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Port Richey; Unity Hospitality; A Not-So Mellow Ride; Fish or Wings? Hot Pants; Wildlife; No Twinkies?

This weekend found Your Correspondent and His Lovely Bride driving to Port Richey, on Florida’s Gulf Coast, for the first time. We took The Bus, our 40 ft American Eagle motor coach, and made the mistake of following “my gut instinct” that driving west on Florida Hwy 44 to the coast and then south would be a nice scenic drive. “Jill”, our GPS-girl, tried repeatedly to get me to take I-75, but what does she know? She is a tiny creature who works for free and lives inside our GPS. We finally arrived almost 45 minutes later than if we had taken the route Jill recommended. Sigh…

We had accepted a gracious offer of a free parking spot at Unity of Port Richey. Little did we know that this was going to be one of the nicest “campgrounds” we’ve ever stayed in. (Yes, I know I’m not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition, but it’s my blog…) 

Our parking spot was secluded, had lots of pines and oaks nearby, and best of all, had several members of the species Sciurus carolinensis for Rudy and Gretchen to chase. Luckily, they didn’t catch a single rodent… 

On Saturday afternoon we went for a 20 mile mountain bike ride in Starkey Wilderness Area on a beautiful bike path. My Lovely Bride had not had a decent workout in several days, so she was in rare form, keeping up a blistering 14 mph pace… (which is rather fast for a mountain bike) while I had not missed a workout of late, and wanted a “mellow ride”… This is the view I had for most of the ride (please understand that I’m not complaining, but I was quite worn out after an hour and a half.)

Fortunately, Suzanne decided to stop and check out some wildlife, which gave me a bit of a breather. Here is a cute example of Dasypus novemcinctus, otherwise known as the nine-banded armadillo. This little critter’s diet consists of insects, ants, larvae, grubs, and other invertebrates. They dig burrows near streams, and use their hard epidermal scales as defense against predators. Suzanne asked me to get close to him so I could be in the picture, but I know how mean and aggressive these beast can be when cornered, and I didn’t want to be Florida’s next casualty of an armadillo attack.

Most of the terrain was relatively flat, and the trail wound through pines and palmetto prairie; it was truly beautiful. The trail wasn’t crowded, but there was a good mix of cyclists, hikers and roller bladers. 

When in a new town, we like to splurge and have a meal out; Port Richey had several fine dining venues. Suzanne chose Catches, a very nice seafood restaurant on the water; I chose Hooters. I lost. But we had a great meal, with wonderful crusty herb-covered bread and pesto dip, mussels for a starter, and broiled seafood. (I was advised that wings at Hooters would be very bad for my waistline…) 

Our server, Fenal, was from Romania. He is about 42, and has a daughter who just started her Master’s program in Psychology. He also has two houses in the area, one of which he rents out. We were very impressed by his work ethic.

On Sunday morning, we woke up to a frigid 40 degrees outside. Since it was 57 inside The Bus, My Clever Bride decided to use the hot air from the furnace, which exhausts up from the floor, to heat her slacks before putting them on. (It reminded us both of a Navy drill wherein you jump into a swimming pool without a life vest and have to remove your trousers, tie knots in the legs, and throw them over your head to inflate them with air to stay afloat for 20 minutes.)  

On Sunday we attended services at Unity of Port Richey, and were welcomed with open arms by Rev. Barbara and her very friendly congregation. Suzanne was introduced, and she spoke briefly about the Messages of Hope viewing next Friday evening and her S.O.A.R! Workshop on Saturday. For more information, please see her web site at


After services, we went for another bike ride in the Wilderness Park… I was still dragging, and this turkey vulture (Cathartes aura) was keeping a very close eye on me just in case I collapsed. 

I was less concerned about the vulture than this 10 foot long sunbather basking on a mud bank near the trail…

One of the unusual sights on a connecting trail near the highway was this young Hispanic kid pedaling a snack cart out in the middle of nowhere. We were at least 5 miles from civilization in any direction, but he was moving very quickly from point A to point B. Mobile entrepreneurial spirit in action! If he had had any Twinkies, I would have bought some… oh, I forgot, the unions drove Hostess out of business… very sad…


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