Live Trip Map Day 2: December 25, 2008
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Mary Cookies to all. I spend most Tuesday evenings in the company of a truly varied group playing electronic (NTN) trivia. For the last two years, Oven Master Mary has sent each of us into the Christmas holiday with a big box of goodies. From the number and variety of cookies and candies she includes, I'm guessing she must have started baking just after Labor Day. Last year a gingerbread man was the last survivor and I photographed him during his final moments in a motel near Montgomery, Alabama. I thought for sure I had shared the photo but I was wrong. here's the last known picture of the tasty lad. The end was quick and he did not suffer. The fellow shown here met a similar fate last night.

The intersection in the first picture is considered the start of the Tamiami Trail. The picture looks south on US-41 with the east-west FL-60 cutting across it. The first four miles of the Tamiami are arrow straight. Near the point where the modern four-lane makes its first gentle turn, a section of the older and narrower road still exists and can be followed for a couple of miles. The relative isolation and quiet of those two miles is a rarity on the north-south portion of the current route.

As promised, I headed straight to the Showtown for breakfast and so did quite a few others. The restaurant opens at 6:00; the bar a couple of hours later. I saw Mary, the gal I had chatted with yesterday, in the bar and, after eating, headed over to say hi and get a picture. I also took pictures of some of the many murals. Delightful paintings are everywhere and Bill Browning is responsible for all of them. I missed meeting him because I wasn't confident that I recognized him in the restaurant. By the time I got verification from Mary, he was gone. The cleaning lady outside the restroom doors is typical of his work. Check it out. That is NOT a mirror.

I did meet Sacsha Hayes in the restaurant and again as I walked around the outside of the building. He told me he spent ten years seeing the entire world with Ringling Brothers before being injured by a horse. He was the only person who asked me for anything in Gibsonton. He talked of needing a ride to a place down the road but decided he ought to wait for his friends when I offered to take him there. He wasn't sure where he lost his wallet. He might have left it in "that girl's car" he told me with a grin and he "sure couldn't call her" and "open up that bag of worms". I agreed. I gave him a few dollars and we wished each other luck and a Merry Christmas.

The Tamiami Trail name is not forgotten. There are many signs like this one in Palmetto and businesses often use the words "Tamiami" or "Trail" in their names.

In Sarasota, I decided to visit Longboat Key and stumbled upon St. Armands Circle on the way. The pictured sign tells of its great start in 1926 but the other side tells of the less glorious period that followed. But the success that John Ringling dreamed of is here today. That's John's bust behind the circus "Ring of Fame". The plaques start with the Ringling Brothers and P. T. Barnum isn't far away. There is also a full length John Ringling statue. Non-circus items include statues from John Ringling's own collection and a very tall Christmas tree. Among the stores and restaurants surrounding the circle is a Starbucks with people lined up at its door. So only four of these five pictures have anything to do with a circus.

I headed north through Longboat Key and returned to the mainland at Cortez. Most of the drive was through what looked like expensive and boring country club sorts of places though in Bradenton Beach, just before leaving the key, things looked a little more interesting.

I again turned north when I saw a sign pointing to the DeSoto National Memorial. The memorial gates were locked but walking in seemed well accepted. It was near here that DeSoto landed in 1539. The path of the army included locations that are now part of fourteen different states but DeSoto was dead before the trip ended.

I eventually got back to where I had left the Trail in Sarasota and stopped to take pictures of Seward Johnson's "Unconditional Surrender". The sculpture is scheduled to remain in Sarasota until March 2009.

I had seen pictures of the sculpture before but pictures tend to leave one important question unanswered. I was able to determine, and will now share with you, whether those seams are entirely straight. They are.

Tamiami Trail signs attached to US-41 signs like the one in Palmetto are common. Ones under a Florida Scenic Highway marker much less so. Only the Manatee and Sarasota county portion of the Trail are part of the Tamiami Trail Scenic Highway and this sign is very near the Sarasota/Charlotte County line. The road to my day's end near Naples continued as a pleasant but unexciting divided four-or-more-lane.

This year's Christmas page background shows the stockings "hung with care" by the Showtown bartenders.

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