Part 4: The Pirate Invasion on Tampa on Gasparilla and Much More

Hey everyone. For Part 4 of my Gasparilla series, I am going to facilitate the services of my good friend Edward Kulinski who did a fabulous job filming (via drone) a good portion of the Pirate Invasion and other on-going festivities along Bayshore Boulevard on Gasparilla to include a quick glimpse of the 3 1/2 hour parade with over 125 beautiful floats. The video is about 18 minutes long but well worth watching.

At the beginning Ed and his crew speaks in their foreign language, but he was nice enough to include English sub titles. Most of the video has background music and Ed makes you feel that you are right their experiencing Gasparilla.

This video is excellent. I could never compete with Ed’s great job at filming this! Thank you Ed!

On my walk towards the Convention Center from the Ballast Point Pier, I had to stop about half way along my 7 mile route for this photo opportunity.

As I took this walk, I had a special bond with the neighborhoods along Bayshore Boulevard. After all this a large portion of my normal daily 25 mile biking route!

I wish I took more photos of the impressive million dollar mansions along Bayshore Boulevard during my walk towards the Convention Center. Almost every home on the bay has some sort of private Gasparilla Party going on with elaborate set-ups on their front lawns, some even hiring live bands and full blown catered meals and impressive decor’. It was unreal. The above photo doesn’t really show all this fanfare, but it shows a bunch of folks taking a group photo in front of their Bayshore home with their friends all celebrating together.

Just in front of the Convention Center and opposite the Bay where the Gasparilla Pirate Ship would ultimately dock after the invasion, was a large area of preferred seating where people played a hefty fee for special lunch and perfect view of the invasion.

This pirate looked like he just woke up from the dead!

Tomorrow, I’ll be showing you many photos of the floats along the Parade Route during the post-invasion celebration along with a surprise celebrity that snuck up on me during the parade and quickly put a special string of beads over my head. It happened so quickly that I missed the selfie photo opportunity. Shucks.

Enjoy the show.

GARY

Part 3: Preparation Of The Pirate Ship For The Invasion

Hey All,

In this video, I walked down the Ballast Point Pier to the “Gasparilla” ship. Some of the pirates were doing preparatory work prior to the ship’s launch across Tampa Bay to the Convention Center where the Invasion will occur.

From what I was told, the ship can transport a maximum of 600 pirates. Thus, the other 150 pirates will transverse the Bay by other smaller vessels.

Just for your information: Although there are 750 pirates that actually participate in the invasion, there’s so many other “wanna be” pirates all over the city on “Gasparilla” day who have equally impressive costumes. The city will have at least 20,000 pirates to enhanced the atmosphere during this big event. “Tamponians” really get personally involved in “Gasparilla”. It’s a big deal!

I wanted to quickly walk the pier early so I could show you the pirate ship before all the pirates begin boarding. I then need to quickly get on my way so I can walk the 6 to 7 mile trip down Bayshore Boulevard. My goal is to make it to the Convention Center before the the Pirate Ship arrives and the battle begins.

The walk will naturally take me a lot longer to do than when riding along Bayshore on my bike! I definately got my exercise in for that day! Also, the 7 miles I walked to the Convention Center from Ballast Point will have to be done in reverse by me later in the day at the end of the event so I can get back to my truck!

I didn’t want to try to move the truck any closer to downtown Tampa as too many roads would be blocked off and it would be near to impossible to find suitable parking given the magnitude of people (estimated at over 300,000) that would be attending the event.

https://goo.gl/images/kdrRMr

Note; Open up the link above to see some better photos of the actual pirate ship.

Picture of the Ballast Point Yacht Club from the pier.

Picture of the city of Tampa across the bay from the pier.

Place where I parked my Truck. Note the sign. Interesting that it has a restaurant in the park called “Taste of Boston” where I was originally from. No…today’s event has nothing to do with The Boston Tea Party…That naturally was a bit different event, for a different purpose at a different time frame!

Have a great rest of your day!

Gary

Part 2: The Pre-Invasion Gathering…They Have Pirate Heritage In Their Blood!

Hey All,

At the start of my “Gasparilla” adventure, I got up very early (around 5 AM) and drove out of the South Gate of MacDill AFB to a place called Ballast Point (approximately 3 miles from the base). I heard that the “authentic pirates” would be gathering there at the Ballast Point Yacht Club to get themselves prepared for battle. Not really sure if I was supposed to be able to get access into this location, so after I parked my truck and reached the entry point of the Yacht Club, I told security that I was there as a photographer to take photo shots of the Pirate gathering and preparation. It worked and they allowed me in!

What a great experience. To see and to witness the behind the scenes preparation of the pirates for battle.

What was very interesting is that I found out thru speaking with some of the pirates, that there’s an “official” Tampa Bay Pirates Association” that’s been around for 115 years. The association is limited to a maximum of 750 “authentic” pirates and it’s very difficult to become an official member. There’s actually a rigid application process to be considered for entry into this prestigious organization of Pirates. Some members, have been in this organization and have participated in the official Gasparilla Invasion event for well over 60 years! Many of the younger pirates have entered into this organization only as the older pirates have either passed away and or no longer wanted to be members. The fees for official membership are steep and there is a large waiting list to get into this coverted organization. There are 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation Pirates in the organization. So in many cases the current pirates have a long and proud heritage in this organization, as their fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers, etc; are or were previous members in this organization. So…as my title states many of these folks truly have pirate heritage in their blood!

The City of Tampa, Florida Was Invaded By Pirates On Saturday! A Brief Introduction

Hey Fellow Bloggers,

This post will be the first of a series of 5 posts where I’ll take you through all the the events that I attended on this past Saturday in the City of Tampa in celebration of Gasparilla. This is the biggest event in Tampa that occurs annually on the last Saturday of each January. It brings in over 300,000 spectators to enjoy the day’s spectacular festivities.

The you tube video I’ve attached will give you a quick overview about “Gasparilla”…a annual Tampa Tradition. This past Saturday was the 115th “Gasparilla” celebration.

My 5 part series of blogs will provide you some fun videos and colorful photos that I took throughout the day as I experienced my very first “Gasparilla” event !

The Titles of My Series of 5 Blogs will be as follows:

Part 1: The City of Tampa Was Invaded by Pirates on Saturday…A Brief Introduction

Part 2: The Pre-Invasion Gathering…They Have Pirate Heritage In Their Blood !

Part 3: Preparation of The Pirate Ship for The Invasion

Part 4: The Actual Pirate Invasion of Tampa

Part 5: The Post-Invasion Victory Party and Gasparilla Parade

I hope you enjoy these blogs and find them interesting.

40 Years Ago & 1 Year Ago Two Angels Ascended To Heaven

Friday January 25th, 2019 marked the 40th anniversary of my dear Grandmother’s passing . Ironically just one year ago, on that very same day and month (January 25th) my beloved Aunt Mary, my grandmother’s youngest child also ascended to Heaven. It’s as if God chose that exact month and day but in different years to call these two Angel’s to the gates of heaven.

Babci (as we fondly called my grandmother) was my mother Stacia’s mom and my Aunt Mary was my mother’s younger sister.

I have such fond memories of these two wonderful women who were always so kind to everyone and who had such a positive impact on me especially during my early developmental years.

No matter how busy these two women were, they were always there to provide to me sound advice and assistance and to extend their unconditional love to me.

My Babci and my Aunt Mary’s even-temperment and uplifting spirit will always have such a special place in my heart. Until we reunite someday dear sweet ladies in ever-lasting life continue to shine down your radiant spirit upon me.

Love always, Gary

Blast Friday Celebration in Clearwater, Florida

Bonding with this live owl. He was so tame and wasn’t startled at all when I held him.

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At the end of the evening, I stopped by a Dalhi Museum exhibit and was able to go thru a complementary virtual reality experience which was really cool.

Hey All,

One Friday evening I linked up with my Tampa Bay Adventurer Friends to enjoy an evening of fun at the monthly Blast Friday event in Clearwater, Florida. This is the first time I attended this monthly event.

There was a lot of live entertainment, street vendors and local restaurants and shops all open in the downtown area of Clearwater to enjoy. The main streets were closed off to vehicular traffic so as to provide for a safe festival atmosphere.

There were 2 bands that provided the main entertainment that evening.

The first one, “The Black Honkeys” voted the “Best of the Bay Local Soul/R&R/Funk act,” first hit the stage in 2001. This 8 piece band have won awards in multiple categories for 4 years running.

The second Grammy nominated band “Fastball” celebrating the 20th Anniversary of their platinum selling album “All the Pain Money Can Buy” which also included hit songs, “The Way”, “Fire Escape” and “Out of My Head.” This Austin-based band’s 1998 album reached platinum sales within 6 months of its release and stayed on the Billboard 200 chart for an entire year. In 1999,, “Fastball” received 2 Grammy Award nominations … one for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. They also received an MTV Award nomination for Best New Artist and five Austin Chronicle Awards: 1998’s Album of the Year Best Video, Best Single/EP, Band of the Year and 1995’s Best Pop Band.

After the event one of the TBA members who lives in the area had everyone over for an impromptu after “Blast” party.

Have a great week!

Gary

It’ Happy Hour

Last Friday afternoon I met my Tampa Bay Aventures group of friends at an upscale establishment called “Sea Salt” in the central district of Saint Peterburg, FL. It was a nice evening enjoying happy hour drinks, food and good conversation among friends.

The place had a really cool wine cellar. It was more like an elevator enclosed in glass, where stacks of wine bottles could be easy moved from higher rows to lower ones to retrieve the bottle needed. Quite innovative.

There were about 50 of us in attendance. Good time had by all.

Have a great weekend!

Gary

The Big Parade and Big Decisions to Eventually Make

Hey Everyone,

Last week I went to the Annual RV Show at the Florida Fairgrounds in Tampa, FL. It is the largest RV show in the southeast with quite a selection of motorized RV’s (Class A, B, B+ and C’s), 5th Wheels, Trailers and Park Homes to choose from.

I went there with the intent to get some ideas of what I might consider doing in the future. No plan to by anything on the spot!

For now I am very content with living here in my current RV on MacDill Air Force Base. It’s feels like home. The base has so many great amenities available to me to use and the location is very accessible to downtown Tampa, Saint Pete and the beaches of course and I have made a lot of friends in the area through all my meetups. The only thing that I don’t like is that every six months I have to move my RV out of the park for 30 days before I can return for another 6 months. This is to not let people homestead here and make it a permanent living situation. I hate moving my 5th wheel as it is very difficult to maneuver as my truck only has a short bed making turns and backing up so difficult to do.

Since I have already downsized from my previous 4,000 square foot home in Dallas to my current RV and do not miss the huge house, I think that someday I could even downsize more into a Class B+, which is basically a wider van and much easier to move around. Ease of mobiliy for me is paramount. I want to be able to get up and go with ease and to be able to park my home anywhere either in an official RV park or to be self- sustain to just park my RV on the side of a road, by a lake, a mountain, a forest or in your driveway when a pay you a surprise visit (LoL)!

One of the RV’s I liked at the recent RV show was the Airstream Atlas “Tommy Bahama” version which is pretty pricey (around $ 220 K) but very slick and had a slide out and a full size bathroom (which is rare in class B’s). The main living room felt more spacious than most other Van’s as it has a Murphy bed, that once pit back up against the wall you have your full couch to sit and relax on. Below are a couple of photos of the Airsteam I liked.

The Murphy bed (queen size) is right behind the wall with the mirrorand extremely easy to set up.

Has a full circular shower and separate toilet and vanity which is a big plus!

There were a few other Class B+ RVs that were slightly less in price (around $ 150 K), but nothing as nice as the Airsteam Atlas.

Another option I’m thinking about is to consider purchasing a park model home which is pretty efficient with a open kitchen and spacious living room space, a full bathroom and a bedroom and a nice front porch. The total square footage is under 500 square feet. The problem is that here in Florida, in most RV parks you have to rent the land space for coordinating and for moving a park model to it. Very hard to just plank a park model anywhere that would have all the infrastructure in place. However even though you arecrenting a space it does cover full access to use all the amenities offered in the complex, includes the association paying the property taxes, upkeeping grounds, prividing security services and incliding most utilities, except your electricity which is metered. These park homes are very reasonable and only cost about $ 60,000 to $ 90,000. The Also, most of the Resorts offer a place to store your RV for a reasonable additional cost. Below a a few photos of a park model. This one only cost $69,000 turn key:

Time will tell what I eventially decide to do but no immediate rush for now. My dream would be to find a perfect location that I like that is convenient to everything. Then to purchase a small yet upscale park home to call my permanent home and to get it moved and properly installed in the park. Then to trade in my 5th wheel for a sleek motorized RV van to store on the site and to hop into anytime I please when I want to get on the road and “live the adventure”! One last thing….someday I will still need to make arrangements to move my POD stored in Dallas to wherever I choose to eventually live and to deside what I want to keep in my new place and to sell the rest of my stuff. Most of the things in that POD are brand new or of high quality. Terry and I previously sold 85 % of the stuff we owned in Dallas when we were getting ready to sell our home there, so this POD only represents 15 % of the remaining stuff.

Things will happen in the future concerning my overall quality of living the dream. I just need to do things thoughtfully.

Love, Gary

Cards Against Humanity! Have You Ever Played It?

Hey everyone,

A few weeks ago I joined another meetup group that gets together over a few beers every few weeks to play the game “Cards Against Humanity”.

I’ve included a you tube video about the game above that was played on The Ellen Show. It doesn’t give you the details of how to play, but gives you the general idea. There are a lot of videos out there about the game if you want to goggle it to learn more.

Basically the game is a fun party game played by uninhibited people (usually over a few beers) who don’t get easily offended by some less desirable sketchy language or phrases. Remember….it’s all for fun.

So, for the first meetup, I met the initial members of the group at a local microbrewery in Tampa.

After we all ordered our first beers and briefly introduced ourselves we began playing. It was a great way to have some fun with a new group of people and to blow off a little steam.

This is Jorge (George) who organized the new group and who has a full collection of all kinds of games that we can possibly play in the future if we get tired of playing “Cards Against Humanity”

The hand that I photo’d above with all the stickers was actually the hand of a local councilman in Tampa who played the game with us.

One of the answer cards ironically had my name on it. What was the chances that I randomly selected that one for the 7 initial cards I had to pick from the pile!

Oh well…fun had by all among a group of new found friends. Until next time!

Have a great weekend.

Going Under The Knife Again!

Hey All,

Remember the bacterial infection I had developed on the right side of my face several months ago.

The infection is now gone, but it caused some permanent scars to my face in 3 different areas, the worst being on the side of my nose.

I met with the plastic surgeon at the VA last Saturday for a consult. After reviewing my case he has scheduled me for plastic surgery to first fix the scar on my nose and then once that area heals will focus on the other spots on my face, so I will be a work in progress.

The surgeon said he will have to cut deep to properly fix the area on my nose and he will have to put me under anesthesia when doing the actual surgery. He will have to take soft tissue from another part of my face to do a skin graft in the main surgical area. So, I will have some stitches to deal with for awhile.

My surgery is scheduled for March 12, 2019 but I am trying to get the first phase of my surgery done earlier if an opening comes up as I’d like to get this all done before it gets too hot down here in sunny Florida.

I guess no Hollywood acting auditions for awhile. I’ll have to stick to my selfie blogging videos for now. Oh well!

Have a great rest of your day!

Gary