Every February, I try to make a point of going over to Tampa to see the Rockabilly Ruckus at Skipper’s in Tampa, I made it last year, but couldn’t make it this year. However, one of my all-time fave rockabilly acts, Big Sandy & the Fly-Rite Boys, played the following weekend at Skipper’s Smokehouse, and that’s where I was heading this weekend.
Leaving early Saturday morning, I took a different route across the state as I made a detour further north towards Orlando, where I played the 1-week-old brand new disc golf course just outside the Orlando airport at Airport Lakes Park. After a quick round there, I continued west to Hudson, where I was hoping to play the course at the Word of Life church grounds, but an all-day festival thwarted those plans. I then drove over to Lutz to play the extremely fun course at the executive ball golf course. It was only my second time there, and it was just fun as I remembered it. I then headed south to Tampa, where I spent a couple hours walking along the boardwalk at Lettuce Lake Park. I then went right next door to the play the Riverfront Park disc golf course. Since I wasn’t able to play the Hudson course, it left me with quite a lot of time to kill before the concert, which was right down the road, so I ended up getting in 4 rounds at Riverfront. I then went and got a bite to eat before the concert got going around 9 o’clock. Staying til midnight, I then drove a hour west to Dunedin, where I camped out.
I woke up to a beautiful but chilly Sunday morning, where I made my way over to Dunedin’s historic district. After a short walk around town, I hopped on my bike and went for a ride north along one of my favorite bike trails in Florida, the Pinellas Trail. I’ve ridden this trail many times, and I can never get enough of it. After passing through Dunedin, I rode over the big bridge that crosses the main highway, where great views of the Gulf of Mexico are had. As I continued north, I swear I saw a monkey out of the corner of my eye. Since my bike doesn’t have mirrors, it couldn’t have been myself, but it was actually a primate sanctuary that I had passed. Curious, I biked over to the main entrance, but it wasn’t open for another hour and a half. So I got back on the trail, and keep biking north. I passed through the quaint Tarpon Springs downtown section, which I was at last year when I went to the Anclote Key lighthouse. As I neared the end of the trail, I spent some time hiking and biking at the North Anclote River Nature Park.
I then started making my way back towards Dunedin, where I checked out the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary, which had just opened for the day. I was really looking forward to this, as I’ve never seen this place before and I’ve passed by it many times. Around since the 50’s, the sanctuary has housed many famous primates, such as Cheetah, the chimp from the Tarzan movies and Kongo, one of the oldest living chimps in captivity. In many cases, this is a chimp’s final place to call home. Knowing this going in, I was expecting big clean cages with plenty of room for the monkeys to move around and play. Instead, I saw a bunch of small cages lined up one after another with many a sad- looking monkey hanging out at the edge of the cage hoping to get some kind of attention or even food, as you can feed the primates here with a diet of fruits and nuts. I found it quite depressing myself and was not all what I had anticipated. The final straw for me was when I went to use the restroom and how rundown it was, without even toilet paper. I left there really wishing I never stopped by. I do hope they use my donation to good use and eventually upgrade the conditions for the poor monkeys and animals there.
I got back on the trail southward and next stopped by Wall Springs Park. I stopped by here the last time I biked the trail a couple years ago, and I was amazed at how nice of a park it was. I truly enjoyed the wooden observation tower that overlooked the park and water, and it was cool to learn the history about the spring and how it was famous tourist spot back in the 40’s and 50’s. I then finished the trek back to historic Dunedin where I’m guessing I biked about 30 miles total. And i was feeling it too!
And since I was in Dunedin, I drove up the road a bit to play the 9-hole disc golf course at Hammock Park. This course has changed over the years, and each time I play it, it gets harder and harder to figure out the new layout. Once again, I was totally stumped, and after 5 or so holes that I think I got, I was completely lost and just headed out instead to trying to see which holes I missed. I next made my way towards Safety Harbor to play the church course there, but being it was Sunday morning, and all the churches were letting out at this time, I decided to skip this course and forgo the church traffic. So I continued southward to Pinellas Park, where I played a couple rounds at the really-fun Youth Park course. I was just up here a couple months earlier with my friends, and we all really enjoyed this simple but tough little course. And as with a couple months ago, I just couldn’t put up a great score, even through there were birdies galore to be had.
I then further south over to St. Petersburg for another new course at Azalea Park that was just put in a few months earlier. It was a short fun 9-holer that really made good use of the limited space it was in. I definitely got a kick out of this course. There have been many big courses I have missed on this trip in order to play the smaller not-so-popular ones, but I couldn’t leave the west coast without playing the great Bonita Springs course. After a few rounds there, I hurried over to the beach as I only had 5 minutes til the sunset. The main parking lot was full, with many more cars waiting for a spot, so I drove down the road a little bit, and by pure chance, got a spot at a beach access lot only big enough for 5 cars. I was able to be treated to another gorgeous west coast sunset, and counted my lucky stars for the lucky parking space.