So after sitting on the balcony and watching the sun come up and coloring the beach pastel … we headed out from our adequate, comfortable, but not ritzy beachside hotel to the very ritzy beachside hotel next door.

The one with the Starbucks and really good iced tea.

Because you gotta know where you can get the iced tea first thing in the morning.



Susan at the bridge in front of the ritzy hotel.



The ritzy hotel where we didn’t stay.


I decapitated this poor palm tree.





Susan did a lot of research and found the best hotel on the beach – by best, I don’t mean fanciest, but I do mean best for the price. The room had beds and a balcony – what else did we need?

Besides, I was on the Atlantic Ocean – I wasn’t about to stay inside and watch TV or something …

Enough said.

Sunshine Skyway

Ok – back to Florida.

And the warm afternoon in Tampa.

Except now we were on our way to St. Petersburg over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. (Doesn’t the name itself make you want to go there?)

The bridge is 4.1 miles and was completed in 1987. Actually the name is the Bob Graham Sunshine Skyway Bridge – Bob Graham was the governor of Florida when the bridge was being designed. He was the one who wanted to make the bridge similar to one he had seen in France.

The Sunshine Skyway was #3 in the list of top ten bridges in the world according to a Travel Channel survey.

Interestingly because of the length of the bridge and the climate (sunshine makes the water sparkle) – the bridge is often used in car commercials.

We did not see any car commercials when we drove across the bridge.

The bridge also has a “dark side” with people thinking that jumping off the side is a good idea … but won’t go into that here.

Points North – Part 2

When we moved to Racine, this harbor wasn’t there. Well, at least the harbor wasn’t there looking like this – no boat docks, no buildings, no walkways, no parking lot, no trees, no restaurants … just water … and more water.

But then the city decided they wanted a harbor so they took rock out of the quarry “up Douglas Avenue” and filled in the lake until there was enough rock in the water to build on top of it.

We lived near the quarry and early every morning we would hear the beep-beep of the construction machinery as they backed up and maneuvered their machines.  We’d see trucks with huge tonnage of rocks heading downtown.

And after months of this, Racine had a harbor with a restaurant, a jogging path, walkways, trees, parking lot, boat slips/docks, fish-cleaning station and so much more.

Interesting to think about what it was and what it is.

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So, I saw that a friend was visiting the Home Office with her husband except that her husband was in meetings all day while she was feeling sort of stuffed up with a cold. And we were chatting and catching up on everyone’s life and somehow the subject of Wisconsin came up. She said, “I was born in Wisconsin and we often came back to visit, but it’s been awhile since I was there.”

“Someday we’ll have to take a road trip,” I said, kiddingly.

And she said, “That sounds like so much fun.”

Quickly, I thought through my schedule. I had been fairly focused this week and had gotten a lot done and I could double up on some other things and …

“Like tomorrow?” I asked. “I could get you to Wisconsin tomorrow.”

And that was that. Because of course, I know how to get to Wisconsin and I know where to go when I get there.

Off we went. Because it was rush hour, we made our way to the highway through the Northern Illinois horse farms – 25 mile speed limit, but beautiful, beautiful country … and horses.

When we reached Racine, I headed right to the lighthouse. We didn’t have a lot of time and I wanted to make the best of it. When I left the house in the morning, I felt drops of rain – but now the sky was brilliant blue and the sun was glistening on the water.

Taking pictures of the lighthouse is always fun, but I’m guessing I have about 100 of them already with an assortment of family and friends standing in front of it, (We used to live close enough to bike to it.) but I can never resist taking more.

But oh, what a beautiful day and what fun to take pictures.

The Sunshine City in the Sunshine State

Ok, I never heard Tampa called the Sunshine City, but the sunshine was certainly sunshining down that afternoon. So we headed for the boats and a leisurely journey around Hillsborough Bay.

The boat “host” was friendly and welcomed us all – however there weren’t a lot of people to welcome. Mostly us and a boy and his mom. We were on the boat because we liked boat rides and because taking a boat ride seemed to be a great way to see Tampa and a great way to spend a hot afternoon.

The boy was on the boat for one reason … to see Derick Jeter’s house. In fact, as soon as we pushed out from the dock he asked, “Will we see Derick Jeter’s house?” The friendly boat guy said that we would.

Being that the boy was at that age where talking is a great hobby, he started asking questions. “What did the house look like? How big was it? Was the friendly boat guy sure we would see it?” And being that the boat guy also liked to talk and we were content to just look at our surroundings, he concentrated on talking to the young boy …. mostly about Derek Jeter.

Obviously, this was the highlight.

Downtown Tampa is a group of big, shiny buildings reflecting off the shiny water … and downtown Tampa is hot. (Oh, wait, I think I said that.) The boat ride was enjoyable … though the scenery was mostly wealthy people’s houses.

“Is that Derick Jeter’s house?”

“No,” said the friendly boat guy. “You will know when you see it. Men like it. Women don’t.”

“Why don’t women like it?” the boy asked.

“Too … ,” said the boat guy. “I don’t know, they just don’t. Would you like to be captain of the boat for awhile?”

“Me?” said the kid.

“Yes, you,” said the friendly boat guy. So boy took his place behind the wheel and off he went on his own hunt for all things Jeter.

The boat guy pointed out houses of famous, wealthy people that Tampa people would know (but I didn’t.) And then our boat went around Davis Island.

“There,” said the boat guy. “There’s the house.”

“Whoa,” said the boy. “That’s big.”

No one could argue with that.

We were at the end of our ride and headed back through the channel to the Tampa Convention Center where the hunt for Derek Jeter’s house had all begun. And for a couple hours … we had been cool or at least cooler. Fun ride.