Monday, August 18, 2014

Aloha to Florida - Henry B. Plant Museum


Downtown Tampa is home to the Henry B. Plant Hotel.  It now houses a museum ... and the University of Tampa.   From its museum website (link),

When you're building a railroad to nowhere...how do you make the journey worthwhile?

If you’re railroad magnate Henry Bradley Plant, in the midst of the sand swamps that would be Tampa, you construct the most astonishingly magnificent hotel of its day, then fill it with treasures from around the world.


With its splendid Moorish architecture, opulent furnishings, and spectacular tropical gardens, Plant’s Tampa Bay Hotel attracted a host of celebrated guests, from Teddy Roosevelt to Sarah Bernhardt to Babe Ruth.


A visit to the Henry B. Plant Museum and the authentically restored rooms of the Tampa Bay Hotel will transport you back to a time of indulgent ten-course meals, waltzing on the veranda and alligator hunting by moonlight... The journey is still worthwhile. 


Imagine arriving by train to Tampa to find this splendor!


The hotel's architecture offers unique alcoves ... 


... for afternoon tea!


The museum is a treasure trove of Victorian antiques!


The hotel played a critical role in the Spanish American War (link):

In the months preceding the invasion of Cuba, Henry Plant exchanged letters with Secretary of War Russell Alger requesting the defense of Tampa in the event of war. Plant also sent his lieutenant Franklin Q. Brown to Washington to speak on behalf of the city to be selected as the official port of embarkation for the war. The Plant System of railways transported troops to Florida and Plant Line steamships eventually carried troops and supplies to Cuba. The Tampa Bay Hotel became the headquarters for the U.S. Army officers awaiting the order to embark.


The museum displayed from Henry Dobson, giving visitors a glimpse of life of a soldier in 1898.  

Do you have any old letters?  One randomly selected commenter from this week's blogs wins a book choice from my convention stash. Comments are open through Saturday, August 23, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, August 24.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City 

Betina Krahn's THE BOOK OF TRUE DESIRES - a romantic adventure - opens on the veranda of the hotel in the days leading to the Spanish American War.

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Aloha to Florida - Ybor City


Ybor City is located in East Tampa.  From its website (link),

Known as Tampa’s Latin Quarter for over a century, Ybor City is an exotic blend of aromas, flavors, sights and sounds. From the scent of roasting Cuban coffee early in the morning to the rhythms of Latin music late into the night, Ybor is a feast for the senses.


Choose from a variety of cuisine - Spanish, Cuban, Italian, Greek and French - just by strolling down La Setima, the main street of the Historic District. Share authentic tapas and a pitcher of Spanish sangria in a cafĂ© atmosphere reminiscent of a Mediterranean village. 


Browse eclectic shops and art galleries or visit one of the museums. See a “hand-rolled cigar” being made or just relax and “people watch” with a cup of Ybor’s famous cafe con leche.


Founded by Vicente Martinez-Ybor as a cigar-manufacturing center, Ybor City today is one of only two National Historic Landmark Districts in Florida. Red brick buildings, wrought iron balconies and narrow brick streets give it an old-world charm that is a refreshing change of pace from the beach and the mall.
 

We stumbled cross a food festival featuring the Taco Bus ...


... and Rolling Zoinks.


We hopped aboard the street car ...


 ... transiting Ybor City, Channel Side, Downtown Tampa, and back. 


 Back in Ybor City, we spotted the Freddie Solomon Annex.


Freddie played football for the University of Tampa, the Miami Dolphins, and San Francisco 49s.


Why did the chicken cross the road?


To join the FSU Pub Crawl sponsored by the Seminoles' Tampa Area Booster Club.


Do you have an ethnic neighborhood in your area?  One randomly selected commenter from this week's blogs wins a book choice from my convention stash.  Comments are open through Saturday, August 23, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, August 24.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Local business pays tribute to nearby MacDill AFB ...




Saturday, August 16, 2014

Aloha to Florida - Safety Harbor


Safety Harbor is a vibrant small town on the Northwest side of Tampa Bay.   From this link,

For years, Safety Harbor has been known as a special place in Florida: a haven where “healing waters flow.” But long before modern man came to this popular site on Tampa Bay, Indian shell mound builders inhabited the area almost 2,000 years ago, followed by the Tocobaga Indians and then the Seminoles. These early residents believed the mineral springs held mystical powers; they were the first to see the springs as the answer to perpetuating youth and healing the sick.



In 1539, Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto reached the shores of what is now Old Tampa Bay and discovered the natural springs. Believing he had found the legendary “Fountain of Youth,” missed by Ponce de Leon, De Soto established a camp here, naming the mineral springs “Espiritu Santo Springs” (or “Springs of the Holy Spirit”).


My favorite refuge from the Florida heat is the public library ...


... with its unique benches!


The library is shaded by several "grand" oak trees.


This one being named "the elf tree".


Even the library embraces the tropical scene with this wall mural.


This mermaid is ready for the mail!


The frogs welcome diners to a French cafe crafted from a vintage house.


Natually Safety Harbor hosts a marina,


with many pleasure craft in the harbor.


I like this name!


The harbor is home to endangered manatee which often flirt with tourists on the pier.


What would you name your fictional boat?  One randomly selected commenter from this week's blogs wins a book choice from my convention stash.   Comments are open through Saturday, August 23, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, August 24.

Mahalo,


Kim in Baltimore

Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Strumming in front of the barber shop.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Aloha to Florida - University of South Florida


We visited the University of South Florida, located in North Tampa.   The USF mascot is the bull.


I laughed at this mini beach on campus ... when the real thing is about an hour away in Clearwater Beach.  


My son is interested in engineering, so we spend time on the science side of the sprawling campus.


The guide asked us what the "sculpture" represented - I replied Mickey Mouse.   But my son knew each cluster was water molecules - two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen for H2O.


Phi Mu Alpha is a fraternity for music students ... I just like the cat!


We also visited the AFROTC Detachment 158, where I received my commission many moons ago (after graduating from the University of Tampa).   I asked about The Leaky Faucet helmet - it is awarded to the the most improved cadet.

Do you have a favorite school mascot?  One randomly selected commenter from this week's blogs wins a book choice from my convention stash. Comments are open through Saturday, August 16, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, August 17.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Andrew with the USF Bull!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Aloha to Florida - Clearwater Beach



We are currently staying in a vacation condo in Oldsmar at the top of Tampa Bay.   Our previous trip to Honeymoon Island yielded a rocky beach (link) ... so we ventured to Clearwater Beach for the renowed sandy stretches.  


It was an overcast day with a few breezes ...


... and sea shells galore!


Clearwater Beach offers a fishing pier ...


 ... and pirates off shore!   


The pirate ship docked at the harbor ...


... for the next round of tourist seeking a high seas adventure!

Have you sailed on a pirate ship?  Sail boat?  Cruise ship?   One randomly selected commenter from this week's blogs wins a book choice from my convention stash.  Comments are open through Saturday, August 16, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, August 17.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City