Bicycling to Clearwater Beach
Tarpon Springs to Clearwater, Florida U.S.A.  (November, 2009)
Once or twice per year, when Irmi and I are at our Florida condo, our good friends, Zach and Cathy, travel down from
Atlanta to visit.  They usually stay three to five days, and the four of us share lazy afternoons on the beach, canoe trips
down the alligator-infested Hillsborough River, lengthy bicycle tours, and leisure dinners at local seafood restaurants.
From our condo in Tarpon Springs, the drive southward on Alternate U.S. 19 is quite scenic, especially beyond the city
of Dunedin where the roadway fronts Clearwater Harbor.  A couple years earlier, a county beautification project along
that stretch had included new sidewalks paralleling the water, and I had been wondering if it would be possible to ride
a bicycle along that route, over the recently completed Memorial Causeway Bridge, all the way to Clearwater beach.  
After hearing my proposal, the others all agreed to give it a try.  As a group, we had pedaled along the Pinellas Trail
from Tarpon Springs to Dunedin and beyond many times but had never found a suitable route along the water's edge.
This time, we began on the familiar Pinellas Trail as well.  The trail, built with a special one-cent county tax, is a paved
surface built upon an old inland railroad right-of-way that runs the length of Pinellas County, forty miles north to south.
Designed exclusively for recreational users, the trail attracts bicyclists, joggers and skaters; small parks at convenient
intervals offer rest room facilities, drinking water, and picnic benches.  No cars or motorcycles are allowed on the trail.
We would pedal forty miles that day, from Tarpon Springs to Clearwater Beach and back. Our first stop was downtown
Dunedin where the quaint Main Street is lined with small shops and boutiques.  We had barely parked the bicycles when
Cathy and Irmi disappeared into the nearest store.  Zach and I bought a couple of ice cream cones and sat on a bench,
quietly discussing issues of a manly nature, waiting on the ladies.  An hour later, the four of us were on our way again.
Leaving the Pinellas Trail behind, we pedaled due west two hundred meters to the Dunedin marina, then turned south
again, following the new sidewalk, with the watery expanse of Clearwater Harbor on our right.  Until that point, we had
been in familiar territory, so even shutterbug Irmi did not think to snap a single photo.  Skirting downtown Clearwater, we
picked our way through neighborhood streets and commercial parking lots until discovering a spiraling ramp that lead up
to the traffic lanes atop the sleek new Memorial Causeway Bridge.  Fortunately, protected pedestrian walkways graced
both sides of the bridge, allowing us to cross the water and pedal along the earthen causeway all the way to the beach.
Entrance to Dunedin Marina, with Clearwater Harbor in background.  (L to R:  Irmi, Cathy, Zach)
(See the thin, fuzzy line of buildings in the far distance?  That's the beach to which we will pedal.)
We crossed the parking lot below, pedaled up a spiraling ramp, and
are now on a pedestrian lane atop the Memorial Causeway Bridge.
(Tarpon Springs lies five miles beyond the condo building at white arrow.)
Turning left from previous shot, view of Clearwater Harbor with beach ahead and mainland behind us.
From mid-point of the Memorial Causeway Bridge, the earthen causeway is directly ahead with Clearwater Beach
 in the distance.  The Memorial Causeway Bridge replaced a smaller, older draw bridge spanning the Inter-coastal
 Waterway (which extends to the left from this shot) built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during World War II.
Lovely Irmi, with her trusty Centurion touring bike imported from Germany, preparing to lead us down off the bridge.
Palm Pavilion Beachside Bar and Grill, established 1926 on the sand at Clearwater Beach.
"There's no place like this place anywhere near this place, so this must be THE PLACE."
A stranger dropping in for lunch.
Lunchtime at the Palm Pavilion.  (L to R:  Cathy, Zach, Ron, Irmi)
Following lunch, we rode into a small rustic neighborhood north of Clearwater Beach.  This house, built in the
1930's or 1940's, is quite modest, but its location one block from the water raises its value astronomically.
At the northern end of neighborhood in previous photo, this wooden walkway leads to a nearly secluded beach. 
Riding back south through same neighborhood, we encountered this charming beach house. 
Having passed back through Clearwater beach and around the infamous traffic circle, we traversed
 the causeway, and now Ron leads the way up the Memorial Causeway Bridge back to the mainland. 
Two-thirds of the way back up the bridge, Zach, Irmi, and Cathy take a break.
From previous photo, turning 180 degrees to survey our front and ground we have yet to cover. 
Ron, pedaling on the spiraling ramp back down to ground level.  Memorial Causeway Bridge is in background.
Zach and Ron, pausing under a few precious square feet of shade on the spiraling ramp. 
Back at ground level under the bridge, preparing to turn right across a large parking lot and,
 hopefully, find a detour around Clearwater again to the shoreline and sidewalk to Dunedin. 
Back on the shoreline, with Clearwater Harbor on our left (to the west),
heading north toward Dunedin.  Beyond that lies Tarpon Springs and home.

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