Sunday, August 22, 2010

Clearwater Beach, Florida

My first recollection of "the beach" was Clearwater Beach, where we spent several vacations and holidays every year.

Back in the day, the beach was lined with huge rental beach homes and the smaller mom and pop motels with assorted tourist traps, restaurants and nightly open air auctions. The backdrop was the gorgeous Gulf of Mexico with sounds, sights and smells that nothing else can replace.

The week after school let out was designated "Beach Week" . . . and everyone I knew from school went to Clearwater Beach for that week. Well . . . everyone but me . . . it was not allowed.

As a young adult, it was still my favorite beach and I would load my beloved blue Camaro with friends, brother, cousins . . . whoever wanted to go . . . just about every weekend. I adored the beach and it was my favorite place ever . . .

Many years have gone by and other area beaches and attractions became popular and I wanted to experience "new and different" . . . I had not been back to Clearwater Beach in a very long time.

My boyfriend and I decided at the spur of the moment to visit the beach, so we packed the van, picked up my mom and headed out towards a new adventure and old memories at the same time.

Gone were the mom and pop motels . . . in their place were gorgeous high rise hotels and fancy restaurants. The sadness hit when I knew we were at the beach, but could not see it like we could before all the new development.

It was comforting to see some of the old tourist traps made it through the transformation, although we didn't have time to walk the street and take it all in. Some of my fondest recollections of beach visits past were shopping at the shell shops that sold everything made with shells, loose shells, seahorses and sand dollars . . . I still have some of them!

Anyway . . . today's visit brought back many old memories that made me happy and sad. Sad was the fishing pier my dad and I fished many allnighters at was gone . . . a victim of a recent hurricane . . . we sat on a portion that was made into a seating area. Cool, but way more cool was the fishing pier of days past . . .

Happy was seeing the little boy come out in my boyfriend's eyes when we finally got out to the beach. The gulf beaches hold some kind of magic to kids of all ages . . . and it all came back to me today too. My mom shared her childhood memories of the beach and the way it was back in her day. I could see the little girl in her eyes too . . .

It was unfortunately a very rainy day and we didn't want to get our cameras wet . . . so, only a few photos of the beach for today's visit . . . but we will be visiting again very soon :-)

Some photos from today's visit:

Some vintage postcards from Clearwater Beach:

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Riverhills Park . . . Temple Terrace, Florida

Nature is one of God's free gifts that many of us take for granted. Riverhills Park located in Temple Terrace, Florida is one of those gifts that living in Florida provides.

There is nothing like escaping into nature after a stressful day at the office. My boyfriend and I frequently visit after work with a picnic for ourselves and the wildlife who call Riverhills Park their home.

The egrets walk the park in search of visitors with treats for them. We have noticed there are several who hop along on one leg and have summized they are a victim of the resident gator who makes his occasional appearance.

Beautiful Riverhills Park offers access to the Hillsborough River, providing a boat ramp and dock, picnic areas set under the cypress and oaks and a boardwalk that winds along the riverfront.

Additional amenities include a large playground area, two newly renovated tennis courts, and restrooms. Riverhills Park gazebo may be reserved for parties and other functions by calling (813) 989-7180.

Visit my boyfriend's blog for more photos . . .