Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A Subtropical Stay

Home again to the cold and snow, unpacked and ticking off the 'to-do' list created by two weeks absence. As the shore captain stated though…it's sure a lot less hassle to come home but not have to deal with going back to work. Making a few calls, keeping some appointments, a couple of documents and updating the blog can't be considered too strenuous. Walking to the mailbox with snowflakes and windchill is another matter though. 

We enjoyed a wonderful family getaway to Tampa for two weeks even though the weather was less than stellar. There were a couple of days at the beginning and end which could be considered 'beach days' but for the most part breezy and cool (only 13c on the middle weekend). Three of us (shore captain, myself and the nurse daughter) had a belly bug which having had once I am sure was norovirus the first weekend - and trust me….the two nurses managed MUCH better than himself with the bug. Then the final week mister managed to catch a cold and share it with ALL of us, yes even the poor baby so we could fly home with crackly ears. I'm certain it was a man cold because the whining was MUCH worse from the two affected males. However, even with coolish temps a and illness the trip was a subtropical success. Subtropical being the way our friends 'bug man' reminded her of the climate. 
Indian Rocks Beach
Renting a house for a crowd was a good choice for relaxing, great meals and visiting. Indian Rocks Beach is a bit quieter than Clearwater or St. Petersburg so the rental van (with our son-in-law as chauffeur) was well used. We were only a block from the beach (lovely beach walks) and the hot tub 
Glass blowing 
was well enjoyed. We took a day trip to Tarpon Springs which is a Greek community famous for its sponge fishery - touristy but a nice spot. There was discussion of deep sea fishing but…the season and weather decided against it. We invested in Tampa city passes and took in five attractions for the price of simply visiting Busch Gardens. Tampa Aquarium didn't disappoint and although I'd visited it previously was well worth another trip, Clearwater Marine Aquarium was interesting (Dolphin Tales was filmed here) as it's a marine rescue centre, the Chihuly collection reminded us of Murano in Venice and St. Pete's is a lovely artsy spot: 


The ladies enjoyed the Dali museum (over 2100 of his works) with the Frida Kahlo exhibit as a bonus. Cute to see the baby as an art critic. We were amazed at both sets of work and the gallery itself is a structural marvel:


The lads amused themselves with a visit to a microbrewery for a craft beer tasting and snacks - pulled pork nachos and ribs apparently were a good choice followed by watching the planes at St Pete - Clearwater airport and checking out the marina with the spiffy yachts. 

A very cool, breezy day spent at Busch Garden was still fun as the grandparents got to hang out with the granddaughter while the adult kids rode the rides complete with smiles and
Busch Gardens - Cumber
screams. Since we had always been dissed for not taking them as children to Disney (or any other theme park for that matter) we were absolved after the full day. It was a hoot to watch the baby observing the revolutions of the rides with great intent. We stopped on the way home for supper at a place called Suishi Burrito (which is in fact a Vietnamese restaurant - who knew?) and I have to say the lemongrass pork was one of the more delicious meals I've had. One evening we made our way across country to visit friends of ours (who we were posted with years ago in the RCMP) who now winter near Zephyrhills in a 'manufactured home' park - not our plan of choice as there were 1200 units there but a nice spot. It was different landscape with cattle farms, pine trees and lots of fields. There were two hockey games taken in where Tampa Bay Lightning played first Boston, then Ottawa and I was lucky enough to keep the baby both evenings. We walked the nearby nature preserve and beach, she told me stories, took a bottle of pumped milk and went to bed without protest. Perfection. It was good to discover that the little one is such a great traveller as she'll be heading to Cuba in April for her 'tia's' wedding. 

Since returning home, the bride to be has suggested we need to focus on lifestyle improvements such as healthy eating and increased activity so….we have made a meal plan for the week, purchased only healthy foods and increased our water consumption. She attended exercise class last evening and is participating in something entitled a '30 day challenge' which frightens me to even read the calendar she was provided. We shall see how the resolve holds out. 

Met a buddy last evening and we took in the movie Hidden Figures - it was being shown at a traditional theatre in a community about an hour away to honour black history month. We were not disappointed! It's a great tale based on a true story about the first female engineers at NASA and would represent either civil or women's rights. Having visited Cape Canaveral this summer made it even more enjoyable. My (much younger) friend was surprised to find that mechanical pencils were available in 1961 and I assured her that I had one at that time so could personally vouch for the story line. 

The weather is predicted as snow, freezing rain and slush so not much of a forecast but… we only have next week remaining and will be off to warmer climes again so I shall not whine.