I’m not sure of the species of these two trees, located behind the second green at the MacDill AFB golf course, but they are beautiful. We didn’t bring golf clubs with us, and felt bad because there weren’t many people playing, even on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. (Many of the Central Command and Special Operations Command service men and women stationed here are still serving in Afghanistan.) Rudy and Gretchen wanted to get out of the car and chase squirrels here, but the ambassador was nearby, and he might not have believed my explanation that our puppies were actually caddies…
While riding around MacDill AFB, we came upon the Navy Operational Support Center and this monument out front, “dedicated to all the brave men and women who proudly served in the United States Navy, protecting freedom around the world.” The inscription might seem generic, but the second plaque recognizes Steelworker Third Class Ronnie Ginther, USN, who was killed in action in Iraq on May 2, 2004. It was another reminder that freedom is not free.
We also met up with Tom, an Air Force aviation fireman, at the airfield fire house at MacDill. We were out for a bike ride and detoured when we saw the cab of this ladder truck tilted rakishly forward. Tom was working on the electrical system. He hails from Ohio. When I mentioned that he must like the warmer weather here in Tampa, he stated that he really preferred Elmendorf AFB outside Anchorage, Alaska. It must be nice to be young… I just can’t imagine 40 below zero and 12 feet of of snow…
Speaking of past shipmates I have known and proudly served with, I was pleased to find a small package at our door with two leather key fobs, handcrafted with Navy officers’ insignia, from my great friend Master Chief Petty Officer Dale Hilliard, USN (Ret), who kept me out of trouble for two years aboard Battleship IOWA. Dale and his wife Becky hosted us at their campground in Indiana this past summer, and Dale tried to teach me how to shoot straighter with every weapon known to man, including a crossbow. Thank you, Dale!
Imagination Quiz: We saw this gizmo hanging from a gutter downspout of a house on Bayshore Drive in Tampa. I’m not sure of its real name, but I thought that it would be fun to ask you all to think up a good name for it… use your creativity, and we will make a purely subjective decision on the entries. Please use the comment window at the bottom of this blog entry; that way, your entries will be seen by everyone, and hopefully will stimulate creative juices across the country. 😉 I will wait until Wednesday morning to review entries, and will announce the winner Wednesday evening/Thursday morning. Suzanne and I will take the winner and a guest out for ice cream at Peachwave (if you live in The Villages) or forward a gift certificate for Dairy Queen, Friendly’s, or an ice cream parlor in your area (within reason… Emack and Bolio’s in NYC may not be on our list).
We recently received a photo from our good friend Gail Grossman. She had just won six medals at a swim meet in Kissimmee-St Cloud, Florida. She doesn’t look very tired for just having whooped the competition. Well Done, Gail!
Our last dinner in Tampa was at a local sushi bar. We thought it was going to be good because the décor was very nice and the prices were higher than average. Suzanne’s smile was not long-lasting, unfortunately. This was the second-worst sushi we have ever eaten, beaten only by a cowboy sushi bar in Austin, Texas. This place, which shall go unnamed but which is located on Gandy Street not far from Tampa Bay, had poor quality (read “cheap, tasteless, and very disappointing”) fish, rice, and soy sauce (not a good combination). (Dame desumeans “bad” in Japanese.) At least the service was timely and the Kirin Japanese beer was good (it’s hard to screw up imported bottled beer), but these positives did not offset the mediocre food. We are looking forward to returning to The Villages and our favorite sushi bar in North America, VKI Japanese Restaurant in Sumter Landing.
Finally, a stop at the beach near our campground with My Lovely Date for a sunset “photo op”. I call this the “Suzy Cool” look… the down side of this stop was that some gnats or sand fleas gave Suzanne a few nasty bites on her feet; ouch!