New Thing #232: Tampa/St. Pete

St_PeteI spent most of last week in Florida. I flew into Tampa, stayed in St. Petersburg, spent a day-and-a-half in Gainesville, and flew out of Jacksonville.

Or, as my brother put it, I took a trip that he would take.

He's exactly right, though I can't explain why that makes sense.

Usually, though, he's playing a guitar in all of those cities.

I did not...but I did check out some ballparks.

Ballparks are a little obsession of mine. More on that later this week.

The purpose of this trip was to visit a friend. (I've mentioned him before I think. His name is Kevin.) Kevin lived in North Carolina for 12 years and every year I thought about getting down there and I never did. So when he moved to the University of Florida, I made sure I set some time aside to get down there. Thanks to my wife, I was able to work in a Wednesday through Saturday trip while she stayed home with the kids.

Gainesville will be getting its own post this week. So will the Rays games, as will some other New Things we tried out down in Florida. I'll keep this post pretty general.

When some of you head down to Tampa, you might make sure you hit a beach. Or get out on the water. That's not quite how we roll.


Our primary purpose meeting in Tampa was to go to a Rays game. (Or two.) And while we were in the area we made sure to check out Raymond James Stadium (where the Buccaneers play - pictured above) and Steinbrenner Field (where a Yankees minor league team plays...and I think where they have their spring training games - pictured below right)Steinbrenner. (Yes, those are pictures I took from a moving car...something I usually don't get a chance to do because I'm usually driving and barking orders to my wife about which pictures to take out of the window. I thought I did pretty good.)

We didn't go into these parks - or walk up to them, I should say - because we couldn't find a good place to pull over and access them. But I'm glad we saw them.

We found a nice little hangout area in St. Pete - I think it was Central Avenue - not far from the University of South Florida campus. We went to a couple of restaurants in the area. We particularly enjoyed The Midway and their delicious popcorn.

All of our driving helped me get a little more familiar with Florida geography. That's kind of a big state. The St. Petersburg-Gainesville-Jacksonville loop is not an easy drive. They're pretty big cities...with not a whole lot between them.

I know what you're wondering - no, we did not see the stadium where the Jaguars play. (Is this weird? The Buccaneers played in New England when we were in Gainesville, and the Jaguars played the Jets in New Jersey when we were in Jacksonville. Those are the two places I am most likely to see a game, when I was in the cities of the opponents. Chew on it. Let me know.) What I did see was the Jacksonville airport, which was beautiful. Kevin decided it must have been a stipulation of their 2005 Super Bowl. Nicest airport I've ever been in, I think.

So that's where I spent the end of last week. I'll be telling you about it most of this week, because there were a lot of New Things.

Of course, that will include the ballpark where we actually went inside.