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The King Tide occurred at a time when the island’s inhab-


itants were already storm weary, having just survived and cleaned up after Hurricane Irma almost a month to the day before. In addition to some beach erosion, the damage from Hurricane Irma included the Anna Maria City Pier, which remains closed and could stay closed for at least a year. Everything else on the island is pretty much back to normal. If you like fishing, the Rod and Reel Pier, which reopened nine days after the storm, is fully operational. An early dinner at The Waterfront & Craft Bar began with


cocktails, created by award-winning bartender Rodney Rich. He was fresh off winning the Set The Bar craft cocktail compe- tition sponsored by Tito’s Handmade Vodka and held at The Aloft in Sarasota. “I’m from Kentucky and don’t know anything


and two dogs. They had been there since eight o’clock that morning. It was almost noon, and they were getting ready to pack up and go home. “This is what she loves to do and this is the person she loves


to do it with,” said Carol, pointing at Lacy, the Labrador Retriever, and her husband Ed, both still in the water. “She knows when we’re packing up to head home and always has a little meltdown about leaving.” Carol was gently massaging Belle, the couple’s senior chocolate Labrador, who was taking the scenery all in from the back of the open SUV. She is thirteen and doesn’t move around as easily as she used to. Lacy is the couple’s fourth Lab. They adopted her from an


abusive situation. “It was terrible,” said Carol, who thought the wife may have been a victim of the abuser as well. “He told us


about vodka,” said Rodney. “I made the vodka into a whiskey.” Using boards, known as staves, from a bourbon barrel,


Rodney infused the vodka over a six day period. His winning creation, The Coal Miner’s Daughter, included vanilla, a charcoal solution, egg whites and a burnt orange simple syrup. The cock- tail won’t be a regular offering at the bar as it is too labor inten- sive. However, Rodney does do a Manhattan, which he smokes over a barrel stave. It is, by far, the best Manhattan cocktail I have ever tasted. With the sun setting, we sipped our cocktails, and for a moment, I imagined staying in this now, forever.


The day of our departure, reality began to set in as we made


our way across the bridge towards the mainland for home. The realization that I had not written one thing about our stay, nor taken any photos to accompany my proposed story (except for some food shots with my phone) was weighing on me. In my moment of worry, we zipped right by the fisherman and his dog enjoying Palma Sola Bay. The light bulb went off when we were about a half mile past them. I looked at my husband, who was already slowing down and pulling off the road. “Would you mind turning around and going back, just a bit, please?” I asked. He kindly obliged with a smile, asking no questions. We pulled into a parking spot off the beach, and thankfully,


the scene had not changed much. I quietly exited the car with my camera and encountered the family of four - two humans


www.TheNewBarker.com Top: Lacy and Ed, fishing. Above: Lacy enjoys Palma Sola Bay. Winter 2018 THE NEW BARKER 71


to just take the dog and get her out of there,” Carol recalled. That was five years ago in Wisconsin - a lifetime and a world away for the family, who are now enjoying the sun, sand and fishing. They live just down the road a bit, and visit Palma Sola Bay with their dogs a couple of times a week. “We all love our life here,” said Carol. “It just makes you want to slow down. See If You Go on the following page for details.


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