Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My Lame Uncomprehensive Tour of Tampa Bay

Last Monday evening, while in Tampa for work, I had some time to kill, and a rental car. Let's go somewhere! But not somewhere too far, because I only had a couple of hours; otherwise, I might have gone all the way down to Naples or something.

I've been to Tampa a lot. My brother went to the University of South Florida and met his wife there; and, of course, there's Busch Gardens; and it it's only 3½ hours from Jacksonville. There was actually a time where I knew the road layout of Tampa Bay - Pinellas County in particular - better than any other area in which I've never lived. (Today, Toledo is the city I know the best among places I've never lived. Charlotte comes next, followed by Tampa/St. Petersburg, Washington, and then Pittsburgh.) So, there isn't really a whole lot of "exploring" for me to do in this area. I know the area fairly well for someone who's never lived there.

But, actually, I don't think I've spent much time in downtown Tampa itself. Why? Well...I don't like downtowns in general, for starters, because they're too crowded, and it's too hard to find parking. As far as Tampa's downtown goes, it just seems...generic. Just down the road, downtown St. Petersburg has a little more character, and also not so many skyscrapers, so I think it's a little more interesting. (Downtown Tampa does have Ybor City, but I've never been there, and don't really know what the appeal there is. But I could have walked there from my hotel, which actually made it a less appealing place to go given that I had a car.)

With that, here is my two-hour "Lame Uncomprehensive Tour of Tampa Bay", in which I take a bridge I've never taken before to downtown St. Petersburg, and then go back by way of a different bridge (two bridges, actually) and a certain Florida-based grocery store:

View Larger Map

Point B - The Gandy Bridge, a.k.a. the "other" bridge-slash-causeway over Tampa Bay. Locals don't refer to it as the "other" bridge (as far as I know), I'm just calling it that because while I've taken SR 60 and I-275 over Tampa Bay a bunch, I don't think I've ever taken US 92 over Tampa Bay. And I thought I'd take Bayshore Blvd while I was at it, because I've never really been down the "Interbay Peninsula", either.

You know...having this giant body of water right in the middle of your major metropolitan area is kind of inconvenient, isn't it?

Point C - The IndyCar race track, near (in?) downtown St. Petersburg. IndyCar has raced on a temporary street circuit here for a few years now. I didn't think I would be able to drive the length of the race track given that part of it is on an airport runway, but hey, it was worth a shot, right? Pictured below is Turn 10, which leads onto the recently renamed Dan Wheldon Way.

This area of town (also known as Albert Whitted Park) was quite busy with joggers and such. The folks pictured above were in the midst of guided tour of St. Petersburg by Segway. (Good to know those things are still in use, somewhere.) I overheard the tour guide mention that St. Petersburg recently extended their contract with IndyCar to host the race through 2017 or so, in part because the race is very profitable.

(Side comment about IndyCar: I think street circuit races are boring and that there are too many of them, but if the St. Petersburg race is "very profitable", then that must be why there are so many of them now.)

Point D - The Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Yeah, I've crossed this bridge before, but I've never driven over the bridge. Besides, why not go back into town a different way?

Point E - Publix (Riverview, FL). While everyone else at the conference likely went to some trendy restaurant for dinner, I got fried chicken and chocolate chip cookies from Publix. You know you're jealous.

After that obligatory stop at my favorite grocery store (no Florida trip is complete without one!), my Garmin GPS (a.k.a. Jill - still going strong!) really, really, really wanted me to take the Selmon Expressway, a toll road, back to the hotel. But I refused. Not because I'm against toll roads, but because the Selmon Expressway is an electronic-only toll road, and I was driving a rental car, and I didn't want to get a ridiculously high bill in the mail some time later, or in trouble with my employer for incurring unnecessary toll charges with my rental car. Maybe if/when we come back to Tampa with our own car, then we can take the Selmon Expressway. Surely, NC Quick Pass and Florida's Sun Pass will be compatible by then, right?

And that is my Lame Uncomprehensive Tour of Tampa Bay. In conclusion, here are some storm clouds.

1 comment:

James Allen said...

Ybor = clubs