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'After the Rays game' excuse turns into a weekend trip to Englewood Beach

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engbeachfootballOn Sunday, my wife announced that she wanted me to take her kayak fishing.
“Sure,” I replied, “after the Rays game.” For the last month or so, most of my yard work, household chores and outdoor recreation has depended on rooting for the underdog Tampa Bay Rays and against the overpriced Yankees and Red Sox.
On weekdays, usually, it’s “before the Rays game.” On weekends, usually, it’s “after the Rays game.”
On Sunday, the Rays lost to the Yankees, but super-rookie Wil Myers hit two home runs, so there was a bright side.
(One of many cool things about Myers, as I explained to my wife, is that he hits bare-handed. In between pitches, while most hitters adjust their batting gloves, Myers cracks his knuckles. This always makes me laugh.) Once the game ended, I told my wife I was ready to take her kayak fishing. Oh, yeah, she said. We’re not doing that any more. Now we’re going to the beach.

Cockamamie parking
The beach was fine with me. So was the timing.
Most people go to the shore in the middle of the day, which I’ve never understood. That’s the harshest time for the heat and sun. I like to reach the beach in the late afternoon — just when everyone else is leaving.
We went to Englewood Beach, which is closest to our house, but I’d forgotten what a pain that can be.
engbeachskimboardingYou have to pay to park at this Charlotte County beach, which is bad enough. Worse still is this cockamamie payment system where you have to know the number of the parking space where you left your car. This guy in line ahead of me was struggling with all of buttons on the machine, and his wrinkled dollar bills, and the stupid number he didn’t know.
“Seriously?” he kept saying. “Seriously?”
The next guy in line finally shook his head and left. Maybe he went home, or maybe he drove across the county line to Blind Pass Beach, where parking is free.
I thought about leaving, too, but then I happened to see the number on an empty parking space. So I typed in that number, got my slip and then moved my car. Crazy, right?

Setting sun
Having said all that, Englewood Beach was gorgeous.
Kids were playing, teens were skimboarding and families were swimming. A father and son were tossing a football back and forth. A couple of people were flying kites.
As the sun began to set, it got cooler and more comfortable.
At the beach pavilion, I was looking for someone to interview, and I heard these guys talking about the Rays. Perfect, I thought — baseball and the beach. Then I heard what the guy was saying: “I can watch football, and I can watch NASCAR, but baseball? Really?”
I was ready to jump in — “Seriously? Seriously?” — but the surf must have mellowed me out.
We left just as a drum circle started and this older lady started dancing with a hula hoop making lazy circles around her hips. Across the street, the cover band at the Lock & Key Pub launched into “I’m a Believer,” the old Monkees song.
It was a good day, “after the Rays game,” and we headed for home.

Last modified: August 1, 2013
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