Yesterday we went across to Siesta Beach on the Gulf Coast near Sarasota to see The Siesta Key Crystal Classic, billed as a master sand sculpting competition. Because of its 99% quartz crystal sand, Siesta Beach is one of the finest locations in the world for sand sculpting.
I'd no idea my watch was made of sand. You live and learn.....and I must remember to keep it out of the shower !
We left at about 10am and made it to Lake Placid for breakfast ! Well it saved fixing it ourselves.
Then came the almost 90 minute drive westwards to Sarasota and a stop off for a bit of retail therapy. I went into a nearby pet store to watch the animals while Deb 'retailed.'
As we'd been advised that the car parks at the beach would be packed, we headed for a shuttle bus area at Phillippi Park where for $5, we were able to park the car and get a free shuttle bus to the beach and we arrived just after 2pm.
The shuttle bus let us off inside the beach main car park and we saw just how packed it was. New arrivals were just going round and round hoping for a spot to become free but without much hope. We'd paid $5 each before boarding the bus which got us wrist bands allowing us to enter the sand sculpting area so we could get up close to the exhibits.......which were still being worked on as it was a 3 day competition and all were works in progress.
The first sculpture WAS compete however and was a representation of the iconic flag raising on Iwo Jima back in 1945.
After that, we just walked around the other sculptures and tried to work out what they were.....not an easy task as most were a bit abstract or themed and being unfinished, were hard to decrypt. I just enjoyed them as glorified "sand castles" and it was cool to see the sculptors working on them with their specialised tools and fine spray water jets to keep the sand both moist and compact.
I'm not sure what this first one was going to be as no more sand could be added to the top. The sculptor seemed to be carving the torso into a castle turret so maybe it was to be 'the body of a castle' !!
Before showing more of the sculptures, here is a panorama of the area with my back to the water. The shadows on the extreme left and right of this 180 degree shot are from the advertising hoardings behind me which formed the fence keeping out those who didn't want to pay the $5 entry fee.
I'll just put up a series of photos of the various sculptures as I've no idea what any of them were meant to represent but that didn't diminish the time, effort and skill required to create them.
I did like the idea of the snowman though as standing on the white sand, the onlookers were the only clue that it wasn't built on snow.
I'd made the mistake of not taking a hat or even sun screen so my time on the open beach had to be limited. There actually weren't that many sculptures and some of these photos are just close ups to show detail.
Finally, I captured these 4 stills from the video footage I took so although the video was in HD, the images are not great quality. A couple of them better show the sculptors in action, one using a scraping tool to carve out whole 'slices' of sand from a new block and in another still, you can see the fine spray water jet used to keep the sculpture moist and therefore compact.
Notice the untouched sand under the horse's eye here and then go back to a previous photo where lines have been carved in. Yes the video was taken first !
By now it was 3:15pm and my unprotected head had been out in the sun for over an hour so it was time to find shade. We also needed to eat so we left the sculpture area and went along the food stands before making our choices.
After that we lined up for our shuttle bus, returned to the park, picked up the car and drove off for more retail therapy before heading home.
I really enjoyed the day out as I'd always wanted to see sand sculptures and in any case, I rarely need an excuse to go to Siesta Beach which has to be one of the best in America.
Next time I'll be hatted, sun creamed and wearing my swim trunks !
Sarasota beware !