A Story of the Undone Summer Bucket List.

This past spring, as the days became just a little bit longer, and the temperatures became just a little bit warmer, I sat down to gleefully write out my Summer Bucket List. Little did I know at that time, that before Summer’s end, my life would be taking a drastic shift. I still have things left on my bucket list that I haven’t had the opportunity to complete! Now, I am faced with the daunting dilemma of how to accomplish some of the most desired items on my summer bucket list.

When my husband and I made the move to South Florida last year, it turned out to be quite a difficult transition, teetering on the brink of down right depressive. Being so far away from our family and friends, combined with the cost of living being substantially higher than where we came from and employment pay scales not faring comparable to those increased costs of living, it was a rather challenging adjustment. Yet, we were determined to make this work, and believed we could enjoy Florida and all it has to offer for as long as we were living here. I did some research on the area we live in and the surrounding are and compiled a beautifully constructed bucket list of things to do, see, and experience this summer. Being our first summer to live here in South Florida, we were determined to make it a most memorable one. One of the first things we learned was that a summer in South Florida is not that easy to get out and enjoy. Between the sweltering heat and humidity, the continual barrage of daily thunderstorms with their intense lightning make any outdoor activity a battle. We have visited New Orleans in August before and were somewhat familiar with the humidity and heat of the Gulf of Mexico. However, visiting for a few days does little to prepare you for enduring those unfamiliar conditions as part of your daily life.

We recently made a trip up to visit our family back home in North Georgia. While there, everyone made it abundantly clear that they wanted us to move back home. We miss them dearly. Given the fact that we have no family or friends in Florida, and the increased cost of living with decrease in earned wages, we expressed a desire to come back home as well. It just wasn’t in the cards at the moment. During our trip back down to Florida, we talked of little else than how much we enjoyed seeing the family and wish we could be closer to them. The drive is ten hours. While that may be closer than many people who relocate here are from their family, it was still a bit far for our peace of mind. A few days after arriving back in Florida, we were presented with an unexpected opportunity. One that would put us back in North Georgia close to our family and provide an opportunity to save money for a home. Without hesitation, we accepted the offer.

The reality of leaving Florida washed over me in a bittersweet flood of emotion. I miss my family and truly wish to be close to them, but I had come to really love Florida, and still had plenty of things on my bucket list yet not done. That being said, there are still a lot of things unchecked, not only on my summer bucket list, but also my whole Southwest Florida wish list. I still have not had the opportunity to dip my feet in the majestic waters of Islamorada, or eat authentic Key Lime Pie in Key West, or visit the Naples Zoo, or tour the infamous gardens along the river at the Edison Estate, or drive up and see Clearwater Beach, the current number one voted beach in the nation. As my time here in the Sunshine State draws closer to an end, I will attempt to complete as many of those as I can. However, the problem with many of them is that, given the cost of living, I have been unable to collect the spare funds needed to accomplish them, and I do not see that condition changing in the time I have left here. Although, I will be here through summer, and I have the utmost intention on stealing away every possible moment I can to enjoy an ice cream and watch the sunset at the beach, and I will enjoy the resort style pool located at my apartment complex, and I will take hundreds of pictures every where I go. Yes, I will savor these final moments and I will forever hold this place and this time in my heart and my memory in the most beloved of regards.

5 Things to do in Fort Myers, Florida

Whether you decide to pay a visit to beautiful Fort Myers Florida during the summer or winter, it makes no difference. It is summer all year long down in sunny Southwest Florida. There will not be any shortage of sand, sun and sparkling beverages, regardless of what time of year you make the trek south to Fort Myers. No matter if you make the trip for a family vacation, a lovely couples’ get-away, or decide to be a regular snowbird and make The City of Palms your part time home, there are many things for everyone to do. However, there are a few things that everyone should move to the top of their bucket list for their visit to Fort Myers. It only takes on visit to Fort Myers, Florida to easily understand why so many people choose to call this place their favorite vacation locale, their winter retreat from the bitter winters up north, and, for many, home. Here are a few of the many things to do in Fort Myers that will guaranteed make it a memorable and exciting visit, and, quite possibly, have you returning again and again!

1 It goes without saying, that the first thing you should do when visiting Fort Myers, Florida is to see the beach. Florida is most notably known for its beaches, and Fort Myers Beach does not disappoint. While visiting the beaches at Fort Myers, you need to make a point to stop by Times Square. If at all possible, be sure to take in one of the Sunset Celebrations located at Times Square on Friday and Saturday nights. You will be entertained by some of Fort Myers’ local musical talents, and get to enjoy an infamous sunset, along with dozens of your “fans of Fort Myers Sunsets” friends, eben if you do not know them when you arrive. You sure do not want to miss out on any opportunity to drive across the causeway and see the historic and stunning islands of Sanibel and Captiva. If shelling is your thing, you will definitely want to take in the shell-lined beaches at Sanibel and Captiva. You may even get the opportunity to swim with dolphins or manatees while visiting the beaches around Fort Myers. It is no surprise that most people visit Fort Myers for its beaches. After all, they are among some of the most beautiful in all of Florida.

Sunset at Fort Myers Beach

2 Ideally, you will want to find some local favorite places to grab a bite while visiting Fort Myers. One of the places that should be on your to-do list, is 3 Peppers Burrito. While 3 Peppers is only one of the many dining options around the Fort Myers area, they are definitely worth putting on the top of your must do list. You can get a little history about how the brothers started up the restaurant, which is native to this area. However, whether your dining palette craves fresh seafood, beach-side burgers, or just a casual family dinner, there are ample choices around the Fort Myers area to satisfy every taste from traditional to a true cultural experience.

3 Peppers Burrito

3 Of course, no trip to Fort Myers would be complete without a visit to the Downtown River District. While visiting downtown, you will find many local eateries filled with folklore and history galore. One such place to stop in for a nice casual dining experience as well as some very conversational decor is Capone’s Coal Fired Pizza. For a fun-filled family outing downtown, you want to also stop off to see Centennial Park and take the family to the Imag Museum for an interactive science discovery center that the whole family will enjoy.

Cannoli from Capone’s Coal Fired Pizza

4 If parks and recreation are what you are seeking on your visit to Fort Myers, be sure to stop by many of the great parks that Fort Myers has to offer. These include Lakes Park, Six Mile Cypress Slough, and Manatee Park.  In addition, Fort Myers is home to both the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox major league baseball training camps, so you can catch a game while they are in town, or maybe stop in for a minor league game and enjoy watching the Fort Myers Miracle at Hammond Stadium.

Lakes Park

5 Perhaps, a little souvenir shopping is on the agenda. Or, you just simply want to browse local shops. Fort Myers has plenty of options to get your retail therapy. Close to downtown, you will find the Edison Mall with plenty of space to take a break from the fun and sun to browse and shop. For a little more relaxed atmosphere, you will want to stop by the Shops at Bell Tower. There you will find more of an open-air type shopping, with plenty of options for a bite to eat or enjoy a tasty craft beer at the World of Beer, and a very spacious stand alone movie theater. Be sure to take the scenic route to your shopping destination, and drive down McGregor Boulevard

Driving down McGregor Boulevard

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Captive on Captiva

I was told I must visit Captiva. By more than one person. A long time and dear friend of mine said that while I am newly located to his area, it is a must to visit Captiva and eat at the Bubble Room. And, by a less long time, and just as dear friend. I was informed that the water was so blue it would make me think that I am in Hawaii. I have never been to Hawaii. I have additionally never been to the Mediterranean or the Caribbean either. Therefore, I really have no idea what Hawaii would be like, other than seeing it in pictures. But I would like to know what it is like. The irony of my landing in southwest Florida as a place of residence is that my son and daughter in law moved here last summer. I moved here to be close to them and to be close to my beautiful granddaughters. My daughter in law’s parents moved down here as well. It was my son’s mother in law who informed me that I had to go see Captiva just as she was readying to make the move back north.  We had all migrated from small town north Georgia, and southwest Florida was a culture shock to everyone, to say the least. Three months after I moved here, they all decided their heart was in north Georgia, and there they went. My husband and I were not able to move back to Georgia, so we determined that we really wanted to see what all south Florida had to offer. And, off exploring places, we went.

In all honesty, crossing the causeway to get to Sanibel Island was hard to accomplish. Mainly, because I was driving, and it was difficult to not want to stare in awe of how incredibly gorgeous the drive was. For anyone planning to go to the island, there is a six-dollar toll. The highest toll we have found in all our travels, thus far, but worth every penny of that six dollars. Once on the island, the scenery got only more beautiful with each turn of the wheels on my Lancer. We used the GPS on my phone to meander our way through hordes of people along the island to find our intended destination- Captiva.

I had wondered, and we debated about what island life would be like. There were incredulous groups of people out, walking, riding bicycles, and such. Many of there were in groups, and we wondered if they were tourists out exploring all that Sanibel had to offer. We finally made our way to Captiva. It was utterly unreal. The homes were beyond what I had imagined finding, many of them mansion-like, rather than traditional pastel colored beach house sitting up on stilts. The vegetation, lush and deep green mixed with some of the most vibrant colored blooms, was among some of the most stunning landscapes I had ever seen. We also noticed, as we made our way along Captiva, toward the beach parking area, that all the homes had signs placed at their entrance. The signs were of various designs, but all had catchy island themed names, such as, On Island Time, Sea esta, Isle-B-Back, Aquamarine, Anchors Aweigh, and Sea Oats, to name a few. We found these catchy and personalized driveway markers to be very charming and add greatly to the appeal of the place.

We finally made out way to the beach parking at the far end of the island. However, much to our dismay, the parking lot was full. There were a limited number of parking spaces and there were already cars lined up waiting for one, and many of them turning around in line and driving away. After a considerable amount of time, we accepted the fact that we would not be able to secure one of the highly sought-after spaces, and we turned around as well. Determined not to leave Captive without seeing the incredulous blue water that had been the sole mission of our trip there, we made a point to locate alternate parking. On the way back toward Sanibel, we located a beach parking lot. As luck would have it, to our right, so I just pulled in. The lot, only containing what seemed like roughly about ten spaces as well. Although this time, there was only one car ahead of us, ironically, one of the cars that had also turned around from the previous lot. We decided to try our luck and wait it out. Luckily, it was only about a twenty minute or so wait, and then we were able to secure a parking spot for the beach. The parking fee on the island is five dollars an hour, which is a little more than what we are used to paying at Fort Myers. But, our mission for the day was to see the waters of Captiva. Being that the island was abuzz with droves of people and we had already encountered many people turning away out of frustration from not being able to get a spot to enjoy the beaches, we did not wish to rob anyone of the chance to see the beaches as well, since we figured many of them were tourists and we live close by, so we only paid for two hours of parking.

Once we had cleared the parking lot and stepped out on to that beach, it was worth every minute of the hour or so it had taken us to find a parking space. As I have said, I have never seen Hawaii, so I cannot say that Captiva looks anything like it. But I can say with absolute certainty that the waters of Captiva were the most breathtaking that I have ever seen at this point in my life. It was, in the same instance, both the most soothing and the most exciting teal blue water I could have ever imagined. In fact, it was beyond my expectations. We were in an area that was posted for no swimming due to the current. However, there were people in the water, fishing and wading, and yes, even swimming. We were not looking to disregard the signs but felt safe enough to at least wade in and get our feet wet. The floor did seem to drop off much more quickly than does the beach as Fort Myers, so we stayed right up close to the edge where the sea kissed the shore just before turning away. There was a dolphin nearby making unexpected leaps out of the water just often enough to get everyone excited and then would move to a different location and have his audience following him all around the beach area. It was truly a sight to behold. As for the beach itself, the sand was much coarser than the sugar sand of Fort Myers. Yet, it is a shell collectors dream. As far as the eye could see, there were millions of shells in varying shapes, sizes, and pigments. It was, in essence, a floor made of shells. They were beautiful. Everything we saw that day was beautiful, and we look forward to going back and spend more time getting to know the area.

However stunning, the beach and scenery are not the only things that warrant a trip to Captiva. I have also been advised by a dear friend, as well as read in a Top 5 Things to do on Captiva article that I found online, to enjoy a meal, and especially, a slice of cake at the Bubble Room. Unfortunately for us, we did not get the chance to try it out that day. But have definite plans to get back to the island soon and enjoy the highly recommended eatery. Also, after our trip there, I decided to look up some history surrounding Captiva. Often times, we learn a little bit about a place, maybe from videos or word of mouth, but then when we go, we like to experience it for ourselves as though we were opening a treasure box yet to be discovered. Then I go back and look into the history or the selling points of tourism surrounding the locale, just to see if I can discover any of those places of interest on my own without prior knowledge of them. In looking up some history of Captiva, there is lots of talk of the “folklore” surrounding a pirate, by the name of Jose Gasper, who went by the nickname of Gasparilla, who held his female prisoners on the island for ransom. Which, I had heard that story, however, I learned that the Jose Gaspar story may likely be a story fabricated for an advertising brochure. I also learned that the artists Roy Lichenstein (1923-1997) as well as Robert Rauschenber (1925-2008) were both residents of Captiva. And, that it was also the set in which the 1997 movie, G.I. Jane was filmed.

So, whether it be history, or folklore, or fine island dining, or scenery and natural wildlife, or shelling, or just to see some of the most memorable coastal waters, a trip to Captiva, Florida should be a definite on anyone’s must-do list.


Affiliate Disclosure Statement- This blog post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no additional cost to you.) Thank you for your support in this way.

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