Saturday, November 13, 2010

Finding a Piece of Paradise in Clearwater/St. Pete's, Florida area

Just when I thought I saw everything there is to see in Florida, I discovered the beauty only seen on the West Coast of Florida. I haven't been there since I was a kid but the only thing that I remember that has not changed is the soft powdery beaches!

It all started because my husband Uday had to fly to his work office in Tampa to spend time in the office and he paid for my flight to come there during the weekend when he was done working to experience some of what the west coast has to offer.

I arrived Friday during the day and got to do some shopping in a cute town called Dunedin while Uday was finishing up with his work. When he was finally off work, we met up to check out the sunset before going out to dinner with his bosses and some colleagues.

It did not take long for the relaxation of the atmosphere to ooze into my body. Although not too far from home, I felt like I was on vacation and I had no expectations, which was liberating and rare for me! We practiced our photography skills taking pictures of each other along the calming atmosphere:

And after watching the sun go down we were off to dinner at a local restaurant/hangout. I got to meet Uday's bosses and a few co-workers for the first time and they were all very nice and interesting to talk with. I am not just saying nice things because they might read this but actually because I had a good time. The pictures don't lie check them out below:

One of his bosses even taught Uday this trick... he's really not doing what it looks like! In my field as a family therapist, my bosses are always stereotyping computer people to be boring and have no personality or social skills, but from my experience, I found them to be funny and all with unique personality's. I would love to hang with them more. The next day we went to Caladesi Island which is a near by Dunedin (which is North of Clearwater). In order to get there you drive to Honeymoon Island and take a Ferryboat ride ($10 a person) to Caladesi Island.

The beach on Caladesi Island was voted America's most beautiful beaches, and as much as we enjoyed it, we thought that it might look more beautiful during the summer instead of the fall as the water was not that clear and there was a lot of seaweed. We enjoyed the scenery of the beach and especially the nature we discovered.

Just don't get too close to the grassy area by the dunes or you will feel sharp pain in your foot. Uday has very tough thick feet and he was in a lot of pain when he stepped on these little prickles.

Most people here were collecting shells and we got here too late and missed the really good ones but everyone was friendly and showed us their collection and even offered us some shells:

The picture below is courtesy of Uday, of the shells we collected:

We found this big conch shell but we put it back since it was alive!

This nice school teacher showed us this dead horse-shoe crab that washed up on the beach!

When we were done on the beach we had a picnic and then briefly walked the island trail:

We did not go far since we did not want to miss the last ferry to leave...

When we returned to Honeymoon Beach we checked it out and enjoyed the sections where dogs are allowed to enjoy the ocean!

It was a very special treat to see this Dolphin in the wild before the sunset on another beautiful day on the west coast of Florida! I was now pretty excited to see what tomorrow would bring.

We just made it in time to our next destination in St. Pete's to see the sunset on the beach at our hotel.

After we enjoyed going out for some Spanish Food at a local restaurant and ice-cream, we came back to our Beachcomber hotel where we enjoyed some really good live rock music at their outdoor bar, but not for long so we could get some sleep for an early morning for more adventure. The next day we drove to Fort Desoto state park which has beautiful white sandy beach. From here, we took a Ferry to a more remote Island in the St. Pete area (Gulf of Mexico) called, Egmont Key. Here is the only place we found where we could snorkel some form of reef which happened to be an old sunken fort. Luckily, there were enough people for the Ferry to go out as this Ferry only leaves if there are at least 10 people. We were also fortunate that the water was clear and calm enough for us to snorkel. This was the big event that we had been waiting for, in addition to seeing Dolphins like we had the day before.

Our Captain (seen in the picture above) was an interesting character who was slightly intimidating with a strong personality and dry sense of humor but seemed to have an affinity to Uday (due to Uday's infectious enthusiasm and passion to experience the beauty of nature). As we traveled with him and his ship mate they pointed the different places and animals on the way and back. Below is a picture of Egmont Key, where the Lighthouse would light the way on Tampa Bay!

This is the old Fort where we got to snorkel. It doesn't look like much and compared to snorkeling on the East Coast of Florida, there was not too much to see underneath the water as well, but it was still a fun adventure. Some beautiful and amazing things we got to see here though, that we did not get to see before, were the colorful sponge.

Here is a video of us snorkeling around the sunken fort and later trying to catch up with some manatees!!

This is the part of the Key that is a bird sanctuary where humans are prohibited to go for the safety of the birds. The ship mate told us that there are no predators of the birds on this Key and they nest on the sand.

Once on land at Egmont Key we explored some Forts and took some pictures, but there isn't a whole lot to see there. Some people were fortunate enough to see some tortoise but we did not see any.

Before leaving we checked out Fort Desoto, but this stuff is not all that interesting to me, and I was still on a high from seeing the Dolphins and swimming with the manatees, but Uday made it fun, as usual!

Nuf said! So pack your bags and come visit St. Pete, Clearwater area some time! :) You might be surprised!

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