An adventure close to home for a change!

Trip Start Sep 09, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Saturday, March 18, 2006

This is a sad, sad story of Dianne and her inability to travel under 100 miles in the correct direction to end up at the correct destination.

Actually, the above is not exactly correct. I ended up in Ybor City, which is the place I had as the destination on my map. What was incorrect is that I had the name of the city wrong, leading to the wrong destination with the right map.

Ok, so here is the story.

It all began with a trip I needed to take to visit a friend who is recovering from surgery. She lives in Brandon, over by Tampa. Since I didn't want to stay long to tire her out - as you all know I can easily do - tire people out - I thought I would do some sightseeing in the area. Even though the west coast is only about an hour from home, I rarely go exploring over there. I usually am just passing through going to my brother's in Ft. Myers.

So begins my quest. I remembered going to a really neat place one time that had a boardwalk along the water. This was ages ago because my son was still in elementary school. This little place had shrimp boats, sponge boats and sightseeing boats at the marina. There were neat old touristy type stores along the boardwalk. I remembered nice restaurants overlooking the water which would be a great place to watch the sunset. The only name I could think of for this tourist mecca was Ybor City. So, I looked it up on the map and placed an "X marks the spot".

A friend of mine had just gotten a new camera and since we both like to take pictures I extended an invitation and we planned our journey. Can you believe someone actually accepted the challenge of going with me somewhere? Do they not know my history? Actually, this person knows all to well from hearing all my stories. I think they must have been doing penance for some egregious misdeed and thought that by accompanying me all would be forgiven and they would have paid their debt to society.

Saturday morning I pack my gift for my girlfriend in the car and we headed off. I-4 wasn't too bad heading west. However, we saw mile after mile backup heading east. Nothing to look forward to on the way home.

We made it to my girlfriend's house without a problem - well almost. We made it 90 miles - I-4, to Rt. 60, to Kings Avenue, to Summer Breeze just fine. I ran into trouble when I couldn't recognize her house. Down the street once... to the end. Turn around and go back... to the entrance again... Dig up the street number and head back down the road. Zip, right past it.. but not to the end of the road. Recognized the mistake and turned around and found it. 90 miles from Orlando without a hitch but then another 20 miles driving back and forth on my girlfriend's street!

We dropped off the present, chatted for a few minutes and left. She was tired, and I knew she didn't need me to drive her nuts, so we headed to Ybor City.

We made it out of the subdivision in one try! We found our way back to Rt. 60 which was to take us straight to Ybor City. The map had us turning off of 60 and onto 19, then some other road. We followed some twists and turns and finally saw a sign pointing us to Ybor City. I saw cruise ships in the area and couldn't figure out why the signs were directing us away from the water. Oh well, we drove around and found the center of the town. All the while I was looking for shrimp boats, sponge boats and sightseeing boats, without success.

We decided to park and ask for directions. We wandered some cute streets for a while, and then stopped close to the Coumbia Restaurant to ask for directions. We went into a cigar shop and learned how to make cigars. Not a skill I really needed to fill out my resume, but interesting none the less. I asked the cigar making man if he knew about the area where the shrimp boats, sponge boats and sightseeing boats were along a boardwalk with cute stores. He said "Why yes" "Take the trolley to Channelside".

OK! I'm getting CLOSE! We find the trolly line. This cute little trolley pulls up. I ask about my little touristy destination and he says "hop on board, we are going there".
Wow! Almost there. The trolley is really a neat little ride. It is electric and travels through Ybor city's picturesque streets and heads to Channelside.

We round a bend and there it is... NOT! It is an area along with water all right, but the boats are not shrimp boats or sponge boats. They are boats all right, they are big, huge ships you can take a ride on. You can ride on them if you have $1,000, a week's worth of vacation and reservations. We were at the Tampa seaport where the cruise ships dock.

There is a cute (sort of) shopping area, so we got out. Actually, it was really rather interesting. The ships were right next to the docks and you could walk up to a gateway only about 30 feet from the ship. We were at an area that was right next to the loading area for the ship. We started watching the forklifts pick up containers of luggage, zip them around and put them in the ship. It was so interesting, as a matter of fact, we got some ice cream and parked ourselves right there so we could watch for a while. Now that I think about it, I must lead a really, really dull life to get such a kick out of watching this.

Eventually we got bored, and headed back to the trolley. I kept remarking about how much things have changed since I was here last. Nothing looked the same. What a shame, the cuteness is gone.

On the way we passed a Tampa Tourist office. I went in to get a map and find out about other points of interest. We parked ourselves on the bench to wait for the trolley and I got out the maps to look at. While looking at them my friend remarked "Hey, we should go to John's Pass one day". I asked what was there. He said "This little place has shrimp boats, sponge boats and sightseeing boats at the marina. There are neat old touristy type stores along the boardwalk. I remember nice restaurants overlooking the water which would be a great place to watch the sunset".....
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