Thursday, December 17, 2015

Friends and Fort de Soto

We always say that making and meeting friends on the road is the best thing about our fulltiming lifestyle.  Into our ninth year we have made friends all over the country. We chose an RV park near Tampa because it was close to the airport, but we also knew that friends would be in the area.  Mark and Renita are in Pinellas Park and Jean Paul and Celine are in Bradenton, so we made plans to see them after we returned from Mexico.
Mark and Renita took us to Fort de Soto County Park which is on Mullet Key, a small island at the entrance of Tampa Bay.  The park has a great, but expensive, campground, miles of beautiful white sand beaches and a fishing pier all on the site of an old fort that dates back to the late 1800's.  The site had been used by the military all the way back to before the Civil War.
We met Mark and Renita in 2008 in Texas and have crossed paths several times all over the country.  They now spend a couple of months in Florida every year because their daughter is going to school here.  They are great tour guides and we thank them for a great day of exploring.
One of the old mortars that was capable of lobbing a shell six miles out into the gulf.  This big gun has huge springs under it to absorb the 23 inch recoil when it was fired.  
A piece of artillery from the fort.  Like many harbor forts built in the late 1800's, there was never a shot fired at an enemy from the fort.  
On our walk along the beach we saw a couple of dolphins very close to shore.  We figured there must have been a lot of bait fish in the water to get them this close to the beach.
Nanc and Renita looking for shells along the beach.  I know Nanc has jeans and long sleeves on, but for everyone else it was plenty warm for shorts.
When we went to the fishing pier we saw this unbelievable sight, millions of greenbacks.  They are small bait fish and they were all trying to get into the shade of the pier.  This was like the capelin we saw in Labrador in 2010 that attracted the humpback whales along the coast.  Here is a link to that post
Nanc, Renita and Mark checking out the greenbacks. I'm sure Mark was wishing he had brought his pole with him.
This is the fishing pier.  The greenbacks were under the entire length of the pier so you can see I was not exaggerating when I said there were millions.
After visiting Fort de Soto we had a great lunch overlooking the gulf in St. Pete Beach.  It was great seeing them and getting caught up with what we have all been doing.  I'm sure we will see them down the road.
On another day we drove to Bradenton to see Jean Paul and Celine.  We met them at Betty's RV Park and have seen them on the road several times including the week we parked in their front yard in Quebec in 2010.  We last saw them only a couple months ago when they had surprised us with a visit this fall in Hatteras.  We enjoyed a great lunch at their place, spent the afternoon chatting, then went out to dinner.  It was another beautiful day and we thank them for their hospitality.  Once again, seeing friends on the road is one of the greatest things about our travels.