Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Bad start, good day

Today got off to bad start. We had planned on visiting the Panama Canal Museum, and then on to the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary (as shown on the map). The route to the museum looked pretty straightforward on our detail (though still small scale) map and we set off full of confidence. We soon got lost in a maze of numbered streets and avenues, none of which were shown on the map. We finally found a Kangaroo service station and went inside to seek help.

The man there was very friendly, and pulled out a much more detailed map. But the museum was nowhere on the map. He finally told us how to get to the intersection we wanted and we set off hopefully. Thanks to his directions, we found the required intersection; but no museum, only a dead mall. The last time Gene was there, several years ago and in a different location, there was talk of having the University of South Florida take it over. Some day if we have the time and the interest we may follow up that lead.

So scratch one idea, on to the next. According to the map, the Seabird Sanctuary was at the end of the street we were on, so off we went. When we got to the coast, there was nothing but a solid row of condos. No sign of any kind of sanctuary. So far we were batting .000.

Well, we were at the shore, let's find some beach to stroll on. So we just headed down the road. One could occasionally get a glimpse of the Gulf between the high-rises, but there was no place to park and no obvious way to the beach. We finally stumbled onto a public parking lot for the beach in Madeira Beach (nothing north of that). We bought an hour's parking and took our beach stroll. I don't know if the whole beach is open to the public (like in Mexico) but access is certainly limited.

Most of the beach is guarded by condos

The people congregate at the few public accesses

We missed the sanctuary, but did see some interesting birds at the beach.


As we went further south along the beach, the buildings got lower and there was more frequent public access. But forget it in Clearwater, Largo, Seminole and points north.

After a delightful lunch of fresh cantaloupe and ham salad (a good combination) we crossed the entrance to Tampa Bay and made our way out to Anna Maria Island. That, too, was crowded where the bridge connected, but we drove up to Anna Maria at the north end and found a much more relaxed situation.

After a long talk with a sailing snowbird on a bicycle, it was time to find some place to lay our heads. We made our way back to a Cracker Barrel in Bradenton, ate in the restaurant, and settled in for the night. Tomorrow Sarasota.

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