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Monday, June 15, 2015

Ma and Pa Kettle Go To The "Big City"!

Mommy and Daddy tired!
Yesterday my beloved and I set out on a mini adventure, and headed down to Saint Pete for the day! 
No, it wasn't all THAT bad!  As I mentioned earlier last week, when Christophe came and snagged up the truck we built him, the trip back down to the "lower depths" was somewhat, jarring, and busted a few of the rack mounts, and dislodged the chain.  I took advantage of the need to be there and do a rare "house call" (considering what he spent on this beaut, it was the LEAST I could do!) and to take a while to explore, what I have been told is, a rejuvenated Saint Pete.
True, it has been some ten years since we have set foot in that side of town, (it's a two hour bus ride, so it takes about ten years, I guess, to build up the stamina) and many folks coming up from that area have been telling me it's got a lot better. Well, very little has changed on Central Ave from 34th st East to the water.  Twas a bittersweet trip in to Williams Park.  We lived on fourth ave south, years ago, when I was doing construction and remodeling some of the cute homes down there.  Working for two partners who were doing flip houses (but doing them WELL) in an attempt at gentrification, and cleaning up the neighborhood.  Primarily, it was still a bit rough, but given the fact I'd been working there, at that point, in roughly a 6 block radius, from one house to the next, I had the brilliant idea of just moving the family there, as really, there are some very nice family homes nestled in there.  The thought being, was there were many folks, families and couples who were doing a great job, one house at a time, and I had real high hopes they'd all turn it around.
Then, the rumblings of the recession started, and pretty soon the effort dried up.  The bad element took hold again, and we got the hell out of Dodge.  True, some of the store fronts along the way have been rehabbed, and more little independently owned business have taken hold.  Also, there seems to be a much stronger "Artistic" presence being seen.  I do appreciate that, as many a building is awash in color, and murals and such.  It's got a ways to go, but is definitely more vibrant then the subdued and slowly evolving banality of downtown Clearwater!  ICK!  Although...sitting at Park Street station, waiting on our bus, it's a lot of fun to play "fill in the blanks" with the motivations and intentions of all the "Scientology drones" skittering about! Sorry, but it looks like the whole area is nothing but a training facility for Valets!
Back to Saint Pete.  We got there a little earlier, so we wandered about  from 1st street up to 9th along Central Ave checking out all the little shops which, for some odd reason, most were closed on Sunday?  You'd think with all the folks milling about they'd take advantage of it.  We checked out a couple of "trendy" clothing stores (that would be for Angi folks, My clothes are gathered from donations and thrift shops!  No point in going new, as I'll destroy them first day out!) but once she saw the price tag, got that sour lemon look and a big "NOOOO Thank you!"  Really, she can take anything from a thrift store .50 cent table and make her OWN trendy attire!  Then we happened upon a SWEEET little record shop, "Daddy Kool Records"!  at 666 Central Ave (yes...the address IS a little foreboding!) If you've ever seen the flick "High Fidelity" you'll have an appreciation for the atmosphere, however, the gent running the joint is anything but "elitist" and a really friendly chap!  I was impressed at their professional organization, while still retaining a personal, comfortable atmosphere.  And yes, it's a record store with CD's as well, with the minor addition of new chotskies, but not a "tourist trap" set up!  These guys know there stuff too!  Angi has some very obscure tastes in music, but the owner knew exactly who she was talking about.  Yes folks, if you're into a more tactile experience with music, or the better music quality of vinyl, you gotta check this joint out!  Angi was so smitten, that even though she has all his albums on download, she snagged up one of Marilyn Manson's CD's (sadly...we have no record player...anymore...children, go figure!) yes, Marilyn Manson, like I said, odd musical tastes!  Ever try and eat dinner while his music is on?  Not good for the digestion!
After we visited Christophe's evolving juice bar (he's really into repurposed kitch!  LOVE IT!  The furniture is constructed locally from recycled pallets!) at 689 Central Ave, unit 100, and did the quick fix, we bid our farewells, and wandered back down Central , towards the water.  We forgot, however, just how stagnant the air is in downtown.  Even though you're close to the water there is hardly any breeze, and best stick close to the shadow of the buildings, as it was rather sticky.  We ended up stopping for lunch at "Lemon Grass", a real chic little Thai food place (surprising on how popular the color Magenta has become for a decorating choice!) for some Sushi (yea, our Kyptonite!) and ordered up the "Duet", a fine sampling of rolls and Sashimi!  YUM!!!  Although, one particular round, came garnished with fresh slice of Jalapeno's, which...I paid for later.  But it was SOOOOOO worth it! 

Yea, I had already snagged one of the Japanese rolls before Angi got a chance to snap a pic!  What can I say...I was HUNGRY!! 
After we gorged ourselves (and had minimal left overs...I even ate some of the garnish!) We set out, sated, to walk some of it off.  However, being as we are somewhat unfamiliar with a lot of walking, we were both feeling the heat and the day, so opted to head back to the bus depot to head out back home.  We swung down to 1st street and looped around to 1st Ave north and back up.  That corner looked no different than it always did, so at least most of the joints on that block are still alive and kicking.  We had about a half an hour wait at Williams park, and of course THAT place hasn't hardly changed at all!  Still a makeshift camping ground, quite family un-friendly, given the element wandering about.  No, don't label me one of the stuck up anti-homeless folks, but seriously, peacefully occupying the park is one thing, but having a drunk (or otherwise) free for all, with eight people because somebody sat in somebody else's "space"?  A wee too much!  Guess the Police were too busy handing out traffic violations, or something.
Finally, we got out of there and ventured home.  Surprisingly, everyone was in one piece and the house was still standing, so that's a good thing!  Of course, it was early to bed for Daddy!  I was pooped.
Saturday, was a busy, busy day!  Had several of the "I know what I want" snatch and grabs.  That's where folks, who obviously window shopped in the off hours, came in, went right to the ride they wanted and snagged them up!  We like those kinds!  Were quite busy with repairs as well, later in the day, but still managed to put out three newbies!  Two of them, were no brainers, that needed...well nothing, aside from reinstalling a pair of trainers.  These are LIKE NEW Specialized kiddo bikes!  One's a 16" and the other a 12"!  And MAN!  I cannot BELIEVE the prices these things sold for NEW!!  I mean, I know they're Specialized, but  $240.00 for the 12" and $275.00 for the 16"!?!?!  SHEESH!  No, we have them out at a very reasonable $35.00 a shot!  Also, got in a sweet Gary Fisher Zebrano sports hybrid, we got in on trade for the 20" Mongoose.  Sure, she needed some work but SOOOO worth it!
Today, it's been a repair-a-go-go, and sent the Dahon folding bike home with one of our regulars (after the prerequisite discussion about the follies of teenagers!) and intermittently coming back to the blog to try and wrap things up. 
Today...well, don't have anything in the hopper to jump on, so looks like I'll have to get creative again!  Rozy's turn up to bat, and she's been on the floor making "House of Cards" and I'll tell you, she's going to become an engineer!  She WAY has the patience for construction, and definitely doesn't get it from me!  I never had a flair for this kind of thing!

Her next one used all the cards and was somewhat higher!  I put out three...and they fall over!
OKAY!  Guess I have waxed nostalgia enough, and should get back at...something!
Hope to see y'all soon!!

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ONLY $35.00!!
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ONLY $35.00!!
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ONLY $180.00!!

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