Thanksgiving in Florida Pt. 1 – Photos, Man

When we left Florida on Saturday morning at 10:30am I expected traffic. I expected another long trip littered with rest stops every other hour and a return to the fast food diet that caters oh, so well to holiday travelers. What I didn’t expect, however, was to be standing still on the interstate not once, not twice, not three times, but four times in Florida, alone, then another time just south of Atlanta. A 10 hour road trip quickly turned into 13. When we came up the driveway at 11:30pm I was glad to be home in sweet Knoxville, even if it meant we were no longer in one of the coolest parts of Florida I’ve ever gotten to go.

It took me most of the day on Sunday to get my photos taken care of and I was still too exhausted to do a blog. Now that I’m writing it I’ve decided to break it up into several parts. Part 2 will be about exercising, part 3 will be about Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, part 4 will be Gibtown. That’s 4 parts and that’s weird but that’s how we’re going to do it. Part 1 will be everything that doesn’t fit into the above. Deal with it.

Our trip was to Largo, Florida, just a bit south of Clearwater on the Gulf coast. We had some lovely pizza at Mike’s Pizza and Pub, the best Cuban sandwich on the planet at The Kooky Coconut, and some ferociously delicious Italian fare from Da Sesto Italiano. A bit of shopping and a lot of museum-going, most of which will be covered in later posts.

Our first full day in Largo was very cold so instead of beach-going we headed north to Clearwater with the sole intention of shopping at the Hulk Hogan Beach Shop where I was overwhelmed with classic Hogan wrestling memorabilia and autographs, new Hogan merch, some based on classic designs, and even a few bits of Thunderlips references for the Rocky III fans passing through. Erin bought me a Hulkamania tee and a red tank to work out in. I guess you could say I was a bit excited about it…

Hulkamania is running WILD!

Hulkamania is running WILD!

After a quick lunch we went south of Largo to St. Petersburg to visit the Salvador Dali Museum that just happened to also have an M.C. Escher gallery. I’ve been to a lot of art museums, most with completely amazing artwork but I’ve never been face-to-face with actual artwork produced by some of my favorite artists. The work of Escher is unreal as it is but to be up-close and able to see pencil strokes and his notes regarding his most famous work was amazing. The Dali exhibit was also great – it was very nice to be able to see a lot of his early work, stuff I didn’t even know he did, before he got weird (read: surreal). I didn’t get many photos here as photos weren’t allowed in the Escher exhibit and I got in trouble for pointing over a distance wire in the Dali exhibit so I was in a bad mood about it. Lame, but true.

On Tuesday we spent the first half of the day bumming around on the beach (and getting sunburnt). A little bit of lounging later was followed by some strolling and dinner at John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk, a strip of touristy sights and smells along Madeira Beach, which I had visited with my folks when I was in high school. John’s Pass wasn’t much to behold back then but there was a lot going on now! I snapped a lot of photos but I did only kept a few:

Wednesday took us to St. Augustine, a cool 3 hours away on the Atlantic side of the state. We visited another Ripley’s as part of our goal of reaching all of the Odditoriums in the world, which, again, I’ll make a separate post about. After visiting the museum we made our way over to a neat part of town that included lots of fun shops and restaurant options. We went with The Prince of Wales Restaurant serving British fare. This place was very cool and I had some lovely fish and chips that made me even more excited about the chance of getting to visit in the future.

Thanksgiving was pretty sweet for us, too. I had intended to just find a place that was serving dinner for the holiday but felt guilty for not cooking so I packed my cast iron skillet and intended to make dinner. Little did we know that the folks we bought our house in Knoxville from (who now reside in Palmetto, Florida, about 45 minutes south of us) noticed we were at the beach and invited us over for a nice Thanksgiving dinner without the stress and bother of family. We took them up on it and for the cost of a single bottle of wine were treated to more laughs than we could stand, lovely food, new friends, and a nice crash course in the Jews’ love of chopped liver.

Friday sent us to Gibtown, which will be a post on its own due to the number of photos, and Saturday brought us home. To sum it up, I’d say we did vacation the right way and I’m sort of wanting to maybe make this a new Thanksgiving tradition – a week in Largo, a town made up of old retired people who never drive over 40mph, running on the beach, museum-going, and a Thanksgiving that feels more like Thanksgiving than any family holiday we’ve ever had.

If you want to see all the photos, you can see them on my Flickr feed here.

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Posts 2, 3, and 4 are coming. Brace yourself for more photos (and a return to running!)

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