Thursday, 13 March 2014

Sarasota Sun

We had friends staying near Sarasota so decided to venture over for a visit. Most resorts are booked up but we were lucky to find an extended stay at Sarasota Sunny South where we have stayed other years. We did have to move our location three times but that afforded us good visits and a couple of beach walks. We soaked up some sun culture at Siesta Key Beach before our dinner visit with Jim at The Peppertree. It appears that many folks have great faith in sunscreen, baring all to the rays. People watching at the beach is always entertaining!


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Friends Sheila and Steve took us on a bike tour and out to lunch in Venice. We observed a Bald Eagle’s nest where the two fledglings were being fed as they stretched their wings in preparation for leaving the nest. We were lucky to see two Scrub Jays, the only bird species unique to Florida. These beautiful birds rely on scrub-habitat which features 3-4 species of stunted low growing oaks scattered among sandy clearings. Because of habitat loss due to housing developments as pictured below, Scrub Jays are now a threatened species.

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The bike paths run beside residential areas, through parks and along the river and are easy to follow by watching for “the sharks”. We memorized ‘the footprints’ for later identification. We did wonder how they got all the creatures to push their paws or claws into the wet cement!….. Not! We compared camping experiences over a fabulous lunch at “Mango” where I had a fabulous lobster, coconut sandwich on pineapple bread, wow!  We fit in another ride before we had to return to retrieve Dixie from her daycare adventure.


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Dixie was treated to two visits to the Venice dog beach where she jumped in the waves and frolicked on the sand with her new friends. Her humans enjoyed the experience too.

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Sunday, 9 March 2014

Keys to Happiness

Miles of mangroves, beaches, sandy shoals, marinas, restaurants, palm-lined resorts, sailboats, fishing boats, kayaks, bicycle paths, seafood, orchids, bougainvellia, pelicans, dolphins, sunshine, mild breezes, music,….what’s not to like? We spent a week at Jolly Roger RV Park touring on foot and on the bikes and relaxing by the waterfront watching the waves roll in and pelicans performing their marvelous low fly-bys. One becomes engulfed between sky and sea as soon as you cross the first bridge entering the series of Florida Keys.




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                                                    Insert Tim Taylor’s Tooltime “Hraaw, Hraaw, Hraaw”…..


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We visited a remarkable turtle rescue centre. Sea turtles get cancerous growths as a result of pollution and oil spills. They also suffer internal problems after swallowing plastic, fish hooks and other garbage. The objects are surgically removed and often these animals can be released back into nature after a healing period.Some ailments cause bloating and their shells become misshapen. They float unnaturally and cannot dive for food. The hospital applies weights to balance the turtle shell and many of these can be rehabilitated. Turtle shells are often damaged by boats running across them in the coral reefs and they also lose flippers tangled in plastic bags or fishing line. Some of the turtles here will never be well enough to live in the wilds again. Their handlers are special professionals who are passionately in love with these beautiful creatures.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Luckily this is banned!

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We saw the turtle below out in nature, healthy and happy, see his smile?


Here are some of our daily sights at the RV park. The pelicans were very entertaining when the fishermen would clean their catch. They would watch intently and the group would turn their heads in unison to follow the scraps as they were tossed out. Rock Lobsters and Cownose Rays seen could be off the pier. Boats of all varieties broke the Zen of wave-watching now and “zen”. Every sunset was blessed with  the sound of a conch loudly blown by one of the campers just as the sun “hit the water” and again after it was fully set.

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We spent a few hours at the Dolphin Research Centre which similarly to the Turtle Hospital, rescues, treats and releases injured animals. Dolphins are naturally playful and the staff involve them in jumping and fetching games daily. Some visitors pay extra to be one on one or even swim with the dolphins here. Their social nature, streamlined forms, and gentle faces make them charismatic entertainers.

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On our way home from visiting the Dolphins we watched a helicopter fly within inches of the overhead wires. A police car supervised the operation as well as the traffic and we learned that this is the common method for checking the power boxes!


We treated ourselves to a sunset catamaran sail one evening. The conditions were perfect: warm gentle breezes, softly rolling waves, Caribbean-inspired music and a complementary cooler filled with cold beverages.

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On March 2, I drove Chris over to the airport where his surprise, a 1940’s Biplane, was waiting to take us for a tour. I enjoyed the trip equally as it is something I have always wanted to do. We could look down at the water and see a school of fifty Spotted Eagle Rays, mansions and pools, bridges,resorts, boats, a sunken barge and coral reefs. It was amazing to view sites where we had hiked or biked from the air! Thrilled with our windswept voyage, we continued the birthday celebration with a seafood lunch beside the ocean.

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                                                           Goodbye to The Keys and off to Sarasota we go.