Florida, Day 1

I’m never a fan of 4:00 a.m. wake up alarms, but there’s something exciting about an early morning flight, and there’s Starbucks at the airport, so yeah.

 Today we departed (thanks for the airport ride, CJ!) to Florida for six days of vacation, without my parents nor my children. This has never happened in 49 years of trips to FL. Literally, never ever happened. Karl and I desperately needed some time off, and the fifth anniversary trip to Europe fell prey to job loss and a variety of other barriers.  Florida is always possible, somehow.

 In 1970, my parents and brother and I loaded up our big brown Buick Electra 225 and hit the road for our first family trip to Naples. I was almost 3, Jim was 4, and my parents were crazy. Just kidding. We drove those 1800 miles, it was likely an endless series of potty stops and thirsty stops and early motel stops. For our entire childhood and teen years, every single year we’d repeat the trip. College (thankfully) meant flights for Jim and me, while my parents ended up spending more and more time here. In 1993, after searching all over Naples for a place to build their retirement home, they ended up in Bonita Springs because it was less crowded. Hahahaha. It’s just as crowded now!

 This house here, it’s like home. My mom’s penchant for pastels and florals and SO MUCH WALLPAPER and borders and valences came out in full swing. Someone commented “I looks like the Golden Girls live there.”  Indeed it does. But who’s complaining? Three bedrooms, a private pool, overlooking the golf course, 10 minutes from the beach, 15 minutes to either Naples or Ft. Myers, and honestly such a peaceful and homelike setting.

 Being here without my parents is relaxing, and that is the truth. My mom is fussy. Having a “no rules” vacation here is really nice. Being here without my kids is relaxing, but a little sad. I’ve been taking them here for 23 years and it’s as deeply embedded in their home-away-from-home psyche as it is in mine. Some of our very favorite family memories are centered in this house and in that ocean and all the eat, shop, visit and play places.

 Today, we landed, got our rental car and upgraded to a Mustang convertible. I’m glad I cut my hair really short. It was 90 degrees when we landed! We set up house, shopped at Publix, marveled once again at wine in the grocery store, had late lunch of nibbles and wine by the pool. Entirely relaxed.

 Doc’s Beach House is always the first place to eat/visit. It’s right on the water, has a complete beach dive atmosphere, tables on the beach, inside, rooftop, always crowded, cash only, and some of the best grouper, year after year, I’ve had in Florida. You come in sandy and wet if you like! We went for dinner and sunset. Neither disappointed. Doc’s and all of Bonita Beach, was filled with sunset viewers. I’ve never been here in October, and it’s quite lovely.

 I’m so glad to be here, with Karl, for a few blissful days.

Just after sunset, Barefoot Beach

Just after sunset, Barefoot Beach

Jill Holter