Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Largo FL Area 12/24/13 - 1/6/14

We had a wonderful Christmas.  We helped with the cooking and enjoyed a wonderful, tasty and fun meal with over 85 friends.

This week, we visited the Salvador Dali Museum here.  Wow... like did we say wow?  So sorry that they do not allow photography.  His work is hard to describe and sort of needs to be experienced. The museum has a fairly decent link, however, that highlights many of the 96 oils that were on display.  Dali Paintings If any of you get to this museum, be sure to take the tour by the docents.  They do a fantastic job of pointing out the many multiple images in Dali's work that one may miss, on a first visit, going it alone.  One of Teri's favorites was the Hallucinogenic Toreador which is shown and explained some at the link above.  The docent had so much more to share on this fabulous work, however.  Dali was eccentric for sure and fascinated with science.  He truly envisioned the world around him in a unique way, unlike any other.  Like so many great artists, it is sad that their talent is rarely fully recognized in the years while they are alive.

Next we headed out to St. Petersburg, FL to walk along the shoreline and also visit the Gizella Kopsick Palm Arboretum.  Currently this arboretum has over 500 palms and cycads, representing some 150 species from around the world.    Never did we imagine that palms could be so greatly varied and different.  The visit was both interesting and fun.

Next we were off to the Manatee Viewing Center at Tampa Electric located at Apollo Beach, FL.   Manatees are a lazy bunch, and move little and look a lot like stepping stones while chilling in the bay.  They have, however, no natural predators, (other than careless boaters).  And they are both ugly and cute, after all. We also took a hike through Little Manatee River State park on our way back.  It was a good walk for us, but the park we found to be uneventful in regards to sightseeing.

Our next highlight for the week was found in Tarpon Springs, FL.  Incredibly, for those watching our blog, this is the same town we went to experience the D Box movie in, last Nov..  We headed out to Tarpon Springs to where their 108th annual Epiphany celebration includes a cross dive in the local waters. Any male age 16 to 18 baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church and a current member in good standing in one of the Bay Area Parishes can participate in the cross diving portion of this annual celebration. The person who retrieves the cross is said to be blessed with a year of good luck. The weather here had cooled (for FL and most especially for the young divers) and it was a very chilly day.  The way this works, there is a parade, procession in town, and the Greek Arch Bishop blesses the ships.  Shortly later, the boys jump in the cold water swimming towards various boats in the bay.  The young boys will climb aboard these small boats and later jump from the boats to swim for the one cross thrown in the water by the Arch Bishop.  The finder of the cross is supposed to be blessed for the following year.  Lots of tradition and excitement.  Fun to take part in.  For more, including a video of the event, click on this link http://tbo.com/pinellas-county/weather-doesnt-deter-epiphany-cross-divers-20140106/
After the cross dive, we went down to the sponge docks where we had a wonderful traditional Greek lunch and also visited the sponge docks and museum.  The various shops along this quaint seaside village had natural sponges of every kind, many that were decorative and quite large. We learned how the quality sponges come from the deeper waters, and how they are cleaned and dried and shaped and sized prior to sale. Tarpon Springs has the highest percentage of Greek Americans in the US (attracted here originally in the early 1900's by the need for their sponge diving skills), and hearing the Greek language around us was not uncommon.  While the 1947 red tide algae bloom destroyed most of the sponge beds close in, there are still some, heading 30 miles or more off shore, continuing in the industry.

Bob helps in the kitchen prior to Christmas dinner
Part of the Christmas fun, drawing Christmas pictures on
a paper plate, while it sits on top of your head.
Clustering Fish Tale Palm-Palm Arboretum
Chamal-Palm Arboretum
Cuban Petticoat Palm-Palm Arboretum.  Interesting how the leaves consistently turn downward at a predestined place.
Palms of all sizes-Palm Arboretum
Stepping stones?  Not....Manatees
Cross Dive blessings
Epiphany 2014 celebration in Tarpon Spring, FL
Cross Dive swim to the boats
Epiphany 2014 celebration in Tarpon Spring, FL
Cross Dive
Epiphany 2014 celebration in Tarpon Spring, FL
Dive off the boats
Cross Dive
Epiphany 2014 celebration in Tarpon Spring, FL
The Cross is found!
Sponges drying on a sponge diving boat
Tarpon Springs, FL