A Peaceful Day

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.

Candy Kitchen

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.

My five-hour tour

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?

Hands Across the Sand Could be seen for Miles!

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!

Dolphin Feeding Frenzy!

Set up for a day at Indian Rocks Beach

Set up for a day at Indian Rocks Beach

IMG_2709When my kids were little, some of the neighborhood moms and I would get together and take our kids to the beach the week before school began. I must be missing the tradition, because I went out on the kayak again last week. This time my friend Kay and I went in search of dolphin. Wow! We managed to paddle right into the middle of a feeding frenzy! There must have been about 20 dolphins just off Indian Rocks Beach. All I have is this wimpy shot of a dorsal fin to prove it. I was safely back on shore when it occurred to me that dolphin aren’t the only sea creatures with dorsal fins!

Cruising in a Kayak along IRB


I have kayaked in the salt marshes off North Carolina and canoed down several rivers on Florida’s west coast, but I have never kayaked in the Gulf  off our own beaches! So when a friend invited me to meet her for a kayak trip taking off from her Indian Rocks Beach house, I said, “I’m there!” We launched the kayak at about 9:00 a.m. and already there were many people out. Most were walking. Some were fishing.  It soon became clear that something in the water close to the shore was attracting a lot of attention.  It turned out to be stingrays.  The orange tape surrounding two turtles’ nests on shore was clearly visible from the water. The early morning storms we saw on radar off shore  were moving in. The wind picked up and we saw the dark clouds, lightning, and heard thunder. So we decided to cut our trip short. Within 15 minutes of our return, it was pouring rain.  I rarely go boating, so cruising down the shore in a kayak, as opposed to driving down Gulf Blvd. was a fun diversion.

Do the stingray shuffle

Do the stingray shuffle

Jeweler Evander Preston makes news with beer !

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.

Salt Rock Grill and Trivia about Largo Narrows

July 26, 2009

Everyone knows the food at  Salt Rock Grill is delicious; but don’t miss  the  natural atmosphere. It’s worth giving up air conditioning.  We ate on the Patio about a month ago and watched as a boat pulled up to the restaurant’s dock and two couples hopped off. The sky was that deep blue just before sunset and a warm orange light made everything glow. I felt like I was part of a photo shoot for Architectural Digest or Gourmet Magazine, the scene was  so idyllic. The evening we were there, a school of dolphin swam up and down the Intracoastal Waterway along The Largo Narrows. The Largo Narrows is a mangrove tract that Pinellas County purchased around 1984 to save it from development.  I remember this story because I worked for the Evening Independent in 1984.  At the time, I covered Indian Rocks Beach and the Town of Belleair. Patsy  Pressley (she wrote the story I linked to) covered Largo. We worked in the same one-room news bureau. I’m glad the county commissioners were forward thinking enough to save this environmentally sensitive land so I could enjoy it 25 years later!


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!


Ancient evidence of climate change found on Redington Shores!

This story  about a utilities worker who found a fossilized horse’s toe bone really grabbed my attention because about ten years ago another teacher and I (I was a teacher in a previous life) partnered to create a middle school curriculum called Kids Dig It! It was a great hands-on curriculum that explored Florida’s pre-history: the Miocene, Pliocene and Pleistocene.  Imagine Tampa being about 100 miles inland during the Plio-Pleistocene 12,000 to 18,000 years ago.  Our coastline changed with the rise and fall of the sea level. That explains why mammal fossils are found way out in the Gulf when the sea bottom is dredged and dumped on the beach and why giant sharks’ teeth are found in inland rivers.