Saturday, November 21, 2009

Breezing through Tampa

We are at a Wal-Mart in Tampa (map). As I wrote yesterday, this store is marked No Overnight on my list, and is so posted in most of the lot, but when we called to ask, they told us it was OK. When we arrived, security directed us to a section of the lot near Dale Mabry that was not posted, adjacent to a fenced-off empty lot where Tia's TexMex restaurant once stood. It was quiet enough here, and darker than the main lot.

We took a lone scooter out to ride the two and a half miles to the Centre Club for dinner last night. Dinner was quite tasty, and while we were there we were reminded that many of these clubs are serving Thanksgiving dinner. While that would not be included on our super-duper free meal every month plan, it's definitely an option in case we don't come up with anything else.

Shortly after we returned and stowed the scooter, I was out walking the dog when a news van with a TV crew from local channel 13 news showed up in our little remote parking lot. They deployed their 50' antenna mast and microwave dish, so I knew they were setting up for a live shot. I tuned the news in on the TV; it turns out the live shot was of the shopping center across the street, for a reporter doing a lead-in and then wrap-up on a previously taped segment on unemployment (seasonal retail jobs, it seems, are way down this year). What a waste, we thought, to deploy an electronic news-gathering van for two and a half minutes of talking head, that could easily have been shot in the studio. Fittingly, featured in the center of the shot was the still-illuminated store sign for now-defunct Circuit City.

While we were at dinner we received a phone call that threw something of a monkey wrench into any attempt to develop concrete plans. One of our dear friends has been hospitalized in California with complications from cancer. We are awaiting further word as to whether he will even be lucid enough to recognize us before deciding whether to fly out there for a visit.

While we had been considering perhaps settling in someplace pleasant here in the Tampa Bay area for a few days while we figured out plans for Thanksgiving, scuba, and bus maintenance, we are now motivated to cross over to the other side of the state. That's because most of the less expensive flight options are out of Daytona, Palm Beach, or Ft. Lauderdale, and this will put us closer. Besides, we need to end up there anyway. In a few minutes we will start rolling in that direction, angling down towards Lake Okeechobee.

Photo by Marcus Q, used under a Creative Commons license.

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