunset which was gorgeous. Instead of a quick sinking the sun seemed to melt into the horizon which seems fitting. In this heat we all feel like we are melting! A small boy had a little fish on his hook which Laura was trying to tease Jerry with while he was doing what everyone does these days--mess with their phone. Note he insisted on carrying my tripod for me.
They left me at Laura's for the night--she generously gave up her bed. I told her I wasn't certain if I'd be there in the morning when she came home to get ready for work and I wasn't. I woke up before 5 and decided to get on the road to see what I could see. I headed south to Fort de Soto State Park in the pitch dark. Mostly what I'm taking away from that jaunt is this which would have been impossible except for the tripod:
If I'd had the nerve I could have driven over the Sunshine Skyway and headed down to Sarasota but I didn't. It's huge and way, way too scary for me.
Logistics of Sunshine Skyway
Instead I headed back up the coast, eventually eating lunch in Tarpon Springs. I saw some beautiful sites along the way. Honeymoon Island is one those places I'd heard of before--always coming in near the top on those beach rating lists. It was not what I expected at all. You can't tell it from this angle but there was a barrier of small to medium rocks before you got to the water. As well lots of grasses along the shore.
Tarpons Springs, for those of you unfamiliar is a Greek community where sponges are harvested from the Gulf of Mexico. It was much like I remembered from a trip there many, many years ago with hawkers along the streets inviting you into the shops. It was also extremely hot while I was there. Pretty much suffocating because rain was on the horizon which always makes it worse. Unbearable really. I had lunch at a spot recommended by a local which was mediocre at best but entertaining. I mentioned to the cashier that it seemed like lots of gossip going on and she said it was really the whole street. I can imagine how that goes.
From there it was time to head home which was a drawn out affair to say the least. There's really no direct way to get to Orlando so I just set off with the map (quaint, I know) on the passenger seat. A little sample of what I saw along the way--a donkey farm, yard mulch factory, old worn out houses and trailers, need I mention horses and cows?, a town called Mabel, and one called Mascotte with a large bar called BadaBada Bing. Their slogan, painted on the building, was this: What happens at the Bing, Stays at the Bing. According to Wikipedia the population is 2,687. As well, I went through Zephyrhills which actually has some serious hills, or serious to Floridians anyway. I came across this along the highway near there.
Must be one of the last few drive-ins in business. I wonder with the current nostalgia for all things from the past (think candies), if they might be ripe for a comeback? Actually, I can't imagine how we stood it in the heat back in the day.
Eventually I arrived home to find Baxter comfortable at his home-away-from-home. Luckily for me there was very little rain on the drive making it enjoyable. It is great to get away if even for a little while to make you appreciate not only what is out in the wide world but what is right at home.
In that vein, I'm linking to Matt's photographs from his journey around England. Naturally they are amazing. Matt's Staycation
I'm doing laundry now so I'll call it a day with my blogging. Time to get some work done.