Shoulder Season: The Most Wonderful Time of Year for Sports Fans

Michigan Wolverines

On every sports fan’s bucket list? Attending a major college football game.

Shoulder season. The time of year when it’s okay to wear a wool dress and thong sandals to work.
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Thank you, Polar Vortex

Predictions of a travelpocalypse this holiday weekend kept me close to home. Sitting in a traffic jam is a complete getaway buzzkill, so I stayed off the roads and in my yard. This caused me to notice that everything – the trees, the blades of grass, the tulips – seem so much BIGGER than usual. Have you seen the bees? They look and sound like helicopters.

We’ve enjoyed relatively mild winters in the Northeast until this year. Maybe everything needed a season to go truly dormant. Was the polar vortex Mother Nature’s way of triggering a rebirth? Or am I simply more appreciative after hibernating for 5 months? Whatever the case, I encourage you to get outside. And bring a baseball bat – for the bees.

@The Open Suitcase LLC


Where You Can Be Crowned Strawberry Queen

Where can you tour a superb boutique museum in the morning and ascend a strawberry throne in the afternoon? Only in the Sunshine State, my friends.

In St. Pete last weekend I finally visited the Dali Museum. I’ve had it on my to-do list for years. The current museum opened in 2011 and is spectacular and weather-secure. According to our docent, in the old building when storms threatened, the staff would scurry about, relocating the art to dry ground. The museum is wildly popular and unfortunately we got a late start on the day. We hopped on a tour and heard interesting analyses of 4 pieces in the collection, including Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea which at Twenty Meters Becomes the Portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Homage to Rothko). We considered picking up free headphones to continue touring the gallery, but the crowds closed in and I began to figuratively melt like one of the surrealist’s famous pocket watches, so we hightailed it out of there with a vow to return. Don’t miss it, if you’re in the area.

I always feel so virtuous after indulging in some “culcha”. The feeling didn’t last long.

Dali Museum

© 2014 – Salvador Dalí Museum, Inc., St. Petersburg, FL

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Florida for Grownups – St. Pete Finale

Now that you have some ideas about where to stay (St. Pete Part I) and what to do (St. Pete Part II), it’s time to think about refreshments.

After you’ve walked and gawked and sunned and surfed, it’s time to eat.  And not at the national chains that populate the rest of Florida, hawking their early bird specials (Yes, Denny’s – this means you.).  Steve Westphal, owner of, notes that one of the truly unique aspects of St. Pete is the plethora of independently owned and operated restaurants.  Parkshore Grill and Tryst Gastro Lounge (recently selected as one of  Urban Spoon’s 250 Most Popular High-End Restaurants in America) are just two of many excellent locations to enjoy a meal.

Downtown St. Petersburg

Photo: City of St. Petersburg

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Play Ball! Let’s Eat!

© Garlic World 2013

© Garlic World 2013

In springtime a young woman’s fancy turns to baseball, for the love of stadium food (and the game, too). In today’s edition of Budget Travel magazine’s newsletter, Robert Firpo-Cappiello (Deputy Editor, Budget Travel) offers samples of the Best Ballpark Food in America. Included are my thoughts about San Francisco’s AT&T Park, home of the Giants. If you’d like to try to replicate the taste at home, Gilroy’s Garlic World offers its famous recipe here.