Thursday December 30: Jetty Park Cape Canaveral, Florida. $24.80 30-amps & water centrally located dump site, dirt interior streets & grass sites: N28° 24.403' W80° 35.674'
Our Motorhome in the Jetty Park Campground in Cape Canaveral, Florida
We got in a healthy routine this morning by getting up and taking a long walk on the beach. It's so nice to take walks on the beach in short sleeves feeling the refreshing cool breeze in your face. The country has been locked in terribly cold and wet weather. It seems so odd to be enjoying this nice balmy weather. The sun actually feels hot on your bare arms and exposed skin.
This is a pic of our Safari Trek motorhome that we have so much fun in. And for those of you that are familiar with the Trek that has the magic bed, well, we have possibly the only Trek without a magic bed and one of only sixteen, 33' diesel pusher Treks --- all manufactured in 1996.
We spent the day with Joyce's sister and their Dad.
Friday December 31: Jetty Park Cape Canaveral, Florida. $24.80 30-amps & water centrally located dump site, dirt interior streets & grass sites: N28° 24.403' W80° 35.674'
I stayed around the campground just piddling on little projects with my brother-in-laws. We had a good time getting acquainted each others RV's nuances. One of the water heaters was not keeping water hot, that is to say it would start and heat the water but it would not reignite and bring the water back to temperature. We inspected the outside electrical connections by taking each connection off and putting it back. One of the connections going to the thermostat had corrosion on it as well as some "goo" obviously electrical stuff applied by the RV-tech that had repaired the unit a month or so earlier. From now on the "fix" for this water heater will be to disconnect & reconnect this electrical connection.
The women drove into Melbourne and spent the day with their dad.
This was New Years Eve, as the sun sank in the sky we elected to stay in the campground and eschew the raucous revelry revving up on the strip. Exquisite steaks and special trimmings was the plan. Andy, one of my BILs, had possession of a trendy recipe for pan frying 2" thick filet mignons. He obtained this recipe from chefs at the lodge, on Yellowstone Lake, in Yellowstone National Park where they stayed a number of years ago. Andy has perfected the art of preparing this sauce with a laundry list of recherché ingredients including raspberry jam. At just the right moment Andy slathered this exquisite sauce on the steaks and the feast began. Sarah, Joyce's sister, fixed green bean "bales" wrapped in bacon while Joyce fixed baked potatoes. It was a night of gustatory debauchery with food disappearing like a box of donuts at a fat boy's convention. As the scrumptious vittles disappeared the group melded into unending palaver until we, at last, excused ourselves for the night and headed back to the sanctuary of our cocoons.
Saturday & Sunday January 1 & 2: Jetty Park Cape Canaveral, Florida. $24.80 30-amps & water centrally located dump site, dirt interior streets & grass sites: N28° 24.403' W80° 35.674'
View from the Jetty Park Campground in Cape Canaveral, Florida
We spent both days entertaining Joyce's Dad. Saturday was New Years day but we did not notice anything substantially different. The RV Park was full but by late Sunday afternoon at least half of the RVs vacated the campground indicating that at least half of the spaces were being taken by locals that had to return to the 9 to 5 grind on Monday. Late Sunday afternoon we watched as three huge cruise liners departed the port and made their way past us and into the Atlantic Ocean for their week of revelry and pampering. Jetty Park is located on the waterway connecting Cruise Ship Ports to the Atlantic Ocean so the coming and going of cruise ships and other vessels is part of the entertainment.
View from the Jetty Park Campground in Cape Canaveral, Florida
Monday January 3: Sun N Fun RV Resort 7125 Fruitville Road Sarasota, Florida 941-371-2505-- N27° 20.477' W82° 25.612' $41.00 per-night for the cheapest sites on a weekly rate. 30-amps, water & sewer with paved interior roads. N28° 24.403' W80° 35.674'
We cranked up the motorhome and headed out of Cape Canaveral & Jetty Park toward Sarasota and Sun N Fun RV-Resort. The quickest way to move across the state is to take the Bee Line toll road into Orlando then I-4 to I-75 and down to Sarasota. That is the quickest but you do not get to see and experience the real Florida. We chose to drive south on A1-A to the causeway just south of Sebastian Inlet where we headed inland to Fellsmere a wee-bit of a community, where we took a series of farm to market roads south through gigantic orange groves owned by global juice companies like Fellsmere and Minute Maid. When you leave the east coast of Florida South of Melbourne the countryside quickly transitions from tourist accouterments to a 20-mile strip of citrus groves then into cattle & dairy ranches. We turned west on SR 70 and headed to the city of Okeechobee situated at the north end of the eponymous lake were we stopped on the shoreline in a city park for lunch.
There is something special about stopping mid-day beside beautiful Lake Okeechobee and enjoying a quiet lunch. After lunch we ventured outside to feed the flock of seagulls that noisily chattered for dinner. A few pieces of bread kept us briefly entertained.
I was playing with the digital camera for this pic. I was holding bread in my left hand while holding the camera in my right hand. As the gull approached I would hit the shutter. As anyone familiar with digital cameras knows there is a time lag between pressing the shutter and the shutter actually closing. Digital cameras have their own schedule, they march to a different drummer. Anyway, I would press the shutter and hope that I got the gull actually retrieving bread from my fingers.
After lunch we took the Saturn for a short spin along the waterfront inspecting the myriad RV-Parks and marinas jammed along the north rim of Lake Okeechobee. This is a mecca for snowbirds that enjoy fishing and relatively inexpensive campgrounds bundled into an unbelievable setting so if you are one of those closet snowbirds looking for your Shangri-la --- look no further. At Okee-Tantee City/County Park we stopped at the community fish cleaning table for a moment to watch fishermen and birds gathered for this time honored ritual.
Note the filleted fish carcus this woodstork is about to consume.
After reconnecting the Saturn we continued west through Arcadia and into Sarasota and Sun-N-Fun. The ride from Okeechobee to Sarasota on SR-70 is across Florida's inland prairie grassland comprised of vast cattle ranches. Nearing Arcadia we could see stark evidence of hurricane Charlie, the 1st hurricane that visited Florida during the summer of 2004. Hurricane Charlie came ashore from the Gulf of Mexico devastating the coastal islands of Captiva before tearing through Punta Gorda and points inland including Arcadia. From the devastation still visible around Arcadia it is evident that hurricane Charlie was an extremely strong storm with winds tightly packed around the eye. Huge live oak trees that have stood watch over these cattle ranches for well over a century were blown over like insignificant objects. Structures unfortunate enough to be in the path of Charlie were rendered into tiny pieces scattered across the prairie like litter in a ghetto. Fortunately, the path of destruction was relatively narrow-at least for a hurricane. Just guessing but the painfully obvious destruction only stretched for about 10-miles. Don't get me wrong 10-miles wide is a big path of destruction especially if you are located in the path. However, as hurricanes go that is a small footprint. Many hurricanes bestow their destruction over 50 to 100 miles on both sides of the eye.
When checking into Sun N Fun the lady told Joyce that karaoke was 7:00 tonight not Wednesday night like Joyce had thought. That tidbit of information completely changed the dynamics of our plans. Karaoke at Sun N Fun is one of the special things we like and something that Joyce is not going to miss if she is still breathing. Karaoke did not disappoint on this night where we got reacquainted with several couples that we had reveled with at Sun N Fun in previous wintering forays to this mega-mecca of fun.
Tuesday January 4: Sun N Fun RV Resort 7125 Fruitville Road Sarasota, Florida 941-371-2505-- N27° 20.477' W82° 25.612' $41.00 per-night for the cheapest sites on a weekly rate. 30-amps, water & sewer with paved interior roads.
Sleeping late was only natural after fully indulging in the park's karaoke last night. Ahhhhhh, life is so good. After bumming around the RV-Park all morning Joyce and I ventured out to Yoder's, an award winning Amish Restaurant, in Sarasota. Yoder's is one of those memorable restaurants with scrumptious dishes you would expect to get at grandma's house. What a wonderful day. Later, after dark, Joyce's sister called to tell us that they had returned to Sun N Fun after a day touring CadZan, John & Mable Ringling's magnificent 32-room Venetian-Gothic mansion overlooking beautiful Sarasota Bay. They also toured the Estate including the Circus Museum and Art Museum. They invited us to eat dinner with them at Yoder's. We accompanied them but there was no room for an entree. Joyce and I indulged in one of Yoder's award winning, home made, pies while Sarah and Andy devoured their wonderful fare. Then it was back to Sun N Fun where we rode around looking at different sections of the park and all that the park has to offer, the park has 2,000 spaces plus a plethora of service buildings and spaces so it takes some time to "see".
Wednesday January 5: Sun N Fun RV Resort 7125 Fruitville Road Sarasota, Florida 941-371-2505-- N27° 20.477' W82° 25.612' $41.00 per-night for the cheapest sites on a weekly rate. 30-amps, water & sewer with paved interior roads.
Sarah and Andy headed south to Ft Myers to visit with some of Andy's relatives who winter in the area. We plan to eat with them tonight as well as attend a blue grass band & dance in the park.
Feral peacock at the Bradenton, Florida flea market
Joyce and I headed to Bradenton located about 16-miles north of Sarasota where we meandered through a gigantic flea market. We aren't flea market people but it does provide a few hours of cheap entertainment. Possibly the best entertainment at the flea market came from the peacocks wandering in the parking lot. We took a few pictures of some of the more colorful ones
.Another feral peacock at the Bradenton, Florida flea market
I realize there is a fence in this picture but the peacocks are not fenced. This male peacock just happens to be near the fence around the flea market.
After gorging ourselves on flea market we spent some time touring the waterfront area of Bradenton along the Manatee River. Beautiful, ritzy and tropical might start a description. Along the water we noticed hickory tree leaves finally turning golden in honor of autumn past. There is nothing like realizing the rest of the nation was locked in the throws of winter while here in Bradenton hickory trees are just getting around to realizing winter is upon us.
We got together with Sarah & Andy for dinner at Yoder's again tonight, so much for the BBQ & Bluegrass music at Sun N Fun. We all enjoyed our dinner but it was chocolate cake that stole the show. I had Yoder's key lime pie that was divine but obviously nothing to compare with the chocolate cake that the others were savoring. Yoder's has a reputation that is well deserved. If you visit Sarasota you need to put Yoder's on your list of things to experience -------- and save room for desert.
Thursday January 6: Sun N Fun RV Resort 7125 Fruitville Road Sarasota, Florida 941-371-2505-- N27° 20.477' W82° 25.612' $41.00 per-night for the cheapest sites on a weekly rate. 30-amps, water & sewer with paved interior roads.
Joyce and I got back into our normal routine of enjoying an area from------can to can't - (that is to say from early in the morning until well after dark). This time we had Sarah & Andy with us and we were having a ball. Sarah commented that "we spent the day coasting"---and that pretty well explains what we did since we explored coastal islands from Anna Maria to Casey Key. For those of you not familiar with the west coast of Florida there is a string of tropical, barrier islands inhabited by the rich and famous, that flank the mainland. It is painfully obvious that denizens of these lush tropical isles were not Government Employees in their working days.
We inspected Anna Maria Island off the coast of Bradenton where we took the obligatory walk on the dock stretching into beautiful Tampa Bay. Having savored that experience we ventured south to Longboat Key where we looked up the address of an affluent relative who recently purchased an upscale home on one of the canals leading to Sarasota Bay. After inspecting their home and property it was affirmed that they had done extremely well for themselves.
Continuing south we stopped on Lido Key for lunch at the New Pass Grill a local marina and hamburger spot with outside dining catering to "locals". Knowledgeable tourist flock there also but the place does not advertise so it is easy for casual tourist to miss. We like it because of the atmosphere where you get a quality hamburger then sit on the dock watching the parade of boats go by. Abundant ambience for the price of a hamburger, now that's something I like.
The next adventure took us around the "circle" of hoity-toity shops, patisseries, sidewalk bistros, exquisite restaurants, trendy galleries and manicured promenades on St. Armands Key. One does not take long to realize that there is absolutely nothing egalitarian about St. Armands Key. Individuals dropping plastic in those shops and establishments are obviously enormously accomplished and indulgent in the apex of life's amenities. After a sufficient inspection of this BMW'ish enclave we continued on to Siesta Key, the next island south of St. Armands & Lido Key. Siesta Key is an eclectic blend of old Florida Crackers mixed with soigné new money flowing in from hinterlands to the north. Palatial estates mingle with cracker bungalows in a strange amorphous way. Siesta Key is noted for the village shopping area with cutesy shops, trendy boutiques and cozy eateries, a place where contrasting cultures, customs and cuisine, smoothly coexist amid balmy breezes flowing off the Gulf of Mexico. We were full thus did not stop to partake of their offerings. We were on a mission, we were "coasting".
Then it was on to Casey Key, the "Crown Jewel" of upscale opulence. Structures along the narrow serpentine ribbon of asphalt traversing Casey Key look more like posh hotels than part time residences. Just when you think these residencies can't get any larger there is one ------even larger. Just when you think that one can't possibly be more magnificent------one appears that is even more opulent. Landscapers compete with one another to see who can produce the most ostentatious curtilage. Casey Key won our award for being home to the crème de la crème of magnificent palaces on our "coasting" tour. As we neared the south end of Casey Key we suddenly emerged from that enclave of ne plus ultra estates of the super rich into a "Southern Cracker-Riviera" comprised of 1960's era squatty, concrete block, ranch-style hotels. Then, in a few short blocks that abruptly ends in Nokomis Beach a public beach, picnic & parking area. After stopping the car in the hoi polloi parking area for a walk on the Jetty at Nokomis Beach we headed across the waterway to Nokomis and into Venice where we dutifully cruised up and down both sides of the spacious, beautifully landscaped promenade lined with dotty boutiques, elegant restaurants and other upscale accoutrements. Venice is a sinfully elegant place that makes me wish I was rich.
We finished off the day back at Pop's Sunset Grill aka Urbanek's Fish Market in Nokomis. We have shared some good times at this restaurant with several friends. Last year we dined there with my Mom and friends Larry & Cindy Gobin. Good friends Dale & Cheryl Porter told us about Pop's so we have them to be thankful. Now we have shared the place with Sarah and Andy. It was a superb ending to a wonderful day.
Friday January 7: Sun N Fun RV Resort 7125 Fruitville Road Sarasota, Florida 941-371-2505-- N27° 20.477' W82° 25.612' $41.00 per-night for the cheapest sites on a weekly rate. 30-amps, water & sewer with paved interior roads.
Sarah and Andy headed back to Charleston around 8AM this morning. We thought about them when we got up. I thought about calling them and letting them know we were up and enjoying the day but decided they may not appreciate the humor intended. Joyce and I had a domestic day comprised of cleaning the motorhome, vacuuming and washing the Saturn plus Joyce washed clothes in addition to cooking. How plebeian, but those things have to be attended to.
After the day of mundane chores we headed to karaoke where everything
was made well. There is nothing like karaoke at Sun
Until next time remember how good life is.
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Until next time remember how good life is.