Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Day Trip South

John and I finally took a break from house repairs ( on our daughter's house), as well as babysitting.  Our plan was to drive to Sarasota, Florida, but we were a bit uncertain about going that far as thunderstorms were predicted there by late afternoon.  On our way south we stopped at the DeSoto National Memorial Park.  It is about 5 miles west from downtown Bradenton.
According to park information this reconstructed area is noted as being "perhaps the site" where
Hernando de Soto landed in Florida on May 30, 1539.   Born in 1500, de Soto was by this time a very successful conquistador.  By his twenties he had become rich from Incan plunder which enabled him to purchase the needed supplies and equipment needed for a foray into north America.  After arriving in Florida he left 100 men (he had a total of about 700) at a camp near the lading site to guard their supplies while he traveled northward into Florida.  De Soto had dreams of finding more silver, gold and precious gems in our country than he had found in South America.  It all came to nought, the mission was doomed by his unfamiliarity with the land, hostile Indians, and his strong desire for wealth.  The explorer died three years after landing in Florida.
Above is a granite monument to De Soto, which was placed in the park in 1939.  He and his men are at least credited as being the first to share information regarding the American land and its first people.  He had chroniclers along with him, their written narratives as well as archeological artifacts has helped us to learn of his explorations.  Surrounding the memorial are gumbo trees, some of the largest in the country.  They are often used as living fence posts in Cuba and the West Indies.
The largest one is dying from some black fungus.  There is a sign near it saying "Respect my space".
Our goal for the day was a botanical park in Sarasota.  However, we found this smaller one at Durante Park in the town of Longboat Key.  Not much there, but we found a colorful grove of hibiscus trees- all with differing colors of blooms.  While walking around there, in the heat of the day, we realized it would be foolish to tour a larger garden because it was just too hot!
We did make it to Sarasota, and while driving around in the downtown area we came upon this statute.  It was created by Seward Johnson in 2006, titled "Unconditional Surrender".  You may remember it, a picture taken in 1945 after the Japanese surrendered.  It is of a a sailor and his girlfriend ( a nurse) reuniting with a passionate kiss in Times Square.
That was our day trip.  Mostly what we gained from it was that we needed to return.  Sarasota has gardens, and museums to explore- but only when the weather is a bit cooler!

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