This one follows a bit different path than most of our posts. We captured the weeks at a very high-level view, but we didn’t the website up to put the real blog up so things aren’t as detailed as normal.
Our flight from Nashville through Atlanta arrived into Tampa late in the afternoon. After a quick bite at Panera, we met Angela at the World of Beer in Westchase for their holiday party. It’s a great place for people watching, and they have a huge variety of beer and live music.
We relocated from Holiday Inn Express in Clearwater to the Candlewood Suites in Feathersound. Since neither of us are technically on vacation, we both caught up on the work that we slacked on during our travels yesterday, then a quick lunch at Panera and a long walk on the Dunedin Causeway – 3.6 miles or so. Despite being Florida, it’s a tad on the chilly side here. The overall temperature isn’t that bad, but a brisk north wind kept it pretty cool. It just feels good to be outside. We spotted a lot of pelicans on the causeway and one dolphin headed through the channel northbound.
We meandered through Dunedin to Clearwater Beach, and ended up watching the sunset on Sand Key beach where two weddings were taking place! What a beautiful sunset, just a few clouds, pink, orange and blue sky. One final stop at Publix to load up on groceries for the week.
Worked in the morning; took a break for lunch and met Jim’s coworker Chris and his family at Frenchy’s on Clearwater Beach. Not as sunny today, and still (relatively) cool at about 60 degrees. Warmer than where we came from but certainly not beach weather!
Sunset tonight in lovely Crystal Beach, a golf cart community that sits on the water – more pink, orange, blue skies, sailboats moored just offshore, local residents gathering for conversation, walk the dogs and enjoy the sunset. We enjoyed dinner with Angela and Megan – chicken tortilla soup, sangrias and fresh baked cookies. Yum!
Slept in – woke up to 64 degrees and pure sunshine! After breakfast we played tennis for the first time together at McMullen Tennis Complex in Clearwater…well, more like hit the ball around than played but it was enjoyable to be outside and active.
Car said 77 degrees when we finished. We’re flowing with Mother Nature on this trip, and since it was a nice afternoon we grabbed a quick lunch and headed to Indian Rocks Beach. We propped our beach towels up against a sand dune and watched the tourists, the seagulls and the pelicans. I think Jim could have spent the whole afternoon watching the pelicans dive for fish. From there we went back to Sand Key park, enjoyed some more beach time and watched the sunset.
Christmas Eve – Angela invited us to her sister’s boyfriend’s family’s holiday celebration in Tampa. Not a typical Christmas Eve, but a fun night filled with tipico food, Cuban music and dancing. They were all very warm and welcoming – we certainly didn’t feel like strangers!
A forced morning of recuperation since we awoke to steady rain. It gave us time to catch up on Merry Christmas wishes and just relax. It’s nice to not have any particular place we have to go or thing we have to do. We got a workout in then Jim fixed a delicious Christmas dinner: ribeyes and veggies on the grill. A quick nap gave the weather time to clear up and gave us the fuel we needed to hit some tennis balls. The clouds parted just enough to give us a peek at the sunset from the Dunedin Marina. I do enjoy the sounds of the lines clanking on the mast. It was not a typical Christmas by anybody’s definition, but one that suited the two of us perfectly.
What a difference a north wind makes. The past couple days were warmer with winds from the south. We drove across the Sunshine Skyway bridge to Anna Maria Island, a quiet beach community. For lunch we stopped at Fort Desoto Park and enjoyed our picnic lunch with a walk along the beaches. Waves were crashing more like the Atlantic than the Gulf.
On to Pass-a-Grille, another quiet beach community at the tip of St. Pete Beach for a coffee/ice cream break. On our way we drove by the historic Pink Lady, the Don Cesar Resort. Last stop on the sightseeing tour was the St. Pete Yacht Club near the historic Renaissance Vinoy to meander through the sailboats and daydream about future trips. We covered a lot of ground today – some of it planned, some of it by accident. I’m glad we can enjoy a day with no particular agenda, and be flexible to add or change things as we go. It’s also amazing we have driven around the past couple days with no radio – just conversation and the thoughts in our heads to fill the space.
Marina shopping…that was the theme for today. After breakfast with Elaine in Palm Harbor we drove south to Port Charlotte to explore possible areas to do a liveaboard next winter. We’ve done a lot of reading and research about the idea for next winter; visiting marinas and finding one we liked helped make the idea more concrete. Charlotte Harbor is very large (270 miles of shoreline), with lots of inlets and fingers – very much like a lake yet we would still have access to the Gulf. It would be a great place to practice our sailing skills, plus Jim could wakeboard. Now, we just have to find someone to rent us their boat. Dinner with Angela and Laurie at Whiskey Joe’s overlooking Tampa Bay.
We started the day early and stopped by one of the rental properties to pick up supplies and check in with the tenants. Spent the day working on the gutters and yard at one of the other rentals. Thank goodness the sun was out, made an unpleasant job a little more pleasant. Cool north wind again, but today it kept us from working up a sweat. From one small yard we collected eight bags of yard and gutter debris – that project was long overdue. We finished in time to catch the sunset at Howard Park in Tarpon Springs, then dinner to go from Nick’s Pizza & Pasta.
Abundant sunshine! Clear blue sky the entire day. Today was an administrivia day – I ran some errands while Jim was productive in his nerd cave. We hit some tennis balls later in the afternoon, followed by a chilled Oberon at Jim’s new favorite sunset spot – Crystal Beach. It was a particularly beautiful sunset tonight – cloudless sky and the horizon glowed a deeper orange after the sun went down. Quite a show. Dinner back at the room and a quiet evening in.
Dolphins and no wind! But first…I took the backstage tour of the Tampa Theater with Angela while Jim hung out in the Big Nerd Cave in Tampa. The theater was built in 1926 at a cost of over $1 million. A movie ticket was $.25 and this was the first building in Tampa to have air conditioning. At one time there were five theaters in downtown Tampa and all but this one gave way to "progress". The architecture and details reminded us of the many palazzos we saw in Italy. In fact, the auditorium was designed to look like a Mediterranean garden complete with twinkle light stars and clouds that float by overhead. The original Wurlitzer is still functioning and when it came to life with the organ player and rose up out of the stage it was easy to imagine what a big night out it must have been to catch a movie at the Tampa Theater – grandeur and elegance of a different time.
Angela and I enjoyed a terrific lunch outdoors at the Green Iguana. Plenty of blue sky and about 72 degrees today.
For sunset Jim and I went back to Sand Key beach – finally, dolphins! Lots of people, the (apparently) daily sunset wedding, lots of boating activity, everybody was out enjoying the warmer temperatures and calm winds. The clouds turned fluorescent pink after the sun dropped – another beautiful show. Another quiet evening in the room…gotta rest up for tomorrow!
Let go and let in. After doing some work in the morning, we picked up a new garage door opener for one of the rentals along with some other errands. We played tennis then watched the sunset at Bellair Beach – nice weather today, wind from the south. Then back to the room for the gangsta and flapper to get ready for a big night out at friends Ian and Elise in Tampa with Angela.
The psychic there told me that I need to let go and let in. It’s time to let go of old sadness, pain, people from the past, make room to let in new. 2010 is Jim’s year for change; this is not his money year, though. It’s the year to get prepared for 2011 which is going to be his money year.
After ringing in the new year and closing down the party at Ian’s, we moved to Zoe’s and finally rolled back into Angela’s about 4:30 a.m. I have no idea how I stayed awake that long. Oh what a night.
Is it wrong to have breakfast at 3pm? When it’s your first meal of the day? After a long winter’s nap, I got up around noon; Jim an hour or so later. We relived the evening with Angela, sharing pictures and stories, then headed to Denny’s for the typical post-night-out fare. That was exhausting, so back at the room we took a nap. Then, we did what many people might do after a very late night new year’s party – installed a garage door opener in one of the rental properties. Gotta love a handy man.
Still coming out of a new year’s fog, today was pretty low key. The weather was very cool – 40’s this morning even though it was sunny. It was a good day to stay inside and catch up on some administrivia stuff. We finally ventured out mid-afternoon to hit some tennis balls, then for our final Florida sunset (for this trip) at Crystal Beach. A few great photos, and a real horseshoe crab! Time to pack up and wind things down. 🙁
Back to the grind.