I am not going to talk about the government shutdown, other than to note that it caused me to have a panic attack on Saturday. Normally, i.e. under a rational president and reasonable Congress, I would expect it to be resolved in a couple of days and back pay would be forthcoming. Given the people currently in power, I had no such illusions. As it turned out, the government shutdown was short — and I think I am the only one of my friends who doesn’t think the Democrats agreeing to the deal to be craven capitulation. (I do think they’re just kicking the can down the road a bit, but I’ll live with it. It will be easier to handle a shutdown when we have finished paying off the bills from Christmas.)
So on another note…
We went back east for Christmas, and after visiting with my in-laws in the family we headed down to St. Pete. I wanted to check the place out following the hurricane, and I got to reconnect with my best friend from high school (hi, Betsy!), and spend time with my brother, sister-in-law, and The World’s Cutest Kid™.
We stayed in an older hotel that had been renovated (not an older resort, like the Vinoy or the Don Cesar) — it was all suites with kitchen, which allowed us to cook two meals a day (two meals times five people adds up fast). One block from the beach allowed us to carry drinks down to watch the sunset. It was fifteen minutes down to Passe-A-Grille, one of the best beaches in America. So, overall, a success.
We also went out to Fort Desoto, another one of the best beaches in the country. I did not feel up to kayaking through mangroves (which everybody went out for, and loved) so I walked on the beach and wandered through the old Fort. It really is a wonderful place, made even more wonderful by them removing all the Australian pines. (For the fortunate, Australian pines are problematic — from an ecological standpoint because they are an invasive species with very shallow roots that easily blow over and from a tourist standpoint because they have small, round cones with very sharp edges.)
St. Pete has changed a lot since I grew up there. It has developed an arts and music scene, and is to my mind the most liberal city in Florida. (On their website they proclaim their Pride parade to be the largest in Florida. I wonder how they stack up against Orlando.) They have a thriving microbrewery industry, which I was unfortunately unable to sample, due to lack of time. (In Largo, north of St. Pete, there is a brewery that is making beer from Krispy Kreme donuts.) But they also have artisan chocolates (yum) and really good small restaurants.
The very best food we had the entire week we were gone, and probably the best food I have had in months, was at Bodega in St. Petersburg. It was a cafe, so we had to sit outside, and it was windy, but it didn’t matter. I got their special (the Holy Mole sandwich) which was phenomenal. Not to mention their black beans… and their plantains… I love Cuban food, and this was some of the best I’ve ever had. They had legitimate vegetarian options, too, so the vegetarians in the family were happy.
Also, one last recommendation. People generally got what they want, which is great (the happiest was the Red-Headed Menace, whose cousin gave him a bunch of green-tea Kit-Kats). I gave the Rocket Scientist and LED shower head, which is great. The shower head changes color depending upon the temperature of the water. It allows you to both wait until the water is not bone-chilling cold until you get in, and regulate the temperature before you fry yourself.
More importantly for me, it has a mist setting. The mist is substantial enough to rinse off with but light enough to generate lots of steam. It’s good for pain management, stuffed up sinuses, and last-minute desperate wrinkle removing. I only wish I had had one years ago when I was dealing with small children with the croup.
So my reccomendations:
St. Pete Beach Suites: Yes.
Fort Desoto and Passe-A-Grille: definitely yes.
Bodega and LED showerheads: HELL, yes.
If you are ever in central coastal Florida, check them out (other than the shower head, of course).