Friday, February 5, 2016

Sarasota Florida, friends and Anna Marie Island…

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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…

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Manatee Lake State Park, Florida…

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Our last day in Bonita Springs we went with our Canadian friends Jeff and Martine over to a new (to us) beach, Clam Pass. Once we arrived Martine and Jeff advised us to take the free ride in what looked like an 8 seater gold cart. The ride winds to Clam Pass Beach over a boardwalk  more than a half mile long. At the end of the boardwalk we walked through a deck near a restaurant and were treated to one of the prettiest beaches we have encountered in this area.

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We spent the afternoon walking along the beach and talking with our friends We were all very happy to see dolphins while relaxing and admiring the water. The time passed much too quickly and it was time to go.  Back at IBE we grabbed a beer and strolled a couple of blocks hoping to find our friends for our last happy hour there. We were able to find a small group of friends so we shared the sun’s last rays with them while sharing stories. A fun last day and night we did have…

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The next morning before getting ready to leave we saw several of our IBE friends who came to say their “see ya’ laters” before it was time to leave. That is when it got interesting… We were nearly packed and I I was bringing in the slides part way. One of our slides had a loose seal I reattached last time we used it so I wanted to inspect it. Well all looked good but when I went back to bring the slide the rest of the way in it wouldn’t budge. In fact none of the slides would retract!!!

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Knowing we had to leave I tried every breaker, pulled and checked every fuse and even simply turned off and back on the ignition. I even tried firing up the generator in case the battery was lower than it showed. Nothing worked! I started to search using Google and found no real solutions. I tried again and suddenly everything worked! Why? I have no idea to this day but am really glad it all decided to work.

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We drove about 115 miles north to Manatee Lake State Park where we backed into our site and settled in for our four night stay. The park is in a mixture of prairie and scrub palmetto along with short pine and live oak trees. It has water and 30 amp electric only but will serve us fine for our short stay.