Vacation 2014

Charleston, St Augustine, Naples, Fort Myers

Friday 6/27--on the way North

Saturday 6/28, Radisson North Charleston

Sunday 6/29, Radisson North Charleston

Monday 6/30, Radisson North Charleston

Tuesday 7/1--Dad's birthday, Radisson North Charleston

Wednesday 7/2--my birthday, Radisson North Charleston

Thursday, July 3rd–Charleston

Friday, July 4th–Charleston

Saturday & Sunday, July 5th & 6th–St Augustine

Monday, July 7th--home for the night

Tuesday, July 8th–Naples FL

Wednesday, July 9th–Naples

Thursday, July 10–Naples FL

Friday, July 11–Naples & Fort Myers FL

Saturday 7/12--Fort Myers FL

Sunday, 7/13–Fort Myers & home

Hotels–Charleston

Hotels–St Augustine

Hotels–Naples FL

Hotels–Fort Myers FL



Friday 6/27, walked 2 miles/45 minutes outside

I did my daily walk before leaving for work in the morning, so I could leave right after getting off work.

I was on my way up to spend the night in St Augustine somewhere right off the freeway, about halfway between home & Charleston–4 hours in good traffic and good weather.

When I got off work I had an Ensure, which I know from experience will keep me going for 4 hours or so with no low blood sugar, unlike some supposedly "meal bars" I've had before when traveling.

Today I decided to take the Turnpike as far North as Fort Pierce before cutting over to I95 for the rest of the way. The last time I'd gone up to St Augustine, traffic on I95 was so bad it took about two hours just to get through Palm Beach County.

Unfortunately today there was an accident blocking a lane on the approach to the Turnpike, so I got to the exit where I usually get off when going home about 45 minutes later than it usually takes me. I got to my hotel about 11 and had one of my Nutrisystem meals for dinner before turning in for the night.


Saturday 6/28, Radisson North Charleston, walked 2 miles/45 minutes on the treadmill

Traffic along I95 wasn't too bad–quite heavy but moving along very fast. Traffic along highway 16 was even nicer, quite a bit lighter, and it's a lovely drive with very pleasant scenery.

When I got to the hotel I called to check in with Michael & Tim to let them know I'd arrived safely, and also called Aunt Peg who lives in Charleston. Aunt Peg mentioned there's an Irish pub, Madra Rua, in North Charleston not far from the hotel.

I didn't do much that day, and don't seem to have kept my usual thorough notes. I think I took a bit of a nap and then used the treadmill at the hotel for my daily walk.

I'm also pretty sure that this is the day I went to the local Trader Joe's as well. I also think I went on a carriage tour today as well. Uncle Carium and Aunt Peg prefer the Old South carriage company (primarily because Uncle Carium seems to have delivered most of the owner's babies) so that's who I went with.

After the tour I was able to give a bit of trivia to the driver/tour guide from my own personal experience. All the guides of course mention what happened to King Charles I. I asked him if he knew who had actually executed Charles, and was able to tell him that since Cromwell's forces could not find an Englishman willing to kill the King, they had hired an Irishman to do so, who promptly took his pay and left for Dublin where he used the proceeds to open a tavern called the King's Head. How do I know? Not only is it mentioned in many tour books about Dublin, I'd been to it when I was in Dublin for my 50th birthday trip, although I can't remember if I went in.


Sunday 6/29, Radisson North Charleston, walked for 2 miles/45 minutes on the treadmill

I went into town around 11. My primary goal was to visit the Market, and to find Goorin's Hat Company downtown. I didn't find any hats I liked at the Market, which is where Mom had bought a hat for me when we visited a couple of years ago, but I did find one at Goorin's I like very much. It's a great place, selling nothing but hats for men and women.

I had lunch somewhere downtown, but don't seem to have noted where. I then stopped for a visit with Aunt Peg & Uncle Carium on the way back to my hotel. I don't think any of my cousins and their kids were there this time.

After I got back to my hotel I took a bit of a nap before using the treadmill. I can't remember where I went for dinner that night.


Monday 6/30, Radisson North Charleston, walked 2 miles/45 minutes on the treadmill

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Today I went looking for lighthouses. There are two in the area.

The oldest one is on Morris Island, and is no longer accessible from land. The view is best from down by Folly Beach, which is a very pleasant and pretty beach town, although I didn't stop to walk around but just drove through it.

The lighthouse on Sullivan's Island proved to be harder to find. The GPS in the car couldn't find it. The address I had found online was a bit weird to me–Station 19.5 along the road.

It turns out you can't actually see the lighthouse from the main road in the area. I drove past Fort Moultrie before stopping to walk over and see if I could see it from the beach. I couldn't find it but did meet a park ranger on the beach who told me Station 19.5 was basically a side street off the main road, and that I needed to go back the way I had come.

I stopped at Fort Moultrie, which I quite liked. Besides its Civil War connections, the main reason I had wanted to visit is it's where the Seminole leader Osceola was buried after his confinement there. How did I know? I've been reading/listening to a recent history called Finding Florida, which I'm rather enjoying.

A park ranger at Fort Moultrie visitors center told me I was heading in the right direction, and about how far I needed to go. I found a place to park and walked down to the beach where I could see the lighthouse.

The Sullivan's Island lighthouse is an unusual design, not at all like the stereotypical New Englandy ones you usually see on postcards, calendars and travel videos. It's more of a stripped down, industrial design I wasn't sure I liked at first, but now I kind of like it.

I used the treadmill back at the hotel before heading over to Madra Rua, the Irish pub Aunt Peg had mentioned, which wasn't far from the hotel. I rather liked it, and had a very nice meal there with a good pint. The restaurant is in a very pleasant neighborhood that reminded me of ones in Portland and Seattle I've been t o.


Tuesday 7/1--Dad's birthday, Radisson North Charleston, walked 2 miles/45 minutes on the treadmill

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Today's Dad's birthday.

I spent the day driving around on the islands again, and had a lovely time. I started by heading on over to the Charleston Tea Plantation, which is the only such one here in the US. It was originally started by Lipton as a US test farm to see if tea would even grow well enough to be useful. The current owner purchased it from Lipton in 1987, and now operates it in a partnership with Twining's.

The whole plantation is very nice, and very pretty. I paid to take the ride on the trolley around the farm, and saw several places that could very easily be used for outdoor events such as weddings. I also went on the short tour of the factory, which is very well done and informative about the different kinds of teas and processing (green, black and oolong are all from the same plant but are exposed to the air for different lengths in processing, with green being exposed the least).

I really liked the gift shop as well, which is quite pretty and laid out very nicely. I picked up several boxes of tea for myself, and some tea hand lotion for Aunt Peg–the antioxidants in the tea are supposed to be good for the skin.

I then headed on over to the Firefly Distillery, which is on the grounds of the Irvin House vineyard. This is another very lovely, pleasant location. By this time I was definitely ready for some lunch, not having passed anywhere I could eat between the tea plantation and here. The only food available was a pre-made chicken salad sandwich I picked up at the winery, which was actually quite tasty. Both buildings are in a very pretty location.

I didn't go on the tour of the distillery–I'd been on a tour of the distillery up in St Augustine not long before on one of my trips there. All distilleries operate the same way, using the same basic chemistry. I went to the gift shop instead, and picked up some of the distillery's specialties–sweet tea vodka and sweet tea bourbon. I also got a jar of their moonshine. Although you can buy their vodka and bourbon through liquor stores, apparently their license to make the moonshine restricts them to only selling it on premises.

I've always been more of a beer and hard cider drinker, and know even less about cocktails than I do about wines. I had absolutely no idea what to do with the sweet tea vodka, sweet tea bourbon, and moonshine, but picked up a couple of cards with some recipes which include some easy mixed drinks. You can also find the recipes on their website.

My last stop out on the islands was the Angel Oak. This tree is thought to be the oldest in the area, and one of the oldest in the US. It's in a very lovely small park, and although it isn't very tall it is very wide and broad and covers a lot of ground.

I went back to the hotel to use the treadmill.

Then, since it was Dad's birthday, I headed on in to downtown Charleston to have dinner and a pint at Tommy Condon's, a world famous Irish pub.


Wednesday 7/2--my birthday, Radisson North Charleston, walked 2 miles/45 minutes on the treadmill

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Brian, one of Aunt Peg & Uncle Carium's sons-in-law, owns, runs or works for one of the tour boat companies in Charleston, the Sandlapper. I had made arrangements to go out on one of their tours this morning.

I had been hoping to go see fireworks somewhere on the 4th of July if any of my cousins were interested. A couple of days ago, Aunt Peg told me that Brian's company was running a cruise to see the fireworks from Patriots Point and if I'd like to go, they'd give me the money for the cruise. I of course said yes.

This morning Brian called to tell me that if I still wanted to go on the cruise today he'd give me a discount on both that cruise and to see the fireworks. I told him I'd indeed be there for the cruise.

The tour was on one of the smaller boats, holding about 20 people. It's a very comfortable boat, quite stable out on the water, and the captain and mate were excellent guides, very knowledgeable about the area's history.

Charleston Harbor is quite large, and the tour went under the new bridge all the way down to Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie, out to the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean, and into some of the rivers and past some of the multimillion dollar houses in the area (kind of like being on the New River in Fort Lauderdale). We saw dolphins several times on the trip.

The mate's family had been in Charleston for generations, and one of his ancestors had served at Fort Moultrie during the Civil War, so he provided the commentary when we were down there. On the way back, I teased him because he'd forgotten to mention one of the fort's most famous visitors, Osceola, whom he couldn't remember but the captain did.

Back in town, I had lunch somewhere near the Market but don't remember where.

The plan for the afternoon was to walk from the Market down to one end of Charleston's Museum Mile and back, and then to come back and do the rest later in the week.

Today I went to the following places on the Museum Mile:

Gibbes Museum of Art

Washington Square

Circular Congregational Church

St Phillips's Episcopal Church

French Hugenot Church

St Michael's Church

1st Scots Presbyterian Church

1st Baptist Church

I then stopped back at the hotel for a bit of a nap and to use the treadmill before going over to Aunt Peg's & Uncle Carium's for dinner.

Aunt Peg and Uncle Carium are not in the best of health. After he retired recently, Uncle Carium tried taking care of Aunt Peg and the house himself, doing a lot of the cooking, as he was doing when Mom and I visited a couple of years ago. He was allowing himself to get worn down, so their daughters convinced their parents to get some help. A woman comes in several times a week to do cooking which Peg & Carium can then microwave when they want, as well as someone else to come in and do the cleaning.

We had a very pleasant dinner with salad and a lasagna that Peg and Carium only had to warm up. Two of my cousins were there, as well as three of the grandkids. Megan's mother, my cousin Karen, died a few years ago. Megan graduated from college a couple of years ago. She was there with my cousin Amy and her daughter (whose name I can't remember), and my cousin Molly and her daughter Hannah. All the ladies wanted to try the tea hand lotion I had picked up for Aunt Peg when I was at the Charleston Tea Plantation a couple of days ago. I had also left a copy of the book with my pictures from Savannah and Beaufort I took on my trip there last year which I had made for Mom's birthday (in fact, I ordered the first copy for her two days before she passed away) for Aunt Peg and Uncle Carium to look at, and my cousins also enjoyed it.


Thursday, July 3rd–Charleston

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Today I went the other direction along the Museum Mile, starting by walking down to Wragg Square and then back to the Market.

Today I went to:

Wragg Square

Charleston Museum (very nice, and quite well done)

2nd Presbyterian Church

Citadel Square Baptist Church

Emanuel AME Church

Trinity UMC

I had lunch somewhere downtown, but don't seem to have noted where. I then went back to my hotel and used the treadmill later that afternoon, had dinner somewhere, and went back to Madra Rua for a pint afterwards.


Friday, July 4th–Charleston

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I started the day by heading down to the waterfront for a visit to the Aquarium, which I liked a great deal–the huge tank in the center is amazing. I got there just in time for one of their 4D shows (3D with the addition of the sprays of water mist and effects that create the illusion of movement). The show is short, but is extremely well done.

I had a reservation to go out on the fireworks cruise on the Sandlapper that evening, so I went back to the hotel to use the treadmill first.

There was going to be food available on the boat, but that wasn't going to be until later so I stopped for dinner at a deli near the waterfront and got there just before they closed. I was about an hour early for boarding, but it was a lovely day so I didn't mind hanging out on the waterfront near the Aquarium, Maritime Center, and the Fort Sumter Visitors Center. It was fun watching all the people coming to claim a spot to watch the fireworks.

The cruise was longer than usual, but without the usual narration. We saw lots of Charleston Harbor. There was indeed food available, but there was just enough of a swell for me to feel like just staying on a bench in the middle of the boat facing forward, so it was a good thing I had dinner before because I really didn't feel like eating on the boat.

The fireworks display was excellent, one of the best I've seen, and was surprisingly long. The last 10 minutes of the show had more fireworks than I've seen in some whole shows.

Traffic getting out of downtown and back to the hotel was kind of crappy and heavy for the first 10 minutes or so, but then lightened up.


Saturday & Sunday, July 5th & 6th–St Augustine

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I decided not to head on over to see Aunt Peg and Uncle Carium before leaving town, so I called to say goodbye from the hotel.

The drive down to St Augustine was pretty good, and so was the weather except for a couple of isolated, scattered thunderstorms along the way. Traffic along Highway 16 was quite light, and it wasn't too bad down I95 to St Augustine.

This time I stayed at the Jaybirds motel, which is about 5 minutes closer to town than where I've stayed before. It's quite a nice place, with a good exercise room and treadmill which I used that afternoon and Sunday as well.

I wandered around town a lot both days. I didn't go into any of the museums this time, knowing I'd probably be back on some three-day weekend in the near future.

On the way into town, I stopped at the Mission of Nombre de Dios & the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche, which I don't think I've done on any of my trips to St Augustine before, although the trolley tours I've taken stop there. It's a very pleasant place, quite scenic and historically interesting.

I also wandered into the St Photios Greek Orthodox national shrine, in the center of downtown, historical St Augustine, which is a very small but lovely place I'd walked past many other times without really noticing. I then headed on over to the Cathedral Basilica over by Flagler College. I didn't go in, because this was Sunday and people were still coming out after mass.

Over the weekend I added a couple more British & Irish pubs to the ones I've been too–I guess I kind of collect both pubs and churches. I went to the Prince of Wales English pub, and Molly Meehan's and the Barley Republic, which are both Irish pubs.


Monday, July 7th--home for the night

I wasn't in a hurry to do much of anything today, since I was just heading home and it's only a 4 hour drive between home and St Augustine. Traffic on a Monday morning wasn't too bad along I95, and was maybe a bit lighter along the Turnpike which I joined up by Fort Pierce.

I got home early enough to run a few errands, pick up some prescription refills, and my new prescription sunglasses. I did my usual at home 2 mile, E-W walk past the cemeteries and the condos at the far end, and back.

I went over to my local, neighborhood pho place for dinner, and did my laundry and packed for what I wanted to take for the rest of the week.


Tuesday, July 8th–Naples FL

The cleaning ladies were done before 11, as usual. I ran a quick errand, than left for Florida's West Coast and Naples.

I've been to Naples several times since I moved to South Florida. It's less than a 2 hour drive, and is still much cheaper than Key West. One time when Mom was here we drove over just to see the sunset and then drove home that same evening.

I was at my hotel by 12:30. My room wasn't going to be ready until 2ish, but they gave me a key to use for the exercise room if I wanted to use the treadmill before my room was ready.

I found the local AAA office and picked up a local map and one for the area around Fort Myers, where I'd be heading in a couple of days. By the time I'd had lunch somewhere along the way, and got back to my hotel I could check in.

I unpacked, and because I was having some mild stomach problems again, took a bit of a nap before using the treadmill in the very nice exercise room.

When I lived in Portland, and whenever I visited Mom, I often went to Trader Joe's. There are two stores within 10 minutes of where I used to live, and one of them is less than 5 minutes away from Mom & Dad's house. There were no Trader Joe's in Florida until about a year ago–I've been here for over 12 years. There's a store way down in Miami, over 45 minutes away from my house, and not easy to get to. There's a store in Naples, which was less than 10 minutes from my hotel, so of course I went to pick up some snacks and drinks for the rest of the week.

It was a lovely evening, and I had a very pleasant time driving around the area deciding where I wanted to have dinner. I settled on the Clock, a very nice place, kind of like a very family friendly diner.


Wednesday, July 9th–Naples

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I slept very poorly last night, not falling asleep until quite late and waking up before 8, for less than 6 hours of sleep.

I had a very nice breakfast at the hotel, and then wandered around taking pictures–it's a very pretty place, with lovely landscaping.

One of my goals for the day was to make sure the Naples municipal fishing pier was in the van's GPS–it's a lovely place from which to watch the sunset. The GPS didn't have it listed under local attractions, but I did have a street address for the pier, which it was able to find.

I mentioned earlier that I've been to Naples several times already, including a couple of times this year. Although on one of my trips this year I took a Segway tour which went down the main street, 5th Ave SW, and the more historic 3rd Ave SW, and went to the very nice park between the two, and of course driven down 5th Ave ever time I've been to the fishing pier, I'd never actually walked down 5th Ave before.

First I drove over to, and then down, 3rd Ave which was very pleasant but I didn't see that much which looked historic. To be fair, I discovered on a later visit when I actually walked the street, there are a couple of signs letting you know that 3rd Ave was Naples's original main street. I also stopped at a waterfront park, which I enjoyed as well.

Parking along 5th Ave can be problematic, but when you go a block off it you find Cambier park, the park I'd been to on the Segway tour, where parking is much better, so I left the car there.

I've always enjoyed driving along 5th Ave, which is very scenic, with lots of lovely landscaping and attractive, interesting buildings. I had a large iced coffee at the Starbucks, then walked down one side of 5th Ave and up the other side, and had a very nice time looking for where I wanted to have lunch. I went back down the street to check out Paddy Murphy's, an Irish pub. Inside was a bit dark, and I only saw high stools for seating, so I went back out to the patio instead and sat at a table with some shade. I had their Irish gangster wrap and a pint, both of which were very tasty.

I then went back to the hotel to take a bit of a nap before using the treadmill for my daily exercise walk.

On earlier trips several times I'd driven past a closed, small Greek restaurant. Today I finished a very good mystery set in Istanbul in the late 19th Century, which involved the Greek Orthodox church, so I checked the Internet for the restaurant's new location. I also found locations for two Orthodox churches in the area–St Katherine Greek Orthodox, and St Paul's Antiochan Orthodox church. I had to check the denomination out on the Internet–they claim to be the oldest of all the Orthodox denominations. I decided to go see both churches and have dinner at the Greek restaurant.

Going out to the churches took me way out into Naples' suburbs, with lots of quite recent developments and lots of still undeveloped areas. Both churches are quite pretty, and both look fairly new, maybe only a few years old.

I found the Greek restaurant, but when I called it turned out they hadn't actually opened at their new location yet. I pointed out to the person I talked to that it might be a good idea to put that information on the website as well.

I'd driven through some small, isolated thunderstorms but they looked like they were concentrated to our East, over the Everglades, so I decided to go to the fishing pier to see the sunset at 8:23. First I had a good dinner at the Dairy Queen near my hotel–none of the ones in the area where I live sell food, just ice cream.

There were lots of people on the beach and on the pier. It was a lovely evening, but the sun was going down directly behind a cloud that reached all the way down to the horizon. I still took several pictures before heading back to the hotel.

I think I'll skip going back to the pier for sunset tomorrow. I'll try to find somewhere in Fort Myers instead if the weather's good Friday and Saturday.


Thursday, July 10–Naples FL

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I didn't sleep too well again last night, and my stomach was a bit wonky so I took the morning easy instead of going on a boat tour as I had originally planned.

Today I wanted to check out a couple of the area museums, the art museum at the performing arts center, Artis Naples, and the Collier County historical museum.

Artis Naples is a very attractive building, in very nice grounds, but I hadn't noticed on their web page that they actually close down for the summer.

The County historical museum is located at a large County governmental center. The museum is free, and although small is a very nicely done local history museum. The museum's grounds are much larger than the building, and include several historic buildings and other items, such as a small boat of a type used in the area, a replica of a Seminole camp, a replica of a small army fort from the Seminole wars, and a real Sherman tank.

I'd driven past St William Catholic church on the way to the museum, which is quite pretty, so I stopped and took pictures on the way back to the hotel where I later used the treadmill.


Friday, July 11–Naples & Fort Myers FL

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Fort Myers is less than an hour North up the road from Naples, and the weather was good, so I decided I'd take a local boat tour before heading out of town. There are two main choices for boat tours in Naples–one is the Naples Princess, which is a huge party boat holding around 500 pasengers, which really isn't my style; the other is the Pure Naples sightseeing cruises on the much smaller Double Sunshine. It's a great tour, along the river and into a couple of the man-made canals in the area, and out into the Gulf of Mexico. We went past lots of incredible multi-million dollar houses, some owned by billionaires, and most of which are unused almost all of the year. The narration on the tour was very well done by the captain and mate.

We saw dolphins several times, including right by the boat dock as we were pulling back in.

On the way out of town, I stopped by the well done and very pleasant nature preserve near the zoo I'd driven past many times but never been to before, including on an earlier trip to the zoo. The reason I didn't tour the nature reserve that time was because I left just as a thunderstorm was starting.

There was an occasional, scattered and isolated rain or a thunderstorm along the way North. There are basically two ways to get between Naples and Fort Myers–cut East over to the freeway, I75, or head up US 41, which is rather like US 1 and US 101 on the West coast, which often go through cities with stop lights but also often have long stretches at 55 mph. Today I drove up US 41.

I got to the hotel (Best Western Waterfront) around 1:30 or 2:00, and my room was ready so I could check in. The room was on the ground floor and had no view, but was a very nice room nevertheless. I did some unpacking, including my laptop so I could send Michael & Tim email letting them know I'd arrived.

Somehow I'd signed up on Tilted Kilt's page on Facebook, although there are none in the area where I live (one opened near where I work in Ft Lauderdale in late 2014). It's kind of a combo of Hooters and a Celtic sports bar. I knew there's one in the Fort Myers area, and drove past it on my way to the hotel, so I went back down for lunch.

The menu's OK, with some British items. I had pretty good fish & chips. The women employees wear tight tops, and short, skimpy kilts, and the males wear regular length kilts.


Saturday 7/12--Fort Myers FL

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When I went to take a shower this morning, I could not turn on the water, so I called the front desk. They sent over someone, who also had problems turning it on, so they decided to move me to another room. I packed while the maintenance guy went over to get the key to the new room. When we went to the second room, which was in the same tower, we both had problems turning the water on there as well. He went back to get a key to a third room, which this time was on the top floor–and the water didn't work in that shower as well.

By this time, I was getting frustrated. I really wanted to be able to take a shower, and had now been in three rooms where I couldn't turn the water in the shower on. I went over to the front desk myself, and this time they sent someone from maintenance over to the room on the top floor, who disassembled the handle and gave everything a good spray with lubricant, which worked so I could easily turn the water on and off–finally. I went downstairs and moved my stuff upstairs, unpacked a bit, and took my shower, and then had breakfast at the restaurant on the property.

The plan for today was to go out on the islands and see the lighthouse on Sanibel Island and then to pay a visit to the Wicked Dolphin distillery on another island, in that order. Once again I proved it's still fairly easy to get lost, even using GPS. I didn't miss a turn at an intersection, I missed the turn when the road I needed to be on diverged from the one I was on.

That turned out not to be that bad of a mistake, though. When I figured out where I was, I was actually on the same island where the distillery is, and found them quite easily. I skipped the tour, since I'd been on the tour of the distillery in St Augustine on a trip earlier this year, and all distilleries operate the same way. I did, however, pick up a bottle each of their regular and spiced rums at the very pleasant gift shop.

By the time I got to the parking lot near the fishing pier and lighthouse on Sanibel there was a thunderstorm and it was rainy. I did walk over to the beach at the fishing pier and then over at the lighthouse, and took pictures of the famous shelly sand. The lighthouse is a very interesting, rather mechanical, industrial and utilitarian design.

I stopped for lunch at the small café near the lighthouse, and was lucky that they were still open, since the hours are from 7AM-3 PM.

It was very pleasant driving around on the islands, and reminded me quite a bit of doing so in the Charleston area. On Cape Coral, where the distillery is, there are vacant lots almost every block along the main road. I also drove past plenty of older buildings interspersed with newer developments. The distillery itself is in a very new building, with very little around it.

The causeway from the mainland to Sanibel Island is very narrow but is lined with parks with the famous sandy beaches almost all the way along on both sides of the road.

It kept raining all day, with an occasional thunderstorm.

I took a bit of a nap before using the treadmill in the hotel's fitness center. I thought I'd go check out Fort Myers' historic downtown area on the other side of the river, where I knew there are lots of restaurants. I liked what I saw when driving around but it was still raining, so I decided I'd go find somewhere to eat with parking closer by. I wound up having lasagna at the Chicago-style pizza place next door to the hotel.

By the time I got back to my room on the top floor, it had stopped raining and the clouds were starting to break up and the sun was starting to go down.

Although I couldn't actually see the sun set from my room, which apparently faces more South than it does West, the clouds and the buildings across the river were all beautifully lit by the sunset and I took several pictures.

If the weather is crappy in the morning I'll just take my time and head on home after breakfast at the IHOP here at the hotel. If the weather's nice, I want to walk around historic downtown Fort Myers, which I liked when I drove through this evening, then go visit the estates and gardens of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison on the way home. When I get home, I'll unpack, do my laundry, and take my daily walk.

Time to see if I can get some night pictures of the bridge and the buildings across the river (but none of them turned out very well).


Sunday, 7/13–Fort Myers & home

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It was a lovely, sunny day when I opened the curtains to check the view and the weather.

I showered, finished packing, loaded the car, had breakfast at the IHOP, and headed for downtown Fort Myers, which I really liked. And not just because parking is free on Sunday.

Rather like Naples, the Fort Myers historic district is only a couple of blocks wide and less than a mile in length. After I parked, which was very easy on a Sunday morning, I walked over to the waterfront along the river a couple of blocks away, with a very nice park. I then walked back to the main street, which actually is 2nd Street and not Main Street, and walked down one side of the street and back up the other side.

That part of downtown Fort Myes is very pretty and pleasant, and has several markers explaining the city's history which goes back to the Seminole Wars. While driving into town I had noticed a small park with a statue of Confederate general Robert E Lee, whom that county is named after. I of course couldn't find it at first, and mis-remembered where I had seen it, but was eventually able to find it on the way out of downtown by using my smart phone.

I then went to the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford winter estates which were nearby. You have to pay for either a guided tour or the recorded audio tour just to get in. I paid for the audio tour but soon decided that although it seemed very well done, I really didn't like the player–there's no headphone or earpiece, so after you press the button corresponding to where you are you have to hold the player to your ear to listen to it.

It was a very nice day and I wanted to get on my way home before any of the usual afternoon thunderstorms hit, so I skipped going into any of the buildings but just wandered around the very nice grounds taking pictures and reading any signs that interested me.

I left there before noon, intending to have some lunch on the way home. This time I decided to just head straight on over to I75 instead of going back down 41. It didn't take long to get to 75, and then not long to get past Naples. After Naples, unfortunately, there's nowhere to stop for gas or anything to eat until you get to the Seminole reservation halfway across the Everglades where there is a gas station and a store with a small restaurant, which is where I had lunch. If you go further along that exit, which I've done several times in the past, you come to the small but very well done Seminole Ah-ta-thiki museum and Billie Swamp Safari.

I got home about 2:30. Since I'd been gone since Tuesday morning, the first thing I wanted to do was to put out some feed for the ducks and other birds and squirrels. I unlocked the patio gate, leaving it open a bit after I went in, and even before I could get my buckets of feed out of the storage closet I had been followed by one of our mother ducks and all her ducklings. I decided to not disturb them by immediately trying to get to the feeders but they let me scatter some feed on the patio floor near them.

I had first noticed this particular mother duck shortly after moving here 3 years ago. Even though she has two broken wings, she's very successful raising her babies. Instead of having two or three broods a year and losing several of them along the way, she keeps a single batch with her until they're all well on the way to maturity.

I sat and watched the ducks for a while, some of whom will come very near you if you don't move too much. I often wonder what they think when they look in my living room patio door, or if all they see is their reflection. I eventually decided to shoo them off the patio so I could get to the squirrel and bird feeders, lock the patio gate, and get on with the rest of my day.


Hotels–Charleston

I stayed at the Radisson in North Charleston, over by the airport, although I only saw the signs for it and never the airport itself.

This is a very nice place, with a very lovely indoor pool area, and a good workout room with a couple of treadmills.

My room was on the ground floor first, but Tuesday morning there was no hot water in the shower which I reported to the front desk on my way out. When I came back that afternoon there was still no hot water, so they moved me to a room on the top/8th floor.

Two days later, when I woke up from an afternoon nap around 5 PM, I discovered that there was no power all over the hotel, and there was no light at all in the emergency stairwells. I had to make my way downstairs using the faint light from my cell phone.

An accident had taken out the power line and transformer on the pole up at the nearest corner. It took until about 8:30 for the power company to fix things. When I finally left to find some place to have dinner, I could see two utility trucks working on the pole. I ate a little bit down the road from the hotel, where I could see the trucks folding up their ladders when they were done.


Hotels–St Augustine

I stayed at Jaybirds, which is quite a very nice place about 5 minutes closer to downtown than I've been before. It's a very nice place, with very lovely landscaping and a good exercise room with a treadmill. There are only two floors but there is no elevator which is a bit of an annoyance when moving luggage between your room on the top floor and the car.


Hotels–Naples FL

I stayed at the Radisson along highway 41, the Tamiami Trail, not far from downtown, which is in the same area I've stayed before although this time I was a bit closer to downtown. I had a room on the ground floor. This is a very nice place with lovely grounds and very pleasant pool area and exercise room.


Hotels–Fort Myers FL

I stayed at the Best Western Waterfront, which seems to be one of the older hotels in the area. There is a smaller, much newer building with the exercise room and the office, front desk and lobby. The rooms are in two older towers. Some renovation/remodeling was going on in the tower my room was in. The hotel is right on the North side of the Calossahatchie river, right next to a very pleasant small park. There is an IHOP on the grounds, and hotel guests can buy tickets for breakfast at a special, reduced price.

My first room was on the ground floor, and was very pleasant although there was no view to speak of because of the adjacent restaurant. As I said earlier, I couldn't get the water to come on in the tub in the morning when I wanted to take a shower, and eventually was moved to a room on the top floor with a lovely view, and when the water didn't work in that tub either the front desk sent over a maintenance guy who took the handle apart and gave everything a good spray with lubricant, which worked and allowed me to turn the water on and off and take my shower.