Nov 29 – We visit the Yulee Sugar Mill Historic Site in Crystal River.  The ruins of a sugar cane mill include rollers to crush the cane and large cooking kettles to boil off sugar and molasses.  There are also orange trees here, but the oranges are very, very sour.

In the afternoon, we stop at Tarpon Springs.  This is a Greek settlement with Greek immigrants still arriving today to make a living sponge diving.  There are over 1000 different sponges in the seas of the world with many types for sale in the shops.

Nov 30 – Our St. Petersburg visit takes us to the Chihuly glass collection.  What a great museum full of huge glass artworks created in the Venetian style of glass blowing.

Dec 1 – We stop in Ybor City which is now a part of Tampa.  This immigrant city was founded in the late 1800s as a Cuban cigar factory complete with housing and shops.  We see people still hand rolling of cigars in the cigar shops. As part of the museum tour is a visit to a typical family home or casita, as well as viewing the cigar factory equipment.
We also visit the Tampa Power Plant where manatees gather in the warm discharge waters of the plant.  The viewing is not nearly as good as snorkeling with the manatees, but we see about 20.  There is also a touch tank here full of stingrays.

Dec 2 – We spend a day in Ca’d’zan and Ringling Museum in the beautiful city of Sarasota.  Ca’d’zan was the winter home of Mabel and John Ringling – a beautiful Venetian style villa.  John Ringling and his 4 brothers founded the Ringling Bros. Museum as children and developed it into a big top show that toured America via railway.  The circus museum includes wagons, the Ringling personal railcar, animal cars, as well as the calliope wagon summoning all to the circus.  An incredible miniature of the circus of yesteryear is on display including animal figures, wagons, tents, and circus performers housed and performing in at least 2 dozen tent structures.  This miniature world is massive and takes up a floor of the circus museum.  The Ringling complex also includes a vast art collection and beautiful gardens.  We end up spending an entire day here – it is unlike any other museum we have visited!

Dec 3 – We visit beautiful Siesta Beach on Siesta Key, named #1 US beach in 2017.  Unfortunately, the day is foggy, although very warm.  The sand here feels like powdered sugar.  It feels silky and like talc between one’s toes.  It is 99% quartz, unlike other beaches, so it is not hot on your feet no matter the temperature.

Dec 4,5 – En route to Fort Myers we stop at the largest, tackiest tourist stop ever.  Fort Myers is known as the city of palms with palm trees lining the roads.  It is green and lush with lots of ranchers on well-kept lots. It also seems to have a huge number of 55+ mobile home parks.  We are staying in one!  But it has a great pool and amenities.

We visit Edison and Ford Winter Estates.  Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were friends and had winter homes beside each other.  Edison even had a laboratory on his property to research and create.  Henry Ford also was a great innovator and together they spent time researching plants to find a source of local rubber (successfully extracting latex from the goldenrod plant).  Thus the estates have lots of different trees and bushes to enjoy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *