“Distance makes the heart grow fonder” is an old saying that bears a bit of truth to the Jagers this year. While Derek’s work takes him long-term to Naples, Florida, it has been a hard transition being apart from each other in day-to-day life. I shouldn’t be complaining, since we do get to see each other for a short time each Friday night to a Sunday morning return departure. Nevertheless, it has been a difficult transition that may continue until August of 2017.
One of the perks of this business trip is that Derek’s company was willing to reimburse us for a visit from his spouse. I didn’t expect to be traveling to Florida but it was a much appreciated turn of events. This weekend became our first Valentine’s as a married couple and we were able to spend some quality time together instead of doing laundry and repacking the suitcase for his upcoming work week. We filled up every second we had together outside in the sunshine.
My travel plans started on Thursday after work when I drove to Chicago for quick dinner before napping for a few hours at LaQuinta near the O’Hare Airport. My flight would be boarding at 4:20 am and I wanted to take advantage of the Economy parking and O’Hare Bus Transport to the airport.
I arrived at 2:30 am with plenty of time to wait an hour for TSA security to open, leaving me just under 30 minutes to get to my terminal. Everything went off without a hitch and soon enough I was in Fort Lauderdale in a rental car on I-75 (Alligator Alley) driving 2 hours to Naples, FL. While updating Derek of my travel plans, he scheduled a surprise lunch date at his new favorite restaurant, Araya Sushi, where we had Chicken Teriyaki Bento boxes with California Sushi rolls. I hadn’t eaten all day so I cherished every single bite.
Derek was happy as a clam to see me and begin our weekend adventure together!
After checking in with work, he was granted the rest of the day off. We returned his rental car to Fort Myers airport and visited Manatee Park to search for manatees in their natural environment. Manatee Park is a non-captive warm water refuge for the Florida Manatee. The naturalists posted 10 manatee sightings that morning but we didn’t spot one in the afternoon. We strolled the nature trail and found a few geckos and snakes cross our path before heading out to play a round of putt putt at Castle Golf.
There are plenty of places to play putt putt in Southwest Florida but Castle Golf was highly recommended. We loved the medieval theme and both got a couple of hole-in-one’s!
Checking the clock, Derek made it his personal mission for me to see the sunset on the beach. We got to Naples with 15 minutes to spare looking for beach parking before the sun was to go down. Derek frantically dropped me off and told me to run while he searched for a space. Everyone and their dog was at the beach to see the sunset and I appreciated Derek’s thoughtfulness in wanting me to experience it also.
Derek soon joined me and we walked the Naples Pier with the colors at their peak.
There was nothing more magical then sharing this sight together.
As the evening came upon us, we went into town for dinner at a very popular restaurant, The Old Dock. We walked the dock while waiting for our table looking out over the gulf and the fishing boats. Everything served at the Old Dock is local seafood and we enjoyed the best combination of flavors with Black Grouper, mashed potatoes, crab cakes and a creamy sauce with an appetizer of coconut shrimp.
If this had been the end of the trip, I still would have been happy. My heart was full of contentment at the end of a great day with so much more to do in our short weekend together. We actually finished our day with another round of putt putt at Coral Cay Adventure Golf in Naples since they were open until 11:00 pm before calling it a night.