We’re finally leaving Tampa! It’s been really great, but it’s long past time to get on the road! As we leave, I’m going to go over some things that have not made it to our blog yet.
The End of The Big Top
The Big Top Flea Market was a big deal for many years… huge buildings on a lot of almost 40 acres, it was a going concern. But the world changes, and buying techniques change too, and the Big Top was starting to decline. The property was sold, and will become multi-family housing. We passed this site every day on our exercise walk or run, and saw the public notice of final hearing when we first arrived. Within days of the hearing, they started tearing down the old buildings!
We are way too close to an airport to get drone footage, but here is a phone download showing the previous buildings and all the trees around it.
Many of the buildings looked run-down, some more than others. I couldn’t get inside the perimeter fence, so no tight pictures.
In the aerial view above you can see some “wings” are white – these were plastic covers over arched ribs. I think the arches were aluminum, and were recycled separately. They peeled off the plastic, and nicely disassembled the ribs and piled them elsewhere.
During one walk, we saw two men putting orange “Caution” fences around some of the old oak trees. We said hi, and walked on. The next day the older man was gone, and just one left working by himself. I offered to help, he expressed that I must be crazy, but he accepted the help. It turns out Tim is the developer, and he and his father-in-law were fencing off the oaks that could be saved, to make sure they weren’t removed accidentally. He was very nice, and showed me the plans for the development. It was fun to work with him, and his Dad another day, but felt especially good thinking I was helping preserve some of those magnificent old oak trees.
Of course, many of the oaks had to be removed. Many of them were old dead trees, and the ones that could be saved were trimmed up nicely.
After the buildings were demolished, the scrap was loaded on trucks and shipped off. Then a huge machine started eating up all the asphalt drives, and it was piled up to be trucked away. Finally, huge dinosaurs broke up the concrete roads and building foundations, and they were carted off.
You can see the broken concrete waiting for its dump truck ride below.
Finally, the sad time of tree removal began. Instead of eating buildings or concrete, the big Deeres seemed even more like dinosaurs as they devoured huge trees. And just like Jackals follow Lions around to catch left-overs, smaller Deeres rushed around moving and sorting tree carcasses.
If you want to see some (bloodless) carnage of buildings and greenery by dinosaurs, feel free to watch my little documentary.
A few weeks ago, we went with friends Jeff and Marilyn to Tarpon Springs. I guess I got so busy sorting through bird and ‘gator pictures that I forgot to post anything about it. I usually don’t go backwards and post stuff I forgot originally, but Tarpon was so cute and fun I’m going to do a “Flashback.”
The town of Tarpon Springs is noted for… sponges. Yes, sponges. Everything is sponges. Lots of touristy shops, all selling T-shirts with sponges on them, figurines made of sponges, or just sponges.
Locals, including a few Greek immigrants, were harvesting sponges here in the late 1880’s, but when sponge diving was introduced in 1905, it blossomed into a huge business. Divers were recruited from Greece, and sponge gathering swelled to one of the largest maritime industries in Florida. A Red Tide algae bloom wiped out most of the sponges in 1947, and while they have pretty well grown back, the harvesting is a small percentage of what it used to be. Tarpon Springs now has the highest percentage of Greek folks of any city in the U.S.
Below is an old sponge diver’s boat, and the small diesel that ran it.
A wide variety of sponges are available at any of dozens of shops!
The little elephant is not made of sponge. Amazing! But what it’s made of is even more surprising. It is Taqua – made from the seed (nuts) of a Ciclantacea Palm. This is not a coconut palm- the nuts are harvested, sanded to a nice polish and shaped into nice jewelry and the occasional elephant. So while it may look like ivory or stone, it is not “animal” or “mineral,” but vegetable. Vegan art.
I believe I mentioned EVERYTHING is sponges!
OK, not everything. We stepped into a little bakery, and found a great surprise! With all those Greeks in town, there are lots of fun Greek restaurants, and most of them get their bread from National Bakery. It has been run continuously since 1925; closing in on a century of fantastic bread! The proprietress gave us a little tour and history lesson, as well as advice on where the best restaurants were. We had a nice dinner at one of them, and the most fun thing was a Greek salad, that comes with a scoop of potato salad in the middle! What’s not to like?
A monument to early sponge divers, and an apparently famous chapel we couldn’t enter because we dined our way past the visitor hours…
I rarely document our maintenance, because it’s not very interesting. Emptying tanks, recharging the water softener, keeping things clean… not too hard or exciting. But once in a while something bigger breaks. Like the footrest on the passenger seat up front. I know this is definitely a “first world” problem, but the power foot rest would extend, almost totally blocking the entry door (fine while driving, not so good other times), but then wouldn’t retract! I had to take it somewhat apart to retract it. But to FIX it took major surgery. Flexsteel, the chair manufacturer, has quit the RV industry, so now one brave woman handles all the repair questions. I told Lisa I was sure it was the motor, and she shipped one to me. Not good. Ouch. Turns out the motor was fine, but the switch was bad. She swapped parts with me, and after a ton of work putting everything back together, we were operational again. A lot of work!
Another, far easier project, was rearranging the shelf spacing in the pantry. Every inch counts, so we wanted to be as efficient as possible and not have cans getting stuck on the bottom of the drawer above. A little re-spacing of the drawers really helped. I’ve only been meaning to get around to that for a year or so…