August 31, 2010

New & Improved

This is a small portion of the new and improved Bird Key Park.  Lots of palm trees were added, plus benches, grass, a gazebo and a bike trail which continues several miles down to Lido Key.  It's a popular place for runners, walkers and bikers to park before trekking over the Ringling Bridge.  It's also a great spot for kayakers and windsurfers to launch into the bay.  The park hasn't officially re-opened yet but it's been discovered and is getting lots of use.   

August 30, 2010

Step Right In

I did a double take when I saw this image in the Burns Square neighborhood in Sarasota.  It's one of the most realistic murals I've seen recently.  I'm not sure when it showed up, but it was done by a guy named Skip Dyrda.  His website says he's a local artist who has been commissioned to produce several public art pieces throughout Florida, plus he's created 14 original pieces for the owner of the Publix grocery store chain based here in the Sunshine State.

August 29, 2010

St. Armands Circle

I'm told that one of the most desirable retail areas in the U.S. is right here --- St. Armands Circle in Sarasota.  Quite literally, it's a large traffic circle surrounded by interesting boutiques, eateries, palm trees, and statues.   John Ringling, the circus magnate, was the mastermind behind this now thriving area.  In the 1920s, he owned St. Armands Key and envisioned building a luxury shopping area here.  But, before his plans could take off, the Great Depression hit and it took until the 1940s for the area to recover.  By the way, when you're done shopping and dining you can walk (or take your scooter) to the beach ---  it's just two blocks away.

August 28, 2010

Green Heron

I spotted this green heron clawing its way across the rocks at Bird Key Park in Sarasota. I love that elongated beak and maroon chest!

August 27, 2010

Bad Day Fishin'

It's a bad day fishing when you toss your pole in the trash. Sarasota Bay looks beautiful here, but it was so bright and blazing hot, the fish weren't biting, which may explain this trash can scene.  It was so miserably hot in the direct sun, I was wondering why I was schlepping around in those conditions.  

August 26, 2010

Here Today...

This is a bird of paradise in my front yard.  It's always such a pleasant surprise when they bloom because  I seem to forget they come to life in the oppressive summer heat.  Oddly enough, this one disappeared the day after this photo was taken.   I hate to think I have a B.O.P. thief in the 'hood, but I'm not sure how else to explain it.

August 25, 2010

Watery Wednesday

I found this scene oddly amusing.  These kayakers were paddling around Sarasota Bay and didn't seem to notice the elderly swimmer floating on his back.   Typically, this isn't a place where people swim.  So, it was strange enough to see him in the water -- let alone lying there motionless with kayakers buzzing by.  I suppose all three were enjoying the bay in their own way.  Have a happy Watery Wednesday!

August 24, 2010

Squish! Squish!

Imagine my surprise when I was about to take a photo of the flooding on City Island (the result of a day long deluge yesterday), when this guy came sprinting into frame.  Look at his left foot --- it's completely submerged!  It happened so fast, it took me a moment to process what was happening.  At first, I thought, 'You've got to be kiddin' me!'  That thought was immediately replaced with, 'Get the picture!  Get the picture!

August 23, 2010

Watch Your Speed

Today is the first day of school for the Sarasota County School District.  Watch your speed through the school zones.  A speeding ticket will cost you well over $100.  This location, right next to a school, is a very popular place for the Sarasota Police motorcycle unit to patrol and find speeders.  I drive this area every school day and encounter many aggressive drivers speeding through the neighborhood.

August 22, 2010

Runaway Summer

Where did summer go?!  Kids are enjoying every last minute of summer vacation knowing that school starts tomorrow.  These youngsters were having a great time cooling off at the children's fountain along the bayfront in Sarasota.

August 21, 2010

Red Bug Bunny

While hiking along the Red Bug Slough trail in Sarasota, I encountered this cute little bunny who was dining on some tall green grass.  With all the butterflies, bunnies and birds I encountered, I felt like I'd wandered into a Disney movie. 

August 20, 2010

Double Negative

It's almost like you're looking at a negative --- and seeing double.  This is a snowy egret standing behind a little blue heron along Sarasota Bay in downtown.  They both apparently like the same fishing hole.

August 19, 2010

Tempt the Net

The fish are flying on City Island in Sarasota --- or so it appears.  This is a portion of a public art display called "Tempt the Net".   I found it so tempting, I had to shoot it. 

August 18, 2010

Watery Wednesday - Easy Livin'

A perfectly peaceful summer evening moored in Sarasota Bay just off S. Lido Key beach.    To see more Watery Wednesday photos from around the world click here. 

August 17, 2010

Concrete Critter Trail

Follow these manatees and sea turtles down and around the sidewalk from Mote Marine Laboratory and you'll end up at the Mote hospital where they care for sick dolphins, sea turtles and even the occasional whale.  Mote is a non-profit which not only nurses ailing sea critters, but does a lot of oceanic research with sharks and coral reefs.  Since the oil spill, the staff also has been conducting a lot of water quality tests. 

August 16, 2010

Sloggin' 'Round the Slough

This is a portion of the Red Bug Slough hiking trail in Sarasota.  With all the wetlands here, Florida really isn't conducive for walking trails, so it's nice to have this one nestled on 72 acres.  And, believe it or not, it's right in an urban area.  The park was purchased in 2000 through Sarasota County's program to protect environmentally sensitive land.  Lots of wildlife call the area home.   A slough, I've learned, is a creek that runs through a marsh.

August 15, 2010

Black Crowned Night Heron

And I thought I was having a bad hair day!  I encountered this adorable black crowned night heron at Hart's Landing near downtown Sarasota.  I'd like to say I'm such a proficient ornithologist that I immediately identified this guy; however, that would be a bit of a stretch.  I actually had a difficult time figuring out what type of feathered creature this is, despite searching online.  Then, I posted it to Flickr and had a positive ID from a birder within minutes.  How cool is that?!  

August 14, 2010

What's Up?

It's appears as though these guys are looking skyward for answers.  They're part of the construction crew renovating Ed Smith Stadium, the new spring training home for the Baltimore Orioles.  But, the project is now heading to the Florida Supreme Court!  The citizens group which recently lost a lawsuit attempting to prevent the construction of the stadium announced earlier this week they're appealing.  The Supreme Court might not hear the case for a year, but the construction is scheduled to finish in February for Spring Training 2011.   So, what does that mean?  We're going into extra innings! 

August 13, 2010

Open for Business

This is what a brand new roundabout looks like!   The Five Points roundabout in downtown Sarasota opened for business yesterday --- 23 days ahead of schedule.  (Yes, ahead of schedule.)  I took a spin around it just before I took this picture and it's quite nice and easy to navigate, not to mention attractive with all those red brick pavers.  I have to give a shout out to Chip, a photographer with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, who I met at the roundabout and tipped me off to the location where I scored this bird's eye view.   Thanks!  Click here to see what the roundabout looked like under construction just a few weeks ago.

August 12, 2010

Rubens at Ringling

When it was raining interminably last weekend, I spent an afternoon enjoying the Ringling Museum of Art, one of Sarasota's true treasures.  These pieces, painted by Peter Paul Rubens in 1625, are on display in the museum's first gallery.  Talk about an entrance!  With the two people (a teenager and an adult) standing in the lower left hand corner, you can get some perspective on the sheer size of the paintings.  The museum was built by circus magnate John Ringling in 1931 to house his extensive art collection.  I'm told what's on a display is just a fraction of what the museum owns.  

August 11, 2010

Watery Wednesday - Dinner Time

I spotted this great blue heron at the Saprito Fishing Pier near downtown at 6:15 last night  --  dinner time.  A large, unidentifiable fish was protruding from its beak.  Not only was  this bird a good fisherman, it seemed to be following an I-just-caught-a-big-fish-for-dinner ritual.  After displaying its prize for all to see for several minutes, it flew to a nearby secluded alcove where it dunked its meal in Sarasota Bay not once but twice (pausing each time to enjoy the anticipation of  a hard earned meal) and then -- **gulp** -- down the hatch!  One bite.  That's some kind of dinner.   To see more fish dinner pics check out my Flickr page.  And, more Watery Wednesday photos from around the world are posted here.

August 10, 2010

Handsome Hound

I couldn't help but smile when I returned to my car in downtown Sarasota to find this handsome gentleman patiently waiting in a little pickup truck with the windows rolled down.  He was very well behaved and didn't utter a peep when I walked within inches of him and opened my car door and rooted around for my camera.  And, he just blinked a few times (no doubt wondering what the strange lady was doing) when I discovered my battery was dead and I had to revert to my cell phone camera.     

August 9, 2010

Cat Walk

There's something about seeing a cat at a park going for a walk on a leash that is just so cute.  This is Lovey, an 18 pound feline who thinks he's a canine.  (Yes, a boy cat named Lovey who acts like a dog!)  Lovey was raised with dogs and loves to go for walks and hunt.  His fur is as soft as cotton and he keeps his whites very white.   I met him and his owners at Red Bug Slough in Sarasota, where he was prowling around the children's play area.  I'm told he also enjoys hitting the park trail.

August 8, 2010

The Library

The second floor of the First Street Chop House is called "The Library".  To describe it is as cozy and quaint would be an understatement.  There's a small ornate bar which overlooks about 8-10 tables situated on beautiful wood floors.  (The building dates back to 1925 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings.) In the evening a pianist plays and John the bartender (the gentleman in the background) spontaneously breaks into song while filling drink orders.  He has a wonderful voice!  It was such an unexpected surprise -- it was like a slice of New York in SRQ.  When I originally posted this photo, some people were concerned that the Chop House only serves meat.  Oh, contraire!  My wild caught salmon entree was some of the best salmon I've eaten in the Lower 48.  My friend had the grouper and shrimp and described it as "succulent -- perfectly prepared".  For lunch, they offer a nice salad menu.  Check out more about the First Street Chop House here.  I'll definitely return!

August 7, 2010

Why Don't You Tell Me the Name of the Movie?!

A few blocks south of downtown is a quaint area known as Burns Square.  There's just one Pepto-Bismol pink building there -- and that's the Burns Court Cinema.  If you like independent, artsy and foreign language films, this is the place for you.  As a bonus...I'll give a gold star to the first person who posts what inspired today's title.  

August 6, 2010

National Night Out

After keeping you on pins and needles for the past 24 hours about today's post, here it is...(drum roll please)...the 27th annual National Night Out.  It was a night out for everyone throughout the nation!  It's an event designed to bring communities, neighbors and law enforcement together for a big block party to strengthen anti-crime measures.  A couple thousand people were at the event in Payne Park which featured face painting for the kids...

...adorable pooches working the crowd as part of their training to become a canine companion... bike helmets (donated by the Florida Dept. of Transportation) which were properly fitted for youngsters as well as those with a few more miles under them...
...and, of course, random circus acts wandering the grounds.  

August 5, 2010

Stairwell With A View

This is the view from the sixth floor stairwell of the new Sarasota Police headquarters, which overlooks Payne Park in downtown.  (To see a photo of the $44 million building when it was still under construction click here.)  Earlier this week, it opened with much fanfare including a community open house where everyone had the opportunity to walk all six floors --- and check out this wonderful view.  The fire truck and tent were set up in the park for another big event, which I'll tell you about in Friday's post.  (Oooh, the suspense!)

August 4, 2010

Watery Wednesday

This little boy was having a great time at the Steigerwaldt-Jockey Children's Fountain in Bayfront Park.     Located right on Sarasota Bay, water shoots into the air for the little ones to run around in and cool off.  I like how this youngster is color coordinated with his Spidey swim trunks and high tech water gun.  

On a side note, at the fountain I met a pleasant gentleman visiting Sarasota with his family from...Paris.  We chatted about cameras a bit and I mentioned Paris Daily Photo and the birth of the City Daily community.  He seemed interested something like this existed.  So, Lauren....j'espere que vous et votre famille apprecie votre visite dans Sarasota!  Click here to see more Watery Wednesday photos from around the world.

August 3, 2010

Selby Library

After giving you a sneak peek of the Selby Public Library in this photo, I thought it only fair to show a wideshot which gives more perspective.  It's a sprawling two story structure covering 78,000 square feet with enough room to hold 300,000 volumes.  Yes, those are large columns --- and they wrap around the building to the right for a block!   They're circa 1998, when the library opened in this location in downtown.    

August 2, 2010

Thou Shall Not Steal

I was strolling through the meditation garden behind St. Armands Key Lutheran Church when I noticed this open bible under plexiglass (turned to Jeremiah 27:17), with two tablets listing the Ten Commandments positioned prominently in the background.   What I also noticed was a small padlock on the right side of the plexiglass to thwart anyone thinking about breaking Commandment #8  -- Thou Shall Not Steal.  

August 1, 2010

Theme Day: Bright Colors

If you forget to bring a chaise lounge to Siesta Key Beach, you can rent one at this little wooden shack.  The tropical colors are so bright, you can't miss it.  This photo is part of the worldwide City Daily Photo theme day: Click here to view thumbnails for all participants