One of my favorite things about traveling is the opportunity to catch up with family and friends that we rarely get to see. It seems like we almost always know somebody that lives wherever it is we are going, and so reunions on the road have become some of our most cherished moments. We had a couple of these in Florida this past winter, and one was with Skyler’s cousin Jim and his wife Gladys. They live in the Tampa area half of the year and then in upstate New York the other half, and we were lucky enough to see them in both locations this year! Crazy since we hadn’t seen them since our wedding reception in 2006!
Skyler called Jim when he found out we were taking a job near Tampa and told him that once we got settled in we would come visit. So, once we had been there a little over a week we decided to meet up. They have a small boat so Skyler told him that we would love to go out for a boat ride for the afternoon…and boy did we have an awesome day!
Jim and Gladys took us out by boat to Anclote Key Preserve State Park. Because the only way to access this particular beach is by private boat or ferry, it stays pretty quiet. It was like we were on our own private island!
Since it sees little foot traffic, the beach was cluttered with all sorts of unique shells and coral. We spent a couple of hours just walking up and down the shoreline picking up shells, putting our feet in the crystal clear water, and soaking up the bright sun. It was definitely a gorgeous day!!! There was even a cool light house in the distance.
We all started getting a bit hungry so we made our way back to the boat and had lunch adrift. How cool is that?! It was super peaceful. Can’t beat the view!
On our way back inland we got so lucky and saw two dolphins playing around ahead of us. So we literally spent about an hour watching these two guys swim all around us. It was like they were showing off. And they were definitely playing with each other…like two little kids. It was adorable. It was better than any Sea World show I’ve ever seen. At one point one of them even breached the water right in front of us. Incredible! Seriously, one of the coolest experiences of my life! Sorry the pics kind of suck. I only had my iPhone on me and it being zoomed in mixed with motion from being on the water equals very noisy, poor quality photos. You get the gist of how awesome it was though…
Before we completed our little boating adventure, Jim took us through the water side of the Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs. They would take us back via land later in the day, but he gave us a sneak peak. There were so many cool old boats lining the docks…it was so fun to see!
After our boat ride we headed back to their house to change and then they showed us around their Florida home town, Tarpon Springs.
Our first stop was the sponge docks again. During the late 1800′s and early 1900′s many Greek immigrants settled in Tarpon Springs to work as divers in the sponge harvesting industry. To this day, the city has the largest percentage Greek population than any other city in the US. It is now more of a tourist location with Greek restaurants, tour boats, and cool shops (all selling sponges of course).
Skyler bought a small sponge to use while he’s painting (he does watercolor). Once we had piddled around the markets for a while, they decided to take us to a local park with an inlet that the manatee congregate in during the winter. There weren’t any there that day because it was so warm, but it was still a pretty park to just walk around in.
After our long day in the sun, we were all ready for some grub. They recommended a Mexican restaurant in town, and you know me…I can never turn down yummy Mexican food. The place was called Los Mexicanos. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures, but from what I remember the food was delicious! I loved their queso and chips and salsa.
Once we were done with dinner we were all zapped! We had a fabulous day with Sky’s family and were so glad we got to catch up with them after so many years. But, we had an hour drive back to Sarasota, so we parted ways and hit the road.