Monday, October 21, 2013

The End of Florida

Well, not literally.  But here's the last of the pictures from our Florida trip...better late than never, right?  While we were visiting my uncle, we took a little drive to Sarasota, where we toured The Ringling, which is home to the estate of John and Mabel Ringling (John, of the Ringling Brothers circus fame), an art museum, and a circus museum.  The entire area was so interesting!  We toured their house, the grounds, and the museums, and could have spent many more hours there - in fact, what we saw of Sarasota was so pretty that I wished we had a couple more days to visit.
Front of the mansion

The pictures I managed to take do not do justice to how gorgeous this place is.  We lucked out with the weather, and lack of crowds - apparently September is the least touristy month for Florida.  Although, when we were waiting for our guided tour of the house, a bunch of ladies in purple and red hats came in, which made me laugh but both my uncle and Jeff groaned:
 Jeff took this picture and posted it to Facebook with the caption "it's going to be a long tour" - haha!

We moved pretty quickly through the mansion.  Most of it was a little gaudy for my taste:
I did love the colored glass in the skylights and windows.  

The kitchen sink was pretty awesome - it was made of German silver, which is supposed to be soft so that the dishes were less likely to be chipped when they were hand washed:
Not gonna lie, I'd like this in my house.

Mabel Ringling had a rose garden (Lori, you would love it) - I really liked the little gazebo with the wrought-iron trellis top:
Do you think I can get a gazebo kit similar to this at Home Depot?  It would look so nice in my backyard!

The back of the mansion had quite the view - I can see why the Ringlings loved this area!  The patio (that word feels a bit inadequate considering the inlaid marble covering) was gorgeous:
Check out the marble boat docks.  I've been to many yacht clubs in my life, but this is the first time I've seen such incredible docks!
Just chilling on the patio...

There are a lot of banyan trees on the grounds.  Mabel Ringling collected all kinds of statuary and had them scattered among the trees.  Well, the nature of how the banyan tree grows meant that most of the statues were enveloped by the took us a while to find one, and yes, it was a little creepy:
Uncle Phil and the disappearing statue...

We toured the art museum, which was very interesting.  We had a great tour guide, and it was just the three of us, so we got to ask questions and learned a lot.  But my favorite part of the day was the circus museum.  There were a lot of hands-on exhibits, and luckily there weren't any children visiting on the day we went, so we got to play with everything without feeling like we were depriving a child from the experience.

They had a clown car on display, and also an exact replica that you could try and fit into.  Some of us had more success than others:
This was a replica of Lou Jacobs' clown car - he was 6'1" tall, so I kept telling Jeff, who's a bit shorter, that he should fit in...
He finally squeezed in, but it wasn't easy!  My short self had no trouble getting in - now I know what career path I should have taken!

We also got to practice horseback acrobatics:
Even on a non-moving horse, my balance was not great...this was just before I fell off.  Jeff was much steadier.

We didn't get to try the most interesting thing in the museum, though:
The human cannonball!  You're actually shot out with a spring, not gunpowder...although they have something that creates a puff of smoke to make it look like a cannon was fired.  I loved everything about this custom-built truck with the cannon on top, and I think it would be just about the most fun job in the world to have!

Along with the circus memorabilia and exhibits, there is a fascinating miniature circus display that was created by Howard Tibbals - he fell in love with the circus as a young boy and created his own circus - it has over 40,000 pieces and the detail is unbelievable.  This was another exhibit that I could have spent a lot more time looking at.  It's a recreation of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey combined shows from the earlier part of the 1900s, and covers 3,800 square feet in the exhibit.  I ended up buying a book about this because I couldn't get enough of it.  I could show you picture after picture, but will restrain myself to just one...and it's one that took me a minute to get when I first saw this part of the display, and then made me laugh because yes, Howard Tibbals recreated EVERYTHING about the circus:
The "men's room" at the circus...

If you ever have the opportunity to visit the Ringling estate, I highly recommend it.  Just don't blame me if you end up wanting to run away and join the circus afterward!


    and I adore the picture of you two just chillin'
    PRINT and frame that one.

  2. WOW what a great place/museum to visit. I already had fun looking at the pics and reading your story. I think if I would visit this place I would really enjoy it too. Thanks for sharing.

  3. This post made me reminiscent of growing up in St. Petersburg, because my grandparents lived in Sarasota and we visited there all the time. Such a beautiful place, and Siesta Key, which you get to via a causeway from the mainland is gorgeous. I never saw the Ringling Estate - looks amazing. Great vacay you all had.

  4. How fun! Please don't be a clown though, I'm not fond of clowns.

  5. Love this recap Shelley! I have been to many parts of Florida, but Sarasota isn't one of them. I am with Helen - clowns creep me out! :D

  6. What a cool place - and I MUST HAVE that gazebo!

  7. I agree--that just chillin' pic is great of both of you. And I agree--the hiding statue is creepy. Kinda like clowns...Stephen King ruined clowns for me forever.

    And I love miniatures--that would have been great to see!

    1. Ooh, Stephen King's IT? Yep...that was one scary clown. I'd be the clown with a bottle of seltzer, though!

    2. Debby reminds me of the clown from IT. I saw it when I was about 16 or 17??? And I got nightmares of that clown. I'm with her, he kind of ruined the clowns for me too :)

  8. Yay my home town! I went to art school founded by the Ringling's (funnily enough called Ringling!) If you ever see the Ethan Hawke/Gwyneth Paltrow remake of Great Expectations it was filmed at the Ringling house and it's really cool to see it look all creepy and old. Headed there this weekend. Boy do I miss that beach.

    1. Oh how interesting! It was a really cool place; I'll have to look for that movie.

  9. I always wondered what a veranda looked like, and now I think I know. I wonder how much that would cost to put in my backyard. I could even have steps down into the drainage ditch. :)

  10. LOVE the virtual tour! And that miniature mens room? Awesomeness.

  11. I love the pics of y'all clowning around! They made me laugh. (See? Maybe that could be a career for you & Jeff, you made this reader laugh.)

    Very cool place; never knew it existed. I think Jeff should take you more places bc your recaps are so interesting. You're good at this, Shel!


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