Cruising on Last Dance


This blog archives the adventures of Glen and Jill Moore and provides a means of communication for friends and family. Exploration and adventure have been synonymous with boats and water for centuries. The joy of adventures shared while exploring new places and meeting new people has built a strong bond for Glen and Jill. Last Dance is the platform for the exploration.

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." St. Augustine, 354 - 430

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain, 1835 - 1910

"There is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats." The Wind in the Willows, 1908, Kenneth Grahame, 1859 - 1932

"I've never believed speed and ease are conductive to living fully, becoming aware, or deepening memory, a tripod of urges to stabilize and lend meaning to life." River Horse: a log book of a boat across America, 1999, William Least Heat-Moon,1939 -

The Great Loop -- The current adventure is a circumnavigation of the Eastern United States, cruising north up the east coast through New York into Canada, across the Great Lakes to Chicago, navigating multiple river systems south to Mobile, along the Gulf coast to the Florida Keys and back to St. Augustine. This trip by boat is commonly referred to as the Great Loop. Progress and current location are indicated by the red line on the map to the right. It was titled the Traceless Path in recognition of a German sailor we met in St. Augustine who published booklets of his travels with hand-drawn, detailed maps describing his travels across the water as the Traceless Path.



Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Green Flash - Captiva Island




The "green flash" is a rarely occurring natural phenomenon where there is a flash of green color just as the sun disappears over the horizon.  It happens over water most often.  The Green Flash is also the name of a restaurant on Captiva Island.









The Green Flash is located on the western, bay side of Captiva Island.  They offer free dockage for boaters who have a meal at the restaurant.  More than enough reason to give it a try.








The enjoyment of lunch was enhanced by having a beautiful boat outside the restaurant window.












It did not take long to realize that the restaurant was special.   The Oysters Rockefeller was not only delicious, it contained a pearl (upper left).











Two of the house specialties were selected: crunchy grouper sandwich and the Captiva salad, which had shrimp, scallops, and salmon.







If proof of the tastiness is needed, the empty plate that once held the Captiva salad should be a good clue.  Green Flash proved to be an outstanding restaurant with traditional menu items well prepared and many unique and delicious items created.




They also have a sense of humor at the Green Flash.  The men's restroom is located next to the bar.  So you don't loose the view of your drink, there is a window over the urinals allowing you to see into the bar.  Very handy.  When women enter the room with their gender on the door, they are greeted with a guy standing in the corner.

























Captiva is a skinny island, about 300 yards wide.  So, it is a short walk to the beach for fresh, salty breezes and good shelling.  A friendly Blue Heron posed on the beach for photos.










The unusually warm winter has the Ospreys on their nests early.  This pair have a nest next to the restaurant. They are magnificent creatures that always seem to have an eye staring directly at you.



Not far from the Green Flash a stilt home stands over the water.  It is a place where Doc Ford would feel at home.


An enjoyable stop along the coast in many aspects.








With the namesake restaurant on the island, many people go to the beach to catch the sunset in hope of observing the green flash.  It was not to be on this day.

Cabbage Key


Cabbage Key is an island near the southern end of Cayo Costa.  It is a popular place with a long and interesting history.  Last Dance took a spot at the Cabbage Key Marina to provide the crew an opportunity to explore this island.


The Calusa inhabited this area at least 3700 years ago.  They were known as the Shell People because their diet consisted of seafood, mainly shellfish.  The oyster, clam, and scallop shells were stacked in piles known as shell middens.  Thousands of years of shells make high mounds.  The Spanish came and the Calusa are no more.  In 1929, Alan and Gratia Rinehart purchased Cabbage Key and built their winter estate on one of the shell middens.  In 1944, Larry and Jan Stults bought the island, turning the house and property into a resort.  It has continually been operated as a resort since, with only two other owners since 1969.

The main house now is a restaurant and bar with 6 hotel rooms.  With just a few buildings on the island, which is reachable only by boat, a restaurant that seats 200 people would seem of inappropriate scale.  That is, until you see the big ferries bringing people to the island for lunch.  Cabbage Key is purported to be the place that Jimmy Buffett ate his Cheeseburger in Paradise.  Their cheeseburgers are good, but the rest of the menu is not notable.  It is the environment makes eating at Cabbage Key a must.


The walls of the restaurant and bar are covered in dollar bills.  Patrons write their names on a dollar bill and tape it to the wall.  With the many thousands of visitors a year, the dollar bill wall paper becomes quite thick.











A few of the dollar bills signed by the more famous of the visitors are famed.  Of course, Jimmy Buffett's dollar bill is behind the bar,


















along with one signed by Jimmy and Rosilyn Cater, and one left by John F. Kennedy, Jr.





















On the wall, among many dollar bills is a poster signed by Randy Wayne White, one of Glen's favorite authors and a resident of nearby Sanibel Island.












The Cabbage Key dockhouse




























The dockhouse has the marina office, a gift store, and the marina showers.  The shower sign indicates its location and provides a suggestion.










Behind the dockhouse, on the highest point of the island, is the original water tower, completely constructed of wood, including the tank.  It also serves as an observation tower and home to a family of Osprey.













Those who only visit the restaurant miss much that Cabbage Key has to offer.  Most of the island has been left in its natural, undeveloped state.  A walking trail runs the length of the island through a variety of native vegetation. Many of the plant varieties are labeled, making the walk an educational tour as well as a pleasant walk.





The Spanish Stopper tree grows in south Florida and the Caribbean.  It gets it name from the anti-diarrhea properties of the berries.

















The Florida Strangler Fig is a parasite.  Its seed lands in a crack or crevice of a tree, then germinates sending air roots to get water and nutrients from the host tree. The roots eventually reach the ground and the Strangler Fig continues adding roots until the root system is strangling the host tree.  This Strangler Fig has attached to a Cabbage Palm, its favorite host, completely girdling the tree with roots.





The grounds also included some non-native plants that added color.  The experience of touring native flora is better at Cabbage Key than in the State Parks along the coast.  A park with an entertaining restaurant.







Sunday, February 26, 2012

Venice


The Gulf Intracoastal runs through Venice, a small town south of Sarasota.  Venice has become popular with the snowbirds, who have exploded the size of population in the winter.

As can be seen in the photo below, winter tends to miss Venice.  Early February is not this colorful in most of the county.  The big tree with roots running down from the limbs is a  common Ficus (as in the house plant) (Ficus benjamina), often mistaken for a Banyan tree (Ficus benghdensis), which has the same characteristic. 

Venice is a great place to stop when cruising the west coast of Florida.  The marinas are near downtown and shopping and the town is beautiful and interesting.










The tall, tall Sabal (Cabbage) palms planted along downtown streets testify to the age of the city center. It remains alive with retail, restaurants, theater, and no empty store fronts.  A lively, fun downtown.




The Venice Archives have saved the Triangle Inn, a 1927 bed and breakfast inn.  The triangle shape matched the pointed lot where it was originally built.  The Archives moved and restored the inn to collect and display the history of Venice.








Venice begain its building boom in 1926, which ended a few years later with the Depression.  Those original houses are celebrated with a self-guided walking tour produced by the Archives.  To give an example of the  architecture, front doors of some of the houses are represented.












































































































If you are ever feeling old, visit Venice.  At a concert on the beach, the Last Dance crew were the youngest people at the event, including the the band.  Median age is 68.




Sarasota























A walkable downtown filled with both new and old characterises Sarasota.  The city center fronts the harbor, bordered with a large park and a huge marina   It is a grand area for a stroll, shopping at unique retailers, and sampling restaurants.  There is even a full service, upscale supermarket downtown.  Interesting, fun place.



Remember the Marilyn Monroe sculpture in Chicago?  The artist is Seward Johnson. One of his sculptures stands in Sarasota also - The Kiss, from a photo taken on D Day in New York.  Johnson's work created the most controversy among the citizenry ever experienced in this town.  Many felt it to be hideous and shouted for its removal.  Others saw it as patriotic and a work of art.  Hearings were held.  City Council meetings were jammed. It was to be a traveling display, visiting a number of cities. A local resident, a WW II veteran, settled the argument by purchasing the statue for $500,000 and giving it to the city. It still adorns the waterfront park downtown.

Makes one wonder about the level of controversy if the skirt-blowing sculpture of Marilyn Monroe had been placed in Sarasota.