Friday, February 20, 2009

Marley’s First Road Trip

Marley tagged along on our trip to Florida last weekend. We left on Friday morning and made terrific time. Even so, I’m sure it was a long, boring ride for Marley. He was a trooper though, riding most of the time in either my or David’s lap, depending on who was in the passenger seat. He was the hit of the weekend. Mom gave him a small piece of cheese on the first evening and made a friend, he spent the rest of the night in her lap.

On Saturday (Valentine’s Day), my sister Brenda and her husband Cal, and my brother Troy and his partner Jeff, joined us to go antiquing in Dade City. About half an hour north of Tampa, this is a quaint little town with several antique shops along the main street. The weather was beautiful, in the mid-70’s and perfect for wandering around. Mom found a couple of pieces of McCoy and we had a good cuban sandwich for lunch (still nothing like the cubans you get at Havana’s in Atlanta). In one shop we noticed a couple items you see pretty regularly at Scott’s Antique Market for half the price they were selling them for here.

That night we had reservations for nine at Bern’s Steak House to celebrate mom’s 75th Birthday. Bern’s is a Tampa institution and if you’ve never been there, it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re ever in Tampa. It looks like an old Bordello inside, with red walls and lots of portraits in gold frames. A little garish? Maybe, but it’s also part of the charm. Bern’s grows all their own “organic” vegetables on Bern’s Farm, raise their own cattle, and has a huge wine cellar containing one of the largest collections in the world, over half a million bottles—be sure to take the tour after dinner (you can also tour the kitchen). The steaks are awesome, dry-aged and ordered by size. Each meal is accompanied by french onion soup, a house salad, baked potato and veggies. I started my meal with the escargot, which was good—the snails were so tender—but, I wasn’t thrilled with the green sauce. My brother Bruce started with the scallops, which were wonderful, cooked just right so that they practically melted in your mouth.

On Sunday all nine of us went to the Lucky Dill in downtown St. Petersburg for lunch and then wandered along the pier and visited the tiny aquarium. Then Brenda, my sister-in-law Dawn, and I took my mom shopping for her trip to Ireland. She protested, but I think she enjoyed being with the girls and having the attention focused on her. And, she allowed us to buy her a couple of things.

Monday morning we went to breakfast and then headed to Plant City, my former hometown, and wandered around in the shops there. We decided to take Marley with us and carried him while we were in the shops. When we slipped into a pet shop that sells rescued animals to see some Chihuahua puppies, Marley was very disinterested and refused to go near them. They were adorable! We then headed to the local vegetable stand to buy tomatoes (there is nothing like Florida tomatoes) and strawberries. That afternoon, we noticed lots of Robins in a vacant lot down the street and in mom's yard eating berries from the tops of the palm trees. Mom filled up the birdbath and the birds came from everywhere for a drink and quick bath.

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