- The company. Nikki is a dear, dear wonderful person whom I love.
- The meat loaf sandwich at Cracker Barrel.
- The Super Target with the parking garage. SWEET!
- J.Alexander's, a restaurant. The prime rib sandwich is what heaven must be like, I think.
- Seeing my high school band director.
- The good coffee at the hotel.
- The linens at the hotel. 500 thread count sheets and down pillows and comforters. Ahhh.
- The crew team banners painted on the walls along the bay. "Rowing Like We Stole Something" was my favorite, although "Rough, Tough and Quaker" was a close second.
- The exhibits - very educational.
- The cute valets who would throw themselves in front of traffic to open your door for you when you pulled up into the motorcourt.
- Downtown Tampa in general. Very pedestrian friendly, tons of cultural stuff, good restaurants. I enjoyed it, although I didn't get to see as much of it as I would have liked.
- Listening in on conversations. Not in a creepy, eavesdropping kind of way, but in a thoughtfully included kind of way. This was how I learned the most, was by lurking around the edges of conversations. With directors, elementary music teachers, parents. Very enlightening.
- The bag of 60 fund raising lollipops I bought to bring back to the Bernardos. SO GOOD. SO CHEAP. SO GOOD.
- The hand carved, hand painted, bird shaped whistle I bought for Jacelyn at one of the exhibits. Makes a myriad of different noises, depending on how hard or soft you blow and which hole you cover. And if you put water in it? Forget it. It actually warbles like a bird. Last night, in the tub, Jacelyn played with it, and there were a couple of moments that had us in tears we were laughing so hard. She actually shrieked with joy at one point. It was all fun and games until she over-filled it, and then when she attempted to blow it water shot straight up her nose. I was amused, she was not. Funny stuff.
- The five cheese rigatoni with grilled chicken at Olive Garden. Sensing a food theme?
- The Sonare TRC-800 trumpet with the Blackburn leadpipe. I fell in love with this horn. The thing is so heavy it could kill someone, and has the most beautiful sound. A pro model horn. From the Powell-Sonare people, who have the flute thing down, so why not a trumpet? I was dubious when I saw them, but as soon as I played them I was smitten. Smitten! And haven't really been able to stop talking about it. Even now.
- Listening to the double reed and low clarinet re-chairs for the middle school honor band. It doesn't sound like it would be a high point, but it was just funny. There a passage from one of the songs that they had to play, a rather simple rhythm in 6/8 time, and every single one of the fifteen or so kids we heard played it differently. That is obviously because 6/8 is not a real time signature (TX Jen, make Jen tell you about that - you will find it amusing).
- Missing our exit off 275 and getting briefly lost in a less than nice area of downtown Tampa. Ack!
- The elevators in the hotel. This is a five star hotel, with probably four hundred rooms, and a ton of people checking in with luggage, and children with enormous cases, and they only had one teeny elevator that was actually operational. The other teeny elevator was broken. And later, both were out of service for an hour or so. And did I mention small? These elevators would be uncomfortably crowded with four people in them, and that's just people, that's not a bell cart, or luggage, or cello cases. Ridiculous, really.
- The orchestra kids in the room next door practicing until eleven o'clock at night. I don't think I have to add anything to that. Middle school orchestra students (granted, all-state caliber middle school, but middle school nonetheless).
- The chucks of plastic from the lid of a strawberry container that ended up in the bottom of my margarita. I was poking at the last couple of sips with a straw and talking, getting ready to bottom's up the whole thing, when I noticed these big chunks of plastic floating around. Choking hazard, anyone? The manager tried to pass it off as straw paper, until I handed him one. "Oh" he said. Oh, indeed.
- The choral students that were sitting near us at Chili's one night. There was a table of about 25 people, about 8 of which were choral students and their teacher. They sang everything. I felt like I had wandered into some bizarre staging of 'Evita'. They sang their order to the server, they sang while they were waiting for their food, they sang conversation to each other. We decided that people like them give music students a bad name.
- The sleeper sofa in the second room we were in. UNCOMFORTABLE.
- Having to leave.
It was fun, I enjoyed myself. I learned a lot and am glad I went. I had never pictured Tampa as a tourist destination (except as someplace to stay to get to Busch Gardens) but it is definitely someplace I would go again.
On a side note, it's funny that as a native Floridian, even when you are not in your home city, even though you are, basically, a tourist, you still can summon up that disdain for tourists. On our second day, the weather was rather brisk. The high for the day was in the low 60's. There was a pretty good breeze, and I had on long pants and a sweater. There were some idiots lounging by the pool in bathing suits. I stood out on the balcony and noticed them and scoffed. And then they actually went swimming! In the pool! In January! I was horrified. For them, by them.
That was my trip in a nutshell. I'm glad(ish) to be back, and am trying to get back into the swing of things. Duty calls. And has left multiple messages and wants me to call back, so I'm going to go do that. Talk to y'all later!