Category Archives: Talking Points Tours

Enjoy real Florida at Rainbow Springs

I’m not sure if this is an End of the Summer or Beginning of College friends trip, but here they are members of the Lunch Bunch. “chilling out” in the 73 degree river. Courtney, Erica, Dylan and Hilary celebrating their liberated-from-high- school status by tubing down the Rainbow River just before they all hit the college books!

The Aquifer pumps 461 million gallons of the cleanest, coolest, most refreshing water on the planet into the Rainbow River.

This trip is an affordable luxury too. It cost just $5 for the car-load of co-eds to enter the state park. Then they rented tubes for $10 a piece. A bus picks up the tubers and transports them up river, drops them off and they take their own sweet time floating down the river. If you want to see real Florida, visit Rainbow Springs State Park.

Belly dancing on Upham Beach

Belly dancing on Upham Beach

File this under Lost and Found Video: Belly dancing on Upham Beach. Here is a little more information about this:  http://www.zvents.com/st-pete-beach-fl/events/show/122578885-sunset-hookah-lounge-live-dance-performance. The next performance is scheduled for August 21, at 7 p.m.

My five-hour tour

If you live in Pinellas County it just makes sense to own a boat. But if you don’t, the next best thing is to have friendly neighbors invite you to cruise on their boat. Such was our good luck on Memorial Day (Thanks Jimmy and Lori!).

Jimmy launches his Scout into Boca Ciega Bay from the Jungle Prada boat ramp on Park Street. He backs the boat and trailer into the water so smoothly you’d think any fool could do it.

From our launching point at Boca Ciega Bay we headed southwest in the channel out under the Treasure Island Bridge and under the Blind Pass Bridge. I soon recognized Sloppy Pelican, Philthy Phil’s and Fisherman’s Park at the end of Corey Ave.

From there we entered the Gulf and cruised along Upham, St. Pete Beach, and past the Don CeSar.  Then we decided to re-enter Boca Ciega Bay and take a tour of the Tierra Verde waterfront homes. We went out in the evening, so there was a warm tropical breeze in the air.  Lori says a ride on the boat is her personal favorite cure for stress. We stopped at a little island long enough to talk to a young couple who had an 8-week old Dalmatian out for a romp in the surf. (Sorry, no picture 😦 — but so cute!)

We then turned north to South Pasadena, Causeway Isle, past Blind Pass and into John’s Pass to go dolphin watching. There was plenty of activity at John’s Pass Village and the Dolphin Cruise was full of people. We got the show we were hoping for. There were several pods hanging around. They aren’t shy, but getting a picture is a challenge. One dolphin jumped about 10 feet out of the water. But it’s the one that got away. We missed the shot.

By the time we were chasing the dolphin, the sun was setting and there wasn’t enough daylight left for photos anyway. So we watched the clouds build up into the familiar sunset orange, pink and blue towers. That’s when we noticed fireworks in the distance. Pretty soon it was completely dark and we headed back across the bay to our launch site. The end of a typical day on the water in St. Pete.

The spontaneous five-hour tour was a surprise for my husband on his birthday. I agree, Lori, a cruise around the Gulf waters is nature’s massage.  Ommm. When can we go again?

No Tar Balls (yet) and Healthy Hut now open

Is BP oil spill our fault?

It’s hard to believe that on February 13 I joined hands on the shore of Upham Beach with fellow concerned citizens for the Hands Across the Sands demonstration. The event was a response to legislation that would allow oil drilling just 3 miles off the Pinellas Beaches and the serious threat it posed for our environment and economy. Who knew that this exact type of disaster was looming just over the horizon?

Like everyone else, I’ve been following the news on the spill. Last week I was shocked to hear a BP executive say on a radio news report that everyone who drives a car is to blame for the blowout. Really? He is apparently referring to our insatiable need for fuel. Under Lord Brown’s leadership as CEO, BP was working to position themselves as a “Beyond Petroleum” company and was investing heavily in alternative energy sources. That ended when Tony Hayward took over as CEO. He is NOT in favor of  the “Beyond Petroleum” shift the company was taking and dramatically cut back this division. Here’s an NPR story link about the shift. Now Hayward finds himself trying to down-play the amount of environmental damage this spill is likely to cause.

Here’s a humorous exchange I heard on On Wait-Wait, Don’t Tell Me: an oddly informative news quiz show (NPR) Sunday, May 16, 2010 (WUSF):.

(FYI: Roy Blount, Jr. is the author of 20 books, most recently Long Time Leaving: Dispatches From Up South, and including Feet on the Street: Rambles Around New Orleans, Robert E. Lee, If Only You Knew How Much I Smell You, Roy Blount’s Book of Southern Humor and Be Sweet: A Conditional Love Story. Modesty aside, Blount has done more different things than any other humorist- novelist- journalist- dramatist- lyricist- lecturer- reviewer- screenwriter- anthologist- columnist- philologist of sorts he can think of.)

Mr. BLOUNT: I love the fact that the thing that didn’t prevent the blowout is a thing, the technical term for which is the blowout preventer.

SAGAL: Right. That’s what it’s called.

Mr. BLOUNT: They forgot to check the blowout preventer.

SAGAL: They had a label on it.

Mr. BLOUNT: Right. It stands for BP I guess.

SAGAL: Exactly.

Here’s a serious comment from Jim Hightower in his weekly radio commentary heard on WMNF: He said that BP chose not to spend the $500,000 at the time the rig was built for an automatic well shut-off switch. This website may be the source of Hightower’s comment: “BP Oil Platform Spill Disaster is CHENEY’S Fault”

Blame aside, now I’m hoping for news that someone has come up with a way to clean up the oil before it destroys estuaries all around the Gulf states.  And, what about  those deep water coral reefs?

On a more local note. . .

I went out to St. Pete Beach to check out the new Healthy Hut food store, which is now open on Corey Ave., and inspect Upham Beach for tar balls. I’m happy to report there are no tar balls washing up on the beach. That is not to say we will be spared the sticky, slimy mess.

I traveled further up Gulf Blvd., and also dropped in on my Indian Rocks Beach friends Ivan Senia and Kay Smith. Kay walks a two-mile stretch everyday on the beach. She says she hasn’t seen tar balls on IRB so far. Ivan retired from building avionics navigation aircraft systems and now enjoys keeping an eye on the weather and atmospheric conditions just for the fun of it. He reports that a day or two after the blowout, he could smell it as traces came in on the Gulf breeze from the north, northwest at about 30 mph.

I asked Ivan and Kay to keep me posted if they find any evidence of tar balls on the beach. I’ll certainly report it if they do. So far, the beach is okay.

Healthy Hut organic supermarket now open

I reported about six months ago that The Healthy Hut would be opening soon. So I decided to check it out now that it is open. It is a full-size grocery story carrying mostly organic products. Signs proclaim that St. Pete Beach residents are the owners — nice to know if you support the “shop local” movement.  Customers can order prepared carryout food or they can sit in the restaurant-like seating area sectioned-off near the deli in the rear of the store. I was surprised that the store was so large and carried so much, including health and beauty aids.  Having an alternative to the chain grocery stores is a good thing. Nature’s Finest Foods,  is located at 6651 Central Ave. St. Petersburg (However, that store is part of the NRG Organic Supermarkets chin). It’s about 10 minutes away.

Hands Across the Sand Could be seen for Miles!

I joined hands with nearly 1000 of my fellow beach lovers today to show we Love Tourists, Not Drilling! This Florida-wide event took place at 1:30 this afternoon. People showed up wearing black from head-to-toe to symbolize what we want to prevent, a devastating oil spill. Phil Compton, Regional Representative of the Sierra Club showed a map of the oil spill in the Timor Sea superimposed upon the eastern Gulf of Mexico – demonstrating what can happen to pristine beaches and vital water resources if oil drilling is allowed in the eastern Gulf.  Patricia Plantamura, Seminole City Council women & Scott Maddux, candidate for Florida Agriculture & Consumer Services Secretary, each spoke about their opposition to drilling and commitment to clean energy development.  Finally, Robin Grabowski, CEO of the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce reiterated the Chamber’s longstanding opposition to drilling & support of coastal protection.

As I looked down the beach from Upham to St. Pete Beach, a black dotted line could be seen all the way down to the Sirata Beach Resort and beyond. It was a great way to show that Floridians are opposed to drilling!

Dolphin Feeding Frenzy!

Set up for a day at Indian Rocks Beach

Set up for a day at Indian Rocks Beach

IMG_2709When my kids were little, some of the neighborhood moms and I would get together and take our kids to the beach the week before school began. I must be missing the tradition, because I went out on the kayak again last week. This time my friend Kay and I went in search of dolphin. Wow! We managed to paddle right into the middle of a feeding frenzy! There must have been about 20 dolphins just off Indian Rocks Beach. All I have is this wimpy shot of a dorsal fin to prove it. I was safely back on shore when it occurred to me that dolphin aren’t the only sea creatures with dorsal fins!

Cruising in a Kayak along IRB

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I have kayaked in the salt marshes off North Carolina and canoed down several rivers on Florida’s west coast, but I have never kayaked in the Gulf  off our own beaches! So when a friend invited me to meet her for a kayak trip taking off from her Indian Rocks Beach house, I said, “I’m there!” We launched the kayak at about 9:00 a.m. and already there were many people out. Most were walking. Some were fishing.  It soon became clear that something in the water close to the shore was attracting a lot of attention.  It turned out to be stingrays.  The orange tape surrounding two turtles’ nests on shore was clearly visible from the water. The early morning storms we saw on radar off shore  were moving in. The wind picked up and we saw the dark clouds, lightning, and heard thunder. So we decided to cut our trip short. Within 15 minutes of our return, it was pouring rain.  I rarely go boating, so cruising down the shore in a kayak, as opposed to driving down Gulf Blvd. was a fun diversion.

Do the stingray shuffle

Do the stingray shuffle