Monday, November 28, 2016

Tampa Time!

After a terrific two week stay in Ocala, on Saturday, November 26, we headed to Tampa (Florida) to camp at Hillsborough River State Park and spend a week with my sister and brother-in-law.  An added bonus was a visit with both my niece and nephew and their families, a wonderful reunion!  We got a kick out of the kids, ages 7, 6, 3, and 2 1/2, as they ran and played, and I even got to join in the creative imaginary games of my youngest great-niece, Sophie!  There's something to be said about using your imagination when you're an adult!

Nephew Steven and great-niece Sydney!

Sister Linda with her hubby David and my great-nieces Sadie and Sydney, and great-nephew Mason.

Great-nieces Sadie and Sophie!

My nephew Steven with his wife, Lauren and son, Mason.  Glenn with his daughter, Sydney.

Niece, Sheryl with her husband Glenn.

The state park is really pretty, with lots of palmettos, tall palms, and other trees.  Sites are kind of close, but we lucked out in a nice spot with a campsite on only one side of us.  Each night we hear barred owls calling and we have had them in trees very close to our trailer!  No luck in actually spotting them, though.

My brother-in-law, David, has a orchid collection on their lanai in Tampa, and a couple of orchids were in bloom while we visited.  Even without blooms, there are unique plants there.

One day we took a ride over to Tarpon Springs, a community with a heavy Greek influence that goes back to the days when the first Greek divers for sponges came here to establish their businesses.  Along with boats in the harbor and piles of sponges, there were many Greek restaurants, and lots of shops, some touristy and some not!  We ate a terrific meal at Hella's followed by some yummy desserts from their bakery, and then we just meandered for a while.  

Flaming cheese...oompah!!  And, really good!

Key lime is definitely not a Greek dessert, but I couldn't resist!

Took a drive to Apollo Beach, where the big Tampa electric company plant, where the warm waters draw in manatees.  Except for two very distant manatees, too far for a photo but visible in the binoculars, we saw no wildlife to speak of.

With sister, Linda!

The best view of a manatee we got all morning!

We also went to a Cuban restaurant for lunch in south Tampa for great yellow rice and beans, fried plantains, yuca, Cuban bread and more.  The location isn't the best, but the food was worth it! Check the sign out carefully for a good laugh!

We left Tampa Friday, December 2 as we begin a northward drive toward the Florida panhandle.  Plans to camp a few nights at St. Joseph's Peninsula State Park starting Sunday.