May 7, 2011: Guy's Birthday in San Antonio
February 16-18, 2011: A Trip to San Antonio
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April 5-19

Getting to St. Petersburg, FL
With Ty and Scott
At Riverview Gardens
Lunch with Mario and Steve
At the Islamorada Fish Company

April 5-19, 2011
A Trip to Fort Lauderdale


Well, it's time for our next trip to Florida. We've arranged for Mario and Steve to take care of the cats (except for the time that they, themselves, will be in Florida on their biannual trip to see both sets of parents, for which time we have engaged Lynne Richardson to help out) and we are headed down there for another two weeks. One difference this time will be that we intend to go through Tampa for a change and stop and see Ty and Scott, who are currently living in St. Petersburg, just south of Tampa.


Getting to St. Petersburg, FL

We began our trip by following once again the same route we have taken to Florida numerous times: I-20 to Shreveport, I-49 south to Layfayette, LA, and I-10 east.

This time, we made it to Marianna, Florida, and the Super 8 motel there.

When we got up the next morning, we continued east on I-10, turning south on I-75 towards Tampa.

Just north of Tampa, we branched off on I-275 that would take is into
downtown Tampa. I-75 continues south to basically bypass the city. We stayed on I-275 through downtown and then across the long auto causeway to the city of St. Petersburg. In the middle of this causeway is a graceful suspension bridge. Fred took some additional pictures as we were driving along, and you can have a look at them by clicking on the thumbnails below:

Once on the St. Petersburg peninsula, we found Gandy Blvd., exited and turned right to find the trailer park where Ty and Scott are living in their commodious trailer.

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Visiting Ty and Scott in St. Petersburg, FL

The Roberts Mobile Home and RV Resort is located in St. Petersburg which is on a peninsula in Tampa Bay. To get south and into the city you cross bridges, but you can get to the mainland by going up the peninsula through the beach communities. The place where Ty and Scott are is very large; there are areas where it appears that the mobile homes have not moved in ages, and there are areas, like the one they are in, where the homes come and go fairly frequently.

Ty and Scott got into the mobile home life after leaving Palm Springs- I suspect it was because they really didn't know where they wanted to end up, and they had tired of the hassle of buying and selling fixed real estate. This way, they can go from place to place, essentially "trying it out." In this place, Scott has found a drapery-related job and Ty is looking around for something he can do as well, so I think that they find St. Petersburg at least acceptable for now.

Ty has reduced the work needed to hook up and unhook the trailer down to a familiar procedure, so they have no problem taking the trailer with them even just for a weekend, and they have gone over to Fort Lauderdale a couple of times already, I think. Whether they will stay in St. Petersburg long-term is anyone's guess; I don't think they will know until it happens, free spirits that they are.

We visited with them in their trailer for a while, and Ty showed us around the resort (which is quite nice). I took a couple of pictures of them with their trailer, one of which is at left. You can see another one here.

The only drawback to the exact spot they are in is that right next door to the resort there is a skeet shooting range, and you can hear the "thunk" when a clay pigeon is released and of course you can hear the gun firing. It's a bit annoying at first, but even in the short time we were there it became just background noise. It really isn't very noticeable when they are inside the trailer and, in any case, the range closes in mid-evening and doesn't reopen until mid-morning, so sleeping is not a problem.

We took Ty and Scott to dinner over on the other side of the expressway, which runs north-south down the peninsula, at a very pleasant little diner they had heard about. The food was quite good for comfort food, and I let the guys have the leftovers that I took home. We visited for some more and then about nine-thirty Fred and I lit out for Fort Lauderdale.

We got back on I-275 and continued south, eventually leaving the peninsula, crossing the entrance to Tampa Bay, and then meeting up once again with I-75 south. Near Naples, I-75 turns east and becomes the famous "Alligator Alley," crossing the state directly over to the Fort Lauderdale International Airport before continuing south into Miami.

We continued east past the airport and then to the condo via US-1. We got in about midnight.

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Around the Riverview Gardens Condo

One of the common things we do when we come down to Florida to the condo is, well, nothing. Most mornings we just relax around the condo. I am usually working on my photo album or some other project while Fred checks email, surfs the Internet, and reads me the day's headlines. We usually don't get out much until noontime, and it is in the afternoon that we go to the gym or play frisbee or bike ride or sit by the dock with our frozen drinks or all four.

Most of the pictures that we take around the condo are of the boats going up and down the river. Over the years, we have taken innumerable such photos, and I am sure if you have looked at some other Florida trip pages you have seen quite a few of them. So for this trip I have just grouped all the pictures we took around the condo into this one section, since the exact day they were taken is immaterial. Have a look at as many of them as you wish by clicking on the thumbnail images below:

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Lunch with Steve, Steve's Parents, and Mario

As I said earlier, Steve and Mario were themselves coming down to Florida to visit their parents during the second week that we were here, so we had to ask Lynne Richardson to look in on the cats once. When Steve and Mario arrived on Saturday, we picked them up at the airport, had dinner with them, and then dropped each of them at their respective parent's homes- both not too far from here down in Hollywood.

On Friday, we arranged to have lunch with Steve, Mario and Steve's parents.

Steve's mom had suggested that we go to the Casablanca Cafe, a beachfront place here in Fort Lauderdale with al fresco dining. Fred and I had not been there before so we were happy to try it. The four of them came up from Steve's parents' house at noontime, and we spent some time visiting in the condo with all four of them. Steve's parents are very nice, and we had a nice visit. Then I drove them in my car over to the beach and found a parking spot on the street just south of the restaurant and we went on in.

The restaurant was quite good, and I suspect that Fred and I will go back there again. At the table right behind and beside me there was a family with two very young children, and I was pretty amazed that the parents just put some of their food right on the table for the kids to eat; I would have thought they would have gotten a plate at least for the five-year-old if not for the one-year-old. Anyway,
the younger boy was very friendly; his parents seemed oblivious to the fact that he was interacting with a stranger, although I guess they instinctively perceived the threat level as quite low. The little boy was constantly looking over our way and smiling.

I didn't know it at the time, but when I had our waiter take a picture of the group, the little boy had turned around exactly as if someone had asked him to get in the picture with us.! We had a really nice lunch, and we took a couple more good photos while we were there. You can have a look at them by clicking on the thumbnails below:

We went back to our condo and visited a bit more before the four of them headed back down to Hollywood and a family dinner that evening. Tomorrow, Mario's brother gets married, and that was the primary reason for their trip down here.

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Lunch at the Islamorada Fish Company

On the Sunday before we left for home, the 17th, we went over to Ron and Jay's house in mid-morning and the four of us took in a movie a bit north of them- "Source Code," with Jake Gyllenhaal, as I recall.

Then we drove down I-95 to have lunch at one of Ron and Jay's favorites- the Islamorada Fish Company, a restaurant adjacent to a Bass Pro Shops on I-95 west of Dania Beach.

We had to stop by our condo first; when we had gone to a movie the previous weekend, one of my contacts was bothering me, and on Monday I stopped by an eye doctor who found a simple infection in my eye. I had drops for it but had forgotten to bring them with me this morning, so Ron was kind enough to circle by the condo so I could get them. Then we got back on the expressway and drove the short distance to the restaurant.

Here is an aerial view of the area around the Islamorada Fish Company and the Bass Pro Shops:

We have been here a couple of times before; on nice days it is a pleasure to eat outside.

There is a lagoon adjacent to the restaurant; it separates the Pro Shop complex from the Fishing Hall of Fame across the water. To get into the restaurant, you follow a path along the lagoon, over a little bridge and artificial stream, past some
whimsical sculptures and on into the restaurant. Today was a beautiful day, so when we entered the restaurant Jay asked for a table outside on the covered porch that you can see facing you in the picture at left. We had to wait a few minutes, so we snapped a couple pictures as we waited. You can see Ron Drew and myself here and Fred and I here.

One of the interesting things about this restaurant is that there is a lot to look at- particularly if you sit outside. For example, the little artificial stream that you cross coming ends and a nice little waterfall that empties into the lagoon. The sounds of falling water are always pleasant. Then there are the turtles; there are a number of them that climb up onto the artifical logs that are in the lagoon, or that sun themselves on the shore of the water. There are also ducks, and today we watched a mother duck and her ducklings swim across the lagoon to the shore near the waterfall, climb out of the water and then undergo a nose count to make sure all were present and accounted for.

But probably the most interesting denizens of the lagoon are the lizards who hang out (literally) by the waterfall, or come around and up onto the deck where you are sitting- presumably looking for handouts (which the posted signs ask you not to give them). They are very interesting to watch; have a look at some of them by clicking on the thumbnail images below:

Here are some additional good pictures that Fred took of the lizards. Click on the thumbnails below to view:

In addition to the Bass Pro Shop, the restaurant and the lagoon with its wildlife, the area is also home to the Fishing Hall of Fame (I sometimes wonder what the oddest "hall of fame" might be). We have never been in the building or its museum; fishing is just not that interesting to me (although I suppose to its devotees it is fascinating- hence all the money put into the Hall of Fame). But the building and the swordfish sculpture and fountain outside are certainly interesting. Fred took some good pictures of the Hall of Fame complex, and you can see some of them if you click on the thumbnail images below:

Other than these activities and pictures, our trip was very routine. That doesn't mean it's boring though; we always enjoy going to Florida and like to do it every few months.

You can return to today's index or use the links below to continue to the album page for different day.

May 7, 2011: Guy's Birthday in San Antonio
February 16-18, 2011: A Trip to San Antonio
Return to Index for 2011