Sunday, March 18, 2007

Naples, FL

What a nice vacation I had. Better than I had expected. Even got an extra day in Naples because of the snowstorm in the northeast. Came back on Delta on Saturday around 3pm, and had been bumped up to first class, with the flight leaving right on time. Drove back from Hartford via 95 south, to 9 south, to 17 south, to 77 east right into downtown Guilford. Didn't want to cook so had dinner at Som Siam right on the Green. Bindi was not happy about the snow, and refused to pee until she couldn't stand it any more.
Naples is an odd town in some ways. There is an overabundance of McMansions along the Gulf Shore Drive, next to the ocean, magnificently landscaped and lighted. They are beautiful as a kind of art, but to have them as one family places is obscene. Also, too many fancy chic shops selling overpriced goods, and lots of skinny white women in expensive clothing having shallow conversations amongst themselves. Uck. That's west Naples. East Naples, where I stayed, is considered the "wrong" side of town. The Latino and Chicano and Cubana and Mexicana folks live there on whatever salaries they make serving the white communities on the west side of town. I stayed at the Red Roof Inn, which was just ok, barely passable. It was still $100+ per night, and they had put me on the second floor, with no elevator. I should have inquired when I made the reservation, but I naively assume that these places have elevators, and there were no other rooms available. They allow pets at no extra charge, so that and the room rates were why I chose it. The best part about the place was the very nice swimming pool, large and clean and nicely landscaped, altho the water was WAY too warm for me.
I stopped in Fort Myers, FL, where I flew in to last Monday, to vist my friend Sammy who lives at Carefree Resort. It was nice to see her, and her daughter and granddaughter were visiting so that was nice, too. Since I had forgotten to pack Bindi's new nylon collapsible travel kennel, Sammy helped me construct one out of a big cardboard box and some screen netting. It worked beautifully as a place for Bindi to be safe when I needed to leave her in the hotel room. Sammy is dealing with sleep problems too, and on a combination of drugs. Ratz.
My time in Naples was very laid back. Scott was working quite a bit at the Hyundai dealership where he sells cars, so I had time on my own. I was glad to see that he was pretty much recovered from his motorcycle accident, altho he says his leg still badly when he sits too long. He doesn't like the long hours he has to work at the dealership, but the money is good and he's glad about that. We went out to eat a couple of times when he got off work, and a couple of times had dinner at his house with his mom, dad, sister, and nice and nephew. I liked meeting them all. And his dad made delicious stuffed shells.
The beaches in Naples especially the first couple of days were spectacular. The water was cold, but clear and clean, and the shore sloped gently out into the ocean. These beaches are specially created for the residents there and much work goes into making sure the slope is just right and the sand is kept free of debris. I went swimming even tho the water temp was around 72 degrees. The sun was out so that kept me warm. One day Scott and I drove up to Sanibel and Captiva Islands, about an hour north of Naples, but sitting on the Sanibel beach got us coughing, likely from the red tide. It was an extremely windy day, and the choppy waves were not swimmable, even if the red tide hadn't been there. Sanibel was once a good place to go shelling, but no longer. We drove thru the "Ding" Darling nature preseve and saw several types of birds and a small 'gator and a turtle, but not much else. Wrong time of day, I guess.
I had several nice enounters with people in the area, including the guy who sat next to me on the flight down. I chatted with people in the water when I was swimming, with folks who owned doggie/pet shops, with an artist painting tiny watercolors outside Starbucks on 5th Avenue. Bindi and I found a great dog park and spent two hours there one morning. There was a bit of drama before we could have fun, however. We drove up to the gated dog area and a woman was limping, a grimace on her face, and when I got out and asked what was wrong she said she had tripped and skinned her shin on a tree stump nearby. You would have thought she had broken her leg, the way she was carrying on!! I took a look at it, and it was a bad bump and a scrape but she seemed to be more traumatized by the fact that it might leave a scar than anything else. I had little compassion for that, with my completely scarred-up limbs, but I washed off the cut for her, tied my clean handkerchief around it (the one I got in Basel, Switzerland), told her to go call her doctor, and gave her my name and address so she could send the kerchief back to me. She was appreciative of the help, but I couldn't get out of my head how nuts she was worrying about a little old scar. She must have been from west Naples.
We saw several chihuahua mix dogs, including one white one that looked almost exactly like Bindi. Same size, same shape, same ears, same face, just white. Then someone brought in a tiny 3 month old chihuahua mix named Lily, who was chocolate brown, had a bobbed tail and a tilted head and she was just too precious. We all cracked up when she went over to the small drinking trough and jumped up into it and settled her whole diminutive self into the water to cool off! I took some pics and got the name of Lily's mom to send her prints.
One evening Scott took me to the lobby of the Naples Grande Hotel, a very upscale, remodeled resort where his sister works as a babysitter for guests. When we drove down the driveway to the parking garage, there was a speed limit sign that read "9 mph." Not 10, not 5, but 9. As if. The lobby was beautifully and minimally decorated in modern, sleek upholstery, curtains, chairs, bars, foliage, and art. Large, airy, and welcoming. We were only there for coffee, but the dining room had just closed. The waiter gave us coffee to go anyway, for free, and we walked down to the pool and sat under the stars drinking our coffee and chatting. What a lovely night.
Mario's is a family-owned, very casual Greek restaurant on the east side of Naples, owned by people Scott knows. We got there late one night too, but they made us a Greek salad, and one of the owners told us some dirty story about Socrates after Scott bought me a variety of bath soaps they were selling, going by the brand name Socrates, made in Greece.
I went into the Naples Dog Center one afternoon by myself, and got into a conversation with a woman named Marilyn Anderson about dog food. She has convinced me to stop using Science Diet, which is supposed to be a very good dog food, but is, she reported, actually not good at all since it was bought over a few years ago by new owners who downgraded the recipe significantly. She recommends using Solid Gold or Innova, and feeds her own animals a raw diet of meat and vegetables she prepares herself. She says any food that has grain as its first ingredient is bad. The first ingredient should be meat. She is convinced that the increase in cancers in dogs and cats is due to the bad commercial foods out there. Bindi's dog trainer also recommends Solid Gold. The reason apparently that so many vets "recommend" Science Diet is that the SD producers make the vets offers they can't refuse. I told her about Camilla being overweight, and how the vet said to put her on Science Diet RD, but that's mostly fiber she said. The way to help an animal lose weight is to increase the protein, so I am going to try that. Camilla certainly hasn't lost any weight on the SD RD.
The day I left I went to the farmer's market and bought the most delicious raisin and walnut bread, which I completely devoured throughout the day yesterday. I had also purchased at another shop some Florida honey enhanced with Key Lime oil, and that on the bread was heaven. Scott had given me some oranges, grapefruits, and tangerines from his neighbor's yard, since they had moved and given him permission to pick whatever he wanted. Yum yum yum. And yum. I'm gonna ask him to mail me a big box of them. I'd never seen tangerines growing on the tree before.
His dog Herman, also a chihuahua mix, greeted me like a long lost love. He was so affectionate, I was sure he remembered me. That was so moving. I have missed having Herman and Scott around. I asked Scott if he would move back to CT, but he is committed to staying in Florida to help his mum, who is in her 70s. They are very close. It's very nice to see.
We had breakfast one morning at Jane's on 3rd Street, which is part of the "historic" part of Naples, altho you couldn't easily discern that what with the plethora of expensive galleries and clothing shoppes around. Another morning we ate at First Watch, which was better than Jane's, and right on a canal. Blueberry pancakes. Slurp.
I went to the Naples Public Library one afternoon to do some research for Scott and to check my email. That was useful. Since I don't travel with my laptop, I look for the free places for computer access. Most libraries offer that. I checked out one rummage sale Saturday morning at a local church, and when I arrived there must have been a line of 100 people waiting to get in. I thought, wow, this must be quite the tag sale. After I got in, I saw that it was just a bunch of really junky stuff, worse than most of the tag sales I go to in CT. I think everyone was just eager to see if they could get some cool stuff from the rich people for cheap. NOT!


dale said...

It sounds like you had a very nice time in Naples. Did you see Larry Reed? He's there somewhere. :-)

kim said...

Red Tide? Makes you cough? Even if you don't swim?

Sounds like a nice trip. Someday I will make it down to Florida. It's so far away. I went once as a child, I remember being amazed by the palm trees.

rscott said...

Linda, you wrote an epic.

Erin said...

Choosing a dog food can start major wars amongst dog people. I've watched many an internet community almost implode due to arguments about which food is good and which is bad. Science Diet and Iams seemed to be the most universally hated. Well, other than Old Roy or any other grocery store brand. We feed Ashley Eukanuba (which people don't seem to love, either) and Trinka gets Exclusive. Solid Gold and Innova are two of the most highly recommended.

As much as I love my big dogs, it must be nice to be able to take Bindi on trips with you! I miss mine so much when we go places.

I have also been to the Ding Darling nature preserve. My Dale always calls it the Ding Dong Darling nature preserve. We didn't see any wildlife there when we went, either. They must hide from visitors.