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North Fort Myers Beach:  can you find a place to lie in the sun?

North Fort Myers Beach: can you find a place to lie in the sun?

Think of all the ways to have fun on vacation in southern Florida in March.  Here’s a handful to choose from:  para-sailing, boating, kayaking, sunning, jet skiing, walking, shopping, eating out, snorkeling, scuba diving, shelling…oh there’s probably a hundred more possibilities.

Look at all those folks sunning on North Fort Myers Beach!  I can’t quite imagine stepping over sunscreen-slathered sun and beach worshipers (“excuse me, excuse me”) looking for a place to lay the beach towels or perhaps prop the umbrella.  Way too many people for me! 

It is fun to eat lunch outside at Plaka’s Restaurant on Times Square, though.  Hundreds of people pass you by as you spear your Greek salad and sip a tall glass of ice tea.  A trio of Mexican or South American musicians serenade the passerbys.  On the weekends, street magicians mesmerize the crowds.  Once, while I was ordering a Blizzard in the nearby Dairy Queen, my husband lost $5 to a crafty magician.  But that’s his story to tell you.

Little girl driving a ...what would you call this thing?

Little girl driving a ...what would you call this thing?

The fellow driving that motorized vehicle (above) sweet-talked that pretty little girl into a ride.  The little girl sat with her mama and daddy and grandma and grandpa at the table next to ours.  Her eyes lit up like saucers when he placed her hands on the handlebars.  Although he wasn’t more than a step away, ready to grab her in two seconds flat.

Rainbow over the Back Bay last night, just before dinner at the Bayfront Bistro

Rainbow over the Back Bay last night, just before dinner at the Bayfront Bistro

I must say, eating out is one of my favorite vacation activities.  Last night we dined late (LATE, let me tell you, almost 8:30 p.m.!) with a passel of family members.  Mom, Dad, brother, sister-in-law, nephew, nephew’s friend.  What fun! 

Besides eating out, I am not a person for crowds or shopping.  I like to explore in nature, keeping an eye alert for a leaping dolphin or surfacing manatee.  You guys don’t know how diligently I am looking for them…just for you.  This morning, strolling along the boardwalk, I glimpsed a ten-inch circle of a manatee’s head rising above the water.  It was gone faster than you could breathe, “Manatee!”

Besides walking along the beach or Bird Sanctuary, I love to take off solo and explore the wild native underbrush.  I am fascinated with geckos or skinks, those fast little creatures darting to and fro.  The mangrove tree roots are incredible.  I have SO many pictures I could share.  Look at that camouflaged skink-fellow below. 

If you can find the skink...you win!

If you can find the skink...you win!

This evening Mom and Dad left for a party and I hiked out to the Gulf.  Instead of mingling with the beach-walkers, I veered inland back towards the lagoons and peered into nature’s nooks and crannies.  It’s Spring Equinox today, you know. (Which means it’s been three full months since starting this outdoor blog…one quarter of the year.)

Oh the interesting things one can discover in nature.  Look at these:

Mysterious prickly-pods hatching egg-like seeds

Mysterious prickly-pods hatching egg-like seeds

In honor of the Equinox I sat cross-legged for a long time hidden from the beach-walkers on a sandy circle.  Peeking through the vegetation one could see the Gulf waves rushing in to the shore, and receding out.  I thanked the Universe for this life, these gifts of nature, this earth.  And for you, dear reader, who mean so much to me.  The gift of your reading, your presence, brightens my days so much.  Thank you.  This is so much fun.

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…was I dreaming?  Could it be true?  Had spring fever finally overcome rationality?  Could that be a palm tree growing next to Lake Superior?  Could it suddenly be 80 degrees?  What was happening?  Was I losing my mind??

Palm tree branches waving in the breeze

Palm tree branches waving in the breeze

 Enough joking!  Michigan’s Upper Peninsula couldn’t grow a palm tree if it tried.  And for 80 degree temperatures to hit our thermometers it would be mid-summer.

Instead, I have flown half way across the country to beautiful Fort Myers Beach, Florida, to visit with my mom and dad for the next eight days.

YES!!!

This involved getting up at 4:10 a.m., two airplanes, a bagel in the Detroit airport and a blessed bath of hot air when we finally walked outside at the Fort Myers airport about 2 p.m.   Double YES!!!  YES!!!

Gorgeous Florida yellow blossom

Gorgeous Florida yellow blossom

My camera searched for vibrant colors.  Rich green leaves.  Splashing yellow and red and blue flowers.  From white winter snow drifts to…exotic blossoms.  It feels like one has awakened into a dream of summer.  Summer isn’t a hope and a prayer after all.  It exists.  And I get to play in it for the next week!  (and that means you all can play alongside me…)

Shall I set the scene for you? The condo where they spend four to five months a year has seven floors.  It oversees a point of land overlooking the Back Bay, a brackish backwater filled with dolphins, manatee, pelicans and egrets.  The Gulf of Mexico can be glimpsed out their front door, about a half mile to the west.  We’ll walk there tomorrow morning, through the Bird Sanctuary, a walk infamously known as “Kathy’s Walk”, don’t ask me why.

My parents have been coming here about 17 years now; I’ve visited off and on during those years. Last year I came twice, once with husband and once with daughter.  This trip is solo, as everyone else has other commitments.

Hungry blue heron begging fishermen for fish snacks

Hungry blue heron begging fishermen for fish snacks

So, you want to know what my outdoor experience has been today?  You wouldn’t believe it!  Besides the fifteen minutes lusting after everything green and vibrant and multi-colored in the landscape and wildly snapping photos, I attended a St. Patrick’s Day party down by the pool.  I was introduced to a dozen people, every one named Bob and Bill, and enjoyed the most fantastic potluck. 

I could get used to this kind of outdoor adventure, let me tell you.

Condo St. Patrick's Day party

Condo St. Patrick's Day party

It’s now almost 8 p.m. and I’m almost ready for bed.  Here’s a theoretical question for you.  Should I go down for a soak in the whirlpool before bed?  Let the spa hot water jets melt away and dissolve all those memories of 13 below zero and six foot snow drifts?  Goodnight, dear reader…

Anyone care to join me...?

Anyone care to join me...?

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