Tampa, part II

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Florida is so flat they have to make hills on the bike trails.

Despite the unusual heat this late in October, it has been good bicycling weather in the mornings.  Florida has a nice network of rail-trails statewide, especially around Tampa.  So on Sunday morning Brett came over to the Airstream with two bikes strapped to the back of his Rover and we went out to cycle a chunk of the Pinellas Trail before the heat set in.

The trail roughly follows the coast north-south, past parks and backyards that once were only seen by freight trains hauling phosphate.  A little further south the scenery is best described as “urban landscape,” not necessarily pretty, but interesting in its own way. We cycled about eight or nine miles south from Clearwater, and then back before it got too hot.

Along the route we discovered a very nice KOA, tucked up against the water in a quiet secluded location, directly adjacent to the bike path.  It was one of those uber-KOAs, “President’s Club Award Winner,” with the cleanest and best facilities, and I briefly considered it as an alternative spot for us on our next visit to Tampa.  But then I saw the price — $62 – 84 per night (including the $4 extra for our child) — and decided we had it pretty good where we were. That’s about what we’ll pay for our nights at Disney’s Ft. Wilderness, and although this KOA appeared to be excellent, it wasn’t Ft. Wilderness.

Having full hookups, Eleanor is doing more elaborate cooking lately.  We’ve been meaning to videotape another episode of “Eleanor’s Airstream Kitchen” because the food has been just awesome.  Sunday’s lunch included a wonderful butternut squash and apple soup, and puff pastry stuffed with sauteed red onions, apples, and walnuts.  (She’s trying to use up all the apples we’ve been picking lately.)

Our evening was spent at a unique local event, “Zoo Boo” at Lowry Park Zoo.  This time of year the zoo has a series of haunted houses open on the weekends from 7 pm to 10 pm.  Each house is rated from 1 skull to 7 skulls.  Emma had never been to a haunted house before, and was a little cautious about the concept, but game for a try.  We launched right into a 7-skull house at the outside, which Emma got about 20 feet into before retreating.  For the rest of the evening she was at the 5-skull level or below.  The rest of the adults (four of us) went into every house and loved them, the scarier the better.

It was hot again that evening, so Eleanor, Emma, and I piled into a single log “flume ride” car and caused a devastating tsunami that completely drenched us. We were not hot for the rest of the evening, as we squinched our way through the rest of the park … and once again I was glad we had vinyl (ahem, “MB-Tex”) seats in the car for the soggy butts that rode home that night after the park closed.

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Editor & Publisher of Airstream Life magazine