January 20, 2013

January 13-14, 2013 Day 247-248
Bradenton Beach Marina, Bradenton Beach, FL
Total miles to date: 4403.0

Bill and Paul brought the boat to Bradenton Beach -
Kathy and Joyce were watching from the dock as they approached!
On Sunday morning, since our efforts to find long term parking for Kathy and Paul’s car were not successful, we decided to take a new approach.  Kathy and Joyce drove the car to Bradenton Beach, while and Bill and Paul drove the boat!  We only had 24 miles to travel so of course the girls arrived first and were able to check out two marinas and selected their favorite.  We decided to stay there two days.  The marina staff was kind enough to let Kathy and Paul keep their car there for over a week in a secure parking lot at no charge!! Bradenton Beach is on Anna Maria Island between Holmes Beach and Longboat Key.  We had a relaxing afternoon followed by docktails and dinner onboard, and made plans for the following day.

On Monday morning we drove the length of Anna Maria Island and walked on the beach.  This is a small island that is mostly residential. There are shops and restaurants but no high rise hotels or condos which makes it fairly low key.

The back of the Ringling Mansion
Next, we took advantage of still having Kathy and Paul’s car and drove to Sarasota to tour the 66 acre Ringling Estate. This included the 22,000 s.f. mansion of John and Mable Ringling, aptly called a Venetian Palace, situated on Sarasota Bay.  Prior to touring the mansion, we walked through Mable Ringling’s beautiful rose garden. The estate also includes an extensive art museum with works by Rubens, van Dyck, and Velasquez.  We also toured the Tibbals Learning Center which includes the Howard Bros. Circus model, a replica of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus from 1919-1938. This occupies 3800 s.f. and contains eight main tents, 152 wagons, 800 animals, 1300 circus performers and workers, and a 59 car train. It is an incredible display and was all hand carved by Howard Tibbals over many years. He still works on it to this day.  We also toured the Circus Museum which documents the history of the circus and includes hand carved circus wagons, costumes, performers’ props, playbills, and John and Mable Ringling’s private train car (staterooms, lounge, kitchen, and more) designed for their own travel. The Ringling Estate should not be missed by anyone traveling through Sarasota and was the highlight of our day. 

Relaxing at the Ringling Estate
We drove back to the Bradenton Beach Marina and once again had dinner on board.  One of the other boaters also brought us a sampler plate of fish she caught that day!  This completed our second night in Bradenton Beach and we made our final plans to go to Sarasota Tuesday morning – this time with all four of us onboard Carried Away!