This weekend, the manatee viewing area at the TECO (Tampa Electric) power plant celebrated their 25th anniversary. It had been a few years since our family had been there, so we decided it would be a great outing for the whole family, as well as Joey. We got there to find that the parking lot was closed and we were directed to another lot about a half mile down the road. But, that next lot was full and we were directed to yet another one at an elementary school another mile down the road. But, “Don’t worry, there is a shuttle bus to transport you” they said. We parked at the school and I got Joey out expecting to let him “busy” before getting him into his coat and onto the bus that probably wouldn’t be there for at least 30 minutes. WRONG! The bus pulled up and people started hurrying to get in line for it. Since it was only a mile and half back to the viewing center, Joey could wait. Now, before I start getting comments about how Joey’s needs are more important than catching a shuttle bus, I must add that Joey had done his business about 15 minutes earlier, before we got in the car to come here. We just make it a habit to give him the opportunity every time he gets out of the car, before we put his coat on. He did a very nice “Sit, Forward Up” onto the bus like he had done it all his life. Maybe he was just anxious to follow my wife and kids who got on in front of me. We reversed the procedure for getting off the bus and went to find a place to pee. After taking care of that business, we got some beads from a pirate that Joey determined did not require a second look, were handed some cookies that he likewise ignored, and we attempted to go look at some manatees. This is a very nice place that the electric company built to allow people to come see the manatees, learn about them, buy manatee related products in the gift shop, enjoy butterfly gardens, and even experience a hurricane simulator. But, it was built for the normal crowd of maybe a couple hundred on a single day. With the few thousand that were there today, it was squeezing room only. We made our way onto the main viewing deck over the water but there weren’t any manatees in the area. We did see a lot of activity in the water a few hundred feet away. There was another walkway heading out that direction, so we squeezed our way off the main deck to work our way down that way. Joey did very well, only paying attention to the smallest kids, the ones about as tall as he is. In this sea of bodies, everybody else was just legs and butts to him. There was a small open space where people were taking pictures of their kids with somebody in a manatee costume. I walked Joey thru that space in between pictures, allowing him a good look at the costume. Joey gave that manatee the same attention he gave the pirate, none. Out on the walkway to the other viewing area we were heading to, it was just as crowded. A few manatees swam fairly close to us, but most were still on the far side of the channel. We saw a bunch of fish and stingrays swimming, and even a couple sharks. To be honest, it was probably the same shark, twice. Joey either didn’t see, or didn’t care about what was in the water. He was very interested in the pelican that flew very close in front of us. The only other thing to merit any attention from Joey was the popcorn being dropped all over. He didn’t seem to care how many people had stepped on it, he wanted it. And I wouldn’t let him have it. I’m sure he was able to snag a few pieces when I wasn’t looking, but I did my best.
Maybe he should have been named