Our blog about RV travel. Note to new Bloggers: The blog reads from the bottom up - with the most recent post on the top. Navigate to a specific date range using the links in the Blog Archive (right hand column ).
Moving up the
coast, we stopped to see an old high school classmate of Tom’s who owns an ice
cream business in Venice (Bentley’s).
Catching up on old times was great and we really enjoyed seeing the ice
cream production in action. We didn’t
see much of Venice, but we liked what we saw.
It is on the list of places to re-visit. Lunching
with Marty and Grace, seeing their beautiful condo, and walking on the often
voted #1 most beautiful beach in the country gave us a brief preview of
Sarasota. Now our heads are beginning to
spin with possibilities! The sand was nearly as fine as baby powder. We'd never seen anything like it before.
of Sarasota, in the town of Bradenton, we dined with long time friends, Ed and
Janet who have retired to Florida. They
were kind enough to arrange our boondocking in their church parking lot. It was much nicer than Walmart, Cracker Barrel,
or Flying J – all of which we have done!
Bradenton, lives the Ringling museum.
You’re thinking circus museum … right?
Welllllll, there’s a lot more to it.
This is the state art museum of Florida, holding a large (21 galleries,
10000 objects) collection of European paintings, sculptures and antiquities
amassed by John and Mable Ringling.
addition to the art museum, the property also includes Ca d’Zan (the estate
home) and rose garden with European sculptures throughout, the Circus museum, a
large historic theater (built in Italy in 1855, disassembled and purchased,
imported and reassembled by Ringling Museum) and the largest art reference
library in the southeast. We could have
spent longer at the museum complex, and could have moved right into the house!
Ca D’Zan was
our favorite of the luxury homes we toured.
It was completed in 1926, (about the same era as the Flagler and
Vizcaya homes which we had toured earlier in this trip) as a winter residence.
The architecture is Mediterranean Revival, inspired by Doges palace in
Venice (we have been there). The
Ringlings traveled extensively and the home has many items collected from their
travels. We could identify with that
approach to decorating.
The residence was restored in 2002 with most details of the original construction and
decoration faithfully restored. The
approximate cost for the original construction converts to about $21 million in
2013 dollars. Love the whimsical ceiling paintings
tiles came from Barcelona – from homes demolished for road construction. Ringling had two shiploads imported for his
These windows, clearly inspired by circus themes, look out onto an elegant marble terrace and dock area.
Ringling had a gondola kept at the deck and frequently had servants propel her
along the shoreline
Mable Ringling died in 1929, just 3 years after the completion of Ca’ d’Zan. As a result
of the depression and bad investments, Ringling had $311 to his name at his
death in 1936. To save his beloved home
and art collection from creditors, he willed the assets to the state of
Florida. The circus
museum, established in 1948, offers a collection of Ringling circus art and
There is a wood carving studio where woodcarvers have been working since the 1960's to continue this tradition
John Ringling was the youngest person in the country to own a private Pullman car. The walls are mahogany with intricate moldings and gold-leaf stencils. The car was built in 1905, it is 79 feet long.
I always wanted long lean legs
Other fun circus items:
Our last stop (for 5 days) on this leg of the trip was in Ruskin. Ruskin ?? you ask. It is southeast of Tampa, inland, on the Little Manatee River. We met Jerry and Sherri in Alaska and have visited and stayed in touch since then. They invited us to park the RV in their driveway and enjoy their little winter residence slice of heaven. From their back deck:
We had a wonderful time with them, and in their neighborhood. We kayaked, played pickleball, tennis, golf, picked fresh oranges, met neighbors, and painted.
Kris has been turning wrong side out trying to figure out how to see sand hill cranes, in South Dakota, in April, during their migration pattern. Who knew that they would be right here in Ruskin !
This community was SUCH a good cultural and geographic fit, we are on a wait list for a rental next winter.
taken soooooo many pictures of herons and pelicans, that the topic will get it's own
post.These two birds are abundant on the
Gulf coast.Co-mingled with the pictures
is a bit of info about the birds, particularly for the grandkids (and anyone
else who might be interested).Enjoy!
paragraph was previously posted: Great
heron is a wading bird, 36-54 inches tall, with a wing span up to 80”, and they
only weigh 5 pounds ! They’re found all
over north America. Their primary food
is small fish, which they swallow whole.
in colonies with over 100 nests in a colony.
The nests are re-used in subsequent years. Males pick the nest, then start courting
The males choose a different
nest each year. Nests are made of sticks
and can be up to 50 inches wide. The
female lays 3-6 pale blue eggs about 2-3 inches long. Eggs are laid in March-April, incubate about
27 days. Both parents incubate the eggs
and feed the chicks. The chicks first
fly at 55 days old.
have few natural predators. Occasionally
an eagle, or great horned owl will attach a smaller adult heron.
We have also seen many brown pelicans, especially in tourist areas. They are very accustomed to people
making them easy and fun to photograph.
A frequently heard question … “Kris, how many pelican pictures do you need?”
Pelican is the smallest of 8 pelican species but is still a large bird with a
length up to 54 inches and a wing span up to 8 feet. It has a large bill with a ‘gular’ pouch,
used to strain water from the scoop that brings in fish, then thy swallow the fish whole.
exceptionally buoyant due to internal air sacs under their skin.They feed by dive bombing for fish, ore more passively
by setting in the water and reaching down to pick up fish.By either method, they strain out the water
that was picked up in the scoop, then wholly swallow the remaining fish.
pattern is similar to that of heron.
Pelican nests built on ground is subject to alligator predation.
pelican is the state bird of Louisiana.The brown pelican
was listed as an endangered species until 2009
Next Post: 2.18.16 – 2.26.16 - Sarasota, Bradenton, Ruskin
way around Florida, we have now come down the Atlantic side, Key Largo, the
Everglades, and are now working our way up the gulf coast side.We wanted to see Ft. Myers area because our
friends Tom and Bobbi winter there.This
is the first place where we got some real beach time, sand shells, birds, and
waterfront restaurants … the whole experience.
Sanibel Island was
beautiful, but the traffic to and fro was bad.
There is a campground on the island that could be a fun place to stay,
if we were to return. There is a shell
museum with a naturalist talk where we learned more about shells and mollusks
than we ever thought we wanted to know.
beautiful shell art Valentines were made in the 1800's. They were not made by sailors to pass the time, but rather, were made in the Caribbean as tourist items for sailors on whaling ships to bring home to loved ones.
historical used for cameo style carvings
indentations in the sand are the marks made by the snail as it moved across the
sand. Experts can identify the mollusk
by the mark it leaves as the marks are different one mollusk to another.
This bird worked very hard to pluck the low tide exposed oysters out of their shells.
up many shells on Sanibel Island, dragged them back to the campsite, gave them
a bath, bagged them up and tucked them away in the RV. A couple days later, our little house smelled
like something had died in it. Double
and triple bagging solved that problem.
She can deal with them when we get home.
overlooking the harbor, we walked over to see the fishing boats.
The shrimp fishing had been pretty good. We talked to the young men on the boat who
grew up in fishing families. They live
in New Orleans and fish down in Ft. Myers area this time of year.
traveling really well. He’s absolutely
exhausted at the end of a day. Night