Saturday, April 21, 2012

Marco Island

Since Chris and I are moving to California this summer we recently came up with a bucket-list of things we want to do in South Florida before we leave. One of those things was to visit Florida's gulf coast. So we decided to go to Marco Island during the long Easter weekend. We chose Marco Island for two reasons: 1) It's only a two hour drive from Miami and, 2) All the more popular west coast destinations, like Sanibel Island and Fort Meyers, were pretty much booked up by the time I got around to researching places to stay.  My parents reminded me that I'd been to Marco Island before when I was younger but I have no recollection of that so this trip was exciting for us because we were discovering a new city together.

Upon leaving our dogs in the trusting hands of my cousin Jorge and his girlfriend Janeliz, we set off on our trip. Surprisingly, Chris loaded his surfboard into the car and wouldn't it be my luck that the one time a year there is surf in Marco Island is when we are going on a romantic, mini-vacation? We set forth, bought bagel egg sandwiches for the ride, got cozy with podcasts, music, and the Everglades scenery surrounding us, soon arrived, and drove straight to the beach; Chris' surfing window was closing and he was not about to miss it.

We parked and followed a group of people crossing the street towards the beach. I immediately settled into vacation mode when I realized that people in Marco Island knew how to drive and respect pedestrians. There wouldn't have to be any sprinting across the streets or succumbing to the shame of car horns blaring at you to speed up. Vacations are meant for strolling, and we strolled to the beach without harassment. Chris was able to surf and I was able to do what I like best: relax, people-watch, and read.

Afterwards we drove to our B&B, the Hemingway House. Our host Marlene, a tall, blond, German woman, told us - upon hearing that we had driven from Miami - that Miami is where locals from Marco Island go to have fun and that Marco Island is where people from Miami go to escape. That sounded about right to us. We quickly unpacked and easily settled into our large room with its playful decor. I was thrilled to see a stocked book shelf and, although I had brought my own reading material, decided it would be apropos to read one of Marlene's Hemingway books, In Our Time. (It was that or Tucker Max's misogynistic, joke for literature, Assholes Finish First. I think I made the smart choice.)

I took the book and a beer with me outside and read on a lounge chair by the pool, hoping to catch a glimpse of dolphins in the bay. Chris, ever studious, also joined me on the patio to do some reading...for school. I wonder if he'll ever read a book for pleasure again? Law school certainly has been demanding, even on romantic mini-vacations.

That night we walked over a mile in the cool breeze to a restaurant, where we had greasy food and cold drinks. Inside, a young guy was playing guitar and singing cover songs. He was good, so I tipped him when we left. We soon came to realize that Marco Island is not known for it's night life, so without anywhere else to go (not that we actually looked very hard) we made our way back to the B&B. There we grabbed our bottle of wine and sat on the deck, talking and drinking under the full moon. It turned out to be such a pleasant night that we were happy we didn't spend it inside some loud bar.

The next morning we woke up as the sun was rising and Chris rushed off to take pictures at the bridge nearby. I stayed in bed a few minutes longer and then went to the backyard to take my own simpler pictures. It was refreshing to be awake so early, having the whole sunny day ahead to enjoy. I mentioned on Facebook how waking up before sunrise during vacation must be a sign of old age (or older age mentality) and my father said that it's something children do, too, so it's probably a sign of being forever young.

Marlene, noticing we were her only guests awake at such an early hour, promptly made us coffee and we took our places by the pool to read before breakfast.

After a hearty breakfast consisting of more coffee, fresh squeezed tangelo juice, spinach quiche, croissants, and a sweet muffin we headed out to Tigertail Beach. When we arrived we didn't think the beach as nice as we'd heard it was. It looked more like a small inlet, cut off from the real ocean by a big sand barrier covered with brush. We saw people wading around and sun bathing in striped cabanas so we assumed that was all there was to Tigertail Beach. Then a family walked passed us and straight into the water, hoisted their bags over their shoulders, and continued walking through the water until they got to the sand barrier on the other side. It was then that we realized that what we had thought was the beach was actually a lagoon that we had to cross in order to get to the beach on the other side of the small barrier island. So we lifted bags and chairs above our heads and followed suit.

Once we made it across the lagoon we stepped onto baby powder sand and saw the waves crashing against the shore ahead of us. We set up our area and I easily fell into vacation mode once again. Chris continued his studies and I read for a bit, took a quick dip in the ocean, and went on a long, lone hike along the shore, searching for the perfect seashells.

My seashell search was a success. But it wasn't hard, in fact it was impossible to not find any shells.Unlike the beaches in Miami, were finding unique, colorful shells is rare, there were millions of shells along the shorelines of Marco Island. So many that I eventually had to give up walking along the shore for higher ground because the shells were breaking under my feet, scratching and poking.

 I kept hoping I would find a large, pink conch, but I had no luck; I did find a small, non-pink, distressed looking one, which I kept, along with the other shells I managed to choose from the endless choices.

That night - after a nap, followed by beer, and then a jump in the pool - we went to dinner at a Bistro Soleil, a French restaurant located in the oldest building in Marco Island, an inn built in 1883. It was during dinner, while looking around at the other well-dress, elderly patrons, that I realized that not only were we in an old building, but we were in an old city. Marco Island is where people move when they retire. Should I be disturbed that Chris and I fit in so comfortably? Surely we would get bored if we lived there? Or would we continue waking early, drinking early, dining early, and going to sleep early? Had we become so worn out from Miami that Marco Island was starting to sound good? I think maybe we were just enjoying the solitude and relaxation a bit too much. Being a busy and often stressed law student and teacher makes the down times so much sweeter. Speaking of sweet, when we returned to our room we discovered Marlene had left us Easter treats on our pillows. These intimate details are part of the reason I'm so fond of B&Bs.

The next morning we ate another generous breakfast and slowly passed the time till checkout - we were clearly in no rush to leave.

On our way back to Miami we stopped by a marina and watched dolphins surfacing from afar. It was a picturesque ending to a lovely weekend, a weekend that soothed our tired souls and invigorated us for the return to the real world.


Anonymous said...

Very relaxing just reading it.

Kallmen said...

Each time I read these, it confirms how lucky Christopher and our whole family clan on this side, is, that you said yes to Christopher and joined our families!
PS You are not old ...just multi-dimensional and able to enjoy many aspects of life as you find it. :-)

Ana Lucia said...

Marco Island was one of our favorite places to visit when we lived in Miami, remember? the sand was white and fine as flour.
Wonderful memories Nanita, treasure them.