After seeing our youngest son, Jeremy, off to Bangkok, Thailand, for his next teaching gig, we packed up the View and headed for Sarasota, Florida. Trisha and I went to college in St. Petersburg, and she has been going to Sarasota with a group of her girlfriends from Atlanta every year for going on 30 years, so we decided this was a great place to spend some time during the winter.
Our initial intention was to spend a month there and then move to the east coast and spend a month somewhere between Daytona and St. Augustine, especially since the place we had called in Sarasota, Sun N Fun RV Resort, only had space for one month when we called for reservations. Well, after only a few days at this wonderful place, we went to the office and asked them to put us on the waiting list for any cancellations so we could stay there the whole time! And, fortunately, they were able to work that out, even though we had to move to different sites during our stay. This is an absolutely fabulous place. It's quite large, with lots of "park models," mobile homes that are permanently parked there, as well as lots of RV sites, all set up in little neighborhoods. There are so many facilities and amenities there: a fabulous health club, with 2 heated Olympic size pools, indoor and outdoor, lots of aerobic machines, weight machines, free weights, sauna and steam rooms, classes of all sorts, tennis and pickle ball courts, lawn bowling,a tremendous woodworking shop, a lapidary shop, all sorts of groups, a restaurant, and the list goes on. We could ride our bikes right out of the park on a network of sidewalks and paths, and I found ways to cobble together some 20-40 mile rides. Trisha took water aerobics every day, and really loved that; I usually got up very early, hit the gym for an hour on the rowing machine, then a few laps in the pool and the steam room to start the day.
We met some really wonderful new friends, many of whom have been coming to spend the winters there for years. Roughly 40% of the people are from Ontario, but folks come from all over--met one delightful lady from England who's been coming there for 15 years, first with her husband, but she kept coming back for years even after he died. The community feeling there is just great. Gary and Linda, from Mass., became really good friends of ours--Gary is the unofficial "Mayor of Laura Lane," and Linda is just about the friendliest, welcoming person you could ever meet. They welcomed us right away, introducing us to other snowbirds and giving us tips on things to do and places to see. Gary was one of the water aerobics instructors, and Linda quickly welcomed us into her fresh citrus coop, so we had delicious oranges and grapefruits the whole time! They even baby sat for our new little puppy! And after we got home, they were on their way back to Mass. and camped at Stone Mountain for a few days, so Trisha went down and spent the day with Linda, showing her around Atlanta. Just great folks. So we decided to go ahead and reserve our site for 3 months here for next winter, and for the foreseeable future, this is where we'll make our winter home.
Sarasota has so much to offer--we were about a half hour's drive to Lido beach where Trisha and her Beach Girls hang out, so we spent some lovely days there. Trisha was excited to be able to be on the beach on her birthday in March! Then there's the Ringling Art Museum, and the circus museum, where one man has spent 50 years creating carved wooden miniatures of circus life, which is just impossible to describe, but well worth the visit if you have the chance. Barby and Jean, our dear friends who always host the Beach Girls, had us to their lovely home on the water to watch the sunsets, we found a wonderful church home at their church, First Presbyterian of Sarasota, and Jean's other daughter, Judy, who works at a veterinarian's office, found a puppy for us! We got a 4 month old Maltese-Shih Tsu mix, now named Sophie, who is the sweetest and cutest little thing--a wonderful addition to our family! We also found a marvelous vegan restaurant, called Veg, where we ate at least once each week we were there, as well as a great Indian restaurant where we could have lots of vegan choices. So much to do in Sarasota, we didn't have time to take everything in, so we look forward to next year.
Anyway, got to remember that this is catch up, so I'll quite rambling and give you some pictures from our time in Sarasota:
Sunset from Barby and Jean's back patio!