Sunken Gardens – the must-see roadside attraction that may well live forever!

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Located in the heart of St. Petersburg, Florida is a leafy oasis and one of the longest running roadside attractions in the Country. In 1903 a plumber named George Turner, Sr. bought this four acre parcel that included an ancient sinkhole and a lake. He drained the lake to use the nutrient rich soil beneath to pursue his love of gardening and ornamental horticulture.
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By 1924 his amazing gardens were attracting visitors at 25 cents a head and has continued to this day and visited by tourists from around the World.
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Now owned by the City of St. Pete it’s a local destination for school children and tourists to visit as well as the perfect setting for many weddings. It brings a bit of the tropical forest with plants, birds and other animals to this sub-tropical paradise.
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I was fortunate to visit The Gardens with our local Photography Club where I assure you there is no shortage of photo opportunities.
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It’s a place you might like to add to your “must-See” list when you visit the Tampa, St. Pete, Clearwater Beach area. It’s located at 1825 4th Street North in St. Petersburg, Florida. More photos on our Suncoast Visitor’s Guide at https://www.facebook.com/TampaBaySnowbirdGuide/. -Jack Armstrong

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Niceties & Necessities – or How to make RV life easier, safer and more fun in a 19′ Roadtrek Simplicity SRT RV!

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When Niki and I downsized from a 32′ Fifth Wheel with three slide-outs to a 19′ van we knew there would have to be some adjustments made. What to pack, what not to take? What was a necessity for both safety and everyday life on the road and what would be nice to have if we could fit it in?

We did a lot of research to determine what we needed to add to an already pretty well outfitted camper. The Roadtrek is a totally self-contained vehicle and built to enable owners to go “off-the-grid” and set up camp whenever and wherever the road takes them.

Our Roadtrek has its own generator providing both 12 and 110V current for the fridge roof-top AC, TV/DVD/Surround-Sound and electrical outlets, propane for the range and tank-less hot water heater.  Gray, black and fresh water tanks and both a slinky and electrical macerator evacuator for discharge. It also contains a regular toilet and both an inside and outside shower.

Not much is missing but after eight years on the road we have learned that a few things added makes RV life safer, easier and a whole lot more fun.

We have added a page to our website listing the “Niceties and Necessities” we have researched, purchased and added items made to fit the Ram ProMaster and Roadtrek Simplicity. If you have a Roadtrek or possibly see one in your future perhaps our research may be of help to you.

Click the link, have a look and if you have any questions send us a note. – Jack and Niki

A State Fair in the middle of Winter??

In February when much of the Country is buried in snow and freezing temperatures it’s nice to visit the Florida State Fair in sunny Tampa with blue skies and temps in the 70’s. It’s rides, food, entertainment and attractions – musical acts, racing pigs, zoo, circus, flying dogs, dancing bears and all of the cuddly baby animals you can take!

Join me as we take a photographic tour of this year’s 2018 Florida State Fair on my Pinterest page at https://www.pinterest.com/snowbirdrvtrail/this-is-the-florida-state-fair/.

Keep current on Tampa and Suncoast Area happenings on our free monthly Snowbird Visitor’s Guide at http://www.tampabaysnowbirder.com/.

February on Florida’s Suncoast – Things to Do!

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Okay, what do an Italian-American Festival, a concert band, community chorus, running in your underwear, Mardi Gras, a State Fair and a Flamingo Festival have in common?

To find the answer to this and other more serious conundrums check out Jack and Niki’s Tampa Bay – Suncoast Snowbirder. Our new February issue of things to do and places to go on Florida’s West Coast – the Suncoast and Tampa Bay area – is free and online at http://www.tampabaysnowbirder.com/.

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Exploring Florida’s Suncoast in November

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Jack and Niki bring you the November issue of our Suncoast & Tampa Bay Snowbird Visitor’s Guide. It’s now up on the Internet at http://www.tampabaysnowbirder.com/.
 
This issue explores a 12-mile scenic stretch of the 45-mile Pinellas Trail that runs along a former railroad bed with Parks and other interesting places to visit as you bike, walk or jog. Where to park, what to see and some interesting mile markers.
 
Did you know the Beach Markets are reopening for the Season? When and where are they?
 
How about a list of area restaurants open for a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner?
 
All of the above plus our regular features including what’s playing this month at the Pier 60 Sunset Cinema, a listing of November’s local art & craft fairs and festivals, area attractions by city/town, webcams, shopping, parks, dining and more.

Happy November from Niki & Jack Armstrong!

What can’t an artist do with a pile of sand?

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Pier 60’s SUGAR SAND FESTIVAL on Clearwater Beach

The best Sand Sculpture Artists from around the World are invited to the Suncoast to spend a week doing their thing in the white sugar sand of Clearwater Beach creating masterpieces for the World to see. I – being part of said World – spent a wonderful morning, this past Friday, perusing their artwork. It’s difficult to believe it’s just sand, water and talent! The following photos are a few of my favorites and you can see more on our Pinterest page at This is Tampa Bay USA!

It’s the Annual Pier 60 SUGAR SAND FESTIVAL
This year’s theme – “FantaSea – a magical journey above and below the sea”
presented by St. Petersburg and Clearwater, Florida.

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More on our Pinterest page at This is Tampa Bay USA!

Signs of Spring on the Sun Coast of Florida

Spring has arrived in our Tampa Bay Area of Florida! Many think we only have one Season here in the Sunshine State – not true!
The first signs of Spring – for us – are with Niki’s first sighting of a Jacaranda tree beginning to bloom!
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A Florida Jacaranda Tree in bloom
Their five-lobed blue to purple flowers are easy to spot on the large otherwise leafless trees. Beautiful to look at but it becomes a nuisance to the landowner when the “fruit” capsules fall holding numerous slender seeds. They all have to be raked and removed usually numerous times during a Season or they become serious projectiles for a lawnmower.
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Orange Hibiscus bloom

Another harbinger of our Southern Spring are the Hibiscus which cover bushes in shades of bright red, yellow, and orange to pink and purple.

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A Lavender Hibiscus bloom

Now did you ever stop to ponder where dates come from?

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Orange fruit of the Palm Tree

Different types of palm trees produce different types of fruit. We found this one on the Sun Coast in Port Richey, Florida.

Easter Dinner on the Cottee River

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Catches Waterfront Grille in Port Richey, Florida
We hope all of our Internet friends and acquaintances had a nice Easter weekend? Niki and I did things a little differently this year. There are some favorite things at a traditional Easter dinner that we can no longer eat due to some medical restrictions so we decided to opt for Chinese on Easter Sunday and then have our Easter Dinner on Monday.
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Surf & Turf at Catches Waterfront Grille

Mondays happen to be when one of our favorites – surf and turf – is the Monday special at a nearby restaurant just a ways up the road and riverside in Port Richey.

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Catches in Port Richey, Florida

Catches Waterfront Grill and its Tiki themed sister establishment – Rum Runner – are located on the Cottee River just off US-19. The restaurant has great ambience and it is very relaxing watching the boats go by – going to and coming from the Gulf.

The food was delicious with the steaks done just the way we like them and the grilled shrimp skewers were very tasty. The only con would be we could not recommend the cole slaw again if you should happen to go there – though fresh there was really very little taste, however, there are many other sides to choose from. The young lady, Jen, tending our table, was a fairly new hire but very cheerful, personable and took good care of us.
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The Rum Runner on the waterfront in Port Richey, Florida
We had visited the Tiki themed neighbor – The Rum Runner – recently with Cheryl and Ray, our two friends from Canada, for fish and chips. The Rum Runner also offers tables riverside as well as a large dining area inside with a nice open feel to it. Both restaurants are served from the same kitchen area between the two.
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Blue skies and warm Gulf breezes make a near perfect day
The day was warm, sky was blue, with a light breeze from the Gulf, making for a most enjoyable Easter Dinner – though a day late.