Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Notes from Tampa

I've been in Florida since Saturday. This is my first visit to the Sunshine State. It has been unseasonably cold (down to the 40s at night) but today finally warmed up. It's nowhere near the 4 degrees (Fahrenheit) that it was at home on Saturday. Brrrr.

I had four shows on Sunday at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, for their Wee Folk series. The crowds were predominantly preschoolers, with a few older kids and their accompanying adults. My first show was the weakest of the four, not sure why. The sound techie said that this is often the case. I don't think the kids or parents noticed. Many kids shook Trixie's hand at the end, except for the last show. I had a little guy who was afraid of her from the start. When that happens in performances, I always put her back in the bag. I don't want anybody traumatized by my puppets! Mavis and the baby puppet were okay with this young fellow. That crowd got to say goodbye to Mavis instead.

Yesterday I went back to the airport to rent a car. This trip is in three parts: TBPAC, then two days on my own, then the International Performing Arts for Children Showcase. For these two intervening days, I'm staying at Gram's Place, a hostel I found on the Internet. I've got my own room and bath here, so it's not exactly hostel living. Tomorrow I go back to a fancy hotel, which I'm sharing for the duration of the conference.

I had a pleasant day. I left the hostel around 8:30. First I took myself out to breakfast at a diner, a real one where the waitress called me "Hon" and "Baby." After gallons of bad coffee, I went to the Florida Aquarium. Very cool! They have an exhibit where they bring two penguins out to walk around among the crowd. The penguins were quite interested in strollers and shoelaces. There's also an exhibit where the public can touch the rays. Who knew stingrays were social creatures?!

From there I went to the sign store, to pick up my banner for the exhibit booth--I'd left mine on the plane in Houston. Grrr. Good thing I had the file on my computer so I could get a replacement.

Then I went to a big bookstore in St. Petersburg. I wasn't really in the mood to look at books. I checked out the Florida guidebooks on where to find nice beaches. I drove over to the west coast, stopped to get a picnic lunch at a health food store, and continued on to the beach. I didn't swim, but I did roll up my trousers and wade. The water was pleasantly cold. The air was probably 75 degrees. I didn't see anybody swimming (I might have, if I could have found a place to change into my suit).

From there, I came back to the hostel and here I am. I'll write about something that happened here in another post.

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