Fort De Soto
Finally, back to the beach! The gulf side this time, as we had lucked into someone else canceling their reservations. Fort De Soto is definitely in my top 10 of Florida campgrounds. It has many large, very level sites, good power, strong water pressure, washers and dryers, some privacy between sites, and a beautiful location on the Gulf. What’s not to love? While we didn’t get a site that backed onto water (there are many, especially if you don’t have pets), we did have a very large site with plenty of room.
But what we came here for was the water. And there is a lot of it.
We did more than just gaze at sunsets, though not too much more as we only had four days.
We blew up our kayak and headed over to Shell Key, a little over two miles from our put in (an empty waterfront site in the pet campground).
The ride over was pretty uneventful, if you don’t count the part where we didn’t tighten the valve cap on one of our side chambers and we had to make a detour back to the campground for our air pump (Our new rule: carry the air pump). We saw a dolphin, a sting ray, and lots and lots of fish. The water in the lagoon is not really deep until you get to the channel – two feet in some places – that one could practically walk halfway there.
We wandered around Shell Key for a couple of hours on foot. Please, if you are in a remote spot, carry out your trash! Leave the place as you found it so others can enjoy it, too.
I had always wanted to find a giant whelk on the beach. We found one, but it was still being used so we put it back.
Being the beginning of March, we had to tear ourselves away from the idyllic beach paradise and make our way into the absolute chaos of Sarasota traffic. It is Spring Training Baseball Season! We hit Ed Smith Stadium for the Orioles Opening Day.
It took us as long to drive there as it did to kayak to Shell Key. Even including the detour. The Orioles lost but we had a great time – we hadn’t been to a live baseball game in well over a year. Yes, it is great to watch on tv, but people at a baseball game are generally very happy people and the happiness is infectious.
While at Fort De Soto, we also ate out twice. Our first night, we didn’t feel like driving far so we went up to Tony and Nello’s, just outside the park. The place was empty as we were between lunch and dinner, so we didn’t know what to expect. I had pizza, Mike had pasta, and both were very good. Good enough that, when we didn’t feel like cooking after kayaking all day, we went back. And the food was just as delicious. While I wouldn’t order the house chianti again, the wine list did have some great choices. We took some cannolis to go and they were almost like being back in Vaccaro’s in Baltimore (yes, they were good). So Tony and Nello’s is on our list for a revisit, the next time we are in town.
On Friday morning, our departure day, I logged on to the Fort De Soto camping reservations site. At 7AM, they make available about 10% of their sites for booking for the next week. There were plenty of sites available (for the first five minutes) and I contemplated adding some more days to our stay. I loved it here, I can book a site, and we have no where to stay for the night. I ended up taking a pass. We had more baseball games to see, places we hadn’t explored, and if we were going to move an inch, we might as well move a mile. So we packed up and headed off the island.