Greeks, Octopus and Mama Maria’s @ Tarpon Springs, Florida

Over the past few months, I had driven around the Tampa area, visiting various Florida State parks. Tarpon Springs had come up in a conversation with a fellow co-worker and a friend’s posting on Facebook. After leaving Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, I had plotted a course for a restaurant in Tarpon Springs.

Despite having the word “springs” in the city name, this town had evolved from a history of sponge diving. Interestingly enough, that reputation had matured under the immigration of Greek nationals. Tarpon Springs, Florida had provided the highest density of Greek population within the United States. As I had driven south on 19, two things appear; Dunkin Donut shops and a Mediterranean influence.

Starving from a swim earlier in the day, I had pulled into Mama Maria’s for sustenance. My co-worker had recommended their calamari; however, I had opted for a new adventure. I had taken up the waitress’s suggestion of grilled octopus. I had immediately consumed the smaller ends of the tendrils upon the dish hitting my table. With a mix of herbs, lemon and butter, the entree had started off well. Working my way up to thicker portions of the tentacles, the octopus had become more an exercise in chewing, than a pleasurable consumption of seafood. Satisfying my hunger, I had taken a ride by the city’s historical docks. Near the water, the Greek influence had become more pronounced with the various eateries and shops. With the day turning to dusk, I had cut this portion of my Saturday drive short. I had then proceeded off to another random detour off 19 to the waters off Honeymoon Island, before ending the night in Tampa, Florida.

Read More:
Tarpon Springs, Florida (Wikipedia)
The Original Mama Maria’s Greek Cuisine (theoriginalmamamarias.com)

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Review: About Time

Rating: Worth a matinee of $8 bucks.

From director and writer, Richard Curtis, a story about a family of men that had shared a secret of time travel. Curtis’s previous works had included Notting Hill, Love Actually and the Notebook. Playing the family patriarch, Bill Nighy of Underworld fame, had revealed the time traveling talent to his son, Tim. The film had explored the variations on Tim’s romantic encounters culminating in marriage to love interest Mary, actress Rachael McAdams. The story had then progressed into more serious territory regarding addiction, death and a family’s response to both.

With vulnerable charm, the movie had espoused living in the present regardless of the tragedies in life. It had also captured the subtle nuasances that go along with courtships and life long relationships. Bill Nigh’s scenes had provided the film’s emotional center. His scene stealing performances had made the two hour runtime worthwhile. The draw for me, time travel, had taken a back seat to the theme of script. It had communicated the point of savoring life every day.

About Time trailer (YouTube)

Read More:
About Time (IMDB)
Richard Curtis (IMDB)
Bill Nighy (Wikipedia)

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Weeki Wachee Springs State Park @ Weeki Wachee, Florida

Heading west on highway 50 for about 2 hours, we had arrived at Weeki Wachee State Park. Navigating the online park photos, the large swimming area had increased the appeal of this visit. Another selling point, the Mermaid Theater had intrigued us with a theater performance by water borne actresses.

Walking into the park. we had noticed the current Mermaid performance at capacity. After resigning ourselves to some photo ops, we had walked around the premises, noticing a stray peacock and the swimming area. Upon entering the water, I had seen decommissioned water slides. I had imagined how fun that might have been, if operational. Because of the Mermaid Theater, a floating divider had also shaved off access to large portion of the springs. Once in the water, the average depth had approached five feet. Moving toward the dive platform, the depth had gone down about twenty feet. The dive platform had provided for a good 30-45 minutes of enjoyment, in lieu of other park shortcomings.

The park had provided quite a few offerings for smaller children with different playground equipment and faux petting zoo. They had decorated some of the facility gearing up for Halloween festivities. For a family with young kids, this had seemed ideal for a visit. However, like an old man asking me about the lack of ladies in a shot of the boardwalk, it had lacked certain adult fare.

Read more:
Weeki Wachee State Park (Florida State Parks)

Weeki Wachee, Florida (Wikipedia)

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Traffic stop @ 3 am

I had just returned from a lengthy road trip across the State of Florida. I had already started reflecting on the various locations and moments in my mind. One thing I had thought worth mentioning, a 3 am traffic stop by Wakulla County PD. Now, I had recalled plenty of negative coverage by media outlets over the years on bad cops; however, how many times do we think of those moments when a police officer had just done their job to protect and serve?

Passing through Wakulla County, I had seen the flashing of red and blue in the rear view mirror. After getting pulled over, I had thought, “This is going to make Monday suck!” That feeling emanated from maybe being little heavy on the gas pedal after just waking up. Approaching the vehicle, the officer had inquired about the purpose for being in his jurisdiction. I had responded with visiting Wakulla Springs and camping in Apalachicola Forest. He had followed up with asking, “Would anything return from running the license?” I had quickly responded, “No!” The officer then had gone to his car to communicate with dispatch. Upon returning, he had sent us on our way with a warning.

What luck, especially considering all the municipalities that had orchestrated speed traps for revenue. Then, I had thought about the context of our interaction. We had nothing to hide, less my menacing facial hair. Also, I had offered quick, honest answers. Probably the most important thing, I had recalled my body language. My left hand had laid out the window with right one on the wheel. Recalling a friend doing patrols as an officer, he had mentioned how stressful the first few minutes of interacting with the general public during a traffic stop. I had wanted to take a moment in underscoring that perspective. The purpose was not to avoid a citation but, the officer’s experience. After all, police officers had wanted to get home just like rest of us.

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On the road again, across Florida

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Hitting the road yesterday from Orlando, Florida, I had ventured across a sea of different towns. Each had offered a different experience ranging from under a hunter’s moon to underground. Looking forward to wrapping up trip, I had wanted to provide a quick update before arriving at next destination. Here was a partial list of the points on the map:

Tampa
Tallahassee
Tarpon Springs
Brookesville
Chipley
Marianna
Crawfordville

Florida State Seminoles @ Clemson Tigers

A few years ago, I had hung with a friend celebrating the birthday of an old mentor. While we had waited for seating, inevitably the state of FSU football became the hot topic. I had remembered this old mentor forecasting a national championship from Jimbo Fisher in short order. Another fan, a COO at work, had equally riled himself up regarding the transition from Bobby Bowden. In my mind, I had thought “What had the FSU offense done to garner such fever?” In comparison, Gus Malzahn at Auburn had mustered offense performances worthy of note, up through a BCS national championship.

During the Fisher era, the Seminoles had plenty of raw talent. It had decent defense, good receivers and a few running backs to boot; however, the Noles had a few notable losses to UF, Oklahoma and NC State. Yes, NC State, what had happened during that game? This loss more than any other had marked the mental focus of the program. Despite enough talent, play calling and a slow start had led us to defeat to an inferior opponent. This lack of intensity had provided the seeds of defeatism. I had felt flung back to 90s with overly cautious play calling from the various Miami wide-right fiascos.

So far this college football season, I had avoided getting sucked into this mental trap of disappointment. I had received passing compliments from friends and family about FSU’s Quarterback, Winston. My nephew had texted,” Winston is a beast,” tempting propaganda from a Miami fan. This had made for a seductive statement to get emotionally invested. Still after thinking about watching tonight’s game live or on a box score, had Jimbo finally selected “the one?” Had Winston’s raw talent exceeded the balance sheet of any other offensive shortcomings?

Either way, hopefully the ACC had an opportunity to raise its profile in the BCS. I had hoped after tonight maybe, just maybe, to bite into the bait dangling from the FSU program. Go Noles!

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WordPress @ 100 posts

Cresting on the century mark, I had pondered what new adventures and opinions to share? Hopefully up to this point, I had illuminated some fact, place or thought to expand the possibilities of living. An overriding theme for my posts had embodied condensing water cooler conversations with family, friends and co-workers. From those conversations, I had arrived at a place between inspiration and consternation. What had made certain moments memorable? What moments had risen to the level of being worthy of communicating to another human?

Someone had recently asked about my blogging,”Run out of ideas yet?” I had recalled,”Only time.” Over the past two weeks, life had thrown a few standard curve balls (I.e. working late, head cold, bum knee). So I had unremarkably felt guilty for resting versus writing. Somehow, these common occurrences, lacking an epiphany or life altering solution had seemed unworthy of articulating online. In reaching for moments that transcend my ego, I had wanted to chart a course of avoiding undue verbosity. I had a few reasons for dabbling on WordPress. One fundamental reason had aimed for extracting key elements of exceptional living by stringing together words, pictures and sometimes video that reflect my individuality. In channeling WordPress into daily activities, it had offered a new avenue of enriching my life. From the mental perspiration, something organic had arrived. The game had changed. An idea had become a living entity.

To the question of, “What is inside you?” I had jokingly thought, “Maybe another 10 posts or 10 minutes editing.” Maybe the goal had symbolized the brightness of a hunter’s moon. That light, like WordPress, had fallen upon my harvest to share, but for how long? Simply I had not known how many more minutes editing from my iPhone. As for what I had planned for writing next? This had all depended on where the Florida roads, a friend, and time allow tomorrow.