Friday, February 11, 2011

Semi Hibernation

Our first winter in Florida has been relaxing, to the extent we have wanted it to be.  Jan has started working a seasonal nursing job, and when she is off she still likes to be busy with projects around the house.  I have been mixing a steady stream of projects with other hobbies and interests.  Nice weather days are the busiest.  We are either doing projects or visiting the local interests. Even after a particularly busy day, I had the time to visit the waterfront at sunset.  We have a 'local' beach at Pine Island in Hernando County.  I went there to enjoy the evening; Jan and I have visited together on other days.  Here are some photos, password is shadow.

We also have been blessed to find a local church that we have become active in.   The people in Spring Hill are so nice.  Living here is like living in a more rural area; lighter traffic, nice people, quiet living.  But we are close to every convenience and about an hour from downtown Tampa

One big reason we are in Florida is to have a milder winter.  It has worked out so far.  When we watch the weather occurring across the country, WOW!  Of course, this has been a colder than average winter in Florida too.  On cold weather days I hibernate!!!  The local cable company has good service and allow us to cancel service during the months we are gone.  Having a DVR is nice; we get to record the shows we like, then watch them when 'hibernating'.  December was the coldest on record for the area, but we did not have any snow!  Typically, we are 70 days / 50 nights.  It was 10-15 degrees colder than that in December.  January and February have been cool too, but more typical.  We will have 3-6 days of 60's, then several days in the 70's.  Some days have been cloudy and we have had a few fronts stall out with some rain.  But most days are sunshine and by mid day are pleasant to be out and about.  Last week was really nice, and next week will be also .

Another reason we wanted to be in Florida is to have a place to park the RV.  We considered living in it full time, but Jan wanted a house with a foundation.  So here, we don't have to worry about freezing too much and we have a little more space and convenience.  We will be hitting the road in the RV in May for 6 months of adventure.  So over the next 10 weeks we will wrap up most of our projects at the house, enjoy some gardening beginning in March, get some RV projects done then too.  Then it will be on to visit family and enjoy a cooler summer outside of Florida.  We hope to be in the mountains or point north.  In the fall we hope to be in Texas and then by November back 'home'.   Perhaps next year I will have time to plug into a place of employment for the fun of it; too many projects this winter.

Gasparilla Week - Tampa 2011

Gasparilla Week - Tampa, Florida 2011

In my old neighborhood these events had names like 'Hampton Bay Days' or 'Norfolk Harborfest'. 

Gasparilla Pirate Festival is a celebration of the history of Tampa Bay that relates to pirate lore.  If you happen to be in Tampa Florida during the last week of January, it is worth visiting.  The party lasts a week.  The first weekend is for the children.  Why?  I guess it is due to the party animal adults of weekend 2.  For several years this party got WAY crazy (according to the locals - this was my first visit).  When you mix young adults with boats, parties and unlimited alcohol, I can see why.  There has been more organization and controls in place the last two years.  I was there all day on Saturday and did not see any real problems, except the trash left behind.  Photos of my visit, password is shadow.

Bayshore Blvd of Tampa FL is supposedly the longest paved sidewalk in the USA.  It is a 4 mile plus paved roadway and sidewalk of the beautiful Tampa Bay and bay front homes.  If you happen to be in Tampa FL any time of year, this is a beautiful place to visit.  For this celebration, the roadway is fenced off and it turns into a parade route and party.  BYOB into the fence line and have have at it.  As the parade passes, beads and other pirate treasure is thrown to the crowd, much like New Orleans and Mardi Gras.  The event kicks off with a HUGE flotilla of boats into Tampa Bay, lead by and inspired by a Tall Ship Battle with canons and smoke.  The pirates dock in Tampa and then are commuted to the parade route.  Many visitors dress in pirate garb and turn this into a nice family event.  Many parties are hosted at beautiful mansions along the bay.  The water way is FILLED with boats and the coast guard and police truly get to have some fun.  Speaking of police, I have never seen so many in one place.  Cars, motorbikes, bikes, horses, boats, helicopters.  Unfortunately, two officers were killed and one wounded in a gun battle during an arrest just the week prior here in Tampa.  Fortunately, arrests were down at this years event and as I said, I saw no problems except a very few who drank too much; it probably got worse after dark.