St. Petersburg, FL (Again)

As we completed our 10 week tour of Florida we realized we had fallen in love with the city of St. Petersburg.  We found a wonderful community in St. Pete Beach and bought a condo in Captiva Cay.  The people in the community are the kindest, most friendly folks we’ve ever met; we already feel we have family in Florida.  We put Clyde in storage for a month (see business hours below at Big Toy Storage) to settle into our new home in St Pete.  We cleaned, painted, stocked our kitchen, and exploited our Amazon Prime account.  I scoured the shelves of every Homegoods, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls in the area. We enjoyed views of the Boca Ciega Bay: wild dolphins, manatees, boats, paddleboarders, and kayakers.  We even got a special visit from family from Chicago who happened to be staying in Naples at the time.  Alice and Dan, (my aunt and uncle), their daughter (and my cousin) Duck, and our good friends (who may as well be blood related), Sue and Bob, came to spend an afternoon and an evening exploring St. Pete with us.  We can’t wait for everyone to return, especially because we insisted dolphins swam in “our bay” ALL the time, but yet the whole time the family was there, not one surfaced.  Of course the minute everyone left, dolphins frolicked in the bay morning, noon, and night – I saw one laughing at me.

Johan volunteered for three days at the St. Petersburg Grand Prix, rounding out the racing trifecta of GT cars, dirt bikes, and Indycars all in a 30-day period.  If ever anyone doubted the cool factor of Florida, let it not be someone who appreciates the sweet smell of burning rubber and gasoline.  Grand Prix volunteers earn their role in the race working back to back 10 hour days but Johan enjoyed every minute of raising money for the Moffitt Cancer Center and eventually getting promoted to work the Rahal Letterman Lanigan box for the last two days.  He is already excited to work the race again next year.

A month came and went so fast.  We got quite a lot done, but there is quite a lot more to do.  We are thankful for our realtor Steve and his wife Roni, who are now our friends, as well as special friends from Captiva Cay: Danny, Jonas, Martha, Karl, and many others we briefly met and look forward to getting to know over the coming years.  For now it is time to resume our travels but we look forward to returning to St Pete to make more great memories, and we hope to recruit family and friends to visit us there as well!

 

Tampa, FL

After St. Augustine, we circled back to the Tampa Bay area for the 2018 Tampa Supercross Race.  (And when I say “we” I mean, Johan went to the Supercross race.  I stayed home to pamper my ears by not exposing them to the dirtbike symphony.)  It was indeed an important race, however, as Chad Reed set the record for the most starts in the history of AMA Supercross.  Before his record breaking 228th career start, Johan had a chance to shake his hand and get a photo with Chad.  Even more exciting and totally unexpected was the opportunity to meet Roger De Coster, a fellow Belgian, a former motocross racer, and a current team manager.  Johan said they bonded (not his word) over Belgian roots, and that he was a kind and interesting man who he hopes to meet again at a race someday.  We are hoping Johan’s talented race photos catch the eye of some team managers and that he is invited to officially photodocument the supercross races sometime!

St. Augustine, FL

Once again the weather played an important role in our travels and the experiences we had as a result. St. Augustine is a charming city, but the first day we were there was difficult to enjoy; high winds and cold temperatures kept us moving quickly and stopping to enjoy very little.  On a chilly but sunnier day we visited Flagler Beach, stepping out of the car for a minute to snap a few pics of the coastline.  Luckily the Manatee Observation & Education Center is indoors and offers a lot of great information about the kind and gentle “Sea Cows”, but the manatees must have been huddled around a campfire somewhere because they don’t enjoy the cold either and were nowhere to be found.  We went back to St Augustine on a nicer day and truly did get an opportunity to enjoy the city, walking at night and enjoying the shops and history of the area.  We didn’t get a chance to visit Castillo de San Marcos, which gives us a great reason to come back when we can explore this important national park.  We DID find the time to visit the St Augustine Distillery, which presents an excellent tour of the facilities and a background of the building and its importance in the current community.  After you complete the tour and try their bourbon, gin, vodka, rum, Florida Mule and Old Fashioned, you relly need to head upstairs to the Ice Plan Bar for more hand made cocktails.  What a great place!