Friday, April 29, 2016

And goodbye to Naples for a bit

We're down to the last day before flying to CO. Summer temps are arriving and it'll be 90 today. All has gone quiet and I see only a few people on my morning walk. As I speak it's snowing in Crested Butte- not a substantial amount but still... I've changed my travel outfit twice now. It's below freezing every night still. A transition to be sure.

Cuban Knight Anole
Odd little creatures popping out here and there. This handsome fellow ran past our lanai and jumped in a plant that, how clever creatures are, matched him exactly. The photo doesn't show it, but this was a big boy, about 14 inches long. They are non-native aka invasive creatures from Cuba but haven't read any terrible warnings on disastrous consequences from their invasion. Different from say, pythons. I hear about those all the time here.

 Only had a few days this week to get everything done to leave. I went to Austin for a long planned Martha Beck conference (a life coach/enlightenment sort of experience)  which was fantastic but then had to cram in all the minutia of regular life. And mine is weird right? Is it Naples, is it Miami, is it Colorado? Not complaining just commenting.

Back to you from that wonderful place of all places - Star Mt.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Naples Botanical Garden

As I've warned on previous posts when it's a subject maybe only fascinating to me, this post is all about gardens. I finally visited the Naples Botanical Gardens which was long overdue. It's 170 acres, award winning multi gardens started in 2008, finished in 2014. It's quite the project and I was duly impressed. Since over 200,000 visitors come each year, I was thrilled to have planned a day that was very quiet and serene. A mob of school children and a senior citizens group were at the entrance as I left. Whoop!

There's a wonderful interactive children's garden, complete with treehouse, water play, playhouse and butterfly building. Of course I was thinking of Penny and Jules. No butterflies though- not sure the reason.

Eleven gardens plus a wetlands preserve with a birding tower. It took a few hours to get through everything. There were endless plants and flowers that were new to me, especially in the Caribbean and Brazilian gardens.

Love the water gardens with lilies. Amazing flowers.

The preserve area is beautifully unspoiled and it was very hard to believe this was so close to downtown Naples. The closest I got to an alligator was this sign. The signs were all over just not the real thing.

Everywhere I turned it put you in the middle of another world.

Asian gardens were a mixture of many different countries. They were missing koi which I thought was interesting. Maybe it gets too hot in the summer.

Espaliered Guava trees
Wildflower garden, in between seasons
There were veggies planted all over in between the various garden boundaries which was nice to see. There was a traditional rose garden but I have to say that was a bit disappointing. Again, may be the climate here.

You're thinking a lot of orchid photos, right? Well, they have a thousand varieties, so this is but a fraction. And I love them...all. No ghost orchid, although they bloom in the summer so it's possible. Probably not unless they wanted to have a guard there - endangered and rare.

I wanted to be the one sitting there, but I had a mission to see it all. There are beautiful shaded spots with benches all over the gardens. Even so, no plans to visit during the summer - the Florida heat ya know. This day was perfect sunny and 70.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The popping of the Naples season balloon

In Naples this week. Are you keeping up? I am...barely. Every day brings a quieter town as the mass exodus continues. We'll join it in two weeks going back to Star Mt., however we're coming back in late May/June during Mark's post shoulder surgery recooperation. Gotta make sure he can function before I go back to Star Mt. for the rest of the summer.

My classes have all gone away except for yoga, and that stops for the summer soon. The last meeting until fall of the newly formed Southwest Florida Watercolor Society happens next week (the first for me as a new member) with a demonstration by a talented artist, one of those with all those designations after her name. Sure I will learn something, if only that I've got a long way to go.

The beach called and I went. Started off with nary a soul but there are still enough visitors around as it filled up nicely by the time I left. The weather has been mild and beautiful, Star Mt. not so much, I heard we had hail with rain snow mix. It's still that mystery weather time of year there. Early elk sighting from our neighbor. Now that's exciting...

What are these ugly ducks going to do when we leave? Mark will step back into Naples every once in a while but right now these two show up every morning waiting for their bread breakfast. They wander by periodically during the day just in case we've forgotten and might feed them again. They make absolutely no noise which is a darn good thing, squawking at all hours would not be appreciated.

I have a lot to take back to Star Mt.and somehow Mark doesn't. We also need to send back a care package full of products that we can't get easily back in Star Mt. land. What's going in this care package you ask? Batali pasta, (I talked about this in a previous post - we're hooked), Trader Joe's virgin organic coconut oil (yes, I'm buying into all the hype about the health benefits of this stuff), and Montmorency dried cherries as a start. That's the trade off being in the mountainous paradise that is so pristine with far more wildlife than people. The town or towns I should say are too small to warrant national chains (WalMart being the only one). There's not even a regular drugstore, there are however plenty of marijuana stores - now in both Crested Butte and Gunnison. Pain prescriptions are down 25% in the state. Interesting info...

We've just returned from our third movie in as many weeks. Hello, My Name is Doris (Sally Field). We were going for comedy as I don't think I've recovered even now from the terrorist violent previous movies. So, my review is good, weird, comedy of a sort,poignant and Sally Field was great. But the trailers, again, led us astray. Not a laugh a minute movie. Very brave to play an older kooky, hoarder, solitary sort of woman. Why, you ask? Case in point, two women in front of us exiting the theater could be heard discussing how "isn't Sally Field dead?" Nope, 69, gorgeous, vibrant, and keeping on. I'm a long time fan...

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The switch to Miami

Miami was fun this past week, a fizzy party with Latin influence. Always happening, no waning with seasons, and warm to hot.

In our ongoing quest in whatever city we're in to explore the restaurants, we made it to Azul, a high end restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental hotel that I walk by every morning. Brett and Maria joined us which made it a festive night, and while it was good, in my opinion the food didn't live up to the prices or the hype. Service was outstanding though - they even brought purse stands to the table. So your purse doesn't have to touch the questionable floor.  Really....

Don't know who to attribute the quote too but an inspiring thought
Old and New - cruise ship and 2,000 year old Tequesta Indian site
Speaking of my walk, there's much to see on any given morning. Statues are all over, some I couldn't miss some I've just noticed.

The sunrises were spectacular. You know, I think they must be everywhere if you just take the time to look.

This one is fun. It's a permanent site to help fund the food for Manny the cat, It's outside the Mandarin and I walk by every morning. He's very cute, black with white paws. I meant to take a photo of Manny this trip but alas, he was absent from the scene. Sleeping in perhaps? Google him if you're interested - he's on various sites including Instagram.

My friend Mark Cuban was not in residence but never fear, other mega yachts were - Idol and Blackhawk
Lots to see in every direction even tennis below me. That infinity pool is quite massive -2 acres and part of the largest condo complex in downtown. ICON Brickell. Alas, all is not well in the luxury pool world. Construction problems (leaking in the garage?) which may shut it down for at least a year...

our hall
Here's a view you haven't seen. Our hall, consisting of 4 condos and elevator. In which you never ever see or hear anyone. Ghostly quiet. And all the floors are like this, but the garage with many levels has heaps of cars. And there are not normal cars or very few. That is a story for another time. It's a land of different manners. You do say hello on the elevator, you do not say hello or anything else on the walk around the island.

Back to Naples for the weekend, then Mark turns around for Miami. We did get to O'Mei for Peking duck last week before Miami and it was spectacular. Definitely will go back. And tonight, since I'm on a food theme, we're going to Escargot 41, an old favorite for many of us, but haven't been back since one visit after new owners took over. We're jumping back in to see...I'll report.