Oct
10

Coming to Fort Myers?

Model T over the bar at Ford's Garage

Model T over the bar at Ford’s Garage

Coming to Fort Myers FL?  Here are some things you don’t want to miss…

The River District.  Downtown Fort Myers has been revitalized in the last few years.  There are shops and restaurants galore and all kinds of  events that happen on a monthly basis.

The first Friday of every month is Art Walk from 6-8pm.  All the art galleries in downtown Fort Myers are open later so that patrons can walk in and out and see what is new.  The Main Street, First St is closed to traffic so people  can roam the galleries, restaurants and shops.  There is occasionally live music in the street and local vendors have liquor carts for passerbys. One of our favorite restaurants is Ford’s Garage.  An establishment dedicated to Henry Ford who wintered in Fort Myers in the early 1920’s along with his pals, Thomas Edison and Harvey Firestone.  The theme revolves around Ford’s first automotive editions, one floats above the bar.  And each time the bar tender recipes a tip an old car horn crags a beep.  The bar itself has a solid ice edge where you can rest your beer glass to keep it cold.  They serve over 100 beers. The menu features burgers that are named after local Fort Myers personalities and come with a branded bun displaying the Ford logo.

Sep
30

A Birthday Weekend in Key West

imageimageA Weekend in Key West

Getting to Key West is a quick trip for my husband Terry and I – we live in Ft. Myers, FL.   Our mode of transportation is always The Key West Express, a hydroplane ferry that seats upwards of 400 people. It leaves every day (weather permitting) at 8:30 am and returns each night leaving Key West at 6pm.   Our most recent trip started on a balmy Saturday morning in July.  We were boarding the boat at 7am with an 8:30 departure.  Indoors, the boat has comfortable tables and chairs and lots of big screen TV’s where you can enjoy a movie on your 3 ½ hour ride to Key West.  There is also seating outside, although it gets a little windy for the entire trip.  Best to grab a seat inside and then take a stroll outside during the ride. They also have a food stand where you can get a quick breakfast and a full bar.  After we were underway I got a mimosa!  We enjoyed our ride playing cards and watching a movies.  The ride was very smooth.

We pulled into the Key West Ferry dock about noon and proceeded to walk just two blocks to the bed and breakfast we had booked for one night.  West Winds Inn is a cute bed and breakfast on Eaton St.  They have a main house and other Key West style cottages throughout the property.   We dropped off our suitcase at the desk and was told we could check in after 2:30pm.  From there we headed for the beach and some cocktails… at a new place called Lagerheads Beach Bar.  Our friends Frank and Sherry (who chose to drive from Ft. Myers) got there a little after 1.  We had lunch at Kelly’s Caribbean Grill and then did some shopping at the Key West Legal Rum Distillery where we got to taste some very fancy Chef Rums.  There was a Real Key Lime that was tart and potent!  A Vanilla Brulee Dark that was warm and sweet.  They also feature a Mint Mojito, Glazed Pineapple and Green Coconut.  We chose the Key Lime – my favorite.  We were pretty warm so we headed back to the West Winds for a dip in the pool.  They have two pools at the West Winds surrounded by lush tropical foliage.   That felt amazing.  Later we got cleaned up and went to dinner at Turtle Kraals, which is on the Historic Sea Walk just blocks from the resort.  It was a balmy night and we got to watch the sun set while we were eating with a view of the harbor.  Our food was a taste treat.  I had pan seared scallops with a citrus pepper sauce served with coconut rice with peas that was heavenly.   Afterwards we walked along the Historic Sea walk and stopped at Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shop to get some frozen chocolate covered key lime pies on a stick.  An amazing taste of sweet dark chocolate and tart key lime pie – with graham cracker crust!  Awesome!   From there we continued on Greene St. to the famous Duval St. Famous for all the bars and restaurants as well as great shopping!  We did a lot people watching, (always an interesting cast of characters in Key West!) did some shopping and looked for an air conditioned bar, after all, it was July and warm.     We stopped into the Sandbar a sports bar for a nightcap.   We walked back to the West Winds and said our goodnights to Frank and Sherry.  10 minutes later about 11, I got a text from Sherry that were locked out of their room.  Turns out they were trying to get in to the wrong entrance.  Frank was frantically banging on doors to get someone to wake up and help them… We walked over and let them know that they were not at the right entrance door – brought them to the right one and they got in… Too funny!!!

Sunday’s breakfast was at Kermit’s Key West Garden café.  I had an amazing bacon, egg and cheese sandwich on Cuban bread.  We had scheduled a Jet Ski tour around Key West for 9am.  We met at the beach in front of the Hyatt on Front and Simonton.  There were a group of about 12 of us.  Terry and I were on a wave runner together.   So were Frank and Sherry.  We had two great tour guides who took us all around the island.  It was really a blast, even though Frank and Sherry fell off theirs at the very start….  It was a pretty choppy day – seas about 3-4 feet, but it was still fun.  The water was a warm 87 degrees and it was a beautiful warm partly sunny day.  The scenery was gorgeous and the tour guides were great!  It was a memorable experience for us!

We walked along the Historic Sea walk again and ended up at the Waterfront Brewery for lunch.  Great food, and lots of craft beers for the guys.  We girls sampled the tropical drinks!  I had a Mermaid’s poison with lime flavored rum – yummy!  I had shrimp lettuce wraps and Terry had the roast beef grilled cheese sandwich!  Yum.  Terry sampled a number of the brewery’s beers.  I wanted another chocolate key lime pie on a stick, but I was too full from lunch.  Oh well, maybe next time.

We checked out of the West Winds Inn and stowed our suitcase there while we took in some more sights before we had to be back at the boat at 5pm.  We went to Irish Kevin’s, Sloppy Joes and then Dante’s where we waited to get back on the boat.  The margaritas were great.  Once onboard, we quickly found 2 seats and proceeded to fall asleep!  It was nice and cool and we slept for most of the trip.  Got back early to Fort Myers and were home by 10:15!  It was a great weekend trip and we will be going back again soon.

 

 

 

Feb
11

A New Pelican Photo

View our photos! 

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Jan
25

Celtic Festival downtown Fort Myers

Sons of Galway

Sons of Galway

Spent the afternoon at the Caloosahatchie Celtic Festival on Saturday at Centennial Park in downtown Fort Myers. We listened to Celtic music and watched Irish Dancers. We also tried some Haggis, a Scottish delicacy made from sheep’s liver, kidneys and lungs… I should say I tried a tiny bite and decided to let Terry have the rest. Yuck! There were all sorts of vendors with Irish and Scottish apparel and gear. It was a very windy day on the river and a bit chilly, but we enjoyed it!

Haggis

Haggis

Apr
09

Bands, Brews and BBque in Fort Myers

On Sunday, we went to the 5th annual Bands, Brews and BBque festival at the Art Alliance in Fort Myers.  There were some of our favorite bands;  -Alter Ego and Deb n the Dynamics playing great music and as usual we were dancing!  Later as we were walking around a News Press photographer came up to us and asked if he could use a shot he took of us.. “Sure!” We said, and the next morning found this in the paper!  It was a fun event for a good cause and a beautiful sunny day in Florida.  Life is good!  image

Apr
07

Catch 22

Catch 22 is a newly opened restaurant in the Royal Palm Square shopping center on Colonial Blvd in Fort Myers.  We were there on Friday and had a great

Catch 22-2

Catch 22-2

 

imageimage

Catch 22

Catch 22

time.  It’s a Key West style restaurant and bar with eclectic island decor.  It’s open aire and it was a warm pleasant evening. The menu had an amazing lobster bisque, chili, pizza, specialty burgers and Chili Willie fries that were chili cheese fries with onions, sour cream and cilantro. Yum!  They have a full bar and Happy Hour! One of our favorite things!  The live entertainment was a one man band who played everything from The Beatles to some new music.   We met some friends there and had a really nice time.  We highly recommend it!

Nov
08

Tour Fort Myers Beach

Crossing the bright aqua Mantanza’s Bridge on to Estero Island, you’ll see a vast array of colorful buildings reaching for the sky and swaying palm trees as you make your way to the Island.  On any given day you’ll see parasailors flying high over the clear blue Gulf of Mexico. 

 Once on the Island if you make your first right on to Estero Blvd – you’ll find yourself in Time Square adjacent to Fort Myers Beach Pier.  There is public parking at the Lynn Hall Memorial Park right along the Gulf.  With many restaurants and shops it is beach destination Paradise.  Try breakfast at Plaka’s Greek Restaurant, with umbrella tables, open air seating and great Greek food.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner served daily.

 For lunch try the Beach Pierside Grill, great entertainment and a view of the Gulf and the pier.  They have live music and open air seating as well.   

Check out Local Color, a unique clothing and gift shop featuring souvenirs of Island Paradise.  They have clothes for women and men and whimsical island treasures to take home with you. 

Top of Mast is a local restaurant and bar that features their famous Rum Runners drink with a souvenir glass to take home.  They are potent favorites with tourists and locals. Top O’ Mast has weekend live music on their deck facing the Gulf and is a great place to watch the sunset! 

 Citrolla’s is another Time Square favorite with their famous Philly Cheese Steak sandwich – complete with peppers and onions! Yum! 

 From Time Square you can make your way down Old San Carlos Blvd and find more shops and great eateries!  The Shipwreck Museum has beach paraphernalia and apparel and is also a motel accessible by water.

 Yucatan is fairly new Tiki style restaurant with great island food and drinks. The large Tiki statue in the front of the restaurant is a favorite for photos with the locals and tourists. 

Smok’in Oyster Brewery makes their own ale and has some of the best oysters on the island.  Zushi, Zushi is a brand new place with great cocktails and fresh sushi made daily.

Further down Old San Carlos Blvd you’ll find Nervous Nellie’s and Ugly’s Waterside Bar – On the back bay of Estero Island and accessible by boat.  It is a great place for live music and they have a really large menu! They serve some of the best local seafood and have a section devoted to Ridiculous Reubens that will make your mouth water!  Two of our favorites are the Nachos appetizer – served in a cast iron skillet and the Bronze Grouper Reuben on sourdough bread that is to die for and would easily serve 2 people!  The portions are huge! Bring your appetite!!!  Their famous cocktail is the Giant Nervous Nellie – a fruity tropical drink meant to be shared and served in a giant cocktail glass!

 The beachfront at Fort Myers Beach span the 8 miles of the island with snowy white, baby powder sand along it all!  You can rent pedal bikes from Holiday Watersports to take a trek along the water.  They also rent scooters and motorcycles if you are so inclined.

Accommodations abound on the Island. Some of our favorites are the Lighthouse Resort on 5th Avenue across the street from Times Square. They have 2 pools and a Tiki Bar in the center of the resort where you can find live music and great food.  Their pizza menu is phenomenal!  Great place to stop after a day at the beach.  The bar is open to the public.

Harbor House Suites on Old San Carlos Blvd, is another favorite – fairly new, it’s convenient location and clean colorful rooms help you feel at home while you’re in an island paradise.  Their rooftop pool is great for some quiet sunbathing away from the crowds. 

 

Oct
27

Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest in Cape Cora, FL is always a fun event.  We have gone 4 years in a row and this year did not disappoint!  It is held at the German American Social Club on Pine Island Rd. and it runs the last two weekends of October featuring lively German music, performers and the food!  It’s very popular with the locals and garners a packed house!  This year we went on the first Saturday and sat at an umbrella table in the Garden –  it was a gorgeous day about 78 degrees and sunny. 

The bands were great – we listened to The Paloma Band from Chicago who entertained us with their many stories as well as some fun music – even a little “Blue Brothers” thrown in!   And a local band Hafenkapelle from Cape Coral who drew a lot of audience participation!  I think we did the Chicken dance about 4 times!  The Lee County Pipe & Drum did a segment in the Garden too!  The food, as always was amazing!  We sampled flavorful potato pancakes that were crispy on the outside and warm and yummy on the inside served with a side of applesauce.  There were knockwurst and bratwurst with sauerkraut, pulled pork sandwiches with spicy or sweet barbeque sauce – mouth watering!  Schnitzel, sausage dinners and lots of German potato salad.  And the desserts were great too! Apple Strudel, carrot cake and delectable German chocolate cake.  And of course lots of German beer and wine!  We met a group of friends there and did lots of dancing! I think what I liked best was to look around and see people enjoying themselves so much.  There were smiles from little ones as well as the seniors!  The volunteers are always dressed to the nines in their lederhosen and German dresses! We even met Miss Oktoberfest Marcella Schmidt!  She was adorable and so sweet!  Highly recommend it if you are ever in town the last 2 weekends of October! 

Oct
21

Rainy Lunch

The other day Nancy and I were having lunch at Nervous Nellie’s one of our favorite restaurants on Fort Myers Beach. We were sitting outside listening to the band (No Way Jose) and watching some dark clouds rolling in. A few minutes after on lunch was served the rain started coming down. When it rains in Florida it comes down by the buckets full. Everyone started making a mad dash to get inside. I spotted the quick thinking couple next to us as they disconnected the umbrella and lowered it to cover their table. I thought brilliant and followed their lead. We were able to finish our lunch and watch the deluge of rain tucked up under the large umbrella.

Oct
18

Hello world!

It’s a really interesting thing about being over 50.  The kids (hopefully) are grown and on their own.  It’s a time that you can explore the things that got pushed aside with the hustle and bustle of family, work and obligations.  It’s a time of reinvention and new experiences. 

 

Terry and I did just that when in 2004 we sold our home in the suburbs of Chicago bought a 40 ft. self-contained motor home and started an adventure that we are still living today.  We were 50 years old and couldn’t afford to retire so we began working as independent contractors in advertising sales for a company in Ft. Lauderdale called Southeast Publications.  We sold advertising on campground maps and traveled to a new campground every 2 weeks.  We traveled around the country for almost 3 years and had a ball.  Unfortunately, we didn’t make enough money to continue and decided we needed to find real jobs again.  It was November and we were in Georgetown, Texas just north of Austin.  We had made plans to fly home to Chicago for Christmas from Austin, so we were stuck there for a month.  It was excruciating that first week because we felt paralyzed.  Our plans hadn’t worked out the way we had thought they would.   And we weren’t sure what to do…  But then the most interesting thing happened –we decided to have a “Do-over”.  We thought – where would we really like to live if we had a choice and we did…  So we got online and started applying for jobs in Florida.  We had taken numerous vacations there and loved it and thought why not?  Long story short, by the time we got to Chicago for Christmas I had landed a job selling advertising for a travel magazine in Fort Myers, FL, and I was to start January 9th.  As luck would have it we had left Terry’s truck in Chicago while we traveled around the country. So after visiting our kids and our family, we packed up the truck and I drove it to Sarasota, FL where I stayed with very good friends while I started my new job.  And the best part?  My first assignment was to sell advertising in Key West for a company called The Key West Express!  A high-speed ferry-boat that travels from Fort Myers to Key West every day!  I got to stay in Key West for a month while I sold ads on their new map! Terry flew back to Austin to finish up one last campground map and then he drove the motor home to meet me in Fort Myers at the end of January.  It was a pretty cool gig I have to say!  I love Key West!  It’s such an interesting place.  Terry met me in Ft. Myers and even came with me to Key West for my last week there.  We had a blast!  He soon found a job in Ft. Myers too designing kitchens for a local cabinet company. 

 

The point is that we just listened to our hearts instead of our heads and they have led to the most exciting experiences we could have imagined.   We live in a vacation area and say that we are on vacation every weekend!  There’s always a place to find live music and great restaurants!  We hope to share some great places with you!  And hope you will share stories about great places you have been.

 

Laid Back Latitude really is a state of mind!