15 March 2010

Touchdown and 'freebie' day

We left home about a quarter after 9 and dropped the dog at the boarder…conveniently located right en route to the airport. At the airport, we checked in, cleared security and went to the gate to wait for our flight.

We had seats together, 2nd row from the front. The plane was packed…not an open seat was left. This was the first time I’d ever been on a plane where the seats did not recline at all. There was almost no knee clearance and we had to sidle into the seats. I don’t know how people larger than us would have fared.

We arrived at the St Pete/Clearwater airport and picked up our rental car. It’s a Toyota Corolla…uh-oh…Alan informed me that if the accelerator sticks, it’s my job to shift it into neutral. We headed out.

We were both starving so we agreed to stop at the first fast food place that presented itself. That turned out to be a Checkers…sort of like a B-Bops except with a nearby, semi-attached building for eating in.

We got a large, seasoned fries, large drink, and spicy chicken and crispy fish sandwiches. I’m sure hunger added to our opinion of the food quality…we both thought it was great.

We ate in the car on the way to the Sirata resort, checked in and settled into our room.
First on our list was a walk on the beach. We could see the Gulf from our room and couldn’t really tell what it was like out there. There were about equal numbers of people fully clothed in long pants and hooded jackets and those in swim suits.

We decided to take jackets, ball caps and stick to jeans and tennies. Good call! The temp was in the mid-60s but it was wicked windy. We started out walking into the wind so that we could walk back with it behind us. Another good call!

There were a few people actually in the water (briefly) but they were far hardier souls than I. There were people jogging in shorts and Ts but they were working up a sweat.

There was one guy out on a kite board almost the entire time we were walking. We marveled at this stamina and strength. There were times he’d leap the crest of an incoming wave and remain airborne for up to 10 seconds as the kite held him up. He tacked in ad out on the same stretch of surf so it was easy to watch him for a long time.

Having flown a traction kite in moderate winds that picked me up off my feet, I know what it takes to fly in wind like that. My hat’s off to him!

After our walk, we decided to go in search of a grocery store to get some comestibles for the week…cereal, milk, half-and-half, and some wine. I called the hotel operator to ask about a local grocery and he directed us to a Publix about 4 blocks up the street. We set out on foot, noting potential eating spots along the way.We found the Publix in a little strip mall and went to check it out. Unfortunately, all the wines required a corkscrew…which we didn’t have and didn’t want to shell out the $$ to buy.

There was a Dollar Tree next door so we decided to check there. I forgot to pack sunglasses and needed an el cheapo pair anyway. While I picked out glasses, Alan looked or a corkscrew…which they didn’t have. I got glasses and we went back to the Publix. We tasted some lemon thyme chicken with sautéed squash ribbons that they were giving out samples of (I got the recipe…). We picked up the goods we came for and decided we’d ask at the hotel if they’d open it for us.
We got the wine opened and relaxed a bit then decided to head back out for supper. The southwest sky over the Gulf was looking gray and threatening. Part of the problem with being in a strange place is not knowing the weather signals. We decided to head out Gulf Blvd. on foot and take the first likely looking place.

That turned out to be the restaurant at the top of the hotel next door. The Spinner is a 360-degree view, rotating restaurant about 10 floors above street level. We took a glass-walled elevator to the top and got a table. Our table moved almost one complete revolution in the time it took us to order, have an appetizer, salad/soup, and entrées…shrimp and scallop scampi for me and seafood fettuccine for Alan.

The food was fabulous and we could see the city lights a long way away, in some directions. On the Gulf side, there was nothing but the reflection of the interior lights.

We walked back to our hotel, fell in to bed and slept like the dead.