Friday, October 5, 2012

A Few Minutes In St. Petersburg

  I sure got a lot of response from my last less than optimistic blog! Not to worry, no one is giving up. I just was in the mood to provide a balance to our mostly positive experiences, and as I have been reminded, mentioning "balance" and "us" is usually not done in the same sentence.
  It rained all day while we were in our anchorage near Madeira Beach. The water was cloudy and not very inviting. There were lots of abandoned boats sprinkled around in the harbor and the dismal surroundings could get to nearly anyone.
  The rain kept us from visiting our neighbors in the dinghy, and we had wanted to. My one reservation was that most of them kept their boats in a deplorable condition, and it may be unfair to characterize, but a boats condition tells a lot about the owners, I think. Rosie was less inclined to go visit the one younger couple nearest to us with the boat in the worse condition, but then I don't think she saw this girl in her bikini. Motivation comes in many forms.
  We did venture out in the rain to visit the Publix in order to stock up on things we needed (wink wink) and to dump two bags of trash. We got soaked with rain that became worse as soon as we got a few yards from the boat. There was a nice courtesy dock right at the McDonald's next to the Publix. We may have not been burger customers on that day, but we feel like our overall consumption of Big Macs over the years should account for something.
 There was a huge American Legion Post right on the waterway that we had noticed coming in on our first day that was doing a booming business. When we returned to the boat I called Post 272 and asked if they were open on a Wednesday, check...Did they have a varied menu, check...Did we need to be a member, No?, check.
  The rain let up enough late in the afternoon and we decided to get cleaned up and go out to spend some dollars on the local economy. When I had earlier called a nearby marina to check on diesel prices, the person there had only one comment about my inquiry about going to the Legion Post for dinner. "Well, it's affordable", was his reply. There wasn't really anywhere else to go but McDonald's where we could dock the dinghy, so we headed for the American Legion Post anyway.
  Naturally as soon as we reached the causeway the skies let loose, drenching us. We tied up to the dock and made our way into the Legion Post and the first thing I noticed was tables lined up similar to the ones at a high school cafeteria, or a soup kitchen, or a medium security lockup. (Don't ask how I know this last bit of information.) But secondly, I spied a bar with nice comfy stools gathered around it and lots of veterans engaged in an early happy
hour. We claimed a couple of seats and a waitress brought us a menu. Soon after, a bartender came over and asked for our membership cards. I explained as to how we had called earlier and asked if we needed a membership and was told that we didn't, and that we had traveled via dinghy in the rain, and that we just wanted a couple of beers with dinner.
  The bartender says, "Well, I don't know who would have told you that you don't need a membership card, but even though you don't need one to eat, you need one to drink."
  I've been to enough Legion Posts for drinks and dinners over the years to at least know to ask the question, so I figured I did my due diligence by phoning ahead. So I said, "I don't know who told me that either, but I'm not making it up."
  Rules are rules, so she asked if we wanted to just eat. I looked over at the institutional type seating in the eating area and respectfully declined her offer. Rosie could see all of this coming a mile away and was already putting her rain gear back on as I stepped away from the bar. I wonder what the person who answered my phone call thought I meant when I asked about the membership? A person just can't ask enough questions anymore.
  In pouring rain we made our way back to the boat, just pulling over to a nearby pier to see if there may be a restaurant within walking distance, but the bugs and small crabs skittering about on the dock was enough to convince Rosie that eating back on the boat was the best course to take.
  Once we got back and hauled the dinghy back onto the davits, the rain stopped. I began to associate dropping the dinghy with rain, similar to those who associated rain with washing the car. I realize that this type of notion is self centered in its logic, just like those that pray to win the lottery. It's not like everyone washes their cars at once.
  It was over a delicious dinner of pork tenderloin and mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy that we decided to get out of Dodge on Thursday morning. We stayed up late to watch the first of the Presidential debates and spent our last night in Madeira Beach.

  Happy to have the sun back, we headed past John's Pass and down the Intracoastal. We had about a 30 mile trip to Apollo Beach where we were meeting friends on Friday night and we wanted to break up the trip into two segments.

  Just under the Treasure Island Causeway was where we were going to find our present anchorage, in the Boca Ciega Bay at St. Petersburg Beach. It was only a 7 mile trip, but we barely idled the whole way, enjoying the morning and the view of the homes along the waterway.
  We anchored in a very wide area with only one other boat in the area, an unoccupied sailboat that looked to be in very nice condition. The water was clearer here and once we got settled, I decided to ignore the possibility of being eaten by any sea creatures and lounged around on my raft for the whole afternoon. Rosie was less adventurous, but she did dip herself a couple of times off of the swim ladder.
  I forgot to mention earlier, but our dinghy tie up system has been modified once again. The dinghy sits as high up against the davits as I can get it, and the lines I have tying it up do not interfere with using the swim platform much, so we find it easier to get in and out of the water now. The only downside is that our dinghy is wrapped up better than a kidnap victim, if you consider that a downside.

  By late afternoon, the wind started whipping up and the clouds started rolling in. This is a sure indication to get out on deck and confirm that the anchor is well set and batten down the hatches. This was an ominous looking front coming our way, but the NOAA radio broadcast didn't mention anything about it being "severe", and the radar showed a narrow band, so we didn't get too worried, but those clouds just dumped rain on us, albeit for a short time.

  The storm soon quit and boats came back out. I had started watching the news after dinner and checked myself. I mentioned to Rosie how dumb it was to be watching more of the same 'ole same 'ole, and that we should be out in the cockpit admiring the sunset. She agreed and soon enough we were out setting in our deck chairs with an after dinner cocktail in the cool air, supplied by the passing weather front.
  I would have included a beautiful sunset picture but the promise of a spectacular sunset didn't materialize as we had anticipated. Life is like that. The best things just happen without a lot of planning, but if you over analyze and expect to plan a good outcome, more often than not it leads to disappointment. I think we'll pull up anchor soon and head south, and just see what happens.

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