Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sarasota Fourth of July

We’re back from a quick trip to Sarasota. It was a fun time despite the less-than-cooperative weather. The reason for the trip was that our friends Ronnie and Jamie were going to the Super Boat Grand Prix and they invited us along. It sounded like a fun and different way to celebrate our anniversary and the 4th of July weekend so we said yes. Road trip!

We drove down Thursday morning and got to our hotel, the Hyatt Regency Sarasota, at around noon. Ronnie had picked the Hyatt because it was the official host hotel for the races and would be close to all the festivities. The hotel was great! It was very contemporary with lots of white, pink and green details – even pink lemonade served in the lobby every day. Our room had a king-sized bed and a small balcony overlooking Sarasota Bay. There was also a nice pool with waterfalls and an outdoor bar and grill.

Hyatt Regency Sarasota room

Hyatt Regency Sarasota room

Hyatt Regency Sarasota lobby


Hyatt Regency Sarasota restaurant

How about a pink martini?



After getting checked in, we had lunch at the Dry Dock Waterfront Grill on Longboat Key, where we ate at a table right by the water. I had the Rockefeller oysters, which were from Apalachicola and were huge and delicious. It reminded me that we haven’t been to Apalachicola in a while and I do love their oysters. Another road trip? :-)

Dry Dock Grill Waterfront Grill

It was cloudy and gloomy when we got back to the hotel, but we hung out by the pool until it started pouring rain. Then we huddled under the shelter of the pool bar. The waiters kept threatening to close the bar, but fortunately the lightning and thunder stayed away and the rain stopped in time for the fireworks. Our hotel was in the perfect location – we just walked a few blocks towards the Bayfront and had a great view of the show. Afterwards, we bought slices of pizza from a tent, then headed back to the hotel, where I slept like a rock in the big, comfy bed.

In the morning, Ron and I decided we would go out for breakfast. That turned out to be easier said than done. We drove around St Armand’s Circle, Lido Key and Longboat Key but nothing was open. Where did people eat breakfast in Sarasota?? Finally we ended up at a restaurant right across the street from our hotel, the Toasted Mango Cafe. The name made me laugh because it reminded me of an old episode of What Not to Wear. Stacy and Clinton were doing a makeover on a guy named Ed, who liked to assign his own names to colors. Ed was describing his pants and said, “These pants I would call Toasted Mango.” Stacy and Clinton were dumbfounded. “Did he say ‘Toasted Mango’? I didn’t know you could toast a mango!” I’m not sure you can toast a mango, but the café was a friendly, homey place with great breakfast food. My Belgian waffle (served with mango butter) was delicious.

Since Ronnie and Jamie were taking advantage of their child-free weekend and sleeping in, Ron and I spent the morning at the Mote Marine Laboratory Aquarium. We explored the various fish tanks and watched the shark feeding session. I especially wanted to see the manatees so we spent a lot of time at the marine mammal rehab center, where the manatees and sea turtles were housed. One of the turtles, a Kemp Ridley with disabled front flippers, was scratching its back on the tank. A volunteer explained that sea turtles’ spines are fused to their shells so they can feel and enjoy having their backs scratched. Harry, the green turtle (previously known as Harriet before they discovered she was a he), shared a tank with the two manatees, Buffet and Hugh. Get it? Hugh Manatee? :-) It was lunchtime so we got to watch the manatees chowing down on the big heads of romaine lettuce. Nom nom nom.

Mote Marine Laboratory Aquarium

lion fish


nurse sharks

Kemp Ridley

green turtle



After I had gotten my fill of manatee cuteness, we met Ronnie and Jamie for lunch at the Old Salty Dog restaurant right next door to the aquarium. We had just settled in at an outdoor table and placed our orders when it started to sprinkle. Then it poured. Then it thundered. Everyone who had been sitting outside had to squeeze inside. We ate squashed up next to the condiment counter, but at least it was dry and the food was good!

We waited out the afternoon rains at the hotel, ate a quick dinner at the hotel's restaurant, and then walked downtown for the Parade of Boats. It was still drizzly but that didn’t seem to dampen the holiday spirit. The City went all out for the parade – police, firemen, and Coast Guard, plus several circus groups, led by Nik Wallenda, Sarasota’s hometown hero, back from his tightrope walk across the Grand Canyon. Then came the boats. Wow! I can only imagine the kind of money that goes into those boats. Some of the smaller boats were covered with sponsor logos, but many were owned by big companies, like Tilted Kilt, Stihl and Geico. (I think I might be paying too much for car insurance.) There were even two boats owned by the royal family of Qatar.

Sarasota Festival Parade of Boats

Nik Wallenda
Welcome home, Nik!

parade performer

Tilted Kilt powerboat

Geico powerboat

After the parade, there was a big block party. Ronnie and Jamie decided to stay out and enjoy the party, but Ron and I were tired so we headed back to the hotel. Sometime in the middle of the night, Ron got up to use the restroom and I heard a loud crash! I was about to get up to investigate when Ron came back to bed. I didn’t think any more of it until the next morning when Ron could barely move. He must have fallen against the bathroom shelves or door because he had bruised ribs and a scratch on his back. Poor Ron. :-(  We had planned to spend the day exploring Sarasota, but Ron clearly wasn’t up to walking around. After another breakfast at the Toasted Mango, we packed up and drove home. The rain was gone and it was a beautiful, sunny day. We took the scenic route home, driving up along the beaches and stopping for lunch at our favorite restaurant on Anna Maria Island. So it turned out to be a quiet anniversary but it had all the important things – sunshine, water, good food and being together.

sea turtle nest
sea turtle nest on Longboat Key

1 comment:

  1. The manatee reminds me of Callie eating the cabbage leaves the other night. Oddly for a dog, she likes greens and vegetables. The hotel is very pretty! I like the way they used all the pinks and greens but don't look stuck in the early 80's.