Tuesday, March 8, 2005

Home from Florida

Last night, we stayed in Orlando and had dinner at a Japanese steakhouse, where we shared a table with a local family. The son was celebrating a birthday, and they gratiously shared his birthday cake with us. Nice people. Today, we take a long drive home to be with the dogs. A few pictures from out trip are available here.

Monday, March 7, 2005

Leu Gardens

During her planning of one of our previous trips, Lisa had read about some wonderful gardens in the middle of Orlando. The timing had not worked out last time, so we made sure to visit the Harry P. Leu Gardens this time. Frankly, I wasn't expecting anything special, but it turned out to be one of the highlights of our whole trip. It's a fantastic place. Admission is only $5.

Parkesdale Farm Market

shortcakeFrom the Sarasota area, we were heading back towards Orlando on Interstate 4. Lisa had heard of a great strawberry place so we got off highway to visit Parkesdale Farm Market. We were lucky to coincide with the great Strawberry Festival so there were all sorts of special events in the area. The world famous Strawberry Shortcake was definitely worth the trip.

Sunday, March 6, 2005


Our next destination was Sarasota. On the way up the west coast of Florida, we passed by Punta Gorda, where Hurricane Charley had made landfall last August. There's still a lot of damage throughout the area. We took a bridge from downtown Sarasota across to St. Armand's Circle, a tourist area on the Lido Key island. We enjoyed our lunch al fresco at Café L'Europe. After lunch, we visited the Pelican Man's Bird Sanctuary, which cares for injured birds. It's a great place to visit if you like pelicans and other birds. For dinner, we found a little Chinese place that reminded us of old favorite Yu Shan in Sunnyvale (which closed some years ago).


We had a good time watching the pelicans feast by the pier in Naples. Beach access was surprisingly convenient with plenty of metered parking. Of course, we were there on Sunday morning which might have made a difference.

Saturday, March 5, 2005

Ft. Myers Beach

Braving heavy traffic, we made our way to the beach for lunch. We found a pub with a view of the ocean (and more importantly, an empty parking space). We grabbed a table on the upstairs outdoor deck and enjoyed a couple of burgers and beers. What more could you want on Spring Break? Next stop: Naples.

Edison and Ford Estates

The big attraction for today is the Edison and Ford Estates, where Thomas Edison and Henry Ford had adjacent winter homes. Edison even had a full laboratory there. Unfortunately, the gardens had suffered greatly from last year's storms. The museum had an interesting collection of Edison's inventions, and a nicely produced video about the inventor's life. In his day, he was probably the most famous man in America.

Ft. Myers

Last night, we arrived in Ft. Myers and discovered once again that many tourists like to come to Florida during the winter. We survived the rush hour traffic and managed to get to the Melting Pot just in time for our reservation.

Friday, March 4, 2005

Historic Bok Sanctuary

Getting off the main roads for a while, we went in search of Historic Bok Sanctuary. I don't think AAA has kept up with all the road work that's going on since last year's hurricanes. Our AAA "Trip Tik" directions left us a bit confused. Fortunately, we noticed some road signs that led us in the right direction. Bok Sanctuary is best know for its Carillon, a set of bells hung in the tower and played from a keyboard. The largest bell weighs nearly 12 tons. The tower is surrounded by beautiful gardens.


We stopped in Celebration for lunch at the Town Tavern, the same place we had enjoyed on a previous trip. Celebration is Disney's version of an American small town, and it seems to work pretty well. If you're in Orlando for the theme parks, it's worth a drive to Celebration for a change of scenery.

Thursday, March 3, 2005

St. Augustine

We explored St. Augustine today. Rain was predicted for later in the day, so we decided to do our walking around as early as possible. First up: Castillo de San Marcos, a fort constructed by the Spanish in 1672, but used at various times by the British and the Confederacy before finally becoming a National Monument in 1924 (then known as Fort Marion). By the way, there's a fairly large parking lot at the Castillo so it's a good place to start a walking tour of the city. We walked across the street to the old town area and rambled around the mix of shops, restaurants, and interested buildings until it started to rain. After a bit of confusion with the maps, we managed to find San Sebastian Winery, where we enjoyed an entertaining tour and some wine tasting. Good timing, considering the weather.

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Trip to Florida

Today is the beginning of our trip to Florida. After a long drive, the first stop was St. Augustine. We arrived in the afternoon and had some time to enjoy a nice walk on the beach, though the ocean is still too cold for swimming at this time of the year. The Sunset Grille had an excellent happy hour. We were having such a good time, that we stayed for dinner.

All the posts for our Florida trip are being entered well after the fact, but we're back-dating the postings to the date of the event rather than the date of writing - the blogger's version of a time warp.