Recently returned from a vacation, I cannot help but notice how quickly reality reinstates itself. In fact, today the sight outside my window is decidedly whiter and frostier, my tropical view has disappeared…
There were lots of tropical sightings throughout our two weeks immersed in the warm weather of Casey Key and its surrounding area on the gulf coast of Florida. These included the vegetation, local beaches, wildlife, sunsets, Christmas decorations and of course the margaritas.
As I’ve said before, you can take this gardening girl out of her gardens, but you can never take the (love for) gardens and plants out of this girl! Wherever my travels lead me, I cannot help but notice the variety of plants and the design of gardens. Succulents are my favourite, here in Canada and anywhere else I find them, although most plants do seem so much more spectacular in tropical climates. For example, I have planted yuccas (Adam’s Needle variety) here in my local gardens and their 4 foot stalks of white, bell-shaped blooms are beautiful. I did not witness their tropical cousins in bloom, but am willing to bet they definitely outshine (and outgrow) the northern varieties…
I love all wildlife, but I find the tropical species especially interesting. The variety of birds alone kept my camera clicking, from pelicans to gulls, terns, ibis, sandpipers, egrets, herons and osprey. Their antics and routines were fascinating. The saying “birds of a feather flock together” was evident, especially at sundown.
I realize that some of these birds are not exclusive to tropical locales, but I have never before seen an osprey patiently waiting for fishermen to donate their catches. Apparently osprey were just removed from Florida’s endangered species list in January 2019. This particular beauty would perch on a nearby pole, emitting a piercing chirp occasionally to let his donors know he was there, and wait for the fishermen to leave a fish on the jetty. Much to their chagrin the more common pelicans and egrets hovering nearby were shooed away so the osprey could literally swoop in to retrieve the offering, then soar away…
Other tropical wildlife species included dolphins, sea turtles and even more birds, all beautiful in their own way…
A great argument for preferring the west (Gulf) coast of Florida to the east (Atlantic) coast is the abundance of gorgeous sunsets. Every single night we watched the sun sink into the Gulf of Mexico, with the cloud formations making each sunset unique…
The plentiful beaches along the Florida gulf coast are all spectacular, each featuring something different. Siesta Key, near Sarasota, offers an extra wide expanse of soft (my granddaughter called it “squishy”) white sand, with a firmly packed strip close to the water’s edge perfect for walking, biking, jogging, and even strollers or wheel chairs. This beach is lined with miles of hotels to choose from.
Nokomis Beach on Casey Key (20 minutes south of Sarasota) boasts miles of sandy shoreline, a rock jetty at one end, lots of seashells and spectacular waterfront homes to admire. We looked up one (smaller) home that is up for sale. A 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom fixer-upper located on the inland waterway side of the road with deeded access to the gulf is going for a cool $2.2 million USD. I can’t afford that, but if any of you can, I will promise to come visit! Many of these gorgeous homes were damaged in a 2018 storm, so many are still under renovation. One of the best features of Casey Key (we think) is that it is largely non-commercialized. Family owned homes and motels are restricted to two stories, supporting a more natural feel.
Venice Beach, 5 minutes further south, also sports miles of sandy shoreline as well as a massive wooden fishing jetty. It too is dotted with high rise apartments and hotels, but offers a quainter shopping district nearby.
Even the Christmas decorations have a tropical feel, although I had a hard time conjuring up any Christmas spirit without snow and cold weather. A Santa Claus parade featured decorated boats, ranging from tiny sailboats to huge luxury yachts, floating down the intracoastal waterway one evening. Many businesses, including our favourite Mexican food restaurant, are lit up for the holiday season too.
We were fortunate on this vacation as the weather was awesome, with the daytime temperatures hovering between 20 and 26 degrees Celsius. Definitely more tropical than the weather here in Canada. As you can see from some of the pictures, we did see lots of storm clouds, but only experienced rain on the very last day and even then only for a few moments.