4 December 2014

Wow, day 5 of wearing shorts!! WOOO!!

Short trip today, we will move from Bradenton, FL to Sarasota, FL. Car distance 14 miles, boat distance 24 miles.

Nice day, a little wind and a little chop in the Tampa Bay. We got our daily dolphin shows, we had a baby leaping off the starboard side for a few moments before Mom call it home. We then got three large ones surfing the bow wave for about 10 minutes.

Lots of McMansions on the way, one of which is the Ringling House.

Arrived at Marina Jack, this is a happening place. Lots of big boats (60+). Great facilities, huge restaurant with live music. I’m listening to it now, it’s an 80′s cover band, that should clue you into the average age of the boaters here.

Ate lunch and then got picked up by Susan’s friends. They decided to skip-school today and play with us.

First stop was for me to mail a package at the post office. Now you are thinking I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel, but hang in with me. Got there and found 15 people in line in front of me. (Yea, you been there). BUT they had 6 count them 6 windows open. I was back out in the Florida sunshine (72F) in under 5 minutes. Go USPS!

Our first tour stop was the Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy ( Very cool, it’s a big building filled with quirky art projects. Some of the installations are interactive. In one room the more you yell and make noise the more the disco lights fire up. In the back is a garden area with fountains, orchids growing in trees, pigs that can fly, etc. If you go, check out the gator in the parking lot. His head is made of recycled pliers, spark plugs, etc.

Our Sarasota friends had never been there, so it was a special visit for them. They now have a must visit place for new people in town.

We then cruised out to the Ringling Museum and estate for a tour. There is an immense art / sculpture gallery that we skipped. We also skipped the plantings, a huge rose garden, arboretum and a collection of dwarf plants. We went right for the Circus Museum

The Ringling Museum is funded by one of the Ringling Brothers that ran the largest circus empire in the US from 1920 to 1956. A 150 car train would pull into town at 4AM and by noon the first acts were performing. Last show at 8PM, done by 10 PM and the last part of the train would pull out of town at 2AM to start the cycle all over again.

Lots of train cars, trucks and trailers. The biggest part is a 5,000 square foot miniature Circus setup with all the trains, animals, performers and of course The Big Tent. It shows all of the infrastructure and planning that goes into moving a small town of 4,000 people and 10,000 animals via rail, set up a mini city, do full day of performances and tear it all down and move it again. I just loved it. I spent hours and had to be hauled away from it to see other things.

We also saw John Ringling’s house on the Sarasota Bay. It was built for 1.6 million dollars in 1919. Back when gas costs 14 cents. It is grand with a capital G. We really enjoyed seeing “how the other half lived”

After spending 4 hours with circus folk and the upper crust of society, it was time for dinner.

We ended up at an Irish pub across from the marina. While the expensive place in the marina is not animal friendly, the pub is. So we got a picnic table on the beach and had beer and great food. A nice night to sit out and with the full moon only days away, lots of moonlight to see by.

A great time was had by all. We hope to see Susan’s friends again in the keys, we will set up some deep sea trips for fishing for tuna and grouper.

I was also able to take a few moments to wish my brother a happy birthday. He was out at his favorite place, it sounded like a good time.

Off on a long trip to Sanibel Island, 68 miles, about 8 hours of drive time. We will leave at first light and scoot on the outer side. I know we are missing things but we will come back in December and go to Ft Myers across from Sanibel island and rent a room and a boat for a few days.

Happy Birthday David!