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Sailing Part 2; Chihuly’s Glass Sculptures; A Cheesehead

Our sailing adventure continues… Greg, Renee, Samantha and Juliana Scalzini from Atlanta seem to be taking the arduous routine of shipboard life in stride. Here they are seen at sunset at Bahia Beach, with the St. Petersburg skyline barely visible in the distant background.


Juliana and Samantha were quick learners in handling the boat’s mooring lines; here we see them “Flemishing” the bitter end of our boat’s stern line. I’ve served with a lot of bosun’s mates aboard Navy ships, but never any that were this cute and photogenic.


After our trip to the east side of Tampa Bay, and with a serious cold front threatening thunderstorms, we decided to sail west back to St. Petersburg for shelter. We encountered 25-30 kts of wind and 3-4 foot wind waves, but the crew did a superb job in maintaining level stomachs and laughing all the way. We moored back in the marina at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort, a barely acceptable slum hotel where jackets are de rigeur at the bar, of all places. Unfortunately, I had forgotten my tux back at home, so we opted to dine aboard. Suzanne’s sausage and pasta with vodka-tomato sauce was far better than anything we could have gotten in town anyway; there is no Little Italy area in St. Pete, and the landmark Mazzaro’s Italian Grocery was a long drive from the marina.

The bad weather didn’t slow down Samantha and Juliana… they were ready for the pool at the Vinoy before the rain had yet cleared to the east. Fortunately, marina guests get a good deal for using the Vinoy’s facilities. You can see by their expressions that their energy levels far outstripped those of the adults aboard Summer Breeze, especially the retired Navy contingent…

We also took the opportunity to visit the Morean Art Center to view a superb exhibit of blown glass sculptures created by world-renowned artist and entrepreneur Dale Chihuly. Here are images of several of his works… this chandelier might set you back a half-mil or so… and then you’d have to reinforce your ceiling, because it weighs about a thousand pounds. Our docent recounted the story that when the benefactor donated this chandelier to the museum, the workers disassembled its 370 individual pieces without reassembly instructions. A somewhat panicked agent called Chihuly, who casually stated words to the effect that “it’s art; there’s no right or wrong way, just put it together.” Okayyyyy……

This 8 foot long boat full of glass balls was meant to recall the glass balls supporting Japanese fishermen’s nets in the Pacific that Chihuly first saw near Seattle in the 70s; it’s hard to tell from the image, but the largest balls are almost 3 feet in diameter and weigh 60-70 lbs. Our docent explained that it takes 6 people working together to create glass balls that heavy.

This “garden” was stunningly beautiful. The tall glass “flowers” are about five feet tall and are supported by metal posts. The lighting for each display was carefully designed to show off the beauty of individual pieces of Chihuly’s glass sculptures.

Some of Chihuly’s pieces are whimsical, like this purple flower…

I think my favorite individual piece was this bowl. It is about 2 feet in diameter, and I told My Lovely Bride that I thought it would be great for soaking my tired feet after hiking. (Smack…)

Suzanne’s favorite was this wall display of yellow glass flowers (titled Macchia by the artist)… I thought they would go well in our living room until she reminded me that it would probably cost more than our house itself… yikes! (I obviously did not invest well.)

Samantha and Juliana enjoyed the exhibit as much as did the adults. Unfortunately, our cruise and shore time together were drawing to a close, but the girls and their parents still had Disney World to look forward to, while Suzanne and I were returning to Disney World for Adults (AKA The Villages). We loved our time together; it was so refreshing to see a beautiful family at ease with one another and the happy (and sometimes frenetic) interaction between them. I just wish you could bottle some of Juliana and Samantha’s energy… talk about a million dollar elixir!

After returning to TV, I went for a walk, and almost immediately encountered a neighbor, Kathy Anderson, walking down the street with a cheese head and a Swiss cheese scarf. Kathy, a Wisconsin native, was bemoaning the fact that property values in our neighborhood of Mallory were in the process of tanking. I asked why, and heard the bad news that a Minnesnowta Vikings couple had just moved in. Guess it’s time to put the house on the market…. 

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