Apollo Beach Skate Park and Trader Joe’s Sarasota

September 9, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Yesterday was family day. We haven’t really had one of those for a while. After Chad and the boys went for their usual Saturday morning long walk (the “fishy” walk, because it goes along so many canals), we all piled in the car and headed south over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

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Rain was forecast on and off for the whole weekend, but we ended up with a beautiful morning. Our first destination was a new skate park that just opened in Apollo Beach.

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The skateboard plaza was dedicated to a young man who was hit in the head by a bullet from a gun that was shot straight up into the air on New Years Eve. His family and friends are dedicated to spreading awareness as to how dangerous this is. The boy recovered, but it has been a terrible ordeal. You can see more about the story here.

The boys were very excited to check out the park. Of course we had to sign waivers and they had to get all padded up.

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And here’s way too many pictures of them skating.

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It was hot, but everybody had a good time.

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The boys were even interviewed by some reporter and Bay News 9 was there shooting video. Mack ended up on television and thanks to my friend Tori tweeting me, I got it on Tivo.

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So far they haven’t put this specific video up on their website, but I have a Google news alert set up for the story so we’ll see if they pop up anywhere else.

After the boys skated for over an hour we were all hot and tired and hungry so we consulted Yelp for a good lunch place nearby. I read reviews for several places and we ended up choosing Circles Bar and Grill at Lands End which was just a couple miles away. As we drove to Circles we passed these smoke stacks, which we always see from the exact opposite side of the bay when we are walking in our neighborhood. It was neat to think that we were close to 180° around the bay from our starting point.

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Within just a couple of minutes we arrived at the restaurant.

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The restaurant is actually really large and has a huge waterfront patio, but we were hot from the skate park so we chose to sit in the nice cool bar area.

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The boys all got sandwiches (chicken for Cal, Ahi tuna for Chad, and grilled cheese for Mack)…

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and I got the ham and cheese quiche.

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I substituted a Greek side salad for the Mesclun salad that the menu had listed. The waitress was very nice and said I could substitute any salad on the menu.

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The quiche was awesome, but the Greek salad was just average. Good, but nothing special. I did steal a few fries (there were plenty of them up there), and they were excellent. Very crisp.

After we were refreshed by the air conditioning and our lunch, we headed back out on the road to Sarasota, about another 40 minutes from Apollo Beach. The new Trader Joe’s just opened on Friday in Sarasota. It is only the second Trader Joe’s to open in Florida, and it’s closer to us than the other one which is in Naples. We’re hoping they just keep making their way north.

The store was packed and they had policemen directing traffic in and out of the parking lot. Rather than fight for a non-existent space, we ended up parking a couple of blocks away and walked a short distance to the store.

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It was super crowded in the store, but everyone seemed in good spirits and it wasn’t that hard to maneuver around. This is what the check-out lines looked like right as we entered the store:

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The only sample I saw being handed out in the store was guacamole, which we tried.

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Not bad. I posted that photo of the boys and me in front of the store on several social media platforms right when we arrived, and immediately I started getting suggestions from my friends on what to buy. It was great. Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook were all telling me what to get. (Thanks Jill, Amy, Carrie, and everybody else who chimed in!) I also had a list from the Tampa Bay Times food critic of the ten best things to try from Trader Joe’s in her opinion. We ended up with quite a full buggy.

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Here’s what the line to check out looked like when I queued up at the end of it:

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Our haul, before two bottles of wine and a few more last minute items were added.

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Lots of different and interesting things for us.

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The only buggy we could get had a baby seat, which very safely carried the “lite” kettle corn in individual serving bags for lunch boxes.

I know that those of you who have a Trader Joe’s on every corner don’t think it’s a big deal, but believe me, Floridians are anxious to have this shopping option.

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The staff was extremely efficient and friendly in the overly crowded store. I made it from the back of the line to the cash register in 20 minutes. Not too bad. The lady bagging our groceries was super nice.

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Some of the things on the Times “top ten” list were out of stock, but we did get several of the things on the list and almost all of my friends’ suggestions. For the things we missed we’ll just have to make another trip. We enjoyed the whole “grand opening” experience and had fun. Then we made the 45 minute (maybe an hour?) trip back to St. Pete.

Hello again Sunshine Skyway.

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When we got home the boys and I split up. Chad and the boys headed back out to Publix for our normal groceries (it was too crowded and we were in too much of a hurry to do our entire weekly grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s) while I took his car and drove to Palm Harbor (about 45 minutes north of us…it was a long day on the bay area highways). I went to pick up the boys race packets for the kids’ triathlon scheduled for today (Sunday), the Swim, Bike, Run for Freedom.

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This was my first time visiting this YMCA.

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I got their race packets and t-shirts…

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and got back into the car to head home. I pretty much felt like I had been in the car all day at that point, because I had. While I was driving Chad was making a Trader Joe’s dinner.

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The flat bread was just okay, but the pasta was really outstanding. It definitely could have passed as homemade…nearly restaurant quality.

I went to bed pretty early last night because this morning we had to get up very early to head back to Palm Harbor for the triathlon. I was up at 5 and I got the boys up at 5:15. The weather forecast was pretty iffy and on our way there it started lightening, and finally raining. Then pouring.

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I knew it wasn’t going to happen, and sure enough when we got there we learned that it was canceled. Actually, I received an e-mail on my phone as we were getting back to the car to come back home, informing us that it had been canceled. That’s what we get for having to come from relatively far away. Oh well. At least I got to see my friend Christie (Average Moms Wear Capes) and talk to her about triathlons a little bit. The boys were a little disappointed.

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You were upset, right guys?

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So home we went, unhappy about the rain.

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Since the boys couldn’t do their triathlon, Mack and I went to the gym, wearing our matching shirts.

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They were out of all the youth large, youth x-large, adult small, and adult medium shirts. I had to get Cal an adult large, which also happens to be my size. He let me wear it today.

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Bodypump:

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I played with the new camera’s self-timer today, and remembered my mini tri-pod.

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During most of the class it was thunder storming, and at one point the power flashed off and we got to skip a few bicep curl reps. Divine intervention right when I needed it?

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After the gym Mack and I went home and I had a bit of an aiming problem backing into the carport (don’t tell Chad, okay?)…

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and I changed into dry clothes, we picked up Cal, and headed out to lunch. I had promised the boys Chinese buffet for lunch after their triathlon. Even though the triathlon didn’t happen, I still was proud of them for having the fortitude and intent to do the event, so I followed through with my promise. We went to Lee Garden, which is our usual Chinese buffet place and also happens to be the most highly rated one in St. Pete on Yelp.

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I still think it’s only mediocre, but the boys like it.

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Just your typical American Chinese buffet restaurant, but the staff is very nice and it is clean.

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The rest of the day has been spent doing laundry and I don’t know what else. Did I mention that Chad is gone all day to the Bucs game with his buddies? He texted me a couple of photos.

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That’s it. That’s enough. Weekend’s pretty much over. Gotta get ready for a new week.

Cya.