It was a very full weekend! And what a great time! My friend and I drove down to Stump Pass, went to the Casey’s Key drum circle on Nokomis Beach, visited Myakka State Park, and ended up at the Sarasota Bayfront. I ended up doing absolutely nothing but processing photos afterwards, and I have some good shots (to follow).
What a fabulous place this was! It’s aptly named, given the enormous number of tree stumps and other assorted driftwood laying around. It’s now a state park, and parking is limited, but worth the 10 minute wait for a space!
If you enjoy stark scenery, as I do, you’d love Stump Pass. There are areas inaccessible to visitors, reserved for turtle and shorebird nests, but we didn’t see any nests in them. We walked for miles down the beach taking pictures of all the driftwood, and periodically shorebirds (except seagulls — I am no longer a fan of seagulls, particularly when they try to steal my sandwich!). We were fascinated by the driftwood covered in seashells, thinking that someone had come along and decorated, but then we realized that the ocean had been the artist! Here’s a thought: Mother Nature is the true artist; photographers are merely the conduit by which her art is made known . . .
We walked to the end, where there was a large shorebird nesting area, but also a good place to take a dip. There, we stalked a blue heron, who was none too happy with us. . . But he stuck around long enough for me to snap this shot:
I took this shot of my friend arranging her gear, after we had taken a dip in the inlet.
We then headed back to get ready for the next stop: the drum circle! Unfortunately, we had not brought any water with us (which we realized as we started back toward the car — several miles away, I think. . .). The longer we walked, the thirstier we became, with our tongues sticking to the roof of our mouths, and incessant thoughts of water. I looked out over the gulf and thought: this is a desert, not a beach! All this water, and nothing to drink!
Hours later (it seemed) we came upon a walkway from the beach leading to the parking area and suddenly [cue angelic chorus] — there was a vending machine! We were scrambling for money. I had some change in my purse and managed to cobble together $1.50 for a water, while she found out that the machine, although it was set up for it, did not take credit cards and neither of us had anything smaller than a $10. So we shared the water I bought and headed back to the car. Whew — disaster averted, again.
We headed back to the room to get more gear (flash, primarily), stopping at: Big Lots to get chairs for the beach and a bottle of wine, along with plastic wine glasses and a tray for our food; a liquor store to get a wine opener and some deli stuff — fish spread, crackers, salami, and cheese; and finally a grocery store to finish the spread (grapes, more cheese and something else I can’t remember. . .).
Casey’s Key Drum Circle
After stopping by the room (which was very nice, by the way!), we drove to Nokomis to the beach, where the parking was practically non-existent. Apparently, the drum circle had become a lot more popular since my friend had last been there! We hauled our stuff — food, camera gear, chairs — down the road to the beach and walked out to see this:
It was amazing! I’d never seen so many people, including hippies, on the beach before! There actually was a circle where people — including children — were dancing. It was a perfect evening, beginning to cool down and displaying a beautiful sky. We set down all our stuff and started taking pictures. Here are some from the drum circle:
I got this picture of two beautiful little girls, whom I assume will grow up to be hippies, too!
Then, I focused my attention on the sunset, which was the purpose of the drum circle.
After a frenzy of picture-taking, we sat in our chairs, drinking wine, eating food, and just soaking in the atmosphere. At sunset, someone blew on a queen conch shell, which signified something, although I don’t know what. I highly recommend that everyone go to the drum circle at least once, for the experience. It’s every Saturday night at Casey’s Key, so there’s no excuse not to go!
As darkness fell, we headed back to the hotel, hoping to be able to take advantage of the Tiki Bar, but it was closing when we got there — at 10pm! There was a wedding reception going on, and I believe most of the hotel guests were associated with that, so there wasn’t much business in the pool area. Actually, this was probably a good thing, since we were both exhausted from the day and ready for bed. My friend practically fell asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow (with her Kindle still on), and I read for all of about 10 minutes before turning out the light.
Myakka State Park
The next morning, we woke before 8 and made coffee, and my friend went to sit out by the pool. It was Mother’s Day! We went to get our continental breakfast (complimentary) in the restaurant and ended up meeting the owner of the hotel, who was a very nice British gentleman. My friend was offering him advice on marketing his hotel, since we really liked it and couldn’t understand why it wasn’t more full. We then returned to the room to get ready to head out. We cleaned our camera gear, but my friend was still so tired that she ended up spraying sunscreen on her telephoto lens instead of air — oops! Fortunately, she didn’t actually hit the lens with it, so there was another disaster averted!
We got on the road and headed for Myakka State Park. It’s a huge park, with two lakes and a river running through it. We parked at the entrance to the Canopy Trail, where the suspension bridge and observation tower are located.
We walked to the meadow next, where I took shots of a butterfly — 23 to be exact — without getting a single one that wasn’t blurred! My friend got one, so I laughed it off and took pictures of more stationary objects . . .
We then drove around the loop to get to the lake. It’s very wild in this park, with alligator signs everywhere. They offer bike and kayak rentals there, along with airboat tours over the lake and tram tours through the park.
We stopped in the general store at the lake and I bought a new hat, like my friend’s but a different color. . . Hats are, I’m finding out, quite necessary here, but only if they’re woven for ventilation.
We then headed out to go to our final destination — Sarasota! As we left the park, though, we ran across this!
Needless to say, had he not been dead (and yes, we checked thoroughly before taking closeups), I would never had gotten a shot like this. I guess it was in poor taste, but we joked as we left about the dead alligator being a decoy to draw unsuspecting tourists to their doom — as dinner for the waiting alligators — and that this one had ‘taken one for the team.’ Ah, well. I was just glad my friend had noticed him lying there!
Well, this is getting long — sorry! — so I’ll wrap up with our last stop in Sarasota, at the Bayfront.
We lugged our food with us again, and had a picnic on the grass at the waterfront. My friend went to the nearby tiki bar and got herself a beer and a glass of wine for me, and we sat and ate and enjoyed the beautiful weather. This was our view from our picnic spot. . .
There is a lot to see in Sarasota — and we were just at the Bayfront! I loved the trees there, although I don’t know what they were.
At the end of the Bayfront we found this fountain:
And across the bay was this place, which I thought might be nice to live in if I ever get off the road, and win the lottery . . .
Then we drove to another parking lot and toured the sculptures. These were my favorites:
We were supposed to go into downtown Sarasota to shoot, as well, but we were both exhausted from the two days of activity so we decided to head back home. My final picture was of the Sarasota County Courthouse, with its fabulous Spanish architecture.
So that was my weekend, in a rather large nutshell! Talk to you later, and have a great week!