Every February my parents “snow bird” their way South, each available square inch of their SUV packed mostly with car seats and children’s clothing in preparation of our yearly takeover. What is supposed to be two months of relaxation and bliss for them becomes the comings and goings of my sister and I, our husbands, and our children. We never make it easy for them, all arriving at different times (even Dev and I often take separate flights) and staying for various lengths of time, and by the end of it all my dad has easily made five or six visits to and from the Tampa airport. Thankfully he describes that hub as the “World’s Greatest Airport” so there is never much grumbling about it. Beyond the love we share of Tampa International, though, is the love we all have for the area’s greatest beach–Pass-a-Grille.
My mom’s family has vacationed here for years, and in fact my grandparents moved here for a time with my aunt who suffered from serious asthma. The Florida air helped with some of her symptoms, and I’m sure for both her and Nana and Grampa the atmosphere did plenty of good for their spirits, too! Now all my aunts and uncles frequent Pass-a-Grille, and if the timing is right we get to hang with my cousins and their children on the beach as well.
Beyond the obvious gorgeous sand and striking blue waters, the town is the epitome of bohemian: quirky, quaint, relaxed, and full of colour and art. In my opinion, though perhaps some may disagree, you don’t go to Pass-a-Grille for the nightlife. Come 8:30 or 9pm, the streets are empty and the beach is clear. It’s just not that kind of community. Instead, you go to immerse yourself in its chill vibe. Just being there makes me want to become a hipster vegan.
Every year Dev and I daydream about dropping our teaching careers, and selling out for a cafe on this beach. But that shop is already spoken for, and quite frankly I couldn’t do the Pass-A-Cchino like the Paradise Sweets ice-cream shop on 8th does. Nor could I create the world’s best cashew based tacos like the local vegan restaurant, Vida de Cafe. The owner of this shop is living the dream, having ditched her home in Calgary to live the bohemian life in Pass-a-Grille.
Beyond indulging in ice cream and green juice, and playing in the sand, there’s something about Pass-a-Grille that makes me love my yoga practice even more. One of the studios in St Pete’s, Nava Yoga Studio, has beach yoga every Saturday morning. Practicing in the salt air, with sand spilling onto your towel and ocean breeze brushing your skin, just can’t be beat.
A packed beach yoga class with Nava Studio.
At any rate, although we are in no place to run away from our reality (and truly we are happy where we are anyway!), it is nice to dream. And nice to live it, even if only for one week a year.