I’ve always gravitated towards the early morning lifestyle. Years of working heavy equipment construction and having a 7:00 AM start time 50 miles away got me outta bed way before first light. FYI (start time) meant the machine was already greased, warmed up and ready to change the face of the earth, it’s part of the job. Working in a factory with a 6:00 AM start time also meant pull up your big boy pants, tough out the hangovers, and get ‘er done. In my latter work day’s commuting thirty-five miles to downtown Minneapolis and hitting the fitness center for an hour also required a 5:00 AM alarm. On weekends, from time to time my bride would shoot me the, “Oh can’t you just be quiet” look.
September, 28th we hooked up the trailer and left Akeley, MN, and two weeks later here I sit drinking my early morning coffee in a 55 plus RV Park in sunny Florida, and what’s going on? The early morning crew are moving around, power walking, exercising their dogs, and greeting the neighbors. “Hey Eddie, how was the trip down?” “Martha, it’s been ages, so glad to see you.” “Larry is that you?” “No, it’s John.” “Oh, you look like Eddie.” “Thanks a lot.” “I hear it’s snowing back home.” “Yea, it’s coming down early.” Here’s the thing, people drive around in whisper quiet electric gold carts, and when the great one another it’s as if they feel the need to speak over the rattling of an imaginary eighteen-wheeler idling along the roadway. It’s a first world problem.
Unlike the imaginary eighteen-wheeler, the real problem, the invisible Covid-19 virus is out there. Like us, all the corporations, and government facilities are following prescribed guidelines. Guidelines and restrictions my actually work in our favor this winter season. Based on a quick Google search some 50,000 to 75,000 Canadians winter in Florida. Maintaining their national health benefits require they do not travel to the United States. Bad for them, good for us. It may be easier to find space in RV resort parks. However, as of this week calling around looking for space starting January 1, 2021, the resorts are booked full.
We are first timers here in Fort Myers Beach, FL. It’s mid-October and the temps have been in upper 80’s and the heat index is upper 90’s. Getting to the beach including drive time, parking, and walking can be as quick as 20 minutes. Growing up in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes getting wet is way less expensive. The Causeway Toll Bridge getting onto Sanibel, and Captiva Island is $6.00, no charge leaving the islands. My Florida DOT electronic toll collection system conveniently attached to my credit card, keeps handing out angel wings. <Ding> “Another angel got its wings.” <– reference to a line in the movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life.”
Fee based parking lots are very abundant, the highest cost lot on Captiva was $25 for the first hour, and all day for $40.00. Many are $5.00 per hour; some are as low $2.00 depending on location. We have found (2) free lots fairly close to our destinations. I prefer tipping our restaurant wait person, and not paying, “The Man.” I strongly suspect my tourist learning curve will be even steeper once we spend three weeks on The Keys.
Our Golden Age Passport allowed us to bypass the $10.00 entry fee for J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island. The four miles drive had a number of pullovers for bird watching. Our highlight was sitting on a shady, breezy, deck watching mullet jump out of the water. Sounds like something old people would find fascinating, doesn’t it! Of the restaurants we dinned at, Tipsy Turtle offered good eating, “The Bubble” room was the weirdest, the other names escape me. To date our best meal and service was “The Dixie Fish Company” on Fort Myers Beach in the wharf area. We told Ken our server that we had never eaten there before and he reviewed the menu, and when he finished with the highlights he closed with, “The rest is pretty good.” “How good is pretty good?” he looked at me and we both laughed. The coconut crusted snapper, collard greens, with garlic butter roasted baby potatoes was great. Better yet was the server, Ken. It was at the Dixie I reflected over past dining experiences and hit upon Ken’s courtesy. It didn’t matter what I questioned our asked for his response was always, “absolutely” “yes sir”, or “of course.” Unlike up north where I often hear, “no problem.” That always bothered me. “No problem.” “I hope not, I didn’t come here to bother you.” Opening up my ears even more I overheard the other servers, “absolutely”, “yes sir/mame”, and “of course.”
Sanibel Island, Lovers Key State Park, and Fort Myers beaches are OK, but our best find was Bonita Beach and Naples. The sand is softer, and way fewer sharp-edged shells. There are many entry locations for the various beaches, but to find bathroom amenities and showers can be a bit tricky. Deb loves a challenge, more so than I. Guy’s just have it easier.
Fort Myers, FL
Bonita Springs, FL
Sanibel Island, FL