Last weekend the weather was perfect and we decided to go for a kayak ride at the Robinson Preserve in Bradenton, FL. This 487-acre preserve has undergone an incredible transformation from disturbed farmland to coastal and wetland habitats. To restore the land to its natural state, the Natural Resources Department has partnered with a number of state and local agencies. The restoration process is nearly finished! To date, numerous exotic invasive plants have been removed, effectively opening up the land for native plants to flourish. The preserve’s new waterway system will help restore the tidal flow within the coastal habitats.
Robinson Preserve also features numerous recreational opportunities for the community. Resources for low-impact environmental activities include hiking and biking trails and a canoe/kayak launch. Additional amenities include observation towers and platforms, picnic areas, and a visitors center.
The tower can be reached by Kayak, canoe, walking or biking.
There were so many mullet jumping out of the water that we thought they were going to jump in the boat.
We packed a lunch and enjoying the peacefulness was just the enticement we needed to pursue purchasing our own. We took a ride to another preserve and found a booklet on all the waterways for canoeing and kayaking trails of Manatee County. There are over 75 miles both fresh and salt water to explore and some open waters. We’re not quite ready for open water yet but hopefully we’ll get strength in our tired arms to attempt a little more difficulty soon. If you have a chance (our RV peeps in the area) do it! It was a great beginner experience.
We met up with some friends of ours from the Winnebago Rally back in July in Forest City, IA Kim and Denise. They are from Wisconsin and in Fl. for the winter.
Together we caravanned down to visit the Florida Keys.
We stopped and camped at the Jolly Roger RV Park in Marathon. Marathon is about half way between Miami and Key West. It wound up to be an hours ride to Key West (A little to far for me…Ei). Next time we’ll camp closer. It was dark when we arrived at Jolly Roger RV Park and our sites were difficult to get into. It was the first time we ever arrived after dark and will be the last. Kim’s site was particularly tight and we moved to a different one so we could get in for the night and change or move on in the morning. The next morning Kim and I walked around and decided on new ones. These were on the water.
We are members of RVillage. RVillage is like Facebook, but for RVer’s. One of my favorite features is you can log on and search for members that are around you, and you can search as far as 250 miles away. As long as everybody checks in when they move you can see who is near you. My search showed there were quite a few members around us and two that we knew. One couple was Sue and Guy Alexander from our RV Dreams 2014 graduating class. I sent a message to both couples and we agreed to meet up.
Saturday the four of us had lunch at the Hogs Breath Saloon in Key West. Food was great. And, they allowed dogs!
After lunch we met Guy and Sue at Mallory Square to watch some of the boat races but they were just tuning up for the finals on Sunday. We watched some of that then had a few drinks and went window shopping and people watching. This was a great day all around.
Sunday we had breakfast at the Wreck & Galley Grill before meeting Guy and Sue again at Mallory’s Square. This place was filled with character. The owner is from England and a Liverpool fan. He wasn’t happy when I told him I was a Manchester United fan. We had a good laugh over trash talking each others team.
Guy and Sue got to the races early and saved a spot for us on the wall at Mallory Square. People were at least 3 deep.
As you can tell from the above picture the weather turned nasty. It was cold and very windy. By the end of the day you really needed a jacket.
In the following images it looks like I’m using a telephoto lens, but these boats were this close.
After the races we looked for someplace warm to have dinner. After dinner we went back to Guy and Sue’s for a tour of their new motor home and a glass of wine. Next morning Guy and Sue left for St. Augustine and Kim and Denise went to visit friends in Naples. We went on to visit my cousin Richard in Port Charlotte. Richard lives in a veterans home, we met his friends and then went to dinner. Veterans Day was the following day and they were preparing for ceremony and breakfast being put on for them and other area vets. We left four american flags no longer serviceable with Richard. He took them the next day to the American Legion for proper disposal.
It was a great trip and although Key West is very commercial (a tourist spot) we would definitely go back again. That weekend there was a lot going on so I would pick a weekend with special events. We didn’t get to the Naval Station and missed a photo op at the southern most tip of the US. We also missed the parade that Guy and Sue saw the weekend before with everyone, and I mean everyone, body painted and a whole lot more!
The only regret was we didn’t get a chance to meet up with Bill Joyce and Diana Melde. I was looking forward to that. We just ran out of time.