There were a few jumps along the way.
But I went from the beach in Clearwater, Florida in the morning, to the beach at Cultus in BC in the evening, travelling 3,243 miles in a few hours.
I love living in this century.
When I blogged last, I had just visited Tricia and her kin, and roamed around downtown Tampa.
Picking up where I left off ...
On Friday, Sandra needed to see Tricia. She'd brought gifts for everyone in the family and wanted to hand deliver them. So we checked out of our hotel and headed north to Wesley Chapel, to Jessica's house. Sandra handed out Purdy's Chocolates and gift bags filled with Canada flags, stickers and rub-on tatoos, we ate a yummy lunch, then Sandra gave one of her famous, much-requested back massages to Tricia:
and a few photos were taken:
(When I walked in to the house, Oliver was distressed, "MissJane! Your hair! Whh. Whaaa? Where? How come it's gone?"
Me: I pulled it back here. See?
Oliver: Oh, um. MissJane? I don't like it like that. I like it all long and uh, here... (He pointed to my shoulders.)
Me: Oliver? You are such a man.)
After saying our goodbyes and giving hugs all the way around, we left for Clearwater. Which is a tourist beach right on the Gulf of Mexico.
OH. The. Sand.
Like baby powder.
Like corn starch.
Like sifted flour.
I've never felt sand that wonderful before. It was amazing.
And. It was cool (temperature-wise) to touch. Like, one's feet did not burn when walking across the sand, even though it was 90 degrees out.
I love that sand.
I love that sand a whole lot.
With my whole heart.
We had supper here. (Above) At Frenchy's. With the locals. And had salads.
My travel companion is on a diet. She only eats raw food. Or burnt fish. And popcorn. Bags and bags of popcorn.
I eat whatever I'm hungry for.
Not surprisingly, she is losing weight. While I am not.
Especially since discovering homemade Key Lime Pie:
I had only eaten one small teaspoon sized piece and knew that this pie had knocked chocolate brownies off the top spot on my list of favorite desserts.
Oh. My. Goodness. THIS? Was heavenly.
As we finished up eating, we watched dark clouds roll in.
And before we could make it back to our hotel, rain, falling sideways, drenched us as if we'd been showering, in less than 5 minutes.
It was over.
The clouds blew away. The moon came out. And the streets glowed.
Best Rain Storm Ever.
Saturday morning, bright and early, at the crack of noon, I got up. (Sandra had been awake for hours, lying very still in the darkened room, playing on her iPad, waiting for me to be done with sleeping already.)
We headed straight to Walgreens for a meal. Of fruit, (her) Tuna Sandwich (me).
We got to the beach, rented lawn chairs and set up camp.
And then we settled in to eat our lunches. She, her fruit. Me, my sandwich.
Made of tuna.
Which is a fish.
Which is what beach-dwelling foul eat,
And this guy?
Wanted my sandwich.
So he called over all his friends, and the all attacked my head as I brought my lunch up to my mouth.
At least a dozen birds swarmed my face and took bits of bread out of my hand as I tried to eat.
A horror movie.
And I was the star.
I put the sandwich away (wrapped it up tight and put it under my chair), but those sneaky birds have good noses. Who knew?
They annoyed me for at least an hour.
And then, I think the tuna went 'off', and no one was interested in it anymore. Least of all me.
I craved pink, blue and orange Sweet Tarts all afternoon.
I will not travel without them in the future.
(And No, I do not have a photo of birds swarming me. I was EATING. My hands were full of sandwich. Sandra suggested we stage the whole thing again, so she could take a pic for me, for this inevitable post. But no. It was like living on the set of Birds. I wasn't willing do that again for the sake of 'art'. I decided to share my story using my words.)
Other dangers on the beach include those jelly fish.
Her: I'm going swimming. Can you pee on my leg if I get stung?
Me: I've peed already this morning. Won't have to pee again til midnight. You may have to wait awhile.
Me: Go ask the life guard. Maybe he has pee in him. Or an alternate solution.
Her: He has vinegar on hand.
Me: Good to know.
So she went swimming.
And, even though she anticipated it by bracing herself (and has much experience frolicking in the waves) she was knocked over two seconds after she went into the water. Thus making the total amount of time we both spent in the water on this entire vacation: two seconds.
At 5 pm, the rental guy came by to pick up his chairs, so our Beach Day was done.
We went back to the room to get the salt and sand out of our hair, and to put chocolate into our faces. Well. OK. That was just me. (She only eats raw food and burnt fish, remember?)
This chocolate bar, by the way? Has the prettiest packaging EVER.
After we were all decent again, we went straight back to the beach. To walk. Along the pier. And the shore. And the sand.
These were our last 12 hours in Florida and we were going to spend as many of them as possible outside.
My shopping-loving travel buddy who happily supports local silver smiths:
These bright umbrellas are placed here purely as wind breaks. The wind picks up as the sun goes down. And vendors set up their tables/booths at the same time. (When the wind picks up and the sun goes down.)
She should've held up a tuna sandwich. They woulda landed on her head.
Sand looks like snow, no?
One of the hotels down the beach leaves out its lawn chairs for folks to enjoy the sunset from.
I needed to get closer to the water though...
Could this day have gotten any better?
I kept a respectable distance:
And then my focus was redirected from the couple on the right, to the young boy on the left ...
and his friend who joined him:
I loved watching them in awe of the sunset:
Sunsets are best when shared.
It felt surreal.
Finally. Once the sun was good and set, we walked over here for supper.
Where I had a crab and shrimp salad and two pieces of key lime pie to go.
Almost every restaurant/bar had live music.
And it was all good.
After that we went for a drive. To look at a Publix grocery store.
Because she's in the business, right?
Sadly, the closest one was closed, so we snooped around this building instead:
Can you guess what it is?
It was in the centre of downtown Clearwater.
Our presence on the sidewalk along the perimeter of the property was enough to bring a security guard/information specialist outside to chat with us.
That tree? (Above) Was originally located 40 feet further back. Right exactly where the building was. So they transplanted it. Oldest/largest oak tree ever moved according to the Guiness World Book of Records.
This is the front entrance.
It says "Flag".
Does that give you a hint?
Overhead walkway connects to a Private Hotel.
You can check out any time you want but you can never leave.
It opened in Nov 2013 and is 377,000 square feet.
Or have you guessed?
From their website:
This is Scientology’s spiritual headquarters—the majestic Flag Building—an architectural and technical triumph culminating an era of unprecedented growth for our religion.
It truly is a golden age complete, with the release of L. Ron Hubbard technical breakthroughs never previously available—the Super Power and Cause Resurgence Rundowns—and the opening of the Flag Building, the Ideal Org of Ideal Orgs.
Here is a place of learning, a place of wisdom and a place of spiritual freedom transcending any known realm. Here is a place where we can now realize L. Ron Hubbard’s vision for a better world at a magnitude commensurate with the technology itself.
This is the cornerstone of that new and better world.
This is the majesty of Scientology.
This is our cathedral.
If you want more info about this building, Scientology and the grand opening... go here.
Apparently this is like the Vatican. A city unto itself.
Because we were inquisitive and respectful, we walked away with alot of reading material/propaganda. Hahaha.
And thus ends our last day in Florida.
(I thought I'd blog about Cultus in this post as well, but no. This post is too long as it is.)
Three things I'm thankful for:
1. Travel opportunities.
2. Chance to meet Tricia.
3. It didn't rain everyday as forecasted. Yay.