In early February, we were back in the Tampa area to visit mom and Sid, and to attend the wedding reception of the daughter of our good friend and CBA executive faculty member, Bob Miles. We also caught up with some other friends. I’ve reported on my mom on many occasions. She is still very well at age 91, and planning for another Elton John concert. My sister Terry asked her if she wanted to attend another Elton John event. She replied yes. Later this year, I will report on my mom at the concert, and hopefully I will have some pictures to include.
Winter at the beach in Florida in early February is a mixed bag on the weather front. While there are those 80 degree, calm wind, cobalt blue skies days, there are also 50ish degree, raining, high wind days that force people indoors. No rides on the Pirate Ship, no parasailing, and it was rest time for Mega Bite II. During this trip, we had one day of wind and rain and two others that sure felt cool. The wedding reception was in a beautiful spot, the Tampa Yacht Club, but the overcast and breeze kept us in the club for most of the duration of the reception. Alas, we had sun and some warmth on our last two days.
Our flight from Omaha to Chicago, the first leg of the trip, took us out over Lake Michigan, and back over the south part of the city in lining up for a northeast to southwest landing. The overcast sky had broken somewhat as we banked back from the lake. I could see the usual sights—Navy Pier, Soldier Field, Adler Planetarium, Millennium Park and more, all places I have visited during my many trips to the Windy City over the last 60 years. The sight of the Field Museum of Science and Industry caught my attention. I flashed back in my mind to 1960 and a school trip to the museum. We were living in Champaign Illinois at the time. I was eleven years old and most excited by the prospect of spending four or five hours seeing neat stuff. It was such a cool place to visit. My best memory of the day is walking around the U-505, a German submarine captured by the U.S. Navy off the west coast of Africa June 4, 1944.
After the crew gave up the ship (they were under orders to scuttle the boat), the U-505 was towed in secret to Bermuda, the crew becoming prisoners of war. They were held at Camp Ruston near Ruston, Louisiana. They were transferred to Great Britain at the end of the war and oddly not released until 1947. Several years later, the submarine was donated to the Museum of Science and Technology, and was guided slowly and carefully through the Great Lakes arriving in Chicago September 25, 1954. So, when I saw the U-505 in 1960, it had only been at the museum for six years. The exhibit was adjacent to the main building, subject to all of the weather elements that residents and visitors to Chicago have come to love. In 2004, the boat was moved to a 35,000 square foot exhibit building, this time protected from the rain and snow, cold and hot. If you have any interest at all in history and technology, check this out the next time you are in Chicago (https://www.msichicago.org/explore/whats-here/exhibits/u-505-submarine/).
Like most return visitors to anywhere, we tend to end up at many of the same eateries. During our visits to the Tampa area, we eat pizza with my mom and Sid at Fortunato’s in Seminole. Lunch or dinner on the beach at Palm Pavilion in Clearwater Beach can’t be beat. Boma at Disney is excellent, with all types of African dishes available. Dmitri’s in Tarpon Springs offers first rate Greek options. Nevertheless, we also look for or are introduced to new places. Our friends Bill and Peggy Swanson invited us to catch up with them at Ford’s Garage in Lakeland, very good food and a great place to sit and relax. We also went to Ozona Blue (OB) in Ozona (just north of Dunedin) for the first time. OB is located on the water and right next to the Pinellas Trail. I’ve ridden my bike on the trail before several times: Clearwater Beach, across the causeway and bridge to Clearwater, and north through downtown Dunedin ending in Tarpon Springs. The trail has many cool views of the gulf and the small towns along the way.
We went to the OB to see our friend Chris McCarty perform. Chris plays guitar and sings, and is quite talented. He plays a few standard covers, but most of his performance is made up of his own songs. We try to catch him each time we are in the Tampa area, sometimes seeing him play two or three times. You should give him a listen. (https://www.facebook.com/chrismccartymusic/; https://www.chrismccarty.com/)
There is always something interesting/entertaining going on when we go to Clearwater Beach. The Scientologists continue to try to buy up all of Clearwater—I’ll write more about this in a separate post. There is a new Tiki Bar option available at dock side just south of the Highway 60 roundabout. It’s like a bar on a pontoon boat, and travels out of port with a rental captain at the helm (no drunk driving while at sea). Our friend David Yates (and UNO/CBA alum) is stepping away from his President/CEO post at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. He is repurposing and wants to write and go out on the speaker circuit. I’ll have more on him in a later post.