January 27-28, 2013
Our last morning on Caladesi Island presented a fairly typical Looper scenario. We really had no plan for whether we would stay another day on Caladesi, leave and go a few miles to Clearwater, or go all the way to St. Petersburg with Jackets II. After one final walk on the beach, we decided we should move on. Jackets needed to get to St. Pete to meet one of their daughters, but we decided to stop in Clearwater for a trip down memory lane. Craig’s grandparents moved to Clearwater in the 1950s and lived there the rest of their lives, until the early 1980s. So Craig visited Clearwater many times over a long period of time, and after we were married, I did, too. We hadn’t been back for probably 30 years, though.
Craig enjoyed walking along the docks where his Grandpa used to charter a boat for them to go fishing together.
We also spotted the building overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway that used to be the Osceola Inn, the assisted living facility where Grandma for many years visited “the old people,” (many younger than her!), and where she lived in her last years. It’s no longer an assisted living place, and like much of downtown Clearwater, has been purchased and refurbished by the Scientologists. Grandma would roll over if she only knew! She didn’t much care for the Scientologists. Her building was the one set back, with the long dark window on the top floor.
We stayed at the municipal marina at Clearwater Beach, a nice place, but a real contrast from Caladesi, Lots of boats, lots of tourists. We saw a Carver just like our Sandcastle back home in Cincinnati!
We took a walk on the beach, which still has some of the softest, whitest sand anywhere. We walked to the very pink Hyatt and had a drink at their 8th floor pool bar. There’s a beautiful view from up there, and we enjoyed relaxing and watching the scenery.
In the evening we walked to one of the famous Frenchy’s restaurants for really good grouper. Just as we ate our fill of crab in the Chesapeake, pickerel in Canada, whitefish in the Great Lakes and catfish on the rivers, we are finding ourselves eating a lot of grouper in Florida, testing every restaurant’s claim that theirs is “The Best!” Frenchy’s grouper actually is very good, and it’s a fun, casual spot, too.
The next day we moved on the St. Pete. We decided to by-pass the Intracoastal Waterway with its many low bridges and no-wake speeds and instead travel outside on the Gulf. The water was calm and it was a beautiful day for a ride on the big water.
We rode fairly close to shore and enjoyed seeing the various beach towns.
As we turned into Tampa Bay and approached St. Pete, we heard music across the water. It was this woman playing her trumpet as they sailed along.
We turned at the unmistakable St. Pete Pier and entered the really lovely municipal marina. We docked just a few boats from Jackets II, and began a surprising and wonderful week in St. Petersburg!
Next: St. Petersburg and a side-trip to the Ringling Museum.
(Real-time update: On February 21, we are still enjoying Ft. Myers.)