Sunshine State

I went to Florida in March and it was GLORIOUS.

I attended a conference in “St. Pete” as the locals say, and then my boyfriend Allen met me and we spent a few days in his hometown of Tampa. I had never been to these lovely cities before, so I did many new things. Here are the two that made the birthday list:

  1. Eat a devil crab.

In the weeks leading up to the trip, Allen shared his fervent love of devil crabs, which can only be found in Florida. As he spoke, I would nod my head as I pictured us eating crab meat out of a shell…as one would with a mussel or oyster.

I searched for restaurants that served devil crabs and came across a place that ended up being a trolley alongside a highway. We decided to check it out because it was named Seabreeze, which was the name of a seafood restaurant that Allen and his family frequented during his childhood. It turned out that it was the same family of owners; the restaurant was torn down for an undisclosed reason and now the husband and wife sell live devil crabs and also serve cooked ones out of a trolley.

Imagine my surprise when I was handed my devil crabs:

 

 

 

 

 

 

What? They looked like potatoes! But they were, in fact, balls of shredded crab meat in some kind of red sauce and breaded. That’s hot sauce in the plastic container. Once I got over the surprise factor, I enjoyed these tasty breaded balls of fish.

We had devil crabs again at Brocato’s. The breading was completely different but the inside tasted the same.

Cuban sandwich, black beans and rice, and devil crabs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Visited Big Cat Rescue sanctuary

When I’m planning a trip, I always check TripAdvisor for recommendations. Big Cat Rescue is #4 of 196 things to do in Tampa. I am a cat person and love all animals, so I added the sanctuary to our itinerary. Visitors go on a guided walking tour with a staff member. There are more than 80 cats at the sanctuary, so we walked around to see who was out and about. We were given ear buds and an audio device, so whenever we came across a cat, the staff member would play us that cat’s story.

We saw at least 20 cats. They were all beautiful and they all had heartbreaking stories. The cats come from all over the country. Usually they’ve been kept in horrible conditions and have become sick, etc. Many were in shoddy circuses or were kept as exotic pets.

The cats seemed very well taken care of at Big Cat Rescue. They even get to  go “on vacation” a few times per year in a large area that’s designated for vacationers. The organization is also involved in advocacy, which is wonderful. If you’re ever in Tampa, I highly recommend a visit here. I’ll leave you with a few of the dozens of photos I took of the cats…

 

 

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40 things to do on the birthday list!

BirthdayJune 1st, 2015

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