Saturday, January 17, 2015

Come and find the sun in the Tampa Bay area

Happy New Year! A big thank you to all for sticking with me through the years and for patronizing the products I'm affiliated with. Your support is very much appreciated! Thanks again for reading.
Sunset at Madeira Beach, St Pete
We spent three relaxing weeks in sunny St Pete over the holidays, returning to Chattanooga last week. To wicked freezing temperatures. What the heck are we doing back here in the cold? For now (and the last several years), home is where the boat is, so here we are.

However, I'm very excited for several friends who are (and will be) visiting the Tampa Bay area. In my humble opinion, this area has some of the best cruising grounds in Florida. With crude oil prices tumbling down a hefty 57 percent from the high of $115 a barrel in July last year to around $49 yesterday, cruising is so much more affordable. Both on the water and on the road. Yesterday, I filled up my car at $1.78/gallon and saw diesel price at $2.59/gallon, prices we haven seen since 2008. Now is the perfect time to cruise on a power boat!

The Tampa Bay (Tampa, St Pete, Clearwater) area also boasts a number of beautiful beaches (from Caladesi and Clearwater to Fort DeSoto, many of whom had been named top 10 beaches in America), and lots of fabulous restaurants ( we love The Columbia's restaurant in Ybor City, Ceviche Tapas Bar in St Pete downtown, and Cafe Alma, now renamed Alma in its new location at Madeira Beach). And yes, sunny days! Very much needed this time of year.
Treasure Island, St Pete
Arts and glass buffs might enjoy a visit to the Dali Museum and The Chihuly Collection, both located in downtown St Pete. And if you're in the Tampa Bay area end of January, you're in luck for some Mardi Gras fun - the Gasparilla Pirate Festival (Jan 31).

Jose Gasparilla invades Tampa

Gasparilla Parade

Where do you go to find some sun and fun?

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Christmas Boat Parade in Bimini Basin, Cape Coral

I've always wanted to go to the Lighted boat parade in Chattanooga, but manage to miss it every year. With the temperatures below 40 degrees F the day after Thanksgiving (day of the parade), it was just too darn COLD to go outside! I know, I know, we are a bunch of wimps.

It's a different story in Florida, where holiday boat parades are legendary and the weather is so much warmer. Blessed with miles of coastlines as well as a warm climate, Florida is an excellent cruising ground for boaters.You can find holiday boat parades in just about any major city in the state. Some notable ones include St AugustineFort LauderdaleSt Petersburg and Key West.

One Christmas season found Mai Thai anchored in Bimini Basin, Cape Coral, near Fort Myers. Boater friends had told us about the anchorage, and it quickly became our favorite because of the protection and the convenience - grocery stores like Paesano's Italian Market and Publix, restaurants, laundromat (all within walking distance) and easy access to the Gulf of Mexico.

That particular Saturday, while waiting for some friends to come in, we noticed a lot of commotion at the park facing the anchorage. Boats of all sizes,decked out with Christmas lights, Santas, reindeers, elves and palm trees,  started creeping in and soon they surrounded us.  We were smack in the middle of a boat parade!

Dinghying guests to our boat
Paesano's Italian Market
I'll leave you with the video of our serendipitous boat parade experience at Bimini Basin. Bet it will get you into the holiday spirit, if you haven't already!

What's your favorite holiday activity?
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