While I was the on my road trip I spent 10 days in Florida visiting my mom who lives in Sarasota. Part of this time there, we spent at Kennedy Space Center and Cocoa Beach. This part on Sarasota is a difficult part of these travel blogs to write because I know the area so well. Over the last 7 years, I have gotten to know the area, the people very well. I things I like and dislike about the area and now have my own friends in the town. In many ways, Sarasota feels like another home to me since I am so familiar with the town and area around it. I wasn’t sure if I could even write a unbiased travel blog on the town so I put off writing this. This will be a 3-part blog so I can talk about what I need to so I hope you enjoy them because I like talking about the places I go and the people I meet.
My plan while in the Sarasota area was not to do the typical touristy stuff like my sister does when her my niece are there. I don’t like being BUSY while on vacation, having a plan and schedules especially when I am in Florida. What is the point of a vacation if it’s structured like your everyday life right? With the heartbreak and stress of the last few months, I just wanted to relax and find my bearings again…that theoretical center my therapist tells me about. I wanted to sit on the beach, write, read and with the exception of spending time with my mom; exist to no one but myself. I want to find quiet places where I could disappear. Well I found that…and then some. Having my own car with me this time made things much easier, however I did enjoy tooling around in my mom’s convertible twice while she was at work.
Sarasota Florida sits on the Gulf of Mexico and lies about ½ hour south of Tampa. Its lies near some famous vacation destinations such as Siesta Key, Longboat Key and Anna Maries Island. Since I tried to be the anti-tourist and not travel when it’s busy and popular on this trip I purposely chose this time to be in the Sarasota area. The town is getting past its busy tourist season, the snowbirds are heading north the town was generally free of high school kids and the college partying types, who invade it during march….the types which piss me off.
Since I am so familiar with Sarasota, I will try and focus on some of the new things I did while I was there. It would be far to taxing for me to write about everything I have ever done down there and far too long of a blog for anyone’s patience. Besides these blogs are about things I did on the most recent road trip.
I have done this before but never down in Sarasota and never with my mom. It’s something we have talked about doing for a while but never had the chance to do it. We rented kayaks from (insert name) on Siesta Key who dropped them off down the road at a public access. I am not a small person and it took me a while to get the balance thing figured out once I got in. Just after starting out the owner who was out on a paddleboard came towards me like a water ninja and readjusted the seat back, which helped things out a lot. He was in his late 40’s and it seems like Sarasota is the place for people to go in order to reinvent their lives after talking to him. He was a great guy and gave some suggestions on things to see on our little adventure.
The route we took on the kayaks brought us through mangroves and was really serene and relaxing. The water was like glass during the first part and I glided like the through the water effortlessly. We stopped for a bit near a beach access at place called ‘Old Midnight Pass’. It gave a chance to walk 30 yards over to oceans and walk around on beach that is pretty out of the way. Stephen Kings gigantic and secluded vacation house was within spitting distance and I had visions of running into one of my writing idols on the beach and talking about books, writing and life….this of course did not happen *sigh*. The beach was small and secluded and water was crazy clear and light blue. AND I found hundreds of little crabs on the sand right we parked the kayaks.
We paddled around a key called Bird keys and past some massive home lining the inner coastal waterway. We stopped on sandbar on the end of set of mangroves and had lunch, which was really cool for reason I can’t explain. This little jaunt proved more enduring than my mom was prepared for once we got to the north end of the key and in the waters open to the wind. Eventually we made our way around and back and the trip took us about 3 hours. I really enjoyed this and intend to do it again when I go back. I was somewhat annoyed at the lack of wildlife I saw. We saw tons of birds but saw no dolphins or manatees, which are prevalent in the area and that was a bummer. The flying fish and pelicans did put on a good show of cat and mouse however. One thing I learned while kayaking was put sunscreen on the tops of your feet and ankles…super burns. I was constantly having to take out my phone from waterproof case so I could take pictures and every damn time I thought I was going to tip my kayak.
Anna Marie Island
This island is on the north end of a set Keys and island off the coast of Sarasota Florida. It’s a fairly famous travel destination and many people from around the world travel here. This island holds a special place in my heart since its one of the first places I explored on my own the first time I went and visited my mom down there. While traveling on this round trip during the beginning of May I went to a few small towns on the east coast that reminded me of Anna Marie Island in look and feel. Over the years, I have seen this town change in small but memorable ways.
One day while I was there on this trip, I discovered a cute little coffee shop called the Island Haus Café. It sits in a mini mall off the main drag going through the Island. The owner was there all three times I stopped in and was very friendly and welcoming. It was lacked pretension and was unassuming in its charm, which I love in coffee shops. The coffee was amazing and the lemon cakes….well I had 2 every time I went that is how good they were…I got my fat on. There were a few seats outside in the shade and it was a nice place to plop my butt down for some writing and people watching.
At one point, a very sweet fat cat walked up and sat with me for while keeping me company while I worked. I found out later he belonged to one of the shop owners in the mall. I sat for a few hours each time I went writing and smoking and no one complained about me smoking which was nice. The only down fall was that the shop closed at 4 which is kind of normal for the areas smaller shops. The Wi-Fi was free and even after the shop closed the owner didn’t shoe me away like some coffee shops and let me do my thing. I have learned that things, businesses, tend to come and go in Sarasota and the outlying keys so I HOPE this little coffee shop is still there on my next visit, which will probably be in a few months.
One thing that I noticed another day while I was shopping with my mom on the island was the abundance of art galleries on the island. I noticed a few on my last visit but not this many. Now they often sit in buildings that were once houses on the island and if you are not paying attention you will miss them since they are located in the residential area of town. The whole island is one giant tropical wonderland and it’s art galleries were no different holding art showing that tropical spirit. I am looking forward to exploring these more on my next trip. I really enjoyed seeing these little businesses selling local art pop up.
The beaches…everyone loves the beaches, the wonderful palm tree and cottage lined beaches. During the busy season (the cold months in the north and into early spring) this places is a hot mess, which I avoid especially on the weekends. I do not enjoy sitting in traffic very long or crowds. The beaches are often packed especially the public parking beach. However Anna Marie Island just like the keys to the south are full of beach access points, which are open to the public. These often only hold only a few cars and fill up fast so if you don’t mind doing some adventuring on the side streets you can get lucky as I did and find a prime parking spot and secluded area on the beach away from most of the crowds.
I did do one typical tourist thing and went to the public fishing pier on the east side of the island. It’s kind of a tradition when I am out with mom on Anna Marie and we stopped and had a beer at the bar at the end of it. That day there were quite a few people with fishing lines in the water and if you looked down you could see giant schools of fish swimming under and around the pier. The pelicans were have a field day. One pelican, who was chilling on the dock even let me get really close to him before flying off.
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