Monday, February 17, 2014

What's the Perfect Day in Florida?

For Sparky, visiting with family, laughing and sharing memories and experiences is probably at the top of her perfect day list. But her perfect day list is a BIG list! The perfect day for Sparky could be any number of additional things…kayaking out on in the gulf, making and creating something with her hands, riding her bike, seeing gators, seeing dolphins, visiting a farmer's market, tickling her toes in the sand, eating at a favorite restaurant,  gator watching at Myakka River State Park with Eldy, and let's not forget eating at the Gulf Gate Tiki Grill on Anna Maria Island.

But here's today's perfect day….For starters, not a cloud in the sky and zero percent chance of rain, and temps in the low sixties…PERFECT for a festival!

Off to Coquina Beach to park the car and ride the trolley to the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival 2014 this past weekend in the historic fishing village of Cortez, right there at Anna Maria Island. Check out the flea market/farmer's market along the shady sidewalk/boardwalk at Coquina Beach first. It was CHILLY at the beachfront! Coquina Beach is Eldo and Sparky's favorite beach, even more so than Siesta Key Beach because of the beautiful shaded boardwalk that runs for several miles along the beach. The sand is clean and white at Coquina, too...
Some cool stuff for sale…..Vintage signs….Some not so vintage, kinda cheeky….
Next, hop on the trolley bus to get to the JAM PACKED 32nd annual Cortez Fishing Festival, 2014. Cortez is a sleepy little village on Anna Maria Island where fishing is done on the water from sun up to sun down, and where generations of fishermen and women have been raised on the water. The town opens up to thousands of visitors for a weekend each February to celebrate it's fishing heritage. It costs 3.00 to get in, and you buy tickets for food and drink once you get inside. Seafood lover? It's all here--smoked mullet, crab, shrimp, alligator, grouper, everything you can think of….And, there are crafts, too. Most people in the village make their living from fishing or art, so both are well represented at the festival. About 25,000 people are expected to tour the village and it sure looked to us like half of them were there already when we visited this weekend. The money made at the festival benefits the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage, a non profit  organization that promotes all things maritime--fishing, preservation, skills and marine resources.
With not a cloud in the sky and the cool temps, LOTS of people were there sampling all the fantastic seafood, pricey, but delicious! Not sure how much of the seafood is local, but there were plenty of options! Hard to find a seat to sit and eat, many people plunk down at the tables and then sit and people watch, making it hard to find a place to sit down and eat your food.

The smoked mullet was served in the skeleton of the fish!

Even the trash bins have an artsy vibe to them…
With Sparky's belly full from a great taco (Yep, she ate a TACO, folks, at a SEAFOOD FESTIVAL) But it was GOOD! And if you aren't a big seafood lover, there were plenty of other great offerings, like a huge dessert tent….

Time to head back to the trolley for the ride back to Coquina Beach to head for home….Taking a back way out of the traffic jam from the festival through Longboat Key, Sparky saw something out of the corner of her eye…."ELDY! STORKS AND SPOONBILLS!" And of course, Eldy, being the accommodating driver he always is, always stops the car if he can safely when Sparky gets excited about birds, gators or snakes or other wildlife, because he knows he'd BETTER STOP THE CAR or Sparky is going to be one unhappy woman if she can't get some photos….When Sparky thought the sun angle was wrong, Eldy even drove a ways and turned back around so Sparky could get out of the car and get a little closer for some better shots. Awwww….what a guy…..(Accumulating my brownie points any and every way I can, explains E.) He's got a LOT right now, but that could change, haha….

Not one, not two, but FIVE roseate spoonbills trying to keep warm next to some wood storks….JACKPOT! Here are some shots of a couple of them at a time...

Sparky was in seventh heaven at seeing these spoonbills, her favorite Florida bird….
Wow!….Another one flew in, but Sparky missed the landing…Unbelievably gorgeous when you see the fuschia underneath side of their beautiful, really BIG wingspans….The one that flew in chased a couple other spoonbills around for a few seconds, letting them know he had arrived and to make room.

A perfect ending to a perfect day……Sigh…….


  1. I have yet to see a spoonbill! They are just gorgeous.

  2. A little too cool I would think to be showing off your "bobbers".

    Hate when they use my name in vane. Gah!

  3. Love those spoonbills.
    Looks like a great festival.

  4. Those are some of the best pictures of spoonbills I have ever seen. So great to see you both yesterday.