Friday, January 27, 2012

In Port Charlotte, FL with Cheeky Monkey

Wednesday, 1/25/12 - Our next store neighbor in the RV park, Peter is a musician and told Will that he plays on Wednesday evening with a group called Cheeky Monkey and we should come by and here them. Well of course, most groups start at 9 pm just when we would be going to bed but NO - Cheeky Monkey performs 6:30 to 9:30 pm....awwwww, now that is do able!

So we asked our friends, Juanita & Larry if they would like to join us for a 5:30 dinner and then stay for the show and they said yes, of course. They came over from their RV park which is about 15 minutes away and we were able to show them around our park (which doesn't take long) and then head out to see if we could find the place.

Actually, everything around here is pretty easy to find and Cheeky Monkey plays every Wednesday night at Coral Rock/Sports City in Port Charlotte which is the next town over from Puenta Gordo...just cross the Peace River bridge and you are in P.C. and of course it is on Tamaimi Trail/Hwy 41 which just about everything else is on that road. We found it, with the girlfriend, GPS help and it was just about a mile pass the bridge. It was a really big place and actually had 3 parts to it. First part was a huge sports bar inside, on the other side of "inside" they had at least 10 pool tables (which latter that evening were completely full.) Where we went was outside in the back where they have a huge area of a bar, lots of table on three side of a tiki hut stage - where Cheeky Monkey performs. It was a beautiful, mild evening and I would say the weather about 80 degrees.

Peter was so glad we had come he actually reserved a table for us pretty to close to where they entertain. We talked and visited with Peter and our friends and ordered dinner, we all had Basso fish ( a very mild white fish) Will had it plain, the rest of it us ordered it stuffed with crab....delicious.

At 6:30 the entertainment started and we of course had no idea what it was going to be - but Cheeky Monkey consists of Peter, on the bass guitar & bongo's, Karen, the main singer, and a 3rd guy who played the piano & drum set. Let me just tell you.....they were terrific!!!! There were no synthesiser and no Karaoke machine....just these 3 talent people. Actually, the group is more of show entertainers and their voices harmonized amazing together. The songs they sang were 60, 70, 80's - plus many California type music. Karen did several solo numbers where she actually comes out into the audience and performs.....and we were ALL just amazed at how good they were. They played for 3 sets and we stayed for 2 of them and should have stayed for the last one. It was a really fun evening and to bad we leave next Wednesday morning as I'm sure we would have gone back.

Thursday, 1/28/12 - We headed south on I75 getting off at exit 141 to go into Manatee Park, which is about a 20 minute drive from our house. Because manatees must have warm water, 70 degrees or so on the Caloosahatchee River there is a huge and I mean huge power plant. Back in the 1990's a group of high school students proposed and wrote a grant & lobbied that a "ditch" between the River should be build so that the manatees would be able to find and stay in warm water. It took better part of the 1990's but it was done and they have made it into a free, with beautiful walkways where you can observe these beautiful animals. They have talks about the manatees, which we attended the 11 am one which was fascinating.

The Florida manatees live in brackish, salt and freshwater coastal areas around Florida. An adult manatee weighs around 1000 lbs and is about 10 feet long. At birth calves weigh about 60 to 80 lbs. They are plant eating mammals that must come to the surface to breath air every three to five minutes. It has hair on its body, nurses its young (that stay with mama for up to 2 years) and is warm blooded. Manatees can live to be about 50 to 60 years old. Their greatest danger is man and their boats....the propellers cutting them up. They are amazing animals and Will and I can't get enough of seeing them. For more info on manatees We spent several hours at Manatee Park and thoroughly enjoyed the morning.

That evening we went into Puenta Gorda to a local park, Gillespie Park where every Thursday, starting January 1st they have entertainment. It is a large, rectangular park, right on the water (where you can see another amazing sunset) and several gazebos. In each gazebos there are different entertainers....some great, some good and some who should have stayed home...but it makes for the fun of it. We found a parking spot a block away and haul our chairs into the park & set up and the largest gazebo there. During the course of the evening we walked around and visited some of the other gazebo's to hear what music they had. It was a very fun evening and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The place were we set up was mostly country music and the one next to it was bluegrass....I kept walking between the two.

We got lucky and sat between 2 interesting people....Will's spent most of the evening talking with Ray and his wife from Crawfordsville, IN who spend 6 weeks in a condominium in Puenta Gorda. Ray who just turned 80 years old and looks still working 3 farms and runs a business (with his adult children) and was a policeman for 25 years. It truly was a wonderful story and Will was just thrilled to meet him and spend the evening talking.

Now on the other side of me was a lady and man from Maine who have a house in Puenta Gorda and spend most of the time here but do return to Maine for a couple of months in the summer. I don't know if they are married as she told me she has been in Puenta Gorda for 20 years alone and went on line and found - HIM. He was from Maine but was living in St Petes, FL at the time. She was a kick, a lively old gal and I really enjoyed visiting with her. She also knew lots of stuff about people that were there and was more than happy to share with me.....So much fun. We got down there about 5:15 and left about 9 pm as most of the "old folks" were picking up their chairs to head home. Much love to all our family and friends.

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