Saturday, December 31, 2011

Why we love living in Florida!

The weather has been awesome with gorgeous blue sky days!  So far it has been a warm winter . . . 70-80's during the day, 50-60's at night . . . NO SNOW . . . NO AFTERNOON STORMS . . . NO HUMIDITY!!  It has been a great time to enjoy the beauty of Florida and explore the outdoors.  Great time to visit this part of the world . . . no wonder the snowbirds descend upon us this time of year!

The Captain and I have been getting out more and experiencing the outdoors . . . often enjoying an early morning adventure of fishing, exploring local parks and the historic culture that Tampa has to offer.

As a result there are a ton of photos I have yet to process, but I have not forgotten!  I also haven't forgotten about the series on Vintage Disney.  We haven't even scratched the surface of exploring Busch Gardens and the area beaches.  I promise to get to these projects soon!

The Gasparilla pirates will invade Tampa at the end of January and we plan to be right in the middle of it this year.  We will be taking lots of photos and reporting on the festivities.

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Come on down to Florida!

CheapOstay (Best Converting)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

From our family to yours

Merry Christmas!

Hope your day is happy, festive
and full of love :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fishing Adventure at Ballast Point ~ Tampa, Florida

The Captain and I started in the middle of the night . . . beginning with a trip to the 24/7 Walmart to buy some last minute items we needed for our adventure.

This is the view that greeted us as we walked upon the pier.  The photos don't do the early morning sky justice . . . it was overwhelmingly breathtaking.  What was really beautiful is the downtown Tampa skyline at this time.  What you are looking at in this view is the Port of Tampa.

Click on any of the photos for a larger view with greater detail.

It surprised me that this early in October, it was freezing out there (well, what this Florida girl calls freezing).  The winds were whipping around and I was chilled to the bone!  Good thing we still had blankets in the van from our trips to the beach.  Once I got wrapped up in a blanket, I was fine.

I just sat there gazing at the sky for the longest time . . . the changing colors were amazing.  The water was choppy from the wind and took on a spectrum of colors.  The sights and sounds of the morning stillness, along with the beachy smells conjured up those awesome childhood memories for me again.

We had the whole pier to ourselves except for a few people at the very end and some people in the park area enjoying the changing colors of the sky.  I would be so very happy to grab a cup of coffee on the way over there and just watch the changing sky.  Being on that pier gives a panoramic sky view . . . just AWESOME!

This is a part of the downtown Tampa skyline . . . not the greatest photo, but I love the way the sun bounced off of the sides of the buildings.  Next time I'll get better photos of this view!

All of a sudden, the birds started to appear . . . a few at first . . . 

. . . and more appeared . . .

The night skies turned to day . . . with a smidge of orange skies.

The little guy was not too happy with the intrusion of the bigger bird!

As more and more birds appeared, so did the fishermen.

A view of Bayshore Boulevard . . . notice the beautiful pinkish sky!

The big rock bulging out of the water is full of little birds . . .

The sun begins peaking up from the horizon . . .

I love the way the sunlight reflects against the pier!

Well . . . we proceeded to fish throughout the morning and a chilly early morning turned into a hotter mid-morning at which time we had enough of feeding the fish and decided to drive around and take more photos of Tampa.  We did catch two little fish, but nothing substantial to bring home.

The fun was being in the midst of it all and experiencing night turn into day on Tampa Bay.

Hope you enjoyed the photos!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ballast Point Park ~ Tampa, Florida

Ballast Point Park is a located on Tampa Bay (featuring awesome views of downtown Tampa and the Port of Tampa), down the street from Bayshore Boulevard, one of the most picturesque points in Tampa.

click photo for enlarged view

The park dates back to Tampa's earliest days, originally named Jules Verne Park.  The Hillsborough County Historical Commission placed a historical marker at the park which reads:
"Formerly Jules Verne Park . . .

Mrs. Chester W. Chapin, controlling owner of the company which operated the city's first electric trolley cars, purchased these acres and in 1894 developed this site into a tropical park as a terminal for her line. 
She named it for the French writer Jules Verne (1814-1905) who in his famous novel "From the Earth to the Moon" first published in 1865, chose Tampa town as his launching site for the imaginary shot of his rocket to that planet near one hundred years ago."

The park features a lovely fishing pier that brought back so many memories of my childhood.  As we ventured down the pier today, flashbacks of fishing with my dad came to mind.  The one memory that stands out are the ugly blowfish that were often caught off that pier.  They really freaked me out as a child!

click photos for enlarged views

As a dating teenager, the pier was a fun spot to enjoy a relaxing evening after having dinner out.  That pier has been a fun spot for me as I became an adult, looking for a frugal way to spend a very enjoyable evening, either fishing or merely walking the pier watching others fish.  There is something about fishing piers at night that fascinate me in the simple way of just enjoying one of nature's gifts . . . the sounds, the sights, the smells.  It is an awesome way to spend an evening!

click photo for enlarged view

We passed by the familiar picnic pavillions and I could almost feel the happy childhood excitement and wind on my face as I ran around and played with my cousins and second cousins.  Family picnics back in the day meant the whole family got together . . . such happy memories just walking around that park!

Each sheltered picnic pavillion includes a grill, lots of picnic tables in shady surroundings that includes a children's playground. 

The tree-lined walkways along the water are popular among joggers, walkers and rollerbladers with quick access to Bayshore Blvd.

Some views of Bayshore Blvd., downtown Tampa and Port of Tampa from the Ballast Point Pier:

click photos to enlarge views

It was one of those overcast days in Florida . . . hit and miss showers all over town.  Notice the difference in cloud formations . . . watching the sky fascinates me!

Ballast Point Park is an awesome place to spend the day picnicing with family, relaxing on a park bench enjoying the Florida sunshine, fishing on the pier or just passing the day or evening watching others fish . . . there is also a restaurant on the grounds (have no idea what the food is like).

Check it out if you find yourself in Tampa and just want to enjoy a little relaxation with spectacular surroundings . . .

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Discover Tampa through our eyes!

The Captain and I have been all around Tampa for one reason or another.  Since we recently got married, there have been so many IDs to get, change, update which have taken us from one part of town to the other . . . numerous times.  It gave us the idea of doing blog posts featuring the diversity of Tampa, what makes it so special and why I would not live anywhere else in the world.

Today we went off just for fun.  MacDill Air Force Base was having a Veterans' Appreciation Day, so we started our day off with an awesome brunch at the dining room usually designated for active military only.  WOW I was impressed with the quality of food and the great service we received.  After doing some shopping and checking out all the various veterans association booths (did I mention that I love being a military wife?), we decided to continue our adventure and forget about going straight home.

Our first stop was Ballast Point, which is located on Tampa Bay . . . down the street from the base and across the bay from downtown and the Port of Tampa.  We checked out their lovely pier and relaxed at the picnic area, enjoying a beautiful Florida day, taking lots of photos along the way.

Ballast Point is off of Bayshore Boulevard, which runs along Tampa Bay, leading to Downtown Tampa.  I kept clicking photos throughout the drive all the way through downtown.  It was at that point we decided to make it a dedicated photo taking day.  We took some awesome and unusual shots of gorgeous buildings surrounding downtown, ending up in Historic Ybor City, which is where we finally landed, parked the van and headed out to our adventure.

My roots are in Ybor City and the changes made through the years have made me so proud of my latina heritage which lies in the historic district.  

The highlight of our day was a ride on the streetcar from Ybor City, back towards downtown to Channelside, home of The Florida Aquarium, the Tampa Bay Lightning (St. Pete Forum), cruise ship terminals, dining ships that include a tour of Tampa Bay and the quaint shops and restaurants of the artsy Channelside district itself.

The new ultra-modern condos that have gone up and still going up around Channelside and downtown are each unique with gorgeous architecture and landscaping . . . quite the contrast a streetcar ride away from the historic Ybor City architecture that takes you back to another time, very reminiscent of Bourbon Street in New Orleans.

We had a blast . . . but the bad news is soon after jumping on the streetcar to begin our journey to Channelside, the camera batteries died.  Major bummer . . . we are planning on going back tomorrow, weather permitting, to take even more photos of Ybor City and finally take some photos at Channelside.

It is awesome to show The Captain around his new home and share my roots with him.

I'll take each section of town as a blog post with lots of photos to share my city with all of you, along with a little history and some "back in the day" memories.

Can't wait to continue our adventure tomorrow!

UPDATE  :(  
. . . maybe next weekend?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Fort Desoto Park ~ St. Petersburg, Florida

The Captain and I recently spent a beautiful and sunny Florida day on the white sandy gulf beach at Fort Desoto Park in St. Petersburg, Florida.

We couldn't have picked a better day . . . no rain, no storms . . . very unusual for this time of year.  There is nothing like sunning on the beach and cooling off in the warm, salty and refreshing Gulf of Mexico.

Our day started very early in the morning . . . we arrived as the sun came up . . . daybreak on the Gulf of Mexico beaches is awesome!

The park offers great diversity with a wealth of bird life, sea life, wild life and plant life.  We just visited the beach, but the park also includes two fishing piers, campgrounds, the historial forts, museum, boating and so much more.

Although it has been many years, it was one of my favorite places to go camping, where you can encounter cute raccoons that are very adept at stealing food, hiking or biking through the trails or fishing from your camp site.  An awesome place to go camping, if that is your thing.
The park consists of 1,136 acres of protected islands . . . home to beach plants, mangroves, wetlands, palm hammocks, hardwoods and native plants.  It is the one place in this area that I imagine is as it was when the Spanish explorers first discovered its vast beauty.

The park's natural ecosystems provides a home to more than 290 documented species of birds and the beaches provide refuge to the loggerhead sea turtle as they nest between April and September.
Fort De Soto's three miles of white sandy beaches was named America’s Top Beach for 2009 by Trip Advisor, the world's largest online travel community. In 2005, “Dr. Beach,” named Fort De Soto the nation’s #1 Beach.

Here are some photos we took . . .

Click here for the official website of Fort Desoto Park.

We plan on visiting again very soon to check
 out other amenities the park provides . . . 
hopefully for a couple days of camping and fishing!

This post has been linked up with the
following blog hop/meme . . .

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens

Although we had every intention to make it to Busch Gardens for the opening of the new ride Cheetah Hunt, between Florida thunderstorms and life, we didn't make it until the other day.  We got there in the very late afternoon and it got too dark to continue taking photos, so there wasn't enough time to explore the new section to go with the ride.  

Hopefully we will return next week . . . 
but in the meantime, here is a peak at the new ride . . .

The landscaping at the base of this section
 of the ride is gorgeously tropical!

A photo from our last visit . . . the landscapers 
busily preparing the grounds for the opening
of the new Cheetah Hunt section.

What a difference a few weeks makes!

One of our favorite spots to chill out.
I love this water feature!