Reflections on Bay Pines

The new condo The Courtney at Bay Pines

The Private Sector seems to be doing fine in Bay Pines.
Every other day, I drive over the Bay Pines overpass on my way to the Seminole Campus of SPC where I work. The return trip coming back into St. Pete rivals anything in swanky Palm Beach. The Spanish style Bay Pines Veterans Hospital overlooks Boca Ciega Bay. Reflections of sailboats dot the blue surface of the smooth water in the harbor. The property around the harbor shot up in valuable during the building boom around 2007. On the north side of the road, across from Bay Pines property, I’ve watched as the residents of a 1950’s-vintage trailer park cleared out. The ospreys and native scrub seem to take over the property. I wondered how long it would last. The answer appears to be four years. In early 2012, the giant oaks suddenly developed a skirt of red tape and it wasn’t long before backhoes and bulldozers followed. Waterfront property in St. Pete will attract many, and this site is beautiful. So, I guess between the traffic backing up at the light in front of the VA hospital and the new light that is sure to go in when this condo opens, I’ll soon have to plan an extra 10 minutes to get to work. Just call it progress in paradise.

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?

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!+


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.

Perfect Circle Yoga

A friend suggested I attend a Bikrim Yoga class with her (otherwise known as hot yoga). She warned that I might find it challenging to stay in the room for the whole class, but  if I stayed, I would have  reached my first goal. Since I had done yoga, I was sure I’d be fine. Well  . . . I was unprepared for how hot the room was @105 degrees! I stayed in the room for the whole class and was able to do most of the postures, and dripping with sweat 90 minutes later, I felt a great sense of accomplishment for having done so! I was impressed by how much more I was able to stretch during some of the postures. But, at the time, I didn’t think it was likely that I’d be making Bikram Yoga a regular part of my exercise program mostly because Chris Rose’s studio was too far from my house. As it turns out, a couple of months later, he moved to the beach, which is very convenient for me. I’ve tried to make it at least once a week since he has been in the 595-B Corey Ave., St. Pete Beach location. It is still the best workout I’ve ever  had that can be done within the space of a beach towel! And about the heat — yeah, well, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that! So if you don’t think yoga is a good heart-pumping exercise, try Bikram Yoga at Perfect Circle Yoga and Fitness (btw, it is named after the Yogi who invented it.).

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.