Tuesday, May 10, 2016
After our wedding in Hawaii in March 2013, I decided we should start a tradition of vacationing somewhere warm for our anniversary each year. Our plans were foiled on our first anniversary, when my father-in-law was facing heart surgery and we decided it was best to stay in town. Considering that we had been to Hawaii twice the year before, I certainly couldn't complain. We went out for a lovely dinner in Alexandria to celebrate our first year of marriage. We were able to spend time with Larry's family in the following weeks, and his dad recovered from surgery just fine.
But for our second anniversary in March 2015, we were ready to take a trip. We wanted something more affordable and that didn't involve an 11 hour flight, like Hawaii. Florida seemed like an obvious and simple solution, especially since my dad lives in the Ft. Lauderdale area and we could spend a few days visiting him after celebrating our anniversary. Larry had also never been to Florida before and I'd only been to the Atlantic Coast, so we were interested in checking out the Gulf side of the state.
Of course, we didn't look into booking until a few weeks before, and quickly learned that the high season fills up way ahead of time in Florida - everyone is looking for a little slice of sunny beach in the winter! I think we probably looked at a every hotel/inn/Airbnb from Tampa to Key West. The pickings were really slim, but we somehow stumbled across the Tropical Winds Motel on Sanibel Island. It was beachfront and had one room available, so we made our reservation. A few weeks later, while snow was still on the ground in Virginia, we escaped winter and flew south...
The Tropical Winds ended up being a super laid back spot to relax for a few days. Nothing fancy here, just a beachy, simple place to get away from it all. From the beach cruisers parked out front to the stretch of shell-covered beach, this place made me nostalgic for childhood summer vacation. Our room was TINY (the smallest room in the hotel) - we literally had to shimmy past each other to get into bed or past the bathroom door, but it suited us well. (When Larry commented on how the small was to the desk clerk, she said "Ha! Americans always say that, but Europeans LOVE that room!" A funny reminder about the expectations of different cultures!)
We spent our days on the beach. We brought a wagon of booze down to our spot on the sand and we drank Bloody Marys in the morning and beers in the afternoon. We read our books under a rainbow beach umbrella. We looked for interesting shells, watched dolphins frolic in the surf, and sat on the beach as the sun set over the water. (A novelty for us East Coasters!) We watched the moon rise over the palm trees. I wore questionable headwear to keep my hair out of my face. It was easy. It was relaxing. It was just what we needed.
Despite our trouble finding vacancy in Florida, there were very few other people on the beach, and our stretch of sand felt very private. The shellers were very serious though - people liked to get up at four in the morning to comb the beach for the best shells before anyone else could get them! I was surprised that the Gulf was much too cold for swimming, but we were heading to the much warmer Atlantic in a few days...