Continuing catch-up week, here is the long-promised quick recap of my recent trip to Florida.
My grandfather turned 81 in early June and to celebrate, Claire, Ian and I flew out to the Tampa Bay area (specifically Bradenton), where my grandparents live. Based on my off days and the availability of a free ticket I could purchase with United miles, I left on May 20 (a day before Claire and Ian flew over on Delta), arriving in the early evening at TPA, where my grandparents, Bob and Carol Baker, picked me up.
Our first stop was at St. Petersburg's Tropicana Field, where I treated my grandparents to a ballgame (below).
It turns out the Oakland Athletics had also made the trip from the Bay Area and narrowly defeated the hosting Rays, 7-6.
My grandfather and I at the ballgame.
On Thursday, I took a quick tour of Anna Maria Island, before driving back to Tampa and getting Claire and Ian. We then began what seemed to be recurring pattern of swim, dry, swim.
We swam in pools and jacuzzis (below) ...
We swam in the Gulf of Mexico ...
... and other fun stuff.
My Aunt Kathy (who's three weeks older than me and had her first child, Andrew, just two days before Ian was born) brought her husband and Andrew on Friday and we had an impromptu mini reunion. On Saturday, we headed to Bradenton's South Florida Museum (right) and saw Snooty the manatee -- among other local residents. While Snooty (below) was genial, the highlight for me that day was our visit to the A La Mode ice cream parlor in nearby Palmetto.
(Although I did have an awkward moment with my grandfather when I suggested his father was a bootlegger because he travelled frequently to Havana in the 1920s).
At left, Claire finds she has a fear of large reptiles.
We did more of the same over the weekend. It doesn't sound like we did much, but that was the point. We made it a real vacation -- with not much to do and did quite a bit of relaxing. (We had another awkward moment over the weekend when I accidentally broke my grandparents' ceiling fan while stretching to put on a new shirt, but a quick trip to Home Depot and $40 solved that issue). The most physical thing I did the whole trip was throw two 5-year-old boys (below) back and forth across the length of the pool. That was tiring.
The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. On the way back, I had layovers in Denver -- where I discovered the restrooms are also tornado shelters (right) -- and Las Vegas (below), where I both had ice cream and blew five bucks in the slot machine. While it was more than 100 degrees in Las Vegas, after a week in the humid Tampa Bay area, I discovered what it means when people say, "At least it's a dry heat."