Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Saturday my friend Kathy flew into Tampa airport for a quick visit with us. Her plane didn't arrive till 7 pm, so Larry and I went to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium during the day. It is a rescue, rehab and release facility, thus smaller and different then other aquariums. What made it really famous is the movie the Dolphin Tale. We just watched the movie and saw that this is where Winter the dolphin that got an artificial tail lives, so we went to see her.

Here Winter is working with her trainer. She only wears her artificial tail a few hours a day, so she did not have it on. We were surprised to learn that not much about the movie was factual except she did lose her tail from a crab trap. The rest of the story was made up.

Winter and Panama. Panama was a baby when they rescued her after her mom was beached and died. Because she was a baby she never was taught how to survive in the wild so she can't be released.

Physical therapy activities.

This is Nicolas, the only male dolphin here. He was also rescued when a baby.

After church on Sunday we took Kathy to Solomon's Castle.

This home was built by artist Howard Solomon out of all recycled materials. The panels that cover the castle are printers plates from the Wachula News. If you took them off you could read the newspaper on the other side, thus he says he lives in a time capsule.

There are more then 80 interpretive stained glass windows.

We had a very amusing guided tour. Howard's humor and unique view of the world was very evident. When someone asked if he could take pictures. He was told they would have to call the police and have him arrested if he did. But he was allowed to take as many photographs as he wanted :)

There were many metal sculptures all made from recycled material. This was call Flower Child.

He also makes reproduction of famous painting out of scrapes of wood. This was his latest work.

This elephant was made out of oil drums, and has clam shells for toe nails.

A cow with a hole in its side. Do you know why? For whole milk :)

His self portrait made from wood . We met him (sorry I forgot to post the picture I took of him) and it looks just like him.

Notice the fencing around the side of the house.

After he built his house people wanted to come see it so he opened it for tours. Then he built the boat in the moat. It is a very good restaurant where we enjoyed a delicious lunch.

Kathy is my friend who fell playing pickleball when she came to visit me two years ago in Orlando. She dislocated her little finger and broke two bones in her hand. It took her six months of therapy but she can do everything with her hand once more. She wanted to try pickleball again so we hit the ball around a little and even played a game.

Tuesday we went to Plant City to the strawberry festival.
We watched the pig races. Look in the water for them swimming.

Watched a strawberry stemming contest.

The MC had a nice way with the audience and was very entertaining. This girl won the contest by stemming the strawberries with her teeth and keeping the hulls in her mouth till she had all 20 stemmed.

Two big shows are put on here each day. The shows are part of your admission ($10) if you sit on the concrete bleachers.

We sat on the bleachers to watch Brenda Lee in the afternoon show.

It was nice there was a screen so you could see her, especially since she is only 4 feet 9.

Of course what is a fair without food, but what will they think of to fry next?

We tried to eat a little healthier, but of course we had to have strawberries and ice cream.

For the evening show by Vince Gill we purchased tickets to sit in chairs, much more comfortable and closer then the bleachers. He put on a very good show.

Since we were half way to Tampa and Kathy had to be at the airport by 8 the next morning she got a hotel room for the night. Sad to say goodbye, but I'm sure glad she came for a visit even if it was just for a few days.

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