Q & A WITH LIFE’S REWARDS CHARACTERS
Q: Hey Dan, how do you express the unruly you?
A: Well, I used to do it through girls, drinking and ghost hunting parties. But the new me is less unruly and more, well, real…and together. The people I’ve met here in St. Pete/Clearwater have made me a better man. Now I can recognize what life’s rewards are and really enjoy them.
Q: What’s the best beach bar drink to down at 9 AM?
A: Oh, that’s easy – a Bloody Mary. Jared makes one with the perfect amount of spice to get me going in the morning.
Q: Hey Dan, what’s your go-to fashion accessory when dressing for a beach bar date?
A: Whatever the universe decides… Sometimes it’s a pork pie hat, sometimes it’s loafers, no socks.
Q: Hey Dan, what’s the best way to build a fort in a pool?
A: Sorry, not goin’ there. I’ve gotten into enough trouble with Gloria.
Q: Psst…Hey Dan, what was your favorite disguise during your stay?
1) Reverse chameleon outfit (pink-and-blue palm tree shirt with orange plaid pants)
2) Lionfish Larry costume
3) Magician costume
A: The reverse chameleon, of course! Nothing works better than clashing clothes.
Q: Hey Dan, what’s your favorite thing to do on the sugary white sands of the best beach in America?
1) Spar with Jared
2) Do yoga with Jared
3) Gaze at the crystal-clear Gulf of Mexico waters
4) Walk the beach, looking for foodie adventures
A: Oh, there’s nothing like getting all chill and bendy on the coolest, smoothest sand ever.
Q: Hey Dan, which of your personal traits came in most handy for winning the Geocache Bash?
1) Your devious mind
2) Your habit of binge-watching detective shows
3) Your almost obsessively compiled reservoir of random trivia
A: My personal treasure trove of trivia! I get around, you know. I’ve traveled the world, met a bunch of really cool people and had a lot some fascinating conversations. And I remember everything.
Q: Hey Dan, what was your most significant discovery in the St. Pete/Clearwater area?
1) The geocache winning chip in the helmet on the Tarpon Springs’ Sponge Docks
2) The incredible outdoor murals and the Chihuly Collection of glass art in downtown St. Pete
3) That gay clubs are a great place to meet beautiful, unpretentious people
A: I unexpectedly met up with Amy again at Blur, a gay nightclub in Dunedin. She got me thinking about what authentic connection really means.
Q: Hey Dan, what were you trying to play on the guitar you strummed while sitting in the dark on the hotel’s hallway floor dressed only in a robe?
1) The blues, like the kind you heard at Hideaway Cafe
2) Dance tunes, like the ones you heard at Blur Nightclub
3) Nothing, just air guitar chords
A: The blues, of course! You didn’t think I sounded like Shevonne and the Force?
Q: Hey Dan, what place in the St. Pete/Clearwater area gave you the most feels?
1) Hideaway Cafe
2) The Cross Bay Ferry
3) Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center
4) The Chihuly Collection
A: Uh, Hideaway is a close 2nd, but there was a wedding on the Ferry, and then Maria’s water broke and all… Talk about emotion!
Q: Do you believe in second chances?
A: I do. You can’t be a medic in the military and not… you help injured people live and heal so they can get another go at it. And then you take all that back into civilian life. It’s something you never forget… You learn that fresh starts are possible.
Q: Why is St. Pete/Clearwater area the ideal place to start a second life?
A: Oh, there’s so much to do! I’ve been here three years and I’m still discovering new things to experience. There are so many different communities, and the people are so friendly. It’s a very down-to-earth and beautiful area where anyone can reinvent themselves.
Q: What are your favorite blues spots in St. Pete/Clearwater?
A: Hideaway Cafe is top-notch, but there are so many great live music joints – and not just for blues. Second Avenue in St. Pete is filled with ‘em!
Q: What’s your special Mojito recipe?
A: Ah hah…OK, I guess I can tell you. I add a burst of chocolate with my homemade cocoa syrup (mix ½ cup granulated sugar, ½ cup water and 1 tbsp. dark cocoa powder in a pot; stir and simmer for about 3 minutes until thick; let cool) and 8 chocolate mint leaves instead of regular mint leaves. I muddle the leaves with 1 oz. of lime juice in the base of the glass, stir in my syrup, add 2 oz. of rum and about 6 ice cubes, then top off with 6 oz. of club soda. I dare you not to guzzle this.
Q: How would you complete the sentence: St. Pete is…..
1) Paradise on earth
2) Not a bad place to get your life back together
3) A place where you don’t need much imagination to ward off boredom
4) An amazing place to visit
A: It’s the definition of paradise, man. It’s got everything. Warm gulf waters, sugar-white sand, adventure, awesome dining. Not to mention great drinks!… You come and you never wanna leave!
Q: What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not writing?
2) Ride the Gulf of Mexico waves
3) Spend time with Maria
4) Go to the Children’s Museum and ride the train.
A: Oh, I love all of these, but I’d choose mi amor, Maria, any day. Siempre!
Q: What have you written recently?
1) A Spanish novel about a relationship between a bar back and a hotel chambermaid
2) An ode to St. Pete/Clearwater
3) A short story about getting married on a ferry
4) A play about geocaching and discovering treasure
A: I’m a little more than halfway through my novel and it’s going well – it’s inspired by my own personal love story. The characters are adventurous and very passionate. Move over, Ernest Hemingway!
Q: What made you and Maria move to St. Pete/Clearwater?
A: There’s so much to do here – art, culture, eating. But it was really the water. I come from generations of sailors and fishermen. With the connection that places like Tarpon Springs and Madeira Beach have to the water, I knew this was where we needed to raise our family.
Q: How did you meet Raul?
A: Oh, it’s such a beautiful story. I had just gotten my nursing license in Colombia and some chicas and I went out for the night. We were dancing salsa when I looked across the dance floor and saw Raul. Our eyes met and we just started walking towards each other. We danced and then talked all night, mostly about our love for America and how we both wanted to move to Florida. We’ve been building our life together ever since!
Q: How did you get Dan to help you clean that hotel room?
A: Mr. Dan has such a good heart. He’s been on his own wild journey in life, but he’s a good man and we became friends. Him getting us that boat wedding was totally amazing! But, yeah, cleaning up that party room… and cleaning that toilet?! I didn’t know he had that in him.
Q: How did you, a very pregnant woman, manage to run so fast while geocaching?
A: That’s the great thing about being in Florida. It’s warm and sunny always, and there’s so much to do outside. How can you not stay active and fast, even with a baby bump?!
Q: What are the most dog-friendly places in the St. Pete/Clearwater area?
A: The whole area is dog friendly! You can walk all around downtown St. Pete with your dog and stop and eat at cafes like Cassis with no issue whatsoever. Dog Bar is a personal fave. Along with Fort DeSoto Beach.
Q: Where’s your favorite place to walkabout in St. Pete?
A: It doesn’t matter what day of the week you go, Dan did it right. Walk the bay, walk around all the murals, go to some museums. Start on Beach and Central and head west. On Saturdays, hit the Warehouse Arts District. You can walk among the artists and their work.
Q: Is there a future for you and Dan?
A: I certainly hope so, but we’ll have to see. He has a lot on his plate right now!
Q: What do you like most about Dan?
A: His ability to always be open to something new. His reaction can be a bit off-putting at first (like when it hit him that Blur was a gay club), but then he dives right in and makes the most of things.
CATIE & LOGAN KINNEY
Q: What was your favorite place in Florida?
1) Disney World
2) Al Lang Stadium
3) The Don CeSar Hotel
A: The stadium. We got to watch soccer live, get a player’s autograph, light a smoke bomb and get a behind-the-scenes tour of the security office!
Q: What was your favorite activity with Uncle Dan?
1) Luggage cart racing in the lobby of The Don CeSar
2) Getting an autograph from the Rowie’s player at Al Lang Stadium
3) Watching a Dad-banned movie in the hotel room
A. Definitely the movie, but don’t let Dad know! Tell him it was the luggage cart race.
- How fast can a luggage cart go?
A: Oh, we were going sooo fast! At least 50 miles per hour!