Tuesday, September 01, 2009
  Weekend in Naples
So Chris had a conference in Naples this weekend. That's the west coast of Florida, for you non-Floridians. You know, from my house if you drive east you fall into the ocean in about one city block. If you drive west, it would take you about two hours to fall into the Gulf of Mexico. That's where Naples is, on the coast.

Chris had a conference to attend Saturday, so I was left to my own devices. I had big plans, involving cameras and wildlife areas and sunrises, but the hotel had cable. (We canceled ours, remember.) And there was Law & Order on. Chris had a dinner Friday night and then we went out and it was his night to drink, so we didn't even get back to the hotel until about midnight anyhow. And oh Lord, you should have seen him. There is NOTHING more annoying than a drunk person when you are stone-cold sober. AAAYYYYY. Highlight of the night: I was allowing myself one drink, and I chose well. LYCHEE MARTINI. Yummiest thing ever.

So anyway, Saturday it turned out to rain all day anyway. We had a pretty serious balcony, so I could see the rain everywhere around us in the distance. It was cool. So I stayed in the room and watched some TV and got some coffee and stuff like that.

View from the balcony
That's the view.

Trees from our balcony
Trees! From the balcony

Oh yeah, when we got there we went to the Whole Foods there so I could stock up on healthy food and avoid having to eat bad-for-you and expensive food out the whole weekend. I stand by my idea that eating out is wonderful, but it should be an occasion and entertainment, not just convenience.

So anyway, while Chris was at dinner, I got to eat this:

Enjoying my fruit pie on the balcony
Yeah, yeah, baby.. $7 fruit pie. SO GOOD. And it's just fruit and almonds and dates!

Saturday Chris was all hungover and feeling bad, so when he got done with his conference at 3, he took a nap (!!!) and I went outside.

I was trying to figure out how I could get into the swampy area we could see from the balcony, but there were gates that prevented that, so I grabbed my bike and started to ride. I got just a few blocks away and found a gated-off area that I quickly ducked into to check out. I saw birds and water and fun stuff like that.... So I started taking some pictures. Soon enough, a golf cart came zipping by. Yeah, I was right next to a golf course. On it, just not in view of it yet.

Pretty flower, golf course.
Golf course flower

Golf course butterfly

People in Naples LOVE golf. I have never seen so many golf courses in my life. Every ten feet. So many housing developments advertised GOLF COURSE LIVING. Seriously... okay, I understand liking something, but COME ON.

So anyway, I spent a good hour and a half snapping non-keeper pictures and just enjoying the quiet and the beautiful (HOT, HUMID) weather.

Then I rode to the Target on my bike so I could buy Chris something to wear.

See, people in Naples are also VERY RICH. It's one of the wealthiest cities in the country. And what did Chris bring to wear when we went out?

It's 5 o'clock somewhere.  At least, that was his excuse.
This outfit, basically, except it wasn't a nice new Steelers t-shirt, it was an old, dingy Our Place (local hangout) shirt. And light-brown swim trunks. With Crocs, of course. This pic was taken in Key West and while I have NO PROBLEM with him dressing like that there, Naples is NOT Key West. We drove by the place we were going to go out Friday night and there was a guy in a SUIT outside smoking. And Chris was wearing swim trunks. AGGH.

So I got him this for Saturday night:

And shorts that weren't made for swimming. :)
See? Real shorts. And SLEEVES! No armpits! He was COMPLAINING TO DEATH, like I had just made him put on a fucking tux... while in actuality it was a super soft, 100% cotton nice shirt and some cargo shorts. Which he insisted were too small for him even though they fit him PERFECT. He looked really nice. :) And he still got to wear his Crocs, only now they matched.

Oh, look where our room was:

Our room. I guess the Hyatt folks ain't superstitious.
I guess places are starting to stop this whole superstitious no-13th floor business.

Oh, OK, so we were actually in Bonita Springs, about a half hour from Naples. And the place is, like, my hell. Like the whole Naples-Bonita Springs area just felt like CORAL SPRINGS for those of you who that means something to. Mega pedestrian-unfriendly. Tons of housing developments named things like Turtle Run and Pelican Landing when you know they drained and tore down anything that would make it a place where turtles or pelicans could live. It was just awful. I spent the whole time marveling how anyone could live there. To add to that, it's still very much UNDER development, rather than being already developed, like where I live. And trust me, it's much more depressing when you're watching somewhere go from what it looked like off the hotel balcony to what it looked like on the hotel grounds. I stood and stared off the balcony and wondered how long those trees and that swampy area (with wading birds!) would be there. Sad.

And on my 10-mile bike ride I did not see not even ONE pedestrian or other person on a bike. Not one! Just cars. And we were on the main drag (Tamiami Trail). SO WEIRD.

Oh, and everything was deserted too. I guess the recession has hit that part of Florida BAD, combined with its really extreme seasonality.

This was at like 5 p.m. on a Saturday.

Ghost Town
And that's how most of the shopping centers looked. Ft Myers is closeby and I think it has the highest unemployment & foreclosure rates in Florida.

Saturday night we met Dean & Meredith out for my one eat-out meal of the weekend at Truluck's which was INSANELY DELICIOUSLY YUMMY. OMG. Meredith brought her friends.

Meredith be drunk.

Sunday I dragged Chris to Delnor-Wiggins beach in Naples, which is a park and a nice section of beach free from development. Notably, there were sand dollars EVERYWHERE. Everywhere! You walked on them when you were in the water.. I picked a bunch of out of the water to check them out and there were BABY CRABS that were so tiny on them. I wanted a picture but didn't want to take them out of the water for long, so alas..

This girl was so cute.
This little girl was so cute, playing in the water.

There were tons of birds at Delnor-Wiggins on the beach too, and I have like a hundred pics of a few different kinds of birds running around, but picking a few keepers is really hard since birds are USUALLY quite pretty, by nature. I have to find a sandpiper picture and put it up, though, since they are so cute. OH, there was a manatee in the water, right by where I was, but I was talking to some lady and her husband was right there and he made some noise of surprise when he saw it that basically scared it away. SMOOTH MOVE, DUDE.

I have 1,000 bird pictures.
Some other bird. Also cute.

Then we went to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, something run by Audubon. It's like a half-hour from Naples the city, but is still in "Naples." We were kinda hurrying through since we wanted to get home at a decent time, but did the 3-mile trail and were able to enjoy it.

It smelled SO GOOD there. Like plants. Like Costa Rica. It made me realize I need to go to places like that more often. And back to Costa Rica.

I saw a deer there, up close.. And I even had my camera out, but I knew that clicking the shutter would ruin it and he'd run away, so I just held my breath and enjoyed the moment. :)

Corkscrew pictures:



Floating leaf.
Doesn't it look like it's floating?

Chris said: I guess Oreo has been here.
Chris saw this and said, "I guess Oreo's been here." Hehe.


A lake.
That's water under that green stuff! Am I weird.. I just wanted to go wading in it so bad.

The trail... so pretty, and it smelled good too.
Innit pretty? I wish this were scratch & sniff.

It's got its own solar system
The tree trunks are works of art

Hello, little frog!

I REALLY like green stuff

I like green stuff.

Tall, tall trees
There are lots of tall trees there. LOVE IT.

So that was Naples. We got home at 7 p.m. or so on Sunday and we were SO TIRED but I was glad that we took advantage of the fact we were over there to see some cool stuff.
Do you have any recommendations for fun places to go in the Keys?
Sure.. do you mean bars or parks or...? Upper Keys or Key West? If you're going to Key West, you just go to the main drag (Duval Street) and walk around and there are SO MANY bars and restaurants. We always go to Two Friends to do karaoke. One great place to eat is called The Cafe.. it's on one of Duval's side streets, a vegetarian-friendly place. BEST EVER. Other than that, we kinda just pick places to eat and hang out that are quiet enough and look good. Blue Heaven is supposed to be THE place for breakfast, I hear from everyone, but we still haven't made it there. If you want to do touristy stuff there, we went to the Ernest Hemingway house and thought it was lovely and a nice time. I have pics from the Keys on Flickr if you want to look.

If you are an outdoorsy person, go to Bahia Honda, a park at the 37 mile marker. Gorgeous, with ocean on one side and the Gulf on the other. Love that place. Again, pics on Flickr -,then go to the Keys set.

Have fun!!
Awesome! Thanks so much for the suggestions. We're staying in Marathon but will have a car and plan to visit Key West for a few days. We're taking a bit of a risk and going in October (hopefully we get some nice weather).
fabulous! october is actually THE best weather month. still warm, but not the blasted heat of summer. and *usually* no hurricanes in october. i'm sure you'll have a great time!
We're definitely going to the Hemingway House now that you mentioned it - specifically to see the 6-toed kitties! I'm such a cat lover - which is how I think I found your site originally :-) I have 3 rescues currently.

We are a very outdoorsy group so we'll be doing some snorkeling and some snuba (none of us are certified divers)and probably renting some bikes to putter around.

Thanks again for the info.
Lychee Martini yummy indeed!
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I'm Stacey. I'm a 31(!)-year-old Wisconsin girl living in sunny South Florida. The highlights in my life are my lovely boyfriend, my aloof cats, my adorable/adoring stepdogs, my two lumbering tortoises, select family members, being outside, being underwater, taking pictures, yadda yadda. Stay tuned for lots of babbling!

Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States


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Making a difference

A small boy lived by the ocean. He loved the creatures of the sea, especially the starfish, and he spent much of his time exploring the seashore.

One day the boy learned there would be a minus tide that would leave the starfish stranded on the sand.

When the tide went out, he went down to the beach, began picking up the stranded starfish, and tossing them back into the ocean.

An elderly man who lived next door came down to the beach to see what the boy was doing. Seeing the man's quizzical expression, the boy paused as he approached. "I'm saving the starfish!" the boy proudly declared.

When the neighbor saw all of the stranded starfish he shook his head and said: "I'm sorry to disappoint you, young man, but if you look down the beach, there are stranded starfish as far as the eye can see. And if you look up the beach the other way, it's the same. One little boy like you isn't going to make much of a difference."

The boy thought about this for a moment. Then he reached his small hand down to the sand, picked up another starfish, tossed it out into the ocean, and said: "Well, I sure made a difference for that one!"

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