21. Tampa, Florida

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My family travels a lot for hockey (see: here), and when the Blackhawks schedule comes out and you see back-to-back February games in Florida…that goes directly on the calendar.

This trip in particular started out with yet another visit to my old friend Ft. Lauderdale (basically becoming my satellite office at this point), which we used as a base to hit up BB&T stadium for a Panthers game in Sunrise. I’m skipping a Sunrise writeup because all we did there was eat at the Cheesecake Factory (let’s just say my dad isn’t into inventive fare) and go to the game, though I will point out that the stadium has a Kosher stand that serves latkes and jelly doughnuts at Hanukkah.

As I’ve said before, the weather in Florida is never as nice as you think it’s going to be, and unfortunately that was the case the next two days. My one two-hour chance to go to the beach on this trip was spoiled by rain, and I basically complained about it all day.

Here’s Jupiter Beach looking sad:

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From there, we drove to Tampa, where the Hawks were playing the Lightning at Amalie Arena. Either hockey isn’t too big in Tampa, or Lightning fans just casually enjoy dressing in red.

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Our only chance to explore was the following morning before the flight, and we did so by driving a loop that included the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and the Manatee Viewing Center at Tampa Electric, where manatees that like the heated waters from the plant will swim up close to you. We got completely soaked by the rain, but we saw tons of manatees–a success in my book.

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Look! You can see a teeny-tiny piece of manatee…sort of.

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