We have driven and explored the area in and around Sarasota for the past week and remain enthused. I can’t help but be struck by the differences. Whereas Maine is rugged with its spruce and fir forests leading to granite boulders and frigid ocean waters, this is a land of pines and palms and flat swampy areas leading to pristine beaches and warm almost waveless turquoise seas. In Maine we outsiders were the minority whereas here one is hard pressed to find a native Floridian. The wicked good Maine accents are so enchanting as is their quick, low key humor and their down to earth advice. Here we have encountered all types of accents, the most charming being that of our buyers’ agent Candice McLeod who is originally from South Africa. It’s interesting that there are so many South Africans here. I’m told that it has something to do with the weather. We have met people from all over the United States, but primarily from the “cold” states such as Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, and of course from New York and New Jersey.
My heart longs for the view of the spruce and fir trees outside my Deer Isle bedroom window, a cup of tea with my neighbor Patty, and the way the water in the cove would come rippling in and out. I miss my friends and family in New Jersey, the energy of the streets of Manhattan, and the flowers in the garden of my Westwood home. But here I have sultry weather with breezes that caress my body, miles and miles of almost unpopulated beaches, new friends and opportunities, and the experience of floating in a pool and looking up at the full moon at night. I find myself wanting this and that and wish there was some way to just have it all.
Since we are on a vacation of sorts (squeezing in job and house hunting), we have been visiting beaches and national parks. The other day we started with a visit to a dog friendly beach in Venice. It is very well laid out and very accommodating, with separate wired entrances for small and large dogs, hoses to wash them down, drinking water, picnic tables, and a beach occupied with every type of dog imaginable. The separate entrances poured out onto the same shoreline and it was packed with dogs. Little dogs bravely scooting away to befriend enormous dogs, retrievers of various types in ocean, pit bulls ignoring the skeptical looks of humans, everyone having a grand time. Of course our Labrador went in the water following Bob but she stayed close as usual. Even our Irish Staffordshire mix braved the water, something he typically avoids at all cost although I did have to reprimand him for trying to drink the salty stuff.
Later we drove by at least 5 armadillos spread out along the patch of green neighboring the road to one of the national parks.
What funny creatures. As we pulled into the park there was an armadillo casually chomping on something. They have funny long pink noses that look perfect for searching for grubs and tasty roots in the soil. As we crept upon him, both of us taking pictures from separate directions, the prehistoric looking creature started running. I laughed with delight! You have to see a racing armadillo! They put their ears back and kind of hop away, quickly and with more grace than one would first anticipate. Oh how I loved the little racing armadillo!
With our armadillo photo op gone, I wiped the tears of laughter from my eyes and we headed into the park. There were warnings posted that many of the trails were under 2’ of water. Approximately two weeks ago there had been torrential rains and while many areas of Sarasota County look dry, there are also drainage ditches everywhere filled with water.
We ignored the sign, paid our $4 and entered only to find that indeed our aegis was limited. Nevertheless we did take a short walk with the dogs and were able to capture some good shots. We found a tiny frog, no bigger than my pinkie fingernail, an unusual land snail, and some red headed cranes.
Finally we took the dogs home and went out to Siesta Key to watch the sunset. Siesta Key has cool, white, talcum powder sand and appeals to people of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds. I’m hard pressed to pick a favorite beach but this one feels magical.
I loved a couple who had come to the beach, pulled up their chairs just to watch the spectacle of the sunset. I spoke to them for awhile. They typically winter in Arizona but had heard of Sarasota and had decided to snow bird it here this year. They made it a habit every day to just watch the sunset together. Nature’s show!
A young woman celebrated her 17th birthday with her friends on the beach. They were all dressed up and were having fun in the sun.
Couples smooched, inspired by the sultriness. One guy was riding his bike through the water. It was just fun to people watch.
Later we drove just a short way to Phillippi Creek to an oyster bar and restaurant. There boats can come right up to slips, and captains and crew can come inside to an informal restaurant. Fresh raw oysters were on every other table but one could also choose from a variety of other seafood offerings cooked the way one chose – blackened, fried, sautéed in butter, grilled, etc. We finished off our meal by sharing a slice of one of my favorite desserts – key lime pie. Yum!