Tampa Bay The Current Situation

Scenes from this morning’s bike ride

The temperature at the END of the bike ride. It was a shade cooler than this when I was biking.

The weather must’ve been aware of the calendar, because it got autumn-like — well, what passes for autumn here in Tampa, anyway — all of a sudden.

It was also a nice day to try on the new UV-protective shirt that Anitra got for me:

I try to do a 10K ride as often as I can. I typically manage to do so five times a week on average.

I do this by using it as my podcast/audiobook listening time. I don’t listen via headphones; instead, I clip onto my backpack’s right shoulder strap (you can see the Otterbox clip in the photo above, complete with rubber band backup).

I do groceries on my bike trips, which gives me yet another reason to hop on the bike.

I also benefit from the scenery in Seminole Heights, which is surrounded on three sides by the Hillsborough River (it takes an upside-down U-shaped path through the neighbourhood, going north, then west, then south). There’s a number of pocket parks here, including this one:

And just to remind you that you’re in Florida, there’s a “Warning: Alligators” sign…

Florida Tampa Bay

It’s fall in Florida!

It’s the first day of fall, which in Florida means “slightly less oppressively hot and humid.”

For the curious, here’s today’s weather forecast for Tampa:

Slice of Life Tampa Bay

Scenes from yesterday’s bike ride

I do a 10K bike ride as often as I can, which can be a challenge.

The weather in Florida tends to turn on a dime this time of the year, and it’s something you have to account for when your exercise involves moving about on a lightning rod in the country’s lightning strike capital. Then there’s my work schedule, which is a finely-tuned balance of ramping up a side hustle LLC and doing the performative contortions required in a senior-level job search (I’ll write more on these topics in a later article).

In spite of these challenges, I’ve managed to squeeze in a bike ride five days a week on average, which I think is pretty good. I’ve been able to combine it with tasks such as the occasional run to the post office and grocery shopping. In fact, unless the store is too far away, the items I need to buy are too large, or if the weather isn’t cooperating, I do most of the shopping on my bike rather than with the car.

Seminole Heights’ seal, which depicts a two-headed alligatorI do enough biking and walking around the neighborhood that my house keys and car fob are separate. This is something that goes back to growing up in Toronto, where transit and taxis were plentiful, even in the pre-Uber/Lyft era, and  stepping out of the house didn’t necessarily mean taking the car.

But I’m living in a place where the car both signifies and determines your station in life, where drive-thru convenience stores and ATMs are the norm, and where the front door of your house is merely the gateway to your car. I don’t think I’ll adopt the local habit of bundling my house keys with the car fob anytime soon.

The first part of my ride took me to that little park where West Lambright street meets the Hillsborough River:

The skies were gray at the time, and I kept an eye on them, just in case I needed to high-tail it back home.

However, that little spot of blue was expanding quickly, and by the time I got to Lake Roberta, barely one and a half miles southeast, the skies had cleared up:

I’ve written about this place before. The road that circles the “lake” — it’s actually a pond — is well-paved and about a quarter-mile around, making it an easy and picturesque way to add a mile to the daily ride.

I had a proper haircut scheduled for later that afternoon at my regular spot, The Heights Barbershop, so I figured it was time to take one last selfie featuring my “Zoom mullet”, a self-inflicted job done with my old beard trimmer:

I’ve been here for six and a half years, and I still marvel at seeing palm trees and other tropical flora, despite the fact I get outside just about every day:

On the way back home, I stopped by the Produce Wagon, who set up shop at 13th and Crawford every Saturday morning (I’ve written about them before)…

…then passed by East Park Circle, which has one of my favorite neighborhood features: the tree in the middle of the road.

One last bit of local greenery…

…and then home sweet home.

Tampa Bay The Current Situation


Seminole Heights’ seal, which depicts a two-headed alligatorThe sign’s up, which means that Seminole Heights’ newest restaurant will be opening soon.

I’m keeping an eye on their Facebook page.



Florida Tampa Bay

Opening soon in Seminole Heights: Wicked Oak Barbeque!

Seminole Heights’ seal, which depicts a two-headed alligatorFor the past few months, the Florida Avenue building that housed King of the Coop and what used to be Florida Avenue Eats has been undergoing renovations. The end result is getting close: a side-by-side corner of deliciousness featuring King of the Coop’s Nashville hot chicken and new entrant Wicked Oak Barbeque’s pulled pork, pulled chicken, loaded mac and cheese and BBQ nachos.

They have a phenomenal mango barbecue sauce that works so well with their pulled pork…

…and their loaded mac and cheese is something else:

This locations puts King of the Coop and Wicked Oak a very short stumble away from Revolution Ice Cream and 82° West Distilling for drinks afterwards. I foresee some nice nights out — once we get COVID-19 under control. In the meantime, I know where I’ll be getting some take-out soon!

(For more info, see this article in Creative LoafingWicked Oak Barbecue opening new location in Seminole Heights — and follow Wicked Oak on their Facebook page.)

It Happened to Me Tampa Bay

Scenes from this morning’s bike ride

Photo: Light blue bike parked on the side of Roberta Circle, a tree-lined street with nice houses.
My bike, parked on Roberta Circle. Tap to see at full size.

Seminole Heights’ seal, which depicts a two-headed alligatorI’ve managed to not put on the “Quarantine Fifteen” by doing a 10K bike ride at least five days a week since March. In fact, I’ve lost a little weight over the past couple of months. I’m fortunate to be in a fantastic neighborhood for cycling — lots of tree-lined streets with interesting houses to look at, the Hillsborough River cutting an inverted “U” through the area, and parks all over the place.

Photo: The southern edge of Lake Roberta (actually a pond) as seen from its west side. The lake is lined with trees, and its still waters reflect the clouds and blue sky above.
Lake Roberta. Tap to see at full size.

The 2020 Saharan dust cloud has also made the weather a little drier than usual. Normally, during this time of year, we get either hurricanes, or the typical tropical “rainy season” weather where the day starts sunny, followed by a torrential rainstorm in the early afternoon, followed by sun. More than our fair share of days has been mostly sunny. It’s made for some pretty good cycling.

Photo: The middle of Lake Roberta (actually a pond) as seen from its west side. The lake is lined with trees, and its still waters reflect the clouds and blue sky above.
Lake Roberta. Tap to see at full size.

These photos are from a place I’ve written about before: Lake Roberta. I took them from its east side, looking west.

Photo: The northern edge of Lake Roberta (actually a pond) as seen from its west side. The lake is lined with trees, and its still waters reflect the clouds and blue sky above.
Lake Roberta. Tap to see at full size.

I think it’s a bad idea to ride with headphones on, but I sometimes  like listening to podcasts while I bike. So I do the next best thing: I pop my phone in my backpack’s “iPod pouch” and just play it through the phone’s speaker.

Photo: “Over the Road” podcast logo — Yellow truck door labeled “Over the Road”

I’m currently listening to Over the Road, a podcast where host “Long Haul Paul” Marhoefer, a trucker who’s also a musician and a great storyteller, tells the stories of his fellow long haul truckers, highlighting their experiences and explaining how they’re coping in a world that’s changing as a result of new technologies, new regulations, and changes in the way people live.

Tampa Bay The Current Situation

Hey, Seminole Heights: Let’s show some local love for Whatever Pops and Bowls this week

Seminole Heights’ seal, which depicts a two-headed alligatorOn Monday night, someone decided to help themselves to the bike rack outside Whatever Pops and Bowls, the gourmet popsicle/gelato/acai bowl/coffee place on Florida, just a couple of blocks south of Hillsborough. In the process, they smashed one of their storefront windows.

Things are already tough for businesses during the pandemic, and the last thing Whatever Pops needs is an unexpected expense like this. Let’s all show them a little love, give them a little business, and pick up a popsicle, gelato, bowl, or coffee sometime this week.

In case you need a little tempting, here’s a list of their popular flavors:

  • banana coconut
  • chocolate sea salt
  • coconut lime
  • earl grey lavender lemonade
  • orange cream
  • pineapple banana veggie (no sugar added)
  • pineapple cilantro
  • salty chocolate elvis
  • strawberry lime
  • strawberry mango
  • strawberry pineapple pomegranate

In case you were curious, my favorite is the Salty Chocolate Elvis, which is also the name of my next band.