Anna Maria Island: The Beach. The Beauty. The BLTs.

Posted on January 30, 2012


Don’t go looking for the Denny’s Seniors Specials on Anna Maria Island.  Anna Maria is located 10 miles north of Sarasota on Florida’s Gulf Coast.  Years ago, when the rest of Florida got the message about condos, high rises, chain restaurants, and mouse paraphernalia, Anna Maria was entirely too busy picking sand out between her toes to notice. Now, she lives in some kind of magical time warp, consisting of funky cottages and restaurants, small-scale motels, and a popular vintage mobile home park alleged to have been built to be the winter housing for the Ringling Brothers circus employees.

My two co-authors/close friends live on Anna Maria.  Jean, a recovering attorney, has reinvented herself both as a model on Home Shopping Network and the newly elected Holmes Beach City Commissioner.  Joyce started a personal chef business and is now the President of her mobile home community, as well as a member of the Bradenton Beach Zoning and Tax Commission.  If Anna Maria Island were Manhattan, Joyce and Jean would be the Golden Girls version of Kim and Kourtney Kardashian, only with more brains and less clothing.

Armed with my trusty pal Judy, I boarded a plane at BWI Airport, outside Baltimore. We  sat at the gate for about 20 minutes, with no explanation given.  Finally the pilot got on the speaker and announced “The technical problem has been solved temporarily, and we will now take off.”  Since the first flight was two hours long, I contemplated the meaning of the word “temporarily.” Judy took the announcement in stride.  Since she flies no more than once every ten years, she was far too busy turning the overhead light on and off and latching and unlatching her seat tray to be concerned about the pilot’s potentially ominous words.

Highlights of the trip included:

Dancing with Mary, a 90-year-old, at The Flying Dog.  After Mary managed to dance both Judy and me into a stupor, I told Mary’s daughter that her mom was a hoot.  She said, “You have no idea.” I decided that remark could be taken several different ways, all of which were scary.

Meeting Nancy, a fellow blogger, who lives near AMI and writes the super-popular and inspirational blog, Spirit Lights the Way.  Nancy, who shares her deep understanding of the meaning of serenity and of joy with her fans, was also willing to assist me in trying to run various drivers off the road, all in the name of book sales. I seriously admire that.

Meeting Jose of Jose’s Real Cuban Food, where you can get the best Cuban fare this side of Havana. Jose’s has been featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  Jose’s is firmly in the last category.  This place has the ambiance of a bus station rest room. It ain’t fine dining, just great dining.

Meeting Laurie, the friend of my daughter’s father-in-law, Sande.  Laurie is visiting Sande in Bradenton.  She follows my blog, and adds her hilarious comments.  Before I ever laid eyes on her, I felt that she was a long time friend.

Eating my weight in food.

Getting reprimanded by the flight attendant on the return flight back to BWI, when all Judy and I did was to watch the silent video of me looking like I was verbally assaulting prospective book purchasers outside the store, instead of listening to the instructions for an emergency water landing and subsequent shark attack.  Our out of control laughter was interrupted by a personal visit from Attila the Flight Attendant who said, “You kept your cell phone on throughout the opening monologue (or whatever they call it).  That means you weren’t listening.”  Judy, who was born and raised on Long Island Etiquette, responded with, “Bite me.”