Very Close to Far Away

We almost didn’t go. We had been discussing our NEED to clean out the garage and organize on a level unknown to most and thought that maybe we’d just skip our little two-day getaway. In the end we made the right choice.

A little back story: I am a believer in energy and stuff. I studied Feng Shui for many years while working as an interior decorator. Too much stuff stops the flow of energy. If it’s enough stuff, for long enough, it can begin to effect the people who live and work in it. This was happening. I am a sorter, an organizer, a categorizer, the other half of the household is less so, but in light of emerging circumstances, he is willing to shift.

But we had planned this little jaunt and paid for our retro motel, so we threw some clothes in a bag, grabbed our pillows (always take your most favorite pillow from home if you’re driving somewhere) and hit the interstate.

If you’ve been following you already know we went to Tarpon Springs and Clearwater Beach. That was day one. Day two started early. Sleep was interrupted by a blue light that we appreciated as we navigated the short hallway to our room at the motel in the dark, but didn’t much approve of while we were trying to sleep. No curtains, only blinds. It was just before dawn all night long. A couple of eye masks helped (bring those too – always) but not so much. Why fight it?

While making a quick trip to the car I ran into another guest throwing his own trash away in the community can, shirtless with bed head and surprised him by asking if he knew of any great greasy spoon diners for breakfast. He did! And he was quite excited to share.

With that bit of information I could plan our morning. Breakfast about a half mile north, just past the bridge to Honeymoon Island. Honeymoon Island after breakfast, then a wander around downtown Dunedin to see if we missed anything last night.

[Quick note: We didn’t have any idea about Honeymoon Island before making our plans, we also didn’t realize how close we were to Clearwater Beach. Two unplanned, totally awesome experiences. Always build in a little extra time for special surprises and always be willing to pay a couple bucks to get in to these places. The pier in Clearwater Beach cost us $1 each – it helps them maintain it. Honeymoon Island was $8 for the car – it’s a state park that requires maintenance and patrolling.]

Breakfast was meh, somewhat disappointing, but the atmosphere was great and the service superb. Honeymoon Island, on the other hand, wow! Larry, presuming it to be a little spit of been there done that was ready to turn the car around upon being asked to pony up eight bucks. I shoved my debit card at the lady in the booth, looked at him and said, “I wanna see it!”

He’s glad now that we did. We drove around the whole thing, stopping and getting out at every parking lot. There are several beaches and to my surprise and delight, several cafes. There is a nature center where we spent an inordinate amount of time on a bench swing. (For the record, if I had one in my back yard I’d be typing from there right now. And maybe sleeping on it, definitely dining on it and possibly trying to work from it.) We stopped to check out the ferry to Caladesi Island in the near distance then left. All told, we spent about an hour there and made a pact to come back and spend the day. Probably when I need more natural sponges from the Sponge Queen.

It was so relaxing, so few people; wide, white white white beaches; clear, turquoisey blue water; and a swoon-worthy breeze.

Onward to quaint little Dunedin.

By now, we are ready to get home. We have all that stuff calling to us and the promise of relief once we begin the monumental task of sorting, purging and organizing, but we resolve to be present and curious as we explore the few blocks of downtown.

There are a ton of restaurants with just as many styles of food, lots of gift shops (which we didn’t go in) and plenty of public restrooms (which we did). Smack in the middle of downtown is the Pinellas trail, a well-maintained biking, walking, jogging path with street signs and water fountains. It is canopied in places with large old oaks.

Speaking of oaks, in front of City Hall there is the most majestic specimen that must be hundreds of years old. It is spreading, it’s heavy branches in danger of impeding pedestrians and vehicles, but rather than prune it beyond recognition or *gasp* cut it down, they have managed the growth by strapping the branches to one another. Large, thick cables are secured to opposing branches preventing any more sideways growth.

They do things creatively here. There is a sweet bronze statue in front of what used to be the railway station, of a conductor signaling time to board and a mother and daughter running toward him. There is a restaurant with outdoor seating under the trees and a sandbox right in the  middle of the tables. The children playing are penned in by tree stumps. Homemade ice cream is everywhere. And there are some tastefully naked stone people living on the edge of an empty lot.

It was lovely. I don’t feel we did it a true solid by speeding through it, but we know enough now to want to come back and stay a while. Right in the middle of town is a charming b&b with our name on it. Not literally, of course.

We were gone 30 hours and there for less than 24 but it seemed like a week away in head space time. The water is very healing and the wide white sugar sand beaches of the west coast are like a salve for the weary soul. It was the perfect prescription. It doesn’t take a lot of time or a lot of money to reset, just a willingness to explore.

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