Clearwater, Cortez, and Starfish

Cortez, Fl

Cortez is a tiny Florida village between Bradenton and Bradenton Beach (on Anna Maria Island) with a strong history of commercial fishing.  We’ll be here until the end of March, when we continue our move north, landing along the Florida panhandle for a month in Miramar Beach, just east of Destin, Fl.  But more on that later . . .

One day last week we drove north across the Skyway Bridge crossing Tampa Bay to Clearwater, where we had tickets for a boat trip in Clearwater Bay to see some of the creatures living in that body of water.  Our friends, Larry and Mary Anne are in the park next to ours in Cortez and joined us for the day.  Once at the Clearwater Aquarium we met up with friends Bob and Sandy.   They also live full time in their motorhome and we have met up with them on a number of occasions as we both moved south along the east coast.   As soon as everyone was aboard the “Sea Life Safari” we headed into the bay.

Once on the bay, the staff threw a net out to see what they could find.  Critters caught in the net were then moved to small tanks so we could take a look at them during our voyage.  They would be returned to the sea at the end of our travels.

The only stop during the trip was to spend some time on our own private island.  As you can see,  it’s not exactly a resort destination island, but it did have some nice shells and a great panoramic view of the bay.

After our voyage, we drove about ten miles north to the town of Tarpon Springs where we enjoyed a nice lunch in one of the many Greek restaurants in the town.  Tarpon Springs is the sponge capital of the US and has a large population of Greek immigrants who work the sponge boats.  We made a visit to this town last winter and blogged about the experience.  Click here if you want to read more.  The picture below is a bit on the “blue” side as that is the theme color of the restaurant.

Mary Anne, Pam, John, Larry, and Bob

The big social event of the year in Cortez is the annual Commercial Fishing Festival sponsored by F.I.S.H. (Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage), a local non-profit established in 1991 dedicated to the preservation of the heritage of Florida’s traditional Gulf Coast maritime communities.  It’s mainly an excuse to eat fried food and drink beer but they did have some interesting aquatic life displays.

The "Midway" at the Commercial Fishing Festival

A few examples of the area catch

Look under the white spongy "stuff", its an octopus!

We passed on all the exiting food at the festival and walked about a half mile to one of our favorite local places to eat:  Star Fish Co.  It’s a quirky place that we blogged about last year during our stay here, but it is worth a return visit.  On one side of the building is the entrance to the fish market, where you can purchase a variety of local catch.  On the bay side is the eating area where you order at a window, take a seat at one of the picnic tables, and wait until someone brings your order to you.  While waiting you can enjoy some of the artwork and poetry drawn on each table.

The dining area at Star Fish

Window ordering only - check out the signs

A local beauty enjoying a refreshing drink after a day of fishing

Example of some table artwork/poetry

Entrance to the fish market

One of the things that make us unusual in the world of motorhome living is that we do not have any pets.  Some people travel with a cat, but the vast majority have at least one dog, usually one small enough to fit into your lap.  Pam would love to have a small dog but doesn’t want the hastle of taking care of two animals (John is enough work!)  so she just keeps some dog treats near the door and feeds the dogs of some of our neighbors.  Last year she developed a “friendship” with a nice little black and white dog next to us by the name of Cody.  Cody’s owners, David and Karen, own the lot they are on and David spends a good part of the year here while Karen commutes down on some weekends from their home in North Carolina (she is still employed).  One evening we invited Cody over for dinner and allowed him to bring David along (Karen was in NC).  We were sure to get a nice picture of Cody but forgot to get one of David.  Oh well, maybe next time!

So goes life in southern Florida . . .

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2 Responses to Clearwater, Cortez, and Starfish

  1. Marsha says:

    What fun a boat trip. Never thought of doing one of those. Even better with friends.
    I don’t know if you read Living our Dream,, but Margery and Paul just posted about their day at Tarpon Springs. (They do a great blog.) They ate at Costa’s. I never knew it was such a HUGE Greek area.
    Porgy…never heard of that fish before. Looks ugly…LOL. We are Italian and my grandpa used to make octopus at Christmas. Haven’t had it in 30 years.
    Love the patio area at Star Fish Co. Such a cool place. Does that beauty sit there all day? She looks like a keeper!
    You two sure are having fun-filled days in the sun. Don’t head north too soon…you might get into some of that white stuff….YUCK!

  2. frankeeg says:

    Early in this post you mention Tarpon Springs, Sponge Fishing and Greek Restaurants. This called to mind a movie I saw when I was a young boy. The movie was Beneath the 12 Mile Reef. It starred Gilbert Roland and a very young Robert Wagner. It was about the Greek community and sponge fishing in the Florida Quays area. (Tarpon Springs maybe?) Of course they went to Greek restaurants and bars. Love the ambience in the photos of the Star Fish Co. Nice to see you have those older places which only accept cash… we have them here in Oz as well.

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