Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Hangin' with my peeps in Florida

After a hectic and rather sad past month, my family was really looking forward to our vacation.  As I mentioned in a previous blathering, my parents gave each of their grandchildren (and their daughters and spouses) airfare to fly down to Fort Myers, Florida as our Christmas gifts.  My parents have a condo in an adult's only golfing community along the Gulf coast.  Each of my sisters and their families (as well as the Bookworm Family) will go down separately to hang with my parents.  Awesome sauce!  Well, we had a wonderful, wonderful week with my parents!  It was great to get that one-on-one time with them as well as some Bookworm Family bonding.  

Observation: I assumed that since my parents' condo is in a gated 'no kid' community that my parents, being only 66, would be some of the youngest residents there and that it would be pretty sedate.  A life of knitting, naps and Metamucil.  Um, no.  Apparently I was mistaken.  These 'seniors' are livin' the high life!  My cousin Jeff and I commented that it's like our parents are living in university residence - lots of partying, socializing and hanging out ... but with no studying!!  Oh man!  I can't wait until I'm 65! ;)  Seriously, there are social gatherings for Super Bowl, there's a huge black tie affair for the Academy Awards, there's shopping, golfing, swimming ....  It's exhausting be retired, apparently.

I'm never one to sit around for a week basking in the sun.  Not only would my pale skin burn to the point of crispy but I'm my father's daughter in that I have the attention span of a gnat that just drank three Red Bulls.  So, while we did quite a bit of lounging by the pool we also saw many of the sites around Fort Myers.  Here's just a few ...

Our first full day we went on a nature hike in the local slough ('slew' - resembles a swamp but with moving water - not stagnant, stinky or buggy). We learned about swamp cabbage (ie. hearts of palm) and saw three wild baby gators.
  • we took an amazing dolphin cruise off of Captiva Island where a group of dolphins were literally 6 feet away from us as they jumped through the waves of the catamaran we were on!  I was utterly in awe.

  • we saw some sea cows at the local Manatee Park because who doesn't love manatees?? No one.  That's who!
  • we visited the not-to-be-missed Thomas Edison and Henry Ford's summer residences 
  • We went to some beaches (Bonita Beach, Fort Myers Beach as well as Sanibel Island) to collect shells and put our feet in (it was a wee bit cold).  Here I am with Missy Moo, Boy 2 and my Mom.
Here my men folk enjoyed some bumper boat action at Zoomers.  We literally had this amusement park, complete with mini golf, rides and go-carts to ourselves for 4 hours!
Another thing that we did a lot of is eating out.  I do love me some meals where people serve me!  Whether it was the 300+ dish menu at Nervous Nellies on Bonita Beach (highly recommended!) or the local IHOP (blech!) to make Boy 2 and his breakfast addiction happy.  Or a delicious Italian meal at Carrabas (I believe I moaned when I ate their Chicken Trio) or supper on a patio while the sun set at Key Lime Bistro on Sanibel Island, we were ever so happy as we got to sample some of the delicious food that Florida had to offer. 

Here's an amusing story - When we (sans my parental units) went to a local restaurant, Miller's Ale House, Brad and I decided to try a local seafood dish since we enjoy seafood.  While in Rome and all that. The dish was called "Miller's Seafood, Lobster and Clam Bake".  Sounds delish, right?  When we ordered, the waitress was a little surprised at what we ordered (I figured it was because Boy 1 had ordered two lobster tails - Cha ching!). 

Well, we quickly figured out the source of her surprise when our meals came.  In a plastic mesh bag, Brad and I each had a lobster tail, various unknown shell fish, shrimp and a crab -- all in their shells.  {When I said that Brad and I love seafood I failed to mention that we usually have it al fresco - ie. unshelled.}  I kinda freaked out wondering how on earth I was going to crack open this crab who was sitting there amongst his brethren, some potatoes and corn cobs just staring me down with his beady little eyes. 

We hailed our waitress and asked if we could order something else.  Yup, we were chickening out.  Then Boy 2 (who along with Missy Moo) are the least adventurous eaters on the planet, looked at me and said "so you tell me I have to try new things and you're giving up?".  He picks that specific time to listen to me and throw my advice back at me?!?!  *sigh ... then pull on my big girl panties*.

The nice waitress had the manager come over to chat with us (making me feel ever so ridiculous and picky).  He said that this dish was one of his favourites and that he would put in the other order but would love to help us so we could try this favourite dish of his.  So what did he do?  He gave us a tutorial on seafood.  Yes, he did.  He sat down in our booth with us, slapped on some rubber gloves and showed me (while Brad followed along with his meal) how to remove all the delicious seafood from their shells.  Now THAT is customer service!  {In our defense we did know how to deal with the lobster and the shrimp}. Not only did we have a good time chatting with him but we learned a bit about seafood and taught our kids that even their parents have some culinary hurdles still to get over!!

All in all, we had an outstanding week in sunny Florida and even managed to miss that huge snowstorm that swept through Ontario and into some northern States.  Unfortunately that storm wreaked havoc on flights and turned our three hour flight home into a twelve hour ordeal complete with postponed flights, waiting for hours on the plane while technical difficulties were dealt with.  We safely arrived home at 6am after 10 hours of travel after which we literally fell into bed to dream of the sand, surf and time with family.

While we did have a fantastic time in the US of A we all did miss dear old Canada, eh?  I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of things here on the blog.  In fact, I just finished a new squares recipe that is truly addicting ... and so NOT good for your thighs.  Oh, my dear blog followers.  It is a delight!!  Stay tuned for that recipe soon!

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