Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Settling into Buttonwood Inlet RV Resort

Jan. 4-8, Cortez, Florida

Hard to believe we have been here a week already today. We pulled in on New Year’s Day about 3 in the afternoon and there was a large party going with chairs all gathered around in the middle of the circular drive that is home to about 40 sites in the newer part of the park. There are no planned activities here, so the guests seem to take it upon themselves to organize parties and other events for the community.  Sadly, we busied ourselves so much with setting up that we missed the seafood fest and roast pork potluck. We did catch a little of the live music that surfaced after the meal when I heard an accordion and a bit of a German songfest. Fun.

Here are few photos to give an idea of what the park and its roomy sites look like:

The weather forecast the past week was much worse than reality. When we looked at the weather apps on our phones, they showed clouds with lightening bolts for at least three days in a row, so we expected the worst. With such foreboding predictions, we were surprised when most days turned out to be fairly sunny and pleasant. The temps did dip into the the high 40s at night, which seemed really cold to us, but daytime temps have mostly been in the high 60s to mid 70s and we have had very little rain. No complaints here!

One of my first tasks here was to find a good Zumba class. On Jan 2, I went to the local YMCA, about four miles from here, and attended a class that was rather abysmal. The instructor just seemed to be putting in her time--no enthusiasm at all. I loved that there was a diverse clientele, but three elderly (75-90 year-old) men in the back row mostly visited with each other the whole time unless there was a move that they recognized like the cha-cha. On my way home from this class, I stopped at a fitness center called Shapes and asked about their classes. The good news was they have about eight Zumba classes a week plus all kinds of other options, including Aqua Zumba, for the reasonable membership cost of $50 a month.  I joined and have been quite happy with the classes. Another bonus is its location, only 2.5 miles away.   I have gone three times and when I told my neighbor about it, she joined too. Okay, I admit to having Zumba fever and that is a good thing.

One of the most gorgeous beaches we have discovered on the Gulf is exactly one mile from our park, an easy walk or bide ride away. What do you think?

Tucked in along the way in the town of Cortez are bait shops, bayside bars, fish fry cafes, and quaint artisan shops.

The history of Cortez as a fishing village goes back to the Native Americans and Spanish who first explored the area. Later, the area was settled by commercial fisherman from Beaufort, North Carolina in the 1890s and descendants of these original families still make a living here as fishermen. Local organizations have been active in establishing Cortez as an historical landmark by restricting land use and creating a fish preserve on almost 100 acres of undeveloped shoreline. A local landmark is the lift bridge that takes you across Sarasota Bay from the town of Cortez to Bradenton Beach which is located on Anna Maria Island. The view from the bridge is also lovely as many sailboats make their home here at anchor in the bay.

Cortez, FL

Saturday was a full day for us as our friends Mike and BJ stopped by for a visit on their way back to Ft. Meyers after spending the holidays at their home in Illinois.  We just stayed here on our patio and enjoyed their company for a few hours before they headed off to Seminole RV Resort in North Ft. Myers, about two hours south of us.

Mike and BJ are responsible for telling us about this great little corner of the world here at Buttonwood. They had just spent a month here themselves so we had to find out what new discoveries they made while they were here so we could add them to the list. We also made plans to travel with them in a couple weeks to the huge Florida RV Supershow in Tampa—hoping to find some good deals on RV parks and other perks—not a new motorhome!

Fellow bloggers Jeannie and Eldo of Where’s Eldo fame are staying the month of January at the Sun ‘n Fun Vacation Resort in nearby Sarasota, and we are hoping to get together with them while we are here. I actually met them in a park in Missoula, Montana when we had about five days of full-timing experience. During a brief conversation with them while I was walking the dogs, Jeannie told me about her blog, and we have followed their travels ever since. Jeannie recently published a post about seeing an entertainer named Steve Arvey that I thought we would enjoy hearing if he was still playing in the area. As luck would have it, he was playing just a few miles from here Saturday night, so we headed out to Aces Lounge, a local bar  best known for its homemade Italian food and live music. Steve shared the stage with another lead man, Professor Harp, for a serious night of the Blues. The only bummer was that Florida bars still allow smoking-- hard to believe in this day and age. This circumstance cut our evening a little short, but we still enjoyed their talent.

On Sunday the weather was a little iffy otherwise we would have joined Jeanie and Eldo at a weekly event I am really looking forward to—the Siesta Key Drum Circle. Drum circles apparently happen at several places along the Gulf Coast, but the one in Sarasota is supposedly the largest in the United States. Drummers and dancers of all kinds gather and give homage to the setting sun well into the evening hours. There was also an NFL playoff game between the Seahawks and the Redskins that night, so with the questionable weather we stayed home with the confidence we have three more Sundays to make this happen.

Another Sunday diversion we learned about from Mike and BJ are two markets held here on Anna Maria Island: one on Coquina Beach and one on Bridge Street in the small town of Bradenton Beach (also a bike ride away). I am a market groupie. I love to discover local arts and crafts and food offerings that typically show up in local markets. 

Truthfully, I have been disappointed with the produce choices in almost all of the markets I have been to in the south as they are seldom local products, other than oranges and strawberries, but I still always want to go and check it out. The market at the beach here was very small with only a few fruit and vegie stands with most of the other tents selling jewelry or local art products. The popularity of flea markets in Florida almost always ensures that there will be a few table with antiques or thriftstore items and, worse yet, cheap goods from China. My favorite part about the Coquina Beach market was definitely its location. Gotta love live music on the beach with fun things for sale to check out.

I did come across a booth that sold something I have a weakness for—full circle toe rings!  I have had the same toe ring on my foot for thirteen years and it was time for a change. What can I say?

With the beach so close by, I am always keeping an eye out for potentially great sunsets. Of course sunset is also the perfect time to go check out the tiki bars along the beach—or the ones on the bay just a couple blocks from us.  It is especially distracting when I can hear steel drums or Jimmy Buffet style music luring me away from the campground.

I realize I run the risk of overdoing the beach and sunset photos. I will try to pace myself and hopefully include some good wildlife shots with my new camera!  Rumor has it that there are Roseate Spoonbills that hang out in this area. Our friend Mike said he thought he was drunk when he started to see pink birds flying in the pond in front of his motorhome.  Ciao for now. . . .


  1. Sure seems like there is plenty to do where you are. We had initially talked about the Tampa RV Show, but since we've changed plans and headed west instead, it will have to wait until next year.

  2. That sure looks like a nice resort. I hope you can spot some roseate's.


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