Our picnic kept getting bumped all week, so Saturday was the day. We grabbed our picnic basket and headed out to Ken Thompson Park. Since it was the weekend, we didn’t have our pick of tables. There was only one left when we arrived.
But then the best table in the house opened up.
The weather was cool under the trees, and the fish were jumping. Although jumping is putting it mildly. The way those Spanish mackerel were shooting up and slamming down on the water, it was more like belly-flopping.
Ken Thompson Park is located on City Island where the main attraction is Mote Marine Laboratory. Our mayor swam in their shark tank to try to win over Google. The island was even temporarily renamed Google Island.
City Island is tiny, and the park is on the tip. Drive Ken Thompson Parkway until it ends and you’ve arrived. To the left is a fishing wall with a line of covered picnic tables. To the right is a picnic area, playground and walking trail. Water dogs and kiteboarders are regular visitors.
After lunch, we headed back down Ken Thompson Parkway to the Sarasota Bay Walk. There are signs for it adjacent to Mote Marine. The area used to be a dumping ground but was restored in 1990 to a tidal habitat. More recently, a new boardwalk was built.
Although the boardwalk is nice and new and leads to the bay, I’m slightly disappointed. The old trail was half boardwalk half shell path and was much longer. It meandered through and around more mangroves and lagoons. Since they haven’t completely removed the old boardwalks, I’m hoping there are plans for more restoration.
But there is an upside to dead trails. There are two accesses to the old trails – one that is now used for the new Bay Walk and a second that is more hidden and used to lead to the old boardwalks and shell paths. We went exploring the latter and were immediately greeted with a fast and full tic-tic-tic sound. The sound wasn’t exactly loud, but it was distinct and filling my ears. Luke was having such a strong reaction that it started to freak me out. He kept digging under the brush. At one point, his head was completely covered in cobwebs. He swatted them off too quickly to get a picture. But beyond the flashing cuteness of Luke, I started thinking the sound was snakes and had completely stopped walking. Then John identified the sound for me – itty-bitty, non-threatening crabs by the hundreds.
They couldn’t have been bigger than my thumbnail or scarier than a bunny. I kept trying to get pictures, but they were hard enough to spot without Luke running ahead and scaring them off. So even if you can’t walk the trail, stop by to listen to the crabs ticking. The access is across the street from the bait shop. There are parallel parking spots along the street. Park there and walk the sidewalk until you see the dirt path heading into the mangroves. Writing this description is inspiring my next letterbox idea…to be continued.
And to all the mothers out there, especially my own, Happy Mother’s Day!