April 1 – 11, 2015 – Sarasota visiting with Ken & Cheryl, Sandy & Jeff and Dick and Kate – My “Accident”

Our trip from Naples to Sarasota began in an increasingly dense fog

Fog (b) Fog (c) Which, fortunately lifted by the time we reached Fort Myers where we had a short stop for some maintenance.

Once settled in, we “crashed” for the balance of the day.

Thursday, I played golf with Ken, whom we met on our honeymoon in 1966, while Debbie spent the day with his wife, Cheryl.

This evening we went to Siesta Beach, located on Siesta Key, a barrier island situated between Roberts Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. It was again voted to have the whitest and softest sand in the world and the No. 1 beach in the US. Unlike beaches elsewhere that are made up mostly of pulverized Coral, Siesta Beach’s sand is 99% quartz. Even on the hottest days, the sand is so reflective that it feels cool underfoot. It’s estimated that the sand on Siesta Beach and Crescent Beach on Siesta Key is millions of years old, having its origin in the Appalachians and flowing down the rivers from the mountains until it eventually was deposited on the shores of Siesta Key.

Although our goal was to watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico …

Sunset Silhouette (c), Siesta Beach, Florida - 2015-04-03Sunset (b), Siesta Beach, Florida - 2015-04-03Sunset (d), Siesta Beach, Florida - 2015-04-03Sunset (c), Siesta Beach, Florida - 2015-04-03Sunset (k), Siesta Beach, Florida - 2015-04-03people watching ran a close second.

ProfileIt was also our son, Scott’s, 44th birthday!

2011-11-19 - ScottThe following day, it was golf with Jeff Fitts, while Debbie spent the day with Sandy, a cousin who was like a second sister to me during the years when we were growing up. Back at their house, we lolled in their pool before drinks, a great steak dinner and a movie.

We slept in on Saturday before heading out to the Verizon Wireless store and FedEx, the first of several errands we planned. Upon exiting the FedEx parking lot onto US 41 (Sarasota’s “main drag”) our Jeep decided it didn’t like moving forward! As much as I accelerated, the vehicle barely moved; feeling like both the emergency and foot brakes were locked.

Fortunately, we were able to contact a local Jeep dealer who recommended a towing company they use … and also Ken and Cheryl who were kind enough to rescue us.

Jeep (a), Sarasota, FL - 2015-04-04 Jeep (b), Sarasota, FL - 2015-04-04Today was also our son, Doug’s, 46th birthday!

DougIt’s hard to believe how many years have passed so quickly!

Sunday, Ken and Cheryl picked us up and we went out for lunch at Linger Lodge,
Linger Lodge (a), Bradenton, FL - 2015-04-05our third visit and their first … a more rustic place would be hard to find! Located along the slow flowing Braden River, its restaurant and campground are set among a forest of live oaks draped with Spanish moss.
Braden River at Linger Lodge (a), Bradenton, FL - 2015-04-05An unusual atmosphere is what makes us unique. Frank Gamsky, the original owner and an amateur taxidermist, filled the walls, ceilings and display cases with local creatures and critters. Preserved snakes, coyotes, alligators and more, keep you company while you enjoy our down-home, southern cooking. Take time to browse the many mounted fish and the strangest of animals, the Blub-Billed Orthlock or the Turkey Rattler.

Linger Lodge (c), Bradenton, FL - 2015-04-05 Linger Lodge (e), Bradenton, FL - 2015-04-05 Linger Lodge (d), Bradenton, FL - 2015-04-05The menu offerings range from the traditional to the more exotic
Linger Lodge Menu (b), Bradenton, FL - 2015-04-05and their alligator chowder is “to die for”!

They also have a small bird aviary where both peacocks
Peacock (a), Linger Lodge, Bradenton, FL - 2015-04-05and a couple of unidentifiable species which look like they may belong to the dove family are housed.

[Unknown Bird] (a), Linger Lodge, Bradenton, FL - 2015-04-05 [Unknown Bird] (b), Linger Lodge, Bradenton, FL - 2015-04-05This evening, we returned to Siesta Beach where we discovered a Sunday night ritual of amateur drummers who played from late afternoon until after sunset.

Beach Drummers (a), Siesta Beach, FL - 2015-04-05Again, prior to the sun setting into the Gulf of Mexico, watching the throng along several miles of beach was our number one spectator sport.

Young Boy (a), Siesta Beach, FL - 2015-04-05 Mounted Police (b), Siesta Beach, FL - 2015-04-05 Couple (a), Siesta Beach, FL - 2015-04-05 Yellow Spiked Hair, Siesta Beach, FL - 2015-04-05 Young Boy (b), Siesta Beach, FL - 2015-04-05However, we did come for the sunset and were not disappointed!

Sunset Silhouette (d), Siesta Beach, Florida - 2015-04-05 Sunset and Gulls (c), Siesta Beach, Florida - 2015-04-05It’s Monday and without the benefit of our car which is still in the shop; Debbie and I took a bike ride to the top of Celery Fields.
Celery Fields 2
Historically, the area was once covered by a large lake where mammoths and mastodons once roamed. Eons later, the earliest Native Americans settled down there and the lake naturally filled creating a large sawgrass wetland system. Beginning in the late 1880s and continuing until the 1920s, the fields were converted for agriculture and eventually used for growing celery crop … hence the area became known as Celery Fields.

In 1994, Sarasota County purchased this over 300 acre land after record-setting rains, “so the land could once again perform its natural flood storage function and to prevent downstream flooding along Phillip Creek. During construction, well-preserved prehistoric animal bones, such as teeth from mammoths, mastodons and sharks were recovered.”

As several lakes were excavated to control regional flooding problems, the fill removed was piled up to created plateau.
Celery Fieds Watershed, Sarasota, FL -2015-04-06After the water returned, the wildlife came back. To date, some 210 species of birds have been identified in the Celery Fields. It became a great spot for bird watching, walking, running, biking, kite flying, and even horseback riding. On the side of the park there is 75 foot observation man-made hill … Sarasota’s highest point … where you can roam along with benches on the top, where you can see some of Sarasota, and swooping swallows in spring time.
2015-04-06 - Dick Atop Celery Fields Watershed Hll, Sarasota, FL
On our trip home, we stopped by a branch of the Sarasota library system where there is an interesting “book” sculpture which caught our eye.
Sarasota Library Sculpture (a), Fruitville Road, Sarasota, FL - 2015-04-06Close by there was a pond in which we spotted a juvenile alligator sunning on the surface of the water
Juvenille Alligator (a), Sarasota Library Pond, Fruitville Road, Sarasota, FL - 2015-04-06and seven moss-covered Florida red-bellied turtles,
Florida Red-bellied Turtle (a), Sarasota Library Pond, Fruitville Road, Sarasota, FL - 2015-04-06one of which seemed to be toying with the alligator as it swam around, under and even over it.
Florida Red-bellied Turtle and Juvenille Alligator (f), Sarasota Library Pond, Fruitville Road, Sarasota, FL - 2015-04-06
This afternoon, we got a call from the local Jeep dealer. Apparently, a brake pedal switch mysteriously got reset in an incorrect position. And the anticipated $200-plus bill turned out to be less than $55.00!

Tuesday, Jeff, Ken and I played golf at Misty Creek, one of the prettiest and most enjoyable courses I’ve played in Florida with wildlife on seemingly visible on every hole.

Sand Hill Cranes, Misty Creen Golf Course, Sarastoa, FL - 2015-04-07 Raccoon, Misty Creen Golf Course, Sarastoa, FL - 2015-04-07 Commorant, Misty Creen Golf Course, Sarastoa, FL - 2015-04-07Back to Ken and Cheryl’s for Dinner this evening.

Today, we visited with Debbie’s brother, Dick, and wife, Kate, who prepared a fantastic lunch, after which we spend several hours on their second story lanai overlooking a private wetland. This evening, we had a hamburger dinner at Ken and Cheryl’s. At one point, I began to choke over a small piece of hamburg and headed for the nearby kitchen so as not to run the risk of throwing up all over everyone’s meal.

About ten steps from the table everything went blank!

The next thing I knew I was lying face down on the floor looking at an expanding pool of blood. According to Debbie, Ken and Cheryl, I suddenly went down like a limp doll and my forehead struck the floor with a loud thud!

Once it was determined that I was bleeding from my forehead, I was able to stem the flow with compresses. Then Ken whisked Debbie and I off to Doctor’s Hospital here in Sarasota. Everything from the moment we walked in to my release was handled in an incredibly efficient, professional and friendly manner … with the usual arrival “where’s your insurance” routine delayed until after my treatments were completed.

After a CAT scan and five stitches,

2015-04-08 - Dick at Doctor's Hospital, Sarasota, FL - Copythe doctor, who suspected that I had likely suffered at least a mild concussion and I agreed that it was unwise for us to get on the road tomorrow as planned. So we decided to remain here at least through Sunday.

Today, Debbie decided to keep a close eye on me … perhaps understandably concerned that I am not always the best patient.

Called our grandson, Jake on his 11th birthday.

2014-08-25 - Jake's First Day of Third Grade, Bedford, NHTonight, dinner was at Der Dutchman,

der-dutchmana popular Amish restaurant with excellent food, a great bakery and unique gift store which Debbie loves.

The morning, we extended our stay in Sarasota through Tuesday so as to be able to return to Doctor’s Hospital to have my stitches removed before heading for Hilton Head.

Also called our son-in-law, Jason, on his 40th birthday.

JasonStopped over the Sandy’s for the afternoon … floating in her pool and watching the Masters.

This evening, we had Sandy & Jeff and Ken & Cheryl over for a pizza and beer dinner. We’d planned on sitting outside, but with the 6:30 PM temperatures in the sun at 100 degrees, we opted for the air conditioned interior of our motor home!


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