Thursday, October 18, 2018

Dear John and Donna

Thursday, October 18, 2018
Longboat Key, Florida

Dear John and Donna,

It was but a week ago that we left home and headed south for the winter.  After an agreeable but sedulous 4-day road trip we have spent the past three days attuning ourselves to this ducky barrier island on the Gulf of Mexico. I won't pretend that I am not as exuberant about our choice as I was when we first casually visited it less than a year ago during our sojourn on Daytona Beach Shores. At the risk of sounding overly zealous I can honestly say that we are pleased as punch!

During the long hours of our sometimes taxing drive here we discussed the future possibility of flying instead and having our vehicle transported from Canada. What little I have been able to learn about the arrangement is that the cost is reasonable - perhaps about $1,500 - which naturally competes favourably with the expense of hotels and dining en route (though the air fare would offset some of the advantage). There is even the option of hauling the car on Amtrak but that entails first getting oneself and the car to Washington, DC. The scenery and travel experience on the train would likely prove to be diverting. I adore the sound of a train whistle almost as much as a nautical voyage. Leaving the car in Canada is not something which appeals to me, not only because a rental here will mount up in expense, but also because it offends my mechanical sensibilities to abandon a car for six months.  The ultimate decision may turn on health and other similar considerations.

Our apartment (which is located on the southern end of Longboat Key in Sarasota County - the upper end is in Manatee County) is in a ten-storey condominium building immediately adjacent the Gulf of Mexico. Because the property is within a larger gated community the beach is virtually private. There are chaises longues and umbrellas available on the beach for the residents. If one prefers to avoid the powdered sand and the sea water there is a large well-maintained pool outfitted with deck chairs, tables and umbrellas. A private golf course and club house are adjoining.

Before our arrival we had heard of a "red tide" (an algae bloom) which to varying degrees contaminated the water, beaches and air. The infection - which we understand is seasonal (especially during particularly warm weather such as this year) - appears to have disappeared.  On our second day here I swam in the sea without any ill effect. The water is as warm as soup. Every day so far the temperature has climbed above 90℉.

Our landlords are from Germany. They appear to confine their use of the place to the summer months. The apartment itself is "open concept" for the kitchen, dining and living room. There is a small balcony (which we'll likely never use). There are two bedrooms (located at opposite ends of the apartment) each with ensuite bathrooms. Because the building was built in the 1970s when condominiums were just beginning there is one unusual feature; namely, there is no private laundry. Each floor of the building has its own laundry room. While that requires some adjustment it is not horribly inconvenient.  There is a garbage chute on each floor.  Two elevators service the building.  The lobby has a grand piano (which I have played).  A member of the Board of Directors of the condominium has asked that I play the piano during a cocktail party soon planned to celebrate the addition of new common elements which are currently being completed.  The parking spaces are under cover and reserved for each unit.  There is a gymnasium and separate saunas for men and women.

Longboat Key is a tiny barrier island and predominantly residential. Some of the private homes adjacent our property are extraordinarily handsome.

While there is a nearby Publix grocery store and gas station (with car wash) the available retail outlets are mostly swimwear boutiques and cosmetic venues. One would have to drive a mere couple of miles to Sarasota for serious shopping. There is one fine dining establishment we're aware of and several more casual choices overlooking Sarasota Bay on the inner side of the island.  Last evening we frequented one of the beaneries and had an excellent meal, all fresh and tastefully prepared.  We really haven't any formal wear so our preference is outdoor spots.

Karen kindly informed us of the death of Desmond H. We knew he had been ill.  My own mother (now 92 years of age) recently suffered a stroke and is being given palliative care only.  She isn't eating much and her death is expected anytime soon.

We have duly exercised our municipal voting privileges. I am certain you're as anxious as we are to see what the outcome is.

Our expectation is that things will continue to be relatively quiet here until February.  We've planned a visit to Key West in December.  Otherwise it's just bicycle riding, swimming and reading.

We trust this finds you and your families well.



Post Scriptum

In the interest of getting some new smalls, a golf shirt and several other needed items today I ventured to a large mall in Sarasota.  The country boy in me wasn't long in reviving!  I couldn't wait to get back to the tranquillity of Longboat Key!  Earlier this morning I had cycled to a nearby park and admired Sarasota from afar.

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