. We had to get the U.S. Coast Guard to help us with that one….honestly! The island has a bike trail system from one end to the other, with all sorts of side trails. It was being well used, lots of cyclist of all varieties, although we did not bike as it was too hot too leave the dogs in the van. The island is not that big, so as were heading to the other tip and another dog friendly beach, we geocached along the way. We met up with another Canadian couple who were also geocaching. The trip to get off the island was brutal, lots of traffic congestion, as the traffic must all go over a single long causeway back to the mainland. Campground was less than an hour, so home in time to have supper at Club Westy.
Friday we drove to Lakeland for the VW Classic and along that way we stopped at one of the largest Airstream dealers in the U.S.. It’s amazing how you can take a few hours to walk through trailers. We told the sales lady we were interested in their smaller models, you know, 16 to 20 feet long. She commented on how those models really don’t have a lot of room and how tight we might find them. She then asked us what we currently had, and when we pointed out the Westy, she commented that we already knew about living and traveling in small spaces! They had a big sale on, so we got out of there before we bought one, but the Westy is working just fine, so no need
. On arrival at the park in Lakeland it became apparent that we were a day early, arghh, we really lost track of the days. So there we were with no place to stay, no reservations, no idea of where an RV park or campground might be, and it’s late Friday afternoon (rushhour!) etc. You get the picture. We came across the Lakeland RV Resort on the east side of Lakeland, and by that time, their office was closed for the evening. We were getting a tad (?!) frantic when Jon saw a door open in the office…he went back and pounded on the door and a kind gentleman listened to our story and found us a site for the night. We were surrounded by BIG RV’s and in the morning, an elderly RV’er stopped, looked at us and the dogs, and asked if we actually stayed in the Westy…we commented yes and he just walked away shaking his head and saying ‘well, if it works for you….’ Personally, we believe he was really just jealous!! Anyway, nice RV resort with the nicest bathrooms of all the resorts we have been in.
Saturday and Sunday, Jon was in his glory, a car show for Volkswagens (600 or so) of all sorts, bugs, buses, Vanagons, Westies of all types, Porsches and Things, (yes a VW called a Thing), dune buggies of sorts, and every other VW ever made. We put our Westy in the show and loved talking with folks, both visitors to the show and other VW owners about our Westy, what we’ve done to it and our travels in it
. As part of the show we camped overnight with other VW owners. It also afforded another opportunity to find geocaches, well, we looked for two but couldn’t find them. At one point in the search, Jon was kicking around some ground debris (wearing sandals, no less) and disturbed a nest of fire ants…..uh-oh!! Not recommended!
Now we are in Tarpon Springs at the vacation home of a good friend, so no camping for a week. We spent the day cleaning out the van, getting in groceries and checking out the Chamber of Commerce to get bike trail maps. Interesting enough while grocery shopping, we found some really nice looking tomatoes….product of Canada! (In March??) Go figure! Tonight we had dinner down at the sponge docks, a place called Helos, Jon said he has never seen me eat so much, but my gyro, salad and fries were all so yummy. Jon had the mousakka dinner, which he also said, was soooo good. Dessert was a real temptation from their in house bakery, but impossible. We’ll get in some riding while we’re here on the Pinellas Trail, and perhaps do dessert then (you know, fuelling up for the ride, or whatever excuse you want to use!)
Next day (Tuesday) we went to Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, just a short drive north of Tarpon Springs
. We went for their famous mermaid show. It has been in operation since 1947, (about the same age as Jon, as if that has anything to do with it) and they still perform in the same tank that was built back then, using the same breathing apparatus that was designed over 60 years ago. There is a natural spring, over 100 feet deep, that feeds the pools which are all maintained in their natural state, complete with whatever aquatic life is passing through, or has come upstream from the Gulf. This is the old Florida roadside attraction type park. We saw two shows and it was quite unique and entertaining, glad we went. You could have your picture taken with a mermaid, you know, like sitting on Santa’s knee…sort of….it was tempting for Jon, but….enough said!
The weather was good the next day so off we went to Sanibel Is., known for shelling on their beaches. They even have a name for it, ' the Sanibel stoop'; you walk a few feet, see an interesting shell and bend over, which is repeated again and again. As we found out, serious shellers even have little buckets attached to their waist. First stop was the dog beach, near the lighthouse at the far easterly end of the island. We had a picnic lunch and then it was time to walk. As we walked along the beach, dolphins sprang up out of the water, really close to shore, just as Maggie was romping in the waves nearby. Boy was she startled! There must have been about 7 dolphins, and even the hard-core shellers stopped selling sea shells (OK, I couldn’t resist that one!)to watch. One dolphin raced toward shore and did a startling U-turn that splashed Maggie. After that one, Maggie didn’t venture back into the water for a while! Then it was off to the lighthouse, time to find a nearby geocache