After Friday night’s snow who would guess that we would be sipping coffee on the deck Saturday morning? Even better, we were sunbathing by the afternoon. It was over 50 degrees. We slept in, yakked, read, took naps and basically took the day off as a quasi spa day. Pure luxury.
In the evening we headed over to Zeb’s to check out his new home.
Zeb is in a pretty fun living situation now. He’s with CJ’s pre-marriage housemates who also happen to be delightful young men from the area where our boys grew up. Aaron and Thomas and Zeb made some delicious coffee (can you tell we are big on coffee?) and yakked with us until Robert and Anthony came home. Then we chatted a bit more and started playing a game called QuipLash. Anyone with Internet could join our game if they had to code, and the guys decided to call Hudi (back in NY) to join the fun. That made me really happy — knowing my boys wanted to hang out together, even long distance.
After a really enjoyable evening we headed home to get a good night’s sleep. The next day was busy. We went to Lauren and CJ’s church (a church with a view!) then grabbed some pizza and headed off to Solitude for some slope time. It was interesting since we were on borrowed/new-to-us equipment, but we adapted pretty well and had a fantastic time. The road getting there was winding and kinda crazy. There were definitely rocks in the road on the way down that weren’t there on the way up. And it was wild how we had snow, but half an hour away, there wasn’t any.
As the day wound down, we settled in with some nice drinks and tv time.
Monday was our last day there 😦 And we were far from ready to go. But the good news is that we plan to travel back next summer. Sadly, CJ’s car had been backed in to over the weekend so Chris and CJ spent most of Monday finding repair shops to get quotes. Lauren and I worked on websites, read and yakked.
She made me one final drink (a mint hot chocolate thing this time with white mocha or something. Yum!) then we headed to a burger place they enjoy as we headed back to the airport. Our flight left at 11:59pm, and Chris’ birthday was the next day – beginning one minute into our flight 🙂 The screenshot of the plane is when were were pretty close to flying over their home on our way back to NY.
That trip was fortunately uneventful, and we were home in plenty of time to unpack, plow out the driveway, clean the house and have a birthday celebration thanks to Mom Pollock.
I took the next few days as AFK so we had time to rest up and get our life back in order. And here we are. Back in the flow of our reality, and loving it. With a ton of new fantastic events stashed into our happy memory arsenal for times when we miss our kids and want to look back on times together.
This meal deserves a post of its own. Our Christmas present from Lauren and CJ was dinner at Fireside Dining at Deer Valley last Friday night. I don’t know what was more impressive. The ambiance or the meal itself. I do know the best part was the company (and that’s saying an awful lot ‘cuz the food and ambiance were phenomenal).
We drove up snowy roads. Up and up and up, well past the World Cup hill where participants were wrapping up their tricks. The snow fairies were fluffy and swirly, creating shimmering reflections off the lights that decorated trees all along our path. It felt like Christmas again 🙂
As we stepped into the lodge we were greeted by a host who brought us into the dining room. A room that serves as ski lodge by day and ambrosial offerings by night. A huge fireplace crackled on one wall, while another wall was filled with large windows that looked out on a idyllic winter scene. A horse-drawn sleigh went by at regular intervals, completing the picture. (If you look really hard, you can see it in the background of this clip — going from right to left.)
What did we eat? Oh, what did we eat!!! There were four fireplaces, each in a different room. All our hot food was cooked on the fires. Our menu was very similar to this (we had boar rather than quail, and there were minor other differences):
Ready for your mouth to water? Check out some of what we ate:
Chris topped off his meal with an espresso. Divine decadence.
The snow was piled high as we headed home to rest.
What a perfect evening and wonderful gift. I will treasure this memory forever.
Jen wanted to learn more about animals and the trails that they leave. I had to admit, I was curious as well. So on our last full day on Marco Island, Mary Beth took us on a local nature tour. In the pics below she showed us some turtle nests, turtle footprints, and how to identify turtle scat.
As we traipsed through the community, I was drawn to the different beautiful flowers. I don’t know what any of them are. If you do, feel free to let me know in the comments, and I will label them 🙂
Updating as we go along. Wendy identified Vinca (the single white flower) and Bougainvillea (the purple ones).Thanks for that! I remembered the Papaya after I wrote this.
We walked back to the house and checked out an empty osprey nest on the property.
I also learned about a cool tree that Native Americans used to paralyze fish. The bark has paralyzing qualities apparently.
After checking that all out, we hopped into the car to drive a few miles away. A special treat lay there as we checked out squared-off protected areas, which contained sand owl homes.
Doesn’t look like much, does it? But the owls are sooooo cute! They come out of the ground at night. I know because we came back after dark and saw them.
Here is a very horrible picture of one since my phone camera isn’t so great at night. Better images are found here.
Now here is a funny scene we saw as we were driving around. We saw two turtles hanging in a yard lot. One moved in font of another and started kicking sand back on the other. For about two minutes, that turtle seemed un-fazed, then it retaliated. It started shell-bonking the first turtle! Quite funny to watch. I clipped the video so you can see just the bonking part, instead of having to wait.
As the day wound to a close, we ate grouper and snapper at a local joint (delicious!). Some followed that with gelato.
I didn’t see the bobcat that was kitty-corner (see what I did there?) to the house we stayed in, but Mary Beth and Mike saw its tail as it headed into the bushes away from us. So I think that counts. Mary Beth regaled us with tales of other sightings in her neighborhood–down by the docks and right in her own driveway as she gardened. So cool!
On Saturday we decided to head to the sanctuary where a woman had been surprised by a panther a few weeks prior.
As we headed out, we stopped off to meet Cal (short for Calusa) on the way. Jen and I have heard a lot about Mary Beth’s horse over the years so it was a treat meeting him live. And what a beauty he is!
So we didn’t see the panther, either, but saw a ton of other awesome wildlife specimens along the way.
I was reminded of the limitations of my cell phone camera when I realized that my pics of several birds, great frogs, a huge alligator, a smaller alligator, a lizard, and a huge snake didn’t come out. But the beauty is still there in my mind.
I did, however, get a pic I love. Why is it that raccoons are so adorable in the wild, and not-so-much when they are in your garbage can at home?
Chris, being the goof-ball he is (I saw completely endearingly ‘cuz I love that man!) “rescued” sunglasses from the swamp and an alligator. The alligator became a group effort, as you can see in the clip below. Later, he gave it to some kids, and they happily clacked it ahead of us, scaring off pretty much all wildlife for a while 🙂 But their smiles were worth it.
We were enjoying nature so much it took us about three hours to walk about a mile. We had to hurry through the last bit since they were closing. Ah well, it was still amazing.
Mary Beth mentioned several times that you don’t need much imagination to fabricate stories in Florida. Apparently bizarre things happen all the time. We witnessed this as we were going down the road. I looked out the car window to find myself almost face-to-face with a tiger. That was a bit startling, and definitely very cool. The tiger seemed very relaxed and happy on its perch.
Eventually we parted ways on the highway, and we continued into the main part of Marco for some dinner at the Snook Inn. There was a 45 minute wait so we yakked on the dock. Remind me to never put my back to the water again. I felt a splash and heard the sound of a pretty big animal. We searched for it, and my friends saw a tail a bit off shore. I had been splashed by a manatee, but never saw it. What a treasure I missed! But still fun to know it was there.
I had a grouper sandwich for dinner and loved it. I don’t know why I suddenly like seafood after 44 years, but I’m just thankful. Perhaps it’s because I’ve realized it’s a bit like wine. Every bite has a fun story behind it, and each nibble is unique. Flavors and textures swirl around the mouth and tongue making every morsel a new adventure. How have I missed out on this so long?
- If you love nature you might want to see the extended version of the coon watching –
We saw Whelk eggs, a bald eagle (no pics of that), lots of shells, sandpipers, other birds, and I got to swim in salt water for the first time in way-too-long. Not too much to report on that day. It was simply relaxing and beautiful:
The things I discover after all these years…Thursday broke at the crack of 7:30, my body and brain still not comprehending the concept of sleeping in. But that’s okay. It gave me the luxury of writing time before the others awoke. Mary Beth had gotten up before me, but she was at the stables since her horse, Cal, was getting shoed that day.
By the time she came home, the others were awake so we packed some food and headed to the dock to load onto the boat. It was fun seeing different personalities emerge in the unique way we made sandwiches. Chris and Jen are quite meticulous, and layer everything just so. Jen added some basil flair. Mike wraps his cheese on the outside of his meat and cheese sandwich, and I opted for Peanut butter and butter (a favorite of mine in spite of the fact that one of my co-workers had just publicly labeled this delicacy as one of the strangest things she had ever eaten. For the record, I find that fact strange).
We headed out to the Gulf of Mexico, stopping to get some shrimp for bait along the way. There was a house boat next to us on the dock, and it had cool art on it. There was a chair I could imagine Chris making, and some people designs that were reminiscent of Jen’s Kokopelli people.
Although I grew up on Long Island, I had more of a beach/sand upbringing than an actually out on boats upbringing. And while we have sailboats on Lake Ontario, I’m not really used to motor boats. We kicked the motors on and flew, and I loved it. When I was standing, it felt like snowboarding as I adjusted my balance according to wave, speed and turn. And I really loved the wind on my face as I looked around at jumping fish, playing dolphins and diving birds.
We anchored and started fishing. I remembered most of my lessons from the day before. About one minute after casting my line, I got a bite. And it scared the heebie jeebies out of me as I hauled in the mackerel. It was huge (in my opinion), wiggly and mad! Everyone was reminding me to stay away from the teeth.
Our hosts were impeccable (as they seem to be in every arena), and they kindly and calmly walked me through the steps of staying safe as they got the fish off the hook and into our ice bin. We spent hours hauling in trout, pompano and mackerel as well as some ladyfish, blue racers and jacks (which we didn’t keep). Poor Jen was feeling a bit sub-par so she rested while we hauled, but she was a great sport and is willing to try again. Maybe with some meds ahead of time.
After a few hours we went back to shore.
We were humored as we motored in to find a crow yakking away to a stationary carved owl that guarded the marina. It had a swiveling head so we wondered if the bird thought the owl was real.
The guys cleaned the fish while we girls cleaned the boat.
We headed back to the house and had a swim and soak in the hot tub before eating our catch from the day.
Lionel and Sheila (David’s parents) joined us once again, regaling us with tales from life in South Africa, where they grew up. Another delightful day on Marco Island.