We flew out of Newark, NJ to Tampa airport on Thursday night, December 13th. As always with planes, I was drugged out of my mind on xanax and some kind of anti-psychotic. I react very badly to anti-psychotics. This one caused "heavy sedation". BINGO! I don't remember a damn thing, although I'm told that while waiting for the plane we ate pizza and cheesecake. I actually bought a coat specifically to go to and from the airport! It was 50% off, dammit. Long, cobalt blue, with a fake fur collar and cuffs. I felt like Ginger Rogers until I took the pills.
We picked the Bilmor Resort and Hotel, specifically because of its cheesy 50s vibe.
(I didn't take this picture, as you can probably tell)
It's on Treasure Island, an island part of the city of St. Petersburg. The area is mostly a long strip of hotels and bars. We didn't care, because our main goal was to do lots of lovely nothing. We achieved our goal. The hotel faced the Gulf of Mexico, and there was the biggest public beach I have seen in years. It was about half a mile to the water!
(I didn't take this picture, either)
We got another handicapped room, which had a peephole at crotch height, presumably for folks in wheelchairs. Remember, my crotch is higher than most peoples'. It was on the first floor at the quiet end of the hotel, and had a back glass sliding door onto a little "porch." Also a screen door, so we could open the door in the morning and let the breeze in.
Me, the morning after we arrived. At least I'm not drooling.
Jeff on our "porch"
Every morning this guy had to rake the sand between our hotel walk and the slight rise to the palm trees. Every single morning, he came out with a rake, raked the sand sideways, and then in perfect lines perpendicular to the walkway. After five minutes people would come out of their rooms and wreck it. One morning Jeff gave the raker $10. The man was flabbergasted.
Honestly, we were both exhausted and emotionally spent. The temperature was in the 70s, not as hot as Jeff wanted. But back home it was 21 degrees and stormy, which made him feel better. It was so wonderfully luxurious to lounge in those white sheets, no deadlines, no animals, no anything. We'd agreed not to talk about anything. And I do mean anything. Just be in the moment and enjoy ourselves. This worked beautifully. The trip was more romantic than I could have dreamt, but if you think you're getting any details, don't worry.
Jeff spent hours on the "porch", reading. We didn't have a computer and our cellphones were packed away. Bliss.
We had bought breakfast food to eat in the room, but Jeff had a craving for Waffle House. It always hits him when we go anywhere near down South. We walked through an uber-touristy area called Johns Pass. Every other store had a name like Tiki Surf Shop, Seashell Jewels by Nyota, or Shore Clothtique (I kid you not). The bars were often either tiki or mariner themed. One nearby was named It's Five O' Clock Somewhere!.
Most nights we ate at the hotel restaurant, Sloppy Joes, where we watched the other patrons get sloppy drunk. The food was excellent. Almost all of the fish was fresh. I will never like fish tacos--they are a food abomination--but Jeff loved them and ordered them at almost every meal. Sloppy Joe was represented by a picture of Ernest Hemingway, which I never understood. The patrons were probably all too illiterate to know who Hemingway is. ("Is that the guy with a million cats around his house or something?")
"Wasting away, today, in Margaritaville...thanks, remember to tip your servers"
We spent all of Saturday around the hotel. This time there were two poor bastards singing Jimmy Buffett, one at Bazzie's, the breakfast restaurant at the other end of the hotel (and later in the evening, a sad deserted bar), and another guy at the next hotel
down, the Thunderbird.
The only thing we had scheduled in advance was dinner at Berns, a storied steakhouse in Tampa. About which more later.
The Gulf side of the Bilmor.
There had been a sand sculpture contest two weeks before. Also about which more later.
Jeez, I can't believe I wrote something personal on this thing again!