Wednesday we woke to another chilly morning (temps about 27º at 6 a.m.) but with a forecast for sunny weather. We decided to make an exploratory trip to Tarpon Springs. It turned out to be fun and revelatory!
But before leaving I tried to reach our RV repair guy one more time. I have now called him twice and haven’t gotten a response from him yet. It’s frustrating because he was quick to respond and get over here last week, seemed interested in the topper replacement job, I know he called Carefree of Colorado to inquire about the cost and colors — and then he dropped off the face of the earth. A neighbor recommended him highly and I hate to give the job to someone else but I need to get this project moving if we’re to finish it before leaving Florida. But not to be bothered by that little snag we headed on South anyway.
We visited Tarpon Springs in ’13 and had a nice visit. Our daughter was talking about going there while she and Mike are visiting so I wanted to check out what may have changed, parking, routes, etc.. It’s an interesting area. As you may know it was the home of the U.S. sponge industry for years and years. There remains some sponging but the majority of the sponges in use now are synthetic so their business has declined from their heyday. But, the town remains a huge tourist attraction with boat tours, gift shops and restaurants galore. Three years ago we ate at the Rusty Bellies Waterfront Grill. This year we decided to try Hellas Restaurant.
I’m coming to terms with the fact that Greek culture is just a little too loud for me. But we had a quirky waiter named George (who had to from “New Joisey”). The music was a bit too loud and there are a whale of a lot of employees milling around but the food was dynamite. We shared an order of hummus. Peg went for the Moussaka (very good); I tried the lamb shank with spaghetti (even better than very good). We ended up our meal with a Phyllo dough and egg custard desert called: Galaktoboureko — that stuff is to die for!
On our trip home we hit a lot more traffic than on the way down; and we ran up US-19 and US-98 — and I was reminded of what it was about Florida that we never cared for: Linear Cities! Those of you who travel Florida a lot know what I mean — these cities that have no significant depth — being only a couple blocks wide on either side of the main road, but extend for miles along the highway. And of course there was heavy traffic in the middle of the afternoon. And a three car accident requiring 1 fire truck, 3 EMT vehicles, 6 squad cars and backed up the highway for “quite a distance” and we won’t say more about that.
It was so delightful to sit along the dock, to enjoy the sounds of rigging on the boats, the seagulls and pelicans, and to watch the tourists. We walked Dodecanese Street — the principal tourist street — and enjoyed to some degree the noise and hubbub. We shared some memories and finally chose a resto for lunch (as mentioned above).
We learned a couple things that day. We are gradually coming to feel that this might just be our only winter in Florida. For one thing Mike and Katy have no interest in Florida. Peg & I had always said that we would hold off RV’ing the Eastern Seaboard until we had finished with the Midwest and the West Coast but this winter we were sort of left with last-best choices. But the real thing is that we don’t find Florida all that compelling.
We love that it is greener than Texas. And when we have been in natural areas we have enjoyed the birds and critters that we have seen. The problem being that Florida comes with enough other ’stuff’ that we aren’t into that it’s not all that fascinating. One of the biggest detractions is the sheer number of people and the traffic — which we have been avoiding by being where we are. The Ocala area really is a haven away from the mess that is the rest of Florida. While I’ve been commenting (some may say complaining) about being too far from the attractions we are interested in — this day trip reminded me that a.) we never seem to find campgrounds that are any closer to services than the one where we are right now and b.) I would rather drive a long distance for groceries and such than to have closer access to conveniences through the sort of traffic we drove in on Thursday afternoon — and to have to do that all the time we were in an area. That would be far less appealing than having longer distances to routine errands.
I’ve come to realize that proximity is something that our 3 month stay in Milwaukee spoiled us about. We had gotten accustomed to traveling for our needs over the last four years; and it only took 3 months to break our pattern and make us realize what we had been doing. But the point is that we had been making that choice — to stay at campgrounds that were removed from over-much-civilization on purpose.
There were detracting factors about S. Texas but we were somewhat closer to most services (other than RV service outlets — we did not succeed in finding good RV servicing outlets there). The question now comes to the fore: will we be any more pleased with whatever we find next winter in the desert (if our plans for the SW hold together)? Quartzite certainly is not in a metropolitan area. There are the metro area of Phoenix and Tucson and Yuma but we’ll see where we end up when that time comes. That’s a year away.
Once again, we are coming to terms with the fact that our preferences are not common. Florida is a great destination for a lot of people — but it’s looking less and less like some of those people are us. Thanks for stopping by and let’s do this again tomorrow.