We took a trip to visit my sister and her family in Florida a couple weeks ago. Yes, I’m writing about it just now. Shut up.
* Mrs. Crappy’s main mission for the week was to spend as much time on beach as possible, and I think we did that. On the first day — which was steamy but cloudy — we stopped at a public beach near the state park, and she ran off like a little kid so she could wade in the gulf. We didn’t get back to the beach until Tuesday, but found the state park beach to be fabulous, even on a breezy day. The next day was our shell-hunting trip to Sanibel — complete with an order of delicious conch fritters, thanks to a Twitter tip from Abby’s dad — and my favorite beach of the trip, Bowmans. It takes a little hike across the wetlands to get there, but it’s great once you arrive — wide, soft white sand, not too crowded — even during spring break. It was also Mrs. Crappy’s favorite shelling beach, but for me, I stretched out in my cabana tent thing with a John Irving novel and got to simply, blissfully relax.
* Naples is an interesting place. It feels like no one lives there, but everyone shops there, mostly because you don’t see any houses anywhere. With a few exceptions, the town seems to be a series of shopping centers, divided by elaborate, palm-tree adorned entrances to gated communities. I mean, you know all those cars belong to someone, but they all disappear behind those gates. It’s a nice town, certainly, but that takes some getting used to.
* There is some good stuff in those shopping centers, though. On our first afternoon there, we walked into Total Wine and More, a liquor warehouse that sits right next to a Christian book store, and nearly wept at the sight. An entire aisle of beer — cases and twelvers of macros on one side, and shelf after shelf of sixes and single bottles of imports and craft beers, including a bunch we had never seen before. Mrs. Crappy and I each put together two sixes of bottles that were new to us, and bought some favorites as well. We liked it enough that we also turned on my father and my brother-in-law to the place; we also liked it enough that I became Foursquare mayor of the joint before the week was over.
* While we drove around on the first full day, we cruised by a little strip-mall taqueria while we were in the midst of one of our perpetual What-Do-We-Want-For-Lunch discussions. We did a quick turnaround and walked in to a reassuring sight — the Latino customers outnumbered the Gringos by about three to one. It was good enough that we had lunch there twice; we both walked out stuffed both days, and neither check broke the $15 mark. Yum.
* I got to play golf with my dad, just the two of us (Mrs. Crappy was still struggling with a sore shoulder, so she didn’t play; she shopped and hung out by the pool instead). That might have been my favorite part of the trip. (It helps that I shot a 106 after a year without touching a golf club.)
* My sister and brother in law are excellent hosts, and even better parents. They seem to do a good job of allowing the kids a little space while still enforcing the house rules. (This wasn’t necessarily easy, especially when the visiting uncle was bent on causing a little trouble, like tossing the boys in the pool or hosing them down with the Super Soaker I bought during our trip to Toys ‘r Us.) It helps (or maybe it doesn’t) that all three are scary smart; they’re all also ornery as hell, and certainly willing to oblige their uncle when he asks them to make their best faces for the camera. We are both so proud of all three.
* I hope I made up for the trouble I started by making each one of the kidlings a necklace out of some of the shells we found on the beach. They each got to pick the shell that served as the centerpiece of their necklace, and they each helped pick out some of the accents I used when we put them together. They all seemed pretty happy to have them, which made me pretty happy as well.