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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our eighth calendar year
    PCR #405  (Vol. 8, No. 52)  This edition is for the week of December 24--31, 2007.

The Keys To A Great Vacation, Part One  by William Moriaty
"Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story"  by Mike Smith
Soggy Noodle Awards - First Annual  by Andy Lalino
Time Warp Toy Box: Week 4  by ED Tucker
We've Come A Long Way, Baby -- Or Have We? From 1972 To 2007  by Lisa Ciurro
Hitler Is Good?...NFL Gets It Right....Story Of The Year  by Matt Drinnenberg
The Year That Was .... Thanks For Everything .... Finally! .... Fanboy Calendar .... They Said It .... Passing On .... Sorry I Missed You, Part II  by Mike Smith
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The Keys To A Great Vacation, Part One

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Greeted by the Kona Kai sign along Periwinkle Way, we began our vacation on Sanibel Island on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
A Tiki head greeted us "Aloha" as we entered the Kona Kai's office!
Our cottage at the Kona Kai was a beautiful example of the Polynesian Tiki look that was so popular in the 1950's and 1960's.
The entrance to the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation's Periwinkle Preserve.
The Sanibel lighthouse stands tall and proud overlooking the Gulf of Mexico and San Carlos Bay.
Framed by Sea Oats and Dune Sunflowers due south of the lighthouse, the Gulf of Mexico shimmers with the reflection of the early morning's light. Some of the finest shell collecting on the planet occurs at this location!
Flanked by a Sea Grape, this is a view eastward from the lighthouse grounds overlooking San Carlos Bay and Ft. Myers.
Longtime readers of this column will probably remember that the Florida Keys are my favorite vacation destination.

The last trip that my wife and I took to this tropical paradise was in 2005. In 2006 our vacation found us wandering the peat bogs, forests and cliffs of Ireland.

In the past we have typically started our Keys vacation with a stop overnight either at the Cabbage Key Inn in Lee County, or in Miami. This year we decided to check out the island communities of Sanibel and Captiva.

Saturday November 17, 2007
While one of our best friends, Susan Hughes, was celebrating her birthday with a friend in Sarasota, Karen and I drove down to Sanibel to stay for two nights at the Kona Kai motel.

We were greeted by Cathy (or Kathy) who graciously led us to our cottage style room. The Kona Kai held a special place in my heart as the architecture was Polynesian, evoking a Tiki theme born of Thor Heyerdahl's Kon Tiki. Bi-pedal wanderer that I am, after a few moments of relaxing at our room, I walked westward along Periwinkle Way to the Periwinkle Preserve. Established by the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, this relatively small parcel contained one of the most impressive and diverse collections of South Florida native plants that I have ever seen.

As an almost full moon rose eastward in the late afternoon sky, I marveled at the dedication and commitment to the natural heritage of this island that its residents demonstrated. I returned to our cottage followed by an early evening dinner of stone crab at the restaurant next door to the Kona Kai.

Sunday November 18, 2007
This day was magician Harry Wise's 73rd birthday. That same morning I walked a 7 mile round trip to the Sanibel lighthouse which is situated on the eastern end of the island overlooking the Gulf of Mexico and San Carlos Bay. Back at our cottage by lunch time, Karen and I drove westward to Doc Ford's Sanibel Rum Bar and Grille at the corner of Sanibel-Captiva Road and Rabbit Road. The restaurant is named after the primary character of Florida noir author Randy Wayne White's series of books that take place in the Sanibel-Captiva and Pine Island Sound areas of the state.

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Lunch time was spent Sunday at Doc Ford's Rum Bar and Grille. The restaurant is named for the lead character in a series of Florida based fiction stories taking place in Southwest Florida.
A glimpse of the Sanibel River from the Sanibel-Captiva Nature Center and Preserve.
A boardwalk traversing through the subtropical native forest that comprises a portion of the Sanibel-Captiva Nature Center and Preserve.
After lunch we drove to the diminutive village of Captiva. I then drove Karen to a book store near our motel and dropped her off so that I could wander the trails of the Sanibel-Captiva Nature Center and Preserve and the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

As fate would have it, I did not have time enough to tour the Wildlife Refuge, but had plenty of time to wander about the SCCF's Nature Center and Preserve's winding paths, boardwalks and observation deck overlooking the Sanibel River. While there, I was, via cell phone, able to give Susan Hughes a belated happy birthday call, but was unable to reach Harry Wise to wish him a happy birthday.

The shadows grew longer as the daylight grew shorter, so I knew that it was time to head back to the Kona Kai.

Karen and I settled on good ol' all-American burgers, hot dogs and fries for dinner across the street. It was a wonderfully relaxing way to start a vacation and we were both very favorably impressed with the gracious and friendly nature of those living and working on Sanibel.

Tomorrow morning we would be heading further south to a much less staid and sedate locale. We would cross the Big Cypress and Glades into Miami and start our southward trek at Card Sound down to America's southernmost city, Key West.

Next Week in PCR: A surprise phone call dampens what could've been an otherwise wonderful vacation.

"La Floridiana" is ©2007 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.