Yesterday being Labor Day, I had the day off from my “real job” and although I should have stayed home to catch up on blog posts, I skipped out to Gasparilla Island and Boca Grande to snap some photos. Being September, the community was a ghost town. Many businesses are closed for the month of September and the primary mode of transportation is by golf cart.
The Loose Caboose Restaurant was open and as you can see in this photo, a fleet of golf carts is parked out front with drivers and passengers enjoying a leisurely lunch. A brief trip to the beaches was made but the biggest treasure I discovered was Whidden’s Marina. Want to see Old Florida when visiting Southwest Florida? Well, it’s definitely here.
I found the marina by accident. After living more than two years in the area, I decided to take a drive and see what I could find. Driving down First Street led me to Whidden’s Marina where a sign read something drive slow because there were children and dogs playing. Then I saw an old row boat converted to a flower planter indicating I was at Whidden’s Marina.
Out at the docks, two distinct sailboats bobbed on the water while fishing boats were tied up to other docks. I spotted a pair of pink plastic flamingos which lead me to a maritime museum. Boca Grande is the Tarpon Capital of the World, meaning it’s THE place to fish for tarpon, and angling was important in founding Boca Grande. Fishing guides can be chartered, boats can be rented, dockage is available as well as fuel.
The museum was air conditioned (thank goodness, it was another sticky Florida day) and while not large or fancy, it’s jammed-packed with fishing artifacts, photos and journals. It definitely portrays a history of fishing in the area. A box accepts donations.
Heading out I needed something to quench my thirst and popped into the marina store. Walking in, front paws of a yellow Labrador retriever pounced on my chest. His tongue and tail wagged simultaneously.
“Good puppy!” I said while petting his head before the owner called him off me.
Inside was more stuff but more essentials for fishing, especially provisions for a fishing trip such as snacks and cold beverages. The walls, doors and shelves were all old. Reminded me of the Olsen’s Mercantile from Little House on the Prairie.
Most memorable was the woman who assisted me with my purchase. She sat in the middle of the store in an over-sized reclining chair and was munching on boiled shrimp and dipping them in cocktail sauce. I wondered if those shrimp were meant to be shrimp bait to catch fish. After all, shrimp for all purposes come from the same place. And I remember my co-workers in the Everglades would eat the bait shrimp.
Anyway, I wondered how she was going to maneuver from her comfy settings to the counter because all I had was a $20 (I dropped my $5 bill in the donation box for the museum). Without barely moving, she pulled out a zippered pouch and handed me my change. Clever.
I now have a place to introduce my parents and anyone else to come visit. I know they’ll get a kick out of seeing this piece of Old Florida still alive and thriving.
190 1st Street E
Boca Grande, Fla. 33921
Tel: (941) 964-2878