We’d just checked into our room (breathtaking view of the ocean!) when I got this text message from my sister:
Enjoy your vacation! Remember to relax and keep it simple.
I read it to my husband and he laughed. “Not a problem,” he said. “The Outrigger makes everything so easy.”
He’s right. We booked our room online, got a direct flight to Fort Myers, and were unpacking our suitcases before noon. Now it’s time for lunch at the Deckside Cafe, which is a thirty-second walk from our room. (Simple!) A grouper sandwich and key lime pie sound great to me; Jack wants the “cheeseburger in paradise.” Then we’ll take a stroll down the resort’s sprawling, white-sand beach. Maybe we’ll find some sand dollars for the grandkids, and I’ll get photos of herons and pelicans for my scrapbook.
So far, a great start to our week. It’s so nice to be away from it all...
I’m taking my sister’s advice. I’m remembering to relax! We slept in ‘til 9:45 and took the trolley to Times Square for breakfast. We both indulged in bacon and eggs, then browsed the shops for souvenirs. I bought a small painting by a local artist––it will look great in our kitchen back home. A bright reminder of our time in Florida.
Back at the Outrigger, I settled into the lounger on our balcony. While the sun warmed me, I checked my email, then wrote a few notes to myself for my scrapbook:
I love the smell of the air here. It’s like coconuts, hibiscus flowers, and sunshine mixed together into a tropical concoction. (Though the coconut smell might be my sunblock, or my piña colada!)
Later that night, we settled in at the Outrigger’s Tiki Bar to listen to the live entertainment. As sailboats drifted by, we made a toast to vibrant sunsets, deep breaths, belly laughs, and enduring friendships. “Here’s to keeping it simple,” my husband added as we clinked glasses.
The Outrigger thinks of everything, so that you don’t have to. The Guest Services Center sells towels, sunglasses, kites, postcards, and they even offer affordable bike rentals. So we spent a leisurely morning pedaling around. We noticed several restaurants, a couple of marinas, a grocery store, and a spa, all very close to the Outrigger.
After our bike ride, we kept it a low-key day––napping on the beach in our cabanas, reading the newspaper, taking a dip in the pool, and sipping margaritas. At 2:30, we went to the wine and cheese “rendezvous” party, which was open to all resort guests. The snacks were great appetizers before dinner. At about 6:00, we walked right across the street (how easy is that?) to Charley’s Boat House Grill (steaks and seafood!)
Another day full of simple fun. We couldn’t ask for more (or should I say “less”?!)
First, we drove just a few miles from the Outrigger to shop at the Tanger Factory Outlet Shops. There are 50 brand-name stores there, including Coach, Coldwater Creek, the Gap, Bath & Body Works, Swim Mart, and Crocs (ideal beach shoes).
Then we headed south on US 41 to hit Coconut Point. They’ve got just about every store you can think of: Dillards, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy. (There are 113 stores!) It was easy to find a menu that appealed to both of us, because there are 25 restaurants. We chose California Pizza Kitchen, but Hemingway’s, Blue Water Bistro, and Stir Crazy looked great, too.
And finally we went to Miromar Outlets, which is lovely with its European architecture, fountains, and landscaping. There are 150 top designer and brand name outlet stores, including Off 5th Saks Fifth Avenue, Michael Kors, Godiva Chocolates, Cole Haan, and many more.
If we had time, (and if my husband had the patience), we could’ve also shopped at the Edison Mall, Bell Tower Shops, as well as Gulf Coast Town Center.
Did I mention that this vacation has been simple and easy? Well, today it was a little too easy...to spend money!
Today we headed to downtown Fort Myers to tour Thomas Edison’s estate and laboratory, as well as Henry Ford’s home. Just outside Edison’s lab stands a spectacular Banyan tree, which was a gift from Harvey Firestone in 1925. The estate also includes beautiful and colorful botanical gardens, which Edison himself designed over the course of 40 years. There are trees from all over the world. I took more pictures for the scrapbook. And I plan to add this quote on the page:
"I never did a day's work in my life. It was all fun."––Thomas Edison
Afterwards, we had a delicious lunch at the Veranda, and visited the Butterfly Estates. Waterfalls, tropical plants, and lots of colorful butterflies––simply beautiful.
Adventure! We rented kayaks and spent the day paddling along the Great Calusa Blue Way, a series of water trails through Southwest Florida’s back bays and estuaries. I brought my bird book along, and was thrilled to see four roseate spoonbills––vibrant pink––as well as a bald eagle. There are some 300 bird species to be seen. Life below the surface of the water was just as exhilarating. We saw two manatees, which are also known as “sea cows” for their enormous size. These gentle animals weigh over 1,000 pounds and are an endangered species. We also had the sheer joy of seeing several dolphins racing through the water. The urge to jump in and swim with them was overwhelming, but we knew we wouldn’t be able to keep up!
Back at The Outrigger, we showered, napped, and enjoyed cold drinks at the Tiki Bar. We met a couple who’ve been coming to The Outrigger since 1987. They just renewed their wedding vows here, right on the beach. He wore a tux, she wore a gown, but neither one of them wore shoes!
What to do with our last hours in Southwest Florida? Our trip wouldn’t have been complete without going shelling. We went on a guided tour, and learned the difference between “wentletraps” and “drills,” and “tulips” and “cones.” Being on the beach early in the morning was wonderful. There was a light breeze coming off the Gulf of Mexico, and the water was warm on our bare feet.
All good things must come to an end, and so we had to check out at noon. The staff was so friendly. They’ve already got us booked for a week next year, but I’m thinking we’ll need to stay a bit longer…maybe ten days…maybe two weeks…
And we’ll bring the whole family. It would be so easy to make Outrigger family vacations a yearly tradition!
If I’ve learned anything this week, it’s that the simple things are the best. We made simply good memories out of simply fun moments, all by simply relaxing. So here’s the quote I chose for the last page of my scrapbook:
"As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness." ~Henry David Thoreau
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Your Beach-Front Resort Hotel on Fort Myers Beach in Southwest Florida