We arrived at Sheryl’s lovely home at about noon on Friday, and enjoyed relaxing in the nice weather and catching up with her that afternoon.  We went with her and Michael to a great soup and salad buffet for supper in the evening. 
 
On Saturday, we attended a big outdoor art festival in downtown Tampa, and enjoyed looking at all the art work (Randy really liked an $800 musical chess set, but we settled for something nice for Silas {which we’ll give him in May},  and a necklace for Nickie for $24). In the evening (after eating Mexican for supper), Sheryl’s son, Allen and his family came over to the house for dessert. We talked for a long time and really enjoyed seeing them.
 

On Sunday, we went to the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa with Sheryl (our Milwaukee Zoo pass got all 3 of us in, saving almost $60.). We paid a separate fee to go on an hour long “Ecotour” of the Hillsborough River. We saw lots of birds, turtles and several manatees (including a baby manatee) in the river.  We saw more manatees at the zoo, where they are all rehabilitated to be released to the wild after illness or injury. They have a great viewing area to see them swim under the surface of the water. This zoo is largely traversed by a boardwalk, and is very different from Milwaukee’s zoo. Other highlights include a great sting ray petting area with lots of them to pet, and a place to feed the giraffes “up close and personal”.  In the late afternoon, we went over to Sheryl’s daughter Julie’s home and went out to eat with her at a really nice Cuban restaurant.

We reluctantly started our journey northward on Monday morning at around 8:15, and put on about 600 miles, stopping just beyond Chattanooga, Tenn.  Tuesday we travelled 425 miles, with a mid-day break of walking at Mammoth Cave Natl. Park (didn’t actually go inside the cave, but perhaps another year).  We got just north of Indianapolis before stopping for the evening.  Still mild – 70ish.

A cold front came through overnight, and the remaining part of the trip home on Wednesday (246 miles) was through 20-something temperatures, with very strong winds.  Humbug!  With one day to go, we had averaged an amazing 37.6 miles per gallon on our Ford Focus.  But between driving INTO the very strong winds, and traveling 15-20 MPH through much of illustrious Chicago, we ended up averaging 36.7 MPG for the trip.  Total mileage from our garage to our garage was 3261.1 miles.

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