Friday, November 7, 2014

A “Bubba Gump” Sunset


Sunsets in Florida are just awesome, no doubt about it!  Today we went on a road trip….south to Fort De Soto Park, the largest park within the Pinellas County Park System, and the furthermost southern park.  Where we live we are just into Pasco County, just south of us is Pinellas County, the county our last two homes were in.  Fort Desoto is in the southern most tip of the county, at the entrance to Tampa Bay.


Here is the entrance to Tampa Bay….


….right through the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, officially called the Bob Graham Sunshine Skyway Bridge after the Governor who was the sitting Governor during its construction.  This is the second Sunshine Skyway Bridge, the first one built in the early 1950’s, opening in 1954 to traffic.  That bridge was severely damaged (structural collapse) in a collision by the inbound freighter Summit Venture in 1980, that killed 35 and the bridge’s useful life.  Four months prior to that, the US Coast Guard Cutter Blackthorn ran head-on with the tanker Capricorn...capsizing the Blackthorn resulting in the death of 23 crew members.  The newer Sunshine Skyway Bridge was open in 1987, and had some structural damage due to corrosion which was corrected in 2004, and was repainted in 2008.


So why did we load up the kids and head south?  Well, someone is having a birthday later this month, much later, and as a Landry’s Select Club Member, $25 was put on our Landry’s card which needed to be used by mid-December.  There are essentially two places in the Tampa area that we can use the Landry’s card, at the fancy Chart House restaurant (white table cloth dining), or at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company…..we picked the latter, and I think Bubba liked the idea (of course, they had to wait in the car in the covered parking deck.  This Bubba Gump’s is in Madeira Beach, not too many miles north of Fort DeSoto.

2b     2c

We decided to take the scenic route along Alt-19 to Clearwater, then over the bridge to Clearwater Beach and south along highway 699.  

2d     2e

This takes us right by the "worldwide spiritual headquarters" of the Church of Scientology.


During the winter season, which is coming upon us here real soon now, this bridge between the city of Clearwater and Clearwater Beach area is normally packed.  One of the reasons we wanted to go to Bubba Gump’s today was to beat the winter crowd.  Our trip south was easy with relatively little traffic.


As we head south on 699, we pass many large condos and hotels, which will be running full from Thanksgiving through the winter as snowbirds head south for the warmth of Florida’ sun.

2h     2i

We both marvel at the contrast of older homes, sitting next to, or across the way from larger, more modern homes.  Kind of makes you wish that you invested in a home along highway 699 back in the 50’s or 60’s….could have made a killing at today’s prices, that’s for sure.

3a     3b

Bubba Gump sits along the main boardwalk of John’s Pass Village, the main entertainment district of Madeira Beach.  The restaurant is on two floors, across from a very large Hooter’s, and connected to a covered parking lot.  Talk about the center of a tourist trap, not our favorite thing, but considering it was not the busy season, it was tolerable.

4a    4b

Bubba Gump is more casual than Claim Jumper, the restaurant in the Landry’s chain where we eat in the Sacramento area with the family once or twice when we visit there.  We got there at 2:15, and although there were some tables being used, there essentially was no one around us, and the place was pretty neat and clean.


They had a huge collection of hot sauces on their wall….but they only carry and sell Bubba Gump hot sauce.

4e    4f
4g    4h

And they had a large collection of signs on the walls….and many Forest Gump movie items too.


We both had shrimp, of course, although there are other items on the menu.  I had the Shrimpers Heaven,  while Marcia had the Net Catch Entrée.


Oh yea, and this is what was left of our Key Lime Pie that we shared, Marcia and I both felt it was the best Key Lime Pie (homemade) we have ever had.


Before we left the area, we got this picture of the Florida Fishermen Lost at Sea Memorial.  The memorial was unveiled in April 2012, and the website above has a list of the lost fishermen, and a page in which you can submit information on someone lost that they don’t know about.


Which takes us back to the start of this blog posting, which was the end of our day….Fort De Soto Park.  After getting a few pictures of the bridge, Marcia caught this picture of a fish jumping out of the water, with a Heron looking on just off shore.  We saw many fish jumping, this was the first of many tries to get one….with the other twenty or thirty tries coming up empty.


Thank goodness there was a large doggie park there.  Bubba is at the far right, along the fence, and that is Skruffy in the foreground left.


This is a very large doggie park, and this one is just for the small dogs.  The large dogs runs to the right, just a long and wide as this one, and the cuts to the left at the end of the fence which is far out of view in the distance.  This is the second largest dog park I have ever seen.

6c    6d

Both dogs love the Dog Parks, and Bubba especially loves the freedom that he feels there.  It use to be that had to “hunt him down” to get him to leave, but now he understands that when I call, it is time to go and he typically is willing to come to me….as long as I have given him ample time to do his thing.  

7a    7b

Yes, there is a Fort De Soto, or should I say “was”.  Although troops were stationed on the island Mullet Key, the main island, four other Keys,  Madelaine, St. Jean, St. Christopher, and Bonne Fortune Keys,  make up Fort De Soto Park.  Fort De Soto itself was really created due to the Spanish American War.  Today the wood structures are all gone, but the large concrete structure still stands, empty of everything except some guns, including four 12" Seacoast mortars still mounted on carriages, the only place in the USA which has them, and the only other known Seacoast mortars on carriages is in the Philippines in Corregidor.  Other than target practice, these Seacoast mortars were never fired on the enemy.  The island key was so inhabitable, due to the large Mosquito population, that the fort was all but abandoned after the Spanish American War, and totally abandoned by 1923.  During WW2 it was used as a bombing range.  

Although we did not tour through it, there is also a 230+ site camping area with electric and water.  I think I read that 90% of the sites are reservable, and the other 10% are “held back” from the reservation system until Friday mornings, with a 7 day limit max for these sites.  And then there are the beaches…which we did not get to.  Some of the best beaches in Florida, let alone the United States, are found at Fort De Soto.   Not sure we will ever camp here, perhaps, but it is not in our current plans.  


One thing is for certain, it sure has a heck of a sunset….I think Forest's mama would say something like, "Sunsets are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."


  1. Looks like the perfect early birthday party. Love that picture of the kids in the car. We loved Fort Desoto campground, other than the price. The beach is fabulous!

  2. From what I have read, the campground is well liked, with lots of room between sites. But yes, the price is up there a bit, but way less than commercial campgrounds along the coast, that's for sure. Sure wonder how David is doing....

  3. We love Desoto beach too. It's expensive but worth it. People are always canceling their reservations so if you want to go check the website every day.
    Beautiful photographs!

    1. With that many sites, you gotta figure there would be cancellations. We just don't know if it is worth the hassle of fighting the traffic to get there from here when it is so close to home. There are others which are easier to get to, which are not close to the beach however....something we don't care for anyway.

  4. Nice day! Something for everyone...and a beautiful sunset to end the day!


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