We have a Catbird that greeted us in the morning by pecking at our dining room window to let us know we needed to get out and do something. So since the weather was predicted to be fabulous on our first day at Manatee Lake State Park we decided to spend some time at the beach. We chose a loop route that would take us to Sarasota and over to Lido Key then north to Anna Marie Island. This would allow us to stop and check out a few things along the way. The plan was to end up at the Rod and Reel Pier Bar at Anna Marie Island for happy hour. Our plans changed a bit along the way but all for the better…
Our first stop was at the Sarasota Bay Front Park where we parked the car and walked along the hike/bike trail that took us by a large statue which looks nearly identical to one in San Diego of a young sailor kissing his girl after returning home from sea. Since we were near a dock we checked out all the boats from the dingys to the million dollar (or more) yachts.
After returning to the car we stopped on Lido Key at a small park to eat the lunch we packed while looking out over the blue-green waters of the bay. What a great day this was turning out to be. It couldn’t get better, or could it?
Our next stop was going to be a nice beach on Longboat Key and we started looking for small pocket beaches with public access. We passed several and began to think we should backtrack to one of them when I spotted a small parking lot near a birding trail. Sure enough it led us right to a beautiful beach. We parked, got our Sunbrella set up, laid out our new beach mat and started to walk the shore while shelling.
We hadn’t gotten far as I was knee deep in salt water when I happened to look up and see a friend of ours from Illinois! We knew Mike and BJ were nearby and thought we would stop by their place if time permitted to see if they were around. Yet surprisingly we stumbled upon them while shelling as they were doing the same! We spent several hours with them chatting on the beach.
Then I mentioned that Sharon and I were going to the Rod and Reel Pier for happy hour so we agreed to meet there to continue our fun. This little dive bar on the end of a pier in Anna Marie is one of our favorite little dive bars. BJ and Mike introduced us to this cool spot and we are ever thankful. We ordered up some $1.50 drafts and watched all the fishermen on the pier try their luck. We had planned to head home from here when Mike and BJ asked if we wanted to go to the Moose lodge to watch the sunset. Mike had just joined the Moose and wanted to show us the cool lodge there.
We parked in front of the Moose Lodge and noticed it is situated right on the beach. We went to the bar for cold frosty beverages and went upstairs to the top deck. They have a great top deck overlooking the beach and the ocean. We ordered up some mighty fine burgers along with a fried oyster basket to share and sat and chatted until the sun set beautifully in the west. What a fantastic end to a great day with good friends we would have never met had it not been for us traveling on the road of retirement…