So, I promised an explanation for my new header image, and here it is, along with the egregiously overdue recollections of my late November exploits.
After the small-scale adventures I previously recapped, it was on to the main event. With my birthday falling on the Friday before Thanksgiving, and the office being closed for half of the following week, I decided to treat myself to a little get-away. You see, one of the many aunt-and-uncle pairs in my family celebrated their retirement this year by purchasing a second home in Florida. My mother, being the self-employed empty nester, got in on the deal, too. The new digs were finally furnished and open for occupation this fall, so I took off the rest of the days between my birthday and Thanksgiving and jetted down to the Sunshine State!
Of course, to maximize my days in the tropics, I booked myself a flight that left Newark at 8:00 in the morning. That meant getting up at 5:00, and using every form of rail transit (subway, commuter trains, and even a damned monorail) to get to the airport. I packed light, so I had plenty of time to kill at the gate. As I looked around, I noticed a growing number of small children and small dogs waiting for the same flight. For the record, I have much less love for the latter of those two groups. Fortunately, I was pretty tired and was rarely disturbed during the flight. The most jarring distraction came when the kindly stewardess offered me some animal crackers and I discovered that they were frosted. Honestly, frosted animal crackers? And people wonder why childhood diabetes is so prevalent.
I was met by my mom, aunt, and uncle at the Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers. I always love when seemingly obscure locales have their own international airport. I think a city should have at least one million people living in it before its airport can be awarded “international” status. International airports service cities like New York, Chicago, and London. They can’t just lay claim to an entire geographic region and pretend that they’re equally important. I mean, I’ve yet to hear anything that sounds more ridiculous than the phrase “Lehigh Valley International Airport”.
Regardless of my airport pet peeves, I was immediately glad I had made the trip. The sun was shining, there was hardly a cloud in the sky, and the temperature was already climbing to its expected high of 81 degrees. We drove the wide highways from Fort Myers to Naples and into the vaguely resort-like community where the fam had planted their flag.
The homes, all cut from the same mold, are situated around twenty-seven holes of golf and multiple pools. There are fountains and lakes, the latter of which are populated with alligators. And that’s how I got the picture you see at the top of the page.
My first morning there, I woke up and stepped out on to the back porch. About twenty feet from where the concrete ends is one of many water hazards for the golf course. And about 100 feet away, lying motionless in the water, was an alligator. I saw him before he saw me, but once I was in his sights, he swam right over. Once I could get a good look at him, I realized the gator was about five feet long. That didn’t mean he couldn’t have bit my hand off if I was being stupid. But I kept my distance, and he stayed in the water. It was only after I had gone back inside that he shimmied out on to the grass, and then I carefully approached to take his picture.
When I wasn’t scouting the wildlife, I was eating, drinking, biking, and beaching. All in all, it was an excellent way to mark my birthday, and a welcome tease of summer. If only then I had known we’d be in for a blizzard and a half before New Year’s.