No Tar Balls (yet) and Healthy Hut now open

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.

Here’s a humorous exchange I heard on On Wait-Wait, Don’t Tell Me: an oddly informative news quiz show (NPR) Sunday, May 16, 2010 (WUSF):.

(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.

SAGAL: Exactly.

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.

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.

No Doubt about it, Doubt is good!

I went to see a Sunday afternoon performance of Doubt, the play by John Patrick Shanley at the new American Stage Theatre. I went with a friend who is a first grade teacher. She was lamenting that the summer has slipped away because she’s already gearing up for the new school year. Half the fun of going was inviting her. She really needed a day of escape. First we went to Café Alma for brunch. Then we walked about 4 blocks to the new American Stage Theatre. I know, you’re thinking it’s too hot to walk anywhere in the middle of the day. But, the 4- block walk really wasn’t bad.  The show is a 90-minute production without an intermission. All the actors are good, but Christine Decker as Sister Aloysius was the absolute embodiment of righteousness! This play will get you talking! It’s on stage until at least until August 16th. Rumor has it that it might be extended.

Old Northeastern Tavern

This neighborhood restaurant seems like  a well-kept secret.  Located on 7th Ave. N. and 2nd Street N. in St. Petersburg, this restaurant is a unique change from the normal chain restaurants along 4th Street. It’s more expansive than it looks at first glance because you might not notice it has more than one dining room. it offers booths with nice floral arrangements on each table. The atmosphere is inviting and reminiscent of a northern local favorite. The menu is limited, but very interesting. Their recipes offer combinations of the traditional sandwiches like ham and cheese to more exotic choices like quesadillas. Take a walk on the wild side and try something new! It might surprise you. The price ($8.00 to $15.00 for an entree) is cheap for the quality of food. They serve alcohol and I think it is more bar-like at night. The service is also good and they give you all you need without hassling you. It is a great place to bring friends for a nice lunch. They only drawback is that the parking is only along the street and it could be sparse during busy hours.

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!

Wish You Were Here!

On July 8th, I took a whirlwind tour of 13 Tampa attractions compliments of TAP – Downtown Tampa Attractions Association.  Our attraction “ambassadors” all were happy to brag about their little corner of  fun. What a dedicated bunch! It was great to see Tampa’s attractions all in one day and it reminded me of all the cool things we have to do here. The following picture gallery shows scenes from some of our stops: Busch Gardens, Lowry Park Zoo, Tampa Theatre, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Plant Museum, Tampa Museum of Art, Hyde Park Village, Tampa History Museum, The Florida Aquarium, American Victory Ship, Riverwalk, Yacht Starship and Splitsville! Yes, we did ALL that in one day! But I don’t recommend it. Plan to stay a couple of days if you’re going to do all this!

Look at all the stuff we did in one day in Tampa!+

Look at all the stuff we did in one day in Tampa!+


The Pub Waterfront Restaurant

As a member of Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce, I attend my share of Business networking mixers. The last one I went to was held at The Pub Waterfront Restaurant and Lounge. I must say, the Intracoastal Waterway, where The Pub is located at 20025 Gulf Blvd., Indian Shores is a nice breezy waterfront location in spite of its proximity to the parking lot. The food was exceptionally good and owner and local resident, Steve Wesphal, wasn’t stingy. I had hoped to get the gift shop owner to carry the audio CD version of Talking Points Tours Pinellas Beaches. But it doesn’t seem like a good fit since they carry mostly jewelry. Of course, if  you’re looking for a great self-guided tour of the beaches, go to my site:  But, if you’re looking for beach bling, check out their gift shop which is the first thing you see when you enter the front door. BTW, Steve Wesphal will be opening a new restaurant, 400 Beach Seafood and Tap House in the fall of 2009. it is being billed as “Relaxed Coastal Cuisine.”

The Lunch Bunch

The great thing about having a teenaged daughter and a 20-something daughter is they like to get out and do stuff almost everyday! I recently realized I have two “reporters” living  under my roof who could contribute to my blog. So, I asked them to tell me something about places they’ve been recently in St. Pete and on the beaches. Here is a restaurant review from 17-year-old Hilary who looks for cool places to lunch with her friends after school. High school gets out at 1:30 here and very few kids stay for lunch so they go out after school. My daughter, Hilary, and her friends call themselves “The Lunch Bunch”.

My friends and I decided to try Ricky t’s  Bar and Grill at 106th Ave. N., on Gulf Blvd.,  Treasure Island. We arrived around 2:00 in the afternoon for lunch, so the lunch crowd had already thinned out.  It had typical grill food and I chose a cheeseburger. The cost was about $7.00. The burger had a couple of sides to choose from like potato salad, fries and coleslaw. My friends said they thought there was too much food served! We thought the prices were reasonable here and compared pretty well to the Sloppy Pelican. The servers were friendly.

Their bar is always hopping at night. I jog on the beach and whenever I go by, I see lots of people. The atmosphere is warm with lots of sports paraphernalia. It also has TV’s mounted near the ceiling. This is a perfect place to grab a burger after a day at the beach and relax with friends.


The Sloppy Pelican

The Sloppy Pelican

The Sloppy Pelican is a two-story restaurant that features dining indoors and outdoors. It has a nice overlook on the Intercoastal Waterway. At night it becomes a place to hear  local musicians. It caters to all ages with everything from a bar to a kids menu. They offer mostly sandwiches and the one  I ordered was Tilapia. It came with fries and a pickle. Erica got a non-seafood sandwich which she said was delicious. The service was good and the restaurant seemed to attract teenagers. The prices were reasonable; the average entree was between $7.00 and $12.00. The location is directly on the intercoastal, at the end of 75th Ave. N. on St. Pete Beach.


Breakfast on the beach

pancakeI can’t remember how this got started, but it is our little March ritual to take a day off  to visit our tax gal.  She’s an hour north of where we live. This year, we decided to start the day off right and have breakfast at the Undertow Beach Bar. This shot was taken about 8:30 in the morning. German tourists were chatting at the table next to us. Two sunburned kids played a game of ring-toss nearby and Canadian couples strolled the shoreline. Even if we were heading for bad tax news, at least we started the day off in bliss!