Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Red Tide, Yoder’s and More: Our Last Week at Oscar Scherer

Tuesday Janaury 24 to                                          Most Recent Updates
Friday January 27, 2017                                      2016 Year in Review PART 2 – June to December

Oscar Scherer State Park                                      2016 Year in Review -  January to June
Osprey, Florida





On Tuesday our winds died back to at least under 20 miles per hour, the tornado threat was over and we decided to head down to the beach to see how it had fared and perhaps some Atlantic Ocean size waves on the gulf.

I began lightly coughing when we pulled into the parking lot at Nokomis Beach.  I’d forgotten that we had been coughing at the Drum Circle last Wednesday night and wondered about Red Tide..  The storms might well have really stirred up and increased the effect of the red tide. 

Red Tide is a phenomenon caused by algal blooms during which algae become so numerous that they discolor coastal waters.. The algal bloom may also deplete oxygen in the waters and/or release toxins that may cause illness in humans and other animals.

In Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, the species that causes most red tides is Karenia brevis, often abbreviated as K. brevis.


In contrast to the many red tide species that are fueled by nutrient pollution associated with urban or agricultural runoff, there is no direct link between nutrient pollution and the frequency or severity of red tides caused by K. brevis.   Florida red tides develop 10-40 miles offshore, away from man-made nutrient sources. Red tides occurred in Florida long before human settlement, and severe red tides were observed in the mid-1900s before the state’s coastlines were heavily developed. However, once red tides are transported inshore, they are capable of using man-made nutrients for their growth.

Many red tides produce toxic chemicals that can affect both marine organisms and humans. The Florida red tide organism, K. brevis, produces brevetoxins that can affect the central nervous system of fish and other vertebrates, causing these animals to die. Wave action can break open K. brevis cells and release these toxins into the air, leading to respiratory irritation. For people with severe or chronic respiratory conditions, such as emphysema or asthma, red tide can cause serious illness. The red tide toxins can also accumulate in molluscan filter-feeders such as oysters and clams, which can lead to Neurotoxic Shellfish Poisoning in people who consume contaminated shellfish.



There were only a fraction of the number of people on the beach that were here before the storm.  I was amazed that some were in the water which I would never do.

We took a walk down the beach to get our 10K steps but didn’t stay after that. It was very sad walking along with all the variety of dead fish.

We had to be very careful where we walked there were so many fish


Some of the clean up crew had arrived.  What WOULD we do without them?



We also found what appeared to be, based on their color,  live Sand Dollars and Sea Star .  We weren’t sure if they were thrown up on the shore by the storm or if they too were affected by the red tide but we threw them all back in the water.   We probably returned 4 or 5 Sea Stars and a half dozen Sand Dollars.  Sure hope they’ll be OK







This one was standing up as if he might walk back into the water.




One of many times David tossed them back as well as he could.  My throwing arm isn’t up to the job.



I don’t know my fish well but most of them were this type.  So many of them all up and down the beach.



But we also saw many more unusual fish,   It was just so sad.




There were other treasures from the sea washed up as well.  These are sponges.  The first is a tube sponge and the second is called dead man’s fingers.  Fairly fitting for this rather grusome beach walk.  We’ve come to Nokomis Beach many times and have never seen anything like this.




The waves definitely resembled the Atlantic and this was two days after the storm.  I wish we’d come over right away just to see the waves.  We leave after just over an hour due to so much coughing and irritation in our noses.





Wednesday is clinic day, and this time the clinic is relatively  close in Venice so I drop David off and take the car to nearby Casperson Beach which is famous as a place to find shark’s teeth.  We don’t hunt for them but it’s fun to watch the others.  




If there is any red tide, it is very minor and hard to distinguish from my regular alergy or whatever it is couhing.   I set up my chair and watch the folks with their gear hunting for sharks teeth.




There appear to be tools made especially for this activity.  The long handled screened baskets for scooping up sand and draining the water out and sieves used to scoop by hand or to pour the baskets in to.




There are rocks along the shore at the closest beach access to the parking lot and the waves are still up and crashing into them with unusual force.



One of the really wonderful things about Casperson is that in both direction the beach is undeveloped for miles.  At Nokomis the houses of Casey Key are along though back from the shore line.   Casperson beach gives the feel of not having changed for centuries.




Thankfully, I find no dead fish on the beach but I do come upon a very long whelk egg case. Must have been a really big whelk to make that large an egg case


Each of these capsules can contain 25 or more baby whelks in their tiny baby shells.
Nature is amazing.



Further on down the shore all by himself I find a man searching for sharks teeth.  He’s made a home made strainer for his bucket.  Obviously the purpose is not to have to bend over or get down in the sand to look through what he’s brought up.   It’s made out of PVC pipe and those swimming noodles so it will float.


There is still a lot of undeveloped beach to go when time is up and I need to head back.
Boy is it hard to turn around.   I want to see how far it goes.  How many miles.


On the way I find a group of women using a similar tall PVC sift table and they show me their catch.  One woman uses her little finger to pint to the shark’s tooth to show its size.  They really are mostly very small.  I ask her how many she’s collected and what she does with them.  She says she’s had as many as 200 and her son took them to show and tell and gave everyone in his Michigan school classroom a shark’s tooth.  Now that’s cool!   Sharks sure must lose a lot of teeth.






On Thursday mornings the Venice Audubon Society leads a bird hike in Oscer Scherer. I didn’t remember it the first Thursday we were here and set out earlier on what turned out to be a long and excellent birding hike of my own which I talked about in my last post from Oscar Scherer..   David, not out as early, was able to meet them at what he considers the respectable time of 8:30am.   This week we both go.

There is a group of about 20 including the leader and two really excellent spotters.  These people really know their birds.   Oscar Scherer names its trails after colors.  When given a choice between the blue and the green trail, the group chooses green.  That’s the hike they and I did last week.  But it’s the most popular because you can see the Eagle’s nest from there.

We meet at the Nature Center where again the fog makes for interesting pictures.  The juvenile little blue heron is there again as well.





Once on the trail we are looking primarily for scrub jays and wood peckers.  We see lots of little birds flitting around and the group identifies them as gnat catchers and yellow rumped warblers.  But they are way too fast for any photos excerpt for this yellow rump who sits long enough for me to get a picture of his yellow side.  Wish I could have gotten the bright yellow on his back just above his tail.



The guide tells us there are several red bellied woodpeckers in the park and a couple of the somewhat rarer red headed woodpeckers.

Our spotter sees a juvenile red headed on a pine tree.   A red headed has an entire hood of red going from his shoulders all the way up and around his head.  Bright red.   This fellow’s head is a bit purplish.   I get some better shots of him or another one later.



The read bellied is getting an early morning stretch which clearly shows his neck is not red.
I’m really not sure why they call him a red bellied since his belly has never  looked red to me.



He has a wide red stripe running from the back of his neck over his head to his bill or is it beak?   Notice his barred back.


The sides of his face are gray.


I told about the sad scrub jay story in the park on my last post.  We spot a sentinal watching from a high pirch for this family.





Later on, lower down near the ground where they usually are, we spot a pair of scrub jays.  I didn’t know the second one was there until I saw this picture although everyone was saying there were two.  The little head is just at the bottom.


Also further on is the same or another Red headed woodpecker.  This one is beginning to get his brighter red color.



Here you can see his distinctive back which is not not barred like the red bellied picture above but has the white secondary feathers of a juvenile.  When he’s an adult it will be a prominent white patch.




When we get to the eagle’s nest it appears at least one of the chicks is trying out his wings.  He has really grown in just one week.


The information board says the usual Eagle schedule is hatchlings emerge in January, and in February put on about a pound every 4 to 5 days.  By the end of February they are nearly full grown and begin “exercising their wings” in March for fledging in April.  I’d say this little guy must be a prodigy if he’s doing the March thing in mid January.

Wonder what mom is thinking about this?




David has been wanting to eat at Yoder’s Amish Restaurant in Sarasota at some point before we leave Oscar Scherer.  So this morning we head out for what is an early breakfast for David and find that the restaurant is full and the line is out the door.  They tell us it will slow down by 10am.  The wait is about 30 minutes.


The Amish have been in Florida since 1923 when they traveled through Sarasota on their way to Miami to look for farmland.  In 1925 a few Amish families arrive in Tampa and Venice and in 1928 move to what is now the Celery Fields in Fruitland to farm celery and produce.  The present day Sarasota community settled in the Pinecraft area of Sarasota in 1930.  In 1969 the Yoder family sold their farm in Nappanee, Indiana and move to Sarasota where in 1975 Yoder’s Restaurant is born on Main Street in Sarasota.  In 1983 the family starts a second restaurant in Pinecraft on Bahia Vista called Yoder’s Too.  This is its current location after they moved all operations here in 1986.

Presently Sarasota is home to over 3000 Amish and Mennonites.  The numbers double in “the season”.  Seems they are snow birds too.  Pinecraft is still the heart of the community with Yoder’s located right in the middle.  In 2016 they celebrated 40 years at this location.



All around the inside of the restaurant is an antique postcard border.  This is not a copy of postcards provided by some big company.  These are real postcards mounted on a black frame.  They are just wonderful and I wish we could go all around the entire restaurant and look at them all but that would mean we’d have to sit at each table and booth and the folks currently eating there probably wouldn’t like that.



Their food is just what you would expect if you ate in any of the midwestern Amish establishments.  Seriously yummy comfort food in large quantities.

David has raspberry stuffed french toast and home fries, I have a a spinach, mushroom and swiss cheese omlet with homefries and a biscuit.  David eats every single bite.  It’s such a big serving that I take half of it home to enjoy tomorrow.


A very Happy Camper!




Yoder’s is reknown for its Pies.  There are 30 on the menu today.  David wants to try those too of course so we order what is known as pie tasters, one of peanut butter and one of coconut cream.

As before, I eat half of mine and take the rest with me.  David eats every single bite.



Then he orders a slice of double crust cherry, as opposed to cherry crumble pie, to go.

I walk out of the restaurant, I’m not sure how David doesn’t waddle out but he’s a happy man with a smile on his face.




Back at the coach, we are surprised by a visit from Tom and Marci whom we met at an RV Dreams Rally and saw again when we visited Judy and Emma at Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge. They were coming to Oscar Scherer with friends to ride the Legacy Trail. How wonderful of them to stop by, so wonderful I forgot to get a picture.

They head over to the bike trail and about an hour later, I follow them. I think I might see them coming back but no such luck. They either did a longer ride than they intended or a much shorter one since I biked 10 miles




.   David stayed to work on the slide bushings on the rear of our large slide.  Once he’d done the front, he decided he needed to redo the rear with the newer bushings that are supposed to be harder and not wear out in 3 years like the last set did.   Doesn’t look like much fun to me but he seems to be having a good time.  He likes all this fix it stuff a lot.




The Legacy Trail is accessed right from the park and runs all the way from Sarasota to Venice where you can pick up the Venician Waterway Trail and bike all the way to Casperson Beach for a total of 24 miles round trip.


It’s used by old and young on walking running and on bikes.



It goes up over several waterways with lovely views and has a steep ramp up and over a caged bridge across the Tamiami Trail.








It’s a really wonderful trail with maps and several parks along the way for access to the trail or rest/diversions along the trail. It has careful road crossings and roofed stopping places with benches.










We have the week-end ahead of us before moving to Lake Louisa State Park where at least in my opinion there isn’t much to do but it makes a great place to get some shopping, chores and business accomplished before moving to somewhere with too many things to do.


  1. Those birds are a marvel to see- particularly the bald eagles!

  2. Baby Eagle is too cute:o)) We always marvel at the amount of food David can consume at one sitting...AMAZING!!!

  3. I didn't realize how many Amish there are in Florida. Shoo-fly pie is my favorite Amish pie :)

  4. I learned something new reading your blog....I never knew about Red Tide. I grew up in Daytona Beach but I was just a young girl when we left. You can certainly a lot reading blogs!! Is it safe to be on the beach?
    Love that baby eagle!!! The birds were fantastic on your hike!! I sure miss Judy (and Emma)...we had the privilege of meeting up and showing her around Callaway Gardens a few years ago.

  5. Lots of science and history in your post today - thanks for the lessons! We noticed the red tide effect at the beach the previous weekend, everybody was coughing! I'm thinking we may have missed you on the bike trail because we stopped for a while at Laurel park in Nokomis. I've always noticed that there seem to be a lot of Amish around Sarasota, but never knew why. We always see a lot at Detweilers Market. By the way, I have you to thank for turning us on to Detweilers. I first read about it in your blog last year, and I love that store!!

  6. Beautiful pictures I especially like the ones of the birds.
    You always include a lot of good information in your posts, thank you for sharing.

    Celebrating the Dance

  7. Too bad the red tide is still hanging around. It only bothered us slightly with a cough if you breathed through your mouth. I was worried it would be around for the wedding. Luckily, it wasn't. We didn't have any dead fish along the beach, thank goodness!! Wow! Your beach had a little bit of everything. I've never seen sponges on the beach like that. We did a bike trip and stopped at that beach to watch all the people searching for sharks' teeth. The sharks' teeth are fairly easy to find anywhere on the Gulf side.

  8. Thanks for the history lesson and the beautiful bird pics!! I would love to see a baby eagle. We experienced the red tide last year on the Gulf and were saddened by the many dead fish on the beach. We've put the Amish restaurant on our list of places to visit. :-)) I'm so glad that the two of you are out there enjoying life and sharing your adventures!

  9. It's like watching an excellent nature show when I read your blog.

  10. Great info on the red tide. I knew about it but not all the info.
    And the food OH MY David where do you put it. :)

  11. That bike trail looks great! And so does the early morning bird walk—I've never seen a juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker. I'm always excited to see the Red-headed Woodpeckers since we don't have them here in the West. In all of my years living in Florida, I never experienced a red tide like that. So sad to see all of the fish and other creatures on the beach.

  12. I really enjoyed seeing the Sea Star and all the woodpeckers. I had lots of red-headed ones at my place in NC. All the woodpeckers together can certainly devastate a tree - I had many that had big hollow spaces in the trunks.

    What is the possible effect of red tide getting into the lungs? I'd worry about breathing that stuff, especially if it makes you cough.

  13. Love Oscar Scherer State Park and the many things nearby, including Myakka River state park which we did not have time for. I did enjoy Yoder's and I can tell you the double crust fruit pie is excellent, not your ordinary grocery store pie or crust. I think I would have liked Sherry's omelette better than the stuffed French toast, but just had to try something different.

  14. Not sure I'd have wanted to walk that first beach with possible toxins and carnage. Glad the next beach was better. Finding shark teeth would be fun. I really like the bird walk as so many youngsters are around. That red-bellied looks sort of like a flicker. OMWow, that Amish food looks fatteningly wonderful. Where does he put it all.

  15. Sad to see the ravages of the storm, the waves are awesome though. Getting caught up after our Tombstone visit :-)) That egg case is so cool - I've never seen anything like it! Great woodpecker and eagle pics. I wish more places had those pie tasters!

  16. So sad to see all those washed up fish. I wouldn't have walked in the water either. Lovely bird pictures and so neat to see the baby eagles. That amish meal looked scrumptious!!


Your comments are the best part of this blog for me.
I LOVE hearing from you!