Bill and Kit’s 2019 Excellent Adventure, Journal #10


It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves – in finding themselves.
Andre Gide

Friday, March 15, 2019: Kit and I departed Palmetto, Florida at 0927 hours under bright sunny skies and a temperature of 72 degrees…

…then chose a variety of back roads to travel north into Tampa, before hooking around to head south on the Selman Expressway towards Port Tampa.

At the extreme tip of the Tampa Bay Peninsula sits MacDill Air Force Base…

…where we found Raccoon Creek Recreation Area and our camp spot for the next four days.

This is our first stay at Raccoon Creek and, regardless of its name, Kit and I did not find one single racoon. However, we did discover a first-rate military recreation facility located next to a beautiful beach featuring panoramic views overlooking Tampa Bay…

…where picnic cabanas are strategically placed along the shore…

…and where a beachside restaurant and tavern called The Seascape sat…

…where live entertainment is often featured during the weekends.

Oh, and since the beach is blessed with an unobstructed view to the Southwest…the sunsets are spectacular!

Believe it’s going to be a relaxing and pleasant stay…goodnight!

Saturday, March 16 through Monday, March 18, 2019-MacDill AFB at Tampa, Florida: The weather was delightful during our stay, warm sunny days followed by cool evenings…perfect! And surprisingly, this US Air Force Base contains an abundance of open land being that it is only a few miles from downtown Tampa…a city with over 385,000 residents! There are trails that lead from the campground to various other recreation facilities…

…such as this fresh water lake…

…which is purported to have a family of alligators somewhere in its depths, but the only wildlife I noticed were the many songbirds living amongst the pine and oak trees…

…which could be heard but I never spotted them.

On one fine pleasant day, Kit and I attempted to visit the illusory town of Del Boca Vista and visit the infamous Hanging Chad Museum. However unfortunately the museums founder, Mr. Frank Costanza, had closed it down…so we drove out to see Honeymoon Isle Instead.

Now a Florida State Park, this once private island is located off the coastal town of Dunedin. The island was once owned by wealthy industrialist Mr. Clinton Washburn who in 1939 built several rustic thatched huts…

Photo from Google Images

…and offered them to newlyweds for up to a two week stay, free of charge. All the honeymooners needed do is to write a letter to Mr. Washburn explaining why they should be chosen for this honor. Over 200 couples enjoyed his hospitality until the onset of WWII when the program was stopped, and the huts fell into disrepair. However, for the next dozen years Mr. Washburn kept in contact with all the couples and there had been no divorces, which today helps brand Honeymoon Island as a magical place for young lovers to visit.

Driving into the Honeymoon Island State Park on a narrow paved one-way loop road…

…brings the visitor to many secluded beaches…

…with unique vegetation…

…and the occasional four-legged residents…

…some of which were quite shy!

Then there was an abundance of two-legged residents…

…living amongst the many wildflowers…

… growing in the most unusual places.

As mentioned, the state park has many easily assessable beaches that go largely unused. However, there is one large beach area with a massive parking lot, snack bar, beach equipment rental and…

… hundreds of vacationers attempting to get away from it all. The proverbial Herd Mentality at its best.

Following our visit to Honeymoon Island, Kit and I returned to the base campground for evening cocktails and yet another spectacular sunset!

Goodnight!

Well, it’s been a few pages without mentioning food, yea I’m surprised at that as well! So, here is one dining opportunity we enjoyed in coastal Clearwater which is accessible by a bridge from the mainland…

…that led us to Frenchy’s Salt Water Café, where…

…their source of fresh seafood is just a few feet away…

…and their specialty being Grouper…

…which Kit and I selected to have fried and in sandwich form. It was some of the best Grouper we have ever enjoyed! And a shout out to the folks that recommended we visit Frenchy’s, our friends David and Betty…thanks guys!

On the way back to the base we were caught in commuter traffic, a bit of a mild nuisance to us retirees. But the slow speed did allow Kit and I to enjoy some of the highway landscaping…

…that most folks just whiz by at breakneck speed.

Once back at our campsite…guess what? Kit and I walked down to the shore to view yet another stunning sunset!

Goodnight!

Well, this morning, the day before Kit and I were to depart MacDill AFB and head over to the East Coast of Florida, we received word that some Maine RVing friends were inbound from the south. And, since we’ve not been close enough to co-camp with them over the years…it was quickly decided that we would stay here for a few more days.

Tuesday, March 19 through Saturday, March 23, 2019 – MacDill AFB at Tampa, Florida – (extended stay): Woke to more beautiful Florida weather…sunny and rising temperatures! Spent the morning lounging about and working on the journal. Shortly after the noon hour, long time Maine friends Vince and Candy arrived at MacDill and set up in a site next door.

We have known this pleasant couple for over thirty years…

…ever since the day that Vince, a fellow Navy retiree, joined the group at Lockheed working at Maine’s Bath Iron Works.  They also arrived along with their dog Jake…

… a beautiful animal and a seasoned traveler in his own right!

The next few days were spent walking the beach and along the wooded paths bordering the campground, or just sitting, eating, drinking, and enjoying each other’s company.

One morning Vince, Candy, and I walked over to the Seascapes for a complimentary breakfast as the sun rose in the East.

Sponsored by Morale, Welfare & Recreation (MWR), the folks that manage the campground and Marina, put on this feed as a “Thank You for Staying with Us” event.

The chow line featured eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit, and the best homemade biscuits I’ve enjoyed in quite some time!

Following breakfast, Vince and Candy decided to take Jake for a walk down a wooded path, and invited me along…

… toward the pond I had visited a few days earlier. Along the way we spotted these nesting pairs of Osprey….

…but did not notice any young ones about, however.

Once at the pond, Candy and I climbed the observation platform…

… and enjoyed the early morning view which included…

… some waterfowl wading in the placid waters.

Returning to the campsite, the four of us spent the day visiting and enjoying each other’s company, followed by a great barbeque meal hosted by Vince and Candy featuring plenty of adult beverages.

While sitting around camp, Jake took a liking to Kit which she thoroughly enjoyed…

… partly because Jake reminded her of Finny…

… our Great-grand-dog back home in Maine

And of course, as nighttime fell, there was yet another sunset to enjoy.

Goodnight!

Vince and Candy winter over in Key West, and over the years have amassed a huge circle of Key West camping friends, some of which have returned to their summer places up north in the Tampa area. While we were at MacDill, Candy arranged for those folks to join us at the Seascapes Lounge for the traditional Friday Crab Leg and Shrimp Boil.

Kit and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting these fine folks and sharing camping stories over an excellent meal.

Now, that’s a lot of food…and I ate every morsel…and it was incredibly delicious!

Back at the campsite we all sat around, having a few drinks, and visiting until it was time once again for the sun to set in the West…

…and a gorgeous sunset it was…goodnight!

On the final day at MacDill for Kit and me, we hung around the campsite, taking care of some maintenance chores and doing laundry followed by an afternoon of visiting with our neighbors. Then that evening, the four of us walked down to the beach and enjoyed one final Tampa Bay sunset, an image made even more special by these lovely ladies!

Goodnight Vince and Candy, its been a blast camping with you, reliving old times, and meeting some new friends…I think you’ve convinced us to visit Key West again and thanks for that as well! But for now, Kit and I will pull chocks and start heading north in the morning…stay tuned for Chapter Eleven of our 2019 Excellent Adventure.

Kit’s Bit’s: We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at MacDill AFB and spending time with Vince & Candy! Lots of laughs, memories and shared camping experiences, both good and, not so good! Thanks to both of you for such an enjoyable visit. As we wander around Florida, the northern part, we’ve seen lots of neat places and discovered some cool places to spend time during the winters. We still need to check out the southern half of the state, mainly Key West, one of these winters, which happens to be the first place we lived after getting married and where our oldest daughter, Kimber was born. Stay tuned…😊

4 thoughts on “Bill and Kit’s 2019 Excellent Adventure, Journal #10

  1. Dear Mr. & Mrs. Tucker: This is to inform you that the taxpayers of these sometimes United States pay for the exotic facilities at Raccoon Creek Recreation Area at MacDill Air Force Base, and all the other military accommodations you have enjoyed. And the wildflowers. And the birds. And the spectacular sunsets. However, you are on your own for fine dining and adult beverages. Except at Morale, Welfare & Recreation. Feel free to try to stop by at Mar-a-lago, but bring your Chinese passports or you won’t get near the joint. Finally, please be advised that we have a plan to get more gators into so-called Alligator Lake, though it hardly matters since Florida will be submerged soon. Yours truly. Really. Seriously. Truly. At ease. Carry on. ~ Michael “Nonsense” Pence

  2. I fished on the Clearwater causeway this winter Bill. You were 40 minutes from the rest of the Paine clansmen and clanswomen!
    Awesome you were able to visit with Vince and Candy! Doing a bunch of exploring up here! Have a good idea for the “old crew” outing I do believe. Be safe!
    Den

  3. Sorry I missed you at MacDill. I was there for two weeks and departed early on the 16 March headed to Milton, Fl. Still here waiting for the snow melt in Maine.

  4. Wow! you and Kit sure hit the jackpot on the weather and fine dining on this adventure. i’m drooling over the mounds of sea food you all enjoyed at seascapes lounge.
    I think that you might publish a photo book on sunsets that you have taken and enjoyed over the years, they are spectacular!!
    No question, when I look at MacDill, Uncle Sam sure has provided some fine real estate retreats for his retired warriors.
    I’m not sure how long it will take global warming to flood beautiful Florida, but suspect that our little slice of heaven here on Merrymeeting Bay will meet a similar fate.
    A cool and wet day here in vacation land. snow has all but disappeared here in central and southern Maine. they still have about two feet plus up north.
    We’re having dinner at the Muddy Rudder with Windy, Nan, Tony and Diane on the 19th, so if you’re back home, please join us!

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