So taking the mermaid’s advice, we decided to spend some time in Florida this year to ward off the winter blues. She was in favor of a prolonged stay in one spot, but I couldn’t do that due to my inability to stay in one place for too long. So, we agreed on three separate trips to three different parts of Florida. The first one was more work than pleasure.
Hobe Sound was our destination and it is a little north of the Jupiter/West Palm area on the east coast of Florida. We flew into West Palm Beach Airport and stayed at the Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa. We went with the job of cleaning up the condo in Hobe Sound and putting it up for sale. We never really got the use out of it we thought we would and decided it was time to move on. This part of the east coast is quiet, but built up. Driving through Tequesta toward Hobe Sound, we stopped at a bagel shop. When we walked in, we noticed that it was filled with older men talking sports. I didn’t recognize anyone until Bill Parcells walked in and joined his buddies in conversation. Then we realized this must be the morning meeting place for old football guys to kibitz with each other. Now this was in a strip mall, but there was no sign of Bob Kraft!
With our week of work done, we got to enjoy a trip to Jonathan Dickinson State Park that is right off Federal Highway. A desolate looking place, it has great walking trails and some history, too. The battle of the Loxahatchee River was fought here against the Seminole Indians. And if you mention this to people, they will think you are either really smart or kind of crazy to know that or accuse you of reading Lazer columns again!
The next trip, a month later, was to Marco Island. We flew into Fort Meyers and drove past Naples to Marco. Situated on a beautiful three-mile stretch of beach, this island is very laid back but absolutely beautiful. We got to visit with snowbird friends in both Marco and Naples, and got to stroll the shores looking for amazing shells. Yes, shelling is a big thing here, and for good reason: there are many, they are varied, and they are fascinating. But be warned, “shellers” are serious about shelling. Don’t try to step in front of one, they get angry about that.
We took an excursion on a boat through the mangroves and got to see dolphins and a wide assortment of birds: cormorants, egrets, herons, and pelicans. We stayed at the newly-renovated and re-opened Hilton and while the place is really nice, they are still working out some of the kinks. I would definitely go back there. Right next door is a JW Marriott that has a phenomenal rooftop bar that provides an unparalleled view of the sunset. In fact, you feel like you are sitting on an ocean liner looking out at the ocean, very cool.
Our third and final voyage was to a part of Florida we have never been before: the Florida Keys. For this adventure, we flew into Miami and drove south. For those that know me, driving can take some time as I usually drive slow and make about three or four mistakes on the way. So for this trip, the mermaid set Waze and we just followed the instructions.
Unbelievably, we arrived at our destination without any issues and settled into the Playa Largo Resort in Key Largo. This place was written up recently in The New York Times, and for good reason, it is gorgeous. In fact, I think I could simply stare out at the Florida Bay all day long waiting for the sun to set below the silvery clouds and skyline.
We drove as far south as Islamorada and visited John Pennekamp State Park, the Bird Rehabilitation Center, and Robbies Marina where they let you feed the five-foot long tarpons by hand. We saw manatees, more dolphins, more tarpons and loads of pelicans, both the brown and white variety. We did a sunset cruise here with Captain Lolly, who I swore was Laverne re-incarnated. But she did a splendid job navigating the Keys and bringing us closer to one of the patented sunsets. But truth be told, we did very little here except enjoy the perfect weather, sip some wine, eat some cheese, and read some books. And it was the perfect antidote to those winter blues. Yes, we had finally found the key; in you guessed it, the Florida Keys!