After emptying out our 2015 memory jar, I was so ready to start filling it back up! We started the new year off with a busy schedule, including a quick family trip down to Tarpon Springs. Our first stop, though, was the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa. No one in the family had ever been and we used my nephew Carter as an excuse to go, even though all the adults were just as excited.
It was a super hot day and I really didn't dress appropriately for the heat. That kind of tainted my experience a little bit. I was pretty uncomfortable. There were so many baby animals at this zoo! The baby elephant was by far the highlight of the day! He or she was having so much fun playing in the water.
The next stop on our weekend away was Tarpon Springs. Tarpon Springs is a little coastal town near Clearwater. It's famous for being a Greek town with a history in the Sponge industry. I happen to have a lot of family history in Tarpon Springs. My dad was so happy to share his heritage with us. I'm having trouble keeping all the facts straight though.
From what I understand my 4 times great grandfather, Ernest Meres and his business partner helped establish the Sponge Exchange in Tarpon Springs. His partner is who went to Greece to recruit sponge divers. Also my 3 times great grandmother Amelia Meres (Mother Meres) was a matriarch of Tarpon Springs who inspired a mural in her honor. She was apparently an amazing gardener and she even ran a hotel. To top it all off my great Grandfather, Col. Salley, was an engineer who designed Howard Park, which is a completely man-made beach. He even received a Great Floridian Award-an award for people who impacted Floridian Culture.
We've visited Tarpon Springs several times throughout my life, including a visit my Grandad's childhood home. It wasn't until this trip that I even got a slight grasp on who everyone was and how they were related to me. Even without all of the personal history, Tarpon Springs is a really cool town to visit. The Greek food alone is worth the drive!
Funny story about this mural. We are pretty sure that isn't really her. I mean it could be, but if you see a real photo of Mother Meres it doesn't really look like her!
Another really cool stop on our tour was the Replay 'Museum'. It was an arcade full of vintage Pinball machines and video games! You just paid for a wrist band and you could literally play the games all day. This of course was the highlight of the trip for Blake. They even had a Fix it Felix game from Wreck it Ralph!
We finished our day with a boat ride! It was technically a dolphin tour, but we only saw a dorsal fin or two. It was SO cold! We went from the hottest day at the zoo, to the coldest day out on the water. The wind was brutal and I pretty much gave up trying to keep my hair untangled. We still had a great time! My sister and I also ended up with matching t-shirts again, it's becoming a tradition. Ironic because we hated matching as kids!
Leave me a comment: How was your start to 2016? Have you ever been to Lowry Park Zoo or to Tarpon Springs? Do you have a lot of family history? Do you find it as hard to keep straight as I do?