Vegas Spotlight Sensation Hits Myakka

Vegas Spotlight Sensation Hits Myakka


Frieda the Fabulous Fish

Guest Post by Nancy Dobias

Although we live in a community where a "No Soliciting" sign is posted, it didn't stop a rather glitzy visitor from knocking on our door Saturday morning to solicit a ride to Myakka River State Park.  Now generally I'm not so accommodating but for some unexplained reason, Freida the Fabulous Fish from Vegas took me by surprise.  Whether it was her glitz or her charm, I don't know but within seconds, Freida the Fabulous Fish was not only in our car, but we were headed to Myakka.  Naturally she was in the front seat helping Larry drive!  Fortunately Larry didn't listen to any of Freida's advice.

Normally when we go to the park, we hike along the Myakka River but Freida looked too tempting for the alligators to resist.  Instead, we decided to check out the CLAY GULLY PICNIC AREA.  Although the area was posted for a possible alligator, we thought she might be safer here.  

At first Freida the Fabulous Fish was eager to check out her surroundings.  "Freida, this is a good place for you to swim.  Just let go, jump in, and make some friends," I suggested.  

"You can do it, Freida.  Those are all nice friendly Florida fish below you," Larry encouraged.

Well, Freida the Fabulous Fish scanned the waters downstream....  "Are you for REAL??  There is NO WAY one would ruin a palette as lovely and magnificent as mine!" she yelled.

"This is not working, Larry.   Maybe we should have found a less rustic place for Freida to enjoy," I suggested.  

 "Yea, she looks depressed.  Freida is definitely not the "woodsy" type," said Larry.

"There are lots of places in the park.  We'll drive and let Freida decide where she'd like to stop," added Larry.  

At first I didn't think it was going to work.  Although the park has several nice places, Freida was waaaaaay too close to a mirror....  

Past several beckoning trails...past the bird walk...down the road we drove.  Several spots looked good to us and had we not been accompanied by Frieda the (finicky) Fabulous Fish, we definitely would have...

"STOP!  STOP!!!  STOP!!!!!  There it is!!  I want to go THERE!!!" screeched Freida at the top of her lungs.  "This is IT!  I can feel it!  This is ABSOLUTELY made for me!   STOP!" she screamed.

Puzzled, we looked around.  Lots of cars WERE stopping... but we didn't see what would attract a glitzy fabulous fish....  We looked again.  A tram was coming... it seemed to be slowing...We looked to where all the people were looking.....  

"BLACK BELLIED WHISTLING DUCKS!  They're pretty...they're not so much glitzy...but they ARE quite lovely...  Hmmmmmm...  Sure are A LOT OF them!  Hmmmmmmm....  They're all over the field....  Do glitzy pink fabulous fish like to hang out with orange-beaked whistling ducks?" I wondered.

As Larry prepared to find a safer parking spot so that Freida the Fabulous Fish could better avail herself of a glitzy touristy opportunity worthy of what someone of her glamour status might expect, suddenly Freida shouted out, "NO, NOT HERE!!!  UP THERE!!!  ACROSS THE ROAD!!!  IN THE FIELD!!!  QUICK!!!  HURRY...BEFORE WE'RE TOO LATE!!!!"

Perplexed, Larry and I looked away from the birds, across the road, and in the direction to where Freida the Fabulous Fish was pointing.   Ahhhh....  CAMERAS!   Lots and LOTS of cameras!!  Cameras mounted on tripods, cameras awaiting the right moment, cameras in a direct line, cameras in line with the whistling ducks.

Bunny Olympic Training Grounds at Saw Palmetto Loop in Nokomis


Bunny Olympics

Guest Post by Nancy Dobias

If you didn't think it existed, it does!  There are easy-to-follow trails for those who do not have an innate sense of direction.  One is the SAW PALMETTO LOOP at the PINELANDS RESERVE COMPLEX.  If you've ever gone to the Knight's Trail Landfill off of Laurel Road in Nokomis, then you would have passed this park.  There are two trails to explore:  the Saw Palmetto (the shorter one) and the Slash Pine Loop Trail.  Because I didn't know if I'd get lost in the "hinterlands," I chose the shorter circular route, figuring that even I could navigate this trail, BUT just in case I was wrong, I hedged my bet by putting 7 trail markers in my pocket!

The trail was well-maintained and well-marked.  Blue stakes marked my passage as I took my leisurely stroll through the pines and saw palmettos.

Along the way there was even a "slalom training ground" for bunnies seeking to hone their evasive techniques.

For those wishing to sit and commune with nature and to perhaps quietly await an animal's passage, three park benches served the purpose quite well.  For the "directionally-impaired," they also became a trail marker to ensure the trail was being followed.

At one point I came to a split and debated as to whether my trail markers were necessary.  "If I kept turning right, why would I need them?" I thought.  Then I remembered the Myakka State Forest and my inability to remember where I had turned or in what direction I had turned, so out came my markers.

Down the trail I continued.  This must have been a tasty part of the trail.   Rather than using the picnic tables provided by the park, the hogs chose to root out their dinner on the trail before heading on to greener pastures.

I think residents and visitors to Sarasota County are quite lucky to have so many opportunities to get away from it all, to get out and experience how the ranch lands must have looked to those who farmed and settled the state, to experience the quiet solitude of nature, to let the imagination wonder as to what the early explorers would have encountered who sought passage through these lands.  It's all here.  All you have to do is stop.   

The Saw Palmetto Loop is an easy trail to follow.  It's well-marked and has plenty of park benches along the way.  Because it's a loop trail, it'll go back to where you started.  (Trail markers are not needed!  If you do use them, you'll have to go back and collect them.)


Rubber Duckie Joins the Snowbirds

rubber duckie.jpg

Rubber Duckie Swims Myakka River

Guest Post by Nancy Dobias

I thought nothing would surprise me anymore, but I was wrong.  The other day when I went to Myakka River State Park, I was quite shocked to see a Little Rubber Duckie approaching the river.  "What on earth could he be doing?  He certainly can't be thinking about going swimming in that river!"  Quickly I rushed over to have a word.

"Mr. Duckie, Mr. Duckie," I cried.  "Please wait!"  Lucky for Mr. Duckie that he's an inquisitive and friendly soul.  Had he been the headstrong type, he might have ignored my overtures and just gone ahead and entered that river.  Instead, Mr. Duckie turned and quacked out a welcoming greeting, "Hey!  How's it going?"

"Mr. Duckie, I am concerned about your welfare.   You are rather close to the water and I wonder if you might come up here where I am so that I might better explain my worries.  Being a somewhat trusting soul, Mr. Duckie had no compunction about complying with my request but he didn't come all the way to where I was standing.  Instead he needed to take one more longing look back at the beckoning waters below.

"Please, Mr. Duckie, just for one minute. Please come up to where I am standing.  I want you to see something that I think you might be overlooking," I said.  Perplexed as to what I might wish to show him, Mr. Duckie wobbled his way up the bank until he stood where I wanted him to be.  "Now, peek around that moss and look over on the other side of that river" I said.  "What do you see?" I asked.

"I really can't see all that well.  This Spanish moss is blocking my sight line.  How about if I just swim over and I'll come back and let you know!" Mr. Duckie suggested.  Then before I knew it, off the tree he tottered, down the bank he slid, and into the water he splashed!  

"You have got to be kidding me!"  What's up with these Little Rubber Duckies?  Have they no common sense?" I asked myself.  Quickly I hurried after him, hoping I didn't make a bigger splash into the water, hoping I didn't get anywhere near the water!  

"Mr. Duckie, Mr. Duckie!  Please come back.  I have another idea.  Being a kind-hearted soul, Mr. Duckie reluctuantly paddled back to shore, waddled out of the water and exasperated, asked, "OK, What is your other idea?"

"I would like you to look through my camera and tell me what you see," I suggested.  

"That'll be fun!" Mr. Duckie jubilantly exclaimed.  Carefully I lowered my camera down to Mr. Duckie and steadily held the camera so his eyes would have time to adjust.... "What do you see?" I asked. 

"Lots of new friends!" he exclaimed.

"Hmmmmmm......Let's use the zoom function so we can better see what some of your new friends might be planning...or rather doing! " I suggested.

"Ohhhhhhhhh....I see.  This is not good.  I think those two are ready to take a bath and I forgot my soap bubbles...." lamented Mr. Duckie.

I spoke my head in disbelief, perplexed at the logic, and went on my way. 

Never Too Old To Learn


Never Too Old To Learn

Guest Post by Nancy Dobias

Saturday I asked Larry to go with me to the Myakka State Forest so he could show me where I might have gone wrong in my inability to retrace my steps back to the picnic tables that I figured had mysteriously "disappeared" in the few hours I had wandered around taking pictures.  For my second foray into the wilderness, I now had my pockets stuffed with brightly colored red/yellow trail markers with which I intended to practice.  Well, we parked the car, walked past the 4 picnic tables, out to the main path, turned left, walked a bit and then I remembered I was to tag one of the bushes.  Larry patiently waited until the task was completed.  Off we started walking.  Surprisingly we soon came to the gathering place for meetings and I couldn't figure out how that happened so quickly.  "It wasn't near those picnic tables!" I protested to Larry.

"Don't worry about it.  Just show me where you went," said Larry.  Then back and forth I led him on the various paths I took, but this time I must not have made the same first turn because the animal track was not visible right away.   I showed him both muddy trails which caused me to turn back.  Larry decided to venture forward on the longest of the paths to see where it would go.  He had to turn back too because it led to one of the highways that borders the forest.  Of course I NEVER would have continued walking in mud that got that DENSE...NO WAY!!! 

Because we were still looking for all the trails that I followed, at every turn Larry would ask, "What did you do here?"  I would take off and he would patiently follow and of course I snapped a few more pictures along the way.  "Hey is that one of those crop circles?" I asked.  

After we walked the trails in a more precise manner than I would have walked them, eventually I finally found the tracks that I should have found right away.  Larry asked me if anything looked familiar about the place and of course, I said, "YES!  There are lots of tracks here!" 

Being the analytical type, Larry put his Buck knife down so we could have a comparison on the size of the track.  The length of the knife was 5 inches....  Because our neighbor thought my other picture resembled the track of a coyote, Larry and I discussed whether a coyote would have a track of this size.   We both thought it resembled a coyote's track in pictures we had seen but are they this big??  We didn't know.

Once more Larry returned to his earlier question.  "Nanc, look around.  Does anything look familiar?"  he asked.  

"I already told you," I answered.  "What more can I add?  Animal tracks...Tracks of animals!"

Then Larry pointed on the other side of the track.  "Look there!" he said.  "What do you SEE?"  Larry asked.  

Wondering what on earth he was talking about, I looked in the general direction he was pointing.  I looked again....  

"A PICNIC TABLE!  THERE'S A 5TH PICNIC TABLE!!!"  I exclaimed.  "Who would have thought??!"  I said.  "You can even see it from the trail!  AND IT'S RIGHT NEXT TO THAT GATHERING PLACE!!  I had the way out if I only would have noticed....

I guess there's more to hiking than just following a trail.