From Alan –
Naples, Florida: Population = 22,390 (metro area = 322,000), latitude 26º 8’ N, Longitude 81º 47’ W, elevation 14 feet, average January low temperature = 54.1, Average July high temperature = 91, average sunny days = 264, annual snowfall = 0, annual rainfall = 53.9”
According to Wikipedia, southern Florida has a tropical savanna climate. This gives rise to many beautiful and exotic plants and animals. In Naples, it is a manicured jungle of many varieties of palm, short and tall, as well as other strange and exotic plants and flowers of all descriptions. Butterflies flutter around on their butterfly business, basking in the perpetual summer that is Florida. Little lizards scurry quickly across the walls. Strange, colorful birds from land and sea cruise the treetops. The occasional alligator contemplates golfers passing by their water hazard. We hear reports of bear sightings in communities next to wilderness areas.
Our “home” for these two weeks is in Falling Waters, a gated community situated in a long row of gated communities. Ours features a huge swimming pool, tennis courts, and, my favorite feature, two screened-in, ceiling fanned, tabletop flat bocce ball courts. SO much better than our old lumpy back yard. They also have a nice clubhouse and a full list of events and get-togethers for the residents. Some of the residents actually live here all year.
There is no golf course here, but our good friends, Fred and Shari Bean, live in another gated community just across the street that does have one. The golf course concierge bounced me twice when I first attempted to play there; once for cargo shorts, and again for blue jeans. Apparently golf is a much more formal pursuit here than it is elsewhere. Classy guy that I am, I found a Salvation Army the next day and invested in two pairs of non-jean shorts with just the required number of pockets. Now I may join the gentility for a lovely game of golf, as long as I follow the other rules and tip the staff.
On a Tuesday night we joined the Beans for dinner downtown. After Asheville’s narrow little roads and lack of parking, I marvel at the wide expanses of roadways here: curb, gutter, bike lane, shoulders, sidewalks, multiple turn lanes, reflectors outlining lanes, helpful signage! There are a few confusing, multiple lane splits in the road into downtown, but the locals have no trouble zooming around the yokels with South Dakota plates. In fact, for the little sports cars, it appears to be a game they play.
Downtown is heavily draped in decorative lighting. The tall palm trees are wrapped; the storefronts outlined. We deposit Gypsy in a huge parking lot, not too close to the Maseratis and Bentleys and Ferraris that lurk there, glaring at lesser vehicles with utter contempt, much like their owners. Naples is one of the richest cities in the USA and downtown we see lots of money on the hoof, shopping the galleries and jewelry stores and dining at the latest trendy upscale eatery. When one has multiple houses, one simply must have one in Naples for the winter.
On New years Eve, the residents of Naples have a fun tradition. Everyone gathers their “crew” and heads to the beach. They form circles of beach chairs and have potluck dinner and drinks. Just after sunset, hundreds of people fire up Chinese sky lanterns and fill the sky with little bits of fire, rising into the air. OK, so they are a fire hazard and technically illegal on the beach, but they are still beautiful to watch. About 7:30 the barge offshore lights up the mortars and the fireworks begin.
Naples is a beautiful city, but not one I could ever settle in. The summer weather is too just intolerable. At a house party on Christmas day, I heard the same old justification for Florida. ”In the summer you jump from air conditioned home to car to shop, avoiding the heat. In Minnesota you jump from heated home to car to shop, avoiding the cold.” My response was that, when it’s cold, you can put on a jacket and you are fine. When it’s hot, you can take off everything and you are still hot. And you know what they say about humidity. Florida has that by the buckets.
Next up: more Florida