Florida 2019 – Day 12 – “Strap Ons” and Dolphins

An initial bit of indecision yesterday, as to what to do; Honeymoon Island State Park just north of here, of The Clearwater Marina Aquarium. Oh, plus Man City has a game on at 3pm local time. So we did all of the above.

Charlie on the other-hand, just wanted to stay in the hotel bedroom

Partly because of his (actually really quite bad) sunburn, and partly because he’s a teenager and NEEDS wifi! Tough luck, kiddo, you’re not stopping in!

We eventually got going, and having skipped breakfast, drove back across to the mainland before heading the short trip (half an hour’ish) north, before another long causeway and bridge to Honeymoon.

Originally part of a larger “barrier island” Honeymoon was separated from the southern section after a major hurricane, which swept away a narrow strip of land, creating the eponymously titled “Hurricane Pass”.

The Honeymoon Island name comes from 1940s marketeers flogging “nookie hut holidays” (my term) to newlyweds, by the way. It’s beautiful. And would still be a great place for “nookie hut holidays” if you’re ever fancy one.

We met up with the F’s and then headed to the north car park, where the nature trails begin, and set off on a walk.

A number of valuable reminders were dolled out:

1. kids don’t like not having WiFi

2. Kids don’t like walking. Anywhere. Ever

3. kids don’t like nature trails at the best of times, more so when sunburned to hell and it’s circa 89 Fahrenheit

4. Along with rattlesnakes and tortoises, there are mosquitoes

5. Mosquitos like the blood of an Englishman. Or woman.

We did see lots of nice birds, an owls nest, and a few ospreys, including a nesting youngster. I appreciated that. Not sure the kids did, though.

The beaches are stunning and the water is tropically blue, and contains stingray, jellyfish and shark. It was therefore decided that we would “look but don’t touch” for a while, before heading back to the car. It was ridiculously hot, to be fair.

We drove back into Clearwater, parked up and headed for a bite to eat. Timing of our late lunch meant that it happened to coincide with the kick off of the Man City v Spurs Champions League Quater Final Second Leg, where City trailed by a single goal, having spurned chances to get an all-important away goal or two.

I watched a ridiculous first half of football, whilst trying to eat a bowl of clam chowder. Ridiculous because for the first 22 minutes, every attack by both sides seemed to result in a goal!

At half time, we needed to leave for the Aquarium, where we were buying the half-priced 4pm-8pm tickets.

A short drive, and we were parked up. I connected to their WiFi and tunes in to the game. In this short space of time City scored to lead on aggregate, and then Spurs scored after the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) showed all but the most telling of clips to the on-field ref, who ruled that the goal should stand.

The clip that wasn’t shown to the ref, shows the ball hitting the elbow of the Spurs player, before hitting his hip and deflecting in, thus handball, so the goal should have been ruled out, if you are at all interested.

The second half almost over and City led 4-3 on the night, but with Spurs having the 1-0 home and the away goals, meant that City still needed another goal to go through.

Going in to injury time, we were just entering the aquarium lobby, when Sergio Aguero squared the ball to Raheem Sterling, who slotted home to score a goal that meant we were leading overall and would progress to the Semi-Finals.

A last second winner!? I confess I went berserk and had the whole lobby staring at me as I jumped, punched the air, and according to Jane, whooped and screamed “like an American”!

The WiFi cut out for a moment, but this game Charlie time to show his total embarrasment at my behaviour. Wow! What a game!

The WiFi cut back in. VAR had been used to review the goal and the referee had correctly ruled that Sergio was marginally offside as he played the ball to Sterling and as such the goal had been disallowed. Devastated. We were out of the Champions League.

I really do think VAR is going to negatively affect the match-going fan, yet benefit the armchair-watchers. My later tweet was my take on it.

It did mean that my enthusiasm for learning about the rescue work that the Clearwater Marina Aquarium (CMA) carries out was dampened. And even the sight of two playful otters didn’t raise my spirits.

The CMA is where Winter, the tailless dolphin, star of “A Dolphins Tale” and Hope, co-star of the creatively-titled “A Dolphins Tale 2”, live.

I can at least say that I have seen Winter the tailless dolphin’s ‘strap-on’. His prosthetic tail fins attach to his peduncle (yes, that’s a real part) and allow him to swim like, well, a dolphin.

After a few hours there, we said our final Goodbyes to the F’s who were heading back to their villa in Orlando, before flying home (like us) on Friday evening.

With us remaining in Clearwater until Friday morning, Jane, Charlie and I headed over to Saltys for tea, where I had the most appropriate beer I could have had, “Blue Moon”.

Our server was a young Texan lad, who continuously addresses Jane as Darlin’. I got the distinct impression Jane was not impressed.

We timed our eating to perfection, such that after “settling the check” we walked across the road to watch the sun go down, before heading back to Sand Key for the night.

Last proper day today, but I doubt we’ll be doing much. Jane and Charlie seem knackered, and Jane’s now full of a cold. I may go off and explore on my own. Who knows.

See you tomorrow.

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