Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Fort De Soto and Courtney Campbell Causeway

6:24 AM from my window. Third floor, top, of the Extended Stay America, Tampa Airport.  A highway is just beyond those trees.
 Pool view, too.  I did the usual charade of lying down again.  Said to myself, "Self, its the longest day of the year, try to make the most of it"  Breakfast here is "Grab and go" Right up my alley.  Grabbed a cup of coffee, an orange, an apple, a Quaker Oats Granola Bar, and an Otis My Man Spunkmeyer chocolate muffin and headed to Fort De Soto.  31 miles away.
A wrong turn from the hotel, a stop for gas and I was walking out on the Bay (Tampa) Pier at

Checking conditions for a paddle to Egmont Key.
 Too windy for my liking. Of course, that probably meant is was smooth on the Gulf side, which is a shorter paddle. ( I think)

 I put in where I usually do. On Soldier's Hole, near the renal concession.   Kept a lookout for raccoons.  One tried to steal my cooler last time.  Almost succeeded
Under way at 8:11

Small keys

Old Glory, Sunshine Skyway


Into Mullet Bayou. Here's a map  Click on satellite for a truer view.   From this site. Which I find interesting and helpful.

 I'd like to hear the story behind this. Quite the toss.  Distant shot of the boot tree, below.


In the cove at the top of the left "toe". See the map, above.

Short paddle into the mangroves

One of many crabs
 Back to the cove

Too many fast boats for my liking to cross the channel to Shell Key, so I headed back

Fort ruins as rip rap

 Arrowhead Picnic area. Anglers attract egrets



A bald eagle was building the nest my last visit.  Did not see any this time



Great day for great egrets





The rental concession landing

 The YakDave landing. High noon.  To hot for a bike ride, I  just walked up to the top of the Fort
Which had been closed my last couple of visits

Someday I'll line up the vents with the Skyway tower.


Back at sea level
 Always good to see the family
And, successfully operate the self timer
 On the way back to the hotel, I decided to stop for lunch.  My friend, John H. has done carpentry and other work at the Chattaway in St. Petersburg.  From his pictures, I assume it was on the beach.  Thanks to the WWW, I discovered it is not on the beach.  It is in a neighborhood, and has been in existence since 1921.
I found it.
Decided it was better to sit under a fan.  From what I read on line, mostly all outdoor seating
I also read about the namesake hamburger, the Chattaburger.  When at a restaurant for the first time, I think ordering the namesake item is a must.  As my waitress went over the beer selection, I thought, "I always have beer"  On the specials board, Sangria , $5 glass, $20 pitcher
 I had a glass
The Chattaburger
Drink, food, and Music   And, John.  I wished him Happy Birthday.  It was Friday.  He showed me some of the work he has done at the place. Told me the sax player was pretty good. "Plays Dave Brubeck"  On cue, Paul Desmond
Although it his birthday weekend, John bought me lunch.  My waitress came by and said, "It's taken care of" I ordered a pitcher of sangria.      Just kidding

John showed me the tearoom, inside dining. The owner is from England.
 My Mom would love it.
Give me funky Old Florida


 Back to my suite

Time for the traditional Yak Tales tour

$50.00 a night on Hotwire. With the Hillsborough County 12% room tax and Hotwire fees the total was $121.77.  For a large suite with a full kitchen. I read in online reviews that you need to ask the front desk for pots and pans. I asked on Friday upon checking in.  "Oh, they are there, unless the last person took them".  I had to call and go down to get a kettle and frying pan.  Stocked with plates, cups, glasses and cutlery, but no cooking equipment.  The front desk is good about giving you what you need.  I forgot toothpaste, and there was only one kitchen towel.  On Saturday I asked for, and received, another towel, toothpaste, and a sponge.
In preparing for the weekend, I discovered there is now a bike path along the Hillsborough County half of the Courtney Campbell Causeway.  The Pineallas County half is not complete.  I also read there is a trail from Cypress Point Park to the Causeway. There is also a kayak launch.  Off to Cypress Point Park.
 There is a short trail in the Park.  I went the wrong way.  Towards the Howard Franklin Bridge, I-275. Trail ended in a business area. I turned around.
 In the other, correct, direction, the trail ends at the beach.  At least the path I was on.
Maybe you need to fly.  I drove to the Causeway.  Missed the turn off for the Ben Davis Beach parking on the south side of the Causeway.  Had to drive about two miles before I could turn around.
 Then, the parking meter was not in service.  Drove to the next one.  Also down.   Took a picture in case I needed to talk to a judge.  There is a crosswalk near where I parked.   I assumed the path was on the other side of the Causeway.  I was to find out it is on both.  Started on the north side.
The first part is bikes only.  But then, you share it with cars.  Which I did not hear until they got close on a windy evening.  Most were nice, obeying the 15 MPH limit.  One jerk in a big pick up going fast.
 This potion of the trail is the frontage road that has been there for years, newly paved and marked.
There is a cross over before the new section.
 Biking and walking, running only bridge.
Over Tampa Bay

At the top of the bridge I thought about turning around.  But that would be wrong.  Down the hill I went.
 I did not go to the current end of the trail at the county line.
The ride back, even uphill, was easier.  Wind at my back

Stopped several times for sunset shots

And clouds to the east
 On the down slope
 Downtown Tampa
Downtown St. Petersburg

On the north side of the Causeway, cars are on the narrow portion.  No worries about cars coming behind you.  Unless they jump the curb.

 Blue heron
Blue and Gold sky. Ring Out Ahoya

 Black crowned night heron

 Returned to the parking lot and crosswalk.  Waited for the light to change to get sunset pics  without the parking lot of cars returning from a day at the beach


No ticket on the windshield.  A good way to end a Day In Tampa Bay.  Which is a line I used 9 years ago.   Changes since 2004. The old Gandy Bridge was closed in 2008. Falling apart. Fort De Soto now has a $5 entry fee.  I have a kayak.
Yesterday, November 12, I had an enjoyable time
pursuing athletic, natural, and historic activities in
the Tampa Bay area.  I began by going to the Gandy
Bridge, which is the southernmost of the three spans
connecting Tampa and St. Pete.  When a new bridge was
built a few years ago, the old span was left intact
and now is a 2.6 mile walking, running, biking,
rollerblading playground across the bay. Wooden decks
extend along both sides for fishing. I ran across,
then having parked on the east side, had to run back,
for a 5.2 mile run. I thought of running back to the
top of the bridge- the hump is only about a 1/2 mile
from the east end- for a bit over a 6 mile run, but my
knee told me no.  The one drawback about the bridge is
that its concrete, so my old legs took a pounding.  I
also needed to save myself for the rest of the day.
Next, I went across the bridge, into St. Pete,
stopping at the Seminole City Hall and Park.  I
changed into my bike clothes and got on the Pinelas
Trail at mile 10 of the 34 mile trail that goes from
south St. Pete north to Tarpon Springs.  Rode to mile
25 in Dundein, where the Honeymoon Island causeway
goes to Honeymoon Island State Recreation Area. It was
noon, so I had lunch at the concession and sat on the
deck looking at the Gulf. Honeymoon Park gets a gold
star because they serve beer. Unfortunately, they no
longer have the local Dunedin Brewery Ale. Refreshed,
I biked to the hiking trail.  Walked maybe 2 and a
half miles through the slash pine forest, spotting
several osprey,the trail is called the Osprey Trail, a
gopher tortoise and an armadillo.  Probably would have
seen more wildlife, but I wanted to move quickly, as I
had more to do. I thought of taking a swim, but
decided I would do that at my next stop.  The bike
back to Seminole City Hall Park was tough- the wind
was blowing hard straight out of the south. Of course,
the ride northbound had been easy with the wind at my
back.  A nice thing about the Pinelas Trail. At every
4 way stop, the driver waved me through. I figured
they were all locals, so are used to bikers and likely
use the Trail themselves. The risk is when a tipsy map
reading tourist comes through.  Back at Seminole City
Hall Park was a classic Florida scene. On stage was an
acoustic country-bluegrass kind of band- all grey
haired, with a similar audience. Members of the
audience were getting up and singing with the band,
having a great time.  At 45, I'm not to far from
joining those warbling retirees. I loaded up the bike
and drove to Ft. DeSoto County Park.  What a great
place. A paved 9 mile bike/walk/run trail, a museum,
kayak rental, nature trail, historic battery- thats
where the big guns are, not an old Eveready, 2 fishing
piers, historic trail, beaches, and more things then I
can mention or you want to read.  Free. I walked the
historic trail that has pictures circa 1905 of the
various base buildings at their original locations-
the buildings are long gone, but for the Battery. You
can go into the rooms in the Battery where ammo, ect,
was stored.  A climb to the top give a nice view of
the surrounding waters.  I then walked out on the 1000
foot Gulf pier as the sun began to set. Back to the
car to get my suit- time for that swim. It turned out
I was on the wrong side of the Island for a swim. It
is posted "No Swimming, Dangerous Current".  The 2
swim areas are on the Tampa Bay side and in a secluded
cove.  I walked along the beach, hoping to come to a
safe place, but the signs continued.  Knowing my legs
had a good workout already, I did not want to tempt
the sea gods- or the park rangers, so I just walked in
up to my knees as the sun set.  All in all not a bad
way to spend my birthday.


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