Travel Florida: Anticipating My Return


Even though it’s still hot where I live in Kentucky, there are signs everywhere of fall coming. The summer flowers are finished and even some of the fall flowers are looking faded. I live in the forest and a few leaves are starting to fall and they are already colorful. Fall coming at my home in Kentucky means that I’m starting to look forward to going to my home in Florida, on my magical island, for the winter.

I’ve been very busy during this summer in Kentucky. I’ve done a lot of writing and research and very little else. Writing and researching at least twelve hours a day keeps me busy. By the time that twelve hours is over, any writer reading this knows you are ready to drop and fall into your bed. I take breaks. I take my new puppy outdoors and we play. She’s in training so we work on her training exercises. I also take breaks to talk to my friends who have kept me company and great company they are. The summer has passed very fast for me.

Even though I’m still writing and researching and will be until right before we leave here for the winter, I find my mind drifting to my island and my little home there. Even though I love my home in Kentucky, I also love my island. I will be ready to leave here two months from now. The winter months are so wonderful there. The island is still very much “old Florida.” I think part of the reason for that is because it does not have much sandy beach. Any little bits of beach you find, however, are nice, smooth sand and not particularly grainy .

Even though there are a lot of snowbirds on my island, and I am one of them, that certainly doesn’t ruin it for me. Yes, the traffic is bad. Yes, there are waiting lines in the restaurants. But, some of the same snowbirds come back every year and have become my friends. Some of the locals have become my friends and I value all of their friendships.

I miss the ocean! I miss the pier. I miss the wonderful seafood. There is so much about that magical island that I miss. Mostly I miss the way that I feel there. My soul feels like it has found its home.



Travel Florida: The End of My Stay


Time to secure our lodgings and go home to Kentucky for the summer, although I always hate to leave Pine Island. I will have to admit I can see why some people leave by April 30. It’s pretty hot here now, 92 degrees; very humid, and they’ve started using a helicopter to spray for mosquitoes right over my head. It’s even getting hard for the A/C that cools our domicile to carry the load. When that happens, you know it’s hot! So we are trying to get ready to leave which may happen Friday; if not, then Saturday.

Tonight, I went down to the pier to see the beautiful ocean once more before I leave it for a few months, but I’ll be back to our island in the sun this coming winter. I also wanted to see our new friends, Billy and Otto. It was important to me to say goodbye to them before departing for the “north.” As you go through the world, you never know where you are going to make friends. A fishing pier, I suppose, for a girl like me is an odd place. I went out on the pier to take pictures of the sunset. I came back with pictures of the sunsets, the nightbirds, and new friends. A pretty good deal! I look so forward to seeing them both when the “season” starts in the fall of this year. Continue reading

Travel Florida: An Ordinary Life


Last night, we went to eat dinner at a new place (for us). The Old Island Seafood Market. A working seafood market that is also a restaurant. You can see the pictures above. It is in Matlacha, Florida, the island adjacent to Pine Island and one of my favorite places in the world. As you walk in, they have a sign that advertises themselves as a taste of “Old Florida.”

If you don’t know about “Old Florida,” it’s just the Florida that existed before the tourists came. The casual Florida lifestyle. The real Florida. Don’t get me wrong. Florida loves its tourists. They support its economy. But, if you can find one of these pockets of “Old Florida,” take advantage of it.

Back to Matlacha and the Old Island Seafood Market. Behind the market and restaurant is the marina where fisherman pull in with their catch and unload. It is a true, working fish market. As for the restaurant, you can eat outside or you can eat sort of inside. Let’s just call it open air. We ate in the open air part where you look over into the water of the marina. There were manatees everywhere. There was an osprey sitting on a high post just waiting for a good fish to pass by. South Florida’s wildlife fascinates me.

The menu. Yum. All the good fish of the area. Grouper. Snapper. Oysters. Great salads. Shrimp. But, they don’t stop there. They have the rough and tumble stuff. Alligator, mullet, frog legs. A seafood chowder I am sure is delicious and I plan to eat it soon.

The reason we ended up at the Old Island Seafood Market is because I became ill a few days ago. Nothing serious and it will pass but I didn’t feel like cooking for myself.  That’s why you haven’t heard much from me for the last few days and may not for a few days to come.

Enjoy the photos! This is a wonderful place to eat!

Travel Florida: Food, Fun, and Friends


Beautiful home near Pineland Marina


Hideaway Grill and Sushi Bar


Sunset on Windy Night from Bokeelia Pier


Sunset on Cloudy Night from Bokeelia Pier

It’s been a week or so since my last installment of “Travel Florida.” I think that’s been because we’ve just been living the life here on this island in the sun. We’ve also been exhausted from moving our belongings into  the little place where we are living until we buy a permanent place! I guess I’ve also been resting up! I feel better now!

It’s Easter Sunday today. Something springs to mind. I’ve been amazed at how at home I feel here. I don’t consider myself a religious person. A spiritual person, yes. I thought of this quote, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” from Matthew. That’s how I feel about the people I’ve met from Pine Island. I’ve met a lot of people and I’ve felt very welcomed.

We’ve had such fun here! Moving even a portion of your household is very hard work, but it’s been just as much fun as work. We’ve taken days off to explore some of the different places on Pine Island. We’ve done some house hunting. In our case, that may be condo hunting as I’m not anxious to take on a house again. We have explored the natural environment as well as the man-made environment. We’ve eaten in some day; eaten out other days. The food available here never ceases to amaze me.

Let me give you some examples. First, food. We’ve eaten brunch several times at A Perfect Cup in Matlacha, one of the five communities on/near Pine Island. Matlacha is actually the neighboring island. I’ve taken some time out to go to A Perfect Cup in the mornings and do some writing. That would not be possible at the height of the tourist season as it would be Standing Room Only (if that). We have also gone to A Perfect Cup for brunch and they simply must have the best omelets in the world.

As far as dinner is concerned, there are so many good places to eat, I couldn’t pick one if I tried, so I won’t. I’ll just tell you where I’ve been. This past week, we opted for sushi and went to Ms. Kay’s sushi place on the road to Bokeelia, Hideaway Grill and Sushi Bar. We’ve also eaten dinner at our old stand-by place, Woody’s, in St. James City, where I always have conch fritters and a great salad. Having conch reminds me of Key West. Woody’s conch is just as good.

Next, fun. Everything is fun! House hunting is great fun. We’re drawn toward Bokeelia as a community because we do want a condo and there are a lot of nice condos there. We are still trying to get our bearings so we’re only looking from the outside right now. There is never a lot of property for sale on Pine Island. People don’t seem to leave! We will take our time and hope the right thing pops up at the right time.

I’m enjoying running around taking pictures. I love to photograph the wildlife. The exotic vegetation….well….exotic to me. The ocean and the sunrises and sunsets. One thing we find to be great fun is going to the Bokeelia Fishing Pier at sunset and joining others there to watch the sun go down. There is nothing like a sunset from that pier. In fact, there is nothing like that pier. We’ve met fine people who we hope will become great friends.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Travel Florida! Watch this space.


An Egret at the edge of the lake at our house

Travel Florida: The Goats of Ft. Myers and more

Yes, goats. Real, live goats. I’m not using the word goats to mean anything else. The goats are those you see in the pictures above. Let me tell you the story.

We were eating lunch at a restaurant on a main street in Ft. Myers, FL. As we left the restaurant, I looked up and realized that across six lanes of traffic, there was a large field. A pasture-like area that looked like a farm. A farm? On a main street in a big Florida city? Sure enough, I was right. I walked to the curb and it was a farm with some sort of animals grazing in the pasture. You can see from the picture above that the animal was goats. An entire herd of them! The story doesn’t end here.

We drove across the road and pulled in a small parking area by the pasture’s fence. I got out of the car and the whole herd came running toward me. Many stuck their heads through the fence. They looked well-cared for. I looked around. There was a small barn that said “Pitts Farm Market” on it. There was no vegetable or fruit stand around. Everything appeared closed, except there was this pasture full of goats! 

When I got back to my house, I looked up Pitts Farm Market online. It seems it did once exist but has long since been closed. The mystery is, “Who owns the goats?” 

Who takes care of the goats? Why are they still in a pasture in the middle of Ft. Myers, Florida? On land that has to be incredibly valuable. Don’t ask me. I just live here. 

Travel Florida: An Interesting Bird Experience


See that bird? That bird demonstrated to me tonight what a vastly different environment I’m living in. That bird is a Night Heron. I could not supply you with my own picture because when I saw him, it was dark and he was almost on top of me. It was not the optimal environment in which to take his photograph! So, Wikipedia is providing his picture. I hope to get one of my own.

Night herons are not the Great Blue Herons you’ve heard of. Oh no. They are birds that like to ambush us unsuspecting people. Specifically, unsuspecting people who have been fishing. Let me tell you what happened.

I visited the pier at Bokeelia tonight, another community on Pine Island. A beautiful place and I will post pictures. We met some people, and we were all hanging out on the pier after sunset talking, laughing, and some were fishing. I was close to one of the fishermen. He would pull in a fish and place it on the pier. At that point, I didn’t know anything about these birds they call night herons.

My companion said Continue reading

Travel Florida: A Perfect Cup in Matlacha


Would you like to have the best cup of coffee, along with the best omelet, you’ve ever tasted? Then come to Matlacha, Florida.

Pine Island is not the only beautiful barrier island off the Creative Coast of Ft. Myers and Cape Coral, Florida. Between Pine Island and the mainland are two other barrier islands. The smallest is Matlacha. It is quite the undiscovered jewel! Everything is on the water. In this case, Matlacha Bay. It is considered part of Pine Island, but it really isn’t. It is its own little jewel in the sun.

In Matlacha is a tiny restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch called A Perfect Cup. You never know who you might see in A Perfect Cup – everyone from your neighbor to one of the celebrities who live in the area. It’s a busy place because of its awesome coffee (and tea), its great breakfasts, and its good food for both breakfast and lunch. Today, I took my laptop and went to A Perfect Cup in the morning and did some writing. Not only is it The Perfect Cup, it is the perfect place for such activities.

Yesterday, I was out doing a bunch of stuff and did not have time to eat a proper lunch. I stopped by A Perfect Cup and they fixed a Chicken Salad Sandwich for me – to go. It was wonderful! No fast food for me when in Florida! It’s also the perfect place to go and write for awhile. A writer’s haven! A Perfect Cup is the Perfect Place. If you’d like to read more about it, take a look at its TripAdvisor site.

Travel Florida: The Gopher Tortoise and 360 of its Dependents

On my first trip to the post office when I arrived in St. James City, Florida, there was an interesting sign as I drove into the parking lot. You can see it in the picture above. A sign warning of a Gopher Tortoise Crossing. Since I’m from Kentucky, I had never heard of a Gopher Tortoise. Silly me. It seems this little reptile is quite important in our ecosystem and it is endangered. The driveway into the post office is, indeed, a spot where they cross.

Most Gopher Tortoises live along the Florida Gulf Coast. They aren’t large, only about a foot in length and 10 pounds or so. They live 60 years if they don’t get run over on the highway or eaten by your pet dog. They don’t live in water as most tortoises do. Instead, they dig deep burrows in sandy soil, sometimes as long as 40 feet, in which they live and lay their eggs. They also host up to 360 other species of animals that otherwise would not have shelter. As with every species, they all have a purpose. 

Gopher tortoises mate between April and June and are out and about more during that time. If you see something that looks like a turtle on the highway, please dodge it. They are an important part of our environment. 

#SoCS – 04/01/27

An island in the sun. Where people are peaceful yet proactive. Where you can live a simpler life without any pretense. Maybe it has something to do with the Calusa Indians, a tribe long extinct, that were on this island long before anyone else. Their shell mounds are still here and are protected. Perhaps they left their magic here after they were wiped out by the French and Spanish.

People from all over the U.S. and all over the world live on this island in the sun. They come here to vacation and never leave. They leave and come back again and again. Perhaps, like me, they come here, catch the magic, and are determined to come back and live here. I’ve met many people who do exactly what I’ve done. Relocate here at least for part of the year.

People are different when they are on this island. The highest corporate executive becomes one of the crowd having a beer and a burger at Woody’s Bar and Grill in St. James City. He/she drops all the corporate pretense and becomes a person again. Politics does not galvanize us on the island. Indeed, that subject is not even thought of. People come here to escape such pressures and problems of the mainland. It’s like a spell has been cast upon us.

Back on the mainland, we think we require lots of “stuff” to live. Cars, homes, furniture, clothes. On the island, we live in the most modest small homes. Homes we would never live in if we were in our communities. No one cares about cars unless it is to pull a boat. Furniture? Ha! Clothes? Shorts, t-shirts, sandals. That’s all anyone wears on my island in the sun. No one judges.

You come across the most wonderful things on this island. Bob, the wood stork, who stalks us in my community, wanting food. The gopher tortoises who are mating at this time of year. There is now a Florida panther on the island. There are more endangered species than I can count. The little post office established in 1902. All the vegetable and fruit stands. I will write about all of this in my blog.

The most wonderful thing about my island in the sun is the feeling I get when I cross the bridge. Peace. A sense of wonder. A feeling much like we had as children. A desire to explore. Most days, I think I never want to cross the bridge to the mainland ever  again. I want my friends and family to visit. I want them to feel the magic.

Travel Florida: I Was Only Going to the Post Office


Copyright Rosemary Carlson 2017

And not the Post Office above! The Post Office you’re looking at in the picture is the original post office on Pine Island, built in 1902. I didn’t mean to visit it today, although I meant to visit it eventually. I just meant to go to the new Post Office, near St. James City on Pine Island, to mail something and pick up mail. I asked the postal service worker if the post office was open on Saturday. He said no and proudly explained to me that only one post office on the island is open on Saturday and that is the original Pine Island Post Office in Pineland, another community on the island. He instructed (instructed?) me to run on down to Pineland, another small Pine Island Community, and take a look since he knew I was new to the island. How could I refuse?

Off I went to Pineland, just about a ten mile drive. I turned off the main Pine Island road and found myself with palm tree farms on one side of the road and a mango plantation on the other side of the road, both crops grown on Pine Island and with stories of their own. After driving about three miles and fearing I was lost, I rounded a curve and literally had to screech to a halt. There, in front of me, practically in the middle of the road was the building you see above.

So I went inside. This little building could tell a lot of stories. It is only there because in the late 1800s there was a freeze that took out most of the orange groves in northern Florida. Many grove owners moved south and bought land to establish new groves. A grove owner, Minta Moore, came to Pine Island in 1902 when only about three dozen people lived here. That family bought acreage for orange groves and established the first Pine Island post office in a community they established and called Pineland. The original lockboxes are still in that little building and they are combination boxes.

The postal service worker is new. She, like me, came to Pine Island on vacation. She’s from Delaware. She loved it so much that she applied for a job at two of the Pine Island post offices. The little old post office at Pineland hired her. She was thrilled to move here. She, like me, has no family in the area. No friends in the area. Like me, she felt the magic of Pine Island. So do many people here.

We like to keep it a secret so I’m only telling you.