January 16, 2013

Day 106 - January 15, 2013: Boca Grande!

It took just an hour to cruise down through Charlotte Harbor to Gasparilla Island and Boca Grande. Boca Grande is a small residential community, home to many seasonal and some full-time residents. Its name, Spanish for "big mouth," comes from the adjacent very deep and wide entrance to Charlotte Harbor. The city is known for its charming downtown, no gas stations, many golf carts, sugar sand beaches and world class blue water fishing.

Entrance to Charlotte Bay
We stopped at the Boca Grande Marina, unpacked the bikes and headed for the Gasparilla Island State Park to see an 1890s lighthouse and museum. We learned that the first known inhabitants were Calusa Indians who lived here over 1,000 years ago, and they survived entirely living off the sea. Spanish fisherman also arrived and established camps along the shore where fish were shipped to Cuba.

Gasparilla Island Lighthouse
Many rich and famous people discovered this area starting in the 1920s, staying in the beautiful Gasparilla Inn and fishing the Gulf and Charlotte Bay. Later, phosphorous was discovered up in the bay and trains brought it down to Boca Grande where it was loaded into large ocean going ships.

Gasparilla Inn
Here is Great Laker reflected in the boat next to us. It was a 124.3 ft yacht named Hilarium. A yacht is a boat where someone else does all the piloting, cooking and maintenance! We have a baby cruiser where we do it all and are quite content.

Great Laker's reflection
This seemed like a good day to have a special dinner out, and we chose the Pink Elephant and had red snapper in a pretzel crusted coating. It was a super supper (:-). We rode the bikes even though it was dark, and I carried a spotlight to keep us safe on the road. Overall, this is a very special kind of place, and we really liked it!

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