20 January 2012

Florida 2012 - Sunset Sail

We slept pretty well except for the early-risers upstairs walking around on their tile floor. Next time…top floor. We went to the hotel social area to get coffee (for Al). My tongue is really sore and I can't even think about drinking something hot. So I bought a can of pop from the machine.

Back at our room, we had breakfast (cereal, milk, yogurt) and I called about getting us signed up for the sunset sail we wanted to do later. I got a recording. The dock where they sail from is only about a block and a half from our hotel so we decide to walk over and check it out.

When we got there the sign in the window said they'd be back at 9:30, which was only a few minutes so we decided to wait around a bit. She arrived on schedule and we got signed up for today's sail. They require a minimum of 4 people to sail and we made 2 so she took my cell phone number so she could let us know when it was a go or if it was canceled. She said it was very likely to happen, since it was a weekend but she'd let us know either way. They'd make a final decision no later than 3:30.

Walking back, we went past a kiosk in the parking lot advertizing Segway rides. Since we've become addicted to taking Segway rides pretty much wherever we find them, I took a card. It was for the same guy we toured with the last time we were here. Also, since Publix was in the same parking lot, we stopped in to get a 2-liter bottle of pop so that I could have some cold caffeine in the morning until my tongue got better.

Back at the hotel, we picked up jackets, sunglasses and hats and went for a walk on the beach.

Before we got here, I found a walking map program on the internet that let you map routes and it would tell you how far you were walking. I'd mapped out a number of walks on the beach of various lengths so that we'd have some idea of how far we were walking.

If we left on the beach from our hotel (south) and walked until the island ends then back again, that's 5 miles. We did a walk that was just shy of 4 miles. We didn't break any speed records doing it, though. We did lots of looking at shells and stuff along the way.
Al on one of our beach walks.
Birds on the beach.
Little crab buddy

Cute little birds

Horeshoe crab

Red sponge

Hey, this white stuff isn't snow!

Back at the hotel, we ran into Lee and Ginger…a couple we met here last year. They come every year and stay at the Plaza Beach for 2 months.

I took a shower while Al went for his run on the beach. He's in training to run a 5k on the 4th of July.

Then it was time for lunch and we were looking forward to Cuban sandwiches at Bella Habana. Unfortunately, it wasn't open for lunch. So we drove up Gulf Blvd to see what else we could find.

We ended up at Historic Corey Avenue…kind of like an old Main street with lots of little shops, boutiques and restaurants. We walked a loop of the district and decided on Madeleina Cottage. It's place with a decidedly British feel...what with bangers and mash, toad in the hole, and roast beef with Yorkshire pudding on the menu. We had Reuben sandwiches…Al with a cup of clam chowder and me with a salad.

We walked a little further and found Kapfer Glass Studio. I'd read about this on the internet and it was on my list of things to check out if we had time. It was a wonderful little place. The woman running it was a glass artist and her working studio was on site. She did a lot of stuff with dichromic glass that was beautiful. She also had a lot of stuff by other artists in the shop…there were these great wooden puzzles made nearby, some whimsical metal sculpture things made by an artist out west, some calligraphic cat cards that I thought were gorgeous, copper jewelry from an artist in Madison WI, etc.

Al got a couple puzzles as presents for his boys' birthdays coming up and I got an interesting graphite drawing tool that I thought an artsy friend of mine would really like. Then we wandered through some of the other cool shops in the area but didn't buy anything else.

By then, we were tired of walking and standing and still had a couple hours before our sunset sail. Al made coffee in our room to go with the chocolate chip cookies he made at home before we left for just such an occasion.

We took coffee, cookies and water (for me) out to the cabana area to enjoy the sun and read.

Little lizard buddy who came to visit while we were sunning and reading.
Then it was time to walk to the dock for our sail. We changed into long pants, grabbed a bottle of wine and headed for the dock.

We got there right at 4:15. There were 13 people signed up…the boat can take a maximum of 20. We stowed the wine in the cooler at the center of the boat and then went up front to sit.

We sat next to a couple from Seattle who turned out to be staying at our hotel. They'd never been to St Pete Beach before and had been there almost a week. They were heading back on Sunday. We exchanged info about restaurants and things to do in the area. There was also a younger couple up front with us. They were from southern California, in town for a wedding, and we also exchanged restaurant/activity info.

Al talking with Cap'n Jim

The drawbridge is opening for us.

Our boat for the sail

Sailing buddies
It was a wonderful sail! We went under the drawbridge (a sign posted said $25,000 fine for any boat captain causing unnecessary opening of the drawbridge), saw dolphins and a fabulous sunset, and the Sky Dude. The Sky Dude was some guy with what looked like a kite-boarding kite but he was seated in a chair kind of thing that had a big fan attached to the back of it powered by a small gas engine. He buzzed around the bay almost the entire time we were sailing and came down close to the boat a few times so we got a good look at the contraption.

The Sky Dude

After the sail, we walked up Gulf Blvd to Spinners for supper. Spinners is a revolving restaurant at the top of the Grand Plaza hotel. We'd eaten there before. The food is very good, not inexpensive, and the view is fabulous. Over the course of a meal, you get a 360-degree view of the area. If it's night time (like when we were there), the whole Gulf side is dark but it's still an impressive view.
Night time view from Spinners restaurant

We shared an appetizer of shrimp, scallops and smoked fish spread on crostini then a dinner of crab-stuffed grouper with steamed squash and new potatoes. The menu specifically says (many times) "split plates not allowed"…so we didn't split them, we shared them. And the caramel lava cake for dessert.

We walked back to the hotel where Al called his nephew (Joe) to set up a time for us to get together. We settled on Sunday at 1:00pm. Al watched the end of the Lakers/Magic game on TV…he'd seen that it was on a TV in the bar at the restaurant. I googled directions to Joe's on my PDA, then we went to bed.