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A drive to Treasure Island for dinner tonight took us right pass the awesomeness of the sign at the Thunderbird hotel. I need to get a pic of it lit up one night.

tags: florida sign

photo posted by matt in Wednesday, July 3, 2024

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Jake had an amazing day today. Yesterday, his former flight instructor texted him, knowing we were here in Florida, and asked if he'd want to copilot a Pilatus PC-12 back to Toledo with him. Jake would never turn down that opportunity (and of course we wouldn't want him to), so Renee and I drove him down to Page Field in Fort Myers. This photo shows Jake and his instructor going through their pre-flight checklist. He told us shortly after they finished pre-flight that his instructor told Jake that he would be doing all the radio work. Always the teacher! Jake was a bit nervous about that, but excited, too. A few minutes later they were wheels up to Toledo, with a quick stop in Columbus.

tags: pilot plane florida fortmyers

photo posted by matt in Friday, June 28, 2024

St. Pete-Clearwater sees single-month bed tax record (baynews9.com)

Which — as Khan says — is sure to bring in guests from all over the globe. “From like, literally, all over the world," said Khan. "That’s probably the coolest thing to me. Just all of those different cultures mixed in together.” More attractions are on the way to the area, and coming this summer will be a direct flight from Mexico City. St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport will also be adding a non-stop flight to Amsterdam this fall.

The secret's out - St. Pete is truly a wonderful place to visit and live. More people (and traffic!) are on the way, but I'm ok with that if it adds to the vibrancy and diversity of the area. I'm sure we'll hear plenty of complaints at the pool next time we're down there, though. Boomers gonna boomer.

tags: stpete stpetebeach florida

posted by matt in Sunday, May 19, 2024

Tropical Storm Lee nearing hurricane status, will strengthen quickly (tampabay.com)

"Lee does not pose an immediate threat to Florida and most models show the storm curling away from the state."

The Tampa Bay Times gets it right. The quoted language is the subtitle for the paper's main article for Tropical Storm Lee today.

tags: weather florida

posted by matt in Wednesday, September 6, 2023

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Here comes Idalia! Sort of an unconventional storm/hurricane, originating off the Eastern coast of Mexico and projected to roll over Cuba and into the Gulf before crossing Florida to the Atlantic. Looks like St. Pete Beach will meet her tomorrow evening. We'll see how long my camera stays online!

tags: hurricane florida idalia2023

photo posted by matt in Monday, August 28, 2023

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I mean look at that interior. And those lines...that dip behind the door reminds me of the lines on the Spitfire. Perhaps Triumph was inspired by the lines of the Bel Air. I've never noticed that on the 1957 Chevy before.

tags: car florida stpetersburg

photo posted by matt in Thursday, August 10, 2023

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If there's a car show, Jake and Denny will find it. Tonight we had dinner at Quaker Steak and Lube in St. Petersburg...solely because the restaurant hosts Larry's Car Show every Thursday evening. I was a little worried the turnout would be low in light of the heat, but they had plenty of great cars and a decent amount of lookers, too. Great show!

tags: car florida stpetersburg

photo posted by matt in Thursday, August 10, 2023

Renee and I watched a married couple walk into the ocean today as we were floating off the beach. The woman walked in, snorkel gear in one hand and a lit cigarette in the other. Renee and I looked at each other, clearly wondering the same thing — is she going to just flick that into the water? To the woman's credit, she didn't. She dunked it, then carefully placed it in a bag she had (I think for any shells she finds while snorkeling).

Renee and I looked at each other again: Nice!

Then the man walked in, a few minutes after the woman. Same thing, except for the dunking and bagging part. He looked at his kid (who had walked in before both of them), flicked his cigarette in the ocean, strapped on his mask, and swam away.

Ugh.

tags: environment florida

postposted by matt in Thursday, August 3, 2023

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We had a thunderstorm roll in just as we were eating dinner. Heavy cloud cover and rain made it look like the sunset would be washed out. Then the rain stopped just in time and the clouds broke to reveal a real beauty.

tags: sunset stpetebeach florida

photo posted by matt in Monday, July 31, 2023

Police ‘handcuff’ nine-foot alligator on Florida street (independent.co.uk)

"In what would be an unusual incident pretty much anywhere else in the world, police officers in Florida 'handcuffed' an alligator found roaming down a street in Tampa."

Oh so Florida.

tags: florida tampa

posted by matt in Saturday, April 1, 2023

St. Pete Beach has a distinctive Midwest vibe to it. There's no shortage of vacationers from Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, etc. Residents often hail from the breadbasket, too. I think this has been true for a long time. I remember my grandmother noting essentially the same thing, forty plus years ago when I first started visiting the area with her and my grandfather. Our vacation stays at the Howard Johnson hotel on Gulf Boulevard are treasured memories for me (the HoJo is now a Hilton Garden Inn).

There seems to be more folks from the East coast in the area, lately. Not a bad or a good thing, just a thing. An observation.

We've met a few vacationers from New Jersey on this trip (retirees) and I've noticed several license plate frames touting Rutgers and other East coast schools. Maybe that could be viewed as a Midwest thing, though, with Rutgers now in the Big Ten. Maybe not.

Home prices have shot up dramatically over the last few years. I think Covid forced a wave of people out of NYC and other big cities permanently; perhaps vacation attitudes changed, too, as part of that.

St. Pete Beach has a character that, I think, is distinctly its own, unique among the Gulf Coast beach towns. It's down to earth, diverse, and vibrant. It's not pretentious at all. No one cares what you do (or did) for a living, or even what your last name is. People would rather talk about the early bird special at Leverock's than hear about how important you are (or were). It's fun and interesting and active and safe. It's wonderful, and I love it.

Like all cities that are lucky enough to have a defining personality, St. Pete Beach knows itself, too. It has confidence. Not arrogance; not even swagger. Just awareness and comfort in being true to itself. Confidence.

An influx of new folks won't change that.

Not overnight, at least.

As I just finished writing (and editing) this post, I watched a guy walk across the street as he headed to the beach. He had a pool noodle in one hand and a caged bird in the other, and was wearing an Ohio State t-shirt.

Go Bucks.

tags: stpetebeach florida

postposted by matt in Saturday, April 1, 2023

DeSantis’s Allies Discover Disney Evaded Florida’s Move to Rein It In (nytimes.com)

"Nobody seemed to have paid attention, however, to an important detail: Disney had been simultaneously maneuvering to restrict the governor’s effort. In early February — at a public meeting held by the previous, Disney-controlled oversight board — the company pushed through a development agreement that would limit the new board’s power for decades to come."

Mess with the Mouse, you'll get the horns.

tags: florida disney politics

posted by matt in Saturday, April 1, 2023

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I'm upset it took us so long to get over to The Pier since its renovation. It's a great public space that is uniquely St. Pete. And the angle on Albert Whitted is fantastic for watching departing planes, for both runways.

We took this selfie on the steps near the top, with downtown St. Pete in the background.

Great day!

tags: stpete florida their family selfie

photo posted by matt in Wednesday, March 29, 2023

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A bird stands on a rock wall as the sun sets over the Gulf of Mexico as viewed from Upham Beach in St. Pete Beach, Florida. (Matt Buchanan/Upham Beach, St. Pete Beach, Florida)

We caught an absolutely beautiful sunset this evening after a brief storm rolled over the beach and out to the Gulf.

tags: sunset silhouette bird stpetebeach florida

photo posted by matt in Monday, August 8, 2022

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Lightning strikes above a condo building on Upham Beach in St. Pete Beach, Florida. (Matt Buchanan/St. Pete Beach, Florida)

Thunderstorms rolled toward us tonight, coming into St. Pete from the Gulf of Mexico. Another opportunity to catch lightning on the iPhone.

tags: stpetebeach florida storm lightning

photo posted by matt in Sunday, August 7, 2022

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Lightning strikes the Gulf of Mexico as seen from over Upham Beach in St. Pete Beach, Florida. (Matt Buchanan/St. Pete Beach, Florida)

We had perfect thunderstorm conditions tonight–one rolled over us, heading northwest out over the Gulf, right before sunset. It had quite a bit of lightning activity, too. I didn't have time to setup my full frame camera, so I grabbed the iPhone 12 and attempted to catch lightning.

I shot for about twenty minutes, capturing about a hundred images, each right after I saw lightning. This was frustrating and fun at the same time–I kept probably seven. I'm posting two.

It gives you a real sense of the time it takes to process what you see and turn it into action. Frustrating to watch a lightning strike and then feel your finger hit the button a millisecond (or more) too late. Seven out of a hundred plus is decent, I think!

tags: stpetebeach florida storm lightning

photo posted by matt in Friday, August 5, 2022

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We ate dinner at The Hangar at Albert Whitted tonight. One of our favorites, but the weather threatened rain all day, which made for a slow day at the airport. So, we didn't see much activity as we ate. Bummer.

The ground crew did tug this Pilatus from a hangar across the way to a spot right in front of our car right before we left. Jake and I took a closer look through the fence.

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photo posted by matt in Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Florida Republicans vote to dissolve Disney's special district, eliminating privileges and setting up a legal battle (cnbc.com)

"Florida law dictates that special districts created by the legislature can only be dissolved with a majority vote of the district’s landowners. For Reedy Creek, that’s the Walt Disney Company."

This is political theatre at its worst. DeSantis isn't just dancing for the camera, he's doing so knowing that the bill is legally dead on arrival in the courts. We haven't heard from Disney yet, so I suppose it's possible they will accept the loss of the district in exchange for something. I seriously doubt that, though, and I doubt Orlando taxpayers are happy about absorbing a billion dollars of debt.

Part of me hopes DeSantis presses forward with his clown show, just so we can watch Disney kick his ass. The lawyers are already on it, I'm sure. Moron.

tags: florida disney politics

posted by matt in Friday, April 22, 2022

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So far, the most notable thing on alligator alley in Florida is the birds. These guys were all over the place at the rest area, which is about halfway across the Alley. What are they, turkey vultures of some sort?

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photo posted by matt in Tuesday, November 9, 2021

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It's been a while since I've seen this sign. It's in Port Charlotte, Florida, which is south of Sarasota and north of Fort Myers. I haven't driven this way in quite some time. I remember seeing it years ago though and wanting to research it — why the heck is there a street named after the Toledo blade down here in Florida? Inquiring minds want to know.

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photo posted by matt in Tuesday, November 9, 2021

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Oh so Florida. I'm heading from St. Pete Beach to Coral Springs for a work meeting today. It's a long drive — about 3.5 hours one way — so I threw some shorts, sandles, and a sweatshirt in the backseat for changing into before the drive home. And my tie. Pretty sure that's the first time I've ever assembled that collection of clothing articles together.

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photo posted by matt in Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Top Republican in the Florida Senate criticizes surgeon general's conduct (baynews9.com)

Wait, what's this? A Republican politician speaking of respecting each other’s level of comfort during a pandemic...in Florida?

There is hope.

tags: politics florida

posted by matt in Tuesday, October 26, 2021

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The Gulf side of Pass-a-Grille also seemed to have limited exposure to the red tide, with only a few dead fish and little evidence of the smell. The rocks are always difficult to navigate there, though, so we opted to skip our usual post-Seahorse-breakfast shelling at the beach and headed to Treasure Island for some retail shelling instead. Good call. We'll hit the beach next time.

tags: florida treasureisland seashells shells

photo posted by matt in Thursday, July 29, 2021

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Visited the always wonderful Seahorse Restaurant in Pass-a-Grille for breakfast this morning. Looks like the Bay side of PAG has been protected from the red tide—we only noticed a few dead fish as we walked along the waterfront, and the smell was mostly absent.

tags: florida stoetebeach pass-a-grille redride

photo posted by matt in Thursday, July 29, 2021

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Went to the Farmers' Market in downtown St. Pete Beach today. The crowd is relatively light this time of year, with the heat. But I still enjoy going. Renee and Denny stopped to peruse some real estate listings — "looking at houses we can't afford" according to Jake. A listing for an empty lot on Pass-a-Grille caught my eye. He's not wrong.

tags: florida stpetebeach

photo posted by matt in Sunday, July 25, 2021

Mornings are a little atypical on this trip as we have to check the air for the smell of dead fish and red tide toxin before heading out to the patio for coffee. Red tide happens from time to time, but it feels like the "to" part of that expression is getting a little shorter lately.

tags: florida stpetebeach redtide

postposted by matt in Wednesday, July 21, 2021

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We hadn't really been to the beach during this trip—water was still too cold! We decided to dip our toes tonight though, thinking it wouldn't be a complete trip without doing so.

I caught this shot of Renee and Pam as we headed out. Sisters, headed to the beach. Not sure why, but I like the black and white treatment on this photo.

tags: stpetebeach florida beach sisters

photo posted by matt in Wednesday, March 31, 2021

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Another photo, from the Florida Memory Project.

Required notice: This work is from the Florida Memory Project hosted at the State Archive of Florida, and is released to the public domain in the United States under the terms of Section 257.35(6), Florida Statutes.

tags: florida stpetebeach aquatarium

photo posted by matt in Monday, March 29, 2021

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And to prove that progress isn't all bad, here's another shot from our balcony looking over the preserve at Upham Beach. In the Aquatarium photo above, you can see the beach is only...a beach. At some point they established a preserve between the beach near the water and the street. Now it's lush, green, and full of birds and other wildlife. It's a beautiful and functional buffer.

tags: florida stpetebeach uphambeach

photo posted by matt in Monday, March 29, 2021

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To complete the walk down memory lane, here's a shot from our balcony, looking straight down Beach Plaza. In the picture of the Aquatarium above, this is from inside the parking lot looking through the entrance to the parking lot at the bottom right of the photo, down the street.

tags: florida stpetebeach aquatarium

photo posted by matt in Monday, March 29, 2021

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We can back to The Hangar restaurant at Albert Whitted airport for a second time. The plane watching and the food are always great, so Renee and I were happy to come again when Jake asked.

We watched several smaller planes take off, and this Pilatus PC-12, a single engine turboprop. Several helicopters made their way in and out, too.

tags: airport flying stpetersburg florida

photo posted by matt in Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The story of the Florida Aquatarium is short and sad, but I'm sure people all over the world have fond memories of that place. I've always viewed it as an "in between" attraction—bigger than a roadside attraction, but not quite the destination attraction that Disney ushered in.

I think my grandparents took me there once as a kid, likely after it had become Shark World based on the dates and my age at the time. Weirdly, my dominant memory is of the distinctive radial parking lot.

Renee has memories of walking along the sea wall you see in the picture posted above.

The Aquatarium is old school, beach town Florida, for sure. I miss the simplicity of it a bit, and I say that as I sit on our balcony in the air above that old parking lot in the photo above.

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postposted by matt in Monday, March 29, 2021

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There aren't many good photos available of the old Florida Aquatarium that used to sit on the property our condo is on now. I've found a couple over the years but not many. Tonight, we stopped in the "library" in the condo to find some good beach reads and I noticed this photo hanging in the corner. It's been there all along, I'm sure, but I've never noticed it before. I love it!

tags: florida stpetebeach aquatarium

photo posted by matt in Monday, March 29, 2021

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We ended our morning adventure with a trip to the St. Pete Beach Farmer's Market. It felt good to be outside, with other people. It's probably the biggest crowd I've been part of in a year. It was all outdoors and it was easy to stay socially distant, and most people were wearing masks, so we felt comfortable. It really made me appreciate the mental benefit that comes with being fully vaccinated—it literally frees your mind.

We took Teddy with us and he did really well. Stayed calm, visited with a few of the people that wanted to pet him.

Great adventure!

tags: farmersmarket stpetebeach florida

photo posted by matt in Sunday, March 28, 2021

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Two fishermen are silhouetted against the sunset as they cast their lines into the Gulf of Mexico on Upham Beach in St. Pete Beach, Florida. (Matt Buchanan/St. Pete Beach, FL)

I watched these two fishermen cast their lines into the Gulf of Mexico several times while catching the sunset one evening. After the sun had slipped beyond the watery horizon, I heard one say to the other "this is our last chance."

Then I took this silhouette shot.

tags: fisherman fishing florida silhouette stpetebeach sunset

photo posted by matt in Saturday, July 30, 2011