Little Manatee River State Park
Little Manatee River State Park
After spending a week near the wedding in Orlando, we are now on the west coast of Florida at another small state park. There isn't much to do in the park itself unless you kayak and there isn't really anything to do in this off the beaten path town either. We're here as it's central to some friends we'll be visiting with this week.
Boats zipping all around the bay having a great time.
W/50/Dump, $22, #10
It's starting to heat up this week.
One evening we took a drive to Anna Maria Island to see Bean Point. This is my friend, Rita's, favorite beach. It reminds her of her hometown in Italy. It was very pretty.
The flowering trees were in full bloom.
As were the Plumeria which smell Heavenly.
It was pretty windy on this side of the point.
While Steve worked the next day my sister, Kris, and I took the kayak to a small private spot a few miles from the campground so we could launch right on the water. With rain being so scarce the past few weeks the river level was very low and the owner told us we'd probably have to portage over several sand bars.
It started out well but we counted 12 short portages along the way until the river deepened. Most spots the water was crystal clear as it flowed over the brown pebbly bottom.
It was a hot, muggy ride but we saw so much wildlife we didn't notice too much.
One of the many turtles along the way.
The next day was her last day in Florida so we drove over to the coast this time to paddle at EG Simmons Park where my friend, Tina, recommended. Wow, what a great park!
We paddled all around the Mangroves looking for the Manatees that swim here.
Click HERE to see this sweet Manatee up close that came to see us if you don't see the video above.
You could see the propeller scars from boat encounters. We named this guy Zorro.
HERE Zorro is playing with our kayak, gently pushing us around. His friend is blowing out air at the end.
Click HERE to see a close up of a cute Manatee face.
We sure got lucky to float around with 4 or 5 of these beauties. What a great way to end our stay and my sisters vacation!
In some of the lagoons there were nesting Osprey and fish jumping all over. There were schools of Stingray swimming by, Horseshoe Crabs, Manatee and one snake spotting.
Spotted some Horseshoe Crabs as we were pulling the kayak out of the water. Click HERE
And then a snake swam by. HERE
Kris could not change her flight from Orlando to Tampa so we got up at 4am and I drove her the 1 1/2 hours back to Orlando. Bye Kris. Glad you came out. It was sure fun Sister Time!
Brandon Elks Lodge
W/50/Dump, $20, #4. All this so close to the coast for $20!
Ybor City, just outside of Tampa, was a fun place I picked for Steve on our last day. It is a National Historic Landmark District with a Spanish-Cuban influence founded in 1886.
They are known for their coffee, food, drinks, music, cigars and chickens!
The roosters seem to tolerate each other.
The town is very walkable and the architecture had that Spanish/Cuban look to it.
Steve had a flight and I had an Italian Spritz. I loved these over in Italy.
We found a different place to get cigars and then headed over to the famous Columbia Restaurant where we had some great Cuban food and Sangria. It was a long wait but worth it. For dessert we walked a bit further down the road and had some Panna Cotta on the rooftop terrace at the Italian Casa Santo Stefano. They food looked amazing too. More walking and enjoying the lively little city and we finished our day with one last coffee at The Blind Tiger Cafe.
Steve, Me, Bethany & SammyWhile we missed an evening out with one of our old NY neighbors, we did get together with one of Steve's friends he grew up with in Virginia who has lived in Florida for many years. We had dinner at an Italian restaurant where their daughter works. It's been 6 years since we were here last and their two kids have grown up so much.
That wraps up our week on the the gulf side of Florida for this trip. It was a busy time. Next we spend a week on the far northeast part of Florida up in Jacksonville. First though I wanted to introduce you to a new member of the family.
This is Rocko. Well, he belongs to our son and DiL, Brennan and Alex. He's adorable! He's very sweet and already learning to retrieve.