19 March 2010

Disc Golf and Kite Flying

We really slept in…9:20.

Looking out on the beach, there is almost no one out there. A few joggers…that’s all. It’s overcast but the palm trees are hardly moving. No wind!! Perfect day for disc golf.
I showered, we had some bran cereal then headed to the Village Inn for coffee/tea and eggs benedict. Once outside the room, we could see that it had rained. Probably explains the lack of wind…

The Village Inn was a bit of a disappointment. Alan said the coffee was really bad. My eggs benedict was only fair. But then, I’m rather spoiled by Alan’s egg benedict. It was busy and the service was so-so. However, our waiter was helpful in trying to find out where Maximo Park is…our disc golf destination for the day. If he’s right, it’s really close…just across the Pinellas Bayway bridge.

We went back to the room to get sunglasses, hat, water bottle then struck out. We just happened to have exact change for the toll bridge. Once we got across the bridge, though, we were clueless. We stopped at a convenience store to ask directions and they seemed simple and clear enough.

However, we’ve been having issues with street signs some times. Sometimes the signs at intersection give you the block # of the street you’re on and sometimes it’s the cross street.
The directions we got from the store were good but we misread the street signs and ended up on the Sunshine Skyway ($1 toll) headed south. We went until we could turn around, turned around and paid the toll to cross back north. We stopped at the rest area/fishing pier at the north end and discovered that we could have turned around there and at least avoided the second toll. Oh well.
We got back to the intersection where we misread the signs originally and followed them correctly this time. We found Maximo Park and followed the interior signs to the disc golf course.

We found the first tee and started throwing. It’s a gorgeous course and park! We couldn’t find the 5th tee and stopped some guys with disc bags to ask them. They said there wasn’t a 5th tee and hole anymore. Or 8th. They had been built on Indian burial sites and removed. To make up for the missing holes, you play “6b” which tees off a painted spot on the sidewalk toward another hole. I forget the make-up for hole 8 but it was something similar. You end up getting 18 holes but unless you just ‘know’ how it works, you’d never figure it out. If we hadn’t run into the course regulars, we might still be looking for the 5th tee…

We managed to find most of the rest of the holes…we skipped 10-12 and never did find 18. Alan went into the water hazard on 17 (twice) and I hit it on my putt. But it was a lovely, sunny 71 degrees. THIS is the Florida we came for!

We went back across the Bayway to the Cuban place for lunch. Alan got coffee and proclaimed it most excellent.

We took half my sandwich back to the room for later, picked up my kite, Alan texted Eric, then we hit the beach to fly. We found an open spot south of our hotel’s beach and set up. I bought this kite the last time we were in Florida (about 2 ½ years ago). The kite I’d taken with me that time had been my trusty flier for a dozen or so years but it popped a seam on that trip. I took it to a kite shop in Clearwater but they said it wasn’t repairable. I bought this kite then, but this was the first time I’d actually flown it.

The sky had scattered clouds and the wind had picked up a bit. It was fabulous flying with pure, clean wind coming off the Gulf. Alan said the only thing missing was some kid to wander up the beach and say, “Wow…can I try that??”

Enter George.

Alan was flying, I’d gone out to launch for him when George came up to Alan. Alan got him started and I just stayed out at the launch end. After a few crashes, George was off to the races. We guessed him to be in the 12-14 years range. Kids that age are just fearless. He was doing amazingly well after just a few minutes.

I didn’t talk to him, I’d stayed out to launch the crashes, but I could see the huge grin on his face and have taught enough people to fly to know how it was going. At one point Alan came out to where I was to ask what a kite like this one costs ‘cause George was asking all kinds of questions.

A little while later, George’s dad came along. He declined to give it ago but watched a while before the 2 of them walked off the beach. I’m sure the dad will be hearing a LOT about kites in the near future. George told Alan with enthusiastic sincerity that flying the kite was the most fun he’d had ALL week.

Alan and I flew a little while longer then packed it in. It was completely overcast by then and the wind had picked up some more. It was looking stormy off to the southwest again.

While George was flying, he and Alan couldn’t see this but I noticed a plume of black smoke. It looked like a ship was on fire…there was a thick black trail from out on the Gulf toward shore. No idea what happened.

There were a number of parasailers out over the water. It looked like fun but getting wet then going way up in the cold wind just wasn’t what I wanted to do right then.

There was also a Hitchcockian scene a couple of times. At one point, several young women were walking onto the beach from the hotel where we were flying and they got mobbed by a flock of seagulls. We thought it was really odd until it happened again to another group of people. The only thing I could think of was that there was a garbage can where they were walking. If the birds were congregating there and the people came through, I could see where agitation and chaos would ensue. But it really did look like something out of The Birds.

On the way back to our hotel, we stopped at a beach bar to listen to a musician singing and playing guitar. He had a nice voice and did old 70s stuff like America and Beatles tunes. The bar had those outdoor, propane-powered heaters. We sat under one to listen and it was wonderful.

As we were entering our own hotel area, Alan suddenly stopped in his tracks and said, “I know those people.” then backed up to make sure. He confirmed and we went into the beach bar where they were seated to say, “Hi.” Turns out it’s another family from the Waukee school district. They have 2 boys that are the same age as Alan’s and are all on the track team together. Alan also knew the boys from when he coached soccer. Anyway, they had just arrived in St Pete Beach and their food arrived as we were chatting so we didn’t stay long and left them to their meal.

We chilled in the room a bit then started our evening planning. We had leftovers from 3 meals in our fridge that it was ‘now or never’ on, but we needed a microwave to reheat them. We stopped at the registration desk to ask if there were any around that we could use. The one woman said, “No.” as the other said, “Sure!” She directed us to the employee break room and we went to find it. We did and went out looking for a bottle of wine, having finished the one we bought Monday.

There’s a liquor store almost directly across the street from our resort so we walked over. As we were perusing the wine selections and discussing the options, a woman at the end of the aisle said, “Be careful…buy that one and someone may tell you to ‘go fly a kite.’” She was one of the people on the beach while we were flying earlier and made a ‘go fly a kite’ comment then, too. Then, on the way out of the store, we ran into the Waukee family again. Small world!

We walked back to the room, gathered up our food and headed for the break room. We had seafood alfredo from Alan’s supper Monday night, half of my Cuban sandwich from lunch and 2 pieces of triple-berry pie from our ‘free pie Wednesday’ visit to the Village Inn for breakfast.

In the break room, we nuked the main courses and were discussing the fact that neither of us found any cups in the place. We’d decided to just swig from the bottle (classy, eh?) when an employee standing in the room watching TV pulled out his cell phone and called somewhere to request ‘two clean drinking glasses to the break room.” He hung up, told us glasses would be there momentarily, wished us good evening and left. Sure enough, a few minutes later another employee walked in with 2 glasses and handed them to us. What service!

We ate and talked and sipped then decided to head back to the room.

It had rained while we ate and was chilly. We decided a moonlight walk on the beach probably wasn’t a good idea. We did, however, admire the sliver of a waning moon hanging out over the Gulf from the relative protection of our balcony.

Alan read, I journaled and we planned (we had to get quite stern with ourselves…) that we would go to bed at a reasonable hour and not sleep in the next day. The time changed the day before we arrived so we didn’t have time to adjust to it then, we lost another hour when we got to Florida and the sleeping in was going to make Friday morning’s departure time come really early.

On one of our forays out and about, we saw a Lamborghini in the parking lot. Neither Alan nor I are really “car people” but how often do you actually see a Lamborghini in person? We were looking at it and a couple other people stopped by to look at it when we hear, ‘Hey! Get away from my car!” coming from a 5th floor balcony. We looked up and it was a group of college guys laughing their heads off. Still, you gotta wonder why someone who drives a $350,000 car would be staying at the same hotel as us…

Alan warming up before we hit the course.

Alan sinking a putt.
Alan contemplating how to get to the 6th tee.
What an awful lie! That's my disc in the foreground and, of course, the hole is on the faaaaaaar side of the bridge.
Alan flying the kite on the beach.

George's dad, Alan and George (flying).

The Lam...