To kick off our next big trip we arranged to stopover in Miami for a week to visit my (Andy’s) grandparents. Bill and Sallie spend their winters these days on Florida’s balmy gulf coast near the town of Fort Myers, basking in constant sunshine and feeling ever so sorry for everyone up in the snowy, rainy north. They retired early and hit the road, spending the next decade or so living full time in their apartment-like fifth wheel trailer and following the sun, touring through most of the United States and fulfilling their wanderlust. They’re role models.
Sallie has kept a very active and well-followed blog for years filled with pictures and tales of their exploits; check it out at fulltime-life.com
A couple years ago they purchased their current “park model” trailer on a canal branching off the Caloosahatchee river, complete with a private dock for their 24ft boat, which they’ve taken as far as Florida’s Atlantic coast on the other side of the peninsula. The boat also functions as a guest cottage; we slept very comfortably aboard during our visit.
From Miami we rented a car and drove 2.5 hours or so to Fort Myers and proceeded to have a very enjoyable five days visiting. Days were filled with wine-tasting, kayaking, manatee spotting, sundowners on the canal and checking out some local restaurants. Bill and Sallie are great hosts and we had a fantastic time, with the highlight probably being a trip out on the river in their boat. It was beautiful and we went through a lock at one point, a fun new experience for us.
We headed back to Miami the day before we flew out, and on the way we stopped at a couple wildlife viewing spots and were able to see alligators, which were pretty cool and bigger than we were expecting. We stayed at a hotel in the center of South Beach, Miami, and walked around a lot, getting good drinks and eating some Cuban food. It’s a fun area, right on the beach and filled with tons of energy even on a weeknight, and most of the buildings are architecturally interesting with their Art-Deco style.
We liked Florida a lot; I don’t think I’d ever realized just how nice the weather really is down there in the wintertime- constant sun and eighty degree days… All in all a wonderful prelude to the next phase of our trip: Guatemala!