As our vacation recedes from my memory, I know I have to keep writing before it vanishes altogether! Not only that, the hideous low temperature had me longing for those beaches again!
We went to a street fair. I thought it would be the usual boring tents, so I left my camera in the car. (I don't know how to download photos from my phone.) MISTAKE! There was a phenomenal tent for Matthews Wildlife Rescue. He seems to be a one-man operation with volunteers. Based in Bradenton, he specializes in rehabilitation and pest control. He had a variety of animals on display, including a huge owl. He re-nests fallen chicks (apparently the "human smell" is a myth). When he found this owl chick, it had a broken wing. He nursed Marvin to health, and now he's the owl's "mother". There was a big sign, DO NOT TOUCH THE OWL. Its claws have 300 lbs. of crushing power.
There were, of course, a number of other animals on display. These are taken from his website, since I DIDN'T BRING MY GODDAMN CAMERA.
This iguana jumped off the table when a snake was given lettuce. Justin put it back on the table and gave it some lettuce. It was tethered to the table. What was great to see was how easily he handled the animals. He showed us a tiny screech owl. There was a picture of a fawn who can't handle being in public.
For me, the best was a HUGE, movie-sized python. For $5, you could hold the snake. I love snakes, so I ponied up. He moved my hair, then placed the snake across my shoulders. I was holding its head in one hand, and Justin told me to keep him away from my face. The snake twined around my right leg. One woman was virtually screaming, her hands over her mouth. Here's a funny website photo. You can't really see how big the python is. Have to say I had tight shoulders, and have a fuckton of python on my shoulders was really pleasant.
It's actually bigger now. The woman who was freaking out was saying, "How can you touch that thing?" Jeff doesn't like snakes, but not to that extent. I would urge folks reading this to send donations to Justin Matthews. He does presentations for schools, teaching kids to respect animals.
Jeff went into this incredible shell store to buy a gift for his sister. The owner was an old coot, who took me through dozens of shells. There was a family with a large beaded dragon lizard on the son's shoulder. He put the dragon on my shirt. "If he shits on me, I'll have the honor of wearing dragon poop," I said.
We went to a wheatgrass stand. Jeff loves the stuff. I tried some, and proceeded to have a toddler-level attack of EEYUW BLECH! I ran to a fudge stall and wolfed down several samples. Then I had to buy a package of maple fudge (go ahead, twist my arm).
From there, we drove to a St. Petersburg beach. The water was PERFECT, and there was a swimmer in the ocean. I started tearing off my clothes, the way I had in Miami a few years ago, when I raced into the ocean in my bra and panties. Jeff sat on a blanket, trying to figure out what he'd tell the police. This time, he came racing down the beach, yelling "You promised! You promised!" So I put my clothes back on, and bust out crying. It felt like wanting a drink, that's how intense it was.
But the air was too cold, we had no towel. Thank God, Jeff started laughing and put his arms around me when we walked back to the car. As he said the other time, "you are never boring". I couldn't stop crying. I wanted the ocean. Thank God our hotel had a pool.
Next installment sooner, I promise!!!