Thursday, January 31, 2008

Honeymoon Island State Park; Dunedin, FL

For Ed's birthday on Tuesday the 29th, we took the dogs and spent the afternoon doing some geocaching at Honeymoon Island State Park, on a barrier island off Dunedin, just north of Tampa. We bought sandwiches on the way and enjoyed them in the picnic area of the park. We were among just a handful of folks visiting. Temps were in the 70's with a breeze that made the day a bit cool for sunbathing, so the park was peaceful and quiet.

Our first stop was the mile-long Osprey Trail. Three osprey were busy constructing two huge nests. The park ranger told Ed that he expected babies to hatch in 2-3 weeks. Here's a pair of adult osprey perched high in the trees.

Duncan was more interested in this earth-bound gopher tortoise. As he barked excitedly, the tortoise withdrew into his shell a bit, then reappeared and lumbered off.

After finding our first cache on Honeymoon Island, hidden along the Osprey Trail, our next stop was the Rotary Centennial Nature Center. This building was originally a bathhouse that has been restored and "re-purposed".

Behind the Center lies an educational nature trail. We learned that this common palm tree is properly called a "Sabal Palmetto."

The trail leading to another cache followed along St. Joseph Sound, popular with kayakers. These mangrove trees held the cache.

Duncan & Roxie helped Ed investigate the cache of trinkets, hidden in a camouflaged ammo box at the base of a mangrove tree.

Late in the afternoon, we tried to find the dog-friendly beach. But it's about a one-mile walk so we skipped it, as none of us had that much energy left. I did catch this view of the Tampa skyline from the main beach.

This row of beach swings invited me to sit and watch the sunset, but it grew too cool to stay outside comfortably.

From inside the van, we watched the sun sink beyond the horizon over the Gulf of Mexico. It brought back memories of the Oregon coast, where it was a nightly ritual to stop whatever we were doing to watch the sun set over the ocean.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Fort DeSoto Park; Tampa Bay, Florida

In 2005, North Beach at Ft. DeSoto State Park was named the "#1 Beach in America." Friendly RVers have told me that we must camp there. We didn't make arrangements for camping for I knew that once we got settled in Tampa that we would make a pilgrimage. A day trip doing some geocaching provided us opportunities to see parts of the park (1100 acres on 5 islands) that we might otherwise have missed.

North Beach is the largest beach, with picnic areas and sand dunes nearby. On the Gulf of Mexico, the waves lap gently and create a relaxing family atmosphere perfect for sunbathing. The sand is fine and very white, almost like baby powder between your toes.

I preferred the smaller East Beach with no concessions and very few people. We picked up a couple of geocaches near here. This view is facing east toward the Sunshine Skyline Bridge over Tampa Bay, linking St. Petersburg and Bradenton.

The actual fort is camouflaged from the Gulf of Mexico side by sand dunes and sea grasses. This is the back side view of Ft. DeSoto. One of the cannons was the scene of a virtual cache. After locating the correct cannon as determined by the GPS coordinates, we had to read the accompanying sign and answer six questions about the cannon specs. Only after answering them correctly could we claim credit for the cache.

From the top of fort, we enjoyed a different perspective of North Beach.

The view to the other direction encompasses the fishing pier and ferry dock.

We found our sixth and final cache of the day near the fishing pier. We turned and realized the sun was setting over the water to the west. We haven't seen that since we traveled in Oregon and California back in 2002.

Click here to visit my web album with 25 photos from Ft.DeSoto.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Airstream Ranch

You've probably heard of Cadillac Ranch,
a tourist attraction considered art by many. It is a series of cars, partially buried tail-end up, in a cow pasture along the old Highway 66 in Amarillo, Texas.

Well, now we have a similar "attraction" right here in Tampa, just across the interstate from Long View RV where I work. The local Airstream dealer, Bates RV, has created Airsteam Ranch. Watch the video to see it, hear Frank Bates explain why he did it, and get reaction from the neighbors. What you you think? Leave a comment below.

If you're traveling on I-4 to the Tampa RV Supershow next week, keep an eye out for it just west of Exit 14. At the show, feel free to stop by and say hi to me at the Gulfstream Coach booth.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

RVers of the month, who - us?

Ed & Camille hiking in Zion National Park in April of 2007

Welcome to all our new readers referred by We are quite honored to have been selected as their "RVers of the Month" for January 2008. RV Resources is just what its name implies - a web site with reference links for almost any RV related topic. Ed's company, Protech Mobile RV Service is listed under "Repair Centers" for CT and this blog will be listed under "Travelogues & Journals." For now, they have our picture above and a description and link to the blog on their home page. I guess we're somebody now, huh?