This has been a journey of many treats. I had hoped the trip would include much hiking, but I seem to be in a sedentary mode with all the driving and the visits with friends. In an effort to break that pattern, I took a side road that was supposed to intersect with the Florida National Trail, but I never found it. (I have a hunch that parts of FNT, like parts of the California Coastal Trail, exist as an as yet unrealized hope.)
When I realized I had passed the trail, which followed a shortcut back to the freeway, I considered going back but decided to keep moving on down the road, and I am glad I did. Such a treat! It was a beautiful drive among trees, past spectacular beaches, and through beach towns. Driving across the water on intercoastal highways was a special thrill.
The most memorable part of that leg of the journey was Bonita Bay, a recreational area run by the Air Force. It seemed strange to me that a war engine would be involved in something so trivial, but it wasn’t as surprising as it would have been before I learned that the Army Corps of Engineers runs campgrounds all over the country.
Even more memorable, at the end of the road, I met in person a fellow author, Coco Ihle, author of She Had to Know. I enjoyed hearing the story behind her book, which is based on her own search for her long-lost-now found sister, and I have been privileged to see her in her own milieu.
Coco is amazing! Everything she touches turns to beauty. Whichever way you turn in her house is another fabulous piece of art, collected from her world travels, bought at a bargain from Big Lots, or created by her. To my delight, she keeps her Christmas tree — perhaps the most beautiful tree I have ever seen — set up most of the year.
She kindly let me take pictures, to post here, and even let me post the fabulous photo of herself when she was a belly dancer. (Coco is the woman who encouraged me to look into belly dancing for myself.)
Besides all that, we have been playing tourist. We had dinner at a restaurant in a Greek town on the sponge docks. (A one time, sponge was a bigger industry in Florida than even oranges or tourism.) We ate on the docks, with the Anclote River flowing by and a sandhill crane keeping us company.
Now we are off to see the Florida Aquarium, another incredible treat in a trip that has been nothing but treats.
See you when we get back!
(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)