I moved to St. Pete in September 2007. This was my first home here. As of the end of this month, May 2014, I will no longer call this place home. It's been quite a gig!
I'm leaving the Old Northeast neighborhood for downtown St. Pete. The downtown has certainly blossomed since I moved here. With the upturn in the economy, there are many construction projects underway. Three new apartment complexes are underway, one already occupied, and the other two in various stages of construction. There are several other large apartment complexes in the beginning stage of construction, one being a 17 story building a block away from my new home. There are many shops, restaurants, bars, lounges, live music, theatre, movie complex, coffee shops, bistros, parks, festivals, all within walking distance. Oh, and gelato.
The path of my move . . .
The Beacon is a cool mid-century style condo. Built in 1963. Kind of reminds one of they type of housing you see from the Communist block countries back in the 60s.
I'm looking forward to my new home and life in downtown St. Pete, and sharing it with Steve!
December always seems to fly by. Maybe because there is so much going on with the holidays and preparations and so on. I always try to make sure that I do things to make it more relaxed and enjoyable. This was Steve's first Christmas in Saint Pete, so we wanted to make sure that we did enough activities to keep it simple and fun.
We went to the Nutcracker at the Palladium (Steve's first time seeing it.) The little clowns reminded me of Adele when she did that part many years ago! We also went to the Santa Parade and the Snow Festival downtown.
I ran into these Canadian ladies on Coffee Pot Bayou on one of my walks. They were having a blast as they got away from the freezing weather up north.
We baked ginger crinkle cookies using Steve's mother's recipe. They were soooooo good!
We went to North Beach at Fort DeSoto one Sunday. The water was cold, but it was a beautiful sunny day.
For Christmas, we went away for a few days to Mount Dora. Talk about a relaxing Christmas. Post to follow. . .
Skipping ahead to New Year's Eve, it also was relaxing and fun. Enjoyed a special toast, tarot card readings for us both, a quick stop at a friend's party, walked around the First Night activities a little and ended up meeting friends to watch the fireworks on the Bay at midnight!
Two days after Christmas, on Friday, all of my children and my grandchildren came to visit for a few days. What fun it was! My apartment became full to the brim!
First order of business after getting out of the car was "jumping in muddy puddles" as Ruby's friend Peppa Pig does with her family. And Red greeted me with big smiles! He's such a chill 8 month old!
Ruby is talking up a storm and repeating everything. When her Mama said "This is G-Pa's house" Ruby echoed, "G-Pa's house." When she began exploring the layout of my apartment, she repeated, "G-Pa's kitchen" when we went in there.
We had some snacks and exchanged gifts. Ruby enjoyed playing Santa and giving everyone their presents. We took a break to call in an order to Valentino's Little Italy. Gina and I went to pick it up and we feasted in the kitchen!
We took a walk over to the Bay after lunch. Ruby loved seeing all the birds. It was good to walk off some of our lunch. But, next order of business, off to Mazarro's to pick up some pastries for dessert! We're a family that loves to eat!
On Saturday morning we went downtown. First stop, Steve's condo to get a tour and then all of us to head over to the Saturday Morning Market three blocks away. It was way too crowded so we headed over to the playground at Demens Landing. Then, off to Sunset Beach on Treasure, after a pit stop at the apartment and a stop at Fresh Market to pick up lunch vittles for the beach.
It was overcast, but comfortable. Ruby loved the beach. Red was a little cautious of the sand and the water. The Gulf waters are a little cold for my blood too! Ruby loved finding shells. When she found a fancy one, I said, "Oh, look! A variegated shell!" And Ruby said, "variegated". She's so good at that! Steve built a little mound with a moat around it and a riverbed leading up to it, so that a wave would find it's way up to surround the mound. As a wave was coming, we got excited and exclaimed, "here comes a wave!" Ruby took off in the opposite direction!
Steve then dug a hole for Ruby to sit in. She loved it and promptly pulled sand in over her legs and feet.
Saturday night was a relaxing one since we were all tired. On Sunday morning I headed to the apartment to make French toast with the Panettone. I dip it in egg and egg nog and vanilla batter. It's sooooo good! Gina manned the Choco Motion machine to make the hot cocoa with peppermint marshmallows.
Since the forecast was calling for rain, we headed over to the Florida Aquarium. We ran into a lot of traffic since there were several cruise ships docked to let passengers off and pick up passengers for the coming week's cruises.
The aquarium was lots of fun. Ruby loved the otters doing flips in and out of the water right in front of her. And the penguins too!
We spent Sunday night going through some of the multitude of boxes of old photos. A lot of work still ahead!
On Monday morning we headed over to Crescent Lake Park. First the playground, then a walk around the lake, then over to Panera for a late breakfast. Shortly after that . . . the family left for the trip back to Leesburg (northwest of Orlando). The visit went way too fast!
But . . . the following Friday I met up with Joe and Joy and Ruby and Red (the Big Js and Little rs) and Mia and Gina at Linda's and Louie's in Bradenton. After having lunch we headed to the beach (it was way windy and cold). Brave Joy and Mia and Gina took off their shoes to wade in. Ruby enjoyed jumping in the muddy puddles.
For Christmas we went to Mount Dora for a couple days. We got a special holiday package at the Lakeside Inn which included two delicious breakfasts, plus cash vouchers for dinner and the buffet. The Inn has been in operation since the 1880s! It's a quaint old inn. There was a special Christmas Eve dinner and a huge buffet on Christmas Day. Over 600 people were seated for the buffet throughout the day on Christmas!
The downtown area and the park were decorated with thousands of lights. There was a light show set to music for the Christmas tree. Fun! Not quite like the Osborne light show at Disney, but nice!
We took a stroll shortly after breakfast around downtown. The streets were deserted! Very relaxing, but not a place to grab a coffee or pastry later! Our buffet reservation was for 5:30 pm, so we were looking for a snack! We thoroughly enjoyed the Lakeside Inn. All of the staff and other guests were extremely friendly. The wait staff worked their butts off, but you could tell they were enjoying themselves! It was a nice way to spend Christmas!
Last year was the first time I visited Disney World when it was decorated for the Christmas Holiday Season.
This year Adele and Gina invited us to spend some time enjoying the decorations, and specifically, to see the Osborne Family Lights at Disney Hollywood Studios.
So, Day 1 was spent at the Magic Kingdom after a stop at the Grand Floridian to meet up with Adele and Matt and to see the decorations there. We enjoyed some warm chestnuts before boarding the monorail to the Magic Kingdom. We met up with Gina at the Be Our Guest dining room to have lunch. Then a leisurely stroll around the park. It was Steve's first visit there, so we had to do a few of our favorite rides: the Haunted Mansion, the holiday Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Thunder Mountain Railroad. Unfortunately, Splash Mountain ran into a problem and shut down just as we got there. We had a really fun time meeting the talking Mickey! What a hoot! An ice cream treat, watching the street dance party, then out until the next day.
On Friday we headed over to Disney Hollywood Studios. Our main item, to go on the Great Movie Ride with Gina as tour guide. Our moving theater 'car' was full with a Disney Fan Club, who had a scripted response to Gina's tour spiel. It was hilarious! Adele had to leave for a while, so Steve and I took the boat over to Epcot. After we strolled around a while, Gina met up with us after getting out of work. We had a nice lunch at the Morocco Tangerine Cafe. Adele and Matt joined up with us later. We did get to hear Whoopi Goldberg as the narrator for the Candlelight Processional at the American Gardens Theatre.
Then to the back lot to watch the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. Worth the trip! Plus it snowed! Amazing!
Beautiful weather again for the annual Ribfest in Vinoy Park. The three day festival is very well attended. The lineup of bands included (Friday night): REO Speedwagon, (Saturday): Gin Blossoms, Sister Hazel, Edgar Winter, John Kay & Steppenwolf, (Sunday): Randy Houser and Justin Moore.
Steve and I took a walk around the outside on Friday night to catch a little of REO Speedwagon, planning to actually go in on Saturday to enjoy the festival.
On Saturday we walked over to the festival to catch the Gin Blossoms. I remember them from way back (?) when my son Joe was in high school. On the way we stopped at Fit2Run to check out running shoes. My old Aisics had just about bitten the dust. OK. They were long gone. So I left with a nice new pair of Brooks.
We got inside the festival just as the Gin Blossoms took the stage. We walked around and selected some ribs from Uncle Bub's (because the his picture reminded me of Peppa Pig)! We sat along the bay to enjoy. Shortly after, we met up with Pete and Steve and Evan and Lonnie.
The crowd continued to grow as the day progressed into night. Along the way we had a treat of cappuccino frozen yogurt covered in dark chocolate and chopped peanuts. And we figured, we're at a 'carnival' so why not a funnel cake!? Settled for the closest thing, an elephant ear. YUM!
My seventh Halloween in the Old Northeast neighborhood. Linda and Betty and Christine came up from Bradenton (about 40 minutes south of me) to join Steve and me for our Halloween tour around the 'hood. We started with sandwich wraps and snacks before we headed out. As time went on, the streets and sidewalks became more crowded. We went out early enough and by the time the teenage crowds began to gather, we headed back home!
Adele informed us that The Manhattan Transfer would be performing at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival on October 12 and 13. So, a road trip was quick in the making. It was Steve's first visit to Disney World.
We met up with Adele at Hollywood Studios just after 8 AM on Saturday. Since it was early hours, the park was not very crowded yet so we got to practically walk on the several rides that we had selected. We first headed over to the Hollywood Tower of Terror. Always a must! What fun! Then we headed next door to pick up a fast pass to the Rockin' Roller Coaster. In between we visited Star Tours and watched the new recruits duel with Darth Vader at the Jedi Training Academy. We headed over to catch the Voyage of the Little Mermaid. I have some friends in that show . . . the Turtle, the Black Fish and one of the Eels. After the show we met up with Adele and had lunch at the Backlot Express. We had hoped to eat at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, but because of a recent policy, visitors can reserve far in advance of visiting, so that all spots are booked before the park even opens! I don't like that!!!
We then took the boat over to Epcot where we walked around the World Showcase visiting the different nations represented. Just as we got there we caught one of the sets of the "British Revolution" at the United Kingdom exhibit. They are so good! Always a must see when there! We then met up with Adele when she got out of work and caught the Manhattan Transfer show. We had a great time, but being a Saturday night on a 3 day weekend (Columbus Day), the park was extremely crowded with people lined up for wine and food all around the World Showcase.
On Sunday morning we headed over to the Port Orleans French Quarter Resort where we met Gina for lunch in the Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory. It was her first full day there for her new assignment. I'm glad we got to catch her on her first day!
I was back in NYC for my seasonal visit to spend some G-Pa time with Ruby and Red. Oh, and to visit with Joe and Joy too! I found a place to stay via Airbnb right in the same building where the Js and Rs live. It was a sweet commute in the elevator!
My trip was made, heck, my whole year was made when I first got there. The battery on my cell phone had died and the phone would not even start up after we landed at LGA. So, I got a cab over the LIC, headed up to the Js, and parked myself outside the apartment, plugging my phone into an outlet in the hall. I wanted to send a text to Joy to let her know I had arrived. I didn't want to knock or ring the door bell for fear of waking a possibly napping baby or toddler. So I waited outside the door. Very soon I heard some noise from the other side of the door and the door swung open. There was Ruby and Red in the tandem stroller and Mama ready to wheel them out for an afternoon at the playground. They were surprised to see me! And Ruby said, "G-Pa! Hi G-Pa!" Right then and there she stole my heart!
The eight days were spent hanging with Ruby and Red. Red has gotten so big already! Six months old! Playgrounds, playing games, reading books. And . . . I was introduced to Peppa Pig and her family! What a joy!
Thursday night I went into Manhattan to see the new musical "An Evening with Janis Joplin", still in reviews when I was there. I LOVED IT! I had seen Janis live four times back in the sixties. I loved the musical numbers and the staging and lighting!
On Friday Gavin came down from Albany and we spent the day together. We first headed over to the High Line Park and walked the length of it. Then we headed down to the WTC. We were going to attempt to go to the memorial, but the line for tickets stretched all the way to Terre Haute! We then walked over to the South Street Seaport and then up to Greenwich Village where we had lunch.
On Saturday I went with the Js and Rs to a seasonal pumpkin patch 'festival' out on Long Island. We had a fun, although a bit (a bit?) overpriced! Ruby loved the animals!
On Sunday we went into Manhattan and attempted to have lunch at the Shake Shack in the UWS. Unfortunately the wait to get in was far too long, so we headed down to Bryant Park to get sandwiches at 'wichcraft. It was overcast and a fine mist every so often, but we made the most of it. And Ruby got to ride the merry-go-round!
As my time to return home approached, I made sure I got to spend as much time as possible with Ruby and Red. On my last day Ruby and I got to spend a fun time at the new playground on the waterfront. What fun she is to be with! I'm looking forward to our next visit! Hopefully, this January in Florida!
In honor of my seventh September in St. Pete, I thought I'd post some pictures taken so far this month. I haven't been posting much on this blog this year. Life has taken several turns since I started this back in 2006. Thanks (or no thanks) to Facebook, I get more news and share my own stuff on there much more than on here. So, maybe this will be winding down. Plus my life is moving on to other things. It's hard to stand still!