Sarasota, Days 1, 2, and 3

January 17, 2012 22:37 – 22:37

We’re renting a house in Sarasota, about six miles from the coast. We’ve been taking things easy, and not trying to cram too many things in—something we usually do far too often. It’s not unusual for us to return from a vacation… needing a vacation.

We arrived on Sunday. The house is clean, modern, and spacious. Our only complaint would be that the pool and “hot tub” are not heated, and the owner wants $40/day to heat them. That’s exorbitant, and suggests that the owner really doesn’t want us using them. So, we’ve declined paying for heat. I’m tempted to use the pool unheated, just to say “So, there!”

Our first night—Sunday—we had dinner in Sarasota at the Waterfront Restaurant. Their specialty is supposed to be shrimp, so that’s what we both had. The shrimp were huge and plentiful. If I were to offer any criticism at all, it’s that the shrimp were cooked a little too long. Other than that, however, everything was perfect.

On Monday morning, I decided to explore the neighborhood on foot, taking in a six mile loop. Along the way, I encountered a sandhill crane, a flock of ibis(es?), and a beautiful canopy of trees draped with Spanish moss (I’ve been to Spain five times, and I’ve never seen any Spanish moss there, which makes me wonder why it’s called that.

I sure wish they’d try to leave more trees in place in Virginia when they build new houses. It would definitely help keep walks cooler in the summertime. Here’s that sandhill crane I told you about.

And here are those ibises.

When I got back from my walk, we headed for Myakka River State Park, stopping to pick up some picnic food at Publix along the way. The fried chicken from the Publix deli counter is excellent, by the way. Juicy and seasoned just right.

After a quick picnic, we headed for the Canopy Walk. The Canopy Walk is a wooden structure that takes you just above the tree canopy where you can see a variety of birds (see note below). Here it is from the ground and from above.

Well… where somebody can see some birds. We didn’t see any. Being MLK weekend, families were out in droves, and I guess they scared the birds away. About the only birds we saw were high in the air just about everywhere else… Florida’s state bird: the turkey vulture. Well, probably not. But, based on sheer numbers and visibility, perhaps they should be.

The Canopy Walk is only about a hundred feet or so, and they limit it to three adults at a time. It tends to sway a bit. At one end of it, there’s a tower. From the top of the tower, it looked like a South American or African jungle.

No elephants or giraffes in the clearing below, alas. No lions, tigers, or bears, either. Not that we saw, anyway. So, Dorothy need not worry.

By the time we were done at Myakka, it was getting towards late afternoon, so we decided to head back to the house. Back here, we rested up for a while, and then headed out to dinner at a wonderful Thai restaurant called Siam Orchid. The food there was probably the best Thai food I’ve ever had—maybe even better than Tarntip Thai back in Virginia, an unexpected little gem of a restaurant in Fredericksburg, Virginia. At Siam Orchid, Karen had the beef and I had shrimp—both in the house special sauce. Karen had mild, and I had medium. Medium was absolutely perfect!

This morning, we again got a later-than-we-really-planned start, and headed over to Simon’s Coffee House, recommended by Pat Bossman. The food was good, and there was unexpected art on the wall!

After lunch, we headed up the coast to the De Soto National Historical Site—one of those off-the-beaten-path locations that tourists usually miss. The monument itself wasn’t all that impressive—but that’s usually the case.

The grounds, however, abounded with interesting scenery. Most impressive, to me anyway, were these humongous trees that look like they were designed with climbing in mind. If I were about 100 years younger…

They’re called gumbo limbo trees.

Above the water, there were numerous pelicans, diving for fish.

And clear water, so they could see the fish for which they were swooping.

And, back on land, a dog was ready for his weekly poker game.

Also, some re-enactors were scaring the heck out of tourists by shooting very loud 16th century guns (at least they claimed that’s what they were).

Yum! Wooden BBQ! Low in fat, but very high in fiber.

And 16th century scarecrows?

From De Soto, we decided to head back to the house and change… and head for the beach in Siesta Key. It’s supposed to be the best beach in the U.S. It might be. Although, I guess it depends on what you’re looking for. If you were looking for warm water, you wouldn’t find it today. The surf temperature was about 60. Mind you, it didn’t stop me. I swam. Karen decided it was too cold. And, I’ve been in colder water—58 degrees in the St. Lawrence, 54 degrees in Fundy National Park, and maybe a little colder in the Mediterranean off Spain once (looking for Spanish moss, but not finding any—see above).

After the beach, we headed home to shower & change, and then to Mi Pueblo for dinner. We happened upon Mariachi night. There was a six-piece band playing and singing, and they were really good! And so was the food! I had the steak fajitas and Karen had tacos al pastor. Both were excellent. My only criticism would be the beans. They have only refried beans, which I find mostly disgusting. Actual black beans or red beans would be good.

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