March 14th - 15th
FREE Public Beach at Siesta Key in Sarasota.
Another beach pic at Siesta Key in Sarasota.
Sissy and fisherman near FREE park at Lido Beach Bridge.
Pelicans lined up for their lunchtime feeding. Fishermen clean their catch near the FREE boat ramp near Bradenton Beach.
Blue Heron posing for our camera near Bradenton Beach.
Getting up a little late (Ok, allot late) after a night partying, we left Sugarloaf Key at noon and headed north. We decided ahead of time to skip Homestead and the Alligator Farm, and drive straight through to Punta Gorda. The temperature was 90 degrees, and the sky was beautiful.
Once off the keys, we headed north on the Florida Turnpike (remember our trip down) and then west through Alligator Alley. We saw dozens of those critters along side the road while traveling through the Everglades and Indian Reservation. It was probably better seeing them in their natural environment anyway.
The road through Alligator Alley was bumpy, but we made it OK and then hit I75 in Naples. I75 was so smooth and beautiful, we decided to bypass Punta Gorda as well and drive to Sarasota (not on our agenda). What a good decision that was!!! We arrived after dark (about 1930) but had plenty of help from some full timers parking our rig into the site. The campground (Sun-N-Fun) was a 177 acre park with just about everything a camper would want except for a general store. There was one of those across the street however.
The next morning we hopped on the bike and went sightseeing. We visited Siesta Key, Lido Beach, Longboat Key, Bradenton and the surrounding Sarasota area. These places, including Sarasota, were absolutely beautiful (the prettiest places we've been so far). The beaches were breath taking and everything here was FREE (notice the captions on the pics). There were no tolls, no parking fees, no parking meters, no entrance fees to any of the parks and no charges for using the beaches or restrooms. With the thousands of tourists and locals here, we saw one police officer on a motorcycle. I wonder if these folks have ever been to Virginia Beach during the summer!
Sissy wanted to take a break from riding the bike so we pulled off into another city park and boat ramp. Some fisherman were cleaning their fresh catch of the day (cobia), and we noticed some pelicans and a blue heron waiting for their fair share. A friend of ours (Linda) placed an order for pics, so we clicked away. It was amazing to get so close to these birds in such a public place, but I guess the regular feeding from the cleaning station had something to do with it.
It was a full day riding the bike, seeing the sights, conversing with the locals, snapping some pics, eating lunch at a local (expensive) restaurant and soaking up the rays. Then, it was homeward bound to the campground. After noticing she had NO BEER, we took quick outside showers (camper style) and headed to the general store across the street. With beer in hand, Sissy cooked dinner, and she didn't even set the smoke detector off this time. Go figure!
After dinner, we caught up on some email, relaxed in the cool shade under the awning, made plans for our drive north and pretty much took it easy.
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