Moving North: Cortez, FL

Cortez, FL

Last Saturday (2/1) we packed up and drove about a hundred miles north from Ft. Myers to our favorite spot in Florida, the little fishing village of Cortez.  Cortez is located west of Bradenton just before you cross the water on to Anna Maria Island.  This is the third winter where we have spent time here at Holiday Cove RV Resort.

On our previous visits we became good friends with a little guy named Cody.  Cody lives at the end of the park road in the picture below with his “parents”, David and Karen.  Each day when Cody takes David for a walk he stops at our site to enjoy a doggie treat and sit on Pam’s lap.  David and Karen will sit quietly during Cody’s visit but rarely receive a treat (even when they are well behaved).

There are many, many blogs out there written by full-time travelers living like us.  We follow a number of these and some of them even follow our blog.  It is a treat to sometimes meet a couple who write a blog we follow.  So when Pam found that Terry and LuAnn from Paint Your Landscape were in the Tampa area for one more day, we invited them to Cortez on Sunday.  They arrived late in the morning and after a short “get acquainted visit” at our site we walked across the road to one of our favorite places to eat in Cortez, Star Fish Company.  This quaint little business has a fresh fish market in the front and a small restaurant along the water in the back.

Terry, LuAnn, and John with their “box lunches”

You place your order at the window then take a seat at one of the picnic tables.  After a bit someone calls your name and brings your meal in a white box.  The food is delicious and the atmosphere is beautiful “old Florida.”

Many of the tables at Star Fish have words of wisdom painted on them

We really enjoyed our visit with Terry and LuAnn and found we had much in common with them (including riding Harley-Davidsons for many years).  They were moving south to the Keys the next day but we promised to meet up in the future.

The next morning we again hit the ground running with a bike ride.  Our friend David (Cody’s dad) is the informal leader of the park’s weekly bicycle excursion (which means he plans the route).  The route for the day was through Robinson’s Preserve, a nature preserve about five miles to the north.  While most of the group loaded bikes onto cars and drove to the preserve, we decided to extend the trip and ride there on the bikes, along with David’s wife, Karen.  David wanted to ride with us, but the others didn’t know the way to the preserve so he needed to lead the auto caravan.

Our route to the Preserve took us over the Cortez Road Causeway (a drawbridge) on to Anna Maria Island, north to Manatee Avenue, then back east across another causeway to the parking area near the Preserve.  As we road across the causeway the fog was just beginning to lift.  In the picture below the island is a short distance in front of us but we could not see it.

Once everyone arrived at the parking area we headed into the Preserve along paved paths and wood walkways.

John and David enjoy a break in Robinson’s Preserve

Along the way someone spotted what appeared to be small stones along the shore.  As we looked at the “stones” they were clearly moving toward the water.

A closer look revealed them to be hermit crabs.

We rode through Robinson’s Preserve and continued a few miles to the De Soto National Monument, a park dedicated to the exploration of the area (and most of what is now the south central part of the U.S.) by Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto.

Our destination was the Holy Eucharist Monument on the shore of the Manatee River just before it empties into Tampa Bay.

The Catholic Diocese of Venice in Florida maintains this monument, which is dedicated to all the priests serving in Florida, beginning with the twelve priests and friars who accompanied the 1539 De Soto expedition.

Our bike group ate lunch at the monument, while another group from our park who boated to the spot ate along the small beach right in front of us.

After lunch we headed back through the Preserve and crossed back on to Anna Maria Island.  By now the fog was long gone and the island was clearly visible in the horizon.

One of the most important assets to life on the coast is patience.  We used a bit of ours on the return ride, as we were stopped by a bridge opening going on to the island on Manetee Avenue, then coming back off the island on Cortez Road.  But on a beautiful, warm, sunny afternoon in early February a few minutes spent enjoying the view was not hard to take!

Back to Cortez – check out the traffic headed to the island!

Our friends, Dave and Sue, (Beluga’s Adventures) are also in Holiday Cove for the winter.  We met this couple from Rochester last winter in the desert outside Borrego Springs, CA and have kept in contact ever since.  They stopped over later in the afternoon for a chat and the ladies decided a dinner at the restaurant across the street (O’Shucks) was in order.  As we walked through the park the weather changed quickly as a marine fog rolled in from the Gulf of Mexico, just a mile to the west.  Within a few minutes we moved, weather-wise, from southern Florida to San Francisco!

Dave makes his way through the fog

We will be here in Cortez for two months and look forward to many great bike rides (hey, it’s flat here!) and some time at the beach.

More on that later . . .

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31 Responses to Moving North: Cortez, FL

  1. Looks like a nice spot to hang out for awhile. We sure don’t miss that Florida fog and humidity! Do you have a mosquito problem there?

  2. Gay says:

    What a great place! Bike rides on flat ground, beautiful beaches, yummy seafood, and lots of dear friends….what’s not to love! The preserve is beautiful. Keep those ocean pictures coming….as much as I love the climate and desert out west, I love the beaches too! What a quandary!

  3. Dave says:

    Two months? I am hoping that Marcia, the dogs and I get over to E.G. Simmons Park in four or five weeks from now…our next outing ten days from now is already planned for Hillsborough State Park north of Tampa for a few days on the 17th. Gotta get away to have some time with the dogs you know. Anyway, if we make it to E.G. Simmons, perhaps we can head over your way and we can catch lunch or something together. (no hikes, but we can go wherever a GoGo can go) –Dave (

  4. Cody, Sasha and Lewis are celebrating of their godmother’s arrival! Your place looks like a neat park with privacy. So far we did not have any fog but humidity is getting us bad. That bike trail is something that we would like to do.

    • placestheygo says:

      I don’t go anywhere without my bag of treats. They all know the treat lady:)

      I believe we are getting more fog because we are right next to the gulf. Sure does mess up the sunset.

  5. You are in our “old neighborhood” there which we are missing already as Cortez is one of our favorite Florida spots too. Too bad we had to leave the day you arrived! Sure looking forward to our return there in March. Stock up on dog treats as you will have two more pooches to add to your god-dog family.

  6. Sherry says:

    Two months in the same place sounds heavenly and this looks like a perfect place to do it. All of February and March it sounds like. Looking forward to hearing about your days there.

  7. Ingrid says:

    The fun never ends…..keep us posted on your westward travels. We’ll be in Colorado all summer 🙂

  8. Pingback: A Friday… | rpward51

  9. Erin says:

    Quite the social butterflies you area. Keep coming west, and we’ll probably get to meet up somewhere along the way.

  10. pmbweaver says:

    I think LuAnn is a beautiful writer. What a treat to be able to spend some time with them.

    I remember your bike excursions from last year. What a wonderful way to see the area. Those hermit crabs are a hoot. I have never seen so many in one area.

    How cool to meet up with another group from your park. I think Paul and I would really enjoy that park!

    Egads…that fog looks like a backdrop for a scary movie. Keep enjoying the good life my dear friend!

    • placestheygo says:

      It was so nice to meet Terry and LuAnn. You and Paul would really enjoy them. I love LuAnn’s writing, as well.

      It is a great park with lots of friendly people. We love that Dave and Suzie are here, too. Should be a fun two months.

      The fog has been an every day happening for several days. Not exactly fun.

      You are right, the hermit crabs were a hoot. That was just a small group. There were thousands of the little buggers.

  11. I looked up Cortez on the map, looks like a great spot. As much as we’ve explored Florida, we’ve never been there, there’s so much to see in Florida! Loved the hermit crab and fog photos.

    • placestheygo says:

      Brenda, one of the things we love about Cortez and the park we stay in is how close we are to Anna Maria Island. We are only 3/4 of a mile from the edge of the water. Anna Maria isn’t you typical beach community. There aren’t high rise condo buildings. They have managed to keep the island very simple and personal. We can bike everywhere…the library, beach, three grocery stores, Wal-Mart, tons of restaurants, seafood markets, etc. No need for a car here. It is a real little paradise (for the east coast).

  12. LuAnn says:

    We were so pleased to have had the opportunity to meet the two of you, even if only for a few short hours. We look forward to getting that tour of Gettysburg from you John if you and Pam are in the area when we arrive in DC.

    That looks like a wonderful bike ride you two had. Do you have any idea how many miles you rode? Gotta keep those legs fresh for some serious hiking once you get back out west. We still hope to do some of those hikes with the two of you.

    Enjoy the rest of your time in Cortez. Tomorrow we head to the Glades! 🙂

    • placestheygo says:

      I sure hope we can work out the timing to show you around Gettysburg!!

      We rode 19 miles on the bike trip, then did another 6 to go to Starbucks. We tend to ride between 15 – 20 on an average day since we ride our bikes everywhere instead of driving. Of course, we haven’t been out for two days because of the cloudy, misty weather we have each day. I’ve got the keep those legs in shape for the big climbs!!

      • LuAnn says:

        Awesome! We will be getting some leg exercise in Shark Valley I imagine. I will be riding my bike very quickly down the bike trail, trying to get past all those gators as soon as I can.

  13. Sounds like a great adventure and so good to meet up with fellow bloggers/RVers. Very cool to see the hermit crabs.

  14. rommel says:

    LOL @ the last punchline. Weeeee! Glad to see that picture with you and LuAnn. She is so lovely in person, very approachable. 😀 I’ve been to Tampa Bay, but not to ride bike or any cool stuffs that you guys did. It was to use our free pass to Busch Garden. I was with the youngans on that trip. Maybe next time I’d actually explore Florida.

    • placestheygo says:

      Rommel, it was wonderful to finally meet LuAnn. We only had a half day to talk but we hope to meet up again soon.

      Hope you get another opportunity to get back to FL and ride along the coast.

  15. Okay, I’m sold! Next time we are in Florida Cortez in on the schedule. Looks like our kind of place. Thanks for sharing…

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