So What’s The Plan, Jan?

Florida is warmer in winter than the rest of The Great Loop. “Loopers” tend to dally waiting on spring to cruise up the US East Coast..  Since David can’t wear shorts all the time, even here, we’re “wintering over” in sunny Florida with lots of other Loopers from the “Fleet of 2018”.

The boat is ready to go, we’re ready to go…  but it’s hard to leave a place as delightful as Bradenton. Several Loopers have told us that The Great Loop is like being on vacation for a year. I’m good at being on vacation!

This week highlights: a day at Egmont Key State Park, the Bradenton Area Regatta (amazing!), Big Cat Rescue & more!  Since pictures are worth a thousand words, we’ll let this week’s photos do the talking.  🙂

Bradenton Regatta Fireworks!

A ship enters the Tampa Bay Ship Channel … just off the beach on Egmont Key State Park.

Egmont Key State Park … accessible only by ferry, Egmont Key State Park is a barrier island with a lighthouse dating from 1858 at the southern tip of the Tampa Bay Ship Channel, as well as the ruins of a Spanish American war fort and ghost town.  There are no facilities (i.e. no bathrooms, no water, nada …)  It also has miles of amazing beaches, shells, supposedly 2000+ gopher tortoises, although we only saw one, and solitude.  Despite several folks on our ferry, the beaches were empty and the beachcombing was superb.

Dozens of Dolphins playing around the ferry as we approach the island!

Egmont Key Ferry – leaving from Fort DeSoto County Park.

Egmont Key Lighthouse dating from 1858.

Two sand dollars among my other beachcombing treasures!

David watches as a ship comes in the Tampa Bay Ship Channel.

The lone gopher tortoise we spotted …among 2000+ of his best friends?

The Blue Blood Super Moon was a highlight before dawn on Weds, January 31 … and YES, I was up to see it!  Proud of myself!

Twin Dolphin Marina and the Blue Blood Super Moon, January 31, 2018.

Blue Blood Super Moon … looking a bit like a bruised orange in the pre-dawn sky.

After the show in the sky, we visited Tampa’s Big Cat Rescue organization.  Worthwhile, we learned alot and were glad our tour fees support the effort to eliminate the mistreatment of big cats.

So many big cats rescued from unbelievable horrid circumstances right here in the US. Hard to believe!

Then there’s the Bradenton Area Regatta Festival – complete with mini-miss budweiser type powerboat racing, live music and unbelievable fireworks. Optimystique has a front row seat… they even close the bridge across the Manatee River and over 200,000 people enjoy the free festival and racing.

And they’re OFF! Championship Race, 30 laps. Boatspeeds up to 110 mph.

Rounding Turn #1…

They closed the Green Bridge for the early morning 5K & spectator viewing of the festivities & racing.

#2 takes home the checkered flag for the 2nd year in a row.

Between Race JetSki Stunts

2016 World Flyboard Champion

A Tim McGraw Tribute Band on the Palmetto side of the river – along with the 90′ high giant ferris wheel.

And, of course, the fireworks. Live music all along the Riverwalk, including some original members of Three Dog Night made for a memorable evening.

Now what?  Stay tuned!

Cheers!  Jan & David


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