A sad story on a beautiful afternoon

It was a beautiful afternoon in late January and I was able to get outside for a little while on a late Friday before sunset. I jumped in the car and headed over to Dunedin, thinking I would stop by the fishing pier and then go over for a quick walk at the causeway. I was snapping the shot of the water when I turned around and noticed the two osprey that had built a nest on top of the building next to the pier.  I was pretty excited to see the camera up on the top but when I got home and searched it, you could only see over the building so the camera wasn’t look down on the nest. Would have been fun to watch that nest up close.

I found this cute little boat in the marina that I hadn’t seen before.

I headed over to the beach area on the causeway and saw the sailboat that has washed up back in November during Hurricane ETA. I had seen many pictures of it posted on the internet, people climbing and playing on it. They had it roped off which didn’t make for a pretty picture. I have since heard that it was hauled away a few weeks after I took this. The state of these old damaged sailboats are sad. At some point years ago, someone paid a lot of money for this boat. Probably used it at first. Then it sits out there for a long time and becomes a hazard. The owner, if they had insurance, probably just collected and moved on. Many people with these old boats let their insurance lapse and the city pays for the haul. Not sure if they can sell them for scrap.

On a sad note, at the end of the causeway, a dead dolphin had washed up on shore hours before I arrived. Everyone was standing around watching the marine life rescue team (with Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where Winter the flipperless dolphin resides) get him ready to be taken away. They will do a necropsy on him to find out the cause of death. Was he old? Sick?  Eaten something bad? Hit with a boat? Swallowed too many fish hooks from stealing fish from the fishermen at the pier? So many questions.  Everyone was watching from a respectful distance. It was sad to watch these volunteers do their work.

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A peaceful place

Back in early November when the weather was too nice to be indoors and I wasn’t ready to go home yet after my walk at Chesnut Park, I stopped by Sylvian Abby cemetery. It’s not just any random cemetery (although I have been know to stop at those too. Sometimes cemeteries have good birds). My grandparents are buried here. It was quiet and peaceful with only a few people there.

They are buried in front of these statues. I decided to walk around a bit and realized there are a lot of statues here.

I’m not sure who these statues are but they were big. I didn’t see a sign or plaque.

There are beautiful stained glass windows in the outdoor chapel and mausoleum.

I found this turtle carved out of an old oak tree.

Plants were growing everywhere.

Plaques at the back entrance.

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Always a perfect sunset

Nothing says Florida like a walk around a marina especially right before sunset. If you want to get a good sunset spot here, you have to get here early.

This was actually back in late October when I headed out for a long walk before sunset at the Dunedin marina. Even thought it sits on the intercoastal waterway and Clearwater beach is across the water, the sunsets here draw a large crowd. There was still plenty of room around the pier and marina the night I was there. It’s totally worth getting up off the couch on a late Sunday afternoon and driving 30 minutes away.

Since parking is hard to find around the marina, a lot of people who live close by have golf carts. It’s easier to get a spot for dinner at the nearby restaurants. The one above was decorated and they were very friendly, talking to everyone. I had to take a picture.

It was time to start hiking back to my car but I turned around and took one more shot.

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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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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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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.

SkyWatch Friday

Sunset in the fall.

I peeked out the window right after work and saw the sun out with no clouds which hadn’t happened in a while so I jumped in my car with my camera and headed out to Cypress Point. It was a nice cool breezy night out.

The sun was going down on the picnic area.

The tide was really low so I could go behind this little tree area.

This is the perfect time of year here. Cool weather, low tides so you can walk out far and clear skies.

Heading back to my car right before the end, I turned around and took this with my phone.

Visiting another country in my own town

On a random Thursday morning off in November I finally headed out to see the Hindu Temple of Tampa. It’s not far from my house and I had recently heard about it so I decided to go on a weekday morning since it can get crowded on the weekends (especially with the weather being so nice now and you cannot wear shorts there). Just 15 minutes away and it was like another world. You can go inside the temple but you can’t take pictures so these are all of the outside. The inside was small but with an amazing burst of colors. You can see pictures inside the temple here on their website.

Is that a bird’s nest I see on the top? It’s probably an osprey nest but would be great if it’s an eagle’s nest. I will have to come by here again later in January to see if it’s being occupied.

The carvings and details all around the building were breathtaking. I took a ton of pictures and it was hard to narrow it down to post.

Out near the parking lot was a small shrine under a native Indian tree. Behind the tree was a small lake which made it very serene.

The sun was peaking over the other side of the building and people were starting to arrive for a function so it was time to head home. You can tour the inside as long as there are no services going on (no shoes allowed inside as well as no shorts so you have to walk around barefoot or with socks). I’ve heard on the weekends they have a market and you can buy Indian food to eat on the grounds (probably the reason for the crowds). I’ll have to stop by here again soon.

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Things at the marina

Trying to stay off my legs (due to hip bursitis) but not wanting to stay at home, I headed out for the Dunedin marina and fishing pier early one morning in mid-November. I spent the morning just hanging out, sitting on benches watching the activity around the marina. From the shots above, it was pretty quiet that morning.

I did see a manatee cruising around the boats in the marina.

This anhinga was having fish for breakfast.

Some of the birds also hanging around the marina, a green heron and lots of pelicans.

A spotted sandpiper was digging around the exposed muck at the boat ramp.

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