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Time to Get the New Year Rolling!

Sparklies

I know, two weeks into the year is a bit late to announce the kickoff of another great year. Well, I’m lucky to be only two weeks late! What a start…

The Holidays were pleasant, though a bit frantic at times. Not quite a “staycation,” going to various homes of clan members. A quick trip to Sister Creek Vineyards for a case of celebration juice. The Primary Spousal Unit had a break from work that began Christmas week. That was just the start, though. Feasts and gift exchanges, and a bit of running in preparation for the Big Event.

On the 29th we boarded a plane for Saint Petersburg. Not Russia, Florida. More pleasant clime, and we don’t know anybody in Russia. We had a week with the Sheppards (Thanks, Kari and Chris!), the first few days without the kids, who traveled over later. I got in three nice training runs, and some excellent feasting.

First stop, fresh off the plane, was El Cap. It’s only a few blocks away from the Sheppards’ home, so we walked. Clearly not-fancy, El Cap caters to a neighborhood and college crowd. There aren’t many places left in the States today where you can get a cheeseburger for under $4. Or two for $6.50. Plenty of other sandwiches too, like salami, chicken breast, subs, turkey, grilled cheese; even a liverwurst for the crazy ones in your party folks who like to live on the wild side. We had burgers all ‘round, with some fries and onion rings tossed in for good measure. This being a college town, there is a good selection of wine and beer for sale. And the everyday price for a draft domestic brew is $1.20. Nice.

An early trip to the new downtown attraction, Locale Gourmet Market, set the tone for the foraging expeditions. So new the shiny hasn’t really set in, this upscale “destination grocery” has it all: Meats and seafood, produce and baked goods, clever tools for the kitchen, tasty cheeses and so much more. Two whole floors of goodies, in fact. They can cook your selections for you to take home, or to eat in. An eclectic and visually stimulating stop. If you find yourself in the area, take the time to stop by and gawk enjoy.

Four of us decided to walk into the bay side downtown on First Night, the city’s extensive New Year’s Eve celebration. Fireworks, stage and street performances, several bouts of fireworks, and of course, food. Carnival fare, suiting the festivities, from carts and booths scattered about. Or you can dine in one of the many restaurants and pubs in the area. If you can get in, of course! PJ had to have kettle korn, naturally. And a wand, with colored blinking lights, which she purchased from one of the plentiful street vendors. We eventually wound up at Cycle Brewery, where Chris had a RareR DOS and I tried both the Ducky’s Pils and the Granny Gear. I needed a double, after all that walking! And fortification too, as we were about as far from the car as we could get and still be at the celebrations. I had foolishly run a few miles before dawn that morning, to add a bit of insult to my legs. I could have used a third one, but couldn’t make up my mind which so we headed back, slowly.

Seven miles of walking later, we found the car and made our way back to the residence. We were tired enough we didn’t even notice when the midnight fireworks show started.

There is a lot more to report on this New Year’s trip, including the wonderful St. Petersburg Farmers Market on Saturday. And we haven’t even begun to cover the Disney adventures that followed. More on these in coming posts…

Enjoy the (Fast New Year’s Start) Heat!

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