When a vacation is over, I look in the rearview mirror, replaying what we did while we were away, and feeling a bit nostalgic. Spark is just the opposite. On Saturday, when we left Florida after being on Hutchinson Island for two weeks at my parents’ condo, he said when it’s time to go home, he’s ready. No bittersweet feelings pervade his psyche.
As we sped along the turnpike, we talked about our trip’s highs and lows. The low being the weather, overcast, windy and cold at times. But there were plenty of highs too, ups that outweighed temps that required a winter coat at times.
1. Our daughter Jennifer came to visit, which was a treat. She had business in Fort Lauderdale, but spent two nights with us at the condo. It was fun to introduce her to some of our favorite eateries and teach her to play gin. She actually bested us both at cards one night.
2. Spark scored at Power Ball. He had two tickets with the Power Ball number and won $8 at the service station up the street where he gets his morning coffee and local paper. He’s never had a winning ticket in his life.
3. Dinner at Hutchinson Shores, a new resort that opened on the island was amazing. The hotel is upscale and a boon for the area. Since 2004, the property had sat ramshackle, the derelict building that used to house the Holiday Inn Oceanside destroyed by Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne, both having delivered a direct hit to the island.
The new hotel is like a shimmering jewel on the beach with two swimming pools and a spa. For an extra plus, it’s only a 40-minute drive to Jupiter where the Cardinals have spring training in March.
4. Bike riding on the island, which is mostly flat, and stopping to see manatees at Blind Creek — several years ago we got lucky and saw a mama manatee and her baby, quite a treat, so we always hope to see the gentle giants again.
5. Pecan pancakes at Captain’s Galley in Fort Pierce. A trip to Hutchinson Island isn’t complete without stopping at this popular breakfast spot, and the pancakes are light and tasty. Spark said almost as good as the apple cider infused donuts he treated himself to at the Fort Pierce Farmer’s Market, held on Saturdays.
6. A walk up the island to a caravan community that’s like a miniature village for seniors, many riding golf carts and bikes, their properties tidy and compact — either RVs or trailers they’ve converted into petite homes, front doors hung with wreaths made of old flip flops, and wind chimes fashioned from shells, tinkling in the ever present sea breeze.
7. Eye-popping culture shock at the Frog Leg Festival. Our last day on the island included a drive north and inland to Fellsmere, a rural area that’s old Florida.
Having never had frog legs we were ready to dig in — and we both wanted to try the gator tails too. We opted for the gator pops, $3 each, pieces of gator tail on a stick and a pair of frogs legs.
We ate at a table outside surrounded by a crowd the likes of which we’ve never seen — think beards, beers, bellies, bumper stickers, camel rides and camouflage, and you’ll get my drift.
The gator tail was deep fried and crisp, definitely better than the frog legs, which were slick and required Tagalong Girl Scout Cookies to override the thought of our first bite.
We’d heard frog legs are like fried chicken but ours were undercooked and wet. I guess they didn’t wring out the frog before they fried it.
So ended a memorable day capping off another visit to the Sunshine State, which has lots of activities to offer if it’s too cold to be on the beach or in the pool. We arrived back in Missouri Sunday evening without a trace of a suntan but with lots of happy memories, one last box of Tagalongs and some bargains we found at a huge Nordstroms Rack at West Palm Beach. One of Spark’s new golf shirts cost a penny — score!