A Gram-tastic Hostel and Twin Bayside Gems

March 29, 2022, Spring Hill, FL- I sat patiently on one of the rock benches outside the Dali Museum, whilst a budding model was having a short photo shoot on the limestone pillar that is one of the building’s supports. Once it was completed, her photographer came over and asked if I would be so kind as to take a photo of the two of them and their male friend. I agreed, and as they were delighted with my photograph, a couple of shots of me at the rock pillar were taken. Thus was a memorable encounter with Kellie, Tyler and the model, who wouldn’t give her name. It is always a joy to encourage young people in their endeavours, however these may look at first glance.

The day began in the one and only hostel dedicated to the memory of the one and only Gram Parsons. The rock/country music fusion pioneer, so bedeviled in his personal life, like so many musicians of the 1960s and ’70s, still casts a giant shadow on the music scene, forty-nine years after his death. Like the man himself, Gram’s Place is eclectic, over the top and leaves an indelible impression.

The Flying Burrito Brothers were an offshoot of The Byrds, organized professionally by Gram and a fellow Byrds alumnus, Chris Hillman. Gram worked with this band from early 1969, until mid 1970, freely admitting he was a bit on the lazy side, while still coming up with amazing material, when he was so moved.

This take on a Bob Dylan song captures both Gram’s talent and his nonchalance. It also foreshadows his passing.

You just never know what you might find, on the grounds of this fascinating hostel. It’ll rank as one of the best places at which I’ve ever stayed. Luxury is nice, but authenticity rules!

It was soon on to downtown Tampa. Parking my vehicle in a spacious lot, I set a loop that took in the city’s Riverwalk, went over a bridge across the Hillsborough River and through Plant Park (named for Henry S. Plant, a railway pioneer) and the University of Tampa. The city was in a fairly relaxed frame of mind, into early afternoon.

In January, 2002, a teenager, Charles Bishop (nee Bishara), crashed a stolen Cessna into the Bank of America building. He was the sole casualty of the crash. He left a letter, claiming to have been inspired by al-Qaida.

Tony Jannus, a 25-year-old pilot, transported a former mayor of St. Petersburg, and a bag of mail, on the nation’s first commercial flight, across Tampa Bay.

This large complex was once a hotel, operated by the entrepreneur, Henry Plant. It became the University of Tampa, in 1932. The steel minarets were regarded by Mr. Plant as a symbol of majesty. They are a point of pride for the city and for U of T’s students.

Once back across the river, it was time to head to Tampa’s sister, St. Petersburg-named, on a coin toss, by Peter Demens, a Russian immigrant, after his home city. Had the coin toss gone the other way, “St. Pete” may well have been named Detroit.

Brigadier General Kosciusko, who cam from Poland to assist the Continental Army in America’s War for Independence, also sought freedom for enslaved Africans, and bequeathed funds for their education and training, after emancipation. Alas, this wish of his would not be met, even in rudimentary fashion, until the 1860s.

This sculpture by Vic Payne is found in various cities. It does capture the spirit of St. Petersburg, as much as it does any other city. After a lovely day in the “Florida Twins”, I was ready for the quieter clime of Spring Hill, an hour to the north.

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