Apr 032016

We spent yesterday with Charles and Chris Yust checking out some of the 55+ manufactured home communities on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of Bradenton. There sure are a lot of them around here!

Interstate 75 is the fastest route, but what fun is that? So instead we took US Highway 41, which was slower but allowed us to see more of the area. I’m not sure which we saw more of, car dealerships or boat dealers. I didn’t pay much attention to the cars but I fell in love with at least a dozen pontoon boats as we passed by them.

In Sarasota we saw the 25-foot tall Unconditional Surrender statue, one of a series of sculptures by Seward Johnson inspired by the famous photograph taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt in New York’s Times Square on V-J Day at the end of World War II.

Kissing Statue Sarasota

The statue was first installed in Sarasota in 2005, then was moved to San Diego, California, and later to New York City before returning to Sarasota in 2009. Copies of the sculpture can also be found in Hamilton, New Jersey; Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; and Normandy, France. While some of the more snooty of Sarasota citizens are not fond of it (the Chairwoman of the Public Art Committee sneered that “it doesn’t even qualify as kitsch…”), it’s very popular with other locals and tourists. I’m with them, I like it.

We looked at several places around North Port and Englewood. While we saw a few nice places that would be a great place to retire to, if that’s where you wanted to be, Terry and I still like the Atlantic Coast of Florida a lot better, especially around new Smyrna Beach and St. Augustine.

We also drove over to Manasota Key, where they don’t have homes, they have mansions. One place had a real estate sign out front touting its 10 car garage. A price was not listed, but I guess if you have to ask the price in a place like that, you can’t afford it anyway.

Back in the Bradenton area, we drove up to Cortez for dinner at a divey seafood place called Star Fish Company and Dockside Restaurant. While not fancy (you order at a window and sit outside on picnic tables), this is a place you shouldn’t miss, if for no other reason than to see this homely mermaid. Aren’t mermaids supposed to be young and pretty?

Star Fish Mermaid

There were pelicans and other birds everywhere, and I’m not sure if this fellow was greeting us with a hug, or just drying his wings.

Pelican wings

We all had the seafood combo plates, which included grouper, shrimp, scallops, and oysters, along with sides. The portions were very generous and everything was delicious.

One of the employees said that this bird, with the broken beak, has lived at the dock for years, mooching food off the customers. Yeah, I know, the sign said “Don’t feed the birds,” but who could resist this guy? From what I saw, not many people.

Broken beak

There were several fishing boats tied up at the docks, along with a sightseeing boat with a sign that promised you would see dolphins and manatee. If it wasn’t so late on a gray, rainy day, it might have been worth taking a ride.

Fishing boat

Fishing boat 2

I’m not sure what’s on the agenda for today. A friend of ours is visiting the area and might stop in to say hello, and I may try to get some writing done. And who knows? Maybe a nap will be in order!

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of Crazy Days in Big Lake, the third book in my Big Lake mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening.


Thought For the Day – Whatever you do, always give 100%. Unless you’re donating blood.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  3 Responses to “Checking Out The Gulf Coast”

  1. I sure enjoyed this one! As I think you & Terry know, Sarasota is Ray’s hometown. He retired from the IT department of Sarasota County and they nicely deposit a retirement check for us monthly.
    We love Sarasota and it is home – but it definitely has a “snooty” faction. If you drive a vehicle more than 10 years old onto Longboat Key after dark, there’s a good chance someone will call the law demanding they find out what you’re doing on “their” island.
    We love St Augustine, too. But we’re Suncoast (west coast) Floridians at heart. Three of our four kids graduated from high school in Sarasota.
    We’re homesick and anxious to be back in Sarasota, although we were just there in February.
    Try the seafood at Marina Jack’s on the waterfront next time. It’s very good. And if you’ve not tried it yet, Two Senoritas downtown puts out some good Mexican food.
    Maybe we’ll be Florida neighbors someday because we know we’ll eventually land back home. But we may be across the peninsula from you guys!

  2. I LOVE that statue! The snooty Chairwoman needs her comeuppance!! Dibs on the bow seat of your new pontoon boat ………….

  3. The last few years we explored Florida we did find some areas that we appreciated more than others.
    Liked your thought for the day since on April 14th I’ll be making my 100th donation.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It’s about time.

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