Our last two weeks have been spent on the Florida Gulf Coast in Madiera Beach, adjacent to St. Petersburg. The St Petersburg/Madiera Beach KOA was a great basecamp for exploring this area and for taking care of business. After three months on the road it was time to stay put for just a little while.
During our time here we saw the dentist for cleanings and six fillings between the two of us. I saw a great physical therapist three times a week to address some lingering issues with October’s foot surgery. We also took Bob to the vet to have his Addison’s Disease checked out, and he is in great shape! Three of the four of us got haircuts and one of us got a massage. It was a fruitful two weeks!
Our site at the KOA backed up to a mangrove and we had a nice “backyard” where we could enjoy a fire, games of Scrabble, and dinner at the picnic table.
The campground is located along the Pinellas Trail, a paved, multi-use trail that runs from before Clearwater to downtown St Petersburg. Steve did his daily runs on the trail and Bob and I worked on increasing our walking distance, per the orders of the physical therapist. We are now up to about 2.5 miles on most days! We took the bikes out a few times too.
On many days we spent a few hours exploring the nearby beach towns. Treasure Island had a nice beach boardwalk, and Madiera Beach had kitschy shopping area with restaurants, bars, t-shirt shops, and ice cream shops. Both communities have a weekly market, so we hit those as well.
Clearwater Beach also has a great boardwalk along the water. Steve was scheduled to do a marathon here but the race has been postponed, so we just explored. Brightly painted dolphins, as many as 120 of them, are scattered throughout the Dolphin Trail. We tried to capture a few of our favorites along our walk.
The Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg is world-renowned, and it’s hard to walk away from it without being in awe of the Spanish artist’s abilities. While often weird and distorted, his works are filled with meaning, and learning about each works’ interpretation was fascinating.
In particular we both loved The Hallucinogenic Toreador, a multi-level painting that combines symbolism, optical illusion, and visual language to tell Dalí’s story. I won’t go into the full meaning of the painting (Google it) but it’s really cool.
On another day we took the drive across the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which links St. Petersburg to Bradenton and Sarasota over Tampa Bay.
Driving the bridge itself was exciting, but our destination was even more of a circus. No really, we visited the Ringling Museum and learned about the history of the circus and in particular, the Ringling Bros. circus. As a child, I was enthralled every July when the circus visited Phoenix. I poured over the circus programs for months after attending each year.
The Ringling Circus Museum is just one part of a very large museum complex which also includes the Ringling’s large mansion, Ca’ d’Zan, and the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. We focused on the circus museum and strolled the bayfront gardens.
Steve went fishing one morning with Hubbard’s Marina and had some little success. Luckily a few other fishermen on the boat didn’t want their catch, so Steve brought home a big bag of fresh fish for the grill that night.
The Tampa area is in a frenzy for the Super Bowl which will be held in just a few days. It’s the first time in ages since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been in the big game and the first time ever a team has played the Super Bowl in their home stadium. And of course, there’s Tom Brady. We stayed away from the festivities in Tampa but couldn’t avoid the hype! It’s everywhere and even Bob was getting into it!
We continue to enjoy our RV lifestyle. We’re heading inland to a few of Florida’s state parks now and then on to the other coast. Stay tuned for more fun!