Florida, the sunshine state. It’s warmest months feel like the steam from a boiling kettle pot. Water and beaches surround almost all it’s boarders, swamp land, marshes, national parks, and nature trails everywhere in between. The state is culturally diverse and a place east coasters love to escape to. It is certainly one of my favorites to visit and for many consecutive years I’ve found my way there.
This vacation lead me to Tampa. It was my first visit. A bit of an easy decision as my sister recently moved to the area. She’s pursuing her Doctorate and decided to invest in an RV. With the tiny house and living alternatives she researched and found the RV to be the better choice as she works on her degree. I saw photos of her tiny home so I wasn’t in for too much of a surprise. I had been in a “dressing room” trailer in my life time, it should be the same I thought. It was, kind of. It was rather spacious, cute as my sister had decorated a bit with artwork hanging and all. Oh, I get to sleep in the bunk. Good thing I’m not claustrophobic because there is no sitting up in the bed, you duck and hop out. This should be fun. I decided to document my time.
Day One: My first full day in Tampa. It so happened to be Super Bowl Sunday. Night one in the bunk wasn’t too bad. I didn’t notice that the RV shakes when you walk, I thought I was in California, earthquake. I wasn’t prepared for that but it is on wheels. Duh. I tried to tip-toe the rest of my stay. It was a work trip so the first part of the day she studied and I wrote. The evening was spent with our cousin who lived close by watching the Super Bowl.
Day Two: I packed my workout gear so I had to get a run in, I would be gone too long to skip. There was a park two miles away so I ran there and back. John B. Sergeant Wilderness Memorial Park was at the intersection of US 301 and Stacy Road. Yes, I had my very own road two-miles from my sisters place. If I questioned my decision to go I got my answer with my name street sign. The southern swamp land, sand and murky water were a calming setting to write my weekly blog. Later that day we went into town to historic Ybor City. It was once swampland purchased by Vicente Martinez-Ybor and later the home of more than 230 cigar factories. The walking self-tour was good enough I knew I wanted to return. The streets reminiscent of Old Havana and the French Quarters in News Orleans. Cafes and cigar shops galore with a nightclub or bar in between. It was clearly the place to go in Tampa.
Day Three: My back was on fire in the morning. I probably laid in the bunk too long. Duly noted. I wrote a bit as my sister studied the first part of the day. She dropped me off to pick up a rental, what’s a trip if you can’t explore freely. And that I did. I went to Davis Islands Seaplane Basin Park to watch the sunset. It’s just south of downtown Tampa in the Hillsborough Bay. The homes in the neighborhood are immaculate. After that I headed back to Ybor City to a cigar café to eat and write. I did grab a cigar but decided to hold off smoking it until I got to a beach.
Day Four: Tampa sits along the bay and just across a 9-mile bridge with close access to beaches. Today I choose Treasure Island to explore. It was super cold and breezy but in desperation I weathered the wind, courtesy of a beach lounge chair with a shade cover. In this case a wind blocker. My sister was able to join me and we relaxed and I got a little work done. I’d go further down the road solo to Madeira Beach to watch the sunset and walk around John’s Pass Village Boardwalk. There were plenty of restaurants, boutiques and souvenir shops. I headed back in town for dinner with my cousin at Mitchell’s Seafood, I had some of the best salmon ever, a second to Alaska, yes that good. I’d get back to the RV to find out that the propane ran out, yikes. It was one of the colder nights during my stay. Maybe there can be a back up propane tank somewhere, not sure how that works. It was surely cold but I survived.
Day Five: I would head to another beach today, Clearwater Beach. I had gone before with family during a trip to Orlando so getting on the beach wasn’t a top priority. I spent most of the time along that 9-mile bridge dubbed the Courtney Campbell Causeway running. The path ran along the interstate bridge connecting Tampa to Clear Water. I only ran 4 ½ miles though. I showered at LA Fitness and rushed to catch the sunset on the beach, it was beautiful. I walked along the strip grabbed a bite to eat, a malt shake and saltwater taffy. Yum. Back at the RV, it was warmer, my sister got the propane tank filled. Yay. I’d leave early in the morning back to Atlanta.
I have to say that my trip to Tampa was nice. Staying in an RV was an interesting alternative to a hotel or house. The swaying when someone walks, small shower, not being able to mentally get my head around the toilet flushing process and propane access made the experience interesting. The community, older but very friendly and inquisitive. All in all it was a cool first time in a home that can change locations if you want it to. I’m not sure I’d live in one but I’ve gained a perspective I won’t have considered. If you’re ok with a bit of unpredictability and you have an open mind about where you stay, try a recreational vehicle. Tampa and its greater metropolitan area has just the right amount of culture, water and southern charm. A real treat indeed. I will be back to visit. Soon.