Saturday 9/1/07 - Arrival in Fort Meyers, Dinner on Sanibel Island

Our friends Tom and Karen now live in Florida, and recently purchased a new home. We went to their wedding last year in St. Lucia, we see them when they visit home,a nd we see them around the country, such as in Tennessee, Atlanta, and Oakland for Tom Waits concerts, but had never seen where they live. We decided that the long Labor Day weekend was a perfect time to take our overdue visit to see our good friends and their new home.

We got up at 5 am and left the house for 6:30. We flew on Jet Blue for the first time. We got breakfast sandwiches at Dunkin' Donuts plus a "stick" donut (didn't they used to call them crullers?) each. I also purchased some Reese's Pieces, M&M's, and water for the flight. The flight boarded at 8:00, and we had an extra empty seat between us. The seats were leather and had lots of legroom but they were so low to the floor that stuffing a bag under the seat in front of you is a little more difficult. We had seatback DirectTV and watched a show about container ships on HGTV. We were served a choice of complimentary snack. I got Jet Blue's signature Blue Terra Chips and Craig had Choco-Billy cookies. There were a lot of nice amenities for a budget airline! Our flight arrived early to Fort Meyers airport at 11:40 am (it was due at around noon). We had no checked luggage, so we made our way straight to the curb.

We called Tom and Karen on our cell phone and they arrived to pick us up at 12:05. They needed to swing by their offices (they are both English professors at Florida Gulf Coast University) before heading home. Their office building is modular and Tom joked that they were the Mod Squad. It was fun to see their little world. Tom's office is #11, a good number all around. While there, we met Sascha, a colleague and friend of theirs who would be joining us for dinner tonight.

After they finished up at their offices, we stopped at the bank and then headed to Cosi (a chain restaurant specializing in fresh flatbread). I got a flatbread cheese pizza and Craig got a grilled chicken parmesan melt. We enjoyed catching up with Tom and Karen. A student of Tom's (is this really what college students look like these days? They are babies! We are getting old!) named Stephanie came over. Tom introduced her and we all chatted for a while.

After lunch, we headed to their house. It is a gorgeous one-story home situated in a "gated community". The houses are arranged in large circle around a man-made pond. They gave us a tour of the house. It was new construction when they bought it a couple of years ago, and it is beautiful. The main area of the house is very open, with a gorgeous kitchen opening onto a dining area and living room. The living room opens onto a screened-in pool area which was just gorgeous. There is a very nice master suite, and both Karen and Tom each have an office, and there is yet another bedroom for guests. I loved the way they had decorated the place. The weather was quite warm and the pool proved irresistable. It was the perfect size, and the screen enclosure helped to cut down on the direct sunlight. Small geckoes provided entertainment as we lounged around, cooling off and chatting.

At around 5:00, we got changed and drove (less than an hour's drive) to Sanibel Island. You pay to cross the bridge and are immediately transported to a more rural and less populated area, as if you are stepping back in time to a less-developed Florida. We passed Big Arts, where Tom directs the annual Sanibel Island Writers Conference in October. We arrived at Ellington's Jazz Bar and Restaurant and met Win and Karyn (colleagues and friends of Tom and Karen) in the parking lot. We went inside and were seated. The dining room was round and there was a skylight in the middle, with lots of scroll work and a New Orleans feel. A few minutes later, their friends Martha and Debbie and Jim and Sascha arrived. The Danny Sinoff Quartet was providing the music, featuring Tom and Karen's friend Ron Hefner on drums. We chatted with Win and Karen about their Peace Corps service in Malawi.

Craig ordered a Key West beer, while I opted for Ellingtons'signature Hurricane. Being a fan of pumpkin soup, I ordered it as an appetizer. It was different than I was used to. It seemed to have a citrus taste to it. I didn't finish it, and was dismayed to learn when the bill came that it had cost $13! The main course was more enjoyable, though still overpriced. Craig got the $38 "Charlie Parker's NY Strip Steak" (according to the menu, "Balsamic marinated steak, stilton-walnut pesto crust, apple salsa, roasted garlic mashed potato"). I got the $36 "Scattin' Scallops" ("Coconut encrusted Sea Scallops, potatoes Au Gratin, hint of nutmeg"). It was very tasty and I really enjoyed it.

By the time dessert rolled around, Craig and I were both stuffed. The waitress almost wouldn't take no for an answer, and repeatedly asked us if we wanted coffee and dessert, but we held our ground. When we were ready to leave, they were having trouble with their phone line, and the waitress couldn't get a connection for the credit card machine. We had to wait and wait until finally we were able to pay at 9:45. After leaving the restaurant, we walked across the parking lot and down a path to the beach. We waded in the unbelievably warm water, chatted, and had some laughs. It was so peaceful here! The beach was practically dark, and you could see the city lights way off in the distance. It felt as if you were in another world.

We said goodbye to everyone and drove back to Ft. Meyers, arriving around 11pm. We watched an episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm". I wasn't feeling quite right and went to bed at 11:30. Craig stayed up with Tom for a while and came to bed at 12:10. My stomach was really bothering me and I couldn't sleep. I ended up getting sick in the middle of the night, and I suspect that the culprit was the pumpkin soup. Once it was out of my system, I felt immensely better and was able to sleep soundly. We had had a great evening, but we were disappointed that the restaurant had been so overpriced and had ultimately made me sick.
Lunch at Cosi

Karen and Tom's pool

Craig, Steph, Karen, and Tom at Ellington's

Sascha, Karen, Tom, Steph, Craig, Win, Karyn, Martha, Debbie, and Jim at Ellington's

Danny Sinoff Quartet

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