Monday, February 20, 2023

On the Waterfront in Tampa

I met my friend Sue bright and early yesterday for a long walk through Tampa. Sue and I have been friends since college and she's one of those people I may not see for months but who I can pick up again with instantly. It's like she just stepped into the next room and our conversation was interrupted only briefly.

We walked through Julian Lane Park and along the Riverwalk, which follows the Hillsborough River through the city and into downtown. There wasn't much color in the sunrise but the clouds were interesting. 

We checked out the monumental "Form of Wander" sculpture that sits on a pier over the river. Designed by artist Marc Fornes of the studio THEVERYMANY, and made of small aluminum panels, it's supposed to resemble the roots of mangrove trees.

Then we crossed the river and walked into the city, where we saw this interesting glass panel in a sculpture by artist Susan Gott. She gathered architectural and cultural artifacts from Tampa's history, pressed them into sand and cast them in glass. I'm not sure about the source of this face but it definitely looks like a building ornament. 

Sue loves to interact with all the dogs we meet on our walks. We came across this Chinese crested named Enzo, snug in his rainbow onesie. There was also a blue-eyed bull terrier named Clementine and another elderly Staffyish dog that gave me lazy, friendly licks on my legs as I scratched his back.

(Don't tell Olga I've been flirting with other dogs.)

We walked along Bayshore and into Hyde Park, where we called Dave to meet us for breakfast. He took an Uber from the hotel and we all went to Goody Goody, where we had diner fare like pancakes (not crepes, like the ones in England, but real fluffy American pancakes) and French toast.

Then we walked to the Water Street market where lots of artists and crafts people were selling or exhibiting their work. I liked artist Tiffany Snow's take on the Mona Lisa!

Tampa has certainly changed since I grew up here. Back then, the downtown sidewalks rolled up at 5 p.m. when everyone decamped to homes in the suburbs. Now there are lots of apartments and condos and lots of young people, bringing a wonderful millennial energy. Tampa has invested a lot in public art and amenities, and it shows.

Dave and I rested in our room in the afternoon. I caught up on some more reading and we Skyped with his parents, who are meeting us today before I get on the road to Jacksonville. Our hotel room is comfortable, but man, is it dry. They must have a powerful dehumidifying system in this building. I go to sleep a grape and wake up a raisin.

Last night we went to a place Sue recommended called CW's Gin Joint, which of course appealed to me right away. Hello, Plymouth martini with olives! The food was excellent too -- I had a lobster-stuffed baked potato which was pretty fantastic. A woman at an adjacent table was wearing the most dramatically low-cut and high-cut dress I've ever seen -- she was just barely holding it all together -- and another table full of young people were having what looked like a baby shower. They were a very diverse group, racially, sexually and orientationally, a true rainbow table, and I enjoyed watching their ease and obvious happiness with each other. Sometimes I can't help feeling that the world really is moving in the right direction.

(The martini helped.)


Elle Clancy said...

Love to see the pictures of Tampa. My parents were in Palm Harbor. My mom passed in December, so no more trips to Florida, I don't think. Glad to see some bright spots; so much of the news there is dreadful. DeSantis really has a hold on that state, and in a very bad way.

Boud said...

It sounds like a wonderful reunion with the city and friends. I'm heartened by your encounters with people and art, especially Mona Lisa as a brown lady!

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Sounds like it was really nice to meet up with your old friend Sue. As for the woman in the "most dramatically low-cut and high-cut dress I've ever seen", it is a shame you didn't get a photo of her. I would have liked to see that as I am interested in women's fashion. Hope you have a pleasant trip up to Jacksonville.

Ms. Moon said...

Looks like Tampa has changed a lot since I was there too! How heartening to hear about that baby shower.
You should take before and after pictures of grape and raisin.
Have fun! Be safe!

The Bug said...

That top picture is fabulous! Sounds like your trip is starting out exactly right for you. And now I want pancakes.

Ed said...

I've experienced the arid air of many a motel room over the years. I don't understand why they have to be that way. I find myself waking up to moisten my mouth during the night and sitting on the "throne" with the hot water running in the shower to rehydrate in the mornings.

ellen abbott said...

sounds like a fun day. I went to a workshop where we did sand casting. it was fun but it takes special sand and you have to have a furnace from which to get the molten glass to pour into the sand mold.

Pixie said...

Friends like that are priceless. Love the photos, although that dog is hideous.

NewRobin13 said...

I love seeing the photos of your walking journey with your friend Sue. I interact with all the doggies I meet out on our walks too. It's so much fun. That little Enzo is adorable! That take on Mona Lisa is great.
Your "I go to sleep a grape and wake up a raisin" made me laugh out loud. Thank you for that first laugh of the morning. But seriously, maybe some lotion would help?

Ellen D. said...

Glad you are enjoying your trip. I have only just flown in and out of Tampa and never spent any time there. Thanks for the fun tour!

Sharon said...

That sounds like a perfect day, a long walk, lots of art, friendly animal encounters and good food all shared with an old friend. Perfect.
As for the world moving in the right direction, I hope you are right. There sure are a lot of people trying to steer it in a different direction.

Kelly said...

As much as I enjoy your London photos, it's fun seeing another city through your eyes!

I bet you felt too guilty to check in on Olga with the pet cam after all that flirting! 😉

Allison said...

Nice walk! I like to see cities bringing people back from the burbs. Kudos to Tampa.

Margaret said...

Is it because it's a damp, humid climate? Better dry than mold? I've only flown into Tampa but never explored the city, so this is interesting. There is more there to see than I would have imagined.

jenny_o said...

I love your newsy posts, Steve. I bet in the days of letter writing you excelled! Love the little dog in the little onesie :)

Linda Sue said...

Wonderful photos. This is turning out to be a great trip!

Andrew said...

The glass panel sculpture is very good. Glad you are having a good time.

Catalyst said...

Looks like you're drinking, er I mean HAVING a very good time.

Red said...

Walking is a great ay to see a place. If you have a local with you it's much better.

sparklingmerlot said...

Friends like Sue are so precious.
It sounds like you are having a wonderful time. I hope Olga is enjoying her holiday, too, but I think you are stretching things flirting with other dogs. I am disappointed in you, Steve.

Jim Davis said...

CW's Gin Joint looks like a real find, the list of cocktails and the menu are eclectic to say the least. Loved your description of the table next to you, nice to hear that such a diverse group was out enjoying themselves.

River said...

I can't get past the lobster-stuffed baked potato. YUM!

Steve Reed said...

Elle: Many Floridians do seem to love DeSantis, it's true. He's a scary character.

Boud: I was heartened, too. Overall I got a very positive vibe from Tampa and the people there.

YP: I didn't dare try to take a picture. I might have been arrested!

Ms Moon: Ha! It's better left to the imagination, I think.

Bug: Pancakes are always a good thing!

Ed: I guess a bunch of small rooms with no cross-ventilation and self-contained, potentially steamy bathrooms is a recipe for disaster without some method of dehumidfying. But yeah, they always overdo it!

Ellen: I thought you'd appreciate seeing her work and her methodology!

Pixie: He's in the "so ugly he's cute" category. I think Chinese cresteds often win "ugliest dog" contests.

Robin: It's more just a need for great quantities of water when I wake up!

Ellen D: It's well worth a visit, I think!

Sharon: There are, but I think we often hear more about the evil than the good. I think most people want us all to get along and are more live-and-let-live than our politics indicate.

Kelly: We've checked on her several times, but she's always just sleeping!

Allison: It's apparently a real trend. Younger people don't want cars and they want the excitement of urban living. I don't blame them!

Margaret: It's a very vibrant place. I'm so impressed with how far it's come and how positive the energy feels.

Jenny-O: My dad used to write good letters. Maybe I learned from him!

Linda Sue: So far, so good!

Andrew: It's an interesting idea, casting historical objects in glass.

Catalyst: Ha! Aside from my martini I'm actually keeping it pretty sober. :)

Red: And I still FEEL like a local, even if I don't live here anymore.

Caro: I know. Just another element to add to my guilt. :)

Jim: It was a great place. I was reminded of going out with my friends in Tampa several decades ago. (These kids had more tattoos, though. :) )

River: Right?! I'd never seen that on a menu before, at least not that I remember, but what a great idea!

Jeanie said...

It sounds terrific so far -- and nothing's better than catching up with an old friend.

Moving with Mitchell said...

So glad you got to experience that diversity... especially in Florida. I love all the art. Tampa sounds great.

37paddington said...

Such beautiful sights everywhere in this post. I love the Mona Lisa reinterpretation too. And that diverse group you described, that’s how it is with my children and their friends, and I’m so heartened by their ease and joy in each other every time. It does give one hope for the world (despite the DeSantis and Trump signs).