1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Welcome both old friends and new to the all new Walt Disney Secrets :-D Please take a moment to say hi

Mike’s 50th Trip to Siesta Key, Disney’s Boardwalk, Universal and New York, June 2014 - Part 4

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Mike, Jun 29, 2014.

  1. Mike
    Offline

    Mike Imagineer

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2008
    Messages:
    278
    Likes Received:
    20
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    NW UK, handy for the Lakes, Dales, Peak District a
    Day 4 - Sea and Mangrove Tunnels Kayak Tour

    After a slightly better night, with only a couple of restless moments, I actually manage to stay asleep until my phone alarm wakes us at 5:45am. We dress and walk out to catch the sunrise, but, missing our normal exercise regime at home, we power walk 4 miles along the beach and back. It looks like another cracking day ahead.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We're rather sweaty, so return to the cottage briefly to freshen up before heading the short distance to (you've guessed it!) the Village Cafe once more. There doesn't seem much point trying other breakfast venues when we've been completely satisfied here. We are a bit later than 'normal' and it is 7:30 as we take our usual table. We feel like regulars already!

    While waiting for our drinks, my attention is drawn to a shrub next to the table. It has curiously shaped leaves.....!!!

    [​IMG]

    Today Amanda goes for a fruit bowl with a toasted English muffin, and I try the Siesta Key oatmeal (basically porridge with fruit and yoghurt) also with muffin. Not had time for a coffee thus far today, so I have one with my orange juice.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Another lovely breakfast, and pretty healthy too! $25, left $30. We head home and shower.

    Today we have reservations for a 2.5 hour guided kayak tour from neighbouring South Lido Key, through Sea Life Kayak Adventures ( http://sealifekayak.com ). There are a few different companies operating tours in the area, but we were impressed by the reviews for this outfit, as they seemed to uniquely run tours with smaller groups.

    Having set a sat nav destination in my phone we head off at 8:45. The journey should only take 20-25 minutes giving us plenty of time to arrive by 9:15 for a 9:30 start time. Ha! Little did we know!

    As we drive off Siesta Key via the northern bridge, I spot a side road, heading north, that I recall from previous visits as a potential shortcut, avoiding congestion on the main road ahead. We take the turn, but the sat nav loses the plot and, when landmarks become unrecognisable we end up in downtown Sarasota stuck in a one way system during rush-hour! A couple of u-turns later we do rediscover the correct way onto the bridge across to South Lido, but I compound the error by flying past the turning we need for Taft Drive and end up heading north along the Key for a couple of miles.

    I'm sweating now. It's fast approaching 9:30. Amanda tries to call the tour operator's office but my phone won't pick up a signal! I fly into the car park at 9:35 and we run down to the water's edge looking for 'Chris' our guide.

    There are several companies and guides clustered around the lagoon’s one access point, with different groups of tour guests, so it takes a few more minutes to identify Chris. Fortunately there seems to have been plenty of confusion elsewhere this morning, and we are not the last to arrive. Phew!

    Chris and an assistant (they both look like they're related to Bear Grylls, serous outdoor types with faded jungle gear, well-worn Tilley hats and mahogany tans) go back to their vehicle and trailer to fetch a couple more kayaks. I take the opportunity to sneak into the undergrowth to relieve my worried bladder, assuming that 2.5 hours in a kayak might be more than my usual limit! (In the panic of our late arrival I didn't notice there were restrooms at the car park entrance!)

    Everything is eventually sorted. Amanda and I choose separate kayaks - the guides call the tandem ones "divorce boats" due to the potential for conflict between partners trying to coordinate their paddles!

    Our group consists of 10 craft, 4 of them tandems. Of these, two are mum-plus-young son, dad-plus-young daughter, and a pair of plus-sized, elderly American ladies. Only the final kayak holds a husband/wife pairing. I make a note to keep an eye on their progress!

    After launching, we clumsily maneuver to cluster around Chris for basic tuition, safety and tour information before setting off across the wide bay, looking for manatee and dolphins. Cormorants appear around us and constantly dive under the boats, coming very close to climbing aboard at times. Chris informs us that they use the shadow under the boat as cover, allowing them to sneak up on fish below. Clever birds! They regularly appear with a fish, sometimes surprisingly large, but always manage to swallow them down before heading under for more.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We spend the next hour or so sculling across and around the bay, but fail to see any marine mammals, other than the surface wake created by a fast-moving manatee swimming some metres down. Other groups and guides we pass report the same lack of results - it's very hit and miss, apparently - some days pods of dolphins and individual manatees appear in profusion, but not today. However, it's very pleasant out here and we love the experience.

    The married couple appear competent in their paddle coordination, and seem to be avoiding the divorce lawyers so far! The parent and child combos are also getting along fine, due mainly to the simple fact that the kids aren't paddling at all! However, the two ladies are in mild chaos for much of the tour, clashing paddles and repeatedly veering into other guests' craft! It's all taken in good humour though, and no one is offended or injured!

    Chris takes us past some stunning bayside houses on St Armands Key, pointing out where celebrities like Jerry Springer, Judge Judy and Martini Navratilova live.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We turn and head back towards the key, bordered thickly on the water's edge by mangrove trees. Chris explains that the tunnels we are about to explore are man-made, cut in the 1950s to allow seawater into the freshwater lagoon, as a mosquito prevention tactic, so the rich residents wouldn't get bitten by bugs. Apparently they only breed in fresh water. This wouldn't be allowed today, incidentally, as mangroves are nationally protected.

    [​IMG]

    He asks if anyone is scared of spiders - a couple of people are - before telling us that the 'spiders' we will see crawling over the mangrove branches are in fact black land crabs and completely harmless. There won't be any alligators either, he advises, in answer to a nervous enquiry, as they too only live in fresh water.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Mike
    Offline

    Mike Imagineer

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2008
    Messages:
    278
    Likes Received:
    20
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    NW UK, handy for the Lakes, Dales, Peak District a
    We follow him, in single file, through the first of two tunnels. It is great fun, maneuvering our kayaks through the tight spaces, and almost everyone struggles at some point, but we all make it through afloat.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The last section is a short paddle along the edge of the mangroves back to the launch site.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We all disembark safely and, after paying and thanking the guide, (we give him a generous tip, but notice most people do not, pah, humbug!) dash to the restrooms at the entrance to the car park. It's just after 12:00 noon, and very hot, much more noticeable here without the cooling breeze off the water.

    Lunchtime! We have planned to eat at Yoders Amish Village ( http://www.yodersrestaurant.com ) today and head off, roof down, 96 Celcius on the gauge, to find it. Yoders is a bit of a local institution, opened as a restaurant (and eventually gift/craft shop) in the 1970s. They serve wholesome 'mom's homemade' style fare, with award winning sweet pies, ensuring they are always busy.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We arrive at 12:30. The restaurant and car lot are busy and there is a line of 20 or so waiting for tables. However, as most of the competition are family groups, we are seated within 10 minutes.

    I ask for meatloaf, sweetcorn and fries. Amanda chooses shrimp, fries and coleslaw.

    The service operation here is like watching a well-oiled machine. The servers and bussers are all over the place, efficiently clearing and serving, taking orders, handling payments. No one seems to be here for long - they arrive, they troff, they pay, they go!

    Our meal arrives within 10 minutes. The portions are huge!! My meatloaf would feed four and weighs about a pound!! We roll our sleeves up and plunge in!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    It is exactly as described. Simple, fresh, home-cooked food. We enjoy it. Anywhere else we would now wobble off to the car, but I understand that it is a criminal offence to visit Yoders without eating pie, so we force ourselves to study the menu. There is almost boundless choice!! We eventually select egg custard for Amanda and chocolate pecan for me.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    They are amazing!!! Truly delicious. Next time, I'm going to skip entrees and just have pie, so I can eat 2 or 3 slices!!

    [​IMG]

    We pay the very modest $35 check and leave, very stuffed, at 1:35pm. It's blisteringly hot outside after the air conditioned interior. We head back down to Siesta Key, roof down, naturally, with the thermometer reading 97 Celcius.

    The next hour is spent on the deck, topping up our fluid levels and digesting lunch!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Mike
    Offline

    Mike Imagineer

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2008
    Messages:
    278
    Likes Received:
    20
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    NW UK, handy for the Lakes, Dales, Peak District a
    At 3:00pm we change into beach gear and wander over the road for a swim. In truth we do more soaking and lying around than actual swimming, but it is a civilised pleasure. A storm system appears to be building up in the south and we watch the darkening clouds and occasional, distant lightning strike with interest. It is still hot and sunny here so far.

    At 5:00pm we wander back to the cottage. Bill the landlord has been to put the bins out, but we've missed him. I put a washer load on and make coffee, which we drink on the deck in the dappled shade.

    About 7:00 we take showers and then indulge in our favourite evening pleasure, walking south along the road out of the village, admiring the lovely cottages, cabins, houses and apartments, some set behind lush gardens, others right onto the road.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    After about a mile, having reached the main beach area, we use the restrooms there and walk onto the sand.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The skies are already spectacular, with the sunset to the north-west and thunderclouds building in the south.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    After sitting on a bench for a while, watching the skies and departing crowds, we head north-west, into the setting sun and stroll slowly back for the final time on this Siesta Key visit.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Someone has really saved the best ‘til last. We are awed by the beauty of the evening. There's no doubt that the storms are getting closer, and will soon reach us - we can actually see the rain falling in great, dark columns out to sea - but we stay dry.

    I should probably apologise for the excess of sunset photos below! But I'm not really too sorry!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Mike
    Offline

    Mike Imagineer

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2008
    Messages:
    278
    Likes Received:
    20
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    NW UK, handy for the Lakes, Dales, Peak District a
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    There's nowhere else we want to be tonight except our trusty Blasé. It's lovely and warm, but the breeze is strengthening and more of the sky has gone dark, so we elect to sit under the wide verandah rather than risk the patio. This quickly appears to have been a wise decision, as the rain starts a few minutes later and the patio guests are all diving for cover.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Both of us have Margaritas first, and, amazingly, are starting to feel hungry again, so we order a chicken sandwich for Amanda and a burger for me. These arrive and are dispatched with relish. And ketchup! ;-)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    By 9:15 there's an impressive lightning storm right over our heads. A lot of the customers have gone, but a lively, happy crowd remains, like us, sheltering under the verandah. Time for a final drink. I fancy a change from cocktails, however delicious, and order a Bud plus a shot of Jack Daniels. This comes in (I shouldn't be surprised!) a double length shot glass, probably holding the equivalent of a UK triple measure! Amanda orders a Ruby Red Martini (Ruby Red Vodka, Ruby Red Schnapps, grapefruit and pomegranate) it's delicious!

    The manager(/owner?) of the bar (a 30-something, guy originally from North Africa) has been serving us tonight, and is very chatty. He ribs me about the fact that I have been sipping my 'shot' and encourages me to knock it back so he can buy me a complimentary one. Hey, I'm from northern England - we never refuse a free drink, so down the hatch it goes!!

    The bar is getting quieter as the rain settles in for the night and people head for home. We do the same, paying our check at about 10:00pm and huddling under a brolly (borrowed from the cottage) as we make the short dash back.

    This weather is the perfect excuse to enjoy the covered patio/lounge at the side of the cottage (it is open to the front patio and drive area, with heavy curtains on three sides, but also has a door to the bedroom).

    [​IMG]

    We have a nightcap there and catch up on notes and social media obligations. Amanda starts nodding sleepily at 11:15, and heads to bed. I finish my drink and follow her at about 11:45.

    A wonderful last day in our island paradise. I feel a bit sad, but can't help smiling at the thought of heading to my REAL second home tomorrow!!

    Mike and Amanda xx

    TOMORROW - transfer to WDW's Boardwalk Villas (via Celebration, to check on my rocking chair and make sure the Starbucks coffee is up to par) and back to Epcot!
     
    BUTTERHEAD1 likes this.
  5. Mags
    Offline

    Mags Serious Forum Regular

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2008
    Messages:
    1,740
    Likes Received:
    73
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Fantastic report Mike! I particularly like picture 3 of the sunrise and white sands, the photos of the bayside houses and of course the food. After seeing Yoders on Man Vs Food I have longed to visit. What an action packed day.

    Mags
     
    Mike likes this.
  6. Wendy
    Offline

    Wendy A hui hou kakou makuakane Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2008
    Messages:
    23,473
    Likes Received:
    768
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    In Neverland
    Yet another brilliant instalment. I would love to go on that kayaking tour, unfortunately I couldn't do it because of my mobility, it's a wonderful way to see nature though and looks amazing.

    Yoders is definitely on out to do list next time we are down that way.

    Completely off topic here, but have you been to Yellow Dog Eats Mike?
     
    Mike likes this.
  7. Mike
    Offline

    Mike Imagineer

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2008
    Messages:
    278
    Likes Received:
    20
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    NW UK, handy for the Lakes, Dales, Peak District a
    No, but having Googled it, I want to!
     
  8. Wendy
    Offline

    Wendy A hui hou kakou makuakane Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2008
    Messages:
    23,473
    Likes Received:
    768
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    In Neverland
    It is amazing you will love it :D

    It's a must do for us every trip, it's pulled pork like you've never tasted before :lol:
     
    Mike likes this.
  9. sarah
    Offline

    sarah Addicted to Mickey

    Joined:
    May 24, 2014
    Messages:
    457
    Likes Received:
    125
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Middle of England
    It sounds like you had an amazing time in siesta key
    I would love to visit x
     
    Mike likes this.
  10. Watchinherskip
    Offline

    Watchinherskip Better known as "That Guy"

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Messages:
    3,547
    Likes Received:
    432
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Location:
    Virginia USA
    Another great trippie. Kudos to you mate.
     
    Mike likes this.
  11. uscwest
    Offline

    uscwest Senior Cast Member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2008
    Messages:
    7,896
    Likes Received:
    257
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Woodbridge, VA
    Excellent sunset pictures.
     
    Mike likes this.

Share This Page