Florida Part II — The Bowling Ball House

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Such is life’s journey, on the way to one destination you discover something else entirely.

Old college roommate Trina Meyer knew that Karen and I were ripe for new adventures and so recommended an artist and studio called The Coral Reef in New Port Richey that she had long heard about but never had the opportunity to visit. Googlemaps guided us there, and a good thing too.

Much to our disappointment the owner (former deep sea diver) was out of town so we rambled about the small, decrepit, but utterly charming, community where we got to see an eagle’s nest, chat with fishermen and, of course, take pictures of yet more Real Estate for sale/rent.

This bird posed for us alight the shop.

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We made our way to Tarpon Springs, shopped, bought goat milk soap and ate a most delicious lunch at Mama’s. Can’t help but see our old friend Ivi Diacou — god bless her — in the face of the shop owner who delighted us stories of goats, sponges and exotic aromas.

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Back on the highway my sister spots the exit for Safety Harbor.

T U R N    O F F     H E R E

ZOOM – made the turn!

Years ago Karen had tripped upon the home and art studio of a group of three artists who have created

????

Well, I’m not so sure what to call it.

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Locally known as the “bowling ball house” for the hundreds – thousands? – of painted bowling balls that adorn the premises.

Along with . . .

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Old Bicycle Wheels

Bottles

LOTS AND LOTS of bottles

All manner of re-purposed refuse from a modern world.

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Todd was generous to allow us to wander around in utter amazement, with every turn we saw something to make us laugh

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or stare in puzzlement

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Since my sister last visited 15 years ago, Todd, Kiaralinda and Heather have expanded into a house across the street which they lease to visiting artists. Todd rattled off names – Jeff Daniels, Black Taxi – along with the songs that were written in residence.

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While Todd and Kiaralinda worked on this new sculpture – made from recycled steel drums – Karen and I toured through the house. Not an inch of space was spared from being “adorned” – jello molds on the ceiling. I had to remember to look up.

P1130310P1130323P1130328P1130339So . . .

Wanna get high?

P1130334P1130329Eventually we made our way over to an adjacent garage and workshop.

P1130305A second Y2K bug had been auctioned off as a fundraiser for a local charity.

P1130304P1130315These pieces use old candy dishes garnered from thrift shops.

Bought one!

And, yes, they ship.

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Todd recommended Green Springs Bistro for lunch where I ordered Roasted Portobello Mushroom Caps with roasted red peppers, fresh basil, kalamata olives and goat cheese.

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My mouth was agape at the massive limbs of an ancient live oak that grew across the street.

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And another that graced the town square.

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Todd proudly told us that they secured a $50,000 grant from Pepsi to build an Art and Music Center, located across from City Hall. An anonymous donor has more than matched that amount and construction is underway.

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Do not miss this gem – Safety Harbor Art and Music Center

P1130318Next . . .

St. Augustine, meeting old college pal Trina,

AND

Sea shells!

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Florida Part I — The Bachelor Pad

Florida Part I -- The Bachelor Pad

Hi all!

After WAY too many years, I at last made it down to Florida to visit my brother Danny where he now lives — in St. Pete.

Always clever with tools and absorbed in all sorts of manly toys, I was anxious to see his new digs.

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After surviving a devastating fire on his 2 acres in McAlpin, Danny moved into this modest little place hauling the detritus from the fire and making room for all his hobbies.

Clever fellow that he is, he immediately created some curb appeal by installing a bay window rescued from McAlpin, a new door and a deck where he can entertain himself by feeding — and taming — the many squirrels that live in the massive live oak squeezed into his teeny, tiny front yard.

Wings on both sides of his home house his antique autos.

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As befitting any respectable bachelor pad, the living room is outfitted with a generously sized hobby table complete with a bench grinder and a bi-plane hanging from the ceiling.

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In the evening we watched “Two and a Half Men” while Danny tinkered with toys.

What more could a guy ask for?

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The pantry is adorned with all manner of nuts, bolts, widget and gadgets and, of course, a Bench Press.

Food? What food?

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Geez — I remember when he used to do this to me when I was 5 years old!

W A A A A A ! ! ! !

MOMMY, HE’S TEASING ME AGAIN!!!

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This side of the home USED to be a bedroom.

But now, as is much more suitable, it functions as storage for his autos — a 1938 LaSalle coop he has yet to restore.

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Behind that, tools, tools and more tools.

The other wing USED to be the Living Room. A Living Room — who needs THAT?

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Danny ripped out the floor so he can house yet more tools, pull his 1949 Ford Coop inside, with room for a lift so he can work on his cars.

What you are unable to see from the picture, is that he cut a hole in the ceiling — yes a HOLE — so he can lift the car and work under it.

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My sister Karen arrived the following day with my promise that we would be able to play tourist during our stay there.

Hooray — TWO against ONE!!!

Danny gave us a tour of the premises including this skeleton of one of the airplanes rescued from the fire.

BTW the airplane skeleton and two of his antique cars are for sale. So is the property in McAlpin located on a private runway.

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Karen and I LOVED tooling around in his cars, the 49 being our favorite, all squeezed into the front seat with no seat belts. Since the manufacture of these cars preceded seat belt laws it is perfectly legal to do so. And, what is critically important to my brother, is authenticity.

Okay, he does not like seat belts either.

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Danny generously offered us one of his cars to drive — an older Toyota truck with a cracked windshield, a hulu dancer hanging from the rear view mirror

AND

interesting bumper stickers.

But no way was my sister going to ride around in this thing, so off we go to the local rental agency. We ended up with a Ford Fusion, a great little car to drive.

Karen took me around to all her favorite Florida haunts from years back when she and her late husband Dick owned property down here and vacationed.

What a great tour guide she was!

My new iPhone 5 (gift from son Bill) helped us to navigate. Awesome!

While I marveled at all the fabulous Florida foliage, Karen enjoyed watching sea birds, soaking up sun, S H O P P I N G, finally ending up at one of her favorite bars where years ago she fished off the pier.

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In the evening we returned to the Bachelor Pad where we dutifully prepared dinner for our host — Pig-in-the-Blanket that our Mom used to make, and Trigger Fish that we tracked down at a fish market called The Reef in Indian Shores.
Since all the places we had been to as children visiting grandparents, had disappeared or morphed into Disney-like parks, the three of us decided to take a nostalgic trip to Sunken Gardens.

Stay tuned for Part II when Karen takes me to the MOST AMAZING PLACE I’VE EVER SEEN in Safety Harbor.

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More to come . . .