Thursday, November 13, 2014

Meeting Old/New Friends after a great tourist day

After a beautiful day (mid 70s) touring the Ringling Museum and mansion, we met former full-time RVers Jeannie and Eldo for a fish fry at Anna Maria Oyster Bar. I felt like a real snowbird, arriving at 4:30 so we could catch the Early Bird Special. But the timing was just right, since I was pooped out from walking all day and very hungry, having skipped lunch.

It is always fun to meet a fellow blogger because after reading their posts for several years you feel you know them already. Jeannie and Eldo are people who I would like to spend much more time with. Our conversation was easy, and they give us some good insights into full-time RV life and "hanging up the keys." Although they have sold their rig and bought a home in Florida, they still like to travel, so who knows, we might meet again down the road.

Our day at the Ringling started with viewing a miniature circus built by Howard Tibbal. I cannot put my admiration of the detail and craftsmanship into words. For anyone who has ever taken pride in making something, or who loves the circus, this is a must-see!

The picture to the right was taken from a viewpoint on the second floor. It shows only a small part of the expansive layout. He has created thousands of little figures, each unique, each with a feeling of action and purpose, each with facial features.

Even his animals showed animation in their posture.

On the second floor there was a long window display of an incredible parade. We recognized some of the original wagons and characters we saw at the Baraboo Circus Museum last July.

The mirror doubled the number of pieces and gave us a great view of the other side.

Elephants dressed as clowns
Sea Serpent costumes on elephants

We also toured the Circus Museum building and enjoyed seeing some of the original costumes worn by the stars. 

image from web

Then it was on to a tour of the mansion, also called Ca'd'Zan, or House of John.

We walked through the first floor on our own as part of the regular admission to the Ringling grounds. Then we bought additional tickets for the guided second floor tour (a whopping $5 each) and went through both floors, with a guide explaining what we were seeing and giving us a bit of historic perspective. Best upgrade we've had in years! 

Here are a few highlights:

Many of the windows and the large skylight in the living room was made with colored French glass. This softens the bright Florida sunshine.

The house was being decorated for Christmas. This tree in the living room was Craig's favorite. The furniture was all original.

The decor and detail was, to me, way over the top! If we hadn't toured another mansion of the time, the Biltmore, I might have thought it was garish and suitable for the home of Circus Mogul. But it was indeed in keeping with the high society style of the day.

These beds seem like they could be part of a Circus wagon!

All in all it was fascinating. 

My favorite part of the estate was the marble patio that overlooks the water of Sarasota Bay.

Next we walked across the parklike grounds to the Museum of Art. Knowing we wouldn't have time or energy to see all of the galleries, we choose to walk through the halls that contained some of the classic art owned and donated by the Ringlings.

Before calling it a day, we found time to take a short walk in the sculpture garden. 

I doubt we will ever get to Florence, Italy, to see the original David, but we appreciated this bronze version in the garden.

It was a tiring day. My back was screaming and I was happy to find a tram to take us back to the entrance, but I enjoyed it all! I have to start carrying some pain reliever in my purse. I really could have used some in the afternoon. 


  1. I've been to Baraboo, but never the mansion in Florida.

    Jeannie and Eldo are good folks.

  2. I have read jeannie and eldo for years too.... So nice that you got to meet in person! That circus display is just amazing!!!!

  3. We count Jeannie and Eldorado as good friends as well. Glad you got to meet them!

  4. Beautiful photos Merikay. You did a great job of highlighting the museum and the Ringlings' home with beautiful photos.

  5. I'm so glad you made it to the Ringling! I could spend hours looking at that minature circus. All the old circus caravans were fascinating too. And the mansion -- too bad they only got to live there a few years.


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