That’s why I love places we stumble across accidentally. When you know nothing about them, you have absolutely zero expectations and more times than not, you’ll find yourself delighted at your discovery. That happened to us recently in Bradenton, Florida. After waking up in a Walmart parking lot and destined to spend the next night at the same, we decided to drive around Bradenton in the hopes that we would run across an RV park with a big neon sign with flashing lights saying, “Ellen & Scott! Stop here – we’ve got a spot waiting just for you at the low, low price of $11.95 per night with the strongest free WiFi signal you’ve ever had in your life! And we’ve even got some freshly baked chocolate chip cookies with your names on them!”
Well, we never did see that sign and our tummies were crying out for some lunch, so I looked at the map and saw a tiny park in the north part of Bradenton. We knew nothing about it, other than the fact that it was a park. So, we headed on up and discovered the 487 acre Robinson Preserve and the neighboring botanic gardens. Manatee County must be doing something right because this is a real gem set in the midst of a nice neighborhood. You can explore the coastal park and its mangroves and marshes on your bike, by canoe or kayak or, like we did, with your feet on the 5 miles of trails running through the preserve.
As you walk through the preserve, you can’t help but notice the 40 foot tall observation tower.
I can get a little scared of heights, so I try not to look down as I’m climbing up. Otherwise, I might just turn around and head back down.
But, if you make it to the top, you get these great views of Tampa Bay.
Oh good, a boardwalk! I love boardwalks.
As you’re walking along the coastal trail, you can stop off at a number of viewpoints along the beach. For some reason, this picture reminds me of the beaches in New Zealand. No idea why.
I remember one time when we were sailing in New Zealand and I accidentally dropped a tin can overboard. I watched it float away on to the shore of a nearby island. I still feel guilty about it. I wonder if the person who dropped this beer bottle felt guilty or is one of those types who just doesn’t care.
There’s a palm tree growing out of the middle of this other tree. Weird.
It seems where ever you go for a walk in Florida, there are tons of birds around. No idea what kind this is. Maybe we should learn a thing or two about birds. Right after I learn how to make freshly baked chocolate chip cookies without an oven. There aren’t many things I miss living in our 13’ Scamp travel trailer, but an oven is one of them. And a toaster.
It sure is a pretty and peaceful park.
One of the other things that made Robinson Preserve such a special place was the fact that we managed to find an RV park to stay in after all for a couple of nights. Granted it took a lot of phone calls, but we got the last spot at the very quirky Linger Lodge. More on that some other day.
What about you? Are you more of a planned and organized kind of traveller or do you take more of a laid back approach?
We took joy in our accidental discovery of Robinson Preserve on 3 February 2015. If you want to check it out yourself, you can find it at 1704 99th Street NW in Bradenton.
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