While a lot of preparation has been done over the last year or more, this trip physically began on Saturday with my neighbors Sue Ann and Alan taking me to Budget to get a rental car. My initial flight began in Orlando, and a one-way rental was the better way to get there. Plus, a bonus? Budget didn't have a compact for me, so I got a convertible GTO Mustang! Just the car for mid summer Florida - rainy season and 90+F wet heat.
Back in 2015 when I was deciding on where I would retire, I stayed with family and friends in Suncoast Florida. During that trip, I visited and took pictures of my first two Florida cathedrals, in Venice and in St Petersburg. Once I sold my California house, I drove across the country, and stopped in Jacksonville, St Augustine, Orlando, Tarpon Springs and again in St Petersburg, adding another 8 Florida cathedrals. In 2018, bracketing my cruise to the Panama Canal, I spent Black Friday outside 6 cathedrals in greater Miami, and then added 3 more once the sailing was over. At that point, I knew 4 more, which I hoped to visit on a "Gulf Coast" road trip. Pictures of all of these 19 Florida cathedrals are in Cathedrals to the Glory of God.
Of course, the pandemic interfered and then I slipped and broke my elbow as I was packing for that trip. And I continued to add to my spreadsheet, finding two smaller cathedrals in Cocoa and Orlando. Then a PDF from the St Petersburg diocese gave me two more just north of Tampa. Now I had to figure out when and how!
This trip was an opportunity - I would drive to the north of Tampa over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, first to Odessa and the Holy Trinity Cathedral and Gnostic Orthodox Abbey. I knew from Google Maps it was small, in a residential area, and was set back from the corner behind a 5-foot chain-link fence. Single story and light coral exterior, a life sized statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus stands out front. Per the sign out front, the Sunday Mass is offered at 2:30pm and follows the Antiochian rite.
Onward to the Cathedral Church of Jesus of Nazareth, a Philippine Independent Catholic Church on North Boulevard in Tampa. Again Google Maps let me know that the street would be narrow and limited, with the church and a gifted student school set back from the street, but I was able to get my pictures. Another single-story building, an closed vault covering stands above the entry portico. Much to my surprise, given the empty parking lot, the front door was unlocked and I was able to enter and get a few inside shots - I heard women back in the sacristy preparing for the priest, but they were deep into gossip and never heard me!
Having accomplished visiting my first two cathedrals of the trip, I set off to Interstate 4 and Orlando. My next objective is located to the north of Orlando in the College Park area, a brick building raising to a second story hosting a modern Celtic cross. Strangely, Google Maps took me further north on I-75 and then over to the Florida Turnpike. No fences, and a parking area to the side, the Church of the Incarnation, an Anglican Ordinariate looks welcoming. It is a former pro-cathedral, as it is a personal ordiniarate associated with the Roman Catholics. Mass was just letting out, so after taking a few inside pictures, I was introduced to the pastor who invited me to return.
Mission accomplished for the trip to the airport, I headed to Budget to give them their car back, and shuttled to the JetBlue terminal for my first leg, to JFK, and then onward to Iceland. Extremely early, I treated myself to dinner before boarding the late-departing JetBlue flight to JFK. Loosing an hour to transit from Terminal 5 to 7, JetBlue announced that our luggage would not be on our flights. Once checked into Icelandair and through TSA, late arrival of equipment had us out 45 minutes behind schedule. Go figure.