After our cruise to the Bahamas, we landed in Miami early on Monday 23rd January. As we were not in a rush to get back home, we decided to drive up the Atlantic coast before crossing the state. We had plenty of time for a stop on the way.
Better luck this year
We visited Jonathan Dickinson State Park in February last year, on our way back from Central America. But we were rained off – there was a heavy storm just after we arrived in the park, so after looking round the Visitor Center we had to leave. We decided to give it another try this year, but on our way north the clouds grew very dark and we thought we would be thwarted by the weather again. By the time we arrived in the park the sun was out again, but it was extremely windy.
Last year we bought a bumper sticker which said ‘I climbed Hobe Mountain’. This amused us because Hobe Mountain – said to be the highest point in southern Florida – is 86 feet at the summit. But we did not make it because of the rain, so we were determined to do so this year, and we walked up the short boardwalk, despite the wind blowing a hooley.
Next we took photos of the Loxahatchee River, then started on the Kitching Creek nature trail. At that point there was some rain, so we took a shortcut back to the car park. But then the weather improved again – so we completed the whole trail at the second attempt.
Back in Sarasota
We’ve continued the usual round of activities, including several short walks.
Strolling along Siesta Beach one morning we saw a most unusual sight – a sailing boat run aground. According to our local paper, the owner’s navigation system had crashed, and they were awaiting a high tide to tow the boat back out to sea.
We also enrolled for a basic Italian class – now there’s a clue to our plans for summer travel! – at the Suncoast Technical College, a few miles down the road. There are just five sessions, and we’ve had two so far. We’re impressed by our teacher who makes the sessions enjoyable and entertaining. Hopefully we’ll learn something too!
On Friday 27th January our friends Ruth and Robert from South Carolina came to visit. They were travelling from the Keys to the Panhandle, and an overnight in Sarasota fitted their plans. We showed them around our complex, including the bayou which is just behind one of our buildings. Ruth was very excited to spot three manatees in the water! The rest of the time we spent eating, drinking and talking – it was great to catch up with them again.
An artful weekend
On 3rd February we did our usual Friday night ‘pub crawl’. At least, that’s how it started. We walked to the Bayfront and had cocktails in Marina Jack’s. Then we headed up Main Street, thinking of having another drink in one of the bars there. But reaching Palm Avenue we bumped into some friends, who reminded us that on the first Friday of the month the art galleries there stay open late and offer music and drinks to people visiting. So why pay for wine when you can get it free? We looked at the art on display in four galleries, all very close together. In one we heard three singers from Sarasota Opera perform some famous arias. We then went back to the Bayfront to get something to eat!
On Saturday nights we usually go to the theatre or the cinema – there are plenty to choose from in Sarasota. This week was somewhat different – we went to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center to hear the Sarasota Orchestra perform ‘Tchaikovsky to Tüür’. Tüür is a contemporary composer from Estonia; in fact this was the US premiere of his symphony, and he was present in person. We are not music buffs (far from it) but we preferred the Tchaikovsky.
On Sunday morning the Sarasota Music Half Marathon took place. We walked part of the route in the hope of seeing and encouraging some friends who were taking part. We spotted Lynda and Kevin just as they reached the finishing line. Now a half marathon may not be considered art, but on our way back home we visited an art and craft exhibition which had been set up along the bayfront. All in all, it was a very cultural weekend!