Adventures in Clearwater

July 26, 2012 at 9:46 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Having missed Clearwater Beach the last time we were on that side of Florida, I decided to make a day trip of it with Liam. James is out of town this week, so I thought we might even stay until dinner. And if all went well, we’d see the sunset. Clearly, I was too ambitious. But it wasn’t a complete disaster.

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We embarked at 9 AM, but then we had to stop for gas. And then about halfway there Liam started whining that he peed. Fortunately we were just passing a rest stop, and when we got out I realized he just meant that he needed to go. Good boy, Liam! After reading the signage >>>
we decided not to stick around.

So, finally, at 11:30, we pulled into Clearwater, and by 11:45 we found a good parking spot, huzzah! Except, dammit, there was a thunderhead on the horizon making it’s way to shore. Ten percent chance of rain my ass. Hoping the southerly breeze would blow it up north, we staked our spot right by the surf. The sand was beautiful, white, and fine, almost as nice as Siesta Key. And there was a shallow little pool of water trapped between the surf and where we sat that was perfect for Liam. The waves are still a little intimidating for him, even the gentle ones on the gulf side. So we played in the shallow water, built a couple sand castles which he promptly knocked down, then sat and had some of our picnic lunch. And all the while that dark cloud was getting closer and closer. I could see people on either side of us pulling up stakes and heading for the parking lot. But, you see, I remembered the last time this happened to us at Cocoa. A storm rolled through, we dashed for the car, got caught in the rain anyway, and once were were in the car, the sun started shining again. But Liam was crying to go home.

I did not drive two plus hours to sit in the car at the beach! So I decided we’d hunker down at the beach until the storm passed, then play some more when the sun came out. I figured we’d be playing in the water, so it wouldn’t matter that we were getting wet from rain drops. And I didn’t hear any thunder, so we were safe from lightning. I anchored our stuff as best I could, then took Liam out to the shallow pool as it started to sprinkle. But then it started to pour, and one thing I forgot to take into consideration – how much those big, fat raindrops hurt when they hit you! We dashed for our stuff, I grabbed a towel, and we spent the next half hour sheltering ourselves behind the beach chair with a towel on our heads. Fun, fun at the beach!

The wind died down and the rain tapered off enough for me to put the beach umbrella up, but it remained stubbornly cloudy. I convinced Liam to come out into the surf with me one time, but we didn’t get far before I saw our stuff blowing in the wind and we had to turn back. It looked like another squall was building up, so I admitted defeat and dragged everything back to the car. By the time we got dried off and out of our wet swim suits, the sun was shining again. But I think we’d had enough of the beach and its fickle weather.

The other day I caught the tale end of Dolphin Tale on TV, the one about the dolphin getting a prosthetic tail. I didn’t realize until then that Winter, the famous dolphin from the movie, lived at the Clearwater Aquarium. So after the disappointing beach outing, I told Liam we’d go see a dolphin. That appeased him. Inside the aquarium, we saw turtles, pelicans, sharks, stingrays, and, of course, Winter. Though with a crowd around her, and her tail stubbornly in the water, there wasn’t much to see. But we did see another dolphin up close swimming underwater with a trainer. We waved through the little window. They also had a dolphin show, but there was too much talking and not enough dolphin tricks to hold Liam’s interest. So by 3:30, I’d given up on the idea of sticking around for dinner, and we headed home.

We arrived in Orlando just in time for dinner, and since I’d talked up eating at a restaurant for dinner that night, I decided to stop off at one of our favorite seafood places, High Tide Harry’s. Liam slept all the way there, and when he woke up in the parking lot, he seemed genuinely excited to be eating at the restaurant. I love that he’s finally at an age to want to go out to eat, and though he’s not a perfect gentleman when we’re there, he does a pretty good job of entertaining himself and not throwing fits. We had a giant booth all to ourselves, and as we sat down, I think we both realized we were famished. Hush puppies with cinnamon butter arrived, and we gobbled them all up. Liam asked, “Are these the little dogs?” It took me a second to realize what he meant – puppies! I said, Yes, these were very quiet little dogs. Yuck, yuck, yuck.

Anyways, after eating an entire plate of fried shrimps and okra, I felt a little better about our day. Sure, it rained at the beach and we didn’t get to stay as long as I’d hoped. And that aquarium seemed a bit pricy for the 45 minutes we ended up staying there. But it sure beat sitting at home doing the same old thing. Two hours is a long way to go for one day, so I think if we do this again, we’ll try for the afternoon, when there’s a 0 percent chance of rain, and stay for dinner and watch the sunset. Maybe in the fall when it’s less crowded, too. In the meantime, I think we’ll head to New Smyrna Beach on the Atlantic side next week. That will help round out my sand collection. It still amazes me how beach sand can be so different from place to place. James says they may be sending him to Miami for a week in the fall, so I’m hoping I can tag along and see the Keys, too.

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