Today’s funemployment excursion took me and Anitra to Clearwater, Florida, the home of a number of interesting things. For starters, there’s…
…the Church of Scientology, whose “worldwide spiritual headquarters”, Flag Land Base a.k.a. the Fort Harrison Hotel, are in downtown Clearwater. They are rumoured to own or at least have their tentacles in half the businesses in the downtown area.
In addition to Scientology, there’s another belief system from Clearwater with an equally fanatical following. It’s also one that I can get down with…
We decided to go on Tuesday, which Anitra took off from work. The beach was likely to be less crowded, and threatening-looking clouds probably kept even more people away. We decided to chance it, given that the weather here can turn on a dime, and motorbootied our way from Tampa to Clearwater Beach.
Clearwater Beach is on a set of barrier islands facing the Gulf of Mexico, and accessible via a bridge. I took the photo above while we were coming in on that bridge and just as the skies were beginning to let a little blue peek through.
The combination of a post-Memorial Day Tuesday and possible rain meant that it was easy to find a parking spot and that the beach was relatively empty. The sky let a little more blue through, making for yet another lucky break.
We hopped out of the car and made our way to the water. Anitra elected to stay on the beach, but I decided to venture in. It’s been years since I’ve had a chance to swim in non-pool salt water and even though I’ll get plenty more in the Philippines (I’m headed to Bohol in June), I wasn’t going to pass up a my first shot at ocean swimming in ages.
Anitra took the next few pictures.
Hmmm…that’s a pretty good wind out there. Ah well, the waves don’t look too bad…
Salt water! Whoo! Let’s go for a swim!
This is great! These waves don’t look so bad…
Okay, those waves look a little bigger.
The trick is to swim into the wave…
…spin around at the last second and ride that sucker. This wave carried me all the way back to shore like a rocket.
Anitra was amused by my ocean antics.
Afterwards, I lay back on the beach for a while, enjoying the sand, the surf…
…as well as the company of my lovely companion.
iPhone self-portrait with me and Anitra! I will never tire of these.
It was a pretty nice day for a swim — as long as you didn’t mind a little heavier wave action — and there was plenty of space for everybody.
We took one last walk around the beach…
…and made our way to our lunch destination: Frenchy’s Cafe. “Frenchy” is a guy from Montreal who moved down to Florida and opened his first restaurant in 1981. Now he has a chain of them.
Hence you can get poutine at Frenchy’s. We didn’t order it, so I have no idea if it’s authentic or any good. We were here for something a little more local.
Here’s the second page of Frenchy’s menu. It lists what we were after: the grouper sandwiches. Anitra ordered the regular-size grilled grouper sandwich, while I ordered the Super Grouper, also grilled.
We weren’t going to completely bypass the fried fish: we started with a skewer of deep-fried grouper cheeks and a couple of half-pints of Shock Top.
Here’s my Super Grouper sandwich, with pickle and coleslaw on the side.
“I don’t always order a second beer…oh wait a minute, I always do!”. Stay thirsty, my friends.
Frenchy’s has a gift shop next door. I love getting pictures of local variations of the “unattended children will have something done to them” sign.
The rain clouds were finally coming in, and we had another appointment, so it was an opportune moment to leave. I had just enough time to snap one more amusing picture: the unfortunately-named Cooters Restaurant and Bar.
“Now that’s exactly how a trip to the beach should be,” I told Anitra as she rolled her eyes. “Starts with Hooters, ends with Cooters.”