The day started out slow. All the late nights and early mornings are getting to me. I drove through historic Ybor City. It might be nice to stroll through one day, but I didn't find anything compelling me to fight for a parking space today.
I drove over to the Tampa hostel-Gram's Place. The closer I got the more I realized that I did not feel comfortable in a neighborhood where no children were playing in the two parks I passed and most of the homes had bars on the windows. That coupled with the fact that I saw no on or off street parking and the funky vibe of the place helped me decide to find a location closer to my starting point tomorrow.
The big event of the day (and quite possibly the trip thus far) was my visit to the Big Cat Rescue Sanctuary in Tampa. I carefully questioned the young lady who met me at the gate, because I had found another location that was obviously exploiting the animals and utilizing a name very similar to theirs. After assessing their motives and finding them entirely honorable, I settled in to wait for the next tour ($25 donation worth every penny and then some).
The tour was amazing! Our small group (they limit the size of the group and split larger ones) enjoyed some rare glimpses of the cats, including the liger and the teeny little cat that is more fierce per pound that all the others. I did get to see my black leopard-but he was sleeping. Even though the mosquitoes were insanely thick and I have tons of bites even with a double dousing of OFF!, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute!!!
Drove on down to Bradenton and checked into the EconoLodge. It is nice and clean for an older location. The staff, Andrea, was amazingly accommodating and knowledgeable about the area.
I drove across the highway for dinner. I ordered a clam strip meal from Long John Silvers. Sometimes something familiar is the best meal you can chose. We don't have LJS where I live, so this is novel for me even though I know I love these little prizes.
ROUTE:FL 688 East>I 275 North> I 4 East> wandering downtown area>Hilsborough West> Sheldon North>Citrus Park East>Easy St South and then North>CR 587 South>US 41 South>FL 64 East
Lodging: EconoLodge Bradenton
Meals: Long John Silver's (***Food *Service)
Attractions: Historic Ybor City and Big Cat Rescue Sanctuary
$$$: $41 Motel $25 Tour $10 Souvenir $25 Fuel $6 Dinner = $107