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Holiday Weekend

I guess by now you've figured out that my computer and I were separated for a few days. About the middle of last week Bruce came home with some good news--we were invited to the boat races in Lido Key. Our plans were to meet up with both Steve and Barb, as well as Jeff and Connie, however the former couple didn't make it, the latter did. Turns out the night race in Daytona ran until well after midnight Saturday night making the long drive too arduous for Steve. We missed them, however we still had lots of fun.

If you've never been to a speed boat race it's sure something you might want to do if you get the opportunity. It's a bit hard to follow, but exciting nonetheless. After having Jane and Michael over for dinner on Saturday night, we got up a little after 5 on Sunday morning. Leaving the house around 6, we headed down I-4 towards Sarasota. The traffic was light,  the drive pleasant until around Bradenton when the rain started coming down in sheets making visibility sketchy.Soldiering on we arrived very early leaving plenty of time for him to nap!

Jeff's friend Nick's family owns a little beach cabana on Lido Key. I wish I could describe it, but it's well nigh impossible, however, I'll give it a try. There's a courtyard flanked by two sets of low buildings with flat roofs. It's sort of a zig zag pattern with around 30 double doors leading into small spaces with a patio in the front. Each family uses their 200 square feet a little differently, but most have kitchens and bathrooms, as did Nick's. Apparently there is a 10 year waiting list to buy one, most of them are passed down through families. Lest I forget the most important part, there's a nice boardwalk within feet heading onto the lovely white sands and beautiful blue green Gulf of Mexico water.  Because we arrived so early we had a primo parking spot. Around 10 the rain finally stopped in time for the 11:30 race start.

When we first walked onto the beach there were very few people, however by race time the place was packed:
It was all quite exciting. I only took the Panasonic onto the beach, not wanting to mess up yet another new camera, but it served me just fine because of the long zoom. I took this one out in the water. Speaking of the zoom, when you're using it you must hold the camera very still which proved somewhat difficult in the choppy water caused by the huge wakes these boats made. We found out later the top speed was 117mph! As you can see, there was a flotilla of boats on the back side of the course watching the action.

After the afternoon's second race we headed to the same hotel we stayed in a month ago on Longboat Key. While Bruce napped I roamed the shore. Storms threatened once again. While at the cabana, Nick's brother Rick invited us to watch the fireworks at his 14th floor condo overlooking Sarasota Bay. Naturally we jumped at the opportunity!  Here's the view as the sun begins to set. We were fortunate enough to stay at the Ritz during our vacation pictured on the left.


Here's how it looked about 30 minutes later. The bridge on the left is the one that takes you to Longboat Key--note the cars coming in for the fireworks show. Lovely isn't it?


What was so neat about this is that not only could we watch Sarasota's fireworks display, but Siesta Key and Longboat Key's display as well, making it an extra special a treat.  Fourth of July is always a nostalgic time for me as I reminisce each year about being in labor at Lake Eola waiting for the fireworks to begin. I don't need to remind you that our dear Matthew was born only hours later on July 5th.

Although we were invited to Dave and Therese's home on the bay for boating and a cookout, the weather thought otherwise as rain greeted us upon waking Monday morning. After a nice little breakfast at the hotel, we began our trip home. As is most times the case, we meandered even though it was pouring. Turns out, one of the streets we took led us straight into the heart of the Amish/Mennonite community in Sarasota. We just had to stop at their farm stand and restaurant, bringing home several pieces of their famous pies. Bruce was especially delighted to find rhubarb on the menu, a pleasant reminder of his childhood growing up in upstate New York where rhubarb was plentiful.

The traffic on I-75 was fast and furious,  rain making it all the more treacherous, thus we took lovely country roads. Have I told you how much I love maps? Well, consider yourself told. I figured out a new route, and off we went. The scenery was lovely, with winding roads and bucolic pastures filled with wet cows. The rain continued most of our drive home, stopping only intermittently. We came across the Little Manatee River State Park which proved to be lovely and peaceful. Here is Mr. Bruce at the canoe launch trying his luck in the river:
For those among you unfamiliar with this type of water it gets the rusty color from all the downed organic material along the banks. If you click on the photo you'll see a larger version, enough to notice the light rain falling, as well as the bubbles from the fast moving water to the left of Bruce. This is definitely a place we'd love to return to in the cooler months.

We finally got home after 4, by which time it was 9 in London. Poor Matthew thought his mommy and daddy forgot his birthday. Never my love.

Right now the sun is shining brightly, something it's not been doing for the last six days or so, which means I'm outta here!
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