2015 Trip 1, Feb. 28-March 1, Florida in Winter

Ruskin FL Sunday March 1

This is an organizational weekend for us. Yesterday we made the drive down to Ruskin (south east shore of Tampa Bay). It rained all day, sometimes making it difficult to see the roadway. We checked in to The Resort at Little Harbor. This seems to be a combination of timeshare and second homes located on the bay with a marina for boats to dock. The beach has returned to the sand and shell combination not unusual to the southern Gulf Coast. We walked around the resort a bit yesterday and stocked up on groceries. Three weeks will be our duration here, the longest we have spent at one spot in the last two and one half years of travel-excluding time spent at home.

Before getting to Ruskin, I did drop Chris off at a St. Catherine University alumnae gatherng (chapter Conversation with Books) in the Sarasota area. She connected with Katies and learned about some interesting books while I did some non-perisable grocery shopping.

A picture of the crash scene

A picture of the crash scene

We do have a few stories to lighten your day. If we had been reading the papers or watching the TV news, we might have known about these, but we neither read nor watched. Evidently last Monday was extremely foggy in the Tampa area. One charter boat captain was speeding and his boat and the seven people on it, went up on shore, across the beach, and straight into the restaurant here at Little Harbor.

We were at the restaurant this morning walking around and it was the first day it had been open since last Monday. The hostess on duty indicated that the restaurant manager, whose office the boat ran right through, happened to call in sick that day, something she rarely does. The hostess on duty had just left the front desk for a bathroom break-she was next in line to be hit. Later on we were on the beach talking to the equipment rental guy whose equipment rental cabana was smashed-on Monday he had left five minutes before the boat crash to return a jet ski to its overnight mooring at the marina. Due to the fog, there were no people on the beach in the path of the speeding boat.

As you can imagine, the boat captain is in a heap of trouble. Reports are that he was going at least 50 mph when he hit the shore. His boat has GPS and radar, and the fog conditions would have mandated much slower travel. He has previous convictions for poor driving.

Second, we talked to a man from Ohio State University. He has been coming to this resort for five years. He comes here after his family goes on a five-day cruise, leaving from Tampa, to some location in the Gulf or Caribbean. The cruise is sponsored by Ohio State University, for alumni, and is a fund-raiser for cancer. The cruise this year had 2500-3000 passengers and the cruise raised $2,000,000 for cancer research. Not sure how all of the money is raised, but they do have silent auctions where OSU sports figures take people out on their yacht or out to dinner, or what have you. He was disappointed I recognized only a few names of the OSU sports greats.

That effort is very commendable. However, also interesting is that his cruise ship, the Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas, also was stuck in the fog on Monday. The cruise ship was scheduled to dock but could not due to the fog. They were delayed a day and a half. People on board missed flights, etc. AND, the next cruise scheduled for the Brilliance of Seas had to be cancelled. The people for the next cruise even had their luggage stored in the terminal luggage area and could not retrieve it for a day. Royal Caribbean refunded the money for the canceled cruise, and put up the OSU people for the additional time on board without charge. What a mess. Mother Nature has thrown more challenges this winter than just snow storms.

The BIg Bend Power Plant that keeps the manatees happy

The BIg Bend Power Plant that keeps the manatees happy

Manatees

Manatees

Manatee up close and personal

Manatee up close and personal

Manatees

Manatees

Sunday dawned cloudy but it cleared up and the temperature in the afternoon was 83 degrees Fahrenheit. The earlier part of the day was spent wandering around the resort and running a few errands. Then we took a drive to the Manatee Viewing Center at TECO Power, a coal gasification power plant about 10 miles north of here. The cooling tower for the power plant discharges warm water into the Bay. Manatees and other fish congregate here in great numbers to keep warm during the cooler months.

Given the warm weather today, we were not sure if we would see any manatees. However, the viewing was the best we have encountered yet on this trip. Plenty of manatees, plenty of them close to the surface, and quite viewable.

Sunset over Tampa Bay

Sunset over Tampa Bay

We ended Sunday by going to the late Mass (5 p.m.) at the area church, taking in the sunset from the pool area of our resort and having a yummy homecooked meal. Since we are here for 3 weeks, Chris bought a crockpot (with a discount, $12) and we had a delicious pot roast waiting for us. Added veggies and English muffins and Girl Scout cookies (their table is set up in front of the grocery stores) for dessert.

This Tampa/St. Petersburg/Sarasota/Bradenton/Clearwater area has a multitude of activities to keep us busy over the next three weeks. Hopefully we can report on some interesting items for you.

Ed and Chris 3/1 10 pm

Categories: road trip, travel | Tags: , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “2015 Trip 1, Feb. 28-March 1, Florida in Winter

  1. Joyce

    Guardian angels were sure busy in front of the power boat! Reminded me of some of the stories of people who, for different reasons, were not present at the World Trade Centers on 9/11. Certainly an event of less magnitude, yet still miraculous for those involved with the run away power boat.

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