The husband and I recently trekked across the state for a brief respite from all things home – mostly responsibility of any kind – to visit the gulf. I am one of those people who lives in the magical land of Florida. Less than an hour to the ocean, a little more than two to the gulf. I love them both.
Our first stop was Tarpon Springs, home of the Sponge Queen and the distinction of being the sponge capital of the world. I wanted to roam around my memories of this place for a while but I didn’t necessarily want to spend the night here, so I poked around nearby towns online. I landed on Dunedin. I’d heard it had a charming little downtown and it was only about 15 minutes from Tarpon.
A search on Trivago netted me a sweet retro motel for a great price.
After Tarpon Springs we headed south to the 1950’s. Maybe the sign was 50’s inspired, but the rooms were decorated current beachy and cute, updated. You know, wifi, fridge, coffee maker, A/C.
We dropped our bags, cranked the air and laid on the bed, staring at the ceiling (wishing for a ceiling fan) contemplating dinner. We had just come from lunch. We found a great place with lots of delicious fare and a never-ending cast of characters.
But the evening would belong to nature. After dinner, we took the short drive over the tall bridge to Clearwater Beach to watch the sunset. I envisioned a quiet yet breath-taking reminder of the power of nature. In reality, it was Key West north. There was rain threatening and it was the middle of the week so that thinned the crowds some, but I was completely surprised by the amount of people hanging out until after that last flare on the horizon.
We found an empty expanse of wall on which to sit and gazed expectantly out at the ocean, with an occasional peek at the gathering storm clouds behind us. A busker set up with his guitar and announced he would be singing only Paul Simon to the sunset. Kids ran around, beach-goers rinsed their feet at the showers and others here for the same reason as us found their own wall seats.
Soon after The Boxer, our third Paul Simon song, we decided to get a closer look and wandered through the sugary soft sands to the water’s edge. Still lots of people in the water, even with the threat of a storm. A few moments there then we meandered up to the pier for a different perspective.
It was here that I met the most curious pelican. I’m certain he allowed me to get so close because he thought I may be hiding a fish in my phone. Later a beautiful snowy egret took his place, but was much more suspicious and would only allow me a 5 foot safe zone. Close enough.
The real star, of course, was the sunset.
The storm clouds created texture and refraction to the light of the descending sun. They also brought with them a sea air scented tropical breeze, the kind that causes people to close their eyes and take a deep breath.
Then just after the glowing orange ball slipped beneath the horizon, the rains. Big sloppy drops. No thunder, no lightning, so most of us (especially Floridians) walked back to wherever back was. We headed to our car. The rain came and went, heavy and light, mostly soaking us, cleaning us off and making us shiny. It was cleansing.
So much so that we awoke the next morning full of clarity and energy. Off to explore more magical Florida places.
Like Honeymoon Island. The very name is enchanting.