Destination Clearwater: Beat the Heat

Capogna's Dugout and Countryside Mall provide a break from the heat and a stroll down memory lane.

It's too hot for much of anything. I want to be outside, really, I do. But it's 97 degrees, and some days, all I want is a cool place to sit down and relax.

I start with Capogna's Dugout, my go-to pizza place. It’s not my final destination, but it’s a good place to start my day indoors.

I don't usually dine in at Capogna's, opting instead to get a pizza to go so I can throw my feet up and not worry about acting like a grown–up, but today I do. In celebration of the face-of-the-sun heat, I sample the Sam Adams Summer Ale and then devote myself to making short work of a hamburger pizza, antipasto and garlic bread.

The pizza is cheesy and perfect, the beer is cold, and my server, Mario, is wonderful, but I know eventually I'm going to have to brave the outside again. I do, but not before taking a stroll down memory lane of the old pictures on the wall – Go Tornadoes, yes, but when did I get so old? There are, I muse, framed photos of teams that weren't even born the year I graduated.

Next stop: . Yes, on a weekday. It's summer, so I'm not shocked at the number of teenagers roaming the mall. Trust me, I did my share of malling when I was 13, too. I have no purpose in mind other than staying cool, and wandering around an air-conditioned mall gets the job done.

I'm full on pizza and have nothing to do but take a look around. I actually can’t remember the last time I darkened the doors of the mall. I try and shop local whenever I can, which kind of precludes roaming the mall in search of a mass produced widget.

I’m not knocking the mall, of course, because it’s clearly meeting a need my most beloved places can’t today. I freely admit it's not the most exciting day, but I find myself enjoying looking through store windows, huffing the smell of and cheesesteaks as I pass the food court, and wondering when, exactly, they moved the escalators.

I finally settle on the ice rink from one story up, gazing down at the pair ice skaters circling the chilly white ice. I toy with the idea of renting a pair of skates, but I'm in shorts and a thin Forever 21 T-shirt – it's blazing hot outside, after all – and it's way too cold on that ice.

Instead I amuse myself remembering the long-ago rumors that Countryside Mall planned to remove the ice rink. There have been a lot of changes since my high school days. It’s no longer a “mall” but a “Westfield Shopping Town," and my beloved movie theatre is now a gym, I believe. The new theater – not an AMC multiplex but a – is down by the old CardAmerica.

It’s still the same mall, though, in many ways, the biggest of which is the break from the summer sun. An afternoon shower has cooled things off, and I’m sure tomorrow I’ll grab my towel and head down to the beach for a bit, but right now I’m content to watch the world go by as I relish the cool updrafts from the ice rink.

Mary van July 14, 2012 at 01:10 PM
For cool, relaxation and games, electronic info, etc try the Library!
Cathy Salustri July 28, 2012 at 12:16 PM
Hi Mary, I have an entire "library" Destination Clearwater in the works - thought you'd like to know. Thanks for reading! Cathy


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