While Derek is on business in Naples, we have been planning for a day when we could visit Cal and Sawako who currently live in Gainesville, Florida. The distance to visit his parents is simply too far for a night after work. So we planned on making a day of it when I would be in Florida for my school’s spring break. We met halfway at the Tampa Lowry Park Zoo so there would only be a 2 hour drive for both couples. This day was a pleasure for all of us since we hadn’t seen each other since our wedding last June.
The zoo was a charming place to spend the morning together. We took our time through each exhibit spotting where the animals might be hiding under the shade or learning more about their background.
The Aviary was a particularly interactive exhibit as we entered into a netted community where birds just might pluck along our path or suddenly swoop over our heads.
We even had the chance to personally meet a owl greeting the guests at the zoo’s entrance.
As we made our way around the park, one of the highlights was observing the interplay between a baby orangutan and its mother. The baby actively climbed the ropes while the mother readjusted her hammock which kept falling off its hook.
This furry neighbor just wanted to stay covered under his blanket unless food was being offered to him.
The Florida wildlife section of the zoo gave us a chance to finally see the manatees who just happened to be feeding on the other side of the water.
Another exciting exhibit was the stingray pool where we were allowed to pet their fins with two fingers. We believe that the stingrays actually enjoyed the attention because they would swim towards us when they saw fingers in the pool. There was even one stingray that turned around to swim back towards Ashley for a second touch!
After our zoo visit, we had a bite to eat at a farm-to-table breakfast place Derek found called “The Refinery” where we had biscuits, gravy, eggs, radish salad, and bacon before making a journey to Clearwater to see the beach.
It was an hour drive over the bay on a bridge from Tampa to Clearwater where we saw dolphins and jet skiers. After a small battle with parking, we were able to see the white sands of “America’s Best Beach.” It seems like everyone had a beach day in mind! I mainted the family tradition of swimming fully under at any body of water I visit. The water was warm and very salty, of course.
Cal walked with us to Pier 60 where we looked over the water and back to the shore. Many fishermen were reeling in fish that the pelicans would beg for a little bite. “Mine, mine, mine…” (Finding Nemo)
As the day came to a close, we made our way back to Tampa to say good bye to the parents. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day with them.