12 June 2006

Anniversary Trip

we just got back last night from our anniversary trip to the sunny state of florida. we had spent two days in georgia (on my mind) to see chris' brother graduate from infantry training (aka boot camp), then off to my surprise trip. we stepped out of the small but cheerful terminal at ft. myers and filled our lungs with salt air, breathing in the life of the sea. (i do have pirate in my ancestry, and sometimes his blood begins to burn with impatience in my veins to return to his ship.) chris took me to the southern tip to see my college roommate (who is swollen with five months of pregnancy). we spent two days laughing and chatting with them (and eating the best food that has ever touched my tongue - sushi grade fish that melts in the proverbial mouth, wasabi potatoes - a side dish i plan on adding to my standard meals, Bailey's ice cream slabbed next to mayan chocolate ice cream, which is dark chocolate with a touch of cinnamon), then went to a tiny island to spend three nights there, just the two of us. we had a great time. the island is half nature preserve and half retired preserves. you can tell the island is catered toward wealth, old people, and the occasional rookie tourist. the grocery store (i believe the only grocery store on the island) has underground parking - after your shopping is complete, they send your groceries down in a bin where you meet the valet guy with your car so that he can load up your canned goods and fresh pineapple while you wait. the island has one thoroughfare to take you from one end to the next. the speed limit on said thoroughfare is 35. most people go 30. not exactly in the germanic efficient rush in which we "thrive." stop signs dot the road every few feet so that you rarely have to pull onto the street without everyone stopping. we didn't see one wreck.
we saw an alligator hiding in shallow river in the shade with his eyes (which, we learned, see the world with a binocular effect) peeping over the water, dolphins in the wild while on a sunset cruise, and the roseate spoonbill bird (apparently a rarity - it looks like a flamingo except its pink is not due to pigmented dye from shrimp as is the flamingo's, which i didn't know, but is natural, and it's long beak finishes in a cupped spoon where nerves let the bird know if it has caught crustaceans, fish, or unwanted matter). we became semi-professional birdwatchers while on the trip, learning about the ospray (apparently distantly related to the hawk; ospray female/male couples remain bonded for life but only see each other for 6 months of the year, returning year after year not only to each other but also to the same pole or tree; they kick out their juveniles when the time is ripe by taking his food to a distant tree), the aforementioned spoonbill, the little blue and tricolor herrons, the ibis (adopted by Univ of Miami as the mascot because these birds are the last to leave before a hurricane and the first to return), and, of course, the pelican. we saw a young red-shouldered hawk trying out her wings, cringing when we thought she would fall off the tree rather than soar (or rather wobble) to the next tree. we can now identify three different types of mangroves after maneuvering through miles of them in canoe (they grew in island-resembling patches, but they actually were growing directly from the water, or rather, the earth beneath the shallow ocean without any above-tide land). we can tell you exactly from where the delicacy, hearts of palm, come. we can tell you why the raccoon stumbles across the road in september (he is drunk from the overripe local growing grapes). we experienced the sunrise and the sunset of the island - the latter from blind pass on the northwest corner of the island with the von trapp family congo players soundtracking the sunset scene, and the former with sleep still in our eyes in front of the beach's lighthouse on the southeast tip. we found the big dipper as we sat on the sand in the evening with the moonlight casting playful shadows on the water. we baked in the sun and tasted salt water on our lips. of course, we got a bit burnt, but now glow with a healthy tan! we discovered a jazz group at ellington's restaurant with musicians that got skills wailing on the trumpet (incidentally, the trumpet player was the lead trumpet for harry connick for 11 years), jamming on the piano, the bass, the drums, and on some nights, the tenor sax to standards in the way of miles, parker, and dizzie, singing sinatra, the duke, and other flashbacks. i tried the key lime pie, the key lime martini, and the key lime vinagraitte on the tomato and avocado salad. we feasted on grouper and ahi tuna and johnny's pizza on the beach. oh, and we filled our bellies with ice cream (fat, calories, and even partially hydrogenated oils don't count on vacation.)
apparently, sanibel island is famous for shelling. scores of whole shells lined the beach, conches, whelks, clam shells, so of course, we learned about the different mollusks, their eating, sleeping, burrowing, camouflaging, preying, housing habits at the shell museum (which harbors a collection donated by the perry mason actor, cursiously enough). chris even found a live olive mollusk in the ocean (and conversely donated his wedding ring to the Titan god).
we spent time praying and reading our bible on the beach and on the veranda of our rented room, feeling god's presence in the swishing of the palm trees, the gurgling and lapping of the gulf and in our intertwined hands.
we met a family from New Orleans, who shared how the church has saved people and homes from the wreckage. Tommy, the son, then donated some of his own shell findings to our salt-water tank for our fish, ralph, george, and jeremiah, to enjoy. we met a police officer from knotting hill and his family, recovering from their excursion to see the famous mouse in orlando (the officer had a striking resemblance to vin deisel). we met a couple with 55 years of marriage under their belt and a word of wisdom to this younger couple ("you put up with a lot of shit," said the greek wife with a smile).all in all, a happy, relaxing vacation.

1 comment:

Tom Young said...

What a great trip. I feel like I was there through your writing, well not quite but I did enjoy the ride or should I say blog