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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Boo. Florida Fun and #Fails

(Title Edited on July 5, 2013. I keep getting a ton of spam hits on this post and am trying to break the original link. Thus, Boo.)

I went to visit my best friend Julie in Naples, Florida, this past weekend ALL BY MYSELF. Yes, that deserves full caps lock, because I have never gone anywhere on my own just for fun, with no big event or reason to go, since becoming a parent. When Julie moved there last year, I promised I'd come visit, but finding a weekend that worked was difficult and I kept putting it off. But when I won a free round trip ticket from JetBlue at an event this summer, I finally had the impetus to get myself there.

I've talked a lot about Julie on the here over the years, but I still think it's amazing that the very first person I met in college ended up becoming one of my best friends. Our dorm rooms were across the hall from each other freshman year, and neither of our roommates had arrived yet when we met each other. It's been a privilege to share these last 16 years with her, and we still have plenty to talk about (even if we spend inordinate amounts of time discussing TV shows).

So a weekend with no agenda, other than to celebrate my birthday, was a real treat. The first order of business was pedicures, and then lunch and a swim in the development where Julie and her husband Mike live. Note the coconuts growing in the palm tree!


That evening we drove to a complex called Tin City, where we were going to take a sunset cruise out to the Gulf of Mexico. We had some time to kill and decided to get a drink and share an appetizer. The place we went was having a happy hour, a "2-for-1" as they explained it. We tried to clarify a bit and were told that everything on the menu except for one drink was just that, 2-for-1. So we each ordered a drink and an appetizer, and as you can see, we were pretty happy about it.

And then the bill came, and we were charged full price for everything. Because 2-for-1 meant we could have each had a second of everything for free. We didn't have time for more drinks or food, so that ended up being a disappointing happy hour #fail. Maybe we should have had more happy hour experience under our belts before trying that one.

But the sunset cruise was fabulous. The guides on the boat were super informative and entertaining, and we both really enjoyed learning more about the history of the area and its (really, really wealthy) inhabitants. Here are some of my amazing photos from the boat.





As the sun set and we made our way back to the dock, we saw amazing lightening strikes in the clouds, and I'd never seen anything like it before. It didn't actually rain, but it was fascinating to watch. Almost as fascinating as it was to see Julie eat kale as part of Mike's excellent Shabbat dinner later that night. :) (But it was really good kale!)

Our plan for Saturday was to go to the beach. I was particularly looking forward to it, as somehow I hadn't gone to the beach all summer. Despite reports of red tide, we were assured that levels were low, and the parking garage attendant (yes, the beach had a parking garage!) joyfully waved us in. As soon as we got out of the car, there was a smell, but we didn't identify it right away. As it turned out, there was a huge festival on the beach, and tons of people that we had to walk through before finding a spot to put our stuff down. When we finally made our way to the water, we were confronted with lots and lots of dead fish. Seriously, a lot. If you look at the photo below (click on it to enlarge it), there are white things bobbing in the waves - more dead fish. We didn't even stick our toes in, but lots of other people were out there attempting to surf and enjoy the beach. We stuck it out for an hour before heading back to the pool, as it was too hot to sit there and not be able to go in the water. So, beach #fail, but redeemed with our picnic at the pool and great people-watching.

Later that afternoon we went to the fanciest movie theater ever, Silverspot Cinema. There is assigned seating and premium food, including my custom made pretzel, which required a pager and a ten minute wait (it tasted like every other pretzel I've ever had :) ). We saw "Argo," which was really, really well done and suspenseful.

And this is the point where I seem to have tired of my camera, as I didn't take any more pictures. Mike joined us to celebrate my birthday with dinner at USS Nemo (where there was a hummus #fail, as #fail had become the running joke of the weekend at that point). All in all, it was a great ending to 34 and a fun-filled start to 35.

I really enjoyed my time away from home, though I missed Marc and the kids a lot. It was weird to be traveling without them, but I loved having the time to zip through the entire first season of "Homeland" in just a few days. And I got to come back home to this.
Thanks Julie and Mike for having me!

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