We left St Pete at daybreak for our Christmas Eve Cruise to Sarasota. The weather is warm and beautiful as we arrive at Marina Jacks, right in the middle of downtown.  Ruthie & Terry's condo is 2 blocks away and they have generously given us the use of their Mini Cooper.  Grocery shopping done for Christmas Dinner ingredients, we enjoyed an evening out with Ruthie and Terry and their friends from St. Pete, Rebecca and Bill Stokes.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS! We had a great day with Ruthie and Terry!

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Dec 26

I can’t believe it!  We went to the Ringling Circus Museum and Mansion today and somehow I managed to forget my camera! The “Greatest Show on Earth” and your not going to get to see pictures of it.  The mansion was pretty awesome, too.  Oh well, “The Show Must Go On”! Also visited Long Boat Key and shopped at St. Armand’s Circle (featured in Coastal Living Dec issue page 119)! Very trendy! Can’t believe I didn’t get a picture of Brad in Tommy Bahama’s Restaurant wearing everything Tommy but his underwear! Dawn and Roger arrived tonight several hours after their scheduled flight because their flight originated in Chicago this morning where blizzard conditions had shut down O’Hare.  Brrrrr!! Glad to be here where it’s warm.  Maggie and Roger joined us for dinner at Patrick’s on Main!

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Dec 27

We enjoyed spending the day with the Milams and the Gills. We shopped, bought goodies at the Saturday Street Market, ate, and ate, and ate dinner at Barnacle Bills. Sarasota is one great town where there is always something entertaining going on.  We will move on down to Venice tomorrow, but as that is only 20 miles away, we hope to see these folks again on Monday before the Gills go back to Birmingham. They will come spend the afternoon in Venice and have dinner at the Crow’s Nest!

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Dec 28

We pulled out of Marina Jacks at 9AM for a slow cruise down to Venice.  We had a lot of  “Manatee Zones” and Minimum wake along with 3 low bridges that required an opening for us to pass through.  Beautiful Sunday morning and lots of people out enjoying it. The water turned a most amazing green-turquoise color. The mullet were running and the channel was crowded with fishermen out on their boats casting nets. To say that this part of the Intra-coastal has many gorgeous mansions is an understatement. We took on 300 gallons of fuel when we reached the “Crow’s Nest Marina” and were snug to the dock and unloading bicycles by 1 PM. Bicycle tour of the city followed by walk on the beach and cooking steaks on the grill on the bow of the boat.  Another great day in paradise.  How blessed are we?  Would someone just shove some shrimp in my mouth to keep me from just blubbering on?  Wow!

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Dec 29

I want to know HOW and WHY!!! How can one beach be the one that so many shark’s teeth wash up on it’s shore that the city becomes known as “The Shark Teeth Capital of the World”. Are their waters more infested with the mindless eating machines of “Jaws” fame. No one seems to think so. So why do the teeth end up here instead of Sarasota or Ft Myers? Does the shark dentist live here? And why is the sand here gray when 15 miles north, Siesta Beach is white as snow? These are the puzzlements I think of today.  In the meantime, the Gills and the Milams come down from Sarasota and visit us.  We go “shark teeth hunting” (we have enough to send all our grandkids shark’s teeth)  and have the Mussels that the Crow’s Nest Restaurant is famous for. 

 

 

 

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Mullet Fishermen

I’ve been absolutely fascinated by them. I sat for a long time this morning watching these slicker-clad craftsmen.  Their work is hard, but they are artist of a sort.  You can hear the “clack” of lead weights against the deck of their boats. They stand poised on the highest point, balancing on a moving deck, holding a ring in their teeth as they layer the nets on both arms and wait for the perfect moment to cast their nets. When they see it, they throw the nets and the nets land on the water completely spread out and perfectly flat. They manually haul it back in and shake the fish from the nets. If they have a good haul, there will immediately be 10-12 more boats all maneuvering around the same area.   It’s amazing. The strength it must take to do this over and over and over is unbelievable.

Like with the shrimpers, a gained respect for those who work hard and do a good job “behind the scenes”.  One doesn’t always think of these folks when we sit down to an excellent meal of seafood. But we probably should. 

 

 

 

Dec 30

We left Venice around 8am with lots of gray skies. It was 10:30 am before they scattered and blue skies prevailed. Boca Grande today. I was driving the boat in fairly shallow water and suddenly saw a dozen dolphins coming our way. Several ran beside the boat for awhile, putting on quite a show. They were twice the size of the dolphins we had seen previously on the panhandle and Big Bend.   So we called them “Dolphins Grande” (we know Grande means big because we go to Starbuck’s occasionally).  Arrived at the marina around noon and the dock master had us aft-in to a slip with no finger pier, only pilings. As we maneuvered he called out to me, “If you can lasso that first piling as you pass it, I will buy you a six pack of beer.” I nailed it.  Went to mid ship and asked if anyone wanted to go for a bottle of champagne.  No takers.  Dang it! I nailed that one, too. Told you I was getting good at this. Dock master said he often makes that offer but I was the first time he had actually had to pay off!  Road bicycles all around the town and it is a very quaint place. Reminds us of Fairhope, AL.  Decided to cook supper on the boat and while that was in progress we took a walk down the road.  We were talking and I said something about being a Birmingham girl and 3 men unloading a car turned around and said “We have 3 Birmingham girls in the house, come on in!” Turns out 2 of them I knew from real estate and the other was the mother of a guy I went to high school with,”

It is truly a small world. 

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Dec 31

Beautiful, sunny & warm New Year’s Eve! Gotta love it! Got the dink down and took a tour of some of the canals that run all over these coastal cities and islands. Went through the mangroves looking for manatee but so far, they have remained hidden from us! Every marina is like it’s own little, ever changing community. We have great neighbors here. A young family from Tampa on one side and a couple from Pittsburgh on the other. There’s a really awesome house just up from the marina For Sale.  Open House both days we’ve been here.  I think everyone at the marina looked at it. We did. It was totally awesome.  The couple from Pittsburgh (the Diener’s) made an offer and it was accepted.  We went to dinner with Tom & Deloris and celebrated their new home and  an awesome, wonderful, healthy New Year! Life is Good! Boca Grande is a very nice place! Happy New Year to all and God Bless Us Everyone!

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