It started Thursday evening - the mom of one of Isaac's best friends emailed to ask if we had a ride to the airport arranged for Friday - could she be our taxi? OF COURSE! And so Friday am, a minivan pulled up and Isaac's friend Reid was standing with a sign for us, wearing a sportcoat and sunglasses. A quick ride to the airport, with the soundtrack of Isaac and Reid trying to say "poopy" as many times as possible, laughing uproariously.
A smooth flight to Atlanta, where we met up with Papa and Bam, with whom we would share a connecting flight to Fort Myers. Lunch at Chick Fil A (delicious despite their politics) was cut short by a series of strange messages: Our flight at 4:20 was delayed... to 4:50... to 6:30.... no wait, it's at 4:20 - BOARDING NOW... AT A DIFFERENT GATE COME ON PEOPLE!!! We got on in time and made it to Fort Myers safe and sound. Our minivan at the ready, we drove to the Harbor View Marriott - just on the Fort Myers side of the causeway, but with a view of the bridge. My points bought the rooms, which were suites (all they had left!) - a room service feast and a late bedtime, with the kids fighting on the hide-a-bed. Such is life, at the end of a long travel day.
Saturday we slept in a little, had the breakfast buffet (which I know well as a Marriott man - they always are the same, but pretty good nonetheless). Then a few hours of swimming at the pools (a colder, chlorinated one, and a warmer salt-water one. We swam for a good 2 hours before checkout. We had 3 hours to kill before we could check in to the condo, so it was off to SuperTarget to stock up on dry goods and last minute hats and crocs. While isaac, Bella, and I had an emergency snack (when we gets hungry, we gets HUNGRY, especially after swimming), a man in the cafeteria was calmly having a heart attack. It was his third so he knew the drill, he calmly sat (sweating and turning red) while the Target people brought him chewable aspirin, cool water, a towel for his forehead, and called people on his list. The EMTs showed up, and it was all very matter of fact. Bella had a lot of questions, and I was able to tell her some things about cardiology thanks to my work.
Then it was across the bridge to Sanibel: A quick lunch with an amazing blackened grouper poboy, and then to the Condo. We're right on the beach, first floor walkout. 2 bedrooms for us, 1 bedroom condo for PapaBam... and it was STRAIGHT to the ocean - suits on, we're going in. The surf was a bit rough but the water was warm, and Bella and Isaac were tentatively excited... It was their first encounter with the ocean, and it is a bit intimidating - so big, the waves so strong, the water so SALTY. The kids actually sort of hated it. They were happy to hit the condo pool - a small warm pool that was more familiar. For dinner, we went to a little hot dog place I remembered from my last trip here 12 years ago called Schnapper's Hots - they do great hot dogs and shakes. Perhaps going to the grocery store for fresh food was pushing it for bedtime, but we survived. Night Night.
Sunday morning began early - Bella was up at the crack of dawn and woke up Papa and Bam to go Shelling while the rest of us snoozed. Isaac slept in a little which was a miracle. There was a lot of swimming - Ocean and Pool - both kids were warming to the idea of the Ocean. Isaac decided the loved grabbing handfuls of sand and hurling them into the sea - he called it "Feeding the Ocean", and he grew to have elaborate dances around the feeding ritual - we watched as he stood facing the sea, turned into a cartwheel, grabbing handuls of sand, then pirouetted and the flung the sand to the water, finishing with a respectful bow. We stayed at the condo all day, leaving only to get the forgotten sour cream to complete taco night, oh and a few tubs of ice cream too. We finished the day with a walk up the beach toward the setting sun. We found someone had built a labyrinth on the beach with sand and shells to mark the path, so we all walked it. We found many shells, and were visited by dolphins on our walk back - two of them out hunting for dinner, letting themselves be seen for just a little while. Then I imagine they were off to collect their checks from the Sanibel tourism office.
This morning the whole gang woke up early to go shelling - Bella, now with her head in braids in proper island style, was in the mood to find more cockleshells, and she did. Isaac decided just a few minutes into the affair that this was not his bag at all, and could he maybe play his Nintendo for a while. That was AOK with me, and we sat in silence with coffee and the sounds of Mario as the shell hunters went on their quest. This was going to be a quieter day...
At 10 sharp, the condo pool was open for business, and the kids were there. At 11, we switched to the ocean, where I showed the kids the amazing thing - it's shallow, then deep, THEN SHALLOW AGAIN. The kids did not want to leave the sand bar for a looong time. Lunch at the condo of frozen pizza and sandwiches... and then we got the brilliant idea - we needed a little downtime and time out of the sun - what about a road trip to Captiva?
Ok - I think Captiva should have a huge sign as you cross the bridge: WARNING: There is no place to park here. If you are in a car and you don't live here, just go home. After a deeply frustrating attempt to find public parking of any kind, we decided to just hit the Bubble Room and have a late lunch, early dinner (and use their parking lot). The Bubble Room was as always charming, but something in the last 12 years, the extra layer of dust on the memorabilia makes it a little creepier than I remember it. Still, the cakes and pies were fantastic. Nobody was in much of a mood to keep walking around the area, so we headed back to Sanibel - while I had my Zillow iphone app open reading off the sale prices on the properties we passed. Somehow Captiva seems less charming when you realize those houses are for sale at $5m and more. Even post-bubble. There are no deals to be had on Captiva, my friends.
We salvaged the afternoon with more ocean time - at least that's what I was told - I hit the bed for a 20 min catnap and was awakened 90 minutes later with the family piling back from the beach. We worked as a team to get these kids ready for bed - Isaac was asleep less than 5 minutes after going to bed (but not before having a bedtime snack of peanut butter toast, waffles, and grapes). Bella and I read two gripping chapters of Mysterious Benedict before she got so excited she lost a tooth! It was off to bed with her, tooth under pillow, and I jumped into the car to assist the Tooth Fairy in finding just the right treasure for the pillow... We shall see what we find when the morning comes!
And so it's a peaceful night, I'm feeling wonderfully relaxed, and content knowing I have many more days ahead of us on this dreamy holiday.