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My Cell Phone Ruined my Winter in Florida
Close your eyes. Imagine December in Georgia. Or South Carolina. Or anywhere not tropical. And imagine you are a tropical person. So the last thing you want is another holiday in the cold. What do you do? Winter in Florida! Don’t worry, you’re not the only person wanting to spend the cooler months in warmer climates. I started planning my winter in Florida back in May 2017. For the last fifteen years of my life I spent Christmas in South Carolina–fun times!–freezing my butt off in sweaters and Olivia Pope length coats. And, considering my currently location, I’m likely to spend many more here. But I wanted something different. Something warmer. I wanted to put on a bathing suit–odd since I hate bathing suits, but run with the fantasy. My initial plans? Key West. But…the way my bank account is set up… Key West stays on the bucket list as a place to save my way up to. So I moved inland. Saw Tampa. Got really, really excited. You wonder why, right? Tampa is inland. Not really a beach. BUT, beaches are within a great driving distance. I saw Clearwater. I saw St. Petersburg. And, I saw Siesta Key. Winter in Florida was officially planned. I could stay warm, and visit multiple cities all in the same trip. You have no idea how excited I was for my week away from, not just cold, but the insanity of my day job. From the moment the plane took off I had a smile on my face… Unfortunately…my phone would not let me be great. My cell phone, permanently attached to my hand, ruler of my social media shares, and drug of choice completely ruined everything. Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with: Tampa, Florida Removing the cloudy haze of utter disappointment in my cellular device, I loved Tampa. I’m sad I didn’t get to spend more time there. Most tend to gravitate to Miami or Pensacola. Panama City or even Orlando. But I wanted someplace new. And Tampa didn’t disappoint. I always feel this sweet flutter at the base of my spine when I land in a new city for the first time. Anticipation. Domestic travel is a big deal for a woman who only started solo travel 9 months ago. If you follow any of my previous travels, you know I tend to stay near bodies of water. Tampa is no exception. I resided right along the river for truly excellent views of the city. Especially during the golden hour, that magical time of the morning and evening where photographers find the perfect amount of light and shadow. Where flash is a dirty word and all you need is your shutter. Where fairies dance and dreams whisper “come closer…” Lol. I never miss golden hour on my travels. Great start, right? Well, I’m in Tampa, so the river wasn’t the only pull. I couldn’t resist Busch Gardens either.Not for the rides–I’m not much of a roller coaster person. I went for two reasons, the first being a safari. I figure an authentic African safari is a few years off for me. On the bucket list without question, but I can’t quite afford the trip just yet. If you do find yourself in Tampa, I recommend it. Not 100% sure yet where I fall on keeping wild animals in these environments, but I still enjoyed the safari. The guides are knowledgeable and I got to feed a giraffe! Scarier than it sounds, then it just melts into innocent fun. When six-year-olds are excited and you’re trying to avoid the regal neck of a giraffe, you have to laugh. However, also I went for Christmas Town. lol. I told you imagine “December.” And…here’s where the first disappointment hits. Christmas Town is a beautifully decorated village in Busch with events and shows for kids, food venues that aren’t anywhere else in the park. But it opened at 5pm. I had been in the park since about 1pm. And my phone began to cough and sputter around 3:30. Battery life was 30%. Sigh. Not tragic, I can survive on 30%. I love my phone–LG V10 for the curious–and I love being a member of the Android family. But battery life for droids is comical after about 6 months of life. My normal drill? Limit usage, turn on the batter saver, and just enjoy the atmosphere I’m in. Or run like hell to the nearest plug so I can feed my phone. Of course, we’re at a theme park…no plugs (shout out to the parks that have begun to set up charging stations like airports). So I turned it off. Or…so I thought… Cut to 4:30pm. I’ve eaten, walked over the entire park, and I’m headed back to the front of the park for Christmas Town. I pull my cell out of bag only to discover it’s been on the entire time. And is now at 8%. Insert minor freak out here. Insert several bad words here too. Of course, I turn off the phone. I ride with Lyft if I don’t have a car. Which requires my cell. With the app on it. Needless to say I skipped Christmas Town. Actually, I caught the front it–light snow falling softly on the ground, laughter wrapping around the cooling air. Carols rang from deep within. Old coaster cages lined the walls and small huts created a whimsical walkway. I wanted to go inside… But I also had to get to the hotel. I walk–no, I pretty much ran–to the parking lot and started to pray my phone wouldn’t die in the time it took to order a Lyft. Prayer works, I’m 100% certain, but not always when you want it to. Because my phone died. Just passed out and didn’t wake up. Insert MAJOR freak out here. No bad words, just silent shock. I’m in the middle of a city I’ve never been in with no form of connection to the outside world and no way of getting home. Common sense kicked in after about 3 minutes. I took a taxi back to the hotel–the lot was filled with them, all waiting for their perfect fare. Insert the wandering, and truly lost traveler with a frantic look of “don’t trust anyone” on her face. I got home safely. This is where the prayer worked–when I needed it. Perfect start to my winter in Florida, right? St. Pete, Florida I don’t have a lot to say about St. Petersburg. Why? I was barely there. I hardly got to touch my toes in that beautiful paradise of a city before my phone just showed out, or rather, failed to show up. I learned from the day before–my phone was on 100% before I left the hotel. Of course, I took a Lyft from Tampa to St. Pete. About a 30 minute ride over blue waters. By the time I got to the city? 77%. Told you, comical battery life. I arrived in St Pete for the Salvador Dali Museum, another place I highly recommend. Even if you’re not a Dali fan, I recommend it because the place is just gorgeous! The views from inside take your breath away. Like the city itself. And the museum is an authentic tribute to one of my favorite artists period. More on him in another post… I wandered around the museum for about two hours. lol, yes, I’m that kind of Dali fan. Dali is responsible for my love of the word surreal and my love of psychology. I could have lived in that museum for how much I adore the period. But…guess who wasn’t ready? My phone. Two hours dwindled 77% down to about 40%. And I did not want to taxi back across the Bay. Luckily, I knew the café had some plugs. Unluckily, every damn table in that place was full. In fact, every time someone got up from a table near a plug, another group touched it before I could get there. I mean every time. After about thirty minutes of this game, I gave up. I internally kicked my feet, cried, and through a little girl tantrum because I had plans for St. Pete. I mean, on the other side of the city was beach! Real beach! And beautiful water taxis to get you various spots around the city. But I knew after a 30 minutes commute back to Tampa, I would not return. And I didn’t, despite wanting to. My phone wouldn’t let me. Siesta Key, Florida–the reason I came. Siesta Key, Florida. Home of the best beach in America for several years running. Still rated on the best beaches in the world. I had never even heard of it (or the MTV television show that popularized it) before I started traveling. But once I did, I had to get here. I don’t know about you, but the sound of waves crashing into shore does something to me. The resonance lifts my mind from wherever I am until it drifts over clear waters and worry-less skies. I’m transported to a place of peace. Siesta Key was the crown jewel of my winter in Florida, the entire reason I’d booked the trip. If I did not make it here, I did not want to go at all. I nearly booked my entire trip here. But again, the way my bank account is set up… So I decided to make a day trip out of it. Siesta Key is just a few miles out from Sarasota, Florida. But it’s about an hour from Tampa. I was very, very worried no Lyft driver would accept the ride. I worried for nothing. If you’ve never been to Siesta Key, Go. Doesn’t really matter when. Just go. Beautifully clear waters and white sandy beaches for miles… End of December and the weather was in the 70s! I definitely put on a bathing suit. The sand feels amazing cool under your feet no matter the temperature. One person likened it to flour. Not a bad description. My only advice (other than having a phone that works, lol): Bring a chair, an umbrella, and something to do. I could have stayed out there for hours. The sun wasn’t too hot, the wind kissed against my skin like a cool breeze with a few gusts of power. Light glistened over water like sparkling jewels. If paradise exists in America, Siesta Key is the address. Just…let me have a few moments of sweet memories before I turn the tone. . . . But of course, my phone only lasted about three hours. I entertained myself on my tablet (I essentially refused to use my phone for anything, lol). I read, surfed the internet, posted photos, and enjoyed time stopping. Seemingly, anyway. But, again, my phone wouldn’t let me stay. Three hours took its pitiful life to 30%, even while sitting idle. Thirty Percent. I wanted to explore Crescent Beach. I wanted to eat. I wanted to watch the sunset over the crashing waters. I wanted my paradise. I won’t mock the hours God gave me. I loved them. Light over water stirs an ache inside me, an ache for time to slow. An ache for someone to share the space with. And just awe at the sight. I had three hours. Then I ordered my Lyft, had the best driver I’ve ever had, and settled back in my Tampa hotel for the last night of my winter in Florida. Lesson? Come with two cell phones? Expensive, but no. Buy Apple. Now, I think Apple has some the cleanest (and by clean I mean minimally beautiful) products in the game. But, my heart belongs to Android. Since day one. Travel with two batteries. Now there’s a thought. I own two batteries, actually, but I never with both, Invest in a battery pack. Ding, ding, ding!!! From January 2018 forward, I’ve never traveled without my battery pack (that conveniently matches my cell phones case). Actually, I don’t leave the house without it, even...