Tampa, Stop #3 Family and Local Attractions

Our son, Shawn, and his girlfriend, Laura, were really sweet to us on a recent trip to Tampa. They offered us a lovely bedroom, cooked us wonderful breakfasts, and drove us all over to see the sights. It was also special to be able to spend Veteran’s Day with my favorite veteran!

We were in the Tampa area for four nights, two with  Shawn and Laura  and two at Hillsborough River State Park.   It was wonderful to be with them and to be in Tampa, which offers lots to see and do, plus some pretty great food.

We went to an interesting restaurant our first night, Ford’s Garage Restaurant.   Vintage cars abound and everything automotive is the theme.  Onion rings are served on an oil funnel and tires are around the sinks in the bathroom.  Very cute decor and the food was excellent.  I had the Kobe beef on the high-octane burger with sweet potato tater tots.

High Octane Burger

Our next day was Veteran’s Day and we started the day with a visit to Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center.  The manatees are attracted to the warm water that is produced by the generation of electricity and at peak times, hundreds of manatees are present.  It has been active for thirty years with over 5 million visitors.  However, our visit was early in the season and we only saw a couple of manatees.   We also saw some big fish and a shark.

Shawn and Laura at the Manatee Viewing Center
Shy manatee sighting

Next, we headed to Sarasota and Saint Armand’s Circle on Lido Key.  There was an Art Show that day and we saw some interesting pieces, however,  the parking was horrific.  We spent a good bit of time driving around looking for a spot to park.   Saint Armand’s has many restaurants and shops.   There is a Ringling Brother’s Museum in Sarasota, but we did not have the time to visit.   Lunch was at Cha Cha Coconuts—another fine meal.

Cha Cha Coconuts

Dinner was at the award-winning Columbia Restaurant at Ybor City.  The restaurant was established in 1905 and is Florida’s oldest restaurant.  We were joined by Laura’s mother and aunt and their  significant others.  Our dinner included a Flamenco show, which was entertaining.   The best part of our dinner was the 1905 salad which has an unlikely ingredient, Worcestershire sauce.  Delicious! I would also highly recommend the mojitos and the white chocolate bread pudding as well.

Laura and Shawn
Rose and Jack
Josie and Ross

Our second full day was overcast with a good bit of rain.  We had considered visiting Busch Gardens, but the weather was not great for it.  Instead, we visited John’s Pass at Redington Shores.  We were able to avoid the rain and do some shopping.  We returned via the Sunshine Skyway, a Tampa landmark, and a very cool bridge.

Sunshine Skyway Bridge

We returned to our campsite on this afternoon.  We said goodbye to Shawn and Laura and to the granddogs, Gator and Axel.  It was so great staying with them!

Gator and Axel

On our final full day, we visited Tampa on our own.  We went to the Tampa Museum of Art and also had a nice lunch there.  The museum featured some ancient Egyptian art and the works of Mernet Larson, an artist upon which I was unfamiliar.  Her art was interesting.

Mernet Larson, Getting Measured

The museum is on Tampa’s Riverwalk, which we also visited.  It was a warm, sunny day and the walk was very pleasant.  We discovered that a branch of the Columbia Restaurant is also on Riverwalk.  That 1905 salad was calling us,  so we walked for about a mile with frequent stops along the way to get to it.

Laura’s office in the Pink Palace is in the background
Lots of shaded seating available along the Hillsborough River

The Columbia Cafe did not disappoint.  Great service, a beautiful view, and another 1905 salad with drinks.

Columbia Cafe
Mojito and beer, so good!

After our early dinner, we took a Lyft back to our car and headed back to the campground.  We were on the road to Anastasia State Park, the last leg of our Tampa trip early the next morning.

So long Tampa!

 

 

 

 

With Family at the Beach

This is not my usual camping or travel post and as such, will not be posted to camping sites. This post is to capture some wonderful memories with family at the beach. If you happen upon this post, there are some photos of some beautiful sunsets and some great times with family.

Our son, Shawn, and his girlfriend, Laura, rented a condo at North Redington Shores, Florida, for Labor Day weekend.  They offered us one of the extra bedrooms and Laura’s mom and her boyfriend the other.  We really enjoy Laura’s mom and was just meeting her friend, Jack, who was fun to be around too.  We had a wonderful time with them all.

Most of our past beach trips have been in the panhandle and we have never spent time on the eastern Florida coastline.  Redington Shores is in the Pinellas Park area and very nice.  It was not especially crowded considering it was Labor Day weekend.  The beach was nice and well-maintained.

The condo, the Ram Sea, is right on the beach and the unit we were in was newly-remodeled.  It was very nice!  Below is a photo of our bedroom.  This was not tiny trailer camping!

Unit 610 At the Ram Sea

Shawn and Laura were outstanding hosts.   Laura cooked us big, delicious breakfasts, venison stew, and baked ziti.  They had an abundance of Cuban sandwiches and fried stuffed potatoes (a delicacy with meat in the center).

We were blessed with a beautiful sunset our first evening.  The sun sets directly over the water and it is an incredible sight.  We used it for a photo opportunity.

View from balcony on first night
Shawn, Laura, Rose & Jack
My honey and me
Shawn and Laura
Rose and Jack

This trip was all about relaxing on the beach.  Shawn and Laura love spending all day on the beach and they do it with maximum comfort.  They put up two tents and there were chairs for each of us, plus snacks and adult beverages.  So relaxing!  My husband is not a big lover of the beach, so I am not accustomed to this much time and comfort. Greg would hang out with us for awhile each day and then head for the condo.  He was a really good sport about it.

Our spot on the beach
Relaxing under the tent
Greg joined us

The condominium also has a nice pool that we enjoyed as well.

Ram Sea Pool

We had dinner out a couple of times.  Our favorite was Seabreeze Island Grill.   They had a delicious grilled grouper and fantastic drinks.  We were joined by Rose’s sister, Josie and her husband, Ross.  They were fun and we have a good bit in common; they are dancers.  After dinner, we played a game that was new to me, Rummy Royal.  Fun!

Dinner at Seabreeze

We spent four nights at the Ram Sea and I loved every minute of it.  It was great being with Shawn and Laura and her family were incredible.  The weather was perfect with the exception of a few hours of rain one day.

Ironically, the very next weekend the area was under extreme threat from Hurricane Irma.  I am so glad that the worst case scenario did not occur.

We loved our time at Redington Shores!