Friday, March 9, 2018

Florida Spring Break: Sarasota

Our fourth day of vacation we drove an hour south to Sarasota to take in a spring training baseball game. I was so excited to be in the company of fellow O's fanatics, in what is said to be one of the nicest Grapefruit League stadiums. Although the temps had been in the 80s the whole month of February, as soon as we arrived, they dived to 60-70s for highs. Thursday it barely reached 70 while we sat in the shade in 17 mph winds. It was one of our less enjoyable games, made more so by the fact that the Birds didn't do anything exciting until the bottom of the 9th inning, at which point the stadium was half empty, and their defeat was already assured. Dear Husband ate a "jumbo" dog for lunch, which he pronounced decent. I splurged on a $13 crab cake sandwich. The crab cake was respectable, but it was served with the most anemic slice of tomato I have ever seen, on a thoroughly uninspired cheap plain roll. The lemon ice was good and not too big (the ones they sell at the Pittsburgh park say "4 servings" on them!).

After the game we tootled over to the Ringling Estate in time for an early dinner and the $15-ticket discount at 5pm. We thought to get a hot meal at the restaurant but were turned away although there were many empty tables, because they had future reservations. So we settled for sharing a sandwich, a cookie, and a root beer from the cafe.

Although I wanted to ogle the Roaring Twenties mansion Ca'd'Zan (House of John) that John and Mable Ringling had built in 1924-1926, we only had 3 hours, so we focused on the Circus Museum. (They have a very large Museum of Art, but we were arted-out [see Sarasota 1 and 2]). Dear Husband's favorite part was Howard Tibbals' miniature model circus that he has built by hand over decades. Ringling wouldn't let him use the name, so he called it "Howard Brothers Circus."

Here is an aerialist lined up with her spangled horses, waiting to parade into the ring.

The circus's caged animals amounted to a rolling zoo.

This is an over-heard view from the second floor of the circus grounds.

There was an older circus that had inspired Tibbals. This is a shot of one of the decorated elephants.

There were also artifacts, video footage, and activities for kids (and the young at heart).

The entranceway was overseen by an enormous circus mural.

In the second building they keep old circus cars and cages, the tools that were used behind the scenes to repair everything, and the Ringlings' private railroad cars, which are FAN-cy. There was also a half-hour video about how the Ringlings struck it rich and moved from small-town Wisconsin to the Florida Gulf Coast, but we didn't have enough time to watch it. 

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