Saturday was my favourite day of the month! You know what that day is right? You guessed it! Saturday was Minock Day!
This month, it was Tim's and My turn to choose what we did.
We decided to meet in Ybor city at a particular parking garage. Why? Tim always has a plan. The parking garage is clean and neat and shaded from the sun, it has a very nice clean public bathroom, there is almost always plenty of parking to be had there AND, most importantly, it was less than a block away from the trolley that would take us to our first stop.
The trolley alone is part of the fun. It is definitely old school. Wooden benches, brass levers, canvas loops for anyone standing to hold on to if all the seats are taken, it is absolutely adorable and blessedly air conditioned which is not old school but I don't care one bit. Florida in July, yeah, I'm fine with the trolley not being a perfectly preserved piece of history.
privOur first destination was Trolley stop number 7. So once we arrived, we piled out and found our way around the corner and past the aquarium, then down what almost looked like a service road to the docks and ultimately to the American Victory Ship and Museum!
First things first, I have to publicly apologize to the Minocks. As I was trying to come up with an idea of what to do this month, I saw a listing for several museums. This is called the American Victory Ship AND museum. Somehow I skipped over the "ship" part, saw the word museum and thought, "Nice! Inside stuff for a Hot Humid Florida July day" In other words, I saw museum and translated that to Air Conditioning. I was wrong.
The American Victory Ship is exactly that, a ship. It is a World War II Merchant Marine Supply Vessel that is docked downtown Tampa and, according to their literature, it is available for private tours, group tours and field trips and can be rented for private events. What? Private Events? What sort of private event would you have here? I admit to being baffled on that one. Oh well.
It was very cool. Well no, that's not true, it was damned hot. But very interesting in spite of it. We paid our admission and then were set free to wander up and down the many, many decks, up and down hallways, into almost every room including the gallery, the map room, the radio room, the captains quarters and, and, and...well everywhere. It was pretty awesome.
The ship, which is 455 feet long, 62 feet wide and 109 feet high, was built in 1945 in only 55 days and served in WWII, The Korean War and the Vietnam War. It has circumnavigated the entire globe twice! And it's last cruise was just last March! Wow! Very impressive! Although I wouldn't want to depend on the life boats. The photo of the gaping hole in metal above was taken from below a hanging left boat. Plan on treading water or better yet, wear your life jacket if you cruise on this ship!
After checking out all of the decks, including the weapons , and resting a few minutes in one of the only two air conditioning rooms on the ship we were ready to move on.
Back we went onto the trolley and a return to Ybor City. From that stop it was only a few blocks more suffering in the heat to get to our next stop, The Columbia Restaurant.
Tim and I had eaten here before and loved it. So naturally we wanted to share that with our friends. It never disappoints.
1st of all, it is huge on history and charm. The Columbia Restaurant opened 110 years ago. Wow! It has been owned by the same family that entire time and is now being lovingly cared for by the 5th generation of the family. There are beautiful tiles and fountains and stained glass everywhere you look.
2nd of all, the service is incredible. Very formally attired ladies and gentlemen made certain that each patron is cared for as if they were a cherished family member. How's that for rare! Our server, Alfredo, must have read our minds because we never once had to wait for a drink refill, our menus, or our checks. He answered every question with great patience and consideration.
3rd, we finally had the opportunity to sit and chat and catch up with each other as we relaxed in that beautiful place. This is not Fast Food in any sense of the word, so we had plenty of time to pass the time of day and solve all of the problems of the world. It was glorious.
4th, and most important of all, the food is nothing short of amazing. Each of us ordered something different and each of us were extremely pleased with our choices. We left very full and very happy.
We tottered back to the parking garage on foot this time, partly to show more of the town to our guests and partly to walk off our meal. Once we arrived back at the cars it was Belated Birthday Time where I was given home made mini oreo cheeesecakes (holy cats!) that were kept in a cooler the entire time - no worries. And then was showered with amazing and wonderful gifts. I adore Birthday Month :)
So other than our pals, heat & humidity, who show up uninvited every July and August, it was a wonderful day, as it always is on Minock Day.
Next month, will be their choice of where we go and what we do. It would serve us right if we ended up shoveling coal in the engine room of a steam locomotive or digging in a coal mine in August.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.