Eat, Drink and Be Merry!

Yesterday we spent the morning at the Venice Airport, the site of the Sarasota Chalk Festival. Artists illustrated this year’s theme ‘Eat, Drink and Be Merry!’ in images that boggled your senses like this shark rising from the runway.


Scores of temporary works of art attracted visitors for the week long event.


My favorites were designed to let those in attendance become part of the art. I joined the children dancing around a shark’s tooth.


While John was served on a silver platter.


And we reached in a trap and posed with a pelican.


Each piece of art was marked with a pair of feet labeled “stand here” to ensure perfect viewing.


The event is recognized as the first international street art festival with more than 250 artists from around the globe…absolutely amazing.


Thanks Venice for a great event.




An Expensive Bargain

The $15 bargain tent may have been one of my most expensive garage sale finds. Until I purchased the eight man tent, we were perfectly happy with the small 3 person tent we’ve been using for the past two years.

A $15 bargain?

But our trip to Hontoon Island State Park changed everything. We pitched the garage sale tent and loved the extra room. Space for our clothes and the ability to stand made for luxurious accommodations. The small tears around the zipper were not a problem, but the fly didn’t lay just right. How would it handle rain? And then I noticed the small tear in the seam near the peak. We couldn’t camp in a cheap tent and worry about the weather. We’d return to our tiny, but reliable tent.

Small, but reliable.

However, that changed when we started packing for a three night trip during Spring Break. The weather report called for rain, not enough to prevent us from camping, but enough to convince us of the need to break down and buy a bigger tent so we could spread out and escape the rain if needed. The $15 tent was retired after two nights use and a new one costing 10 times as much replaced it.

We initiated the new tent at Oscar Scherer State Park just a few miles east of Sarasota and stayed dry despite the rainy weather so it was a good investment. Although the first night was a little cold, it was dry so we could roast hot dogs over the campfire.

We didn’t spend a lot of time at the campground since this was a beach trip, but the Legacy Trail borders the park and we rode the 14 mile round trip to Venice. The hiking trails and canoes will have to wait for a return trip.

Oscar Scherer State Park…a great place to initiate our deluxe camping quarters.


Sea the Venice Dolphins

We discovered “Sea Venice”, a public arts display, while looking for an ice cream shop after a busy day on the beaches of southwest Florida.

Sea Hibiscus

Twenty uniquely painted dolphins adorn the streets, parks, and businesses of Venice and will promote the Venice Arts Center with the auction proceeds.

The “Sea Venice” dolphins added some extra fun to a stroll down Venice Avenue.


Shark (Tooth) Fever

Finding sharks’ teeth made the list of things John wanted to do in 2014 so we included a trip to the beach in Venice during our Southwest Florida trip over Spring Break. According to the Visit Florida website, millions of sharks’ teeth wash up on the white sand where beach-goers  sift the sands for the treasures. Sounds easy!

Of course, it required more effort than simply sifting through sand and picking out the black bits of teeth. Using a metal sifter, John scooped shells in ankle deep water and then picked through the pieces of shell left behind but didn’t find even one shark’s tooth.

Another tooth hunter provided some tips and shared some of his finds proving sharks’ teeth could be found but the “Shark’s Tooth Capital of the World” doesn’t give up the treasures without effort.

The next day, we started by purchasing “the tool”. The basket on a long handle used to scoop a large quantity of sand without the constant bending and digging in the shallow water. We also drove south to Stump Pass Beach State Park…success! We’re now the proud owners of dozens of sharks’ teeth, and just like shell collecting…shark teeth hunting is addicting. John continued the hunt even in the rain.

If you’re inclined to join the shark teeth hunt, you may want to visit the Venice area this weekend and attend the 22nd Annual Venice Sharks Tooth Festival. The festival runs from April 11-13 at the City of Venice Airport Festival Grounds and features live entertainment, food, arts and crafts, and of course sharks’ teeth. And of course, you’ll need to buy “the tool” and head over to the beaches to find your own supply of shark tooth treasures.


Tervis Mania

I admit to having more than a few Tervis® Tumbler products. They are perfect for  using outside on the patio and they don’t leave rings on the furniture when drinks are carried all over the house and I appreciate their lifetime guarantee, but this week I witnessed an incredible sight as dozens of shoppers frantically attacked the shelves of the Tervis® Tumbler Outlet Store in Venice.


The obvious question…what possessed me to stop in this outlet store? The sign advertised 40% off ice buckets, and I’ve thought for years we should get an ice bucket instead of using an ice chest in the dining room when we have guests.

However, I was not prepared for the crazed shoppers or the variety of products available. Of course, the emblem of every sports team can be found on the shelves, but I didn’t realize Tervis® tumblers brought together the Harley Davidson® crowd and the Greeks found on college campuses.

Apparently, mock wine glasses are perfect for the bride and groom and doesn’t everyone need the full set of mustache glasses?

Best of all, the Tervis® Tumbler Outlet Store is a family vacation destination. Kids are invited to design their own Tervis®. Watch out Disney…you’ve got some pretty stiff competition in Venice.

The cars in the parking lot represented most of the midwest states and the cash register rang up purchases non-stop while we were in the store. So, what did we buy? I’m proud to say we left empty handed. Only a few ice buckets were marked down 40%, and we really don’t need one that says “Captain”.

I even passed on the FAU glass…great restraint for an alum.