Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Trip

On Tuesday, December 23, we took off in the RV for Cortez, FL. This is on the Gulf coast, between Tampa/St. Pete and Sarasota and only about 120 miles from home. We had been to Holiday Cove RV Park before, a couple of years ago, but it was quite different now. They have done a complete makeover, including brick pavers on every site. It’s beautiful, but in the process they had to remove most of the trees which were large and gave plenty of shade. It was sad to see so few large trees left on the property.

Our friends, Gary & Mary, arrived shortly after we did. We had a drink and munchies and then walked to dinner at the Seafood Shack. Outstanding food!

On Wednesday, the four of us went to the Ringling Museum in Sarasota. Yes, Ringling as in Circus. Our first stop was Cà d’Zan, the mansion they built right on Sarasota Bay. It’s a beautiful house, fashioned after those in Venice, Italy. It was to cost about $100,000, but ended up at $1.5 million. Wow! This is the front of the house.

This is a photo of the rear of the house, taken from the terrace. You can definitely see a Venetian influence.

And a view of the terrace and the bay from the side of the house.

Here are our friends by the banyan tree outside the mansion.

From there we went to the Circus Museum. There were costumes and some props, but mostly wagons and even the private train car used by John & Mable Ringling when traveling.

And we HAD to have a photo of this:

Our next stop was the Museum of Art. Julian and I walked through very quickly as we were getting very tired. But when we got out into the courtyard, we had to slow down. It was beautiful.

I crashed when we got home as my back was really bothering me from being on my feet so much. Plus, Julian and I walked three miles that morning before we left on this excursion. Not the brightest thing to do, but … what can I say?

After some rejuvenation, some cards, some appetizers and some drinks, we all headed out to dinner at the MarVista Pub. We’d eaten here on our previous trip and it was even better than we’d remembered. We ate outside, overlooking the water and really enjoyed it all.

On Christmas morning, Julian and I drove the mile or so to the Gulf beaches and did some fishing. We had a great time and the weather couldn’t have been nicer. Yes, we each caught a fish, but neither one was large enough to keep. But here’s Julian working it.

We spent the afternoon relaxing and then played cards, etc., with our friends. We brought food to make for dinner, assuming that it would be difficult to find a restaurant open on Christmas Day. We ate very well and really enjoyed each other’s company.

On Friday our friends went to the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg. Not being a fan, Julian and I opted to go to the South Florida Museum. It could be called small, but it had very nice displays and exhibits. The wildlife dioramas were particularly good.

They also have a small aquarium where Snooty lives. He is the oldest know manatee anywhere and has lived his 60 years at this aquarium. We got in on one of their presentations and met all four of the manatees staying there right now. The other three are passing through, getting rehabilitation before being released back into the wild. But Snooty is the BMOC and demands attention. He’s fed by hand and here’s proof.

We also went to the planetarium while there. It was a great production, but we both felt it was way over our heads (no pun intended). It was called Extreme Planets and talked about finding new planets and stars and how they do it. Mind boggling!

We walked a couple of blocks to a restaurant in the middle of the marina. It was another beautiful day in Paradise and it was great fun to look at all the boats, many of which were for sale. They were into the Christmas spirit and we particularly liked the decorations at this gate to one set of slips.

We ate on the terrace behind the building in this picture. We had another yummy meal while enjoying the view of the Manatee River.

After reading and relaxing in the afternoon, the four of us again ventured out to dinner. We picked the Anna Maria City Pier Restaurant. We had eaten here 2 years ago, too, and it was no less wonderful this time. We have to quit eating like this!

After a great breakfast just across the street from the RV park, we “broke camp” and headed back home. We’d had a great time and a very happy Christmas week.

Here’s hoping you did, too!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Thanksgiving Trip

On Wednesday, November 26, we took off in the coach for several days in Ft. Myers Beach. We have been there before, but this was our first stay at San Carlos RV Park & Island Resort. This was a fairly small park situated right on Hurricane Bay, a waterway separating the mainland of Ft. Myers Beach from San Carlos Island. The photo on the home page of their web site shows how it's all laid out.

Our neighbors, whom we've traveled with frequently, also joined us there. The guys spent every free moment fishing the waters directly behind our coaches. One morning, this heron decided he wanted some of the fish the guys had caught. We shoo-ed him away repeatedly, but once our backs were turned he actually got his beak down into the bucket and took off with the largest fish that was in there!

Here's another view of the water. It was really beautiful there.

We had dinner at Snug Harbor Restaurant on Thanksgiving Day. We had requested a table near the window, which we certainly enjoyed. And the food was excellent. We'll have to eat there again on a future visit.

On Friday, we all went into the beach area of Ft. Myers Beach, on Estero Island. We had a great lunch overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. The weather was awesome and the food was pretty good too.

Afterwards, Julian went to the fish cleaning table to fillet all the fish that had been caught.

The birds were plentiful, snarfing up all the left-overs from the cleaned fish.

They seemed pretty used to people and let me get some really close shots.

We returned home on Saturday morning. It was a fairly short trip, but we sure had a good time.

Now it's time to plan our Christmas outing! Stay tuned!