Thursday, February 28, 2013

Just Add Water

Hubs had a meeting in Tampa on Monday-Tuesday, and a bit last minute we decided to make it a long weekend and I'd tag along.  Someone has to occupy that lounge chair on the beach while he works, right?

It felt a little hectic getting out of town since you may remember I had just returned from a long weekend trek to Tennessee late Monday night. Basically I unpacked, collected the dog from the kennel, grabbed some grocery essentials, did laundry, repacked, redeposited the dog at the kennel, and we were off.  

Hubs nearly always gets bumped to first because hello, United Airlines sees him as much as I do, but I booked late and was in the center seat, last row of the plane. Next to the restroom. Ugh. Naturally the flight was 100% full, but somehow hubs was able to get my seat moved up to a window over the wing. Much better.

Know what's even better better?  He gave me his seat in first and scrunched himself into that seat over the wing. The flight attendants were impressed, and said that doesn't happen very often. That's kind of sad I think, but I guess I'm old fashioned. Hubs will probably think it's silly I even mentioned it, but I want you to know that in marriage, as in much of life, little things are sometimes big.

Look-four paragraphs in and we're still on the ground in NJ.  Moving on...

We stayed in the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay because that's where hubs needed to be for work, which was after all, the whole point of us going to Florida in the first place. Pesky detail.

The Hyatt sits on the Bay so there's not a true beach, but they've created a little one which was lovely.  The property is expansive and built around a 35-acre wildlife preserve for something different. They've constructed an elevated boardwalk from one end to the other with a tentacle reaching out over the Bay to a gazebo.

The walkway crosses a marshy area thick with banyan trees, beautiful birds, and other sorts of wildlife too. Hubs liked to make me nervous by telling me to keep an eye out for panthers.  It's possible I've watched a little too much CSI Miami, but I also kept an eye out for dead bodies. I'm telling you, that marsh was thick.  

Every morning we'd get up, put on our work out clothes, grab coffee, and walk out to the end of the boardwalk to watch the birds in the tidal pool.  I took a lot of pictures with my phone so the quality is something less than the usual mediocre, but its hard to ever completely ruin a photo of the sea.  

After our coffee and our walk we'd hit the gym. I really enjoyed this little routine and wish we could start every day like that. Sadly, no boardwalk to the bay in my backyard.

I feel quite certain there will be Gulf Coast sunsets in heaven.  

Friday evening we had a delicious seafood dinner at a restaurant called Oystercatchers. In fact we had fabulous dinners every night, including the room service I ordered in my pjs on Monday while hubs was at a business dinner.  I don't know why, but room service always feels like such a treat. 

On Saturday we took a little thirty minute road trip to the town of Treasure Island, because when hubs was a little boy his family vacationed there.  He hasn't been back in over 40 years but he still remembers bits and pieces, specifically a giant Pirate greeting them as they came across the bridge....

Whew!  He's still there. You don't want progress to mess too much with precious childhood memories. I do believe he's had a fresh coat of paint or twenty in the decades since hubs last laid eyes on him, but I was happy to see him still standing. This pirate was very exciting stuff to a five year old and his brother.

The hotel his family stayed in is now condos, but we strolled along the beach where he swam and called his parents so they could get in on the nostalgia too.  Memory is a funny thing.  The hotel was nothing fancy, but he has such happy memories of those with his dad, seafood dinners, playing shuffleboard, swimming in the surf in the bright orange life vest his mama made him wear. I think with every family holiday we've taken he's tried to recapture for his own children, the essence of those long ago trips.  I feel certain they'd tell you he succeeded.

We drove on into St. Pete's Beach and had lunch sitting beach side at the Don Cesar. I'm going to have to come back here...what a lovely hotel. We spent the rest of the afternoon soaking up the sun at our own hotel pool before heading out to a fun dinner at a Tampa institution-The Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. 

The Columbia was founded in 1905 by a Cuban immigrant and according to their website, is Florida's oldest restaurant. It is fun and it is fabulous. We were seated near the three piece band (piano, bass, bongos) and they were just right.  Great music played at the perfect volume to accompany our delicious meal.  The service was better than excellent as was our dessert.  

That's a guava turnover "Carmita"-guava and melted sweet cream cheese baked in a soft crisp pastry, dusted with sugar and drizzled with vanilla bean syrup.  Heavenly!

Seems like an appropriate spot to end this post.  I realized in paragraph four I was going to have to make this a two-parter. I know some people would throw up a few pictures and call it a day, but I am not one of those people.

Now it's off to the gym, because seeing that guava turnover Carmita reminds me that a treadmill calls my name.

Enjoy your day!


  1. Ah Joyce, that sounds like it was a great decision to 'tag along!' And your husband giving up his seat in first so that you could enjoy that is a real example of a loving, giving relationship and what's missing in so many marriages today. Have fun at the gym. :-(

  2. That turnover looks decadent! BTW, you are doing a great job with your camera photos. Nice compositions!

  3. I'd love to get to know you better in my new feature "Getting to Know You". Please let me know if you are interested and I'll email you some questions to answer.


  4. I need to start going with my husband on business trips, now that I am not working. Room service and walks on the beach sound lovely! I love the Tampa area too :-)

  5. I love anything guava and that turnover looks delicious!
    Sounds like a wonderful weekend you two had. Happy for you and enjoying your pics. :)

  6. You are so right, little things really do matter and I happen to be married to one of the most thoughtful men too. More than I deserve!

    I love, love Tampa! My brother lived in the area for several years and we had such visiting there. He is now in Des Moines and while it is a lovely, lovely area, not quite like the beach.

    I enjoyed sharing in your trip and look forward to hearing "the rest of the story."

  7. You know I'm so jealous just reading this! I'm tagging along for the next trip! can't wait for part two! xo

  8. What a great "tag along" getaway. It all looks wonderful but I especially liked hearing about the nostalgia side trip. It is great that the pirate is still there.

  9. How wonderful! A great time of year to visit the sunshine state! :)

  10. Mark gets bumped into United first class often too and he has given me his seat. I love that!
    We use to visit Treasure Island when I visited my grandparents when I was young. I haven't been to that resturant in Ybor City but I have been to a few craft fairs there. Maybe I should look into taking my dad there on his birthday. Sounds like a nice visit. My family is about 30 minutes from the Tampa airport. Looking forward to hearing more about your trip.

  11. With all the nasty weather up here in our neck of the woods, I'm so glad for you and for you getting out and sitting in that chair waiting for Hubby. It all looks wonderful!

  12. My Hubs would and has done the same thing. We got good ones for sure!
    I too for some reason look at room service as a treat. Not sure why because it's hardly ever a meal to write home about. Ha.

  13. I love Florida, especially in winter. How sweet of your hubs to trade plane seats with you! Ed would have done the same.

    Your trip sounds heavenly, so far, can't wait to hear part two :)

  14. It sure sounds like a dreamy long weekend getaway what with the sunrises, workouts, carmita deliciousness, sunsets, and room service. Not to mention sharing it all with your hubs minus the room service. I do enjoy that little treat as well. :)

  15. Tagging along on business trips is fun, huh?
    Once, when we were flying back to Singapore after several weeks in the US, Hubby let me sit in his business class seat and he sat in coach. With the kids. For a total of 18 hours. So great to have husbands like that, huh?

  16. We will be visiting Treasure Island on our trip to Florida in May (after a week at Disney we're heading for Madeira Beach via Treasure Island) ... I'll make sure that the Ts spy the pirate! ;-) I can't wait for Part Two.

  17. What fun! Indiana and I went to Treasure Island for our getaway last summer. Absolutely loved it there!

  18. Florida is lovely. I just came from California, but I went to Florida in 2010.