So back before I took off for Europe I spent four nights in early August down in the powerfully seductive Charlotte Harbor area of Florida, which is not far from Fort Myers. It was a lovely, lively jaunt, and not just because my first night there I drank champagne on Palm Island’s peaceful shore and swam under a soft moon in the Gulf’s salty, silky embrace. Although that was a darn fine way to kick things off. (And meeting a ginger-haired pirate at Palm Island Resort wasn’t too shabby, either.)
There was so very much I adored about Charlotte Harbor, from the fabulous meals I feasted upon in spots like Peace River Seafood and The Fishery (where, it should be noted, Out of Time, that nerve-wrackingly groovy flick starring my future boyfriend Denzel Washington was filmed), to the deeply funky, wee town of Punta Gorda, which features some of my new favorite bars on the planet, including the Tamiami, known to locals as The Hole.
(Just for the record, I loved The Hole’s jukebox, filled with everything from The Cure to Van Morrison to George Strait to Rusted Root, and the bartender, whose drinks were almost as intense as his attitude, and the slightly grimy, cigarette smoke-infused interior, including the floor, so sticky it almost pulled my sandals off, and even, or maybe especially, being called “baby girl” by one of the profoundly-tattooed-acutely-accented-oddly-charismatic-pool-shooting-locals. I, in short, loved EVERYTHING about The Hole.)
And if taking a swampy buggy (really kinda a souped-up, super-cool school bus) eco tour with Babcock Wilderness Adventures through the 90,000-acres Crescent B Ranch (where, it should be noted, Just Cause, the nerve-wrackingly groovy flick featuring my future boyfriend Ed Harris was filmed) was pretty awesome, so was visiting Octagon Wildlife Sanctuary and Peace River Wildlife Center.
I’ve got a big ol’ soft spot in my heart for wild things (and not just the profoundly-tattooed-acutely-accented-oddly-charismatic-pool-shooting kind), and so seeing two deeply committed, extraordinary women (Lauri Caron at the former; Dr. Robin Jenkins at the latter) care for critters that would otherwise be euthanized – or meet even worse fates – was spirit-raising stuff, indeed. And btw: both organizations run on shoestring budgets; animal lovers who’ve got an extra buck in their pocket should consider donating to these very worthy causes.
But Charlotte Harbor didn’t just stop at mouth-watering seafood and kick-ass bars and warm and fuzzy moments with warm and fuzzy critters. It also got me revved up with the RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME Rick Treworgy’s Muscle Car City. Look, I’m not saying I know the difference between a ’69 Dodge Charger and a ’70 Dodge Challenger (ok, actually I do), but damn, if those old muscle cars aren’t some of the sexiest things ever built I don’t know what is.
I mean that gloriously gleaming, wickedly red Chevelle with the naughty stripe sliding down the center of the hood? I do believe it enchanted me. It was all I could do to drag myself away from it, fantasies filing my fevered head of redlining that 454-cubic-inch V-8 engine on one of Florida’s long, sweet straightaways, windows down, wind whipping my hair against my face so hard it almost hurt…mmmm….Well. Anyway. Take it from me: any muscle car fanatic hasn’t lived until they’ve hit up Treworgy’s joint.
But if I absolutely, positively had to pick my A-1, numero uno, most favorite activity, I think it just might have been kayaking with Grande Tours. For two and a half hours we roamed the serene estuaries of Charlotte Harbor. And if it took me a little while to get my groove on – initially, I found myself stuck, paddling helplessly around a small cove in a wide circle, trying desperately not to smack into the bank – soon I was happily whipping through the water.
Though the sun was strong in that way that only summer sunshine in Florida can be and I was smeared in bug spray so powerful it stripped the polish from my fingernails, my first sighting of a mama manatee and her baby shot a surge of clean, pure joy straight through me. That feeling continued as we propelled ourselves though shaded, spooky mangrove tunnels, the trees’ limbs arcing over our heads, threatening to entwine finger-like twigs though my hair. It was a special afternoon, one I’ll never forget – just like so much of my time in Charlotte Harbor.
3 comments so far…Comment
Comments are closed for this article.