Tropical Vay-Kay Day Two - Long Distance Relationships and Kayak Trips


My attraction to palm trees is not mutually exclusive with my attraction to my soul mate Deborah, but when I am around these plants I become astutely aware of my strong compulsion to live among them permanently. Deborah does not feel entirely the same way (something to do with naturally curly hair and humidity and blah blah blah). If I can't convince Deborah to move to Florida, I wonder if she'd entertain a long distance relationship. I'd visit her as often as I could. I kid, I kid...on the square. I guess for now I need to endure a long distance relationship with the Arecaceae family of tropical plants. For now...

Phase 1

I'm sitting on the pooper at Deborah's family's cool home in Sarasota FL, a city in which I could happily dwell, if that wasn't clear from the preamble to this post. I decamped to the so-called "water closet" to begin writing today's exclusive travelogue, a workaround so I don't have to explicitly excuse myself from social interaction to document our travels. I sense that it is slightly more socially conventional to imply stubborn constipation than to disrupt the normal flow of vacation activities to write. Most people don't understand the compulsion I have to write. It's almost an addiction. Most people respect it, but non-writers can't fully understand and embrace the mechanics. I'm a good writer, but not a fast writer, so an allotment of WC time has to be set aside for it. Thus my multitasking of writing with these perceived morning ablutions. That being said, I need to stop writing for now or people will start to worry about my alimentary health (everything is moving smoothly, don't worry).

This morning, I woke up before Deborah and heard the call of an unknown bird outside in this pleasant Sarasota FL neighborhood. I read some of my library book, "John Dies at the End" by David Wong, lying in bed until Deborah was ready to get up.

Deborah's sis-in-law Michelle offered me much needed strong coffee as her (Deborah's) brother Mark whipped us up some tasty omelettes. We talked about the Trump dictatorship with them and Deborah's folks, Howie and Sandy, at the breakfast table, wishfully thinking that the extremism of Trump and the Republicans might backfire by provoking apathetic Americans to progressive activism. It sounded good half an hour ago, but as I write this now I realize we are probably doomed, destined to be consumed in a nuclear fireball the first time that a foreign leader punctures Trump's ridiculously thin skin. But, let's terminate this line of thought. Political discourse is restricted on JOE'S COFFEE FIX blog (see the 2 MINUTE READER blog for an unexpurgated look at how I really feel).

I don't yet know what today has in store, but there is a high probability of a trip to the local botanical gardens where I can get up close and personal with my beloved kindred spirits, the palm trees. There is also purportedly a fantastic orchid and bromeliad display there. This family of plants is pretty cool in that many of them don't require soil the way most plants conventionally do. They are often commensal on other plants. For example, some bromeliads grow in the branches of trees, collecting rain water and, presumably, fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere for nutrition, since they don't have roots to gather nitrogen from the soil.

Phase 2

In actuality, we did not go to the botanical gardens. They were closed for some reason. But where we did go, the Mote Aquarium in Sarasota, was super cool. I can't say it was cooler than the botanic gardens because I don't know how cool the botanic gardens are. But it was cool, and I saw manatees (albeit in captivity, so not quite the bucket list material that is my ultimate goal on this trip).

It was a 20 or so minute drive to Mote Aqua Super Center, as I have taken to calling it. Just outside the main entrance to the building was a small kiosk, manned by a young woman. A sign above the kiosk advertised several varieties of outdoorsy aquatic tours, the most pertinent of which to my mind was the 3 hour mangrove kayak tour. Before our arrival, there had been no concept of this amazing possibility. But now it became a compelling desire to kayak around the mangroves with Deborah.

"Can we do it?" I pleaded to Deborah much like a small child might.

"Sure...I guess," Deborah replied. "I didn't really plan for it."

I had inadvertently planned for it by donning water shoes, shorts, sunglasses, and a hat that morning. Did my subconscious know in advance?

"It'll be fine," I consoled.

We explored the kayaking option verbally with the woman manning the kiosk. The tour started at 1:15 PM, she told us. We had arrived at the Mote about 11:15 AM, so this gave us a little under two hours to explore the aquarium exhibits inside the Mote, which were impressive, as the subsequent videos suggest, before the kayak tour.

"Do you bring sunscreen?" I asked Deborah at some point.

"Not with me," she replied. "I put some on this morning before we left the house."

Sunscreen was the only ingredient lacking in our recipe for afternoon fun in the sun. It was a beautiful, calm, sunny Florida day. We found an overpriced bottle of spf 30 in the gift shop of the aquarium.

After scarfing down a quick lunch in the aquarium cafe, we reported to the rocky knoll where the woman manning the kiosk had told us to report, a few minutes before 1:15, and began slathering on sunscreen. The rest of the family had opted out of kayaking and we had bade them farewell after the quick lunch.

A marine biologist named Chloe led the tour. There were maybe 10 participants in all, very nice people.

We took a catamaran boat, helmed by "Captain Stephen" and trailing eight kayaks (these caused a bit of a snafu exiting the warf, as several became enmeshed in the nearby mangrove roots, much to the consternation of Chloe and Cap'n Steve), out to a mangrove laden barrier island called Lido Key and had a grand old time kayaking through mangrove "tunnels" and seeking out marine life. We saw, to name a few organisms: pelicans, cormorants, mullet, upside down jelly fish, whelks, sponges, and of course mangroves (two species, red and black).

Rather than get into gory details, here are some videos of our kayaking adventures so you can experience it quasi-vicariously.

Suffice to say, I am glad we spontaneously opted to do the impromptu kayak tour of the mangroves, notwithstanding the lack of pre-planning. It was the perfect way to kickstart our tropical vacation, or as I like to say, "kickin' it into high gear right off the bat."

Phase 3

Returning to Mote, Deborah and I had a romantic interlude at the water's edge nearby, where we discussed hypothetical futures surrounding relocating to Sarasota permanently, before heading back to the Goldbergs' (Deborah's family) by way of a Publix grocery store* to acquire much needed nutriment. The kayaking was not extraordinarily strenuous, but our lunch had been somewhat modest and we had not eaten since. We scored some cheese (of course...being from Wisconsin) and a plethora of Lara bars that we planned to take with us down to Sanibel Island this weekend (stay tuned).

The Goldberg's cooked up a nice chicken dinner and after a few tense moments of extreme temptation by a plate of gluten (but not sugar) free blueberry muffins (which I am proud to say we resisted...per our nutrition goals for the week), we retired to the living room for a couple hours of pleasant conversation, during which it was determined by consult with the GIANT INTERNET BRAIN that the Jefferson/Adams presidential administration of 1796 was the last and only one that had a President and a Vice President from different political parties and that the 12th Amendment to the Constitution in 1804 made permanent the modern day fact that the Electoral College chooses both the Prez and the Veep together so that they can never be from separate parties ever again. Also, I think the prior sentence wins the award for longest run on sentence EVER.

Well, I'd love to write tons more elaborating on this fantastic day, but it's late, I have to pee, and I am eager to get back into my library book, "John Dies at the End," before sleep claims my brain. So here are some pics from today.

Deborah holds a starfish.

Deborah and her bro' Mark at the Mote Aqua Super Center.

Rich people.

ACDC singer/songwriter Brian Johnson's modest house.

A super hottie.

More hottie.


*Note: I have taken to calling this grocery store "Pube Licks," and I find I am powerless to stop myself.

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