Thursday, January 13, 2011

Oscar Scherer State Park

...that is where we are now. We moved down here on Monday and will be here until next Tuesday - eight days in all. "Here", by the way, is about halfway between Sarasota and Venice. It's kind of cool - we are only six miles north of Venice, which has been one of our "destinations" - nice to NOT have to drive 45 minutes to get someplace! Anyway, this is a new park for us - we had visited it in the past but this is our first time to camp here. Not too bad, although I have to say the main attraction is probably "location, location, location" - it's close to everything in the Sarasota/Bradenton area, plus, as I mentioned, it's close to Venice. The only weird thing is we can't seem to get ANY TV coverage on our antenna, except for one channel.

OK - some side comments on TV - this continues to be a constant source of irritation. We are not huge TV people, by any means, but it's nice to have a good selection of channels for when you want to just pick something at random, or even just watch some sports or something (this is one of the things Dave does to entertain himself while I'm working, for one thing!). Anyway, we are PAYING for Direct TV satellite, but still have not been able to get a signal. I hate to pay for a service call because that's at least $50 and we move in a few days, to a KOA (which hopefully will have cable TV), so I'm going to wait until we get onto the ocean side and then, come hell or high water, I WILL get my Direct TV to work! The problem with the dish on top of the RV is that whenever you move you have to go through all this rigamarole to get a signal re-established. If you want local channels, you have to change your "service" address. And last year when we had trouble I had a service guy come and he gave us a portable dish (which we could almost never get to work properly). And then when we were in South Carolina last year I spent a lot of time on the phone with a support person who had me go into my set-up menu and make all kinds of changes to the type of equipment, the co-ordinates of the satellite I was hooking to, etc., etc., etc. Now I'm afraid I'm ALL messed up and I probably DO need to pay someone to come out and get everything in order. We LOVE it when we're someplace that has cable - we just plug in and are good to go. But other than Reed Bingham, in southern Georgia, we haven't found any state parks that have that - certainly none in Florida. So we try to get TV with our "rabbit ears" (which are now hooked to a digital conversion box) and sometimes we get 20 or more channels, but at this park we only get basically one NBC channel. What I WANT is to get something that I can get at with my broadband (does that mean 4G????) and "stream" (is that the right word?) from my computer directly to the TV. I think I will have to make this a project for 2011 - trying to figure out what kind of technology I need in order to get TV consistently - and at the same time it would be great if I could download movies instead of constantly searching for a Blockbuster (which, by the way, seems to be almost entirely out of business). Red Box is another source for movies, but they have a very limited selection, plus there's always someone waiting in line behind you so you feel like you have to hurry up and just GRAB a movie. I realize that we are light years ahead of where we were even ten years ago, but, for us RVers, we certainly aren't QUITE there yet!!!!

Anyway (my goodness-where did all THAT come from?) - we've been keeping busy here at Oscar Scherer even though once again we are in a VERY cold spell. I know - the whole country is covered with snow - I think Florida is the only state (other than Hawaii, I assume!) that does NOT have some snow on the ground - so we shouldn't complain too much, right? So - we got here on Monday and basically just set up. Then on Tuesday we went to Venice and took the kayaks - it was pretty cool and quite windy, but we paddled around for a few hours and actually had a very nice afternoon. When we're just paddling randomly, one of the things we like to do (OK, Dave likes to do it but I've kind of gotten caught up in it too) is look for fishing lures that have gotten caught in trees or bushes and been left by the fisherman. According to Dave, lures can be kind of pricey, plus of course he loses them too (just like everyone else), so it's kind of a kick to find them when we're paddling around. So we hit the mother lode on Tuesday - we found SIX lures - see attached PICTURE! OMG - they have to be worth at least $25 - YAY! After we left the park we stopped at Sharkey's which is one of the places we really like from previous trips. It's this kind of neat bar/grill/restaurant on the south side of the island of Venice - it's right next to a long fishing pier so you can sit out under the cabana-style roof, get an appetizer and a couple drinks, and watch the waves crash against the pier. It was very nice, but of course we spent more than the $25 we saved on lures!!!

On Wednesday we went back to Venice so I could do the AVA walk. Although I usually love these walks (yes, I know you already know that) this one was probably a little disappointing. Venice is a delightful island with all kinds of parks and bike trails along the intercoastal waterway and a charming downtown area. Unfortunately, the majority of the walk consisted of walking on a sidewalk along a street completely lined with resorts and condos, all the way out to a park at the tip of the island, and then reversing the route and coming back along the same street. BORING - especially since I couldn't take the beach option since I had Brandi with me (who by the way was limping again by the time we got done - no more AVA walks for her for quite a while!). I think whoever planned this particular route might need to take a step back and look at what else the island has to offer and do some re-design of the route. Probably the best part was the last half-mile or so which went along a long, meandoring path located on a narrow strip of land between the eastbound and westbound lanes of Venice Avenue. There were a lot of pretty trees, some in flower, and some absolutely beautiful banyan trees. If you're not familiar with these, they are the weirdest, strangest trees you've ever seen. They're huge, with all these long roots (?) or branches (?) that drop straight down to the ground and basically become part of the root system. I've attached a picture - blow it up and look closely - it's literally just ONE tree, but you'd never know that by looking at it. VERY COOL.

So today was the coldest day yet - although a warming trend is supposed to begin tomorrow - so we did a primarily indoor thing - we went to the Mote Aquarium, which we really like a lot. It's on Lido Key, just north of Sarasota, and it's an extremely educational aquarium. It's not the biggest aquarium but the displays are very interesting and they present a LOT of information for their guests. They actually are primarily a marine research facility and I think the aquarium is almost a by-product of their primary mission. It's a fun place to spend a few hours - I'm putting on a picture of one of the sea turtles swimming around, but they also have manatees, sharks, lots of weird and unusual fish, sting rays, octopusses (or is it octopi?) and tons more - too numerous to begin to list! We definitely recommend this to anyone visiting down here.

Oh, yes, this morning we also went to the pancake breakfast at the nature center here in the park - I swear we were WAY the youngest people there - but the proceeds go to the Friends of Oscar Scherer, and hey, where else can you get 3 pancakes, 3 sausage links, juice and coffee for only $4 - of COURSE we had to do it.

One last thing - last night Dave went outside around 9:00 or so (probably to pee!) and a few minutes later he came bursting back in, insisting that I come out and "look" - and, boy, it was definitely worth going out. There was this HUGE ring around the moon - kind of a soft halo of light - very strange and unusual and spooky. I've honestly never seen anything quite like it before. I came in and googled "ring around the moon" (you have to love the internet!) and apparently there's a very logical explanation, having to do with ice particles high in the atmosphere. WHEW - we were sure it was the end of the world - what a relief. But, WOW, whatever it was, it sure was beautiful!

So - we never know what little adventures are in store! We have another few days here and plan to do at least one more AVA walk - in Sarasota - and we hope to spend a full day up on Lido Key, doing some biking and kayaking. And we HOPE to see some warmer weather!

Love to all - until next time!

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