Content about stpetebeach

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We were finally able to have dinner at Salt Rock Grill in Indian Shores tonight. It's one of our all time favorite restaurants, but it's been a few years since we've been there. Not surprisingly, Salt Rock reminded us of why it's a favorite for all of us. Phenomenal food, a great room and view, and a wonderful experience overall. Hopefully we'll be back again soon.

Here's a self portrait of sorts in the reflection of the glass-walled wine cellar just inside the front door of the restaurant.

tags: restaurantstpetebeachselfportrait

photo posted by matt in Tuesday, April 4, 2023

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I could not be more proud of Jake. He's kind, compassionate, smart, thoughtful, generous, and considerate. And, at 18, he's got big dreams...and the skills and plans to make them happen. Keep moving it forward, Jake.

tags: sunsetstpetebeachjake

photo posted by matt in Monday, April 3, 2023

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Dude 1 (packing up beach supplies from the trunk, seemingly surprised with what he found): "Dude...spike ball!"

Dude 2: "I'm totally down for spike ball."

Dude 3: "I'm getting a little drunk first."

Dude 1. "Hundred percent."

tags: stpetebeach

photo 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: stpetebeachflorida

postposted by matt in Saturday, April 1, 2023

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A view of the Maumee River from an office in One Maritime Plaza in downtown Toledo, Ohio. A computer monitor on a desk shows a livestream overlooking a street near Upham Beach in St. Pete Beach, Florida. (Matt Buchanan/Toledo, Ohio)

I love being greeted by the sunrise over the Maumee River when I get into the office in the morning. This morning was twice as nice as I was finally able to view the livestream from the condo on my computer—our patio camera there is slowly (and surprisingly) coming back to life after Hurricane Ian.

This is truly a great way to start a day…and a week. Happy Monday!

tags: sunrisetoledomaumeeriverstpetebeach

photo posted by matt in Monday, October 10, 2022

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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: sunsetsilhouettebirdstpetebeachflorida

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: stpetebeachfloridastormlightning

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: stpetebeachfloridastormlightning

photo posted by matt in Friday, August 5, 2022

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The sun sets over the Gulf of Mexico as viewed from Upham Beach in St. Pete Beach, Florida. (Matt Buchanan/St. Pete Beach, Florida)

A few more clouds would have made for more interesting skies after the sun sank below the horizon, but this sunset was damn near perfect.

tags: sunsetstpetebeach

photo posted by matt in Monday, August 1, 2022

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I love this photo of Jake and Renee. Casual, unposed, and perfect light. We've walked this beach so many times, watched so many sunsets here, but, still, it never gets old.

tags: sunsetstpetebeach

photo posted by matt in Monday, August 1, 2022

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Renee and I had dinner at the Middle Grounds tonight, a favorite of ours that we've been going to for years. The boys are usually with us, so I've always avoided the mango encrusted grouper, since Jake is allergic to mangos. He's not with us on this trip, so I decided to give it a try, and realized on closer inspection of the description that it's actually Jake's worst nightmare—mango and pistachio in the same dish (he's allergic to both)!

It was delicious, by the way. ;-)

tags: dinnerstpetebeachtreasureisland

photo posted by matt in Saturday, June 25, 2022

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Visiting a favorite of mine for dinner tonight—Ted Peters, which is famous for its smoked fish. Renee has never been a fan but was willing to go. She got a hamburger, but tried my smoked salmon. She actually liked it, and vowed to order the smoked Mahi next time we go. And she loved the German potato salad.

tags: stpetebeachdinner

photo posted by matt in Wednesday, June 22, 2022

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We took a quick walk along the beach after dinner. You can't really see it in this photo, but Renee was gradually building a pile of trash in her right hand as we went.

She always does.

I love that.

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photo posted by matt in Tuesday, June 21, 2022

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The Mexican restaurant at the end of the street — Agave — has become one of our favorites over the last several years, but you have to go early because it always gets crowded. Renee and I were ready for an early dinner tonight after rolling into town early this morning, so it seemed like a logical choice.

Salsa, tacos, and beer. And a bit of ice cream for dessert. Perfect dinner.

tags: stpetebeachdinner

photo posted by matt in Tuesday, June 21, 2022

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Occasionally I find myself in St. Pete Beach without Renee. It's not the same without her, of course, but one perk of the solo trips is having smoked fish at Ted Peters. It's just not her thing, so we never go when we're down here together.

Well, I've been down here for work the last couple days, and I'm heading home tomorrow. So smoked salmon, German potato salad, and Miller High Life in a frosted mug was an easy call.

tags: stpetebeachdinner

photo posted by matt in Wednesday, November 10, 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: floridastpetebeach

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: floridastpetebeachredtide

postposted by matt in Wednesday, July 21, 2021

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Just a couple of guys waiting on our pizza. And calzones.

We decided to try a new (to us) pizza joint on our last night–Giuseppe's on Gulf Boulevard. Jake and I walked there and took this photo outside while we waited for them to finish the order. Pretty good pizza, and the calzones were huge.

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photo posted by matt in Wednesday, March 31, 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: stpetebeachfloridabeachsisters

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: floridastpetebeachaquatarium

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.

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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: floridastpetebeachaquatarium

photo posted by matt in Monday, March 29, 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.

tags: stpetebeachfloridaaquatarium

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: floridastpetebeachaquatarium

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: farmersmarketstpetebeachflorida

photo posted by matt in Sunday, March 28, 2021

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Here's a detail view of the George T. Ward Poppas Point marker in Pass-a-Grille. I can't find any detail on either Ward or Poppas Point online. Ironically, there seems to be no permanent reference to Poppas Point or George T. Ward. Sort of weird, actually.

tags: rockmarkerpassagrillestpetebeach

photo posted by matt in Sunday, March 28, 2021

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Well, this is probably the strangest sunset photo I've ever taken. We had a traffic incident happen on the street outside our balcony tonight. It seemed like a bit of road rage when it happened, but I actually think it was an accident. Coincidentally, we got our patio cam back online this afternoon and caught the entire thing on video.

The guy on the right in the orange ball cap ran over the island in the middle and hit the white car. His tire had ran up on the island as he approached the end of the street; he overcorrected in response and then shot over the island to avoid a car in front of him, hitting the parked white car. Crazy sequence of events. Luckily no one was hurt (including a pedestrian who was walking right for the white car and, had it happened 10 seconds later, might have been directly in the path of the oncoming car).

Meanwhile, the sun did its thing, in somewhat spectacular fashion.

tags: sunsetstpetebeachpolicetrafficaccident

photo posted by matt in Saturday, March 27, 2021

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We went for ice cream after dinner tonight. Our usual (and favorite) Larry's was bit crowded, which gave us a little pause, so we opted for the less-crowded Sprinkles, which we haven't visited in probably over a decade.

Good ice cream and, bonus, they gave Teddy his own scoop–a vanilla pup cup! It was his first experience with ice cream. No surprise that he loved it; he even licked my cup clean after I was done.

Bringing Teddy on our trips down here might force us to rethink our ice cream routine a bit.

tags: stpetebeachicecreamdog

photo posted by matt in Friday, March 26, 2021

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Great sunset on St. Pete Beach tonight, but the sky reminds me of Missile Command a bit. Looking at this photo I feel like the hotel on the right is my last base and it's about to go under!

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photo posted by matt in Friday, March 26, 2021

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The rendering of the coming Hilton Garden Inn is beautiful, of course, and I'm sure the hotel will do fine. But, that space will always be the HoJo to me, and I'll always remember it as my first exposure to my beloved St. Pete Beach.

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photo posted by matt in Thursday, March 25, 2021

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Well, it's a bit of a sad day in St. Pete Beach. The Howard Johnson hotel, which sits just a few blocks down from our condo, is gone. The structure is still there, but it's being refurbished and rebranded. The distinct orange roof is gone and construction is well underway. The Hilton Garden Inn will arrive soon.

The HoJo was my first exposure to St. Pete Beach, probably 45 years ago. My grandparents brought us down here. When they traveled, they would only stay at a Howard Johnson. So, each time they brought me here, we stayed at the HoJo (and ate dinner at the Brown Derby next door).

Sad to see it go. Progress sucks sometimes.

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photo posted by matt in Thursday, March 25, 2021

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I'm not sure what this statute did in its former life, but I kind of dig it sitting atop the front door of this house down the street. The pool balls on his vest might be a clue.

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photo posted by matt in Tuesday, March 23, 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: fishermanfishingfloridasilhouettestpetebeachsunset

photo posted by matt in Saturday, July 30, 2011