Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Lessons From Captiva Island

Disclaimer: After our last vacation, I wrote Lessons From Ireland reminiscing about our amazing adventure.  Our Florida trip just couldn't compete.  However, as you read these lessons you may think I had no fun on my vacation whatsoever.   I want to assure you dear reader (Mom!) that there were bright spots, laughs and happy moments during the week.  Maybe some other time I'll tell you about  the three books I read, the seashells I collected and the family bike rides.  But not today...

Lesson Number 1: Read the fine print.   Millionaires Thurston and Luvey Howell would have loved being stranded on this island.  But the added costs were frustrating  for an average family on a budget.  Take tennis, for example.  The resort charges $15 per adult and $10 per child just to reserve a court.  You want racquets too?  No problem: $10 per person.  Wait, you need balls? For just $10 you can rent some of those too.  Maybe the resort thinks our addled brains are too fuzzy from drinking pina coladas by the pool to do the math and figure out that it would cost a family of four $100 to play tennis for an hour!  Shoot, I wonder how much these pina coladas are??
At least the pool is free!
Lesson Number 2: Apply and reapply!  When you take your pasty white bodies down to the Gulf of Mexico for some sand and sun, do not trust your children's insistence that they've slathered every inch of their bodies with copious amounts of sunscreen.  Believe me, they missed a spot.  Maybe several.  Ouch.
Lesson learned-we're covered up.
Lesson Number 3: Check your blind spot.  Especially if you are driving a rental car.  Especially if you are in a hurry to beat the Spring Break crowds and secure a table at the famous Bubble Room for dinner.  If you arrive at the parking lot at 4:45 p.m. and there's only one spot left, do not frantically try to wedge yourself in next to that pole.  Crunch.  Trust me, the food's not worth it.  Next time get a dessert to go and eat it on the beach.
Lesson Number 4: Stick to the shrimp.  Lots of great seafood in Captiva but one night we had Mexican.  I thought the meal was delicious but my stomach had other opinions.  Around 2:00 a.m. it started fighting back and I spent the next 12 hours in my own Mexican nightmare.  I won't go into details but I am happy to report that the resort didn't charge for ice chips.
The hats are fun but stay away from the sour cream!
 Lesson Number 5: Learn from the animals.  The "Ding" Darling Nature preserve was a short drive from our resort.  We spent the morning at the visitor's center learning about the wildlife there.  The Park Rangers really knew how to appeal to the kids.  "Wanna see some owl vomit?" one asks.  "Cool, huh?" Another Ranger talked all about farting manatees.   We were excited to take the loop hike through the mangrove forest for some animal sightings of our own.  Until we realized the wide gravel path provided no shade at all.  Until we realized that hiking 4 miles in the 90 degree midday sun was rather uncomfortable.   Along the way it was quiet.  Too quiet.  There was not an animal in sight.  They were all hiding in the shade questioning the common sense of humans, I suppose.  Finally we saw an alligator cooling in the mud, but not before Jack had declared this the worst day of his tortured, sweaty life.
Hiding in the shade
Lesson Number 6: Savor the sunset. So far my vacation report has been less than glowing.  My last lesson is a bright spot, literally.  Captiva Island's beach is aptly named Sunset Beach.  Its westward view of the horizon makes for perfect sunset viewing.  Whatever trials and difficulties the days held, they all seemed to melt away as we watched a perfect yellow circle of sun melt the sky into a rainbow of hues.
How long before the sun sets?

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful photos & cute post! It was so good seeing you all on Sunday, as well! Big hugs & hope the week is a good one.

    xo K