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January 2015

January began with us moving from Hudson, FL to Bradenton, FL where we rented a beautiful 2bed, 2bath condo in a gated golf complex. We were on the second floor with a nice view of the pond and golf course. The birds and other creatures on the pond, including a 6 foot alligator were fascinating to watch. Vanessa was worried that it was not going to be the experience we were looking for, but as it turned out it was exactly what we were interested in. The clubhouse offered multiple activities from card games to mahjongg to painting to indoor walking. The outdoor activities included pickleball and water aerobics along with golfing, volleyball, tennis etc. There were also evening gatherings but we didn't get around to doing those. We took our bikes and rode them all around the complex.

Our month went by in a flash! We were so busy visiting friends and trying to get some sightseeing inbetween that and all the on site activities. As it turned out we had more friends in the area than we realized. Whilst in Hudson we received a phone call from Rick and Linda Sandler, friends from the Anchorage Marina, Baltimore. They called out of the blue after 4 years of no contact. They now live in St. Petersburg, a  short 40 minute drive from Bradenton. We met them for lunch and got caught up on all the news.

Once in Bradenton our calendar got filled up really quickly. Pat and Ray, along with Terry and Dave, all fulltime residents, went out of their way to show us a good time. There were boys days out, girls days out and kayaking, race car driving,(Click here to see a short video of Dave's practice) fishing, basketweaving, Goodwill hunting. (Those in the know, know what I mean!)

We also visited with Wendy and Vic Sinclair, our dock neighbors in the Abacos. Andrew went model airplane flying with Vic whilst Wendy and I enjoyed some relaxing time at their winter abode in Zolfo Springs.

We took a drive down to Punta Gorda to visit more friends, Lois and Carl, at their winter marina, Laishley.  Unfortunately we were too early to visit with others who were cruising to the marina and arriving for their winter break the following day.

To our surprise we had even more friends in Sarasota. We had thought they were living in Texas but Wink and Wilma, (John Henry) more Abaco buddies, now reside in Sarasota. We visited their lovely home twice during our stay and they took us for a cruise up the river in their new pontoon boat. The river is at the bottom of their yard and they have very easy access to the Sarasota Bay for fishing. We enjoyed some of their catch, including some very nice crabs caught off their own dock. It was great seeing them, and Wilma is now an active Realtor again so we have a good contact should we decide to move South!

Whilst in Bradenton we did take in a few cultural events. We visited the Ringling Museum, where they house the largest miniature circus in the world. It truly is something to see. The grounds on which the Ringling Mansion stands are gorgeous with some beautiful Banyan trees. We went to the Manatee Theatre to see "The Foursome" a Norm Foster play about golfers. We saw a Da Vinci and Michaelangelo exhibit at the Florida Museum. That was very interesting, we had no idea that Da Vinci invented so many things.

There were many outings to look at the beaches, some of which were really lovely. Siesta Key and Anna Maria Island having the nicest in our opinion. We had a "Flock" reunion at a restaurant on one of the beaches. It was good to see our old friends Bill, AnnaMarie, Fran and Larry.

 

Ringling Mansion

Banyan trees

Our condo

Wendy, Vic, Dave, Terry and yours truly.

Practice session.

Flock reunion

Resident gator.

The Birds at sunset

Wink and Wilma