Sunday, March 16, 2014

Winter 2014 in North Fort Myers

The winter months, even in South Florida, were cold and a far cry from the balmy days we enjoyed  during these same months in this same place last year. We certainly fared better than most parts of the country though. 

But alas! A few cold and/or rainy days do not dampen the true snowbird spirit!

In January we bought a matching pair of folding bicycles and a collapsible trailer for Lexie and Ozzie.  The entire rig fits into the car's rear hatch. This is the third set of bikes we've owned in recent years. We always sell them for pennies on the dollar. But wait! This time we went for a used set and got both for less than the price of a single new one. The pup trailer is actually a child carrier we found online for less than $70. Another $70 buys a pair of bicycle bags to keep dirt and grease out of the car. Our total expense was less than the price of having a bike rack and a hitch put on the car, not to mention the price of two new bicycles. 

Wayne checks on Lexie and Ozzie in their new bike trailer. 
A sampling of footprints.

During most of December and January, I was diligent in my morning walks. Initially, Linda and I walked, sometimes Joyce joined us.  By February though, I'd grown weary of the road that we occasionally walked and I fell out of the group that had, by this time, grown with the addition of Mary and then Nancy.

I wasn't missed, I'm sure.

One day during January, Wayne and I visited the Jay Norwood "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island. We rode the nature trail with Lexie and Ozzie in tow. 

Lexie, Ozzie and me (with the birds) at J.N. "Ding" Darling N.W.R. on Sanibel Island
Another day, this one in February, we rode along Gulfshore Boulevard near Naples Beach Club golf course.  These were some of the more typical winter days in this part of south Florida.

Somewhere along Gulfshore Boulevard

During the six weeks we wintered in North Fort Myers, we enjoyed many visits to the DQ (a favorite retiree stop), kayaking, shopping, eating at local restaurants. There was also a special day at the annual ACE group classic golf tournament at Twin Eagles in Naples, thanks to guest passes given to us by Ken and Nancy. This is the tournament that was known as the Aetna Challenge when we lived here many moons ago.

In early February, Linda and Dale's friends, Rachel and Ned, from Auburn, came in for a few days and of course, they were welcomed into the fold and fit in nicely.  They were coerced into a day of scouring the bottom of Peace River for ancient shark teeth.  Wayne and I went along but stayed ashore looking through scoops of gravel brought onto shore by the group.

Barbara, Dale, Linda, Rachel and Ned
Rachel and Ned are just a few weeks from retirement!  Hooray!

Crazy people scooping around the bottom of the river in hopes of uncovering ancient teeth and/or bones.
Beautiful setting though.
Because we were several miles off the highway and the setting was so safe, Lexie and Ozzie enjoyed a rare day off leash. They were very funny running and playing in the white sand. Good dogs they are, they never wandered more than a few yards from where we were sitting on shore.

Hard to see but Lexie and Ozzie are in this picture. That's Wayne watching over them while I find the perfect photo perch.

I'm displaying one of the shark teeth I found in the scoop of river bottom I was given.

During February we also biked with Ken and Nancy along the John Yarbrough Linear Park. This proved to be a warm and exhausting afternoon.  Steak and Shake welcomed us afterward for milkshakes.  Gotta keep up our strength.
Ken located a bike that had long since been abandoned here at the post.
Some of what we saw on the bike ride.

This alligator remained in this vicinity the whole time we were riding the canal trail. 
He did managed to relocate... but didn't go far.
Then there were the group feasts.  Let's see.... dinner of beans and ham, a birthday dinner, taco night, Valentine's Day steak dinner, Fran's special Italian Spaghetti supper, hamburgers and hot dogs. We had a group breakfast too. Seems we're always eating or talking about eating.  It's no wonder I gain weight here.

There were, in fact, so many dinners that we named the picnic space behind our coach. It's known as the "Banquet Hall" -- three picnic tables and space for a dozen patio chairs.  What a group.

Italian night at the Banquet Hall.

Bring your own chairs....

Welcome Rachel and Ned. 
Coincidental, tonight happened to be Ned's birthday.

Louise brought a pitcher of pink lemonade.
Dale in the background.

Almost ready to chow down.
Faces, left to right: Charlie, Joyce, Fran, Ken, Rick's backside, Nancy, Rachel, Wayne and Pam

Wayne guards the wine bottles.

Mark brings a load of pasta

Janie arrives with sausages

Fran points out which sauce is which.

The day happens to be Ned's birthday but nobody knew until after the cake was delivered.
Yesterday was Nancy's birthday -- tomorrow is mine.

The group grew by another few couples again this year. What a wonderful way to make friends.

The day we kayaked at Manatee Park.
Ned, Rachel, Dale and Linda

Rachel proved to be a great kayaker.

A few friends warmed themselves in the morning sunshine.
But finally, after six weeks in North Fort Myers, on March 1st, we pulled up stakes to head north. Just like last year, we're first to leave.  We'll stop a few days to see our friends Joe and Pam then make yet another go at Alliance to try again to get the few remaining repairs completed.

Linda and Dale previously from Ohio
Now full-time RV'ers

Nancy and Ken from Pennsylvania

Janie and Mark, from Illinois

Sally, John R. and Mr. Fitz from Michigan

Mary and Fran from New Hampshire

Joyce and Charlie from Kansas

Rick (Louise was missing this morning) is from Massachusetts
There's a story to be told about the picture below.

Pam and Ernie joined the group in February as they bought a new coach and stopped into the campground for the month.  There were a few issues (as is common) with the new coach and so, there were several returns to nearby North Trail RV to have those issues ironed out. Service at the dealership didn't measure up to customer expectation.  I won't elaborate beyond that. 

During the month they were there, Ernie also had a few facial skin cells removed so he had more than a few bandages and came to be called "Scarface" by some of us. Being a good sport, he took it all  in stride.

At any rate, during a point of very high frustration (new coach and bandaged husband to be precise) for Pam, the group breakfast was held at the Banquet Hall. 

Now, my good friend, Linda, is a cat rescue advocate and a skinny little black kitty came into the campground and was, naturally, presented to Linda for rescue. 

Just so happens Pam and Ernie lost their cat last year and have just decided they will, in time, get another one.  This wasn't the time they had in mind...

Pam, Ernie and Jasmine, new to the gang, are from Maryland.
After much angst and anguish, Pam and Ernie decided to keep the little skinny black stray kitty.  On the morning of our departure, the kitty, now named Jasmine, had been fully vetted, spayed and was settling into her new home.  Oh joy.  As a pet rescue advocate, I am thrilled for all involved.

Another addition to out widening circle of RV friends are Vic and Sally.  We first met Vic on the late afternoon of our arrival in December.  He greeted us with the warm beautiful smile you see in the picture below.  Vic supervises all the campground maintenance and has made a huge difference in the condition of many aspects of campground comfort.  Sally, Vic's wife, is a joy too.

Sally and Vic are from Virginia
Like last year, the farewell was sorrowful even though it's quite probable we'll meet up with some of these folks over the summer months. But for now, it's a tough "goodbye"....


  1. Wow, what a whirlwind of a blog post. I sure enjoyed getting caught up on the highlights. Where are you off to now? We spent most of the winter in Cortez, near Anna Maria Island, and will be heading out on our slow trek to the west coast in April. It would be lovely to cross paths again.

    1. We arrived tonight in Livingston, Louisiana after a week in Gulf Shores, Alabama. I'm a tad behind in blogging.... FB is so easy and everybody waits for pictures to be posted there. I do manage to keep up with you through Big EZ Travels and am glad to hear your brother is okay now. We hope to get to southern Utah and Colorado. We'd love to see you and Vic again too. Maybe we can make that happen....

  2. You were definitely busy during your stay at Fort Meyer. Made a lot of good friends and have so much to look forward to again next year. Safe travels.

  3. Sounds like you had a fun winter. We're considering the same area for next year and I'd appreciate your thoughts on this park.