Final day of 2011 & SW Florida

Final sunset of 2011

Buckingham – We actually saw a dog wearing sunglasses on the beach this morning and yes they did match those of its owner. There is absolutely no chance that my two will ever put me through such an indignity.

We have lunch at a dock side restaurant where I completely miss the resident cat (splash) who was apparently rescued after being thrown from the adjacent bridge and has never left the restaurant since.
In the afternoon the fireworks start and I begin the howling on the beach, this is going on all night and my worries are multiplied as we come back and they pull out the bags to begin the packing – again.  I’m not sure if the fireworks are worse or the uncertainty.
In a way it is fitting that we turn a corner in our trip at the end of the year, we no longer head south but west and will no longer be in the sun but into the sun. Geographically we are less than 1/3 of our way but in reality probably closer to 1/2 way into our time frame. Let’s see what serendipity will bring as we make the mad dash west through the deep south.

2012 will be our year of the unknown, for the first time ever we have no idea where we will be this time next year other than it will be somewhere new and that we will have visited many places in between.

Happy New Year everyone – enjoy!

Geese-a-laying day

Buckingham – Back to the deserted dog beach this morning and for a while we had the place to ourselves, then three other dogs turned up and hijacked my ball – whatever! One of their humans actually used to work in Norwalk (home) so we reminisced for a while. Amazing this 6 degrees of separation stuff. Sensing that I am getting fat (or perhaps it’s him) Mark takes me for a run along the other beach which thankfully has more humans and far fewer 4 legged friends. We run for a while and receive the usual platitudes before returning home to wake Lisa and have breakfast.

In need of some futile retail therapy Lisa heads out with an excuse that her watch needs a new battery but to no avail.   She couldn’t find a place in any of the nearby towns that could put in a new battery so the phone will have to be her new time piece.

We’re not so sure if this place that’s nearly 100% shaded is good.   It certainly keeps us cool but … perhaps they’ll take me back to the beach this afternoon so I could soak up some rays  because the nights are getting cooler now.

I sense that we are about to move yet again – they are spending increasing amounts of time on the computer and phone booking up dog friendly places along our chosen southern route. Apparently we will have long days in the car for about a week before settling down in the snow of Santa Fe New Mexico for a while. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

We do spend the afternoon on the beach again and Lisa attempts a sand sculpture of me, very much appreciated but I am forced to paw it into oblivion – I just can’t be replicated! Walking home we get attacked by some pea sized mute that rushes out of its driveway – I gave as good as I got  – I think.

They leave me to my own devices in the evening as they have dinner with a friend of Mark’s who lives up the road – back to bed…

On the 5th Day of Christmas…

Buckingham – Yes, I know I took a few days off over the holidays – well so did everyone else and even Dalmatians need a break! Normal service is now resumed.
A praying ibis

We have had a busy few days exploring the surrounding towns of Fort Myers Beach – Naples again, Bonita Springs, the islands of Captiva and Sanibel and Fort Myers itself. We also found an off leash dog beach – which was great apart from the multitude of other 4 legged brethren who were just acting plain mental at times, when we first went there. To compensate Mark took me back early the next morning so that I could act mental alone.

We enjoyed Captiva and Sanibel even though the single road access did make the traffic a bit slow – also due to the traffic cop trying to direct traffic – why do they bother?

Chick magnet in Naples

Naples is one of the nicer (monied) towns with a major disadvantage – I am not allowed on the beach – so we won’t be moving there. In fact I hope that we won’t be moving to Florida at all – the people are nice enough but there aren’t enough green places fo me to run around freely, and it is too damn hot – and this is December! Worringly they have been looking at a few properties – I am sure that they will see sense.

Today was our first real beach day of the trip – unfortunately they only took two chairs but that didn’t bother me as I got there before Lisa. It got a bit uncomfortable after a while so I did the honourable thing and let ma’am have the seat.
The fireworks in the ‘hood’ have started early for New Year so I am getting some practise howling in this evening.

A White Christmas – the beach

Buckingham – Merry Christmas to all my readers!!  I am so glad they didn’t dress me up in Santa suite to greet everybody.

Overnight the sand snowman that we featured yesterday has been destroyed, not by the tide but by midnight raiders of the human kind.

They both get an Up by jawbone for Christmas so they can monitor their daily activity, food intake and sleep… and what do I get??   My predictable kibble, love and attention.  I’m reminded It’s a dog’s life!

Big dog, little person

After the ritual Christmas Day phoning round we head off to the beach as Lisa is determined to have a Christmas swim in the gulf of Mexico.  She took forever to submerge cos it’s not exactly warm.   We meet a few other Canadians there who  have escaped the cold for the season – sounds familiar.  They have a labrador who plays fetch non stop and Lisa helps throw the tennis ball further into the sea.   I watch jealously – she’s not playing with me.  I desperately want to go in but I’m too afraid even though she keeps telling me that I can swim.   Wet to my chest, I retrieve because I am convinced sunning is a far less strenuous sport.

Mark is now cooking a traditional English roast… chicken with the whole nine yards.  Smells really good so hopefully I get to sample more than a tiny morsel – after all, it is Christmas!


Christmas Eve in Naples

Buckingham – this is way too humid for me to run so Mark takes me on a beach walk instead.  It’s 28*c (80*f) with 95 % humidity.  Lisa and I hate it although it seems Mark is rather fond of it.

We drive to Naples, 26 miles south of Fort Myers beach to find a higher end community with nice restaurants that welcome me.   We lunch, and I am included, in one of the snooty Italian places where I get tainted with red wine spots all over but I don’t care cos as usual, I get tons of attention.

We walk around Naples a bit and then drive to Marco Island in the search for a possible home.   Perhaps Mark should settle here since it’s named after him – right!!   They turn on Zillow and suss out the prices of homes : all water and river fronts are millions but anywhere not facing the water inexpensive, a steal but Lisa wouldn’t have it, nor I cos I like the beach.

Back to the beach at Fort Myers for the final walk of the day and some thoughtful children have built a sand snowman – so I wish all my readers around the world (yes, we now have global reach) a very Merry Christmas!

Fort Myers Beach

Buckingham – we have a lie in this morning and then hit a new beach, unfortunately I have to be on the leash – I don’t think that I am going to like Florida, what with that and the heat and humidity. Even early in the morning there are many people on the sand, perhaps we were spoilt on Kiawah, however it does mean more interesting fragrances and more sand castles for me to mark – just hope that the kids don’t come back.

We are staying in a house on a canal two blocks back from the beach and it would be very quiet apart from the next door neighbour who seems to be talking loudly on the phone for England. There is a boat at the end of the garden but unfortunately the house owners have not left us the key.

Lisa goes desperately shopping for shorts while Mark and I hang out at an ice cream shop with a retired couple from Canada/England – we reminisce and berate the governments of every country we have lived in – that’s what happens when ex-English people get together.

At the end of the day I play with two labradors on the beach and the 3 (Mark and Lisa, not me and the labs) of us watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico together – I could get all emotional & philosophical, but I won’t.

Lost in space

Buckingham – after breakfast on the patio of our hotel (Bayfront Marin) we depart St Augustine and my new found horse friends and head further down into Florida. First stop is the Kennedy Space Center and I end up in the Center’s kennels with other abandoned dogs while they take the trip around the launch sites, see the ‘awesome’ Saturn V rocket and play in the shuttle simulator. Lisa of course is intrigued by the design of the various space suits over the ages  – just think of the sponsorship opportunities missed! What a shame that the space programme is now so much more diminished, whatever happened to “not because they are easy but because they are hard” – quite profound coming from a Dalmatian.

2 small steps

It takes more than 5 hours to travel from KSC to our home for the next 10 days at Fort Myers Beach on the gulf coast and we experience aggressive Floridian traffic habits on the way to the west coast. We arrive in the dark having made a detour to Petsmart to buy food for me (mission critical) and are welcomed by a large cockroach in the bathroom (bringing back memories of Hong Kong) which Lisa takes great pleasure in dispatching.

Quest for Spanish sun – St Augustine

Buckingham – we are up to see the sun rise for the final time over the empty sands of Kiawah, I am under pressure to do my stuff before we set off so I of course do not comply. They load up the car and as soon as my bed is installed we are off. The drive south is uneventful and 5 1/2 hours later we arrive in St Augustine, Florida  having flown through the entire state of Georgia without so much as a sideways glance.

Although full of tourists (like us) St Augustine has retained a certain European charm and even though the shops are full of things that no one really wants the experience is pleasant.  Lisa and I pose in front of the oldest school in the US.  It’s full of outdoor restaurants/cafes and the atmosphere is warm and friendly.  I am of course the ‘rock star’ – yes, someone actually said that to me today – I do like the attention but not non stop.  Lisa leaves us so I can become Mark’s chick magnet, I do my best to please and pose for the odd photo or two.   I like this place because like Charleston, it is full of horses (carriages) and they make me very excited.  I stand on my hind legs begging Mark to let go of me but no such luck.  We sit in a courtyard for our dinner and someone asks for the outdoor heater to be turned on – it’s 21*c (that’s 70*f)?!!

St Augustine – founded by Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon on 28 August (feast day of St Augustine) in 1565.    It is the oldest European city in United States.

Florida – Spanish for The Land of Flowers

Time to move on

Buckingham – we are preparing to hit the road again tomorrow and they are in planning and packing mode. I will miss my daily outings to the beach but I do really miss my woodland walks in Connecticut, the smells just aren’t the same, it’s as if the sea just cleanses stuff too much and the beach is way to pristine, not much washes ashore that is of interest to my sensitive nose.

I hear that it is very wintery at home, I think that I prefer the sun but I will miss the snow, may be that is for later in the trip.

My final  paw print


This morning we only see a few runners on the beach andI put up a flock of seagulls who scatter and glisten like confetti in the sun at a beach wedding. None want to play though.

Our final sunset on Kiawah from the Brownies house -farewell fair isle!

Christmas is coming

Lunch with Janice and Michael, friends of friends from Silvermine and fellow wanderlusters, in the Ryder Cup Bar at the Ocean Golf Course where the 2012 PGA tournament will be held. Stunning views to the Atlantic and tickets have long ago sold out for the tournament.

This is probably as close as we will come to a Christmas tree this year.