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Trip Report Visit to Florida for Spring Training Baseball

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After a long (and still on-going) miserable winter in CT, I finally got out of here for 10 days to Florida to see my parents and go to a few Spring Training games. I stayed at my parents so no review of a hotel needed...I am just going to post about restaurants / stadiums / activities.

Flight down on March 1 was non-eventful and got out of Bradley and into Ft Myers on time on Southwest. It was a direct flight and was not full. However, Ft Myers airport was slammed when I got there and the security line due to it being in-season and a Saturday was very long for departures. The only impact to me was it took ~45 minutes to get my suitcase.

On Sunday morning, I got up and went to the North Jetty in Nokomis, FL just to walk on the beach and actually enjoy the sun! It felt great walking around there. Saw a few dolphins and other fish from the Jetty. Lots of boats in and out. Spent a few hours here just walking around.

Monday, my Dad and I went to the Phillies @ Rays game in Pt Charlotte. 10 minutes from my parents house so nice and convenient. I really enjoy this stadium. There is a boardwalk that goes around the outfield with a tiki bar in the middle. Good selection of food and drink throughout the park and decent seats. We sat in the shade behind the 3B side. This crowd was mostly Phillies fans. Rays won in a close game

Wednesday, it was back to Charlotte Sports Park for a Yankees @ Rays game. Much bigger crowd and more animated because it was the Yankees in town. And of course, I had my Red Sox hat on. Had seats down the 1B line and again enjoyed the stadium. Rays beat up the Yankees so it was fun to watch

On Friday, it was on to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota for the Phillies @ Orioles game. This is a newly renovated stadium that has been home to multiple teams now. I like this stadium but it definitely feels older. The Orioles have done a lot to improve it but it does not have the 360° access around the field. We had really good seats as we were 3 rows behind the Phillies dugout. Decent food and beer selection here as well. Enjoyed a few cold ones as it was a hot day. Was hoping that they had some other beers from Maryland but mostly local beers for micro brews (good selection though). You could tell it was Spring Training as the scoreboard operator mistakenly changed the score to 29-4 Orioles when it was only 15-4 Orioles...Lots of long home runs hit. It could be a long year for the Phillies again.

On Monday, I went to Ponce de Leon Park in Punta Gorda. Its right on Charlotte Harbor and has a great view of the water. Peace River Wildlife Center is also there. Small animal rescue facility that you can visit. Its got many birds ranging from doves to Bald Eagles. Their 2 eagles have lived in captivity due to their injuries for around 20 years apiece. Was here for around 30 minutes and its worth a stop. Lots of non-resident birds make visits too - around feeding time. They have a few hawks to see too. I really enjoyed this stop here.
http://www.peaceriverwildlifecenter.com/

When I left here, I went to Laishley Crab House for lunch. Great view of the Bridge and Harbor from here. Lunch was ok but service was very slow. It was busy so I didn't make an objection to it though.

On Tuesday, we headed to Jetblue Park for Marlins @ Red Sox then I had to fly home. I really like Jetblue and relished the sun. We had great seats 3 rows off of the field down the RF Line. Since Jetblue has the same field dimensions as Fenway, the seats face the same angles. This is somewhat a drawback until you get to the RF corner and it is a picnic area. Great atmosphere here this year compared to last as everybody was still celebrating the World Series win!. Sox lost this game on a homer in the 9th but the regulars looked good and are getting ready for the year.

I reluctantly went to RSW after the game and flew home getting home around midnight with a sunburn / tan that has made a lot of people angry and jealous. Great trip and time to plan another one!

Spring Training games definitely feel different and more relaxed than regular season games so they are fun to go to and very enjoyable.

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