It certainly wasn’t easy getting here, but the Traveling Gods saw fit to give us a break. We rolled in at just after 11pm, only two hours later than our scheduled arrival.
Our first full day here was mellow. After Beth did her yoga class, we met up with our girls and took a car ride to John’s Pass, one of the most touristy parts of the area. This is my first time in the area, so I appreciate seeing everything there is to see – even if it’s kitschy and touristy. Being in this area reminded me of my youth when I spent two summers near Ocean City, Maryland – a place full of bars, restaurants, t-shirt shops and…shark boats?
We did some shopping at Publix for the week and made it an early night.
Despite the chill, Steph, Beth and I took a long, exploratory walk through a park that borders the bay. Walking amongst the palm trees and under the blue sky was a pleasure even if it was some of the coldest temps that this area has seen in years.
“You make your own luck in this life,” someone once said. Perhaps the owner of that particular quote was experiencing a cold spell while on vacation in a tropical climate, too.
My favorite Christmas moments were when Helen opened her gifts (she always loves getting presents)…
…and when Beth toasted our girls as we sat down to Christmas dinner at Helen’s apartment. She recognized them both for a year full of changes and challenges met.
For Helen, this year meant leaving New York and her great job as a Nissan finance manager to return to St. Pete, a place that makes her happy and where many of her good friends reside. We’re proud of how she is taking appropriate risks like learning a new trade from the bottom-up, starting to learn about investing and, of course, creating a really nice relationship with Tate. I like him a lot. I can already tell that he’s nuts about Helen and very kind and capable – a winning combination.
In 2022, Steph bicycled the length of this state and then turned her bike westward. In all, she moved under her own power more than 4500 miles camping and riding from the tip of Florida to San Diego. I can’t think of anything to say but “wow” when I consider the 40, 50 and even 80-mile days she put on her bike with little more than a tent, clothes, food and water. Steph moved through deserts, and over mountains and she did it all by herself. Wow.
It was also great reuniting with Patton, Helen’s dog. When I mentioned the name “Bradley,” Patton came to full alert. Maybe dogs cannot remember people or fellow animals after a time or maybe, just maybe, they do. In any case, I enjoyed playing with Patton, one of the world’s greatest fetch artists.
I’m sitting outside on a balcony which is an improvement in a couple of ways. First, the weather is a bit better (high 40s – low 50s). Second, being outside of the condo is a welcome change. It’s a really nice Airbnb, but like traveling in an RV – I see the indoors as just a place to hang one’s hat when the day is done.
Our eldest, Helen, and Tate are both employees of Central Marina. Helen sells boats and Tate moves them around and delivers them to clients. Their showroom is just down the street from where I’m sitting.
Speaking of boats, from my spot on the balcony I can see dozens of them sitting ready for their owners to defrost and come back to them. Evidently, this area is a year-round boating and beachcombing paradise, so once the weather warms up a bit more, I bet the locals will be enjoying the water, again.
Today, we drove into St. Pete to meet Tate’s parents (Kerry and Luke) who were a lot of fun. One moment stands out to be when Kerry said, “If you haven’t seen Florida from the water, then you haven’t really seen it at all.” Interesting, huh?
Even though it’s been more than a week, Beth and I are still testing positive for Covid. That explains my tiredness!
Today was the first afternoon warm enough for a t-shirt and shorts, so we took a trip to Weedon Island Preserve and hit the trails. Helen has to work during the day, so Beth, Steph and I are on our own until dinnertime. While at Weedon, we enjoyed more of what a landlubber can experience – rich vegetation, lots of birds, reptiles and a smattering of two-leggeds like us.
As has been the case throughout our travels, the roads and the cities are almost always crowded and the trails are mostly empty. Boating is a notable exception, of course, but I think it’s true to say that we Americans explore eateries, breweries and gift shops much more than we explore the outdoors. Sigh.
But who am I to judge? When I was in my twenties, a beer joint and a bunch of happy friends were my preferred way to spend a Saturday or any day. It wasn’t until I got married and had children that the noisy fol-de-rol of a bar became anathema to me. Nowadays, I frown when the music is too loud for talking when once upon a time this was my oasis from suburban boredom. And it would be unfair of me not to mention that Beth and I met at a noisy bar where she was the bartender!
Even though it’s a Tuesday, most of the better seafood restaurants all had 60-90 minute wait times for a table. Luckily, our locals (Helen and Tate) have an inexhaustible knowledge of the terrain, so we were able to find a place that was tasty and could seat us right away. We were home in bed by 10:00 which is just fine for us.
This seems like a good place to post. More later!