Have you ever had a day so full of unexpected coincidences that it seems almost surreal? I had one of those the other day.
I went to a paddleboard (SUP) race on Saturday with my good friend Courtney in Treasure Island. Courtney is the friend that I did paddleboard yoga with about a month ago. We’re big enthusiasts of all things involving paddleboarding. I’m not such a big fan that I actually made it there in time for the race or anything crazy like that, but I did manage to hang out on the beach afterwards.
My other friend, Jose, joined us at the beach. I had figured that Jose and Courtney would have some stuff to talk about because he was born in Guatemala and she taught English over there for a year. And they did. At least 3 full sentences worth. 😉
Courtney and I went to junior high and high school together, she’s one of my oldest friends and such a gem! I’ve known Jose for a few years but never realized until we were talking at the beach that he had gone to our high school, too. He went there the year after we graduated so our paths never crossed back then. We all had a nice time hunkering down under the beach umbrella and occasionally venturing into the water to create some warm spots.
You really can do yoga on a paddleboard. It definitely tests your balance and when the wind is blowing, like it was on Sunday, you and your fellow class members drift apart fairly often. In that case, you just pause the posing for a minute to paddle back together. There were also a plethora of anchored sailboats that we had to avoid floating into, but I looked at them as just another way of keeping us on our toes.
That’s me back-bending on the far left!
Photo credit: Urban Kai
Even though my “yoga mat” seemed determined to carry me out to sea, I still found it relaxing and an interesting challenge. And at the end of practice, lying back on the board and being rocked by the gentle waves in savasana–or “corpse pose”–I looked up at the cobalt blue sky and clouds racing by and felt true peace for the first time in weeks.
The main stage early in the day
Saturday was the second annual Gasparilla Music Festival. Such a good time! This festival is a great addition for the hip cultural relevance of Tampa. I think it really gives us some street cred. Suck it St. Pete! (Just kidding.) 😉
The day itself couldn’t have been more perfect. It was the kind of weather that makes all the northerners who come for vacation never go home.
The venue was Curtis Hixon Park, a great place to hang even without a music festival and which has itself boosted downtown Tampa’s cool factor. It’s a little green oasis on the Hillsborough River nestled in between the tall buildings and it beautifully highlights the juxtaposition of old and new between the modern Tampa Museum of Art and the University of Tampa across the river with it’s classically distinctive minarets. It just might be the most picturesque spot in all of Tampa.
Curtis Hixon Park facing downtown
Curtis Hixon Park facing the University of Tampa
A volunteer I chatted with told me excitedly that in the very spot where Curtis Hixon Park now stands used to be Curtis Hixon Hall, which I actually knew because I had been there when I was younger and because–ahem, name-dropping about to happen–I am actually related to Curtis Hixon. Growing up I always felt slightly (unfoundedly) proprietary about the Curtis Hixon name. Curtis was the mayor of Tampa at the end of World War II, but since I wasn’t even born until 20 years after he died we didn’t have an especially close relationship.
I am a huge fan of Cirque du Soleil. I’ve seen several of the different versions and they are always jaw-droppingly intense and beautiful.
So I was quietly bummed that we weren’t going to get to see Kooza while it was in St. Petersburg because we are
saving for spending all our money on Christmas presents. I even had a Kooza postcard taunting me on the fridge that I finally threw away last week because I was resigned to the fact that we were not going.
On Saturday night Jeb said that he wanted to have dinner at Cevíche Tapas Bar & Restaurant in St. Pete and then go to a movie after. We have a Cevíche in Tampa about 5 minutes from our house but I wasn’t suspicious about driving the extra 40 minutes to St. Pete because we recently had dinner there with Mooger (bff, one of my favorite people ever) and it was fantastic. Plus, we love downtown St. Pete. It is way cooler than Tampa’s nighttime ghost-town downtown.
After dinner I started walking in the direction of the movie theater but Jeb said, “Hold up just a minute” and pulled the tickets to Kooza out of his pocket. Merry Christmas to me!
Continuing on my tour of Groupon and Living Social deals, I bought a Living Social for acupuncture at Dr. Laura’s Acupuncture & Holistic Practice in Ybor City. I have been experiencing pain in my right shoulder and right knee, as I wrote about in my post Yoga makes me all better.
Yoga is helping slowly, but I was hoping a little acupuncture might speed up the process a bit. Plus, I’m fascinated with acupuncture and recently wrote a review of a documentary called 9000 Needles about a man who used it to help him recover from a stroke.
So I arrived at Dr. Laura’s office totally psyched to have a bunch of tiny needles stuck in me!
They call me Ol’ Needle Knee
Dr. Laura was very thorough with my medical history. She had me detail my eating habits, which revealed that I’m ingesting enough salt daily to cure a buffalo.*
*This is just my rough estimate and has less than a .001% probability of being scientifically accurate.
Climbing the walls at Vertical Ventures
I am a lover of all things Groupon and Living Social, so when I saw a Living Social deal for an introductory indoor rock climbing class for two for just $25, I convinced Jeb that we simply had to try it. I didn’t have to twist his arm too much.
We went on Sunday and it was good, clean, fun. I was the first one to climb up the wall and did have a moment just before I reached the top when my fear of heights took over and I got frozen in place. But the instructor said, “C’mon, you’re like six inches away from the top.” So, duly shamed, I ovaried-up and completed the climb.
After that, the fear of heights kind of just got shoved to the side while I concentrated on finding places that I could grip onto well enough to pull myself higher. It was challenging, but I didn’t sweat, which caused me to declare with false confidence that I would probably still go on a walk in the afternoon because it wasn’t that much of a workout. Smash cut to me 30 minutes later with aching arms and passed out in the car on the ride home.
Climbing a boulder. It’s harder than it looks.
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- Tagged adventure, fear of heights, Florida, indoor rock climbing, indoor rock climbing in Tampa, rock climbing, Steph's Best, Stephanie West, Tampa, Tampa Adventure Travel, Tampa attractions, Vertical Ventures
Could it be just about friends? Or feeling a lack thereof?
Lately I’ve felt untethered to my hometown. I feel as if I’ve drifted from my local friends. Most of my best friends, the ones that know everything about me and love me as I am (and vice versa) all live far away.
I don’t feel like I have anything in common with the other parents at my daughter’s school. I’ve not been loving south Tampa’s hyper-Republican (it’s fine, just not for me), non-artsy vibe. Kind of a general feeling of not belonging, loneliness, post-post-post-teenage angst?
I realize this sounds like a whiny, self-pity party but stick with me for a minute, I promise that I have a point.