Siesta Key is a beautiful barrier island eight miles long just offshore of Sarasota situated between Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Siesta Key was voted #1 best beach in the USA in 2011 because of the pure white sand, which is 99% pure quartz crystal and always cool to the touch.
You will find it alive with tropical atmosphere, blessed with the “world’s finest, whitest beaches,” filled with charming hideaways, and always offering plenty to do – but it is also a place to relax, and let the warm breezes, cool water and soft sand transport you to your personal paradise! It has clear, warm waters and tropical nature preserves. The area is a haven for vacationers from all over the world.
Publications the world over has sung the praises of Siesta Key’s powdery, white sand beaches and breathtaking scenery. The picturesque view of a Siesta Key sunset must be seen, to be believed.
Interesting tidbit: What do Naples, Venice Beach and Panama City all have in common? They’re all right here in Florida. We’ve been to all 3 and Naples is almost like a little Beverly Hills.
By chance we found out about a not so conventional convention put on by the ASSA in Kissimmee, Florida. It stands for the American Shetland Sheepdog Association. It was a short driving distance from where we were & too close to avoid. It’s held in various locations every year and people come from all over the country with their shelties and they take it quite seriously. I was wondering why people kept asking “are you here for the convention?” As soon as we checked in to our hotel we met at least a dozen of JiaJia’s relatives just outside the lobby. Inside the exposition there were hundreds in various stages either awaiting their turn or already on show. They sell all kinds of sheltie souvenirs too.
Unfortunately we missed the sheep & duck herding competition and the agility competition which were held on the weekend but we did see the “bitches in season” competition which JiaJia was most interested in watching. He’s trying to get another category started called “running with the waves” as he would naturally come in front runner.
While we don’t intend to make this an annual event it was rather interesting and hilarious. You’ll never see so many loveable shelties in one location again – ever. JiaJia certainly was amused. He’s still #1 with us!
We discovered a unique restaurant today in Sarasota. One where they allow you to take your dog and not only that but they have a menu “special” of the day for them as well. Then you can take them inside to the doggy bar to choose from a variety of treats. Let me say that the people menu is excellent and you can order a half lobster stuffed with lump crab for only $9.00 which includes a salad. Amazing! We would definitely go back even without our neighbor’s dog.
Matlacha (pronounced “MAT-la-shay”) is a community on Pine Island which is an “OldFloridian” fishing village & home to brightly-colored art galleries, island boutiques, (see photos) seafood restaurants and traditional Florida cottages. PineIsland is considered Florida’s best kept secret. It is the largest island on the west coast of Florida with a secluded, country waterfront atmosphere charmingly fringed with mangroves.
Loved the bohemian feel of the quaint little shops but the most unique was the Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens run by the extraordinarily talented Leoma Lovegrove (above). Have you ever walked into a gallery where you simply don’t know where to look first because everything is so eclectic even the floor mosaics? That’s how I’d describe it. Full of whimsy & inspiration and items you won’t see anywhere else – trust me.
Leoma Lovegrove’s works are displayed in numerous galleries throughout the world. Her “Beatles Series” drew the attention of the City of Liverpool and her portrait of Richard Branson hangs at VirginAirlines Headquarters in London. She pointed out the shoes she wore to her White House invite – “a piece of art”. Everything is turned into ART from light bulbs to bottles. She was honoured at an artist’s reception given by First Lady, Laura Bush and her work hangs in a private collection at the White House. Her portrait of Jimmy Carter hangs in his Presidential Library in Atlanta. Lovegrove’s artwork has also graced the windows at RockefellerCenter in New York and the list goes on. It’s infectious…….you cannot leave without buying a little something but you really want to buy a bigger something…….if only you had the room. Visit her website and online gallery at: www.leomalovegrove.com
Yesterday on our walk JiaJia and I met a gopher tortoise, one of the oldest living species. Originating some 60 million years ago, they can live up to 150 years.
I’ve always had a lot of respect for these creatures and it’s becoming increasingly rare to encounter one in the wild. We stared at each other for what seemed like quite a while and I’m so happy that he came out of his shell and decided not to retreat into his hole. JiaJia found him fascinating but I had to restrain him. The gopher tortoise is unique in that it is one of the few tortoises to actually make large burrows. What is with all these burrowing animals i’m suddingly meeting?
In Florida gopher tortoises are on the Endangered Species List, categorized as a Threatened Species. The gopher tortoise is a very important part of the local ecology. As in any food web, if you start taking certain flora or fauna out of the equation, then you can adversely affect the survival of that ecosystem. The gopher tortoise is especially important because the burrows they dig also provide homes for other animals, such as indigo snakes, gopher frogs, mice, foxes, skunks, opossums, rabbits, quail, armadillos, burrowing owls, snakes, lizards, frogs, toads and other invertebrates. Their burrows are home to about 250 species of animals at one time or another.
The turtle (or tortoise) is an old, sacred figure in Native American symbolism as it represents Mother Earth. To each tribe, the turtle might depict something slightly different but with a recurring theme of creation, protection & longevity. Is it a coincidence that only a few days before this I bought some lucky Feng Shui charms in hand carved jade that symbolize of all things Protection?
Okay, here’s where it gets confusing. The gopher tortoise is a turtle as all tortoises are turtles, but not all turtles are tortoises. Here’s the difference:
A turtle lives in the water (oceans, lakes, rivers) primarily so has webbed front feet and streamlined legs for swimming. The only time a turtle comes on land is to lay eggs.
A tortoise lives on the land primarily so has feet with long claws for digging and no webbing between the toes. Tortoise eggs are laid in a nest and when they hatch, the baby turtles move to the mother’s burrow. Tortoises tend to stay in one area for life.