Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sarasota Keys to Anna Maria Island Motorcycle Trip

On another beautiful warm and sunny day, one of our favorite trips is through Sarasota and up the several keys to end at the pier on Anna Maria Island.
The waterfront in Sarasota has many unique statues and sculptures.
The first bridge takes us onto Bird Key
 Then onto Longboat Key, with its golf courses and luxury condos
And finally, Anna Maria Island.  First stop Bradenton Beach.
Even with sea fog, it was comfortable riding without coats.
Close up view of the pier behind me - Smell was powerful!
Real orchids graced our lunch table.
Sea fog shrouded the bay, so the Sky Bridge wasn't visible today.
Several rays swam near the pier
The rays seemed to be chasing the fishing birds.
Anna Maria Pier's history

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Two Floridas

With beautiful weather and the bike running great, we've been out riding every day lately.  Yesterday, we decided to go to Fisherman's Village in Punta Gorda.  We used to have lunch there frequently, but hadn't been there for a couple of years even though it's pretty close.
Although neither Ron nor I are very good at shopping, we do appreciate that we could probably find anything we wanted at the shops at the Village.

We should have known it would be crowded when we could barely find a spot to park the motorcycle.
 We walked part of the mall on the outside along the harbor.
Oh boy, no place to eat here without a long wait.  Headed back to Chubbyz in Port Charlotte for fish n' chips.
 
Then today, we went with our friends, Patti and Fran, and headed to the interior, planning lunch in Sebring.

Wide open spaces, with birds, cows, and an occasional alligator.
 
We stopped on the way back for a diet Pepsi at the Limestone Country Club.
A biker bar with rather unique d├ęcor.
 
A perfect day for a ride in the countryside.

Friday, February 14, 2014

More Key West Pictures

 
Second day in Key West. 
Woke up to sunrise, and possibility of rain.
The resident Iguana was out watching the sun come up too.  The house didn't look so bad - we all slept pretty good in spite of a storm that poured rain and rocked us with thunder and lightning until about midnight.

We decided maybe instead of going exploring on our own, battling traffic, trying to find a parking spot, and wondering what we were looking at, we should take a city tour.
Lots of interesting buildings - most with a story.
Like "Sloppy Joe's" - one of Hemingway's favorite bars,
 
and of course, Hemingway's house.
The government paid for this building for headquarters, complete with snow load ready roof.  This in a place that has only seen one 40 degree low temperature in its recorded history.
The aquarium is in the middle of
Mallory Square, one of the trolley stops.
You can still buy a sponge here, even though the sponge industry was wiped out by red tide in the early 1900's.  It never returned from Clearwater, FL, where it was relocated, because of new rules and regulations.
 
There are still 44 cats in residence at the Hemingway house.  This cat watering hole began its life as a urinal.  Mrs. Hemingway decorated it as best she could to disguise its origin and even brought the vase from Italy and made it into a fountain that flowed into the watering dish.  All the tiles around the edge made it quite a work of art.
Our guide through the Hemingway house seemed to be auditioning for a role.  Even the ticket taker at the gate seemed to be trying to look like Hemingway. 
Last tour stop - Monument to the southernmost spot in the US.
 


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Florida Keys

Our friends Jesse and Peggy are visiting from Alabama, so we all decided to take a trip to the keys.  Booking a room in the Keys in "the season" at the last minute is no small task.  We rummaged through lists of rooms that started at $300 a night, hoping to find a hotel that had two rooms left.  We finally went to in  Airbnb.com in hopes we could find a home or apartment that would accommodate both couples.  While we didn't find something right in Key West, we were able to find a mobile home on Summerland Key just off the highway with two bedrooms and one and a half baths for just $150 a night.  We are all pretty flexible, so we decided to book it.
 
We headed out early and were ahead of schedule when we were about half way down the Keys, so we took a break and stopped at a beautiful State Park.  The sea grape leaves are gorgeous, and the park sits on a portion of the water where a ship wreck provides snorkeling.
While it was tempting to change into our suits and take a dip, we decided to wait until we reached our destination, that promised to be right on the water.
We did take time to walk around the park and the gift shop and take a few pictures of the cannons that had been retrieved from Spanish ship wrecks.
Jesse thought the cannon provided a photo op, in spite of Peggy's objections.
Stopped again for lunch,
Ron and I both got the blackened Mahi Mahi with Feta cheese, fresh salsa, and on a bed of rice and beans.  Excellent!



 Took a side trip onto No Name Key where the Key deer hang out looking for handouts. 
2:00 p.m. - check in time at our rental - that's when we found road construction blocking our path to the house.  After a short wait, we were able to continue to the end of the road to our house.
While a bit funky on the outside, we found it to be clean,
comfortable, even cozy, inside.
 
And outside, we found a BBQ grill, fire pit, lots of chairs, a rowboat, canoe, and water on three sides.
We watched a male and female iguana on the rocks along the edge of the water.  Boats in the bay, pelicans, the causeway in the distance - and we're only about 20 miles from Key West.  Heading out for an evening of music and hanging out soon!