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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
I think this is a first — I've got the entire pool to myself.
Well, we didn't miss it. Caught the sunset at nearly the last second possible, as we pulled into the parking area under the condo. It was beautiful, even with this limited view.
The sunsets have been nice so far this trip, but not spectacular. Tonight's was a step in the right direction.
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.
Shane, Kaylee, and Lindsey enjoying a little pool time.
Beautiful skies this morning!
Another great breakfast at the airport. So much fun watching planes coming any going, and watching Jake watching the planes coming and going.
Noticed some pretty cool lines and colors when I looked out and saw Renee and Pat watching the sunset on the patio tonight.
It was quite hot out today, even into the evening. Ice cream with the whole family was a great way to end the day. Teddy even got his vanilla pup cup, free on Wednesday's.
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.
Denny and Pat closed on the sale of their Gulf Winds condo the other day, marking the end of their 46 years there. An end of an era for the family for sure.
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 with out 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.
Spending a little extra time at the pool today before heading home tomorrow. Weather is absolutely perfect.
Relevant data points for the day.
We enjoyed another perfect sunset here tonight. I love this casual shot I captured of Renee and Jake watching it over the railing on the patio.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
A detail view of the Corps of Engineers survey mark.
There's a new bar/restaurant going in down the street from us–going to be called 82 Degrees, maybe? Their new "Wish You Were Here" in St. Pete Beach mural is pretty cool.
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.