Pensacola - St. Petersburg 20 December 2014 - 21 February 2015

Better Nate Than Lever!

It's very challenging to blog when we're giving 1000% of ourselves and time to actually living it. There's very little time or energy to recount it other than our quick Facebook posts. I'd much rather be outside playing than inside blogging.  Since we haven't blogged in 4 months, I'll try to not recapitulate.  That would be pedantic and quoting history so how 'bout just a skim over?

        Thanksgiving, my birthday, and Christmas were spent with children, grandchildren, and friends, making them special occasions for us. 

     We spent 10 weeks in Pensacola having our fly bridge total enclosure totally redone--strata-glass and all.  If you're in that area and need canvas work, call Tony at Pensacola Canvas, who sets the gold standard for attention to detail and perfection.  My husband is  a difficult task-master when it comes to detail. I overheard Tony begging Bill's pardon for being anal. Bill replied that that was indeed a compliment so they are two birds of a feather and were a perfect team. Tony has so much imagination, creativity, and was very collaborative. We are tickled pink! He even fabricated a storage area for our bikes so they no longer press against the canvas.
Tony's Finished Artistry

     January 25th, a glorious day for cruising, was our Pensacola departure date. "Parting is such sweet sorrow."  Farewell to Pensacola, son and family, and friends, fave haunts.  We hated to leave but we really must go.  Feeling and hearing water moving beneath our keels was sweet music to our souls.

     On our way south, we had the opportunity to have dinner with my college suite-mate and school teaching roomie, Joann, and her husband, Ron, in Shalimar/Fort Walton Beach/Destin----our old stomping grounds.  

Our evening anchorage in Ingram Creek, FL. with no light pollution and the stars are magnificent!!!
     Isn't this a placid scene! This is what our eyes beheld the morning of 27 January as we awakened, anchored in Parker Bayou, about 3 miles east of Panama City. This vision of the early morning mist hovering just above the water's surface makes me want to heave a big sigh, kick back and inhale this new day's freshness.

     Tonight we'll anchor in the "suburbs" of Apalachiacola. I'm "all puckered up", as the Southerners say", for some big ol' succulent oysters tomorrow.
Apalachiacola Oystermen
      Apalachiacola is a quaint and charming little village, crying out, "old Florida" and punctuated with beautifully well-maintained vintage homes. We drove a golf cart, marina courtesy, around the area to get the lay of the land, then took off on foot. Neither of us had been there before. We passed it by as we cruised north in the spring because the month didn't have an "R" in it and not an Old Wives' Tale either as I did a bit of research. My delicacy craving was quite satisfied at Boss's Oyster House.


     Our crossing going north from Clearwater to Carabelle was long and boring but not awful--just not fun. Going south we left from Appalachiacola because Carabelle was such a poverty-stricken and depressed area to which we hoped never to return.  The trade-off  made our Gulf crossing a 24 hour trip almost exactly to the minute from our departure to our arrival in Dunedin. That trip kicked our fannies and we were totally fried!  Soon's our lines were secured we went right to sleep, didn't resurrect for almost 2 days and felt like zombies when we did. Sailing friends make overnight crossings often and think nothing of it. That was only our 2nd and hopefully our last although that's the only way to get to Pensacola and the Panhandle by boat.

     In St. Petersburg, we were in the hub of activity.  We had a fabulous docent, Janice Embrey Brown, with 22 years experience in this museum/gallery.  She works only on Thursdays at 5 PM (incase you go there). She knows Dali (pronounced Daaa'-Lee) inside and out; wears a medium height shoe (heel) upside down on her head, covering her bun and has 6---all different colors. The shoe has the Dali "eye" on the back of it.  She pointed out aspects of his art that were amazing (and how I hate that word) and to the untrained eye, would never had seen had she not called our attention to them with her pointer.

This was in the Vinoy Hotel Parking Lot

     Chihuly has a magnificent gallery there and our docent was very knowledgeable. Of course our photos didn't begin to do justice to his pieces. The Museum of Fine Art is just across the street and there are museums and galleries galore.  The Pinellas Trail has an access point right down town for cycling, running, walking, or skating.  Saturday mornings there are crafts, food vendors, fresh veggies---an all day event.  We went to a couple of concerts at The Palladium and on Sunday afternoons, one of the downtown churches offers spectacular performances.  The Duke Energy Center for the Arts, just a stone's throw away, has performances/events almost nightly.  

     We LOVED St. Pete.  Probably my favorite thing was having a place to really swim. 

 The city has a gorgeous facility with a 50 meter and a 25 yard pool.  Tampa Bay laps at the seawall just beyond the pool deck. It's been so long since I've had access to an outdoor pool with lane lines and a black line with T's at each end.  I was in heaven.

     Sadly, we left St. Pete noonish 21 February, despite digging in my heels, kicking, screaming and hanging onto the piling as we left our slip. We've lived aboard 6+years and are never any place too long but 18 days in SP was far too short. Of all the places we've been, this was probably the most difficult one to leave. Love the North Shore Pool, Pinellas Trail, galleries, museums, marvelous restaurants, etc.---and Publix so close and convenient. — at St Petersburg Municipal Marina.

Hopefully will continuing to catch up till I'm caught up!

Bill and Laura Bender


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