Thursday, January 9, 1986
Picked up Kent from work at 15:30 to drive to the airport. Caught the 16:55 flight to Hartford, CT, only 20 minutes away. The plane then filled up, and we took off for Atlanta. NYC and Philadelphia were pointed out below. Due at 20:18, we arrived at 20:30, and crossed the corridor to the gate for the 21:14 flight to Fort Myers, where we arrived a half hour late at 23:00. Kent’s dad was waiting outside in the car in the rain. We drove about an hour down I-75 to Marco Island, taking a bridge to reach it. Most of the trip was through unpopulated areas with short trees, but Marco Island was fully populated. We arrived to stay in a friend’s condominium near the Stumpes’ condo at Sea Breeze South.
Friday, January 10, 1986
It was pouring rain when we awoke, but the sun was out by 8:00.
|Sea Breeze South Condominiums|
After breakfast, Kent and I went for a walk along the long beach.
|Marco Island Beach|
Lots of shells had been washed up, including thin brown things that looked like webbed feet. We returned to join Kent’s parents who were sunning by the pool.
|Cocos nucifera/Coconut palm|
After lunch we drove around the island to see all classes of condominiums and some first class homes. Stopped at a grocery store, then headed to the public beach. It got windy and cool, so we returned to the condominium pool. Then the sun disappeared. I finished reading Shirley MacLaine’s “Dancing in the Light,” which was indeed thought-provoking.
After our steak dinner, it began raining in earnest.
Saturday, January 11, 1986
After breakfast on a cloudy day, we decided to go to the Everglades! We drove straight eastward, passing along the upper border of the Everglades National Park. I was amazed at the number of birds! Not just a couple egrets, not one lone turkey vulture, but flocks of them!
|Mycteria americana/Wood Storks and assorted waders|
The low trees were scrubby and there were a few palm trees. We passed a lone soft needle pine tree. There was a grove of cypress trees that had no leaves and a widened base of the trunk covered with air plants. Lots of Cladium jamaicense/Sawgrass in the marshy areas.
Here and there were Native Indian communities, many ready for tourists, but not open today. The buildings all had thatched roofs. We arrived at the Shark Valley Visitor Center and parked. Decided to just walk rather than take the 2-hour tram ride. We were glad we did, because we saw so much more than one could see speeding by in the tram. It also seemed to be a good season to visit in regards to insects, as we were bothered by only one mosquito. Winter is the dry season here, and alligators are known to seek waterholes. We were fortunate to spot several of the critters, or at least their eyes above the level of the water.
We headed to the left and found a boardwalk traversing the area. There were written explanations, telling of the orange-ish plankton on which the food web or food chain is based. We were only 6-8 feet above sea level. There were Chrysobalanus icaco/Cocoplum trees with shiny round leaves and Myrica cerifera/Wax Myrtles or Southern Bayberry. We saw leather ferns and air plants, and leaned over the railing to feel the sawgrass. The higher land masses where trees grow are called hammocks. We saw an area of flat rock that was carved through by running water to create a mini Grand Canyon. Most of the rocks we saw were porous limestone.
The boardwalk took us back to the main road, and we began walking along a canal where Kent immediately spotted an Alligator mississippiensis/American Alligator curled up in some sawgrass. Wow!
We spotted lots and lots of yellow crested birds (Myiarchus crinitus/Great Crested Flycatcher) sitting in the trees and shrubbery, and heard occasional bird noises. We may have heard the snort of a Rana grylio/Pig Frog, and certainly heard the splashes of some kind of frogs. In the water were a couple turtles and some fish including foot-long pikes. Later Kent saw movement in the water, which turned out to be a two-foot long Chelydra serpentine/Snapping Turtle. We got a close-up view of an Anhinga anhinga, which then squawked away.
|Alligator mississippiensis/American Alligator head|
At one point we followed a path towards the Otter Cave Hammock, but a grunt and a crashing noise sent us fleeing back to the road. Another path took us to see reddish Taxodium ascendens/Pond Cypress knees.
After walking about a mile, we turned around to head back. We saw a hawk chasing a heron who dropped what looked like a snake. Phalacrocorax auritus/Double-crested Cormorants were fishing. The Metopium toxiferum/Poisonwood tree was pointed out, where even raindrops running off of it causes rashes. The waterways had blooming lilies, and there was lots of thistles.
|Nuphar advena/Spatterdock Lily|
The sun peeked out as we drove back to Marco Island, and again we saw the swarms of birds along the road. We passed a dark green-black pond surrounded by tall dark trees that were dotted all around with pure white egrets, making a great picture. Another “picture” was of Taxodium distichum/Bald Cypress with their hairy-looking clusters of leaves. We went to the island of Goodland to find the Little Bar for lunch. Goodland was down to earth with mobile homes, etc. Stopped at Publix for groceries.
Just after 17:00, the Stumpes came running to tell us that the Concorde was supposed to fly by. We trotted down to the beach to join a row of people waiting to see the plane. It zoomed towards the east low over the water, then circled back to return right over our heads. It turned again to make the same pass. Apparently it was a promotion for the travel convention being held at the nearby Marriott. Earlier we had seen someone dressed as Santa carrying a picket sign saying Finnair was unfair.
We returned to the condo to prepare dinner and await the arrival of Kent’s brother, Mike, with his son, 5-year old Ryan. They came about 19:30 in time for dinner.
Sunday, January 12, 1986
Another gray day. I was having problems with Fate, figuring I was not destined to ever set sail in a boat!
At 10:30, Kent and I went with Mike to the airport to pick up his luggage, which had missed the connection that he and Ryan barely made themselves. We spotted relatively lots (fewer than yesterday) of wildlife along the way; pelicans, great blue herons, egrets, etc. At the airport, Mike also picked up tickets to Tulsa, a day-trip he was making the next morning. We continued to Fort Myers to look for the neighborhood of manufactured homes where Kent’s parents’ friends from Rocky River lived. There we met Kent’s parents with Ryan. George and Kaye Ford had a really nice home right on the water, and we were given a tour of the house, and then the community center and pool. At about 13:00, the boat trip was to begin, and I was spontaneously sent with them! It was great! We putt-putted about at idling speed and had the mangroves with their above water/ground root systems pointed out.
|Pelicans wait at the fish cleaning pier|
We looked for an alligator in his usual sunning spot, but he wasn’t there today. It had been hot and sunny, however the clouds were coming and made it cooler. We also had the Bears-Rams football game on the radio. Looking down a side waterway, Kent saw a pair of alligator eyes, so George backed up the boat and got as close as possible. We could see the whole of the 5-foot critter just underwater.
Heading back to the Fords’, we passed some ugly looking buzzards, with black cowls (Coragyps atratus/Black Vultures).
|Coragyps atratus/Black Vultures|
|Kent and Bert disembark, with Ada and Mike on the dock|
Kaye showed some of her knitting masterpieces, and we noted George’s oil paintings on the walls, which were pretty good! We said our thank-yous and good-byes and left about 20:15. Kent and I again went in Mike’s car, and we passed a weaver alongside the road.
Monday, January 13, 1986
It was sunny and the skies were clear! Mike was long gone for his interview in Tulsa.
At breakfast, everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to me. We took a walk with Ryan. He scuffed slowly along in his new flip flops. Once we reached the beach, he picked up every third shell and quickly filled his bucket!
We didn’t get too far down the beach because of a very cool north wind.
No one was at the condo, so we played shuffleboard.
|Kent and Ryan|
|Momordica charantia/Wild Bitter Melon|
|Agraulis vanillae/Gulf Fritillary Butterfly|
|Anolis sagrei/Brown Anole on ficus trunk|
|Kent on shuffleboard|
Dinner at 19:00 of a great steak, salad, wild rice, and peas ‘n’ carrots. Afterwards there was a birthday cake and “Happy Birthday” was sung again! I received cards, stationery, and a Bonne Belle cosmetic kit. To bed after a final gift from Kent.
Tuesday, January 14, 1986
It was sunny and clear again, but very cool. We decided to go shopping and Kent’s mom came with us. We went to several shopping areas looking for souvenirs. The car talked to us, and let us know the gas tank was low. Kent’s mom’s car new Nissan Maxima is rather luxurious. The farther we went, the more tourist-y the shopping centers were. We came to a row of tiny shops along a brick wall at the Port of San Marco. We bought T-shirts, shell rings, and shark’s teeth. We stopped at a seafood store for stone crab claws, supposedly now in-season. Back at the condo, I sat in the sun while Kent played shuffleboard with Mike. Lunch was the crab claws, smoked fish spread and clam spread on crackers, tuna salad, coleslaw, and potato salad. Kent and I played shuffleboard until the score was 88-89 in his favor. I handed by stick to Mike to take over while I took a shower. Kent came in to shower as I packed. We said our thank-yous and goodbyes to the Stumpes and Ryan and left at 15:30.Mike drove us to the airport. We boarded the 16:51 flight to Atlanta. I forgot my chewing gum, but had no problems with my ears on this trip. The steward was named Kevin and looked like Kevin McHale, just not as tall! We arrived in Atlanta 10 minutes late at 18:30, and went to catch the 19:31 flight to Providence. It was a cool 70 degrees when we left Florida, and it was 11 degrees in Rhode Island! We landed a half hour late at 22:00. After leaving the plane we quickly unpacked our coats. It was bitterly cold, but dry. The car started right up, and we paid the $10 for parking. Arrived home to find the mailbox stuffed with letters and packages.