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.
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.”
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.
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!
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!
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 . . .