A Whole New World
By Thomas Morrone, CFP®, CPA
It is always nice to leave the cold weather behind and spend some time with palm trees and warm, balmy breezes. After a three-hour direct flight from Bradley to Tampa and a quick 35-40-minute drive from the airport, we were at the Clearwater Beach area in FL. We stayed just outside all the hubbub in Belleair Beach, 5 miles south of Clearwater. We have stayed in locations about 20 miles south of Belleair Beach, but it was our first time visiting this area on the west coast. It was a very peaceful and relaxing area with beautiful beaches and countless restaurant options. The weather was a perfect 75-80 degrees each day with a nice breeze which made for perfect beach walking conditions. The weather was far warmer than the frigid conditions we left behind, and we took advantage of the pleasant weather and spent as much time outdoors as possible. We averaged about 14,000 steps each day, so we did get in some exercise which made us feel a little less guilty about having some wonderful meals and a cocktail or two.
We were surprised at how empty the beaches were where we stayed. At times, when we took one of our many walks on the beach, there was no one else in sight or maybe we had to share the tranquility with another couple or two. It was a far cry from how crowded the beaches were when we drove the mere 5 minutes into Clearwater Beach, when it was wall to wall people on the sand. With all the high- rise hotels and condo complexes in the city along the shore, it was easy to see why it was so crowded. Back in Belleair Beach, no structure was taller than four stories and was more residential. It was nice to stay where it was quite and could get to where the action was if we wanted. Our complex offered some great amenities which we took full vantage of, including the use of bicycles. One morning, we went for a 10-mile ride through some beautiful neighborhoods with majestic waterfront homes with pristine landscaped yards.
We did a day trip to Dunedin which was to our north. It was a sleepy little coastal town with the Main Street lined with restaurants and shops. It was an enjoyable day to have some lunch, walk around a bit and had a treat for dessert. We went for ice cream and saw a slice of home-made key lime pie, frozen on a stick and dipped in chocolate. Let me tell you, it was worth every single calorie consumed.
Another day we went a little further north to Tarpon Springs which is known as the sponge capital of the world. It was a seaside community with strong a Greek influence. The Main Street was lined with Greek restaurants and bakeries. There were countless shops selling the natural sponges harvested from the local waters and more tee shirts and bathing suits than you could imagine. It was a fun day with lots of laughs and interesting sights.
A week goes by so quickly when away on vacation. You just seem to settle in and get to know the area and it is time to pack the suitcase for the trip home. This trip was no different in that regard. We were glad we visited a new area and agreed it was somewhere we would return at some point in the future. We had some fabulous meals and created some new memories.
I would go back again just to get another slice of home-made key lime pie, frozen on a stick and dipped in chocolate.
Until the Next Tom’s Take…