Posted on August 5, 2016
Tampa- Great American Road Trip
Every Friday night that we can, Bean and I have a movie night. We get a pizza, or whatever food she wants,
snacks and a couple of kid movies, as she calls it, and we have a great time. Bean prefers to watch animated cartoons, and not “people movies”. One people movie that we have seen is Dolphin Tale; Bean loved it. Imagine my surprise and delight to find out when we decided to come to Tampa that the Clearwater Aquarium was not far from where we would be staying.
Driving up I-75N from Miami to Tampa was scenic and quite pleasant. We drove through portions of the Everglades Wildlife Management Area. Seeing how the scenery changed, noticing the differences in the palm trees, and also the differences in temperature and the humidity was remarkable. Honestly, the heat was exhausting. I was so tired I had to pull over for a nap and sleep in the shade of a big tree.
When we arrived at my cousin’s, unfortunately her children were on their own vacation in Texas, so Bean did not have any children to play with. We were given a great project to work on… organize the house! She had just moved into the house two weeks earlier and needed help to get the girl’s room organized and the kitchen. I love to organize. It may be a bizarre passion, but it is something I was born enjoying. I was ready to get to work immediately.
Bean was ready to see what there was to see in town. She wanted to go downtown immediately; she is definitely a city girl. We compromised and headed out to see the area. It was lovely. There was a mango tree and a lemon tree growing in my cousin’s yard. Bean and I brought some mangoes up from Miami and decided to see which ones were the best. We toured the city and enjoyed seeing how a city was laid out before we actually get out and visit it. Our cousin thought that we may like to see the aquarium so she made reservations over the phone.
The next morning we showed up at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium only to find out that we were not at the place where we reserved our tickets. We said “No problem, let’s do this!” It isn’t often that we have found ourselves somewhere a movie we really like has been made. And on top of that, it was a movie that we liked!
Bean was so happy. She could hardly wait to see Winter and Hope, the dolphins from the movies. The place wasn’t as big as some of the other aquariums that we have visited, but the staff and the volunteers make it clear that they believe in what they are doing: rescuing, raising and releasing aquatic animals. I was happy to spend my money on something that was making a difference.
We saw some dolphin training, a film about the work that they do, and we went to the newer location where it detailed everything about the movies Dolphin Tale 1 and 2. Finally, we saw the movie stars themselves, Hope and Winter. They were in a tank and though they were swimming quite a bit, they did not pass by the observation window very often. We were happy with a glimpse of them. We also saw Ricky the pelican. He had his own pad near the dolphins tanks. Bean had so much fun that she requested to see the movies again when we have another movie night.
In order to make sure our tickets and money did not go to waste, later in the week we made it to the Florida Aquarium. It was large and offered glimpses of outdoor Florida habitats right in the open in many of the exhibits. I was impressed to see the wildlife not being hidden behind glass.
They had some of the most beautiful jellyfish that I have ever seen. Bean loved it so much, she was running from one exhibit to the next trying to look at everything at one time. We had to get outside for our dolphin viewing boat ride. It was so hot outside, but the breeze on the boat made everything so much better. We had an excellent guide who explained everything that we were seeing. The water was calm enough, but the dolphins did not feel like interacting with the tourist. Off in the distance, we spotted them swimming peacefully. Our captain stopped the boat to see if they would approach, but they didn’t come any closer.
We passed the rest of our days taking walks, organizing the house and getting to know family a little better. I am happy to report that though we did not have an extreme home makeover moment, we were able to get the house somewhat organized for when the children returned. Tampa was a great experience. Though I hadn’t been in Florida in ages, our time there was much enjoyed and well spent. Next time, I may not stay away for quite so long. What is your best Florida memory? I would love to hear your story, please leave it in the comments below!