Saturday, March 7, 2009

Ringling Museum

We had a great breakfast – pancakes and fried spam – hickory smoked no less – left over from our dinner of spam, sweet potatoes, and pineapple in a brown sugar/butter sauce. It is one of our favorite camping-from-a- can recipes. After a relaxed breakfast and cleaning up around camp we headed out to the Mable and John Ringling Museum in Sarasota.

It was about 15 miles to the complex that includes a circus museum, a miniature circus display, an art museum and Ca’d’Zan, the winter home of the Ringlings. Senior entry was $17 but it was well worth the expenditure. We arrived about 10:15 and spent at least an hour in the miniature building. A man by name of Howard Tibbals (from Oneida TN no less) spent 50 years competing this exhibit that contains 8 tents, 152 wagons, over 1,300 performers and workers, 800+ animals and a 59 car train encompasses over 3,800 square feet. It was fascinating and Ben says the buildings were from Knoxville. We both thoroughly enjoyed it. Then we saw a movie about the Ringlings in a reconstructed theater from 15th century Cyprus. It was saved from decay by the first curator of the Ringling Museum in Sarasota. After the movie we toured the circus museum which contained costumes, circus wagons and numerous exhibits. Then thoroughly tired of walking we retreated to the Sprinter for a good picnic lunch before continuing the rest of the venture. The various venues were spaced fairly distant from each other so we took their tram service down through the grounds to Ca’d’Zan (I believe it means House of John) and were transported to the opulence of the late 20’s and 30’s. It is a Venetian Gothic palace constructed on Sarasota Bay. It was indeed grand with numerous treasures the Ringlings had purchased in Europe and New York. After the tour we spent a few minutes resting on the terrace overlooking Sarasota Bay. It was indeed beautiful and we were for the first time HOT! We then hopped on the tram and headed for the last stop – the Museum of Art. John and Mable Ringling had purchased a large number of paintings and before his death he built this museum to hold his collection. Since we could not be considered well informed regarding art we cannot give a factual dialogue regarding the collection. We each liked some; and some we did not. It was certainly impressive and took us more than an hour to view the numerous galleries. The terrace was beautiful and was being staged for a wedding tomorrow.

We left the complex about 3:30 and found our way back to a Super Target we had seen this morning. We bought a few items and now Jane is cooking Macaroni Grill – Basil Chicken for dinner. Ben is exploring the “Prairie across the road from the campground and reports it is a thicket of woven grass (dead right now) with paths through it made by the feral hogs. Once he found the hog paths the hiking was made much easier. Luckily he did not meet up with any of the hogs.Our dinner was good and we have enough for tomorrow night as well! Another beautiful sunset and we will download photos, finish the log and read. Tomorrow morning we will post to the internet hopefully, take down camp and leave. This has been a very nice park. There were several empty campsites when we left this morning but they are all full again this afternoon as people arrive for the weekend. This is a very busy campground. Each day there have been several tour busses that passed by on their way to the airboat and tram tours.

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