Friday, May 27, 2016

The Vinoy

Aymer Vinoy Laughner enjoyed a good game of golf.  Walter Hagen, a famous golfer joined  his buddy Aymer for a game of golf at Laughner's Beach Drive home in St. Petersburg.  The two made a wager--not about who might win the game--instead about the toughness of Laughner's prized watch. Hagen wondered if the crystal would survive if he drove golf balls off of it.  Sounds like there might have been alcohol involved in this bet.  

The watch survived.  The golf balls landed on the waterfront  property on which the Vinoy now sits.  Guests at this little golf game suggested Aymer purchase the property and build a grand resort.  He must have thought it was a great idea because he bought the property for $170,000, hired architects and builders and started construction in  February of 1925. The 375 room hotel was completed by December 1925.   

The Vinoy hotel flourished in the 1920's and 30's.  Many wealthy Northerner's arrived to take advantage of the warm winters and lavish pleasures during those years.  The reality of a second world war took its toll on the Vinoy which closed to the public and leased to the U.S. Army Air Force  and then to the U.S. Maritime Service as housing and training for military cooks and bakers.  

After substantial repairs in 1944, the hotel reopened to the public.  The Vinoy continued to welcome guests in the 1950's and 1960's but the hotel's resistance to installing air conditioning led visitors to look for other more modern destinations.  In the early 1970's it became a low rent boarding house costing $7 a night.  

The hotel was closed in 1974 with much of its fine china, silver and crystal being sold at a public auction.  The citizens of St. Petersburg were successful in placing the landmark hotel on the National Register of Historic Places, however, the hotel remained unoccupied. 

Renovations began in 1990 led to the reopening in 1992 as a Stouffer Hotel.  It reclaimed its place as the centerpiece of St. Petersburg's waterfront downtown.  In 1993 it was renamed the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort and Golf Club.

I have been spoiled staying at the Vinoy Marina.  As a marina guest, we have privileges at the hotel spa, fitness center, tennis courts, pool and more.  We (yes, Steve) participated in the daily aqua aerobics classes and met many of the local residents of St. Petersburg.  


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Stuart to St. Petersburg

Steve and his crew (Charlie & Mitch) moved Meandering Joy from Stuart to St. Petersburg. The first leg of the trip was to Clewiston.  They stayed the night at Roland Martin Marina. Roland Martin is a professional sport fisherman, host of Fishing with Roland Martin of NBCSN.  Steve rates this as a top notch marina.  (I haven't been here yet--I will be going on the return trip to the East coast of Florida)

It is a full service marina with boat rental, fishing guides, airboat tours, an RV park and a swimming pool.  If you do not have a boat or RV, they have motel rooms and condominiums available for rent. Sounds like the perfect location for a fishing vacation.

Next stop along the way--Fort Myers Yacht Basin

The marina is located on the south side of the Caloosahatchee River between two bridges in the historic downtown area of Fort Myers.  There are many restaurants within walking distance.  Fort Myers is a wonderful city to visit.  We usually take a tour of Edison House and Museum.  

Heading north from Fort Myers,  Meandering Joy stopped in Venice for a night at the Crow's Nest Marina and restaurant.  This restaurant is one of the best we have visited on our travels.  Steve & Crew were not disappointed--delicious dinner. 

To avoid bridges and slow boaters--they took Meandering Joy out into the Gulf of Mexico to get to St. Petersburg and our stay at the Vinoy Renaissance Resort Marina.  

Meandering Joy arrived at the Vinoy on Sunday, May 1.  We reserved a slip here for the month of May.  We chose this location to enjoy the graduation festivities for our youngest daughter.  More on St. Petersburg, the Vinoy, and the graduation coming soon. 


Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Jupiter has an average of 235 sunny days a year according to Bert Sperling.   Who is Bert Sperling?  I have never heard of him either, but on a search for details about Jupiter his website brought forth much information.  Bert  operates  a website named Sperling's Best Places.  The site gathers and shares information about schools, crime rate, cost of living, home prices and more to aid in the decision making process for anyone looking for a move.  

There is a quiz on the website which generates the ideal city in which to live based on the answers to 10 simple questions.  I took the quiz--my ideal city is Hattiesburg, MS.  Never been there.  I may take the quiz again.  (Friends who are looking toward retirement may find this site useful.)

Bert's data indicate that the pros to living in Jupiter are its cultural diversity, proximity to the beach and water recreation, and entertainment.  The cons are hurricane risk, cost of living, and crime rate. 
We aren't planning on moving to Jupiter or anywhere else, but this is a very interesting site.  

I had no intention of writing about Sperlings Best Places today.  I planned to share some photos of our recent visit to Jupiter.  

Pineapple Plant

Banana Tree

More banana tree

Canopy of trees covering the trail to the beach

No crowds at this beach 

Clear blue green water 

Bandage Tree

Have a great day exploring your world and  Go take the Best Places Quiz and let me know your Best Place...


Sunday, May 8, 2016

Jupiter Lighthouse

Spelling is important--don't let anyone convince you otherwise.  Just ask the Hobe Indian tribe which lived at the mouth of the Loxahatchee River in Florida.  A mapmaker mistook the Spanish spelling of Hobe, which is Jobe, for Jove.  Another misinterpretation  of Jove led to the name being identified with Roman god in Greek mythology, Jupiter.  Jupiter is the god of light, sky and weather.  

On the north side the Jupiter Inlet is the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse which sits on what is believed to be an ancient (probably Hobe) indian shell mound called a midden.  Middens are frequently confused with burial mounds.  Middens are really just a pile of shells that have accumulated over the years and become a hill of sorts.  

The Loxahatchee River Historical Society (LRHS) formed in 1972 to preserve the history of the area,  operates the museum and the lighthouse.  In 1988 LRHS opened Burt Reynolds Park  after Burt made a donation to build boat ramps for access to the inlet and rivers.  Rumor has it Burt still lives in Jupiter and has a standing Friday night reservation at Jetty's Waterfront Restaurant.  

Tours of the lighthouse built in 1860 include a visit to the museum.  The museum is in the adjacent restored WWII Naval housing building   The exhibit offers insight to life on the Loxahatchee River over five thousand years.  Besides a tour of the light house, visitors may visit the Keeper's workshop, the Tindall Pioneer homestead and a Seminole chickee.  A chickee is another name for an arbor with a thatched roof.  

Banyan Tree

 It was worth climbing 105 steps to the top to get this 360 degree view

Tindall House

Enjoying the shade under the chickee

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Farmer's Market Trend

A visit to the town square for the Saturday morning farmer's market is becoming more and more common for certain communities.  We first noticed the trend when our oldest daughter went to college in Charleston.  On our first visit, she recommended that we go  to Marion Square and check out the fresh fruits and vegetables.  Several vendors were serving breakfast items ranging from fresh baked muffins and croissants,  omelets and the very best crepes filled with hazelnut cream.    Before the breakfast items could be finished, the lunch chefs were heating up their grills to serve gyro's, panini's, wings and more.  

Even our little home port of Monroe, Georgia has a Saturday morning market for the local farmers. Most of these markets are not just for farmers.  There are frequently just as many booths for the local artisans to show off their prize paintings, photography, jewelry, soaps and more.  

I like the idea of meeting the farmer who grew the vegetables I want to purchase.  This method of shopping is really not that new.  It was quite common before the end of WWII to go to the farmers market for produce.  After the war, however, commercial farmers  and big Super markets came on the scene to replace the old fashioned farmer's market.  

Kind of interesting how history repeats itself. 

Stuart has its local market on Sunday morning.   There were more crafters than farmers but it is still an interesting event.  I purchased Blue Cheese Stuffed Olives for an appetizer.  Yummy!

Does your town have a farmer's market?  Do you like to buy your produce at the market or is too hard to break the habit and convenience of going to the grocery store?  


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Sandsprit Park

Why don't we ride our bikes at home?   
Why do we have to go away from home to ride our bikes?  
Why aren't there more places to ride at home?

I don't have the answers to these questions, but I do know that we love bike riding. It makes me feel good physically and mentally. 

There are sidewalks and bike lanes all through Stuart making it a fun city to explore by bike. We discovered Sandsprit Park about a mile from Marina Cay Marina on one of our biking trips.  

A boardwalk wraps around the park which is surrounded by water on both sides--Manatee Pocket on the south and the St. Lucie river on the north.  There is a boat ramp and fishing is allowed form boardwalk.  Pavilions are available for picnic and there are playgrounds for the kids.  All of these amenities are pretty standard for parks.  Sandsprit has something a little different--outdoor exercise machines.  

Do you like to ride your bike? Where do you ride? 


Monday, May 2, 2016

Friends Near and Far

"A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows you are slightly cracked."      Bernard Melzer

The hardest part of traveling on Meandering Joy is missing our family and friends.  The best part of traveling so frequently is meeting new friends.  While in Stuart, we have been able to get together with several boating friends we have met over the years.  

We met Faye and Sanford while in Marathon last January & February.  Sanford and Steve hit it off instantly with their shared sense of humor.  Faye and I share a love of reading and we spent many hours in the pool together talking about our families while joining in the water aerobics class.  Faye and Sanford recently moved to Stuart and sold their boat. They graciously showed us around Stuart and introduced us to many fine dining establishments.  

Sanford invited us to share in a surprise birthday dinner for Faye's at Eleven Maple in Jensen Beach.  We were more than happy to join in the fun restaurant recently featured on the "Hidden Gems" episode of Emeril's Florida on the cooking channel. 

Faye and Sanford

We started the meal with the house made sourdough bread served 
with hummus, salsa verde and roasted garlic while
 we waited for the sake cured
 Hamachi (yellowtail tuna) and 
caramelized ginger.  

Faye and Sanford shared oak grilled duck breast and leg confit
 with buttered root vegetable mash, pecans and caramelized pear essence

Steve and I shared New Zealand Elk Tenderloin
with roasted farrow and butternut gratin,
garlic mashed potato with 
dried porcini sauce


Coconut sorbet for dessert for the birthday girl! 

Getting hungry yet?