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You haven't lived in Tampa Bay until …

Those people who say St. Petersburg is the saddest city in America and Tampa is fourth on the list just haven't spent enough time enjoying all we have to offer. And that's okay.

We know life in Tampa Bay is worth living, even with a few noteworthy blemishes. Check out my annual list of what helps define us.

You haven't lived in Tampa Bay until you have …

… seen a politician, I mean a politician's wife, accept a $500,000 vacation home from a supporter and keep his post.

… rediscovered the wonders of chowder at the Stone Soup Company in Ybor City.

… checked out the recycled wonder Safety Harbor artists Todd Ramquist and Kiaralinda call Holidazzle.

… realized driving in the left-hand lane is the slowest possible means of getting anywhere in Tampa Bay.

… watched the Rays snatch the American League wild card from the choking Red Sox with a walk-off home run from Evan Longoria.

… had mullet at San Antonio's Rattlesnake Festival.

… inhaled the Columbia Restaurants' white chocolate bread pudding, infused with Don Casimiro Silver Rum.

… wondered if Tampa Bay is ready for the tea party enthusiasm, angry anarchists and Occupy Wall Street fervor that will come with the Republican National Convention.

… experienced the joy of cooking classes at the Rolling Pin Emporium in Brandon.

… heard Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn talk about his lacrosse career.

… debated what's the best restaurant on Beach Drive.

… wished they would black out the Bucs' road games.

… read insensitive Web comments on news stories and thought, "The reality is someone with so little tact could never get elected to the Pinellas County Commission." Never mind.

… been so happy about playing at the Lake Jovita Golf & Country Club you didn't care your game is awful.

… said, "$50 million for a pier? Don't screw this up."

… gone sailing on a Thursday night with the folks at the Davis Island Yacht Club.

… had the scrapple at Lenny's Restaurant in Clearwater.

… had coffee at Tre Amici, the Times' unofficial Ybor City bureau.

… seen Just Elementary students and teachers race at the Great West Chase 5-K.

… caught the musical stylings of Lisa Casalino at Love's Artifacts Bar and Grille.

… enjoyed the cake batter fro-yo at Menchie's in Riverview's Winthrop Town Centre.

… met a beautiful woman in possession of a Derek Jeter memorabilia gift bag.

… kayaked on the Hillsborough River while gators swam under your boat.

… seen the spoonbills during a Rocky Point sunset.

… had Jessica the bartender put a "shamrock" on top of your Guinness at Four Green Fields.

… spent a weekend at a St. Pete Beach resort.

… made the drive to Pearl in the Grove in Dade City for some top-notch family dining.

… seen actual lightning inside the soon-to-be Tampa Bay Times Forum.

… thought, "Bruce B. Downs? Why?"

… asked, "Exactly who did vote for Rick Scott?"

… kicked off Thanksgiving morning with a Tiny Tap PBR.

… allowed the Zac Brown Band's Knee Deep to inspire you to call in sick and spend the day at Pass-A-Grille. When you lose yourself, you find a key to paradise.

That's all I'm saying.

You haven't lived in Tampa Bay until … 12/27/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 27, 2011 9:51pm]
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