Florida Diary – Day 7

Today marks the half-way point in my sabbatical. It also marks the end of my time with Aunt Connie, and the arrival of an old friend, Tyler. I’m disappointed that Connie has to leave, but it’s also very cool that Tyler is able to enjoy a vacation outside of Minnesota. I haven’t had a chance to check out the “under 50” nightlife yet, so Tyler’s arrival should provide me that opportunity.

In the morning we take a walk along the beach. Connie and I brought our cameras along, so we were able to take some awesome pictures. I have a gallery posted that includes all of these pictures in their full glory, so I will spare you for the moment and just give you the link to the Beach Walk Photojournalism gallery.

Since Connie was leaving in the afternoon, and Tyler was arriving in the same general timeframe, we decided to go to a place near the airport for an afternoon happy hour. We decided to go to Ybor City, which is the oldest part of Tampa. Ybor was the name of the original Spanish settlement in the Tampa Bay area, and that means it’s old. It’s also very unique and a great place to spend an afternoon. In the evening the place is party central, and is full of college age students having a great time. I would compare it to a mini version of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, or even 6th street in Austin, Texas. The only difference is that Ybor apparently has become quite ghetto over the years, and is full of crime, thugs, prostitutes, and pickpockets. Reminds me of my elementary school! I am hoping Tyler and I will be able to go out and party here one night, but I’m not sure if it’s feasible. The ride takes about an hour, and with all of the crime, I’m not sure if it’s worth it.

It took us about an hour and a half to get to Ybor due to a ridiculous amount of traffic and road construction. They are making a gigantic bridge that passes right through central Tampa, and as a result, they eliminated all exits for Ybor. So, we had to go about 4 miles past the city and then backtrack. Luckily, we had a map and my excellent sense of navigation to lead us back to the Promised Land. I was able to plot a course back to Ybor, but it required us to take Martin Luther King Blvd, and you know what that means! And if you don’t know what that means, watch Chris Rock’s standup to find out.

After following my brilliant directions, we were able to get into Ybor and make our way to the Green Iguana. The Green Iguana is a sweet place that is a restaurant by day, and a Mardi Gras style drunken beadfest by night (as evidenced by the endless stream of beads and dollar bills posted all over the walls of the place). Since Connie had to catch her flight, we only went for a beer. We all ordered a local brew named Ybor gold. Not bad for a local brew, but nothing special. After the beer we left to go to the airport.

Since we knew that there was road construction along the way to the airport, we decided to try and navigate another path. Being the master navigator that I am, I volunteered to blaze the trail to Tampa International Airport. This route involved going along Columbus Ave (a parallel to MLK blvd) and through the hood. Gotta love going through the hood! We passed safely out of the ghetto and back onto the freeway. Tyler called along the way to say his plane had touched down. I told him to call once he got his bag. Almost to the airport, Tyler called again and said he had his bag. I told him to go up to the departures section and meet us while we dropped Connie off. When we arrived at the section, Tyler was there waiting for us, and we did an even exchange: Connie for Ty. You couldn’t plan it any better!

We drove back to the homestead and Tyler and I decided to get dinner. We walked to a place called the Conch Republic, which I recommended after having a wonderful dinner earlier in the week. I’m not sure if I mentioned this place yet, but this is where I went with my parents, and my parents/aunt tried to pick up a date for me. Normally I don’t visit the scene of a massacre so fast, but I made an exception on this day. We had a couple of tall Yuengling’s apiece, and some dinner. We were surprised to find that a 23 oz Yuengling only costs $2.50. Best deal on the beach!

We talked to our waitress to find out what young people do for fun in the area. She told us that her and her waitress friends were heading to Downtown St. Petersburg after their shift. We told her we had no car and asked if there was anything closer to where we are located. She mentioned a place called Mickey Quinn’s and said that it should have a decent amount of people that night.

So, we decided to give Mickey Quinn’s a try. It was still pretty far away, and probably too far to walk, so we decided to take a trolley. We stopped by the condo on the way to the trolley, and my mom offered us a ride. Score! It was a funny, yet sort of awkward ride to Mickey Quinn’s. My mom asked how we planned to get home. I said we would walk. So, on the way there, she decided to count off every half mile along the way, to tell us how far we would have to walk. It ended up being 2.5 miles we would have to walk back.

We arrived at Quinn’s and it was DEAD. There was a group of mulleted hockey fans at a table, and then Scott and Liz. We had called them earlier to see if they wanted to meet us, and they had already arrived by the time we got there. Despite the place not being very busy, we still had a great time conversing and talking over several beers. We spent a lot of time making fun of Scott, because he wasn’t talking, and pretty much never talks anymore. At some point, our waitresses decided to stop serving us, and never came back to our table. We all wanted more beer, but she wasn’t around to give us any more. So, we decided to leave. We waited for her to come back to give us a check. Nothing. She just sat there and ignored us. I finally decided to stare at her until she felt guilty, and that still took about 15 minutes! I’m not sure if she was high or what, but apparently they weren’t too interested in serving us. She finally came to us and seemed totally surprised that we had all finished our beers, stacked the glasses on top of each other, and then topped them with coasters. Needless to say, she didn’t get a good tip. Time for the walk home.

Right as we were leaving the place, I asked Liz a question about something Scott did, and she got pretty upset. I don’t think he told her, and I’m pretty sure he’s in the dog house now! We had made plans to go to a Cajun place tomorrow, but I’m not sure if they will want to go anymore!

The walk home was quite romantic. We walked along the beach and pointed out the stars. It was the perfect beach walk. Well, other than the fact that Tyler isn’t a girl.

About Jeff Sauer

I started blogging in the year 2000, and go in spurts of inspiration followed by long dormancy. I love writing, and your comments keep me going, so comment!

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