I am addicted to restaurants while travelling and since we spend a lot of time in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, I have three favorite restaurants, and a grocery store.
Crabby Bills: Every morning I walk a mile and a half down the beach to Crabby Bill’s, which has been family owned since its founding in 1983. The morning crowd consists of older patrons who are vacationing. or living, near the beach. It is a sports bar, restaurant and hang-out for the under 30 crowd the rest of the day and until 2:00 AM.
The All-American Breakfast is my choice, with 2 eggs, potatoes, crisp bacon and toast for $6. Then it is a mile and a half walk back to the rented condo. In the evening, you can get the menu to go.
Guppy’s: A short walk and excellent food with daily specials; indoors or out. Great fish. The Grouper is expensive as it is over-fished. Small plates and you can share. I get three sides; grilled octopus, spinach and Caesar Salad. Octopus is available thanks to the large Greek community. New Mexico restaurants tend not to serve octopus, so it is always a treat.
A small French restaurant in the edge of Belair and next to Largo and Indian Rocks Beach. Run by a French couple, it is always good and one of our favorite stopping places each time we come.
The desert is great, especially if you can try three at once. Eat desert first, life is short.
The lamb shanks can’t be beat. Not always available but when they are, well worth ordering.
If you want to do your own thing with food prepared for you, take a look at Publix Grocery Stores which now have prepared meals that you cook. There is salmon, meatballs, etc. We tried chicken breasts with feta cheese and spinach and it was great. Cheaper than a restaurant meal and it can be eaten with a glass of wine on your rented condo balcony. The sunset over the Gulf of Mexico is better than any restaurant; and quieter.
I like museums, but not for the reasons you might think. I have spent 60 years going to museums and have been overwhelmed by the shear volume of items and my lack of ability to be selective in my viewing. I have been to art museums, archeology museums, and science museums. I have been to big museums and tiny museums.
Museums have become a blur; they are useful, however; especially if you are studying something – you can see how in idea or a concept developed over time. You can get new ideas and make new connections to old idea; which is especially rewarding to an old person.
These days, I go to museums with altered goals. I am interested in the creative side of museums and the ways in which they present new ideas and spark creativity and imagination. I am interested in new connections to my distant past. I like large international museums because they have great cafes and almost always serve local wine. In fact, I usually start with the cafe.
Our recent trip to Indian Rocks Beach led us to the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida. It has all the art basics; a chronology from various schools with representative samples; including two Georgia O’Keeffe’s, which I appreciated, coming from New Mexico.
First, the Cafe . It is simple, pleasant, and worthy of the museum. It is located in the entrance hall and the food is great. With our menus, we received a plate of scones. They were so good, we asked if we could order some to take with us. We received an additional free plate of 5 scones, three of which we took with us.
Scones at the museum.
The menu gave us a variety of choices and allowed us to share a plate; a requirement for couples of our age.
Since I had a Bank of America credit card, my entry into the museum was free; next time, I will have my wife bring her card, so we can both get in free. Old people are cheap, even when they don’t have to be. Bank of America Credit Cards give free access to about 150 museums the first week of the month through its Museums on Us program.
Once inside, I did a quick run through, checked out the Georgia O’Keeffes and then went looking for the special exhibits, which I found more interesting and which touched some dormant part of my imagination.
The first was Selfies which was a collection of self photographs that preceded cell phones. Interesting.
The exhibit that got my attention was outside the museum, where Haider Ali, an artist from Pakistan, was painting a Prius. The exhibit, Live car painting by Haider Ali, reminded me of Espanola, NM where the City Council recently declared Espanola as the “Lowrider Capitol of the World.”
Prius by Haider Ali
Having gone through Espanola many times, and having been amazed at how stock cars could be modified and painted, I was surprised to find an artist from Pakistan painting a Prius in St. Petersburg, Florida. My first thought was that he should go to Espanola, some Sunday.
Finally, there were signs on lawn. An interesting idea that could be copied anywhere. Intriguing, because the only part that required skill, was coming up with the idea; everything else was done by volunteers.
The bottom line is that I enjoyed the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida, for all the wrong reasons, but which gave me something to take away.
We have been coming to Indian Rocks Beach, Florida for several years. Initially we rented a place a few blocks from the beach, but still walkable. For the last three years we have rented a place right on the beach, with a view of the water.
We rent a car, even though there is pretty good public transportation.
We have a routine.
Watching the sea, especially in the evening when the sun goes down, is very relaxing. We come in September, after Labor Day, because it is cheaper, there are fewer people, and we can watch the changes in the weather. Twice, we have been delayed as we followed the hurricanes in.
Hurricanes are scary, but interesting; not only for the changes in the weather, but to watch the destructiveness of the wind and water and the foolishness of people caught up in hurricanes; pre, during and post hurricane.
We fly into Tampa, rent a car at the airport through Costco, and try to find our way out of the airport complex – if you are old and they change the rental car locations, you are glad you come and go on a Saturday, when there was less traffic. There is a 4 story escalator, which didn’t bother you at 50, but which gets your attention at 78. Then a 10 minute train ride to all of the rental agencies and the huge indoor rental car garage.
The beach is a relief and calming. We have a balcony overlooking the water, an indoor well-lit garage for your car, and an elevator.
The beach is swept every morning, the sand is white, This year there was a red tide problem, but except for a couple of days of dead fish on the beach, didn’t bother us.
September can be a problem. It is the month for construction work and repairs, some restaurants are closed, hurricanes can be a problem, and this year the red tide lasted longer than usual. However; in September it is low season so rates are cheaper, traffic is reduced, no problem finding seats in restaurants, no crowds, no spring breaks, changing weather and cooler weather. If you are old, September is the month for you. The whole atmosphere is recharging.
Walking a couple of miles a day on the beach in the early morning is a benefit. Walking to Crabby Bills for breakfast is great. The breakfast is cheap, filling and interesting. Nothing like TV’s broadcasting football games from who knows where at 8 in the morning – the bar also operates at 8 – you can eat outside. It is not crowded and the wait-staff is friendly.
There are numerous book boxes where you can take a book and leave a book. The Largo Library has a genealogy section and there is an Indian Rocks Library with computers, papers, magazines and books for sale.
At night you can walk to a few restaurants including Guppy’s, where you can share a plate and eat octopus.
If you are old, you want to be able to walk if you are going to have wine. News articles about seniors who have accidents always say “an elderly man was driving…” Can you imagine being in the drunk tank at 78? or, trying to walk a straight line, even if you could hear the cop’s directions??
The bottom line is that time spent watching the sea is recharging; especially if you are old. It is a nice rhythm.
Check it out!
Condo Maintenance Work in September!
- Use a reliable rental agent; such as Airbnb.com or VRBO.com.
- Look at the pictures and read the reviews on the web page.
- Determine if you can cancel and the penalties.
- Why are you going to this particular place? Beach? Skiing? Museums? Family?
- Read the contract.
- Take dated cell phone pictures.
- Look for problems; especially old people problems – stairs, rugs, anything that could lead to a fall. Remember the public lights that guide you may also shine in your bedroom window. Construction may start at 8 in the morning. Remember, a beach condo is probably not designed, or furnished, for old people!
- Check all light bulbs – enough light to read by.
- Check, and pitch, food left in refrigerator, or stored.
- Batteries in tv clickers – take spares – I have had battery problems in the last three places I have rented. And, the battery was always the last thing I checked and in each case, fresh batteries made the clicker work. Usually, but not always, there are buttons on the TV – BUT, old people are addicted to clickers and don’t like to get up and walk over to the TV to change the channel.
- Locate instructions for all appliances.
- TVs and electronic devices are probably designed for someone 60 years younger than you. Best to bring a grand-kid with you, if you anticipate TV, computer or cell phone problems.
- Is there construction work taking place? In Indian Rocks Beach, FL, construction work takes place in September – See photo above.
- Are there cleaning supplies?
- Toilet paper, dishwasher soap, laundry soap? The owner, previous tenant, cleaning company all use different brands than you do. Get over it! Adapt!
- Sheets, towels, dishes, etc.?
- Parking spaces and car tags?
- Heating and air conditioning?
- Name and cell phone number of contact person for problems – ie lock box doesn’t work late at night when you arrive and you can’t figure out how to get in the unit.
- Deadlines for leaving – ie cleaning crew has to come in.
- Restaurant guides – can you walk there?
- Public transportation, if you need it.
- Uber or Lyft available?
- Light from glass brick walls, windows without shades, or from public areas?
- Read the book of comments.
- Communicate by e-mail so that you have a record.
- Insurance – damage, illness, death, cancellation for any reason?
- Seasons – On Florida beaches, September is the time to repair in anticipation of the high season, it is also hurricane season and low season – you probably got a good price, but you may have to put up with closed businesses, construction work, bad weather, air plane cancellations/delays, etc. SPRING BREAK – NOT A TIME FOR OLD PEOPLE – Think about it!
- Red Tide or other natural or man-made disasters. – Have you gone swimming in the ocean since you turned 70? Who is responsible?
- Why did you pick the place? low season, cost, hurricane, knew the area???
- What was disclosed?
- Don’t forget that your i-phone is a flashlight?
- Is there a library near by? newspapers, computers, books for sale cheap, information on local events, museums, etc.
- Hospitals, CVS clinics available? – Can your local pharmacy send meds to an out-of-state pharmacy? Old people must have their meds – lack of meds will panic an old person quicker than anything else.
- What do you do if you can’t make the TV work?
- Old people tend to make mountains out of mole hills on vacation; instead of adapting and enjoying.
What you can do!
- Call contact person.
- Notify VRBO.com or Airbnb.com.
- E-mail, so that there is a record.
- IS THE PERCEIVED PROBLEM WORTH THE EFFORT? YOU DIDN’T COME ON A VACATION TO MOVE TO A NEW UNIT, TO COMPLAIN, OR TO SPEND YOUR TIME RUNNING AROUND. WHY DEAL WITH WHAT IS REALLY NOT A PROBLEM – AND PROBABLY JUST A NUISANCE.
- You are not here to litigate, but to enjoy yourself.
After three weeks!
THINK OLD! Especially when you are on vacation.
We are retired and eat out frequently; especially when on vacation in Florida. I got to thinking about what I liked in restaurants, given my age of 78. I like small French, Mexican, Italian and Chinese restaurants. I like table cloths, cloth napkins and water. I also realize that I am inconsistent, so you should take this list of a baker’s dozen with a grain of salt. Trust but verify, a senior’s mantra!
- Quiet – The app Soundprint registers noise in restaurants. I, like many old people, am deaf and it is hard to hear in a crowded restaurant where the tables are close together or where you are seated near a large group of people.
- Share a plate – We don’t eat as much, so if we can share a plate, even for an extra charge, that is great.
- Smaller portions – We don’t need huge portions, or all you can eat buffets.
- Water – some of us drink a lot of water, and I, at least, judge a waiter by whether or not my water-glass is kept full.
- Parking – easy access and spaces wide enough to get in and out of the car with ease.
- Uber or Lyft – Uber or Lyft is great for old people. They are fast, convenient and allow us to have a glass of wine, without worrying about drunk driving. Nothing like a newspaper article that describes me as “elderly.”
- Enough light to read the menu – Not only am I deaf, but I have trouble seeing in dim light. My i-Phone, with its built-in flashlight, has been a boon to my old age. Until you are old, you don’t realize how hard it can be to see in dim light.
- Simple choices – My mind is not as quick as it used to be, so the fewer, easier, and simpler choices, the happier I am.
- Doggy bags – if we can’t or don’t share a plate, a container to take half of our food home is great; even if we don’t have a dog.
- Non-fried preparation – Digestion can be a problem; and, of course I am very conscious of the life expectancy tables. I like to keep my options open.
- Easy access – I need to get to my table and to the men’s room. Stairs, rugs, close tables, servers, folding tray tables, and using the hall to the men’s room for storage can lead to falls and always makes me nervous. Remember, falls are the leading cause of …….. for seniors.
- Bargain – a price I think is fair,
- Non-processed food – Too much food today is processed – at my age not only do I not need it, it is bad for me.
One French restaurant that I like is Chez Colette’s in Belleair Bluffs, Florida, which meets all my criteria.
Traveling for long periods of time, or staying in one new place for a period of time, requires a routine if you are old. A necessary part of that routine is exercise. The YMCA, the club of our childhood, provides the setting.
The YMCA is available nation-wide, is usually open for long hours, has skilled instructors, and a variety of programs. If you are old,it can be free.
The trick is to have a Silver Sneakers membership through your insurance plan. Free at home means free at most any place you travel in the US, and if you are visiting children and grandchildren, you need some place to go and something to do during the day. The Y provides that; without worrying about walking on strange and often busy streets. Exercise is the key to successful aging.
The best bet is an insurance-paid Silver Sneakers plan. This is good nation-wide at YMCAs and many health clubs. You have no excuse.
If you belong to a YMCA in your hometown, either through Silver Sneakers or with a paid membership, you can ask to have your name put on the Nationwide Membership List, which can be accessed by any YMCA in the country.
If you don’t have an insurance-paid plan, you can always pay a small fee to use the Y. It depends on the place, but most of them seem to have fee schedules topping out at about $75 per month. The schedules also seem to only go to age “64 and under,” so as an old person, it may be free anyway.
We are in Florida, for a month and checked into the Clearwater, FL YMCA. We were on the Nationwide Membership list, courtesy of the Albuquerque YMCA, which meant that we had a home YMCA and were eligible to use other facilities; however in Clearwater, it was limited to a max of 24 days, and the Y suggested we use our Silver Sneakers membership, giving us unlimited use of all facilities and access to all classes.
The Clearwater Y is a new and modern facility and has every class you could imagine, including Silver Sneakers exercise, chair exercise, yoga, pilates, Tai Chi, etc. In addition, there is a pool, a hot tub, basketball court, a complete weight room and every sort of exercise machine.
If you don’t believe me, check out the Clearwater Y.
It also provides numerous trips to local restaurants for lunch, other events, and classes on topics that should be of interest to old people.
If you want to go outdoors, there is a 1/4 mile walking/running track, but if you come from New Mexico, it is better to walk on the beach, which is also free.
Trainers are available for a reasonable fee.
Nationwide-membership in the YMCA
These old people follow Hurricane Irma in. We have a tendency to want to see coastal storms which don’t occur in New Mexico, so this is the second year that we have been right behind a hurricane. We are attracted to the Gulf Coast in September, hurricane season.
We sit on our balcony, drink some wine and watch the cloud formations in the evening.
We walk on the beach in the morning.
We end the day with a glass of wine and walk to dinner.
Bird at the beach.
Sometimes being old is not all bad.
I like a restaurant that reminds me of my past (60 to 70 years ago); and, like most people my age, I prefer non-chain restaurants. In Largo, Florida there is Venus Restaurant. It has been family owned since 1985, is small, and seems to cater to an older neighborhood population.
There are booths, tables and an outdoor seating area where smoking is apparently allowed; at least I could smell cigarette smoke which is unusual; even in Florida. The walls are covered with pictures drawn by grade-school grandchildren, the waitresses are friendly and the parking lot is always crowded.
The food is simple, not processed and reflective of by-gone times. Where else can you find beef liver and onions (small portion) for $7.49 “served with a choice of the following sides: cup of soup, or side salad, potato, vegetable or a pudding dessert.”
They also serve fish, meat-loaf, burgers and pasta; plus an assortment of Greek dishes and pudding for dessert.
I had breakfast there today:
2441 West Bay Drive
Largo, FL 33770