January 02, 2005

The Trip to Florida & Siesta Key


I am writing this entry at poolside on beautiful Siesta Key, Florida. It is Monday, December twenty-seventh, and as I sit, basking in the sun, the temperature is 72 degrees. The cool breeze is playing with my tufted and scraggly body hair, and I feel as though I died and went to heaven.

I have one comment to make about the linked Travel Channel comment on Siesta Key. Valerie Conners rates activities available in the greater Sarasota, Florida area at only two of four possible points, and that is terribly misleading. There are so many things to do here and my future journal entries will defend my position. During the next several days I will visit The Ringling Circus Museum, the John and Mabel Ringling Art Museum, the Ca’ d’Zan (John Ringling’s Venetian style mansion), Mote aquarium, Sarasota Jungle Gardens, and the Marie Selby Gardens (largest collection of orchids in the world). I also plan on attending the symphony, opera, theater, and ballet while I’m here.


I’ve rented a one bedroom, wonderfully “retro” sixties apartment with a raftered cathedral ceiling, screened in porch, kitchen, dining room, and a living room hung with the owners original art work. There are yellow and pink hibiscuses in the garden outside my porch, and I am but a two hundred foot walk among palm trees to the extremely wide beach, which is covered in the finest powdered sugar like sand.

This evening I will sit on the beach and watch the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico. Tomorrow I will go to the Ringling Circus Museum. However, I’m getting way ahead of myself. Let me go back to the beginning.

I left Lancaster at 9:00 A.M. on Friday, December 24, 2004 headed for Sarasota, Florida. I drove 402 miles to Smithfield North Carolina, made one stop for lunch on Interstate 95, and a short stop to stretch and walk in the afternoon. I checked in at the Jameson Inn shortly after 5:00 P.M., stashed my stuff, and went out to dinner at a nearby diner. After dinner, I watched the news, did some brief stretching, read for about an hour, and turned my lights out by 8:00 P.M.

On Christmas Day, I was up at 5:00 AM, back on the road by 7:00 AM, and checked in at the Best Western Hotel, Southpoint, Jacksonville, Florida at 4:30 PM. I made one stop for gas, one stop for lunch, and 2 brief stops for a short walk and stretching. I asked the hotel concierge if there was anything open for diner and was directed to a local restaurant that specializes in holiday buffets. I had turkey, stuffing, ham, yams, sweet potato casserole, string beans almandine, rutabaga, home made rolls, pumpkin pie, and an absolutely delicious cup of coffee. I ate like a pig, and had to stroll around the hotel pool for an hour before I felt comfortable enough to return to my room and prepare for bed. I watched the news and was horrified to see the Tsunamis claiming the lives of thousands in Southeast Asia.

Sunday morning I was up at 6:00 AM and on the road at 8:05 AM. I drove the 272 miles to Siesta Key and the Casa Mar Condominium in 4 and one half hours, arriving at 12:35 P.M. It was a chilly sixty-four degrees Fahrenheit, but I couldn’t complain having left Lancaster at a sub freezing twenty-three degrees Fahrenheit. I took a swim in the heated pool, and read In Search of Paul, by John Domanic Crossan and Jonathan L. Reed until about 4:30 P.M. It’s a fascinating reconstruction of the Roman/Greek/and Judean milieu in which St. Paul lived and worked toward creation of a Christian church that was vastly different from contemporary twenty-first century Christian denominations.

In the late afternoon, I walked around the complex, and ran into the young couple staying in the apartment next door to me. I asked them to recommend a good restaurant, and they raved about Mrs. Chang’s on the Tamiami trail, and they were absolutely right. It’s the best Chinese buffet I’ve ever been to. I “pigged” on various kinds of shrimp, sushi, and dumplings leaving little room for anything else. I will definitely go back just to try some of the extremely varied table of chicken, beef, pork, and vegetable dishes.

After returning to my rented condo, I turned on CNN, and was horrified to find that the death toll from the earthquake and related Tsunamis in the Southeast Asian Pacific island nations had risen to 30,000 and was expected to go much higher.

*2 “MapQuest.Com Maps, Direction s and More,” Mapquest, http://www.mapquest.com/,© 2005, Mapquest.com, Sunday, January 2, 2005, 10:18 A.M. EST.

*3 “Siesta Key,” Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, http://www.siestakeychamber.com/chamber.htm, Sunday, January 2, 2005, 10:56 A.M. EST.

E-mail me at ZacSfuts@aol.com

Visit my homepage at AOL Hometown.


Blogger Anji said...

Happy new year and best wishes for 2005!

8:26 AM  
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