I’m ready to travel.
I mean really ready to go.
I’ve shied away from long-haul flights and out-of-state destination vacations during the past year. I’ve skipped business trips, opted for video calls and tried my best to remember to unmute my mic when I needed to chime it.
A year and some change into this pandemic thing, I’m ready to step out and again start exploring Florida with great abandon as I did my first year as a Sunshine State resident.
A coworker occasionally jokes, I’ve been to more places in Florida in my short time here than he has in 20 years. That makes me smile. I’ve worked all of my life for the freedom to pack up, pick up a cheap ticket and just go. Somewhere. Anywhere. Everywhere.
Am I ready to jet off to Mexico for a looooooong weekend? No. Am I ready to grab a 6-pack of N-95 masks and hop a flight to D.C, San Diego or Boston? No just yet.
But now, fully vaccinated, am I ready to check the fluids in my Fiat, kick the tires, load up on vacation snacks and investigate drivable Florida? Katy, bar the door!
Here’s my plan.
In the coming days I will pack up and head north a couple hours and explore Tampa’s Riverwalk and Ybor City. Yes, I was quickly corrected on my mispronunciation of E-bor City.
My Florida friends ask, "Why Tampa?” I say, “Why not?”
I’m told Ybor has a great entertainment scene and good restaurants. As a bonus, it's near Clearwater with museums, an aquarium, galleries and an opportunity for a relaxing day at the beach.
Help a new Florida brother out … are beach wagons and beach buggies a sure sign you are a transplant, or that you most likely are a former Boy Scout who's really “prepared"?
Cocoa Beach, you're next.
I was obsessed with the 1960’s TV situation comedy, “I Dream of Jeannie.” I’m not afraid to admit it, I love a cheesy comedy. I always wanted to find a cool, random bottle floating along a beach with a wish-granting genie inside.
Unfortunately, growing up in Oklahoma, we didn’t have a lot of beaches, and to my knowledge, no wish-granting genies in floating bottles. I suspect more discerning genies don’t live in Miller High Life or Jack Daniels bottles on rocky lake shores? Visiting the TV home of Major Roger Nelson (later Dallas’ J.R. Ewing) and Barbara Eden, well, Jeannie, is exciting.
Oh, and I'm told there's a Space Center. I’ll check that out, too.
I can’t wait to walk under a rocket and gaze up at the sky in wonder. I‘m excited to check out America’s Space Coast and learn more about American astronauts' other-worldly travel.
Maybe one day I’ll grab a last-minute Virgin Galactic flight on Orbitz and off I’ll go.
Meanwhile, I’ll head up I-75 to Tampa and explore Ybor City. I’ll hit the sand and look for signs of Major Nelson and Jeannie while bottle hunting along Cocoa Beach.
And by the way, this is my last column as publisher of this magazine. It’s been a fun ride. I’m stepping away from those duties to focus more attention on some other company efforts. That’s not to say you won’t hear from me again. I’ll be around. Lurking in the pages of HARBOR STYLE and VENICE STYLE Magazines sharing my adventures. Starting in June, look for my new column, Dave Woods Goes – Travel tips, tricks and hacks from a guy who loves to GO!
Dave Woods is Regional Digital Advertising Manager for Sun Coast Media Group