14 April 2016--So we left Carefree on the 1st of April, headed north, but stopped for a week with our Canadian friends to unwind at MacDill AFB in Tampa. After months at Carefree, we all felt we needed to catch our breath, get some rest, and re-fuel before taking off for long journeys home.
Cathy and I bought a portable pickleball net that doubles as a badminton net when opened. We tried it out on the street at the base RV park...worked like a charm, and we actually got Cathy's sister Debbie to join us in her maiden game. We also walked down to the beach and hung out a little while. In the picture with Gayle and Yvette, we are all posing as my sister Julie taught us a few years ago--hip up and forward! haha
Went down to the docks at MWR (the Morale, Welfare and Recreation site on the base) to see about renting kayaks and/or boats, and saw these Air Force cops training and testing a K-9 drug dog. I told them we were looking at renting that boat the next day, so to please make sure they didn't leave anything behind that we could get busted for. haha
Rented some kayaks one afternoon, and just as we were launching this guy caught a 32" Snook. It was a handful for him to get out of the water! We had beautiful weather that day so we toodled around a couple hours just enjoying the sights and looking for fish, dolphins and stingrays . In the 5th pic, that is St Petersburg in the background between Gayle and Yvette. The orange-billed birds are called 'skimmers'...really cool to watch as they fly altogether and skim the top of the water with their mouths open trying for food.
Everything was going along swimmingly, right up until Cathy dumped the 2 of us out of the kayak when she tried to get out of it at a shallow spot! haha Unfortunately, I had my camera in my hand, so that was a total loss...but the picture disc wasn't ruined, so at least we had our pics. That is the base beach in the background of the 3rd pic.
Touring the base; the Memorial Park and the gym.
Another beautiful day we decided to take what ended up being a 20 mile round trip bike-ride from the base, along the ocean, to almost downtown Tampa. That guy is holding a baby shark that Yvette spotted swimming along the retaining wall. The shark squirmed and knocked the guy's cell phone in the water, but he said the case was waterproof and he found it after awhile of searching.
That is downtown Tampa behind Gayle and Yvette in the 1st pic. And some more Osprey in the nest.
We really intended to take a week off and decompress after months at Carefree, and believe it or not, this week was quite relaxing, although not in the least boring. haha For our final outing of the week, we had lunch down at the beach and then rented that pontoon boat the drug dog was training on (haha), for another afternoon of fun in the sun. Ospreys, Ospreys everywhere! And we even saw a few dolphins, but couldn't pursue them as the Air Force Police told us when they tracked us down. We had been boating in a restricted zone and didn't know it, so they kindly told us to leave! haha
The day before we left we were awakened by base sirens and a loudspeaker voice telling us to take shelter immediately! There were several tornado warnings, not watches but warnings, so we had to get out of our RVs and go to the safest place in the park, which was the latrines/laundry room. Two tornadoes actually touched down in the area, and one was seen as a waterspout over the ocean, coming straight in our direction. Gayle thought the warnings were telling us to evacuate with our RVs, so she was packing her bikes on the back of her RV until I told here she needed to follow me to the laundry room...immediately! haha She was still half asleep, so took a minute to get her wits about her. haha
Our last night at the park Debbie and Sage joined us to eat in the base dining hall, something most civilians, never mind someone from another country, gets to do. The food wasn't great, but it is a novelty for civilians, so it was fun. Gayle, Yvette, Cathy and I sit outside the RVs for a last toast!
The 'handover' before the departure. Gayle and Yvette beat us last year in pickleball doubles, but we beat them this year in the re-match, so they had to turn over what we are calling the 'Mira-ball' trophy to our care for the next year! We were happy to redeem the honor of the good ole US of A! Back to Canada for them and San Antonio for us for a while...Happy trails everyone!!!