Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Southern Charm

Pictured: Downtown Zephyrhills.

Settling in at one place, as we have here at Southern Charm, calls for far less planning, pulling up stakes and travel time. I’m happy to report though that there’s no Spanish Moss growing on us yet.

I play volleyball on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings and we go for extended bike rides on the other days. Janice usually swims laps for twenty minutes or so in the afternoon. There’s no way I can keep up to her so I just dog paddle around in her wake as she does the crawl for twenty laps and then side strokes for twenty more.

Pictured below is Tim making spaghetti. Yes, Tim cooking is unusual and therefore warrants a picture. Try a healthy dose of Chipotle pepper in your sauce next time. It was really good.

The Patriot Flea Market, which is not far down the road, is right next to the Zephyrhills Airport where dozens of skydivers take the plunge daily. The airport is reportedly one of the biggest parachute drop zones in the states as well as a popular soaring/gliding spot.

Zephyrhills is a Mecca for snowbirds and other retirees. There are 154 RV parks in the area, so the restaurants and other shops cater heavily to the ’wrinkle ranches.’ We’ve seen ongoing offers at local restaurants for: $5.00 New York strip loin steaks, $6.99 all-you-can-eat fish fries and $10 fill-your-face buffets. We tried the Cuban place called Flaco’s and were rewarded with an excellent tamale, a ball of deviled crab and a Cuban sandwich. Throw in two coffees and the bill was $11.00.

On Saturday we visited Ybor City, the former cigar making capital of the US, which is actually part of Tampa. It’s a bit like Gastown with lots of old brick factories, and cobblestone streets. Cigar shops abound, accompanied by restaurants, galleries, bars with live music and an outdoor market. We strolled around for an hour or so before descending on the Green Iguana for lunch, pictured below.

Later the same day we went to the Festival of Lights Parade in downtown Zephyrhills. It was a refreshing slant on the regular Santa Parade because it’s a night time affair with all of the floats lit up. It almost made us feel all festive-like. Yes, we saw Santa - the real one.
Pictured are a fire engine in the parade as well as some whirling dervishes.

The next day, along with two other couples, we biked a new area called Wiregrass. Following the fifteen mile ride we stopped for lunch at Texas Roadhouse. It’s one of those places that, as soon as you walk in, has a big barrel of unshelled, salted peanuts. Customers are encouraged to discard the peanut shells on the floor and pick from one of the gargantuan steaks on display while waiting for a table. At the table there was another bucket of peanuts and everybody got a dinner roll with cinnamon butter to start. None of us had steaks but the meals were all Texas-sized so, when we met the same people in the evening to play Mexican Train (Dominoes), nobody had bothered to have dinner. Janice and I, being first time customers to the roadhouse, were also sent away with a branded bag of peanuts and a coupon for a free onion blossom.

Pictured are some tropical type Christmas ornaments we found on one of our bike rides.

We’ve been experiencing, by Florida standards, a real cold snap. Temperatures are dipping into freezing overnight and, when we start volleyball at 9:00am it’s only 39 degrees, or so, Fahrenheit. We're going to have to go back to The Patriot Flea Market for a couple of touques and some mitts if it doesn't warm up soon.

Pictured: Despite the cold snap the flowers are still growing and the crops are unharmed at the vegetable stand down the road where we buy freshly squeezed orange juice.

We’ll be leaving for Vancouver this Friday and returning on Monday. Our generous neighbour, Jim, who we bike ride with, is going to drop us off and pick us up at the airport.

1 comment:

  1. I hear a parachute jump coming up. I hope Tim cooking dinner is at least going to be a weekly thing. Some of these pictures sure will make nice paintings. See you soon.

    Mom / Rhelda