Category Archives: Tampa

[sticky] Next Mobile Adventure: Busch Gardens Africa/Tampa, November 10-11

UPDATED ON 11-01-2008
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If you have ideas for recreation activities in Tampa, please do leave a comment and tell me about it! .

Chez Bro, SIL and Nieceling are making their annual fall trip to Florida, and I’ll be joining them in Tampa for a long weekend.  I’m excited about Busch Gardens because they have opened a new section called “Jungala”, which looks really fun on the commercials.  I’m also going to look for something new to do in the area.  I don’t think Busch Gardens is a 4 day park, and we love the Aquarium but we’ve done it already.  Nieceling is 12, the rest of us are in our 40s.

UPDATE: We are now arriving on November 9th, so one less day.  They are coming from Disney and turns out the 9th is the day their annual passes are no longer good, so the 9th it is.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE ON 11-01-2008:  They are now not arriving until the evening of Sunday November 9th.  NOW what am I going to do with my weekend, hmmm?

Mmmm, Mexican food!

Kind of a hole in the wall, but it has become somewhat of a tradition that when I go up to the Tampa office, I to go to lunch with colleagues at Guadalajara, a really EXCELLENT Mexican restaurant.

Here’s the address off the menu, just for Chris.

There are two seating areas, both of which have a stained glass ceiling.

Authentically groovy decor… although, it does look as though someone hasn’t de-decorated since Valentine’s Day!

Scenes from monthly visit to Tampa office

So, after we left the Strawberry Festival, I stayed over night in a Sheraton and worked in one of our Tampa facilities on Monday. There’s a pond out back of the building where some wildlife tends to gather. The fishes are rather funny; they get skittish and try to run away if you approach the banks of the pond, making quite a ruckus.

Here’s the Peace River in Charlotte County

And here’s the Caloosahatchee River in Lee County; as I go over this river, I know I’ll be home within the next 10 minutes or so.

Florida State Fairgrounds

I never realized I was passing this all these times I’ve taken this road. Good to know where the state fairgrounds are, but I don’t know that I would attend, unless I could coordinate with a day at the Tampa offices like I did this time.

At the International Mall: The Bamboo Club

Had dinner here on Tuesday night. There’s an outdoor collection of restaurants called “Bay Street” at the International Mall in Tampa. Lots and lots of restaurants there. The food was good, but the portions were ridiculous. One order of rice can feed a small third world nation!

Now it’s time to say goodbye…

… to all my family. We’re leaving! They are going to the airport and home to frozen Long Island. I am going to a hotel for the night so I can attend some meetings in our Tampa offices tomorrow. I’m sad! But I shall see them again in New York at Christmas time.

It’s bigger than it looks

Yes Dale, you would love this, but I think it’s a bit bigger than the picture implies. Picture a toddler straddling it; I had to wait for one to move before taking the photo!

Outdoor balcony

On the upper level, there is a nice outdoor balcony; here’s the view. The balcony features benches sprinkled among lush container gardens, and a raven in a cage who was making quick work of a flash-frozen chick. Um, also ashtrays!

Explore A Shore

Entrance sculpture to the outdoor play area (with water features – Nieceling got soaked, which greatly displeased her parents) was donated by Publix, as witnessed by the white plaque with the black “P” on it.

Gift shop find

This is done in bronze. There were some turtle sculptures that seemed to be done in polished copper – they were just stunning, but I could not get a clear pic of them because they were TOO well lit, and they just came out as this big gleam. Wish they had the sea horse in the polished copper; I would have bought that in a heartbeat.

This was done on ceramic

All along the passageways of the aquarium there is art work, art work, and more art work. I liked this one because it seemed to be painted on ceramic and then glazed over. I’ve provided a pic of the placard with the artist’s details, below.

It turned out to be…

Sea horses! Yes, believe it or not, that thing in the pic above is a sea horse that disguises itself as kelp. There were signs everywhere that said not to use the flash (camera phone doesn’t have one any way) because it scares them.

Enjoy the view

Every now and then, you find a spot in front of a tank that has some rockers and/or benches set up. Can you imagine if you could have a huge tank as one of the walls in your living room? You would not need TV for entertainment; just plop down and listen to the tank and watch the coral waving and the fishes doing their fishly things… ahhhh!

American Victory

A battle ship is parked outside the aquarium. The name on the side is American Victory, and there was a sign advertising tours. I will post a bigger pic of it later, on my website.

Horse conch

The Florida state shell, it had its operculum in place. However, the rest of this display was sort of suspect; a lot of the species on display didn’t look like they come from Florida.


There was a huge tank in the “rotundda” full of all different varieties of starfish. It was a touch tank, and Nieceling got herself good and fishy (she’s 11 but still loves this stuff). The color makes it look fake, doesn’t it?

Out of order from Saturday’s dinner

Nieceling says these are 'whole wheat napkins' lol

Yeah, so this is pretty ridiculous – photos showing up on the blog a day and a half later!

I c shells

Out of order again. These were actually the first shells I spied in the tanks. And no, I did NOT reach in to collect them; I have have a whole cookie jar full of whelks on my kitchen counter that are in MUCH better condition than these!

Otter !

He was SO fast! Between his speed, and the damned plexi-glass, it was really impossible to get a good shot of this guy. Y’all know how much I LOVE the otters! We went back after lunch to see a demonstration of his training. He’s really quite clever. He cannot be returned to the wild; he’d been raised by someone who thought it would be cool to own a river otter, and then decided it wasn’t so cool. So he’s probably got to live at the Aquarium for the rest of his life. The reason he is trained is because he is so quick, the veterinarians cannot examine him properly. So they train him to do tricks like run and jump and swim/dive and hold still for as long as they want him to. In this manner, they can observe if he is functioning normally, and maybe treat a wound here and there. They reward him with little fishes (dead).


It looks like a grouper, but if it is, the pics are out of order again…. I LOVE grouper! I think he was at least 4.5 ft long, if not 5 ft. He was swimming in a huge tank with rocking chairs and benches set up in front of it.

I plead plexi-glass

As it was yesterday at Busch Gardens, most of the animals in the Aquarium are behind plexi-glass, and therefore the photos have all these weird ghostly images superimposed upon them. These are the reflections off the glass of people standing around, including me. Anyhow, this little smiley-faced guy was only about two feet long; they didn’t have any super-sized gators at this exhibit.

We started in the Wetlands

I see some of the pics arrived out of order. Anyhow, we started in the Wetlands section, and saw those cool Florida soft-shell turtles, which are the ones that hang out in the lake out back of my house (formerly known as The Tinkness Monster).


Yes, we’re getting here at noon-ish. It’s funny. My brother used to be the one getting up at some gawd-awful, commando time of the morning on vacation, waking my ass up by either phoning me or sending the Nieceling to pound down my hotel door. Now it’s the other way around. I’m the one waking up spontaneously at 6:00 or 7:00 am, and he’s the one taking his sweet-ass time getting a move on in the mornings. Go figure! So anyway, here we are, finally arriving at the Florida Aquarium.

Our day at Busch Gardens Tampa

I’ve filled in some explanations for the photos I’ve been blogging all day. Additionally, if you surf over to My Adventures *~*~* , you’ll be able to see more pictures that I’ve uploaded from the Canon.

I think we’re going to the aquarium tomorrow… stay tuned!

A dragon

None of the “real” dragons were out and about, so I had to take a pic of this one.

What a voice!

This girl has an incredibly powerful voice. Why isn’t she on Broadway starring in Dream Girls?

The final story

The final story was about persevering through a flood that destroyed all. The woman telling the story had an amazing voice.

Frogs In Love

The next story was about frogs in love. The animals were very colorful and bright!

The Caterpillar Story

The next story was about bugs; in particular, about a caterpillar who didn’t know what to do with herself. In the end she becomes a butterfly, finding her place.


Can’t see it well, but that’s a peeled, half-eaten banana being carried off by red ants

The first guy told a story about a little monkey playing and growing up in the forest. In the beginning, the little monkey was played by a puppet. When he grew up, he was played by an actor/acrobat.

Katonga – Musical Tales from the Jungle

The premise of this 40 minute show is that there is a Master Story Teller and 4 wannabe master story tellers. They all get to tell their individual stories to see who gets to be elevated to Master. In the end, it is determined that their stories are all connected, and they all become masters.

Tortoises doing the nasty!

We could hardly believe our eyes – and our ears! The male pokes his head in and out and emits these amazing grunts with each thrust. When he was done, he looked like he was smiling, but she didn’t.

A couple of 22 year old hyenas

We were told that today is their 22nd birthday, and that they usually only live in the wild about 12 years. The handlers cleared the lions out of the pen, and placed wrapped birthday “gifts” around, containing food. Then they let the hyenas in. They are a lot bigger than I pictured hyenas, and it was fun to watch them play-fight over the treats.

A "cub"

This lion is a good deal younger than the one in the previous shots. There is a section where there are a jeep and a truck sort of embedded in the plexi glass; if you sit in the cab of the truck, the “cubs” (he’s got a couple of sisters) will jump in the back and look in at you.


There’s a whole section where there are lions on the other side of plexi-glass. They come right up to the glass.

In the barn with the Clydesdales

They also had the donkey from the commercials – the one where the donkey aspires to be a Budweiser Clydesdale.

Did you know that there are no statues of the Clydesdale horse anywhere in the park? Couldn’t find hardly any merchandise with them on it at all!

Festive holiday display at restaurant

These little scarecrows (about as big as a Barbie, but cuter) were really adorable – wish I knew where to get me some. This display was in the lobby of the restaurant.