Monday, June 05, 2023

Tampa Adventure: Day 3

[Composed 5/21/2023]

We started our 3rd day in Tampa with an exploration of historic Ybor City. To make this a bit more kid friendly, we purchased an online Scavenger Hunt from Let's Roam. The experience turned out to be a positive one. The scavenger hunt gave the kids little puzzles to track down, which absolutely elevated the experience. This reminded me a bit of our horse and buggy ride hack to explore a city: the kids can enjoy doing something historic without knowing they are doing something historic.

Even if a Let's Roam scavanager hunt isn't available for a city, using Atlas Obscura and the Historic Maker Database (HMDB) it should be possible to compile my own hunt with a mininum of effort. All one has to do is look up a bunch of markers, extract some fact that kids need to determine by standing in front of them, and bam! you're done. I can't believe I've never thought of doing this before.

One near-deal-breaker for the Let's Roam Scavenger Hunts is the cost. The website advertises them as costing about $12.00 *per player*. Not knowing how this all worked, we bought 6 tickets and ended up exploring Ybor City for $72.00. At that price, the game was absolutely not worth it. I reached out to Let's Roam and they explained that it's really $12.00 per device. In a group of 20 something's playing the scavenger hunt competitively, the $12.00 per play may make sense. But in our case, of using it to explore with kids where only Shira had the puzzle on her phone, we needed to only purchase a single ticket. For $12.00, the hunt was perfectly priced. Let's Roam gave me vouchers for 5 future games, so no harm, no foul.

Highlights of Ybor city included seeing chickens roaming around (D is a fan of all birds, even chickens), riding the street car (D got to pull the cord requesting a stop) and stepping into the neighborhood museum, where the kids played dominoes together. We saw various building facades, including the old Cigar Factory which is now a Church of Scientology. As we stood outside the building, someone from the church invited us in for a tour. I'm sure they were being welcome neighbors, but we were in the middle of the scavenger hunt and I wasn't quite sure what to make of the offer.

My biggest highlight of the trip was exploring José Martí Park, a relatively small and unassuming bit of greenspace in the area. What's unique about the park is that it belongs to Cuba. The kids and I were psyched that we got to visit Cuba all without ever leaving Tampa. I couldn't help playing tourist and having the kids pose at the entrance of the park with one foot in Cuba and one foot outside.

After exploring Ybor city, we made our way to T's school play. She was in the production of Willy Wonka, Jr.. As you can probably guess, this is a kids adaptation of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Cholcolate factory. T had the role of the Candy Man, and she played it outstandingly. We were so proud of her. Unlike the rest of the family, I'd never seen or read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, so I didn't fully know what to expect. The play had some strange pacing, and so even a few minutes before it ended I was confused about what this was all about. But, when it finally wrapped up, I think I got it. It was a real treat to see T shine and we gave her and her classmates the standing ovation they deserved.

After the play we took my parents, who had joined us for the play, out for Bubble Tea. This was their first time experincing the tapioca powered trend, and I think they really enjoyed it. But, c'mon, who doesn't love bubble tea?

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