Monday, June 12, 2017

Florida 2017: Baseball, Dali, Beaches and Owlets!

Feb 14th, Tuesday. Happy valentine’s day. We have breakfast with the Pauls sisters and their father at Athens. Three of the sister’s visit’s have overlapped for a few days. Athens is supposed to have really good breakfasts, and it turns out that they do. Everyone else gets omelets, but I have blueberry pancakes. They are great, as is the coffee, and the bacon!

I give Lee various lotions and soaps that he likes. He gives me roses, a macaron making kit, and a westie umbrella. He outdid himself this year.

Because of our huge breakfast we have no need for lunch but I do have an afternoon ice cream cone. We go to Green Springs Bistro for dinner. The same guy is playing guitar in the background as in years past. Lee has mushroom ravioli, I have the chicken stuffed with ham, with mashed taters and stir fried veggies. Its all delicious.

On Wednesday, February 16th I take another boxing class. Only two of us attend so I really get a workout. I'm quite out of breath but my form continues to improve. A rainstorm blows through in the afternoon, then around 5 pm we go to Coastal Cantina, down the street. We sit at the bar cause it's chilly, windy and wet outside.  I have an excellent Manhattan.

Feb 17th, Thursday. Dennis and Diane come for a visit. We have lunch on the patio. The dogs are so happy to see them! We go for a bike ride and see a huge alligator in Kapok Park! And I finally see a manatee from the Safety Harbor pier! Just one, moving slowly, but finally! Lynn’s manatee curse has been broken!

Feb 19th, Sunday.  I go for the first of several bike rides over the Courtney Campbell Causeway, almost all the way to Tampa. This time I ride 18 miles. Its a beautiful foggy morning. I see lots of birds, runners and cyclists. We are well protected from the traffic, and the bike path is mostly flat except for two bridges. Afterwards we get brunch at Marker 39. Lee has chorizo and egg, I have waffles, sweet potato fries, scrambled eggs. So good.

On Monday, February 20th we go to Clearwater Beach. Its a beautiful warm day and its Washington’s birthday so the beach is more crowded than we would like. Even so the beach is great, but the traffic is terrible. It wasn’t too bad getting there, but returning home was insane. Maybe next year we should park in downtown Clearwater and try taking the water taxis.

Feb 22nd, Wednesday. My mother-in-law Joanne has arrived and we have our first truly rainy day. We head to the bahn mi restaurant Seasons for lunch but there is a power failure and it is closed. The traffic is godawful. We end up at Alesia, right outside Gulfport for lunch. It's a great Vietnamese/French restaurant but by the time we get there it is 1:30 and we are starving. We split 2 bahn mi sandwiches and 2 bowls of pho. 

Fortified, we head to the Dali museum in St Pete. Its very, very crowded and there is a huge line to get in. I guess lots of people had the same rainy day idea as we did. Even so it's a very interesting museum. Dali was weird but he also was a very good artist. The audio guide is very helpful in trying to understand his paintings. There is a Frida Kahlo exhibit too, which seems to be more about her and less about her paintings.

On Thursday February 23rd we take the dogs to Enterprise dog park one more time. They are in heaven. Cosmo gets bossy with a few males dogs, all of which don't want to argue and cede dominance to him, even a big pitbull mix that appears to be unfixed. You’re not supposed to bring unfixed dogs to a dog park, but I guess his owner must have known he was just a very meek guy. That night we go to Parts of Paris for an excellent meal.

Feb 24th, Friday. In the morning I go for a one hour bike ride and then take a "core fusion" class at the spa. In the afternoon Joanne and I get 80 minute massages followed by herbal wraps. The wraps were free with an 80 minute massage so hey why not? The massage is good. She gets rid of some big knots in my shoulders. The jury is out on the herbal wrap. It smells great, but it is hot, and heavy. We lay down on a table and get covered in layers of herb-scented cloth, warm damp towels, and heat blankets. We lay there for 45 minutes and by the end I'm very well done.

Saturday, February 25th is our baseball day. We’ve got tickets to see the Phillies play the Yankees. Its a beautiful sunny day, and I’ve gotten us great seats, shady, on the first base line, close to home plate. We root for the Phillies, but not TOO hard. After all they are not the Cardinals. But they’re also not the Yankees! The Philly mascot is darling, the Fanatic. He's a sporty Big Bird. The end of the game is actually exciting. The Yankees tie it up in the top of the 9th and the Phillies score in the bottom for the win. I like spring training games!

On Sunday February 26th I go for another 20 mile bike ride on the causeway to Tampa. 10 miles still doesn't get me all the way to the city. Maybe next year. There is an awful headwind on the way out. I average less than 10 mph for the first 10 miles, 16 mph on the way back.

In the afternoon I ride my bike over to Phillips Park. I want to see if I can find the owl nest. Catherine told me where it was and how to find it. Go to the restrooms by the Indian Mound. Turn so that the restrooms are to your back. Look at the second live oak, in the crook of the trunk....why there it is! And there is a baby! I'm very excited. I tell a few people that are wondering what I'm looking at, so now the birding community is informed.

Feb 27th, Monday. Time to pack. This takes some contemplation. What clothes do I need for a 6 day trip, with the starting temps in the high 80's and the ending temps in the mid-teens? The rest goes in my large suitcase in the back of the truck. I can get to it if I really need something but it would be much better if I don't.

We take the car over to Phillips Park to look at the owl nest one more time before we go. Now it's easy to spot because there is a small gaggle of birders with binoculars and fancy cameras, murmuring and watching the mom and owlet appreciatively. I feel very fortunate to have seen this unusual sight. What a year for wildlife! An alligator, a manatee, and 
now an owl!

Most places in Safety Harbor are closed on Mondays but Whistle Stop is not. Joanne has no problem walking there but after the sun has set and its dark she does much better if Lee and I take her arms on either side, so we walk back to the house like the three musketeers!

Feb 28th, Tuesday. Bye Safety Harbor. See you next year. We have the house for two months in both 2018 and 2019. I already can't wait! Lee takes Joanne to the airport and then we drive the truck to The Villages, get the RV out of storage, and drive to our campground for the night. Grand Oaks is much much better than the place we stayed in January! It is also a carriage museum AND a huge equine center in addition to being an RV park! There are lots of places to walk the dogs, lots of room to go for a run. Its horribly hot, however, with a high of 88. 

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