Note: This is the first of two parts.
I had a mini-adventure last week, traveling to Sanibel and Captiva in Florida, for six days of shelling, sunning, swimming and inspiration with Mark.
These islands are nestled in a southwest pocket of Florida, slightly to the west of Fort Myers, along the Gulf of Mexico, and you get on them by traveling over two bridges that span several miles.
While milling about here, you’re apt to overhear people talking about their chauffeurs, or the difficulty in shipping their Mercedes to England, so as you might imagine, these villages are pristine, sedate, charming. There are no streetlights along the roads. Chain stores are prohibited under zoning rules—although somehow there is an Aubuchon Hardware and a CVS on Sanibel, and, on Captiva, a Starbucks.
Homes on these islands cost millions, and paying property taxes is the equivalent of buying a small home in the Valley once each year. The island is not entirely exclusive, though, and that’s how we get to be there.
We stay in an affordable cottage at the north-west end of Sanibel, with the bay on one side and the gulf on the other. We’re a shell’s throw from the bridge that takes one over to Captiva.
Since we’ve headed to Sanibel five years in a row, it’s become one of my favorite places on earth, and it’s a place that feels like home.
I know our cottage’s layout by heart. I know where the salt and pepper are. And we have a routine there, so I know what each new day might bring and how to plan for it.
Mornings find me sipping coffee on the dock on the bay side, where I watch shore birds feast and search for the gators we’ve heard about but have never seen. In past years, I always got a quick morning glimpse at a dolphin, too, but not this year.
After the time spent in quiet contemplation with wildlife, I head off for exploration, running along the beach, watching birds feast, stopping to gather shells and generally savoring the alive-ness of the shore.
The days find Mark and I at our favorite beach spots, the ones we hike into so we have solitude and peace. At night we have our favorite restaurants and routines. This year, we grilled out a few times, too.
Like I said. It’s like home.
My trip came four weeks into my housemate Craig Fear’s six-week journey to Cambodia, where he’s been eating crickets, tarantulas and tempura frog—and of course broth-based soups, a food that fascinates him.
When Craig’s back, I’ll check in with him on the topic of home and tell you about any insights he had while away.
I’ll also ask my friend Mary to tell us about her travels. She has been all over the world in past years—crawling through caves and photographing kangaroos in Australia—and is intent on pushing out of her comfort zone.
Informed by long trips to The Marshall Islands last year and Hawaii this year, I’m still sure that New England is home for me; that I want more extended traveling adventures; and that someday I want a winter home in Florida and a summer home, on the Cape or in New Hampshire.
The fantasy is that I’ll run a bed and breakfast in one of the two homes and spend the rest of the year writing books and traveling from the other.
Dreaming up long-term goal: check.
Making it real: a work in progress.
I also have my next short-term adventure all schemed up in my head, and I’ll tell you about it soon.
For now, I’ll tell you the highlights of Sanibel 2017. Next time.
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