Looks like I picked the wrong week to come to Florida.
Actually we didn’t. Our most excellent holiday has been extended thanks to Tropical Storm or Hurricane Fay, which is scheduled to hit us in Florida first thing tomorrow morning. Everything has been canceled, including all flights out of Tampa.
So we’re riding it out.
Amy has been here a couple of times with friends, and my grandfather had a place in nearby Englewood, Florida, for decades. So we are both used to escaping Kansas heat by going to Florida in Aug. when it is completely dead. And Venice – founded as a retirement community by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers in the 1920s – is about as quiet as it gets.
As part of our hurricane preparation, Courtlynn, Amy and I went to the Sarasota aquarium today. After petting the stingrays and others in the fish petting zoo, Amy and Courtlynn dutifully washed their hands in the politically correct handwashing station, which has a sign that says,
“Dryers are provided for an environmentally-conscious choice.”
Handwashing needs soap, running water and paper towel. Save the guilt.
Next was some lunch in St. Armand’s circle on Lido Key, a favorite spot for Amy and me. Shortly after we sat down, Amy asked, “Do you know why there is hand sanitizer on the patio tables and not inside? I bet this is a doggie-friendly restaurant.”
Sure enough, ChaCha Coconuts Tropical Bar and Grill was an approved doggie-friendly dining establishment. Our server said there hadn’t been any problems, most of the dogs in the St. Armand area were tiny, but it was problematic when owners insisted their dogs sit in a chair at the table. She said,
“I have a dog. It sits on the floor. So do these dogs.”
Not everyone in the Tampa area is happy with the doggy dining regs. Richard Bond, owner of Yeoman’s Road Pub on Davis Islands, told the Tampa Tribune on Friday that he put up a sign at his restaurant saying that because of the "unreasonable nature" of the pet ordinance, the pub would no longer allow pets on the patio.
"There’s a money issue. You have to have a sanitary station. It’s too much for me to be dog-friendly. When I got it I said, ‘Just another thing for the city of Tampa to try to make a couple of extra bucks.’ "
The server at ChaCha’s said being doggy friendly gave them an edge, especially during the economic downturn and the off-season.
There’s media noise. And there’s reality. It’s been strangely bizarre listening to the media histrionics on the Weather Channel and CNN about the approaching Fay, compared with the low-key, been-there-done-that response of the locals.
We’ll get home eventually. Courtlynn is pumped about the manatees and dolphins off the pier … and the new season of the Hills starting tonight.