Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy Birthday to me, Part 4

I went down to Tampa to visit my cousin Rose for my birthday. The trip was a mixed bag, as I expected it would be. Rose is very, very set in her ways, and very convinced that her way is the only way. I really wished I'd stayed in a motel instead of at her house, because despite basking in how much she loves me and her willingness to show me all the local sites, she got on my last nerve. Example: "Why do you carry such a big purse, Gal?" "You don't need such a big purse." "What do you have in that big purse anyway?" Finally I snapped, "Why do you care?" The whole weekend was like that.

Interestingly, I don't get on her last nerve. She kept talking about trips we could take together once I retire. AAAARGH! I can't imagine what it would be like to share a confined space with her!

On to happier things. Friday was my actual birthday. I wanted to go to Lowry Park (aka Tampa Zoo) so that's where we were headed when her car died. She was very sorry and very embarrassed but I didn't mind. We were both safe and sound, I got to ride in a tow truck for the first time ever, and yes, we were stuck in the garage for most of the afternoon. But they had CNN on and I got to see the ceremonies at Arlington Cemetery, and since President Kennedy has been on my mind sooooo much this month, it seemed fitting. (I was happy to see the flags half mast all over town that day.)

Then we went to Madeira Beach to watch the sun set. It was gorgeous. To see gulls, walk along the shore barefoot and stepping on shells, and to watch the sun fall into the sea was a special treat.

The next day, Saturday, was zoo day. Here in Chicagoland we have two world class zoos, so my cousin was surprised that Lowry Park was on my list of things I wanted to do for my birthday, but okapis have always been my favorite zoo friends and they recently had a new addition. It was important to me to see the baby. I was not disappointed.

For her part, my cousin's favorites are the giraffes. They have an expansive, beautiful exhibit -- but then so do the zoos here. What was different about The Lowry giraffe area was the artwork. My cousin found a pair of giraffe earrings in the gift shop. I bought manatee magnets for my coworkers at the gift shop, as well. I found myself enchanted by those big, docile sea cows, but they didn't photograph well. So I got myself a snow globe (sea globe?) with a pair of manatees inside.

Then later we went back to Madeira for a dolphin cruise. It was so beautiful. We saw several "pods" (or families) of dolphins. They were majestic. But everything about the cruise was perfect. A little over 80ยบ, mostly smooth seas, clear skies. Little islands of nothing other than birds. Elegant estates dotting the
shore. Jimmy Buffett on the speakers. If only I'd had a margarita in my hand, it would have been perfect.

I was happy to go to Tampa, and happy to come home. One of the nice things about the flights is now I'm on the TSA precheck list. I don't have to remove my shoes, belt or baggie of liquids anymore when I go through security anymore. Believe it or not, that made the trips a wee bit less stressful for me.