AFTER leaving the Port of Tampa, but before heading north to go home from our cruise, we detoured.
Southwest of Tampa, entrance/exit to Tampa Bay, Anna Maria Island, the last inhabited island (south of Tampa) protruding from the mainland out into the Gulf of Mexico. Rich developers were turned away years ago and the island fathers refused them buying or building permits to build large hotels or resorts on the island. Thank the Lord for that, because every square inch of the island is covered in houses. Charming places, to be sure, but COVERED in houses. The island is no longer “pristine,” but it still maintains its “small town” atmosphere because there are no resorts there. No MASSIVE traffic snarls. No HUNDREDS of tourists walking the sidewalks to the 2-3 small restaurants and “touristy” properties on the island.
It is a beautiful place, nonetheless, very peaceful and calm. At least in January it is. In June, that might be a different story. We saw “snowbirds” (Yankees that come down to “winter” in Florida) everywhere, as well as locals.
But there was a BIG difference between the snowbirds and the locals, as evidenced by their apparel. The snowbirds wore shorts and sandals in that 56 degree weather. The locals were covered with coats, hoods/hats, boots, and gloves/mittens. A parade of life!!
IF, and that’s a big IF, the island maintains its allure, even with the “carbon unit infestation” during the summer (see “Star Trek, the Movie” for that reference! hehe!), we might have to vacation there one day!!
Beautiful houses! Very low maintenance yards!
The MOST interesting part of our visit to Anna Maria Island actually had nothing to do with the island, other than its attraction to other people.
On the Gulf beach, at the Visitor’s Center, we met a young couple from Hamburg, Germany. All because the wife was doing handstands on a blanket in the sand. Most of you know me and know that I talk to sign posts, so a simple little thing like someone, all alone, doing handstands on the beach, is NOT going to escape my notice. Or my conversation!! Antja (the “j” is pronounced like a “y”) was a few months pregnant, nearing 40, but a beautiful girl nonetheless. And quite athletic, too! Her husband, Christoph, was watching their small son as he played on the Jungle Gym set about 30 feet away. They each spoke excellent English, though Antja said that now that she doesn’t work, she doesn’t get to practice her English as often. Sharing with them our own experiences of living in Germany made Antja much more at ease, once we stood there for a while.
We got no last names, but after we left, we realized that the terribly tall Christoph (over 6’5″) “might” be someone famous over there, although you couldn’t prove it by us. When I told them that I would be writing about them, Christoph put his arm around my shoulders and said, “Ah, another book!” If I’d had the sense to take a picture of the three of them, someone here might be able to tell me whether we brushed greatness or not!! But by that time, Dorkus here was TIRED of travel and still had 5 hours of driving to get to our beds for that night (which was only 2/3 of the way home).
Hope you have enjoyed our anniversary, cruise, and vacation as much as we did!
NEXT, takeaways from this trip.