In July of this year DJ's son Tracy and daughter-in-law LuAnn realized a long held dream and moved down to the Cape Coral-Ft. Myers area of Florida, on the Gulf side of the state. They invited me to come down to visit. I had never been to Florida so I consulted my calendar and after a few messages back and forth to LuAnn, she said "book it". I did--clear back in the middle of August.
About this time a week ago on the 5th, I was reaching the off-airport parking place we have always used and heading in on the shuttle to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. My flight was due in about 5 pm at the Southwest Florida International Airport. LuAnn picked me up after she got off work and got untangled from traffic. With the time change, it was getting dark already. Tracy had dinner under control grilling up some burgers and serving a salad along with it. He gave me a tour of their home and we visited a bit before we all called it a night.
I headed out to walk in the neighborhood planning on about 25 minutes out and 25 minutes back. I got a little turned around on the return and realized this when I saw the same guy twice--first hauling his grill out for curbside pickup and then doing some weeding or something in the yard. He pointed me towards the direction I needed to go--should have turned left and went right and ended up going around the block. I was back on track until I got a little closer to where I thought I should be.
Stopped a kid apparently taking his siblings to school--he thought I had to cross a busy road that I was just sure I had not been over. I didn't think so but went "that a way" looking for (___) Terrace. I was walking into the sun and it had been at my back on the way out. The canal they live on was on my right--and it was on the left on the return. Little did I know those sometimes t-intersect and there are a bunch of them!! I should tell you, I had left my phone on the charger. No map! I was the navigator and I seldom got turned around as I paid attention and had the map in my hand for reference. DJ was probably getting a good giggle out of this one! A lady on a bike trying to cross that busy road explained the street numbering system. There is street, place and terrace and then it repeats---I think that is it anyway.
I found the terrace I was looking for. Mind you, I did not pay much attention to the house number when I walked out the door. ( Remember it was dark when I arrived. I've only addressed one thing to their home since the move so the address was not indelibly etched in the recesses of my brain either.) That was NOT it. No empty lots and there was new coinstruction. Two guys about my age were walking down the street. I told them I was turned around and looking for (___) Terrace which I was on but this was NOT it. They said "we've got a map at the house" Turns out they were from New Brunswick, Canada and down on holiday for 10 days. We got in the car to look as I was a sweaty, exhausted mess by then. After going down two or three side streets on the opposite side and my racking my brain to see if I could call either LuAnn or Tracy at work on their phone, I said "can we try the (next number up) Terrace?" Sure---and that was finally it. At one point I had told Melvin and the other guy I should buy them a cup of coffee but I had to be reunited with my purse first! What helpful fellows and they were staying ONE street over from Tracy's, as it turned out. I was so close all along! Next time, the phone is going with me if I have to duct tape it to my person.
Tracy's job is rather odd hours right now--goes in quite early but then gets off about 11 a.m so he has the rest of the day ahead of him. I had time to shower, wash my sweaty clothing and follow up on some phone messages before he came home. Then we headed out for lunch and some sight seeing. This map will help explain just where I was the next two days.
They live in Cape Coral and we drove over to Pine Island and Matlacha for lunch at the Island Cafe. He pointed out the bike trail he uses along the way and a preserve area. Yummy grilled grouper for me and a shrimp wrap for Tracy. Great view of the water as we ate out on the dock. It was in the high 80's but there was a nice breeze off the water. We stopped at the Wild Child Art Gallery just up the road for a bit as well. There were three artists at work in the back. One woman was painting, another had been sewing clutch bags but doing some hand embellishing like creating her fabric for another bag. The third was doing some lovely beading.
From there Tracy wanted to show me the Edison-Ford Winter Estates area on McGregor Blvd in Ft. Myers. The homes were built on the Caloosahatchee River. Tracy said it was about 45 bucks to tour the place so we didn't go but there was still thing to see across the road in the parking area including this huge banyan tree! There is a horticultural center on the estate but they also had plants and trees for sale. I had on gray shorts and a white shirt next to the silver statue so I look pretty washed out on my camera phone, LOL.
We moved along as we still wanted to get to the beach. On to Ft. Myers Beach! Get those shoes and sock off and wade in the Gulf of Mexico a bit. Lovely! The sand is so white and so fine it was almost like walking on superfine sugar.
Later we went out for pizza at Lelulo's that is not too far from their home. I am telling you that pizza was steaming hot when it arrived at the table. Same with the garlic knots they ordered. Yummo!
Tracy and LuAnn have a membership at a boat club that is on the Cape Harbour Marina. I think this is the right link as those look the building near there plus the Rum Runners Restaurant is in the area. So looking at that map above we went down a canal and into the Caloosahatchee River (I think I am telling this correctly!) and then into the Pine Island Sound between Pine Island and Sanibel Island on past Captiva Island and North Captiva Island. Tracy said Captiva used to be all one island but it was split off by a past hurricane(s).
Some of the pictures that follow I took and some Tracy took on a previous trip in the boat.
Tracy--our captain of a 24 ft Sea Ray that day
LuAnn catching some rays
Bait Shop out on the water near Sanibel Island
Looking toward Captiva Island
There is a big Florida State Park near here called Cayo Costa. We boated around it a bit but our true destination was Cabbage Key and dining at the restaurant there. Shrimp Salad plate for me and they both had a black beans and rice dish. Tracy said that the wait staff stay on the island working like 10 days and then have 4 days off and repeat the cycle. The restaurant is built on a shell mound so is higher up, above sea level. They had a good bit of damage in Hurricane Charley in the 90's. There turtles to feed outside. In fact, the waitress suggested taking the lettuce we did not eat on our plates out to them but this being the "season" starting up, they had already had enough. There are cottages for rent.
Then we started back. We did not see any dolpins on the way over but ran into two schools on the way back. One was quite close to the boat where you could almost touch it. We had to slow way down and "no wake" both coming and going as we were in a manatee zone. Tracy said they call it "the miserable mile" as they want to open it up and can't so the mile drags. I didn't see any of those either but Tracy spotted one in the canal near the boat club on our return but it quickly went back under so LuAnn and I missed it.
That evening we went over to Ft. Myers for supper and the Pizza Pub Restaurant for pasta. Apparently this is a popular spot as there were folks lined up outside for the small seating area. Lot of people were there for carryout pickup as well. Some people turned in their names and then went and sat in their convertible till it was called--with their drinks from the bar. It was a nice night though and no one seemed unhappy about the wait. The drinks may have helped, LOL.
Back to reality and on to the airport. I had a 9:30 am flight out as I didn't want to be driving back home from Atlanta in the dark. Let the "kids" have a free, most of the day to themselves before they had to return to work too. I drove over in the rain and drove back in the rain----sigh. Including a stop for a quick bite to eat in Villa Rica, GA, I was home about 1 pm.
I so appreciate my neighbors watching out for Oscar and Skyler so I could go visit Tracy and LuAnn. I believe that both of them were happy to have me home--lots of doggie kisses and Skyler is being more clingy than usual. Good to get away and good to be home.
THX for stopping by and reading all this travelogue.