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Spooky trees!

Beautiful trees!

You can tell the food is great!

I'll have one of everything!

After our breakfast of little,round happy oats ( Cherrios), we picked up Fogie #3 at 9 am to begin her big botanical day at the Marie Selby gardens in Sarasota. The gardens open at 10 am but due to the Navigator's efficient guidance we arrived 20 minutes early. Fogie #3 watched the gardeners spruce up the entrance to the gardens and then I saw her staring into a window and she began to drool and quiver; at first sight, I thought she was getting sick but then I saw what she was staring at: THE FLORAL gift shop!

We watched one of the gardeners planting an array of small plants into a floral bed; he was using a drill with an auger attached to dig holes for the plants. Neat, huh?

Finally, the entrance doors to the garden were unlocked and we rushed the ticket counter so Fogie #3 could start her tour. The Navigator and I were worried that since Fogie #3 had breathing issues she might not be able to walk through these vast gardens. She is always out of breath when she walks down to our house and that's only a block away! We agreed to keep an eye on her and make a decision if necessary.

The first stop on our walking tour was the Rain Forest pavilion and we were all agog at the many types of blooming orchids that were attached to the trees. This was the best presentation of plants I've ever seen. The only issue I had was that the plants were identified by their scientific botanical nomenclature instead of using their common names as well. You could get your tang tungled up trying to pronounce these Latin names.

Having exhausted both our time and me viewing the rain forest we bolted through the exit door and were immediately plunged into the Bonsai Garden. The bonsai trees were very impressive and some were molded into intricate shapes that only Japanese hands could fashion.

Oh no! Fogie #3 went missing and the Nav and I soon discovered she had meandered off to the Primitive Garden exhibit which, some how, seemed appropriate. We got her back on track and proceeded to visit other exhibits of very unusual plants from around the world that we had no idea what they were. We also saw many odd trees that fascinated us to no end. Well, maybe not me in particular. These gardens were indeed spectacular and they did an outstanding job presenting the planting in such a way that you gradually transitioned from one exhibit to another without realizing it. This was a truly beautiful place.

It was amazing watching Fogie #3 scurry about the gardens for over 2 hours and not skipping a beat! I asked if she was getting tired and she said she had enough gas in the tank for the floral gift shop: what a surprise. It's a medical mystery that her breathing problems abated in the gardens.

Oh yes! The gift shop suddenly appeared at the garden exit and none too soon, I might add. The woman was like a demon possessed as she flitted about the shop touching and smelling the flowers; she purchased an orchid and a few books. The Nav, being DNA related to Fogie #3, also purchased a few bromeliads.

Initially, the navigator planned for to have lunch at Sofrito Mama's which specializes in Latin comfort food but I called an audible and suggested we go to the Columbia Restaurant on St Armand's Circle on St Armand's Key. As I was being directed to said Columbia, it dawned on me that I would have to go over a high bridge spanning Sarasota Bay to get to St Armand's Key. OOPS! I quickly called another audible for Sofritos and off we went in the opposite direction as I watched the killer bridge fade away in my rear view mirror.

Sofrito Mama's is in a nondescript strip center off of Tamiami Trail. Even the strip center was hard to see from the road so it is really amazing that Mama's got such high reviews on Trip Advisor. Sofrito's store front was small and there were 3 cheap metal tables with chairs on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. We walked in and were greeted by a young, friendly Puerto Rican couple and the husband gladly explained every item on their menu. All 3 of us ordered the pork platter: Fogie #3 had an avocado salad and red beans and rice with her order, The Nav had yellow rice (with olives and zucchini) and avocado salad and I had red beans and rice and sweet plantains with my order. Dear readers, I have eaten at the Columbia in Tampa and St Augustine many times but I have never tasted anything as delicious as this meal! We also tried their bread pudding and it was fantastic: it was perfectly seasoned and had the lightest texture I ever tasted and I hate bread pudding. We left Mama's withh 3 empanadas ( these are small fried pies stuffed with meats or cheese and vegetables). What a great place! The 3 of us gave Sofrito Mama's 5 Spoons for our meals.

The navigator asked the couple if they were from Puerto Rico and they both laughed and said they were from Philadelphia. They drove down to Sarasota in their food truck a number of years ago but since the city didn't allow food trucks, they sold it. Now, with the food truck craze booming, Sarasota has a designated a Food Truck Park and even supplies electricity to the trucks.

The Navigator had planned a tour of Spanish Point after lunch. Spanish Point strives to tell the history of Sarasota from the Indians, the Spanish explorers and cattle drivers and into the modern age. There is a replica of an Indian village, Spanish fort, etc that can be toured on the property. When I pulled up to the visitor center, the Nav said she would find out how long it would take for the self guided tour and how much walking was involved; she anticipated that Fogie #3 would definitely have a breathing problem here since it wasn't a garden.

The Nav returned forthwith only to find Fogie #3 asleep laying on the backseat with one leg thrown over the back and arms dangling on the floor, snoring and a little drool-icicle hanging from her lower lip. The 2 mile hike was obviously a no-go.

We dropped Fogie #3 off at her cabin where she collapsed on the bed for a nice cool nap. Our day ended at 2:30 pm!

Tomorrow we will visit a small batch bakery first thing in the morning before we break camp and head home.

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