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.

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