Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Settling in

The drive yesterday (our fifth day of non-stop peregrination) from Lake City to Longboat Key was more lengthy and arduous than we had anticipated. As was the traffic.  It was a 3½ hour uneventful but speedy roller coaster ride southwest through the peninsula during which we competed with and darted among a plethora of anxious BMWs, transport trucks and Ford F-150s pulling commercial trailers and mobile homes. Luckily for us we had some prior acquaintance with the area when we arrived here so our settlement was not unduly burdensome.  After collecting our keys from the concierge and unloading the car we went directly to the grocery store.  The provisions we bought (with the capable assistance of Eddie in the aisles) included premium crab cakes and superlative fruits and vegetables.  When late last evening we finally put something on the table to eat it was worth the slog.

Although we hadn't completely adjusted our luggage to the new environment we fell into bed around ten o'clock and slept soundly. When I awoke this morning the sun was already beaming.  A simple breakfast with robust black coffee was uninspiring but delicious, heightened by a honeycomb infused with concentrated flower nectar from the Savannah Bee Company of Georgia.

The only thing for me more important than connecting the printer/scanner (which we thankfully accomplished) was arranging a bicycle rental. Though we briefly hesitated on this agenda - because the pool and beach are so enticing - I knew that my vagabond spirit would inevitably prompt me. Already I had imagined a cycling venture into nearby urban Sarasota over the bridge (named after the Ringling Bros fame) from our tranquil barrier island.

"Homes were built on the north end of Longboat Key in the early 1900's, some of which are still standing.  In the 1920's John Ringling bought hundreds of acres on the south end and planted Australian pine trees along Ringling Boulevard (now Gulf of Mexico Drive) from one end of the island to the other.  He also built the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on New Pass, which was started in 1926 but never finished; it was torn down in 1962 after Arvida bought the land."

So after breakfast this morning - and after having organized the remaining contents of our bags - the first stop was a bike shop on Gulf of Mexico Drive. There we dealt with Charlie (and his gentle dog Cody) who proved to be thoroughly attentive and helpful (and surprisingly literary). I ended by purchasing a cruiser which Charlie will deliver tomorrow.  My initial trial of the bike was cheering. In the past I have unhesitatingly - though equally unhappily - endured the dissimulation of a rental bike. This year promises to be different, almost indulgent by comparison! It is illustrative of the high standard to which I hold Longboat Key (an affection echoed by Charlie).  His shop is not far from the very agreeable seaside vista we had memorably visited last year on bikes rented from the resort where we were staying when first scouting the island.  I pledged myself to capture a photo of the same spot on my first outing with my new bicycle.

The next prerequisite was a limited sunbathe.  The temperature yesterday reached 93℉. Today was but a few degrees lower.  When I lay prone on the chaise longue on the deserted beach the heat was almost blistering.  I was however spared intolerability by a cooling breeze and the occasional fluffy white cloud. At first I was reluctant to dip into the Gulf because I had previously heard disturbing rumours about a "red tide" which I understand to be an infectious incidence (lethal algae bloom).

As the Spanish cartographer Juan L√≥pez de Velasco sailed along southwest Florida in 1575, he was greeted by a sight that became odiously familiar this summer to those on the peninsula he mapped for the Spanish Empire so long ago. “The coast is all in ruin,” he wrote in his journal, “because in these four or five leagues of sea there is barely 1.5 fathoms of water where many fish are dying.”

I watched several interlopers from the condominium wander into the sea seemingly without adverse affect. I followed suit and swam for a while before escaping the UV and retiring to the pool.  Later I heard from a resident that there were no current warnings to avoid the sea.

At the pool I sat in an upright chair facing the sea in order to dry myself before returning to the apartment.  While I lingered there I spotted geckos racing about the deck and within the blossoming hedges.

These tiny creatures are reminiscent of chipmunks, mildly curious and bold.

And, yes, I got the car washed.

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