Tampa, Florida

Our first destination in 2018 was to visit my uncle in Tampa, Florida.

It was great to get out of the winter cold. We didn’t expect to see much wildlife in the metropolis of Tampa, but we saw some cool birds in the ponds at my uncle’s subdivision. I was looking out the window of his house when I saw a bird dive straight for the water, and come up with a big fish in its talons! We also saw a Roseate Spoonbill. We searched and searched for them in the Everglades last year, and only saw them flying far away.

We spent most of the time hanging out with my uncle and making repairs and adjustments to his house against his will. He was a good sport about it. We watched the Kitten Bowl and the Puppy Bowl and the Super Bowl, checked out the local flea market, and went out to eat most nights, our favorite place was a seafood restaurant called Catch 23. The stuffed grouper was so good, we went back a second time to get it again!

My uncle has a membership to the Florida aquarium, so we went one day around 1 pm. He thought we’d have enough time there before they closed, but he’s never been to an aquarium with Brian, who took his time at every exhibit. Since it was actually cheaper to add a second guest to his membership than to buy one ticket, we came back the next day to make sure the exhibits were fully explored. We went on a dolphin watching cruise, saw a 4D movie about ocean predators, met a penguin (they have 9 penguins, but no exhibit for them yet), and spent a lot of time with the birds. Guess what they have at the aquarium? Roseate Spoonbills!

There are only two campgrounds close to my uncle’s house, and one was full so that made our decision for us! The campground with availability was Silver Dollar RV Resort. It is part of the Thousand Trails Collection, so we bought an annual membership to Thousand Trails to give us a big discount on this campground. Thousand Trails is kind of like a time share for camping. It’s not cheap to join, and there are rules and things to figure out, so we probably wouldn’t have joined, except the savings on our 9-night stay in Tampa paid for more than half of it. The campground was nice enough, the spots were a bit tight, but it was fun to step out our door and see the golf course’s driving range. The strange thing was that someone turned off our water connection 3 or 4 times! They must’ve thought our tank was leaking, but it was condensation from the air conditioning.

We had a great visit with my uncle. Next stop is Disney World!

Day 498 | Mile 52,086

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3 thoughts on “Tampa, Florida

  1. The pictures from the aquarium are awesome, especially the roseate spoonbill. I still have yet to see one of those. They’re so cool looking. Anyway, we had a TT membership our first year. It was a love/hate thing for us. If you can make it work, you can definitely save a lot on camping costs, but it can be a pain to make it work….

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    • Thank you! Your feelings on TT are about what we are expecting, but we will try to make the best of it. We have two more TT reservations booked, in California, where we are headed next (we bought the Southwest zone and the Trails Collection). What was the biggest issue you had with making it work?

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      • So we had the northeast and southeast zones but our plan only gave us a 60 day booking window. Because we were in the northeast in the summer, the campgrounds were always really busy. We found there were a lot of long term campers at the campgrounds, so there were only so many transient sites available. Bottom line: sometimes we couldn’t get into the campgrounds we wanted to – or it was a stressful process trying to schedule things. Then we just wanted to use the membership (to not waste it) so we’d be looking at campgrounds in places we weren’t even interested in going just to use the membership – which seemed silly. Anyway, you’ll probably have better luck in CA than we did in the northeast. Everything is so crowded up there, it was just tough. The other thing I didn’t like was not having a particular reserved spot. I didn’t like having to drive around and hope we could find a spot we could actually fit in. It’s a bigger problem when you’re in a bigger motor home. A pop up camper can fit anywhere. We need a huge space. Again – just more stress than I wanted to deal with. When we were able to use the membership though, we liked the campgrounds. At least the ones we went to were all nice and the people who were worked there were great.

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