florida sunset

This was our backyard.

Our main destination on the trip was an old timey beachside apartment motel, called, Island House Apartment Motel. There are a bunch of them along with a bunch of mansions on Casey Key, a barrier Island on the Gulf Coast of Florida. They call it Old Florida because there are no high rises. The island is about a block wide with the Gulf of Mexico on one side and an intracoastal canal on the other, connected to the mainland by a draw bridge on the South and a vintage turning bridge at North end of the island. The beach is picturesque and literally in our backyard. The water is warm. The sun is warm, but not too warm (in April). Nearly every day is dream beach day with sun, breeze, and low humidity.

It is the perfect place for shelling, sunning, walking, and people watching. On this section of the beach, you see a lot of really tan old people, some wrinkly, some fat, some who didn’t get the memo about the change in swim suit styles. We even spotted a couple of “buddas” in speedos. As you walk the shore to the public beaches, there are families and younger people. One day there were sponges all lying over the beach.

No shirt or shoes needed and that’s the way I like it!

We spent half of our time here doing basically nothing and the other half going places. We went to Mote Aquarium and Research Center in Sarasota which has an amazing shark pool, jellyfish display, manatee tank, and even a Loggerhead Turtle training exercise. The coastal areas are all about protecting the Sea Turtles who nest on the beach and are rightly protected as natural treasures. We also took their excursion boat into Sarasota Bay and saw several islands that were rookeries (nesting areas) for all of the waterfowl and we saw millionaire’s homes on the manmade Bird Island complete with its own canal system. At one point they cast a net and handed around the various kinds of sea creatures in the draw.

Our other outing was to the nearby Myakka River State Park. They have a great “skywalk” through the tree canopy, along with an observation tower. We went on the airboat ride round the lake and stirred up tons of gators. We could even feel them trash against the bottom of the boat.

Yet, the very best thing we did was nothing. Sitting, sunning, and reading on the beach is like hanging out in paradise. We stumbled onto a great little restaurant, called Pelican Alley by the draw bridge and within walking distance.

One evening we kept hearing drums and finally found out why. There was a drum circle gathering on the beach and it had some real characters drumming and dancing. Kind of beautiful.

We met people from all over, developing nice relationships with some people from France, Nova Scotia, and New York. Our favorites were a couple from nearby Tampa. They were an amazingly congenial couple. He looked like every stereotype of a hardcore biker and never wore a shirt. His back was a canvas for his tattoos. Every evening “Gris” was there on the balcony playing his guitar and singing, and he was very good. We also met some very kind elderly people. One man who toured us around his condo and introduced us to his wife and another stopped by to tell what a fine couple we were. Down at the bait shack/coffee shop/hang out, you could find a variety of crusty characters who hung out there with the pelicans and the dolphin and manatee watchers. Yes, we got to see them both in their natural habitat.

We must return to this place!

More Florida pictures.

About Glenn

Glenn Hager is a blogger, former newspaper columnist, and author of two books, An Irreligious Faith and Free Range Faith.
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