Last night I had a craving to go to the Candy Kitchen to get ice cream. The place was packed! Looks like the folks from up north have re-discovered us.
It’,s that time of year in St. Pete when we pinch ourselves and say, “Gee, do I really live here?” It’s October 30, 2010 and life in the little city has never been better! Excuse me if I just take a moment to embrace the balmy days of fall. It was actually hot today. The weather was great for walking around at Circus McGurkis, the people’s fair, with my friend K (since K is a very private person, I won’t use her whole name). The Circus is where the hip and groovy stock up on the latest tie-dye fashions. Don’t look for me in tie-dye though, except for my gardening clothes. It’s an ironic fact that I’ve never been able to pull off the flower child look! Anyway the Circus is also a wonderful place to get an astrology reading, eat some Uhuru potato pie and add a new piece of jewelry to your collection.
Next, I visited the Saturday Morning Market to buy four tomatoes. That seems to be the perfect number to last a week. K and I stopped at he Habana Café tent and ordered hot pressed Cuban sandwiches for lunch: sandwich $4, a diet Coke $1. Great lunch and budget friendly!
I then came home and commenced to making 40-carrot soup. It took three trips to Publix to get ingredients that I didn’t have, thought I had but turns out I didn’t have, and told-my-husband-that-I-needed-but-he-didn’t-believe-me so he had to go back for. When the soup was all done, I didn’t like it. It goes to prove the old proverb about making soup: if you don’t have the ingredients on hand, then the soup probably won’t be any good anyway.
And just to add a sigh to a very peaceful day, I watched the Jon Stewart Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in America. I thought I’d just catch a few minutes, but I ended up watching two hours worth. Loved Tony Bennett singing America the Beautiful at the end.
Click photo to play.
Belly dancing on Upham Beach. Here is a little more information about this: The next performance is scheduled for August 21, at 7 p.m.
If you live in Pinellas County it just makes sense to own a boat. But if you don’t, the next best thing is to have friendly neighbors invite you to cruise on their boat. Such was our good luck on Memorial Day (Thanks Jimmy and Lori!).
Jimmy launches his Scout into Boca Ciega Bay from the Jungle Prada boat ramp on Park Street. He backs the boat and trailer into the water so smoothly you’d think any fool could do it.
From our launching point at Boca Ciega Bay we headed southwest in the channel out under the Treasure Island Bridge and under the Blind Pass Bridge. I soon recognized Sloppy Pelican, Philthy Phil’s and Fisherman’s Park at the end of Corey Ave.
From there we entered the Gulf and cruised along Upham, St. Pete Beach, and past the Don CeSar. Then we decided to re-enter Boca Ciega Bay and take a tour of the Tierra Verde waterfront homes. We went out in the evening, so there was a warm tropical breeze in the air. Lori says a ride on the boat is her personal favorite cure for stress. We stopped at a little island long enough to talk to a young couple who had an 8-week old Dalmatian out for a romp in the surf. (Sorry, no picture 🙁 — but so cute!)
We then turned north to South Pasadena, Causeway Isle, past Blind Pass and into John’s Pass to go dolphin watching. There was plenty of activity at John’s Pass Village and the Dolphin Cruise was full of people. We got the show we were hoping for. There were several pods hanging around. They aren’t shy, but getting a picture is a challenge. One dolphin jumped about 10 feet out of the water. But it’s the one that got away. We missed the shot.
By the time we were chasing the dolphin, the sun was setting and there wasn’t enough daylight left for photos anyway. So we watched the clouds build up into the familiar sunset orange, pink and blue towers. That’s when we noticed fireworks in the distance. Pretty soon it was completely dark and we headed back across the bay to our launch site. The end of a typical day on the water in St. Pete.
The spontaneous five-hour tour was a surprise for my husband on his birthday. I agree, Lori, a cruise around the Gulf waters is nature’s massage. Ommm. When can we go again?
Is BP oil spill our fault?
It’s hard to believe that on February 13 I joined hands on the shore of Upham Beach with fellow concerned citizens for the Hands Across the Sands demonstration. The event was a response to legislation that would allow oil drilling just 3 miles off the Pinellas Beaches and the serious threat it posed for our environment and economy. Who knew that this exact type of disaster was looming just over the horizon?
Like everyone else, I’ve been following the news on the spill. Last week I was shocked to hear a BP executive say on a radio news report that everyone who drives a car is to blame for the blowout. Really? He is apparently referring to our insatiable need for fuel. Under Lord Brown’s leadership as CEO, BP was working to position themselves as a “Beyond Petroleum” company and was investing heavily in alternative energy sources. That ended when Tony Hayward took over as CEO. He is NOT in favor of the “Beyond Petroleum” shift the company was taking and dramatically cut back this division. Here’s an NPR story link about the shift. Now Hayward finds himself trying to down-play the amount of environmental damage this spill is likely to cause.
(FYI: Roy Blount, Jr. is the author of 20 books, most recently Long Time Leaving: Dispatches From Up South, and including Feet on the Street: Rambles Around New Orleans, Robert E. Lee, If Only You Knew How Much I Smell You, Roy Blount’s Book of Southern Humor and Be Sweet: A Conditional Love Story. Modesty aside, Blount has done more different things than any other humorist- novelist- journalist- dramatist- lyricist- lecturer- reviewer- screenwriter- anthologist- columnist- philologist of sorts he can think of.)
Mr. BLOUNT: I love the fact that the thing that didn’t prevent the blowout is a thing, the technical term for which is the blowout preventer.
SAGAL: Right. That’s what it’s called.
Mr. BLOUNT: They forgot to check the blowout preventer.
SAGAL: They had a label on it.
Mr. BLOUNT: Right. It stands for BP I guess.
Here’s a serious comment from Jim Hightower in his weekly radio commentary heard on WMNF: He said that BP chose not to spend the $500,000 at the time the rig was built for an automatic well shut-off switch. This website may be the source of Hightower’s comment: “BP Oil Platform Spill Disaster is CHENEY’S Fault”
Blame aside, now I’m hoping for news that someone has come up with a way to clean up the oil before it destroys estuaries all around the Gulf states. And, what about those deep water coral reefs?
On a more local note. . .
I went out to St. Pete Beach to check out the new Healthy Hut food store, which is now open on Corey Ave., and inspect Upham Beach for tar balls. I’m happy to report there are no tar balls washing up on the beach. That is not to say we will be spared the sticky, slimy mess.
I traveled further up Gulf Blvd., and also dropped in on my Indian Rocks Beach friends Ivan Senia and Kay Smith. Kay walks a two-mile stretch everyday on the beach. She says she hasn’t seen tar balls on IRB so far. Ivan retired from building avionics navigation aircraft systems and now enjoys keeping an eye on the weather and atmospheric conditions just for the fun of it. He reports that a day or two after the blowout, he could smell it as traces came in on the Gulf breeze from the north, northwest at about 30 mph.
I asked Ivan and Kay to keep me posted if they find any evidence of tar balls on the beach. I’ll certainly report it if they do. So far, the beach is okay.
Healthy Hut organic supermarket now open
I reported about six months ago that The Healthy Hut would be opening soon. So I decided to check it out now that it is open. It is a full-size grocery story carrying mostly organic products. Signs proclaim that St. Pete Beach residents are the owners — nice to know if you support the “shop local” movement. Customers can order prepared carryout food or they can sit in the restaurant-like seating area sectioned-off near the deli in the rear of the store. I was surprised that the store was so large and carried so much, including health and beauty aids. Having an alternative to the chain grocery stores is a good thing. Nature’s Finest Foods, is located at 6651 Central Ave. St. Petersburg (However, that store is part of the NRG Organic Supermarkets chin). It’s about 10 minutes away.
I joined hands with nearly 1000 of my fellow beach lovers today to show we Love Tourists, Not Drilling! This Florida-wide event took place at 1:30 this afternoon. People showed up wearing black from head-to-toe to symbolize what we want to prevent, a devastating oil spill. Phil Compton, Regional Representative of the Sierra Club showed a map of the oil spill in the Timor Sea superimposed upon the eastern Gulf of Mexico – demonstrating what can happen to pristine beaches and vital water resources if oil drilling is allowed in the eastern Gulf. Patricia Plantamura, Seminole City Council women & Scott Maddux, candidate for Florida Agriculture & Consumer Services Secretary, each spoke about their opposition to drilling and commitment to clean energy development. Finally, Robin Grabowski, CEO of the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce reiterated the Chamber’s longstanding opposition to drilling & support of coastal protection.
As I looked down the beach from Upham to St. Pete Beach, a black dotted line could be seen all the way down to the Sirata Beach Resort and beyond. It was a great way to show that Floridians are opposed to drilling!
Pass-A-Grille celebrity Evander Preston is now serving up Evander Beer! I’m always up for trying a new local beer, so I’ll be sure to order it next time I’m at Salt Rock Grill (among other restaurants listed on his web site). The label is kind of scary, but very cool. By the way, you can discover the history of Pass-A-Grille, one of the last isolated little beach communities around here. Check it out on the Pinellas Beaches Tour. Or, you can download just the Pass-A-Grille track for 99 cents from iTunes or Amazon.
This post is from Hilary, my beach sports correspondent!
Yesterday, I went parasailing with my 5 friends, and it was a blast! For most of us, this was our first time, and we were a combination of nervous and excited. We weren’t sure exactly what to expect, and I didn’t really understand how they took off and landed us without hurting us. We agreed to meet at 10:45 to head out around 11. Of course, when we finally got out there, on the boat, it was a little later than that, but it wasn’t a problem. My friend Iman’s hotel the Dolphin Beach Resort has a parasailing company that works in front of their hotel on the beach, so we went to that one. We had to sign waivers, and once that was done we waded about knee deep into the water to get on to the boat, which was waiting in the water. They instructed us to sit in pairs of 2 since each ride consisted of 2 people. Dylan and Courtney were first, and they got lifejackets on and sat in harnesses and went to sit on the back of the boat, where there was a landing area. They had to sit on their butts and then away the boat went. There was a pulley system that either let out or brought in the rope connected to the 2 seats and parachute. When they came back down, they landed gracefully in the same place they took off from. Erica and I were next, and not as scared since we saw how it worked. The whole process was smooth, and we didn’t even touch the water, which was nice. Once we were up there, it was like we were just sitting in a swing-chair in the sky. We could see up and down the coast and across the bay. The ride was very gentle and I could barely tell we were moving. Landing was no issue either. Lastly, Iman and Emily went up. They said they saw a turtle while they were up there. Overall the experience was fun, not scary at all, and the weather was beautiful. It made for a nice day and a fun experience!
Life on the Pinellas Beaches slows down in June and July. As a local, I love it because the traffic lightens up and the beach becomes that lazy summer vacation spot I remember from my childhood. This week the temperatures have been cool because we’ve had steady rain that just might bring us out of our long drought. I hope so! My pool is over-flowing anyway. This is also a good time to go to local seafood restaurants. I went to Sea Critters on the Intracoastal Waterway side of Pass-A-Grille recently. It’s one of the few places where boaters can pull up along the dock (although, I didn’t pull up in my boat :-0). It looks like an old Florida fishing cottage from the outside. The theme is continued inside with picnic tables covered with plastic tablecloths. The day I went, I sat outside on the deck (as I said, the temps have been cooler than normal). A young couple at the table across the aisle ate while their adorable two-year-old played nearby. No one at this restaurant expected him to sit still in a chair! My husband had the crab cakes – nice and light ($18.99). I had the Seafood Pasta ($19.99). The food was yummy and there was enough to bring home for lunch the next day. No doubt about it, seafood on the waterfront tastes better. Pass – A- Grille has several good restaurants to sample. I think I’ll try the new pizza place next time I’m out this way.
The city is planning to purchase a three-quarter-acre parcel at 9001 Blind Pass Road, click this link to see where Egan Park is located.