The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same
Just before we left Friday afternoon, I realized that despite discussing making Sloppy Joes as one of our meals while camping, I did not pick up a package of ground beef. We also neglected to pack a colander to drain our shells and cheese. Unlike camping where I didn't know the area, this time the area had familiar businesses. Rather than waste daylight making a stop, it was decided we'd set up camp, then I'd go get what we needed.
The tent was set while still daylight and off I went. A left out of Ft. DeSoto, then when I got to the Don Cesar, I made a right onto Gulf Boulevard and into very familiar environs. It was weird. Prior to moving to Florida, we'd spend a night or two along this road. It was hopping, as is typical for mid-February. Our favorite place, the Plaza Beach/Bayview Plaza had "No Vacancy" signs on both of their sites. This was good to see-the owners are great people with immaculate facilities.
At the same time, driving the Boulevard brought back tons of memories. Restaurants that I'd been to with my Mom the month that I stayed with her and Bill while Ed was wrapping up the sale of our house in Maryland. The liquor store that Ed and I were positively giddy to get a bottle of SoCo for a trip. The Walgreens, the mini golf, the turnoff for Woodys. My ultimate destination was the Kash and Karry (now Sweetbay) that my Mom shopped at all the time.
I picked up the needed items, and gosh, it felt really weird to be there, to know that each trip down, I made several trips in there. To know that in my Mom's last year alive, we'd gone shopping over there nearly every week. The way back to the campsite, I passed the mobile village she'd lived in.
It is still operating, despite the owner putting it on the market and selling it after the four hurricanes of 2004. That impending sale motivated Mom and Bill to buy a house a few miles up the road. She spent her last 11 months in a new house, rather than the nicely appointed double wide that my grandparents had bought in the mid 70's.
In the three years since Mom's passed, some things have closed, some new businesses have gone up, but mostly it's the same nice, low key vacation town that it has been. Full of good times, and good memories.
Valentine's day, we decided to have a meal at a local landmark that Ed and I had been by probably a hundred times since honeymooning at the mobile in '97. When you stayed at the mobile, the smell of smoked fish would waft across S. Pasadena Avenue. Mom had always said it was good-but we never went.
For that, we are kicking ourselves. Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish has a small, but delicious menu. We all enjoyed our meals (Ed's smoked salmon was incredible!) and the open air dining, even if five years as Floridians has meant that the 60 degree temperature felt cold! If you have the chance, go. The fish is worth it!
It was good that we hadn't been there before, to be in a place that is so steeped with memories of Mom to enjoy something that wasn't so tied to Mom. Had we gone to one of our favorites in the area, I think it would have felt awkward, because we either had been there with Mom or at Mom's suggestion. She had a gift for finding the best places to eat, the hidden gems no matter where she was.
I love the area and enjoy being there, but at the same time, it makes me wish she were still here and enjoying it with us.