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Friday, January 26, 2024

Back to FLA

Having checked the weather a huge "polar vortex" was going to happen later in the week, smashing Texas and moving east. That should fit in well with our plans to travel back as we'd be behind it all the way, staying relatively warm. It was in the 70s in San Diego when we left. 

Rocco's Pizza. A damn fine pizza, too.
We went from San Diego to Tucson. There we spent 2 night, so we could 1) catch up a bit with Jesse, Russ's son, and 2) eat at Rocco's. With Zachary's fresh in our minds it would be an easier comparison. Both pizzas, mind you, are amazing, so both are worth trying. But I like Zachary's just a bit more (I like their crust better).

From Tuscon we headed east back to Van Horn. And that's where the weather, being the morass of chaos it is, took a turn. Big winds came up, snatching that freezing air east of us that we were trying to travel behind, and sending it into our faces. We went to bed in temps in the upper 60s, we woke to 20s.

So we headed south-er! Skimming along the bottom of the country we went to Del Rio. While cold the skies were clear and the sun was out the whole way. 

Keeping south to stay as warm as we can.

From Del Rio it was back to Katy, Texas then onto Gulfport, Mississippi.

Del Rio to Katy

Katy to Gulfport

You might notice a stop at Dong Fuongs near New Orleans. This is an awesome Vietnamese place that makes the world's best bahn mi sandwiches. Vegetarian ones, too. It was a favorite of ours when we lived in NOLA. We stopped, got in line, and picked out 3 we wanted to have. We were the next to order, watching the ladies behind the counter making up about 10 sandwiches for some customer ahead, when a man came out from the back and said, "No more sandwiches! We're out of bread." I was so bummed! It wasn't like we were that late (it was after 3 pm by this time) but I was SO looking forward to them!

The temps remained cool and blustery as we drove from Gulfport to Panama City. 

Gulfport to Panama City... there's a tunnel under
Mobile Bay.
On the way Russ asked if I wanted anything special to eat. Being back in Florida I thought a grouper Rueben would be nice (if you haven't had one, they're great sammiches). He did some research and found one right off the beach in Panama City. We go there (still cold, and windy), park, and walk up to the place where we're greeted with a sign that read, "Closed today and tomorrow for maintenance." We were beginning to feel a bit cursed.

From there we headed more south to The Villages, to see my folks before heading to Tampa.

To the villages...

Then onto Tampa

We have some time to kill before we need to go to Key West, so we thought we'd stay a few days in Tampa. During our loop in 2019 we stopped here for a couple of nights and remember being pretty impressed. We had a great Indian meal at Rasoi in Ybor. We thought we'd see how it all faired through Covid.

While small the kitchen has a
fridge, an induction cooktop,
and a dishwasher.
Gotta tell ya, it's awesome. We're currently in a residence/hotel in a studio with a small kitchen. 5 years ago this place didn't exist. The area around the Amalie Arena (where "the Bolts" play) has boomed and bloomed. Lots of eateries, lots of gyms, lots of students (we think medical), and convenient stores all nearby. And the free street car is 1 block away to take you to Ybor, and the still amazing Indian restaurant, Rasoi.

Eating outside at Rasoi

...with the chickens of Ybor.

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