Wauchula, FL - Events of Friday, August 3, 2018
After we finished up looking around the little museum and the visitor center following our eco tour of Babcock Ranch Preserve, we hopped in the car and headed to Punta Gorda. Punta Gorda, whose name means "fat point" in English, is so named because it is located on a short, wide peninsula of land that juts out into Charlotte Harbor at the mouth of the Peace River. Charlotte Harbor is a bay located between Sarasota and Ft. Myers on the Gulf coast of Florida.
The first white settlers began arriving in the area that is now Punta Gorda around the mid-1870s. The plan for the town was filed in 1885. The town was originally called Trabue after Isaac Trabue, who was responsible for the platting of the lots, but when the town was incorporated in 1887, the name was changed to Punta Gorda.
It was a little early for lupper so we drove around to check out the town first. While Punta Gorda is a waterfront town, it's located on Charlotte Harbor and not directly on the Gulf. Therefore, it's not a crowded, bustling beach town, and it was pretty easy to get around.
There are a several parks with features like tennis courts, basket ball courts, playgrounds, picnic shelters, and benches located along the Peace River, and all the parks are connected by a harbor walk. Because it happened to be close to where we were when we made the decision to check out one of the parks, we ended up at Gilchrist Park.
One of the first things we noticed when we parked was the Victorian-style architecture with Bahamian and Cuban influences that reminded us of Key West.
From the park, there were nice views out into the wide expanse of the Peace River.
There was also a statue of Ponce de Leon at the park.
Ponce de Leon was a Spanish explorer who sailed with Christopher Colombus on his second voyage to the New World in 1493. That expedition landed in Hispaniola (present day Haiti and Dominican Republic). In 1513, Ponce de Leon led his own expedition that landed in the area of what is now St. Augustine making him the first European to set foot in Florida. He claimed the land for Spain naming it La Florida (the land of flowers).
Ponce de Leon then sailed around La Florida and landed in present day Charlotte Harbor along the Gulf coast in May, 1513. The expedition spent three weeks there and left after several clashes with unfriendly Calusa Indians.
Ponce de Leon returned to Charlotte Harbor in 1521 with 200 men, farm animals that became ancestors of the Cracker cattle and feral pigs we saw on our eco tour of Babcock Ranch Preserve, and farming implements. His intention was to establish a colony and bring Christianity to the Indians. The Indians resisted vigorously. After several months, the colonists retreated to their ships during a skirmish, and Ponce de Leon was wounded by an arrow during the retreat. The colonists then sailed to Cuba where Ponce de Leon died of his wound.
From the park, we drove several blocks to Fishermen's Village. Fishermen's Village is a waterfront tourist area containing shops, restaurants, and a resort complex. Opened in 1980, Fishermen's Village is built on an old dock that had fallen into disrepair.
We were interested in two of several restaurants located in Fishermen's Village so we checked them out because it was mid-afternoon and we were getting hungry. One of the restaurants featured New England seafood. There's nothing wrong with that, but we were looking for local seafood. The other restaurant also specialized in seafood. They had grouper on the menu, which sounded good to both of us, but it was available at lunch time only as a sandwich. Therefore, we decided to hop in the car and drive a few blocks east to check out Laishley Crab House because the menu we found online indicated they had a fried grouper platter, which we preferred because it had no bread and therefore fewer carbs.
Laishley Crab House was a little hard to find because the entrance is kind of hidden under the front overhang of a building that was dominated by the sign for a realtor, which is located in the same building. Once we found the entrance, we parked and headed for the restaurant.
The restaurant is located on the second floor. On our way upstairs, we stopped to admire the attractive, carved sign inside the entrance.
We chose outdoor seating on the balcony overlooking a marina.
We both ordered fried grouper platters which come with slaw and fries for $13. Paul opted for sweet potato fries ($.50 extra), while Margery stuck with the regular fries.
The grouper was excellent. It was tempura-battered, which made it extra crispy. The sides were good, too.
After lupper, we headed back to the Co-op where we relaxed for the evening. It was a nice day trip with our eco tour of Babcock Ranch Preserve and our lupper at Laishley Crab House. It was an excellent way to celebrate our anniversary.