I think I already talked about going down to Venice a couple times. After that, we spent a few days going to the north instead, into Sarasota. On our first trip up, we went to the Mote Aquarium, which is where I left off on my last post. The day after that trip, we went into downtown Sarasota for an AVA walk. As usual, this walk took us to places we wouldn't probably have gone otherwise. It's weird - we've driven "through" (or past) Sarasota many times, primarily on the way out to the keys - Lido Key, Longboat Key, the Mote Aqarium, etc. But this AVA walk actually took us into the heart of the old downtown area, which actually is very nice! Part of my walk was through the downtown, past cute shops and restaurants and parks and memorials. Part of it was along the bay and the marina (which we've biked quite a few times in the past, but it was nice to see it again after four years). And part of the walk was through some VERY upscale residential areas - these places would compete quite nicely with the Devos "castle" on South Shore Drive in Holland! (But, on the other hand, the Devos place would probably still win!). One of the nice things about walking around was just seeing FLOWERS in bloom, now that we're a little further south. One of the attractions that I walked past was the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. The walk doesn't take you into the gardens itself - there's a fee for that and most of the AVA walks do not include locations that require fees. However, the gardens are truly beautiful - I went there four years with Mom when we had her come down and spend her 80th birthday with us. Seeing it again made me somewhat nostalgic for that wonderful visit - it's one of those things - you don't realize it's the last time you'll have that type of "quality" time together. Mom, I know you read my blog, and I just wanted to say that having you visit us back then still provides me with GREAT memories! I know you're just not physically capable of quite that much walking anymore, so I'm SO very glad we did it when we did!
Anyway... moving on... yesterday we went back into Sarasota, but this time we went out to Lido Beach and put the kayaks in at the kayak "trail". This is a wonderful place to kayak - you paddle through these mangrove "tunnels" (Glennda - you definitely do NOT think about any snakes or spiders that might be in there with you!!!). The tide was very low so we paddled along the beach for an hour or so first and then doubled back and went through the tunnels. The sun was shing all afternoon and it was warm and wonderful - and then all of a sudden, about 3:30 or so, the clouds rolled in, the temperature dropped by about 10 degrees and BOY were we glad that we had gotten an early start. We were actually on our way back in when the weather turned so we still had a wonderful afternoon. When we got home we started a lovely campfire - it was still probably 50 degrees at least, so actually perfect weather for a nice fire. We love campfires and this is probably the only one we'll have here.
And then today (Sunday) we went north again, but this time we went up to Bradenton and went out to Coquina Beach for the afternoon. We kayaked first, but this was kind of disappointing because we went to this area that we've paddled in the past, and it was totally different than we remembered it. When we were here four years ago, the kayak waterways were full of life - little upside down jellyfish, crabs, fish, lots of greenery and it was like paddling around on top of an aquarium. Today the water was still crystal clear but there was nothng, absolutely nothing, to see in the water - it was like everything had died. We reminded ourselves that it was March when we did this before, and the water was warmer, so maybe that's the difference. We'd hate to think that anything has changed permanently in what we remembered as a lovely place to paddle around. We were out on the water for maybe an hour-and-a-half and we both agreed that was enough. So we loaded up the boats and went across the street to Coquina Beach. We love sitting out there. It was warm and there were lots of people just sitting out enjoying the sun - I've attached a picture of me sitting in my little beach chair just soaking up the sun. We actually haven't done much sitting in the sun up to this point. It really has been a little too cool, but we're hopeful that as we continue to move south and we move into February, we'll start to experience some warmer, sunnier weather. Anyway - it was wonderful to sit out on the pristine white sand and just soak up some sunshine! Dave threw a line in, more for the fun of it than anything, and we both just enjoyed the rest of the afternoon. About 4:00 we packed up and crossed back over to the mainland and had an early dinner at one of our favorite places - Cortez Kitchen is this great seafood restaurant - very VERY funky - just a big wooden deck on the edge of the water, with sheets of plastic for windows, all mismatched old wooden tables and just this great old fishing-village ambience. Plus wonderful, fresh seafood. I had the grouper, Dave had his favorite peel-and-eat shrimp. Lovely! (Plus they had a really nice band playing, just for good measure!)
Tomorrow I have to spend some time on the phone for work, and it's supposed to rain most of the day, plus it's our last day before we move down to Fort Myers, so I don't think there'll be much to report on. So next blog - Fort Myers! We've never been in that area, so we're really looking forward to it. I'll keep you posted!
Love to all...