Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Birthday in the Sun

Sunday, October 11th was my wife's birthday and she was able to spend it with her brother for the first time in over 30 years.  We met Buzz (Vickie's brother) and his wife Nancy for a day in the Tarpon Springs, FL area and what a great day it was.  Tarpon Springs is the sponge diving capitol of the world and is full of great shops, great places to eat and some of the best white sand beaches in the region.

Every shop is run by Greeks as this is a complete community of immigrates from Greece so you know about every bargain and sale before you even get in the door.  Every shop is full of every kind of shell you can think of and of course all types of natural sponges.  The divers are mostly hard hat types as the sponges hang out in mighty deep water.  Another unique product at every shop is the hand-made soaps you find in every shape, size, color and fragrance.

The local beach is in Fred Howard Park at the end of a long causeway and is an island of pure white sand shaded by tons of huge palm trees and dunes covered with mangrove and sea oats.  We will be making many side trips back to that spot for some tropical style R & R.

We ate at a place called Rusty Belly, a local seaside favorite.  Vickie went the true southern route with an order of cheese grits with fresh shrimp and bacon.  She said it was one of the best shrimp dishes she ever put in her  mouth, in her words, "Amazing".  If you so desire you can also find some of the best Greek food in all of Florida.

We spent a big part of the afternoon setting at the beach watching several kite-surfers. I think it looks like it would be a blast as Buzz and I guessed they must be gliding across the ocean surface at 25-30 mph.  I also watched a seagull let a young girl know she was on his beach by pecking her on the head.  I have seen them come close in the past but never saw one let a tourist have it.  I must say it did get her attention big time.  One of the girls with the same group was so pale it made Vickie and I feel like we were quickly becoming well tanned natives.

If you are ever in the area of Hudson, FL on Hwy 19 you need to look for a little white block building that says "Taste of Philly".  Believe me it is definitely worth a stop for lunch or dinner.  It is the best Cheese Steak or Rubin sandwiches I have had this side of the Philly/NY area.  It looks a little B-Side from the road but it is a Top10 hit with the food.

Just a short drive north from Tarpon Springs on Hwy 19 you can find a waterfront local watering hole called Crab Shack right at the south edge of New Port Richey.  You have to hunt a bit for this one as it is in the shadow of a bridge at the end of a dead end road.  You weave through a few old buildings and some boat storage and there you are.  If you are looking for the true local Florida experience, this is the place you have been looking for.  We plan to make this one of our regular stops when we want to truly get away.

The park is starting to come alive as the migration from Canada is beginning to head south.  Golf carts are starting to  populate the RV resort streets and the Canadian flags are flying high.  About 50% of the snowbirds are from Canada but they can only be in the US for six month.  They therefore wait until the first of
November to arrive so they can stay south through April as it is still a bit chilly that time of year.  It will be a lot of fun getting to know all our new norther neighbors.

Hey, we are off to the pool but we will keep you updated on what's happening in this part of the world.  As always I will be looking for those great B-Side hot spots and I will stay Unplugged- especially near the water.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

From Bluegills to Grouper

From bluegill fishing on the beautiful lakes of northern Indiana with my Brother-in-law to the gulf waters of west-central Florida where grouper is king - our journey continues.  We are now at home in warm, sunny Hudson, FL just 50 miles north of Tampa and 2 miles from the white sands of Hudson Beach.

The summer in Indiana was great spending quality time with family and friends and visiting many of our old stomping grounds where we both spent the first 30 some years of our lives.  We caught so many fish in my few times out on the lakes that my sister, Bonnie set a limit on the number we could keep as their freezer was filling up fast.  Of course there was no way we could stop when the fish were biting so well.  Time on the lakes would have been enough but the great fishing was a great bonus.  My time for fishing was made possible during our stay with my sister, Bonnie and brother-in-law Tom Holloway for over a week while our RV was receiving needed repairs at the Open Range factory in Shipshewana, IN.  I'm not sure if I will be fishing in Florida but will be surf -fishing in Texas during our Jan - Mar stay in Rockport, TX on the gulf coast.

Here is Florida the grouper is the super star in most eating establishments as the price on the menu only states, "market price".  There are plenty of fresh shrimp, scallops and clam strips which go well with the local beverages.  We have been able to locate several good beach-side hide-a-ways by driving down many side roads to see what we could find.  Of course we had a little help from Vickie's brother, Buzz and his wife Nancy as they took us on a tour of the area and pointed out all the good spots.

The trip down went really well and I am starting to think I am a real pro at this RV towing business but I still have a ton to learn.  Thank goodness most of the other RVers and locals are willing to share their knowledge about what to try and what not to.  I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.  We have found the travel a bit more challenging after we arrived here.  For one, they should be able to run ads in the paper to sell their cars by stating, "1990 Chevy, 240,000 miles, turn signals never been used.  Also if you ever wondered what happened to all the bumper cars you use to ride at the local county fair - I found where they went.  Only this morning I received a light bump from the rear as I was waiting to turn left from a guy who said his foot must have slipped off the brake.  Luckily there was no damage.

Next week we will be taking a kayak float trip down a crystal clear river near here with several of Vickie's family.  I am really looking forward to the trip as most of the others have taken it before and after seeing the facebook pictures we were ready to go.  As a matter-of-fact we rented a 2-person kayak a few weeks back in Indiana just to make sure we would not come off looking like complete rookies.  I can't wait to showcase our stellar kayaking talents in front of family and friends.  The river is full of Manatees this time of year and will make for a trip of a lifetime.  You will have to stand by for the photos at a later date.

We will take you along as we search out new fun locations to eat, drink and lay in the sun.  As I set beneath a swaying palm sipping a - well you know the rest, I will sign off for now but

will visit with you soon.  We will be checking out the B-Side of life and remain forever Unplugged.  Cheers!!!