Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Weekend in Tampa - Biking, Kayaking, Beach and Music

Decided to spend the holiday weekend in Tampa this year, very relaxing and great to see some good friends and enjoy the local area. The weather was very summer like on Friday, but quickly the Humidity disappeared on Saturday night leaving very dry and sunny blue skies with a nice breeze for the remainder of the weekend.

Friday evening went to see one of my favorite local bands that had what we thought was their last show in the beginning of the year, Buffalo Strange. They played at Jimi B's over on St Pete Beach, a great beach front tropical bar and restaurant, plenty of open deck and outdoor seating. It was very busy this night, as the start of the Holiday Weekend, there was plenty of parking across the street on a side street specifically for Jimi B's. After meeting my friends and their family that was in town, we walked next door to Shell's for a late night dinner, and then back to Jimi B's for some great live music and people watching outside under the stars, with the Gulf of Mexico just steps away.
Sunday, took the day to explore some Tampa neighborhoods near my house on bike. It was nice riding along Westshore Blvd to the north, and riding throughout Beach park and Sunset Park neighborhoods. Huge million dollar homes, set along historic small houses, these are truly unique neighborhoods with lots of money, many are waterfront homes that sit along canals with yachts in the backyards and well manicured lawns, with mature old oaks providing shade on just about every street. Afterwards I threw the kayak on top of the truck and headed across the Bay to St. Pete neighborhood of Riviera Bay, where one of my good friends has a house with a dock into the canals that lead to Weedon Island. It was dusk, and very nice to be out on the water, exploring the mangrove trails, lots of wildlife, manatees and dolphins in the water along side us.
For dinner we all went up the street to GoodFella's on 4th Street north of Gandy Blvd. This place had TRUE NY Style pizza, some of the best I have had in Florida. The 18" X Large piled high with a very light tomato sauce, cheese and pepperoni and fresh mushrooms, very thin crust you can fold like a true NY slice with that oven crisp taste. We were the last one there and closed the place up.

Memorial Day it was up very early, and breakfast on the water at my friends over in St Pete, then on to their Nursery they own, Exotica, Inc, with all types of very lush and tropical plants like bamboo, dozens of species of palms and bromiliads, and others. Its just nice to walk around the place with a large koi pond, an upper deck looking over the entire place built around a large old tree, and live birds throughout the place. We then all went over to Fort DeSoto North Beach, there was a little traffic getting in through the .35 cent toll, but even though this was probably the busiest day, when parking along the roadway heading towards the north beach area, there is still PLENTY of room on the beach for lots of peace and quiet, a toss of the frisbee, or just relaxing in the calm Gulf waters. A nice long walk around the island there were bird nesting areas, and nice tropical sandy beaches. On the way back from the Beach we stopped off downtown St. pete along the waterfront for an 'early bird' dinner at Fish Tales located in a marina just south of the Dali museum. The atmosphere is all Florida, all open dining to outside along the Marina, you can watch the boats come in and out, and there is a great tiki bar area. They had these 'skillet' early bird specials we all decided to try that came with new potatoes, tomato's and grilled onions all in skillet. Crab Cake and Shrimp skillet- a large crab cake, filled with blue crab, very little breading, and about a dozen medium sized shrimp; Scallop and Shrimp skillet, about half dozen medium sized scallops and shrimps; and also the filet skillet, a nice sized Filet Mignon, cooked a little rare and wrapped in bacon. All in all, a good meal, and not bad for only $10 bucks. Id come back here for a few drinks and to watch the boaters, maybe some oysters on the half shell. We then explored a very unique St. Pete neighborhood just south of here called Driftwood, older homes set back amongst very overgrown plants, trees and grasses, so overgrown you couldn't see some of the homes that sat along the Bay, and the roads are very narrow and all monitored by video cameras.

Another great looong weekend in the Bay area.

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