Tuesday, January 8 Through Friday January 11, 2019
Tuesday morning, the in-laws picked us up at our hotel and we drove over to Manatee Park. Seeing manatees in the wild has been on my bucket list ever since I first saw a National Geographic Magazine article on the gentle creatures.
Manatee Park is built around a power plant waste water canal. The natural gas powered electric generation plant uses cold water to cool the steam exiting from the conventional steam turbine generation part of the plant. The cooler intake water is heated by the steam exhaust and dumped into the waste water canal. The waste water canal empties first into the Orange River and ultimately into the Gulf of Mexico.
In fairness to the power plant, the waste water is heated only. Nothing is added to the water that would harm the environment.
In the winter, when the gulf waters cool down, the manatees go looking for warmer water to hang out in. Similar to why humans like hot springs. The warm water feels good. In a way, the waste water canal is a manatee hot spring magnet.
Apologies for the manatee pictures. Didn’t have the big camera on this trip.
Manatees spend most of their time below the surface of the water. We mostly saw them when they popped their noses above the surface to breath. Every once in a while, a manatee would roll over or somersault on the surface to show us their bodies and tail flipper.
Park visitors must pay for parking at kiosks that take credit cards and cash. It cost $2 to park for one hour. The gift shop had nice manatee themed keepsakes. We bought a cloth grocery bag.
After an hour of watching manatees, we left for the airport. We had a rental car reserved for the following week. We said our goodbyes to the in-laws at the airport.
After picking up the rental car, we stopped off at a Publix grocery store to get lunch before heading back to our hotel.
In the afternoon, we went back to the in-law’s home. After chatting a while, we all decided to have an early dinner at a sports bar aptly named Jerseys Sports Cafe. We arrived right at 4:00 PM. We were the last ones to be seated without a wait. A sports bar full up on a mid January Tuesday afternoon. Who would have thought.
Jerseys has great atmosphere so everyone had a good time. Good food and reasonable prices.
Wednesday morning we checked out of the Fort Myers hotel. The 2+ hour drive up US-41 (Tamiami Highway) to Sarasota took much longer than anticipated. I-75, while only an hour and a half drive, is boring. At least US-41 provided hours of interesting back roads driving.
Instead of checking into the hotel first, we headed over to Linda’s sister’s place on Longboat Key. The sister-in-law and her husband drove us around the various islands, stopping first to get lunch at the Bradenton Beach Island Time Bar & Grill. We ate outside so we could sit in the sun. The inside portion of the restaurant is open to the air on three sides and the breeze through the dinning room was quite chilly.
After driving through various neighborhoods on different islands, we ended up at this gorgeous expansive beach wrapping the tip of an island.
Later Wednesday afternoon, we checked into our hotel.
Thursday, sister-in-law and her husband drove Linda and I back down to Fort Myers where we hung out with the in-laws for the day. In the evening, we children went with the parents to the weekly community happy hour and talent show.
Even though the retirement community reflects the parents generation, I found myself liking their social environment. I can see myself joining a community like this in ten years or so.
Thursday was also the day Linda’s cold took hold in me. Give the gift that keeps on giving. Friday, Linda and I mostly stayed in.
Hope to see you on the road ahead!