Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

Greetings from Tampa!

We arrived in Tampa ahead of Isaac and then Isaac never showed up!

We are absolutely amazed at the security here in the Tampa area.  Busloads of S.W.A.T. teams last night at the Welcome Event.  Police and sheriff vehicles at highway intersections everywhere.  Security on every bus.  And even this bicycle squad down by the Forum yesterday!  It will be interesting to see what the protester situation is tomorrow when we actually start the Convention.

The Montana delegation is so privileged to have Former Governor Tim and Betty Babcock in attendance with us.  Turns out this is the 15th consecutive Convention they have attended.  They are so very gracious and kind to everyone they meet.  Very impressive.

Errol Galt was the first delegation member to wear the "penalty" hat.  Not sure exactly what he did to deserve that, but we all got a laugh out of it!

Our fearless leader, Karen Pfaeler, is on top of all the Convention details and keeps us all on track - well, so far!  She was clear about the fact that she is NOT our "mommy!"  So don't miss the bus. . . .

This is our Beaverhead County delegation to the Convention:  Jim Brown, Walt, me, Ron and Valerie Fick.

The Wyoming delegation invited the Montana delegation to join them on a river cruise luncheon, so we had the privilege of visiting with and hearing Senator Enzi speak to us.  Great guy - we were very impressed.

And then the "penalty" hat reared its head once again.  (I have a feeling it will not be the last time!)  Our Montana GOP chairman, Will Deschamps, was the lucky winner of that honor on this go round.  Who will be next?

Another evidence of the heavy security - we've seen many of these on the waterways.  This one was patrolling the dock area where our cruise boat was docked (the water was too choppy for us to actually "cruise," but the food was good!).

Last evening was the Big Welcome Event for all the attendees.  It was amazing how much food they served - tables everywhere.  Certainly wasn't an issue of standing in line to eat.

This was for real, but purely for decoration!

There were two of these entertainers on stilts from Busch Gardens.  The costumes were beautiful and fun to watch them interact with the guests. 

This paella dish was about 3 feet in diameter - seriously!  And it was good!

Some of the Tampa "buccaneers" welcoming committee!

Walt particularly enjoyed the "Bacardi" welcoming committee. . . .  It was the 150th birthday celebration for Bacardi.  I think.

This place was huge.  Someone told us they had a baseball game in there the day before.  I believe it.  Picture does not do it justice.

Budweiser box hat?  Yeah, really.

They were everywhere. . . .

This morning we went out early to walk along the beach before "Isaac" arrived.  Couldn't see much evidence of a "hurricane" on its way.  And of course, it turned out to be a total non-event except that it wasn't a very nice day - rain and wind on and off again.  So much for that tan I was planning!

Clearwater Beach decorated and displayed probably a hundred or so of these dolphins in a traffic circle on the beach, but when we walked this morning they had come and laid them all on the ground to protect them from being blown over by the storm.  This evening when we came back to the hotel they were all back "on their feet" (so to speak), so will get a picture of them tomorrow when we walk.  They've done a really great job on them.
Tomorrow will be the first real day of the Convention so we're looking forward to getting down to the real business of being here.  Our Montana candidate for the House, Steve Daines, will be speaking in the afternoon - we are definitely looking forward to hearing him and cheering him on!