Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sunny Florida

Not all the 'wildlife' \was out of doors. This carved and painted lion is
in the Ringling Circus Museum

My mom, Sarah and I enjoyed ourselves in Florida very much. We visited with long time  friends of my mom, met Sarah's Uncle Ed and Aunt Marge. Ed and I even got to sneak in a day of sailing with Denis, who I had sailed with a few years ago.

In Nokomis, just outside Sarasota, we stayed at the Encore Royal Coachman, a very upscale park that was perfectly maintained. Just a ten minute drive from the park to our friends Bob and Jackie, who shared dinner with us in their beautiful home.

As nice as the commercial parks are, we still prefer to stay in state parks. Generally, the campsites are much more spacious and the scenery and wildlife viewing so much better.  However, we found out that reservations are a necessity if one wants to stay in these parks. Although some parks set aside a number of spaces on a first come first served basis, it can be very difficult to get one of those spots. We got lucky in our desire to stay at Lake Myakka State Park,  east of Sarasota. The staff were very helpful in explaining how the system works. Essentially, anyone staying in the park that has not reached their 14 day limit have the opportunity to extend their stay by informing the staff by 10AM of the day they are to check out. Any campsites not reserved or spoken for by 10AM are presumed to be available.  But, the check out time is not until 1PM and the park rangers cannot hold sites that are to be vacated. So, we waited at the ranger station in order to be first in line for any available sites. We got one of two that became available.
The airboat on Lake Myakka
Spending a few days at Lake Myakka was very relaxing. The day after we arrived, we booked the airboat tour for that afternoon and the tram tour for the day after. Both tours were fun and informative. We saw lots of wildlife on the airboat tour with the huge alligator topping the show. While  we didn't see any exotic wildlife on the tram tour, our guide gave an excellent from which we learned a lot about the ecology and the history of the area. Both tours were easily accessible for mom.
They eat just about anything. 
The last day near Sarasota we visited the Ringling Museum. The museum is on the grounds of John Ringling's estate which is right on the water in Tampa. The museum includes the mansion, a circus museum, a miniature circus, gardens and a large art museum filled with works collected by the Ringling's. Seeing the Ruebens on display was a highlight of the trip for Sarah. We all especially enjoyed the rose garden which was in full bloom.

The scooter worked great

The Ringling's Pullman car, probably made on Pullman St., Worcester, Ma
Wonderful restoration
While we were in Florida, we learned that John would be allowed a weekend pass on March 23 if he successfully completed all of training requirements and PT testing up to that point.  It would have been nice if my mom could have stayed but she had appointments and commitments at home. Since we have the dog and cat with us, we decided to have Sarah and Mom fly home while I stayed with the dog and cat and moved the trailer to Columbus, GA. Since they had an early flight from Tampa, we stayed at the Bay Bayou RV Resort, just a short distance from the airport. After leaving Sarah and Mom at the airport, I took the trailer to Ft. McAllister State Park, just south of Savannah where I spent the week waiting for the extravagant St. Patrick's Day celebration.

Savannah has the largest St. Patrick's Day parade in the country after NYC. With perfect weather forecast and the celebration falling a a Saturday, Savannah braced itself for almost 1 million visitors. The party started on Thursday with events continuing through the weekend. I was forewarned to arrive early for the parade which was scheduled to begin at 10:15 AM. I found the corner where the parade began at 8:30 and was able to get a great view. The sun was bright and it was very warm for the parade which lasted nearly four hours. Way to go Savannah, you sure know how to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

Stay tuned for more adventures.

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