We took to the high seas!

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I apologize if we have missed answering anyone’s message or comment this past week. We decided to make Niki’s Birthday/Christmas present a little more special this year and we took a week’s cruise on Holland America’s Eurodam out of Fort Lauderdale.

We had a good time, met some very nice people and of course ate far too much and too often.

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We visited Grand Turk….
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San Juan, Puerto Rico….
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St. Thomas….
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and the trip wound up with a visit to the Cruise Line’s private Island at Half Moon Cay.

They treated Niki well for her birthday

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and we saw a bit of how the other half lives!
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I thought our friends might like to see some photos of a warmer place as we head for a long cold spell.

and Happy Birthday Sweetie,

Jack
(YCB)

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!

Dunedin, Florida – because it is!

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In the new August Issue of our online Suncoast Visitor’s Guide we’ll take you on a photo tour of Dunedin Florida. This special little community is located on St. Joseph Sound and the Gulf of Mexico. The Main Street recalls an earlier time without fast food eateries and big box corporate stores. It sits begging to be strolled and window shopped while you enjoy an old-fashioned ice cream cone you’ll find hard to resist. We’ll end this visit down at the end of Main Street where it meets the Dunedin Marina for a peek at a golden Gulf Sunset. It’s just that kind of a fun and colorful place to visit for many reasons. – Niki and Jack

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.

Can we talk about good eats?

Let’s talk about Restaurants and good food along the major East Coast RV Routes.

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Alligator bites on Clearwater Beach

Niki and I find that the best way to feel – and yes, taste – the local flavor of an area is to seek out the locals’ favorite places to dine. You meet people and you get a better feeling for what it might be like living in an area. Of course, the other benefit is that you find some delicious local tummy fare along the way.

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“Michigans” at the original Clare and Carl’s in Plattsburgh, NY

If you share our interest in RVing, exploring and good food – or I should say good food and good value – or maybe just looking for a good suggestion to grab a bite on your trip, we have broken down our lists three ways.

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Dining along East Coast RV Routes

First we have a BIG list from our Snowbird RV Trails files – Restaurant Reviews by State – from Maine to Florida and from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to Arkansas and the Mississippi River.

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Afternoon tea at Upper Canada Village

Secondly – Florida has been the home base in our travels and consequently we have visited more eateries here than any other State. Enough so that the Sunshine State Restaurants deserved a page or two of their own.

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Desserts to die for on the Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs, FL

Now as Florida residents, the Tampa Bay Area is the epicenter of our lives which includes Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater Beach along with all of the surrounding picturesque smaller Towns. We, of course, continue our “hobby” of finding good places to eat in this area.

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Things to do and places to go in Tampa Bay

We publish online our local Tampa Bay Visitors Guide which we update constantly. It’s always a work in progress. On the website we have a section devoted to dining in this area with special emphasis on where to Find Cheap Eats in Tampa Bay for our out-of-town visitors – Snowbirds, Spring Breakers, family vacationers and all other beach goers and sun worshipers who want to see and do all there is in the area but still stay within their budget.

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Waterfront dining in Hooters of New Port Richey

We hope you enjoy our “lists” and find them useful to you. If you would like to comment or maybe add a favorite of your own for us to visit, we’d like to hear from you. Send us an email to snowbirdrvtrails@gmail.com or tbsnowbirders@gmail.com.

Until we cross paths, we wish you safe travels and to always enjoy every journey.
Jack and Niki

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Lunch in Skene Manor – Whitehall’s “Castle on the Hill”

 

Things to do in the Tampa Bay, St. Pete and Clearwater Beach Areas

As our friends know – Niki and I like to see, to do and to explore wherever we go. The Tampa Bay Area has been our Winter Snowbird destination for the past several years. While here we continue to explore and have developed our own version of a Visitor’s Guide to this area. If you are planning a trip to the Tampa vicinity then we hope that it might be of some help to you. We’ve a map to some popular tourist destinations, dozens of suggestions for places to visit all around the area, dining reviews (we love to eat out!) including where to dine on a budget (Cheap Eats for Spring Breakers!). We’ve also listed tons of places to shop and many of the Parks in the two County (Hillsborough and Pinellas) area. There are photos, a list of area webcams and much more. Visit Niki and Jack’s Visitor Guide to Tampa Bay728x146welcometotampabay