Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Family Visits!

We had Sparky's Canadian cousins come for a brief visit, David and Louise Dudley. They were passing through the area on their way to a cruise and stopped by for the night. They LOVED Sarasota and Bradenton and this is their second visit here with us. We took them to a wonderful restaurant called Mattison's City Grille in downtown Sarasota. Sparky loves places that present food beautifully. (Sparky LOVES any kind of food presentation, who is she kidding!? kids E.) Well, isn't this really pretty, though? This is their crab rangoon...It was fantastic!
And how about this? This was a beef tenderloin appetizer....With balsamic vinaigrette dressing, chopped up tomatoes, little sprouts of some kind, big beefy heirloom tomatoes under that little piece of meat and a truffle oil...whatever the heck that is! It was amazing!

We pointed out the flamingo bike, part of a series of bikes that a local artist has themed and displayed in different parts of downtown Sarasota. Louise liked the bike!
After the Dudleys had come and gone, next it was a visit from Kristi and Connor, Eldy's daughter and  grandson. They stayed for a few days so we were able to do lots with them! Sparky took Connor to the Mote Research Aquarium. He loved the lion fish, even if they are an invasive species!
Sparky loves the jellyfish.....These are Australian spotted jellyfish....
They have a jellyfish research lab at the aquarium, too.

Some lobsters came out of hiding in their tank and strutted around in front of Connor. The guide volunteer said that was very unusual for them to show themselves. 

Connor was NOT interested in touching anything in the several touch tanks that Mote has. He preferred to just look. Mote Aquarium is a wonderful place to take families. There is so much to see there and almost always a special exhibit of some sort. The aquarium is a research facility and not only are they growing coral for reef rehabilitation, they are researching ocean marine life and rehabilitating turtles there. He also enjoyed seeing the big manatees and learning about them---Hugh and Buffet. They eat 72 heads of lettuce a day, among other things! Connor's reluctance to touch anything reminded Sparky of the next to the last day spotting of a very large alligator in our local pond just down the street. "C'mon, Connor, let's go see him." Connor didn't appear too eager, but we walked down the sidewalk to the pond. There he was, on the opposite bank. Connor looked nervous. Sparky said, "I'm going to take a picture of him, Connor, you stay right here." And she headed around the bank to the other side. As she looked back, she saw Connor packing back and forth on the sidewalk. "I'll be right back," Sparky said. Connor said, "Ok..." and a few seconds later, "C'mon, Jeannie, let's go home!"  Sparky said, "Don't you want to come down to the bank to see him a little better?" (The gator was on the other side of the bank, quite far from where Connor was.) Nope...He wanted to go home...We did. :-)

Connor and his mom swam in the ocean on Easter Sunday.....We had a BBQ at the beach surrounded by wonderful hispanic music. If you want to picnic at Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island on a Sunday, you have to get there early to claim a spot. We were there at 9:00 AM and all the picnic benches were claimed!
Sparky and Kristi managed to get a 12 mile bike ride in but got caught in a tremendous downpour. It was only a 20% chance of rain that day. As the torrential downpour started in the middle of our bike ride, we were caught! No ponchos, no jackets to protect Sparky's camera. We frantically tried to call Eldy on our iPhones, but the water was coming down so hard, we couldn't get the phones to recognize our finger swipes. Kristi said, "Let's just text 'HELP!' ". Sparky thought Eldo might have a heart attack as he had no idea where we were, if we did that. We decided to keep going. Luckily, we switched over to the sidewalks as the streets flood rapidly but temporarily when there's a downpour. Car after car slammed through the huge puddles on the street, throwing up tremendous rooster tails of water in our direction. Heck, we couldn't get any wetter than we were, so we just laughed and laughed. We made it back home, drenched thoroughly and with dirt trails up our backs from the muddy water circulating backwards from our tires onto our shirts! It hadn't even rained hardly at all back at the house!
Eldy and daughter, Kristi at AMI
Kristi and Connor had a great time while they were here. But, as with all family visits, soon it was time for them to head back home to Indiana. And boy, is it quiet around here right now! It will be for some time until family returns......Bye for now!  


  1. I can see how your place in Bradenton would be on the short list for great spots to visit by all of your family. You show them a really good time. What a wonderful picture of Eldy and Kristi.