“Florida isn’t so much a place where one goes to reinvent oneself, as it is a place where one goes if one no longer wished to be found.” ~Douglas Coupland
I’ve been to Florida over 100 times, since both sets of my grandparents have lived down there since I was born.
The last full weekend of January was the latest trek. And it was a special trip: Al was meeting my Grandpa (Dad’s dad) for the very first time.
Al and I flew down on Friday, and then my dad picked us up. He was able to drive down from his temporary residence of Charleston, South Carolina, due to work, for the weekend.
It was wonderful to leave Norfolk and the 30-degree temperatures behind for a balmy 77 degrees in Tampa!
After leaving the airport, we went to visit our friends the McShanes in Tampa. We got to see the business that Melanie and Charlie own (McShane Communications), and then we met Melanie at their gorgeous house for a nice visit!
We then headed to Seminole, Florida, where my grandpa lives. We swung by the Winn-Dixie and the local Little Caesars to pick up dinner. Pizza, cheese bread, and salad!
Friday night was very low-key. So low-key, that all four of us were in bed and basically asleep by 9:00 p.m.!
Saturday morning, the four of us went to breakfast at The Seminole Family Restaurant. This is one of my favorite places to eat! Al and I both had French toast – Yummy!
We went to the Bay Pines National Cemetery to see Grandma. It’s always humbling to go there. For one, it’s a veterans cemetery. It’s a beautiful campus, a lot of nature elements included with the cemetery and the Veterans Administration hospital and care facilities. Her ashes are in the cemetery’s columbarium, where spouses can be interred together. It’s fascinating to see all the different religious and non-religious symbols at the top of each slab, the representation of all of the armed forces, and then the one-liners that can be inscribed at the bottom of each individual stone. They range from sweet and endearing, to funny. It’s a place that I plan to visit often, especially when Grandpa does pass away and is reunited with Grandma again. They were married for over 50 years when she passed away in 2011.
Saturday was filled with food as well. We had leftovers for lunch, and then we went to Crabby Bill’s for dinner at Indian Rocks Beach. Some of the best seafood there is. and the Gulf of Mexico is literally across the street. It was a little chilly and windy, so we didn’t walk on the beach, but Al got to see the sand and the waves from the car. We’ll definitely be returning 🙂
When we got back to the house, we made small talk for a while. Al and I watched Mirror Mirror on TV. I hadn’t seen it, and it was a pretty good movie overall. Then we called it a night.
Sunday was Al’s birthday! We celebrated with waffles for breakfast. Dad went to the store for a few things before breakfast and came back with an Entemann’s loaf cake 🙂
It was cheaper to fly out of Orlando than Tampa, so that where we were headed.
Before driving to Orlando, though, we saw more of St. Petersburg (a.k.a. St. Pete), where my dad grew up. We were meeting our friends Phil and Diane for lunch, so before we met, Dad drove us around, pointing out his childhood house, his church, our friend Phil’s fire station, and more.
Al took these awesome pictures at the waterfront. The crazy-looking building is a part of The Pier, where Dad had some of his Homecoming dances and proms.
After our tour, we met Phil and Diane at Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish. Phil and Dad grew up together, in church and all. My parents were headed to Phil and Diane’s wedding when Dad proposed to Mom 🙂 Phil was Dad’s best man the next year. They go way back, and Ted Peters has always been involved. Dad still has a Ted Peters T-shirt. They’re famous for their smoked fish, but they also have the best burgers, frosty-mug root beer, and key lime pie!
I drove to Orlando, about two hours outside of St. Pete. It was a smooth ride, and it was nice to get some glimpses of Disney World!
We got to the airport and sent Dad back to Charleston. It took us a while to get back to Virginia, but it was an awesome weekend.
I highly recommend checking out the Gulf Coast of Florida! I love visiting the area, and I hope to make many more trips. There’s so much to do and see. It’s great for people of all ages.
Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂