Thursday, March 19, 2015

Florida Days

On March 1st we arrive at our home for the next month in Safety Harbor, Florida. Safety Harbor is an old Florida town on Tampa Bay near Clearwater. It is a sleepy little town,   quiet and peaceful, at least most of the time. There is a mineral springs with a resort and spa attached to it, great running trails, and a very nice park with an Indian Mound to explore at some point.

Our house this year is fabulous, clean and filled with light! The owners built it about a year ago, on a quiet residential street right off Main Street.  The floors are all hard surfaces, very dog friendly and so easy to keep clean. There are two bedrooms,  two bathrooms, an open living / kitchen space, and a screened lanai in the back. There is a little fenced yard with a patio. 

Safety Harbor is filled with Live Oaks. They are beautiful huge trees, dripping with Spanish moss, which they are shedding, along with leaves, pollen, flowers and seeds all over the place. The sound of leaf blowers is a daily occurrence as homeowners keep up a mostly futile battle to try to stay ahead of the mess. It reminds me of Austin and the messy trees that surrounded our house there. Mick, the owner of our house, says that March is the worst, but I think Live Oaks are always shedding something, no matter what time of year it is.

Tuesday morning I need to do my long run, that I put off because we were traveling. I run 12 miles along the Bay Shore hike and bike trail and then take the Wilson Reems trail up up to the Philadelphia Philly's spring training camp and back. It's hot and humid and I need to get acclimated to the weather, but it's nice not dealing with the cold and snow or ice for a change.

I walk down to the spa and find out I can buy a 10 day pass that I can use to take fitness classes or just go swimming or enjoy the springs and the hot tub. I take a  boxing conditioning class one day and a spinning class the next. The classes are good, I think, a good cardio and strength workout using muscles I don't ordinarily use while running.

We get on the bikes too, riding north one day along the same path I followed on my run. But this time we have the dogs in their trailer and they get a lot more friendly attention than an old lady runner! I hear a lot of people say "did you see? There are THREE in there!" Another day we go south into Philippe Park. This is a beautiful park overlooking the Bay with lots of live oaks and Spanish Moss, and that Indian Mound I mentioned earlier.

One day we go visit our friend Diane in redneck land, aka New Port Richey, about 45 minutes north of Safety Harbor. Diane is the breeder in New Hampshire where we got all of our dogs. She and her husband have bought a house in Florida because like many  true New Englanders Diane hates winter and can't wait to escape the snow for a couple of months every year. She has a lot of Westies; one male named Boink, and about 12 females, both breeders and retired mamas that have become her pets. One of her dogs had a litter of puppies right after they got to Florida, so right now she has a litter of puppies too. One of the puppies was doing poorly so she started bottle feeding it. Little Mira was touch and go for several days, but now she is doing much better and trying to catch up with her bigger brothers and sisters. There is also darling Woodie, a male puppy that will be Boink's replacement when he retires, and two German Shepherds. 

Our dogs are delighted to see their Westie friends and have a fun afternoon exploring Diane's yard, chasing balls, and barking at the occasional passerby. We carry a table out under the trees and eat the Cuban sandwiches we have brought. Diane provides the drinks and dessert.

Often on our walks with the dogs we end up at the Safety Harbor dog park. Safety Harbor has a nice dog park in the city park, nestled under the trees between the Little League fields. If we are willing to get in the car and drive a little bit there is a really amazing larger dog park not very far away. Enterprise Dog Park has an area with agility equipment, and it actually has a trail winding through the woods so you can go on an off leash walk! It's the best dog park I've ever seen. The only problem is a large mud puddle in one corner of the park that Cosmo and Harper lost no time in finding. Oh well, there is a rinse off station at the entrance to the park, and next time we will remember to bring a towel. 

We have, of course, spent a fair amount of time exploring the many restaurants in this little town. We've eaten oysters at Sea Dog Saltwater Grill, burgers, beer  and sangria at The Whistle Stop, gone to Marker 39 for Floridian food, sampled the sandwiches at The Sandwich Shop. So far the only place we won't go back to is the 8th Street Pub where we ate mediocre pizza and endured poor service our first night in town.

There is a lot to do in this area of Florida. Some days we are active and busy, other days not so much. We are equally happy exploring the area and staying home with our dogs. The days slip by, one by one, warm and sunny and bright.

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