Love the Lord your God, listen to His voice and hold fast to Him, for the Lord is your life! Deut. 30:20

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Florida, Part 4

Can you guess what this is? (The answer will be at the end of this blog.)

On our last full day in Florida, I thought we might have to just go to Orlando and check right into our hotel. Allen woke up not feeling well at all. A very bad sinus infection. I let him sleep in and then we spent the morning just sitting on the beach. When it was time to check out he said he was up to sightseeing. He had loaded up on meds and said he felt ok so we drove to Fort De Soto Park, a park made up of 5 inter-connected islands. There is a stone fort there that was built during the Spanish-American War that you could explore. And it was used also when America felt threatened from Cuba.

There was a couple there from Maine who wanted us to take their picture, and then they took ours.

As we were walking to the pier, I heard a mockingbird. I LOVE the sound of the mockingbird!

Once again, lots of pelicans.

A great white egret came flying in to the pier.

There was this guy throwing a fishing net into the bay.

He caught several fish at one time

and cut off the heads and tails. Gross. (Al likes to fish but to me it is just gross to kill something)

The egret was just waiting for him to throw those parts away!

There was quite the excitement when this fisherman could not pull his line in.

There was a bottlenose dolphin who was eating his catch from the other side of the bridge.

Another fisherman came over to hold his fishing pole and he went to the other side to try to reel in the line. The dolphin won and got his fish.

The tide was coming in and the water was just rushing in. All these little fishies were swimming against the tide. If you look close, you can see this brownish blob - it is a stingray!

The gulls were having a feast on those fishes!

What fun watching several dolphins snacking on the fishermen's catches. Well, amusing for us, but maybe not so much for those fishermen. Although they seemed to be having a game of it.

See what is left of this man's catch.

And then there were those who were able to reel in a catch.

It was fun to interact with the local fishermen and have some good laughs. We left the park and headed to the Phinellas Bayway bridge. On the way we saw some bald eagles but I could not get their picture. Here is a picture of another fisherman and birds waiting for their handouts.

What an interesting bridge!

The next stop was Hillsborough River State Park. I had seen pictures on-line and thought it would be a good place to visit. Our GPS did not have it but I followed a paper map and we found it. Our GPS was not real good. "She" would give us directions to turn after we passed a place, for example. We named her La La Linda. Off in lala land half the time.

Hillsborough State Park - they say they have alligators and I wanted to see one, well, from far away. Supposedly they have bears too but luckily we didn't see those either!!

We heard rustling, and we stopped to listen. Birds? Bears?? Alligators???


Armadillo. We saw several of them.

I thought maybe I saw 2 eyes sticking out of the water but couldn't tell for sure. We were told this place has lots of alligators and to stay on the path. After hiking around the park, we headed for Orlando. La La Linda took us way out of the way, through a neighborhood I wasn't so sure we should be in and finally said "You have arrived" by an empty field. Around the corner was our Holiday Inn Express.

We freshened up and went to a local Mexican restaurant. It was so delicious!! And there was a live mariachi band who serenaded us!

A wonderful ending to a great time in Florida!


Now to the answer to the question of what the picture is at the top of the blog. Did you guess? It is the inside of this cannon.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Florida, Part 3

We spent a couple of days at St. Pete's Beach, just west of Tampa. I wanted to stay here, at this hotel.

But when we were looking at hotels on-line, it was not something affordable for us. So we chose this hotel.

And this was the view from our room!!! No complaints there!

There really weren't many people at all. Off season. There were lots of beach chairs that hotels would rent out (for $20 a day!) and I think I saw one person do that. We were fine sitting on the sand. The sand was so soft - like talcum powder!

It was relaxing walking along the beach. And just sitting and watching the waves. And birdwatching. And watching dolphins leaping in the water.


a snowy egret

Pelicans. They were everywhere!

royal terns

A blue heron.
(I'm a novice birdwatcher so I might have not got all the names right.)

On Friday we drove up along the barrier island road to Clearwater. We stopped at a little place on the beach called the Snack Shack for lunch. We were the only ones there eating at the time. The young owner gave us a very generous sandwich. He told us that he came to visit from Maryland and never went back.

We got to Clearwater where we were going to go on a dolphin sight-seeing boat. While the young lady was getting us tickets, we asked her if she was from around there. She replied that she had come from Maryland 4 months ago to visit her grandmother and ended up staying here. So we told her about the guy from the Snack Shack who also had come from Maryland recently. "Is he young?" "Yup!" Can't you just imagine that maybe they will hook up???? I see love in the air!

We took a 2 hour trip out on the bay/gulf area. We did see 1 dolphin. They advertize that if you don't see dolphins, you get another day out on the boat. We wouldn't have been able to do another day anyway, but we are happy that we did see dolphins at our hotel and also the next day (pictures later). Oh well, it was a fun trip anyway. The crew of the tour boat were very friendly and nice! And free pop!

Ok. I would like to live here!
Notice that the house and boat match! Both pink.

We passed this pirate ship. Don't worry, Sophia! They did not attack us.

The picture above is a home belonging to Tom Cruise if I remember correctly.

This next home Sylvester Stallone purchased for his mother-in-law.

After our boat trip, we headed back to our hotel. We had passed this Japanese restaurant on the way coming up and I knew right away that it was the real thing. Many of the so-called Japanese restaurants here in America you would not find in Japan. But I could tell this was a place I could get food like we get in Japan!

There were 2 young Japanese boys in their 20's running the place. Well, they are probably American citizens. The waiter said he moved to America from Yokohama when he was 13.
I ordered "omu rice". Yum!!
Watching the sun set.
The end of a wonderful day.