Watching a Tarpon Springs sponge diver

tarpon-paul-103If you live in Pinellas County you know about the Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs. But did you know you can take a one-hour tour on a sponge boat, hear a description about sponge diving. and actually watch a sponge diver in action?

tarpon-diver-034We did this a while back and had a great time. We learned a lot, not the least of which was how incredibly long it takes for the diver to get into his suit. It was fun, and educational too.

Sponge harvesting has been going on in Tarpon Springs since the 1880s, and diving for sponges was introduced in 1905. Experienced divers and crewmen starting coming over from Greece in the early days of the 20th century, and Greek culture is still a major part of life in Tarpon Springs.

Interested? Come to the sponge docks and look for the white-and-orange St. Nicholas VII — its tied up not far from the statue of the sponge diver. Or you can call ahead — 727-937-5417. I believe the cost was around $8 per head when we did it, but the price may have changed since then so be sure to ask.

tarpon-diver-106Follow up your boat tour with an authentic Greek meal at one of the many nearby Greek restaurants.


The Tarpon Springs Depot Museum

I recently took a picture of the old train station in downtown Tarpon Springs. It’s now known as the Tarpon Springs Depot Museum. It got me to thinking about what the train station looked like back in the day. I poked around and found a picture that looks to be about 100 years old. The current station doesn’t look all that much different than the old station did!

There was also a picture from the 1970s, and the station looked different then. I think it’s been renovated, and a lot of the original architectural features appear to have been restored. Maybe I’ll do a story sometime about the station’s history.



Luxury RV park coming to Tarpon Springs

Picture a home like this: Granite countertops, master bath with twin vanities and a skylight, king-sized memory-foam bed in the master bedroom, big flat-screen TVs, recessed lighting throughout and a nice fireplace.

There’s more: a gated waterfront community, a private dog park, a private restaurant, even a fishing pier.

Sounds perfect, but here’s the surprise; it’s not a gorgeous home in a high-end subdivision, but rather a gorgeous RV in a high-end RV park. And it’s right here in the Tarpon Springs area, or will be before 2017 is over.

marathon-rvGuy Harvey Outpost Resorts is working hard on a sprawling 66-acre waterfront RV resort in Holiday, near Anclote River Park, just north of Tarpon Springs. The project will cost in the neighborhood of $15 million. It is aimed squarely at well-to-do folks who don’t mind spending anywhere from a couple of hundred thousand dollars to more than $2.5 million on big, luxurious land yachts that can either cruise the Interstates, or serve as stationary second homes when they are hooked up to amenity-rich parks like the Guy Harvey facility.

marathon-rv-2It’s all meant to take advantage of a major spike in RV sales. It’s something that few may have predicted a decade ago, when the RV industry withered because of the Great Recession.

Today, the industry is selling upwards of 350,000 units every year – big motorhomes, muscular travel trailers, and a variety of smaller campers and other vehicles. Taken together, it’s an industry that has bulked up to more than $15 billion in sales every year. That’s Billion. With a “B.”

America’s highways are now host to more than nine million campers and RVs, the largest number of such vehicles that have ever been in use at any one time.

fl-guy-harvey-tarpon-springs-rv-resort-2016011-0011It’s a trend that campground and park owners are well aware of, and they have been scrambling to give RV owners what they want – more perks, more amenities, more comfort and more space.

It used to be that RV owners would travel the highways during the day and then pull into an RV park at night. They might stay overnight, or perhaps settle in for a weekend. Now, those travelers still exist, but owners of the big RVs are just as apt to drive to an amenity-rich RV resort, plug in, and simply stay in one place. They may use the RV as a sort of permanent or semi-permanent vacation home, and back and forth to their permanent home by car or airplane.

The new Guy Harvey Outpost Resort will offer plenty of attractions for those RV families who want to stay in one spot, at least for a while, including a 20,000 square foot club house, bike paths, a children’s club house and a wildlife center with observation deck. It will feature 340 RV lots, all of them 3,200 square feet in size and paved with brick, which will cost around $150,000. Each will have 100-amp electric service, enough for even the biggest RVs, as well as water and sewer.

screen_shot_2017-01-25_at_11-04-07_am1In addition, the company is offering 70 permanent cottages, prices of which will start at $250,000.

The company says the facility should be completed by fall.