a vicksburg visit

Vicksburg, Mississippi, is a shortish drive from Jackson–about 45 minutes due west on Interstate 20. It’s the seat of Warren County and although it’s primarily known for its role in the end of the Civil War, I prefer its architecture.

Found this home, okay, mansion, on Drummond Street.

Drummond Street Vicksburg Mississippi Deep South architecture

And then this beauty on Cherry Street.

Cherry Street Vicksburg Mississippi Deep South architecture

In the historic downtown area, there is the Mississippi River Commission headquarters building, which appears to have been constructed in the late 1800s.

Mississippi River Commission Vicksburg Mississippi Deep South architecture

There is also the Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum. Vicksburg is where Coca-Cola was first bottled in 1894.

Biedenbarn Museum Vicksburg Mississippi Deep South

give me tacos

I was hungry. Not exactly hangry, but could use a bite to eat. Tacos, I was thinking. I knew where to head after a day of exploring Saint Petersburg. Over the bridge and back to Empamamas in the Tampa Heights neighborhood. This sign had me at Roses Are Red.

Empamamas Armature Works Tampa Heights Florida

What makes a great taco? In my opinion, it needs a proper foundation (foundation as in tortilla), and flour just doesn’t cut it. Too soggy, too limp. The tortilla has to be corn, and Empamamas checked that box. Deliciously cooked proteins. Empamamas checked that box as well. Add to the above fresh vegetables, pico, and street corn, and my meal/day was made. Give me tacos. The end.

clang clang clang went the trolley

Last day in #Tampa and it’s been a fun visit. My friend Audrey and I took a trolley yesterday from downtown to Historic Ybor City for dinner.

Tampa Florida trolley Ybor City

The trolleys are free and easy to board. Also tidy, broom swept clean.

Although you can’t take a trolley to Armature Works in the Tampa Heights neighborhood, this is well worth the trip. It’s a 73,000 square foot streetcar warehouse that has been reimagined and repurposed as a mixed-use center and restaurant marketplace. The space is massive and thoughtfully designed. Good stuff.

Armature Works Tampa Heights Florida

the florida botanical gardens in largo

Places I could easily fritter away hours: garden centers and botanical gardens, seriously. The Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo are pretty neat-o.

A beautiful selection of camellias (thoroughly smitten with this shade of pink):

Camellia Florida Botanical Gardens Largo Florida

The Princess Flower from Brazil. Crazy-cool stamens on this flower.

Princess Flower Florida Botanical Gardens Largo Florida

And then this pale orange hued hibiscus. To spend a life surrounded by flowers is a pretty enviable one.

Hibiscus Florida Botanical Gardens Largo Florida

sunny side up

One of my dearest friends invited me to come hang out in #Florida for a couple days, so I got in my little car and headed south and east. The drive from Jackson to the Sunshine State is a bit long (about 11 hours), but the experiences and sights are pretty interesting.

Got brunch at Shore in #Sarasota, and it’s impossible to go wrong with a sunny-side up egg, avocado, and tomato sandwich.

Shore Restaurant Sarasota Florida

Stood under some beautiful Spanish moss.

Spanish moss Sarasota Florida

Also stopped at Bradenton Beach, and the sand is powdery soft. This little guy didn’t seem to mind us taking photos. Life’s a beach.

Egret Bradenton Beach Bradenton Florida

the pulse quickens

Chicago. I lived there for 25 years and still call it home. For the time I’ve lived in Mississippi, I have made a point to visit home several times a year to spend time with friends and to check on my brother. And there’s just something about Chicago, or perhaps big cities, that makes my heart beat faster. The pulse quickens.

I visited last month and saw beautiful lights at O’Hare:

Holiday lights O'Hare Airport Chicago Illinois

Escaped the chill of December a couple times to get hot cider and coffee with friends. This is the Avondale Coffee Club (excellent cider), a newish coffee shop on Elston near Belmont:

Avondale Coffee Club Chicago Illinois

And Buzz Café in the Arts District of Oak Park:

Buzz Cafe Oak Park Illinois

To get my fix for flowers and plants and to appreciate all things green, I headed to the Garfield Park Conservatory where the theme of the Holiday Flower Show is Tickled Pink:

Garfield Park Conservatory Chicago Illinois

Heart.

the manatees of homosassa springs

The Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) might be my spirit animal, if I could claim one. Manatees prefer sandy coast lines, warm waters. They eat a ton of vegetation. Like me (at least for the time being), they move pretty slowly. They also look like they know how to relax.

Manatee Homosassa River Florida

It was a bucket list item to observe a manatee–multiple manatees if I was lucky–and the payoff was this past weekend in Homosassa, Florida. The freshwater springs at the wildlife state park in Homosassa attract manatees when Gulf waters start to cool–from roughly November through March.

My parents and I traversed our way over a bridge to find 40+ manatees warming themselves in the shallow waters of the Homosassa River. Pretty cool. In this photo, a pair can be observed in the lower right corner.

Manatees Homosassa River Florida

These creatures are massive–weighing between 1,500 and 1,800 pounds each. They use their large, paddle-shaped back tails and front flippers for navigation. Every 10 minutes or so, they come up for air and make a fun snorting sound.

To read up about the state park in Homosassa and possibly plan a visit, click here.