Hushpuppies, Pool Houses, and White Sand Beaches

Day 16 – Sunday, May 3, 2015

Brunch at Winnie’s the next morning was wonderful. We made mimosas, omelets, and cinnamon rolls. Though we weren’t going far that night, we still felt that we were saying goodbye to New Orleans. Allison and I shared a sense of not wanting to leave while also feeling ready to continue our road trip. We drove for about an hour to Covington where we were staying with cousins of our cousins. We all had dinner at a restaurant called Chime’s that had goats, chickens, and cats that we could see as we made our way down to the river after placing our order. The view from the river was calm and isolated. We had more delicious Po’ boys and hushpuppies. We discovered that all hushpuppies are a bit different. Some are sweet, some have jalapenos and are spicy, and some taste more like falafel.

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Dinner was followed by wine and chatting by the pool. We were staying in their pool house that night. Even if we hadn’t just spent a week in Airbnbs that had cockroaches and limited air conditioning, the pool house would have felt like a luxury. We were very happy to be staying with them and in awe of the historical beauty that encompassed the area in which they lived. Their neighbor’s house had a large veranda with rocking chairs and had an authentic colonial look to it.

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Day 17 and 18

In the morning we were greeted with breakfast, and we gave the youngest son a dinosaur tooth brush and a Tug and the Tooth pillow for his loose teeth, which he very much appreciated. We said our goodbyes and headed for Tampa.

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Each time we know we’re crossing into a new state, we prepare ourselves for the border by getting in to the right lane and slowing down so we can get a picture of the welcome sign. When we hit the Florida state line, we had to turn back around and cross it again to get a non-blurry picture. It amazed us that as soon as we hit the Florida line, the scenery drastically changed. Suddenly there were palm trees and lots of cows. We realized that we were getting horrible mileage due to the cargo carrier on the roof of our car we had added in Mississippi.

Arriving at our friend Sharon’s in Tampa was somehow like being home. We had never spent any time in Tampa, and we had never been to her new apartment there, but she is like a second mother to us, and we’re beginning to understand that the true feeling of home has nothing to do with a house. We went out to dinner at Circles, a restaurant that overlooks the bay. We got there after dark and were among the last to leave. The quality time continued in Sharon’s living room before we called it a night. Sharon planned to go in late to work the next day so that she could have breakfast with us the next morning. We were happily surprised when we Sharon woke us up with the announcement that she would play hooky with us to have a beach day. We ate some fibrous cereal for breakfast and headed down to the Gulf of Mexico.

Nothing says Florida like salmon and teal colored buildings and beach houses. As we drove through the area, I felt for the first time that I was on some kind of vacation. We somehow had escaped Minnesota’s winter weather that is known to continue through May. We had left our troubles behind, at least for now. We were visiting people we love whom we don’t get to see nearly enough. And, what seemed more important than anything else at that moment, we could see the beach! We went to lunch at a restaurant that was very appropriately named Sandbar. We sat at a table on the beach where we could dig our feet into the sand as we ate. We had great seafood and more hushpuppies. We hopped briefly back in the car to drive to Coquina Beach, which was a pleasantly vacant, white sand beach. It was the perfect day for playing hooky. The weather was incredible and the water was warm and enjoyable. We spent the day in the sun, laying around, collecting shells, and continuing to catch up. A group of seagulls saw our snacks and surrounded us a little more than we felt comfortable with, though some were very entertaining to watch. We swung by Joe’s Eats and Sweets for ice cream cones and chocolate dipped cake on a stick before returning to Tampa. It was a wonderful day that would have been hard to follow if we weren’t heading to Orlando to experience Harry Potter world.

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