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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Florida in January, Year 3, Part I

This is the third year we have flown Allegiant Airlines from SBN to PIE at the beginning of the new year.  This year we are staying in St. Pete Beach.  We have had less than 24 hours here and it has been wonderful!

Leaving South Bend was not wonderful.  We took Uber to the airport, arriving plenty early.  The fog was so bad that you couldn't see the runway from the terminal.  No planes were arriving or leaving.  Our plane had to land in Des Moines to refuel.  Five hours from our scheduled time of departure, we finally were in the air.  After a smooth flight, and another Uber ride, we arrived at Gulf Strand Condos where, because we were so late, we had made arrangements to get the key from a lockbox.  This was not easy.  We could barely see the numbers and had to use our iphone flashlight.  Once we had the numbers lined up, the padlock would not open.  Press and click, the manager had said.  What to press and click?  It turned out it was the array of numbers.

Number 204 was lovely.  We quickly got rid of our belongings and walked across the street to Sea Turtle Cafe where we had a casual supper with "ample pours" of wine followed by a 9 pm grocery run.  A real bonus is the Publix  right across the street.  I have been there three times already--no need to plan for meals and a morning New York Times is available. 

Today has been a day of relaxing and walking.  An early morning rain quickly changed to sunshine.  We can see the Gulf across some sea grass from our deck.  This afternoon we walked for over an hour down to the fancy and historic Don Cesar Hotel and then along some neighborhoods facing the waterways.

Supper was at Crabby Bill's Seafood--stuffled flounder for me and ribs for Jim.  With our walk back to the condo, I had almost 17,000 steps for the day and incipient blisters.  I listened to ND win a close game over Louisville online and Jim watched Pittsburgh beat Virginia in overtime.

Thursday:   Another long walk along the bay and on Boca Ciega Island gave us plenty of steps in the morning.

 After lunch, I hopped on the Central Avenue Trolley heading south to Pass-a-Grille, a historic beach community.  I went to the museum run by volunteers and then followed a published walk of historic homes.  In this case, historic means about 100 years old.  The area was not developed much until the 1950s when there was a bridge, air-conditioning and mosquito control according to the guide.  It was a beautiful area only one block wide between the gulf and the bay.

  A trip to Publix gave us what we needed for a supper in the condo tonight.

Gulf Strand Condos in window
Friday:  It was another lazy morning with a short walk and a stop at a French cafe for coffee and pastries. We took a longer walk in the afternoon along the beach with a goal of discerning what the strange blue object was in the distance.  It was a huge water slide.  We were not tempted to try it!  Walking back to the condo was a challenge against the wind.

Another challenge--I knew if I didn't go for a swim in the Gulf today, it might not happen.  The weather will be turning cooler tomorrow.  So I did it!  I didn't last long, but at 70 degrees, it truly was warmer than Lake Michigan can be.  I followed that up with a short stint in the hot tub.

Our routine has been a drink at 5 pm and a crossword puzzle together.  We split a pizza while sitting outside at Buona's Pizza--ham and pineapple for Jim, and goat cheese and spinach for me.  Delicious!  We got back to the condo again before the rain started.

Saturday:  The rain came and it was dreary and cold and windy.  We ran across the busy Gulf Boulevard for a breakfast of French toast and Eggs Benedict at The Sea Turtle and then made another Publix shopping trip for the day, including an umbrella in our purchases.

Around noon we hopped on the Central Avenue Trolley for a trip to Haslam's Books, the biggest bookstore in Florida.  As Jim said, it was a typical Mary adventure.  The trolley carried several handicapped riders, workers, and us.  Are we too proud to take public transportation?  No, but we were tempted to Uber to get back to the condo when we stood waiting an extra 15 minutes in the cold.  A bonus of our wait--seeing a Pedal Pub with about a dozen young folks drinking and pedalling and waving to us on their way.

On our return to the condo, the sun was coming through and the sky and the sea were breathtakingly beautiful.

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