Hello all! So nice of you to drop by. We are starting to see signs of Christmas in our travels. Where has the time gone? Can you believe we are almost into our 12th week? Nearing the quarter mark! We still look forward to each new day and the adventures it brings us.
We hope you enjoy the food portions of our blog. Food has been a big part of our journey and the pictures will always bring us many happy memories but hope you share the joy. Wish you could share the calories!
(Note – if you tap or click a blog picture, it will expand to full screen size)
Sunday Nov 9
This afternoon we arrived at Daytona Beach Shores. This Island is on the Atlantic Ocean, just off of Dayton Beach. It is mostly condos and hotels with surprisingly very few restaurants in the general vicinity (walking distance) of our hotel. However, we did not starve. Breakfast was included here and it was really impressive. Unlimited Florida grapefruit! We found a few good dinner spots so it was all good.
This was our first Ocean View Room and having the view was incredible. We slept with the patio door opened every night so the sound of the waves could lul us to sleep. Ahhhh….The hotel was pretty nice and we looked forward to some simple, quiet beach days.
Monday Nov 10
We went for a nice long morning walk along the beach in the ‘gentle ocean breeze’ (holy hurricane!).
By noon it started to rain and did not let up the entire day. We pretty much did nothing the rest of the day. Blahhhhh!
Tuesday Nov 11
This morning I awoke to the sun rising on the ocean – it was so beautiful! I was determined to be on the beach tomorrow morning to really experience it. With Joe. Who is not a morning person. Fingers crossed.
The sun stayed out today and we sat by the pool and swam and napped and read. Heaven.
We walked to Crabby Joe’s for dinner; about 4k round trip. You walk down to the end of the pier to this cool, rustic seafood restaurant. Fishermen cast off at the far end of the pier and then walk through the restaurant pulling their wagons full of gear and whatever was the catch of the day. The restaurant will cook your catch for you too! Now that’s fresh!
Joe had some fresh grilled shrimp and I had mahi mahi tacos. Notice how we both have rice / no fries? We didn’t ask for the hush puppies!! But damn they we good!
Wednesday Nov 12
We were both up and on the beach this morning at 6:15 am to watch the sun come up. Fantastic!
We drove around later and found that all the tourist attractions were at the far end of the island. The amusement park and everything looked closed so we went into Dayton Beach. Harley city! Harley stores, bars, you name it. There were a lot of bikes here.
We found a local favorite restaurant, ‘Aunt Catfish’ for lunch. Very busy! We waited for 45 minutes at 2:00 on a Wednesday – wow. The waitresses all greet you as ‘cousin’ (I’m Cousin Colleen, I’ll be your server today). We both had the catfish lunch special. Yes there were fries and a cinamon bun too.
We had a light dinner at a strange Italian restaurant. There were about 6 woman at the front counter when we walked in; waiting for customers. That’s never a good sign. This place was the oldest operating restaurant in Daytona: over 30 years and we think these ladies were there on opening day. Let’s just say it was entertaining. Apparently the NASCAR drivers and crew all dine there. But not tonight.
Thursday Nov 13
We said Goodbye to Daytona Beach and headed to the southwest coast of Florida – Sarasota. The drive was more scenic than normal and we caught glimpses of Sea World and Disney World – happy memories here! We stopped at a great restaurant that Joe had dined at years ago called Cracker Barrels. Rocking chairs on the veranda and you had to (got to!) go through their great store front first. It was awesome! I scored some $20 rubber boots that will be multi-purpose – rain, snow (add many socks) and fashion. Happy!
We arrived at Siesta Key, which is a bridge away from Sarasota. We loved our apartment here. The walls were a soft powder blue and the ceiling was unfinished wood. Loved the contrast.
We are one building away from the beach and watched the most spectacular sunset. Clouds make the sky so breathtaking!
This island is alive with restaurants – and they were open air! Most of them had live entertainment all day and night….and all talented musicians! As you stroll down the main drag you could hear music flowing into the street, inticing you in. It was busy everywhere but we got a table in a great place for dinner. There was an outside area, and an artist was spinning his canvas on a giant backdrop, paint splattering everywhere. He did this twice and produced 2 pieces; a Blues Brothers painting and a Bob Marley – wow! They were each auctioned off for $600 a piece.
Our waitress told us it was the Siesta Sandcastle festival this week and the competitors were all here tonight, celebrating. And now we had something to check out on the beach!
Friday Nov 14
Today we explored the area. The weather was perfect; hovering around 80! We had to buy sunscreen!
Some of the palms by our house have cacti attaching to the trunk of the tree. When you look closely at the top, it looks like hundreds of snakes! Eek!
Tonight we met up with Chris and Heather Germond; Chris was Joe’s boss at Movie Gallery where they worked together for 5 or 6 years. I had met the Germonds at Movie Gallery get-aways and Chris spent some time in BC too, where we shared a dinner or two. We really looked forward to spending some time with these old friends and ‘locals’!
Both Chris and Heather grew up on Siesta Key and they had recommended we stay here. I spent a lot researching the area before booking our apartment. All of us were pretty surprised to discover from our porch, the house Chris grew up in was about 20 feet away. In fact, we could practically see in his bedroom window! Pretty funny.
We had a great night out with the Germond’s. We had dinner first then headed to ‘The Beach Club’ where this fantastic R&B Band pumped out the hits of the 70’s and 80’s.
We ended the evening with a night cap at last night’s dining spot. It was Happy Hour again; BOGOF. Bottoms up!
Saturday Nov 15
The sand at Sietsa Key is the softest, finest sand we have ever felt. It is 99% pure Quartz, and it stays cool on your feet. The Travel Channel says Siesta is “The Best Sand Beach in America”! We agree!
This lifeguard made his workspace his own!
We walked to the main beach and watched the competitors work on their sandcastles. Incredible!
We bought hats; so now we really look like tourists but at least we have some protection.
We enjoyed our poolside before heading to the beach to watch the sunset.
There was a beach wedding a few doors down from us and we could still hear the band playing as we called it a night. Such a cool lifestyle.
Sunday Nov 16
Every morning when when I see these large groups of birds just sitting on the beach, I am reminded of the Walmart morning meeting. Perhaps the birds are strategizing the day; best fishing spots, where the tourists will provide the best treats, which unsuspecting victim to make a ‘drop’ on…you never know.
The Germond’s picked us up for lunch today but first took us on a scenic drive of Sarasota. Such beautiful homes here! And BIG boats! There are many other Keys surrounding Sarasota; quick, easy drives to pretty much everywhere. The Mote Aquarium also serves as a Marine Research Centre and an Animal Hospital for dolphins, whales, turtles and more! Living on the sea looks amazing.
We had a great lunch at ‘The Salty Dog’; one of the few restaurants right on the water. I hoped a manatee would pop out of the water; but no such luck. We all had great fish entrees and check out this delicious Grouper Eggroll:
We really enjoyed our time with Chris and Heather and will miss them. Thank you for a great weekend! We will miss Sarasota too!
Our last sunset on our beach:
Still suck at selfies:
Monday Nov 17
Goodbye Sarasota! Time to move on already – to St. Petersburg. The temperature climbed as we drove:
The drive was only 1.5 hours and we got to cross into St. Pete’s on the beautiful Sunshine Skyway Bridge. This bridge is 4.1 miles long (6.7km) across the water and cost $244M to construct. It was very cool to be on this structure:
The room I booked in St. Pete is near the water (the bay) but not near THE water (the beach). I didn’t recall St. Pete Beach being an entirely different place. And it was 20 minutes from our hotel. My parents spent 2 weeks a year at St. Pete’s Beach for decades and always had several of us 8 kids in tow at one time or another. So I was lucky to have been here several times myself. But that was eons ago and I do not remember the area.
We walked around our new downtown neighbourhood and loved it here. Lots of restaurants and shops; enough to keep us busy for a couple of days.
We got caught in the rain today. It came down hard and fast and we were far from home and drenched. Are runners got the worst of it.
We are in a boutique hotel that has this incredible tap bar attached. The food is unique (pumpkin & black bean soup) and very reasonable.
Tuesday Nov 18
The temperature dropped 30 degrees since yesterday and it is very cold!
We drove over to St. Pete’s Beach this morning so I could see the resort my family used to stay in and take some pictures for my Dad. The beach was pretty much deserted but we dressed warm and enjoyed the crisp air.
We then walked down the beach to the Don CeSar Hotel, a landmark on this beach, so I could stand in front of it like I did 40 years ago. We went inside too – she’s a beaut!
We capped off our stay in St. Pete’s with ‘Tapa’s Tuesday’ at a nearby Spanish restaurant. Wonderful!
We are heading for Tallahassee in the morning; a 4.5 hour trip and our last Florida stop!
Thompson Travel Trivia:
– whilst on a road trip, we are able to purchase and use, a full size tube of tooth paste! Quite thrilling actually!
– we roll our clothes so much (every packing day) we unconsciously roll other things; like towels, newspapers. And we unroll cutlery from napkins most days. Rocking and rolling.
– In almost all of the 20 odd places we have stayed, there has been a picture/painting of a leafless tree on the wall. It’s bizarre!
– easy to pack flat items that fit in our bags: coffee filters, baggies and dryer sheets. We’re learning!
Enjoy your day!
Talk to you soon,
Paula and Joe