A Day of Signs

My plans for today were out the window by 9:15 a.m.

I had decided to start off with a visit to the Gandy Friendship Trail Bridge, mentioned in my Guide Book as a worthwhile visit.

Then I’d drive on down I-75 to Sarasota. For the afternoon in Sarasota, I had but ONE GOAL and ONE GOAL ONLY: visit Whole Foods!!! I really had my fingers crossed that I would indeed find this oasis of divineness, and not somehow be thwarted, like in Tampa.

However, just before I set out for the Bridge, I thought I’d Google for a photo so that I could have a better idea of what I was looking for in terms of directions. Just a glance at headlines on Google told me all I needed to know: the bridge has been closed since 2008! Now, I won’t blame my Guide Book for misleading me, as it was printed in 2008, too – I felt disappointed, but super-happy that my vibe to Google the site had saved me the trip over there!

But what to do with my morning now? I thought quickly…a -ha! I’d head over to check out St Petersburg Beach since I never made it there yesterday! Dilemma solved in 5.7 seconds. Another quick Google-maps search and I was ready to hit the road.

I really enjoyed the drive over. Took about half an hour – and I didn’t get lost! I easily found parking. Again, mornings in beach towns are super quiet: no traffic issues, no crowds, no parking challenges. But paying for parking?… what is it with these Floridians?!…

yet again, an unfamiliar way of paying for parking!...

...so I sought out the pay station...

I organized myself two hours of parking which proved more than enough. A quick peek at the beach to see if there was a sidewalk along the beach (no) but I did start laughing at this sign:

...and this one's for you, Dr Evil!!! 🙂

I simply had to Google tee groin – and yes there were Tee Groins on this portion of the beach! Someone should do a tshirt with this!

Moving on…I set out to explore the streets a bit…my impression, at least from what I saw today, is that St Petersburg Beach is a lot quieter than Clearwater: there is no bustling “strip,” and it reminded me a lot of Aruba: condos on the waterfront, some stores and restaurants, but not kitsch. I first passed some low-rise motels and they were all in much better state than those in Clearwater:

old-school, but neat and tidy...

something nice about original structures that weren't built as monoliths

…and another sign that made me chuckle:

all i could think was: "pappy from Seinfeld has moved on!" 🙂

By this time, I quite had to pee…(yes, I must share this info, as you will see, momentarily) – just around the corner, I spotted:

bingo! there's always a toilet in a laundromat!

I just casually walked in, and found my facility:

well, what are they going to do about it? can't make me take my pee back!!

…and I strolled right out, much more comfortable!

Across the street, there was a neighbourhood where the homes all backed on to the water. It was really lovely, although I could not believe the number of FOR SALE signs I saw – three in a row, on one court. Bet you could get a pretty good deal right now. A reminder of how the US economy is lagging behind Canada’s.

gorgeous style...but pink?!

quite the backyard view!

a perfect kiki-house - orange! anyone know what fruit would be on that tree? it wasn't oranges...

Then I returned to the beach. {Side Note: I really have no idea if I found a “main section” of St Pete’s Beach…there didn’t seem to be a big public beach section. But what I did explore was scenic and enjoyable}. I ditched everything but my shoes, camera and water bottle in the car, and barefoot-strolled the beach. This beach had a really wide swath of sand between the condos/hotels and the water’s edge. I people-watched (families, couples, seniors) and crunched along the shell/sand mix underfoot:

mostly i could walk on sand, though

beach shot!

i would choose to stay in that round tower, to the very right, there!

Once again, I am super happy with how the turn of events worked out for the best today. I had a truly delightful beach exploration experience. Here’s my final comparison: Clearwater=perfect for families; St Pete’s=perfect for retirees (I DID see families today, and retirees in Clearwater; this is just the overall impression I come away with).

In under 45 minutes, I was at my hotel in Sarasota! A very enjoyable trip down I-75, without incident.

I’m staying at a hotel that is part of a chain which is completely new to me: AmericInn. And it’s awesome!!! I’m right off of I-75 in a mix of commercial/residential/retail establishments and it’s about a 10 minute drive downtown. I arrived here at 1 p.m. and could check in early – much appreciated. It’s just a lovely hotel! Pool, fitness room, complimentary continental breakfast, and at 5 p.m. they laid out a Manager’s Reception: sandwiches, salads, cookies, fruit, beverages – I can just picture cheap seniors taking the “early bird special” approach and poaching their supper! And, my number one priority: my room and the entire establishment is spotless.

As per usual, here’s the tour of my home for two nights! I’ll get you outside shots tomorrow. (Note: I’m debating right now whether to stay three nights, even, as Sarasota has so much to offer. Stay tuned!)

two queen beds this time! one for sleeping, one for dumping stuff on!

computer desk by the window...

fridge and micro, coffee station above (although i wont' use that!)

tour wouldn't be complete without the bathroom shot!

After settling in, I set off for…

yes! YES! yes! it exists and i found it!

can you believe it? a FOUR STOREY parking garage JUST for whole foods!

Wow, wow, and wow.

{FUNNY SIDE NOTE STORY before I move on: I parked the car and went to remove my key. It wouldn’t come out. I tried again. I tried to turn the car on again and could not. I wiggled the key back and forth. I became concerned. I looked at the dash and the oil light and the battery light were on. Oh SH!T! What have I done? The car is dead? I breathed deeply to keep panic from mounting. I heard Dad’s voice in my head: “Never panic. Think things through.” I sat for a moment. Then I happened to glance down…the car was still in DRIVE. oops. Proof of just how much I was excited by finding WF!!}

BFF Debbie and SIL Ana, I was missing y’all!

I’ve only been in one other Whole Foods, the one in Yorkville and this one was at least twice the size. Whole Foods just exudes class and poshness…

i would gladly take this sink basin in my home!

I started off with a very late lunch. If you’re not familiar with the Whole Foods buffet concept, there is a hot foods buffet and a cold foods buffet. You load up a disposable container with whatever you want, and pay by the pound at the checkout – everything is the same price. I decided to take full advantage of the available options and made up this tasting plate (with an outstanding oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, too!)…

two types of tofu; ratatouille tempeh; edameme; garlic somethings; veganized tuna; artichoke heart, three types lettuce mixes; fresh veg - awesome!

Now you do pay through the nose. One of my favourite bloggers, The Fitnessista, lovingly refers to WF as Whole Paycheque. My lunch cost $10.00 and I didn’t go overboard! So maybe it’s good that a visit is a treat-occasion.

Then I shopped. While I would have liked to stock up my kitchen at home, I settled for portable bars in flavours and brands that I have read about and can’t get at home. I plan to enjoy some down here and take some home.

can't say i won't hit up WF again in the next few days...and there's one in naples!

Clouds rolled in late this aft and it’s still rainy out. Options for this eve include TV watching (have not watched as much yet as I thought I might), and/or taking my book down to the lobby and pretending to read people watching.

Tomorrow? Weather willing, it’s B-E-A-C-H D-A-Y solid!!!

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