A little Tampa history

Oaklawn Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in Tampa. It’s located downtown although north of the current main buildings that is downtown today. There is something peaceful about walking around in an old historic cemetery. I like to walk through and look at the dates. Some of the headstones are so old that you can barely read the names. Some were almost completely worn down. Some have pictures and some tell short stories.  The cemetery was started in 1850 and many of the early grave markers were made of wood. There are a lot of graves without markers due to the wood ones burning or getting damaged in storms.  The cemetery includes many prominent families, pirates, slaves and confederate soldiers.

Thomas Pugh Kennedy arrived in Tampa in 1840 and started the first trading post with the Indians here. Many of his descendants still live here. Kennedy Boulevard that runs through a lot of Tampa was not named after Thomas. It started out as Lafayette Street and the name was changed in 1964 to Kennedy Boulevard after John F Kennedy visited Tampa in November of 1963 right before he was assassinated.

The headstones back then were very ornate.

Vincent Ybor and his family is buried here.  Ybor started the cigar making business here in the area which became Ybor City.

This grave had a lot going on. Looks like it needs some love and attention.

Driving out heading into downtown.  Brett and I went out for a drive on a cool morning in late November. We saw the cemetery and decided to stop in and walk around.

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A quiet cold walk in January

The cattails and the spider webs were showing up in the early morning sun at Possum Branch Preserve.

Bright pops of red in early January. It was finally starting to look like fall (only in central Florida does it look like fall right before spring).

Birds were scarce this Saturday morning. Other than the usual birds, I only saw a house wren and a thrasher.

Pelican fly by along the canal.

Two coots have taken up residents for the winter in the main pond.

This guy didn’t look that big (taken with my zoom lens).

When I got around the other side of the pond and saw him spread out, he looked much bigger.

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The usual stuff

When you are driving down the road and see an eagle sitting on a pole (and your camera is in the car) you turn around and go back and get a shot. Especially since it was such a beautiful sky. This one was sitting in a short tower behind a gas station on my way to Chesnut Park one morning.

Do we wish we could hang upside down so easily?

A yellow rumped warbler hiding in the bushes.

I’ve been seeing a purple gallinule hanging around the dock lately. This one has a snack in his beak.

This little gnatcatcher was being too cute not to take some shots.

I think this may be a juvenile northern parula. He’s got just a hint of gray on his back.

I don’t see swamp sparrows often.

This gnatcatcher was trying hard to get that bug.

This should not really be happening at the park but this young girl was beside herself when the titmouse flew onto her hand. People come early in the morning and leave seed along the boardwalk rail. It’s usually titmouse, cardinals and squirrels that are eating the seeds.

Late day walk at the pier.

Another “get out of the house” moment. I headed down to the St. Pete Pier late in the day in early December. I knew it would be crowded but went early enough before the dinner crowd. Standing out on the pier, I could see Tampa across the bay in the bottom shot.

The new cool sculpture on the pier. The first commercial airline started right here back in 1914 with a commercial flight from St. Pete to Tampa with paying customers.

Heading towards the end of the pier.

Looking up at the back of the building on the pier, it looks a little like a space ship.

Looking towards St. Pete, the sun was just starting to go down.

Walking around past the park, I could see a dolphin swimming around by the pier.

Looking out on the bay, the sun had gone down behind me.

As it gets dark, the netting over the grounds before the pier turns pink.  The crowds were starting to come in so I headed home for dinner.

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Do you believe in fairy tales?

Why are these fairytale characters sitting on the grounds of a cool contemporary restaurant in Tampa? I had to find out. I vaguely remember hearing stories about going to Fairyland when we were visiting the grandparents in the Tampa bay area back in the 60’s. My dad had taken a few pictures of us when we were there. I was a toddler so I don’t remember being there. The original Fairyland Park was at Lowry Park which sat next to the zoo. It closed in the early 90’s and was torn down but some of the characters were stored in a warehouse in Tampa and forgotten. The owner of the restaurant (who also owns the famous Columbia Restaurant) grew up going to the park and when he found out there were characters that had been saved and stored, he was able to buy them and have them restored. It’s a little piece of Tampa history that was saved from oblivion.  Story of the characters being restored here.

A picture above of the original park taken from the Tampapix website. 

Above are some of the statues from the restaurant. The bust is of Princess Ulele, who the restaurant is named after. She lived in the Tampa Bay area in the 1500’s.

We wanted to get out on Thanksgiving morning for a walk before stuffing ourselves so we headed to downtown Tampa to walk along the water.

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Hanging out with some funny faces

I found some new friends at Horsepower for Kids Sanctuary in late November. The toucan is a fairly new resident and was very friendly (he was surrendered by his owner).

You don’t often see white turkeys.

The ducks were being their usual cute selves in the big pond.

Roosters have a run of the sanctuary. Some are skittish and stay in the bushes and some will walk right up to you.

The big shells were enjoying their breakfast.

This guy was showing off.

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Birds at Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park

It’s not often you can get this up close with an eagle. This one was missing part of his wing and was spending his time at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park. I caught him taking a bath.

Pelicans were hanging out in their big open space. Some were starting to nest.

Other birds were just hanging out and preening when I was there in mid-November.

I caught these two wild night herons fighting over nesting space over the roof of an exhibit.

You can also get close to the spoonbills. And since the flamingos were right behind you, you wouldn’t have to look at them and think they were flamingos.

Sandcastles

This was one of those “got to get out of the house” moments. I had read there was a sandcastle exhibit taking place in late November and of course it was a beautiful day so I headed out to the beach late in the afternoon. The area that had the food and booze tents were packed with people so I stayed away and wandered over to the sandcastles. While they looked really cool, I have to wonder if they are permanent sculptures made out of sand and put on the sand for the event. They looked different from the ones I’ve seen before at the judged events. Almost as if they had been made somewhere else and plopped down here.

The sun was starting to come down late in the day.

There were lots of kites on the beach.

On the way home, I stopped by the famous “chicken’ church. I had recently heard about it and it’s located a block away from the main street on the beach. The way the windows are placed on the tower does remind you of a chicken. It’s a cute little church.

Driving back over to the mainland, there’s a small park along the water and I got out for a few minutes to walk around before heading home. There were several damaged boats that are still stranded from Hurricane Eta that came through in early November including one that was half under water.

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Wide open spaces

More shots from my trip to Bok Tower Gardens in November. I had a weekday off and Brett had never been so he took off and went with me. He was surprised at how big the koi fish were in the moat around the bell tower. You can feed them here so they are huge.

We took some time to just hang out and breathe with the wide open spaces here. It was quiet this morning and the oak trees were great shade.

Color on the path in the children’s garden.

We felt like we were on a farm for a few minutes.

Just outside the gardens in the parking lot, I stopped to look at the plants and noticed several caterpillars. I had already put my camera up so I snapped these with my phone.

After leaving the gardens, we stopped to check out some cows.

We really were just looking to see if the whooping cranes that hang out in a cow pasture were still around.

The cranes were still there but they were napping all the way across the pasture. This was with my 400mm and super cropped. It’s good to see them still there though. It was good to be out of the house and we had a nice day trip. We need to do more of these.

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Getting out in the gardens

Still so many pretty flowers at Bok Tower Gardens in November. The big lily pads were still blooming.

I hadn’t seen any frogs there in several years so I was excited to see this guy in a small pond.

Little flying critters.

I’ve taking a ton of pictures of the bell tower but this was the first time I noticed that there was a calendar carved in the back of the tower. I’m not sue what the lines mean. Has anyone seen this before?

There were still lots of caterpillars in mid-November.

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