It is now March 12, 2021. I have hit the road once more. Yesterday, I left my humble abode outside Hertz Arena, and headed north to Tampa Bay. I did not know where I would be staying. My custom one-bedroom apartment is mobile, so I simply need a safe place to park. As I pulled off for a quick stop on the journey north, I plugged in “Ice arenas” to my GPS, and looked for one where I could go chat with the GM about staying. I happened upon the Tampa Bay Lightning training facility. As I came through the doors and began chatting with some folks, people started funneling in for drop in. My timing couldn’t have been better. I grabbed my gear out of the truck, and strapped it on for a two hour drop-in.
I have struggled. At night, it is the worst. There is loneliness to contend with. I am away from love, be it mine, or my family’s. So, some nights really suck. Also, it has been tough to be traveling, and to not be able to fully take advantage of some of what the places I visit have to offer. I will get there. But, all that said, when I laced up the skates and took to the ice for the drop-in, I felt alive. I had been wanting to play for a while, and it was freeing to be back in my natural habitat. And, as it does, hockey led to relationships. I was on the bench with a couple people I began chatting with, and struck up some early friendships. There is a lot of cool things coming down the pipeline now, with Never Far from Home, all because of one simple 11:30 AM drop-in.
After skating, I was killing some time, and I went to Amalie Arena. There was construction, so it was a little bit of a nightmare navigating the downtown area in Tampa, but I managed. The place is pretty cool, and I am excited to at least be near it one or two more times. I love rinks. I love hockey. I love listening to the stories of my new-found friends on this crazy journey. What a life I live.
Tampa is calling me a resident for the next few days, then it is off to Miami, Orlando, Daytona, and back to Jacksonville. I am thrilled to return soon to my family in Jax, and to once more have a bed. As I eluded to, the one-bedroom apartment suffices, but a real bed is nice. I have many cool folks lined up on the podcast, and things continue rolling in a great direction, one that excites me for the future of the project. Beyond the numerical data, I have found a sense of validation. People enjoy their time with me, and are willing to pass me along to other stories from friends they have. This makes me happy. It tells me I might be doing it right.
And again, I must sign off, as Tampa calls.