A River, Family and Rock & Roll

venice  034venice  002venice  027We returned to Venice, Florida to visit my aunt and uncle and cousins once again.  Our campsite at the Camp Venice Retreat, yet another beautiful spot, was set amidst live oak trees and overlooked the Myakka River. The Myakka River has been designated by the state of Florida as one of only two “wild and scenic rivers” in the state, a Federal designation designed to preserve the Myakka River Basin in its natural state. The setting on the river, along with an adjoining restaurant, “Snook Haven” are considered very “Old Florida”. venice  031venice  028venice  026The “Snook’s” first modern-era occupants were smugglers (smugglers in Florida, really?) seeking to unload contraband during the prohibition of the late 1920’s and 30’s.  Snook Haven’s location on a remote peninsula along the shores of the Myakka River, upstream from the Gulf of Mexico, made it ideal for them to land and ship their illegal wares to a thirsty Florida population.  Add a still for some moonshine, a mule path and you have the beginnings of Snook Haven’s role as a community “watering hole”. venice  037venice  040venice  007venice  003The setting was used for filming exotic jungle movies, including the 1931 French Foreign Legion Classic “Prestige”.  It’s also rumored to have been the setting for some Tarzan movies, a rumor that is apparently not true. Our plans for this area were very simple and included paddling on the river, visiting with family in Venice and driving over to Sarasota one afternoon. We paddled on two different days and spotted alligators (including babies), turtles, an armadillo, and many birds (of course).  As we passed various alligators sunbathing on the banks of the river, they slid into the water and submerged.  Very Tarzan movie indeed.venice  045venice  043venice  004venice  046venice  036venice  030venice  008venice  006venice  038 venice  062venice  063venice  057venice  051We spent quality time with my aunt and uncle and cousins.  My Aunt Myriam and Uncle Bob will celebrate their 57th anniversary in June (just don’t ask me how I know that).  They are witty, fun and fabulous. When I was young, I spent a couple of summers with this family.  It was during a tough time for me, just getting used to being in a second “new” place, Miami (after leaving Puerto Rico for New York), a new stepmother and just being a teenager. My cousins were always welcoming, easygoing and fun.  We met a couple of times after Hector and I were married, but it had been quite a long time since I’d seen them. My connection with these cousins, the Murphy-Vega clan, was still strong and we had a wonderful time together.   We had a lovely dinner at my cousin Dorothy and her husband Bogie’s house with the entire clan and met my cousin Mimi in Sarasota for a brief and slightly chilly walk on Siesta Key and dinner. These are two smart and fierce ladies.venice  047venice  059venice  058venice  054 venice  060venice  053venice  050venice  010venice  009We also went to see my cousin Jerry, who among other talents, plays lead guitar in the band “The Smokin’ Pineapples”.  We saw them rehearse in their awesome “man cave” also known as the Pineapple Palace.  Not that I’m biased, but the band is amazing and Jerry is a great guitar player.  It felt like Hector and I had our own private rock concert.   venice  014 venice  012venice  019A short, but wonderful visit with family. ~ Brenda

3 thoughts on “A River, Family and Rock & Roll

  1. Another cool and heartwarming adventure!! Wondering…what was that blue heron-like bird in the photos? Very beautiful…

    • Hi, Rebecca. That is a Tricolored Heron. I wasn’t sure of what he was when I saw him because he has his breeding plumage, he is darker and his bill is a very bright blue in the sunlight. If you look back at the Bird of the Everglades post, there is one at the end whose colors are not quite this intense yet. Isn’t nature wonderful? Brenda

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