John's Pass, Zentangle, and a rented recumbent

MARCH 10, 2012

continued . . . With a wee sunburn on my shoulders, I decided that today would be a day of rest, at least for me. Phil, on the other hand, rented a recumbent from Bicycle Outfitters in Seminole, Florida, and has decided to ride the entire Pinella Bike Trail, which he should complete tomorrow.

I, however, began my day resting at John's Pass, where I sampled T-shirt and clothing shops, and enjoyed beautiful sights, three of which I included here.

Swimming Pelican, John's Pass, Florida - 3/10/2012

John's Pass, once a thriving fishing village, has maintained the look of a thriving fishing village, but now with schools of tourists, not fish. (Tourists smell better.) The pier's antique atmosphere is charming and definitely worth your time, despite the proliferation of nearby T-shirt shops, most of which the same designs.

White Heron, John's Pass, Florida - 3/10/2012

Based on "location location location," I love lingering at The Hut and Sculley's restaurants, both managed by the same company. The Hut features pier dining, plus an indoor/outdoor dining room where you can appreciate sea breezes without being baked under a hot sun or blown away. Sculley's features rustic boardwalk dining, plus indoor space. These restaurants are located side-by-side just to the left of the main pier entrance. I highly recommend them!

Pelicans on a piling, John's Pass, Florida - 3/10/2012

The rest of my day was given over to Zentangling, a fairly recent name given to the art of drawing patterns. I've been interested in the subject for years, but never understood how to approach it until accidentally discovering Zentangle books on The book I'm currently referencing is Yoga for your Brain: a Zentangle workout by Sandy Steen Bartholomew.

Tomorrow I plan on visiting various botanical gardens for enjoyment and more sketching in hopes that my current Zentangling has made a difference in my style.

For more information on Zentangle, see and

Kick scooting around St. Pete Beach

MARCH 12, 2012:

Last year, we drove around St. Pete Beach, a Florida barrier island just south of Treasure Island on the Gulf, but didn't spend any time in the area.

This year, we toured a section of the island between 35th Avenue (by the Pinellas Bayway Road Bridge) and its very southern tip.

View of Loews Don Cesar Hotel - 3/12/2012

The 4.5 mile route started just in front of Loews Don Cesar Hotel, also known as the Pink Palace and Don-Ce-Sar Place, roughly marked on the map between (1) and (6), and ended with a beach-front tour of the hotel (6).

Map portion of St. Pete Beach illustrating a trip on the island - 3/12/2012

The stretch of heavenly level sidewalk along Gulf Boulevard, which turns into Pass a Grille Way on the east side of the island (2) provides sweeping views of Tampa Bay water and, as you get closer to the end, numerous benches upon which to enjoy those views. The 80-degree temperature, gentle sea breezes, bright-blue sky, and ocean smells we experienced made a perfect visit atmosphere.

Pass-a-Grille Beach on St. Pete Beach - 3/12/2012

Whereas the east side (2) features a long, clear stretch next to water, the Gulf of Mexico side along Gulf Way (3) features a natural dune-fronted beach. In the middle of this area, at Pass-a-Grille (4), is a beachy snack bar and clean changing rooms.

While you might think you'd also see T-shirt shops, hotels, and restaurants galore, we found the area to be primarily residential, with a select group of low-rise inns and one block of restaurants discretely mixed in.

Note that parking anywhere is $1.50 per hour, paid at regularly-spaced meters by identifying your parking space number and presenting change or a credit card.

Phil Little on a kick scooter on a narrow sidewalk in front of St. Pete Beach's Gulf shore residences - 3/12/2012

Sunset Way, a road/alley between 22nd and 30th Avenue, marked as (5) on the map, runs through a purely residential district. Although it is not advisable as a tourist to drive a car through this section, you can easily do so on a kick scooter or bike.

Note that between 30th Avenue and 28th Avenue is a narrow sidewalk that runs between the areas grand houses and the beach (pictured above). It shouldn't be missed!

Loews Don Cesar Hotel - 3/12/2012

The entire area provides an outstanding touring experience for kick scooter riders because of regularly changing scenery, shore views, beach access, interesting architecture, from modest to mansions, and just enough restaurants to provide comfort without glitzy distraction.

That said, when you near the Loews Don Cesar Hotel (6), you pass two beautiful art and craft galleries. Once in front of the Pink Palace, you can enter to enjoy its ice cream parlor, or pass on to its lobby, through which you access its ultra-luxurious, beach-side patio. This patio, quite happily, is open to all.

The patio features a menagerie of palms, two lushly landscaped pools, an umbrella covered beach, and the The Sea Porch Cafe, an indoor/outdoor restaurant, should not be missed. Lunches are excellent and reasonably priced, and its atmosphere, highly stimulating.

Tampa - The Florida Acquarium and the American Victory Ship

MARCH 14, 2012

Our plan today was to arrive early in Tampa, see the famous Florida Aquarium, then kick scoot in a nearby residential island as well as in Ybor City.

As it turned out, the aquarium more than captured our attention. Kick scooting? Forgetaboutit.

Shark at the Florida Aquarium, Tampa Bay, FL - 3/14/2012

Among the amazing sights we saw at the aquarium were sharks (of course), petting tanks, people in diving suits swimming with the fishes, and the very rare Australian Leafy Dragons (see below).

Yes, that beautiful floating plant is really a Sea Horse!

Leafy Dragon at the Florida Aquarium, Tampa Bay, FL - 3/14/2012

Immediately behind the aquarium is the The American Victory Ship Mariners Museum, housed in a working merchant marine vessel that once carried military cargo from World War II through the Viet Nam conflict.

According to the museum's website, "The world-class SS American Victory was built in 55 days and was delivered to the U.S. War Shipping Administration by the California Shipbuilding Yard on May 24, 1945."

Everything on this historic ship is operable and visitors are free to roam through out. Special events include periodic Relive History Cruises, which take passengers, along with live entertainment, food and beverages, around Tampa Bay. The next one, unfortunately, is scheduled for just after we return home.

Phil Little at the helm of The American Victory Ship, Tampa Bay, FL - 3/14/2012

Last night in Florida

MARCH 15, 2012

Tonight is our last night in Florida as well as my 68th birthday. Soon after posting this blog, I'll begin packing. I wish I could bring home the perfectly warm weather with sweet, ocean breezes. Instead, we have a bag of souvenirs for our grandchildren.

For just one more fully-packed adventure, we re-visited Tampa with the express purpose of kick scooting around what we discovered to be the very private and very exclusive Harbour Island. That said, we explored its northern shore outside its gates, but were disappointed that we were not able to see its beautifully landscaped streets except from a distance. (Hey, guys living in Harbour Island. Why do you bother making it so pretty if you don't want everyone to see it? Wanna live alone? Make it trashy and less inviting. No one will bother you, but I digress.)

Prior to arriving in Tampa, we drove through Gulfport, Fl, where we spotted a large, silver monster on the roof of a rather modest home (see below). The back story? I have no idea. (Maybe its mate is living safely somewhere inside the gates of Harbour Island where it can't escape.) (At least the people in Gulfport are a bit more generous with their visuals in that they actually want people to enjoy their decorations up close and personal, but I digress again.)

Silver monster on the roof of a Gulfport, Florida, home - 3/15/2012

Once in Tampa, we kick scooted a round-trip of about five miles between the Florida Aquarium and Tampa University, which is partially housed in the historic Plant Hotel (below). We also covered quite a bit of ground along the bay, including the Tampa Convention Center and the edge of that elusive Harbour Island. Lush scenery. Sweet breezes. And by 2:30PM, a very hot sun.

Tampa University in Plant Hotel Buildings - 3/15/2012

We finished our day back home in Treasure Island, where we dined on the beach at Sloppy Joes and watched the sunset; a fitting end to a wonderful time.

Sunset on Treasure Island Beach, FL - 3/15/2012


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Karen Little -

Article by Karen Little. Photographs primarily by Karen Little with help from Philip Little. First published on on 5/5/2012. All rights reserved.