Last Wednesday I boot-scooted out of work and took MARTA to the airport to fly to Naples, Florida. I usually meet interesting people in the airport/on airplanes, but this time, the treasure I met was on MARTA. I met a man from Cincinnati at the Buckhead MARTA station wearing camo shorts, a Braves jersey and reef flip-flops with removable flasks in the cushioning of the shoes. He told me his life story on the 40-minute ride and explained that he was going to drink for 4 hours before getting on his plane home to see his family. Sweet. Odd way to start my trip, but he’s the only interesting character that I met en route to see my boy.
After flying into Orlando, Robert picked me up and we drove 1.5 hours to his grandmother’s house to break up our 3-hour drive down to Naples. Although they don’t look related, after talking with his grandmother, I can definitely see their similarities in the way that they communicate and their sense of humor. J We grabbed breakfast the next morning and headed here to hop on his cousin, Jason’s boat.
Jason is a captain of a boat and took the time off to take mountain boy and me on a private fishing trip on Thursday. I caught a Red Fish (which isn’t actually red) and a Snook (which I think should have an attached “i” at the end of its name). Robert caught Jack. No, literally, he caught a fish that was called a Jack.
Since the fish weren’t biting too much, Jason took us to an island named Mound Key in Estero Bay. It’s a small island that was created by Native Americans out of seashells, fish bones and pottery to serve as a burial ground for the Calusa Indians. We hiked the trail up to the top of the island and immediately heard bleating from the other side. You should have seen our faces when Jason told us that we weren’t crazy and that yes, in fact, there were 30+ goats hanging out on the opposite side of the island. Goats on an island-in the middle of the ocean- is totally random and yet really, really cool. After taking a billion pics, we headed back to Jason’s gorgeous townhouse, met his wife and cooked out with Robert’s aunt and uncle, his girl cousin and her 6-year-old son. It was a beautiful night full of soccer-ball kicking, corn-hole throwing and rib-eating.
We joined Jason and Robert’s uncle on the boat at Lover’s Key on Friday and headed about 2-3 miles offshore to go Tarpon fishing. I got my tan on while Robert caught an 80-ish pound Tarpon and his uncle caught a 100-ish pound Tarpon. We got off of the water pretty late, so Robert and Jason cooked steaks while this sun-bathing princess took a cat nap in preparation for a night of drinks and dancing. Jason and his wife, Courtney, took us to a local Naples spot that they frequent regularly Jacks. We met J&C’s friends, played shuffle board and danced to the 90’s-themed band.
Unfortunately, it rained all day on Saturday, but it allowed us to grab lunch with Courtney and Jason and shop at a nearby set of stores. Jason and Courtney invited 12 of their friends and family over to their house for a cookout on Saturday night. It was a great way to wrap up our perfect vacation. I loved meeting Robert’s extended family- they were all so welcoming and fun!
Robert drove and I road back to ATL early Sunday morning and arrived mid-afternoon after a 10-hour drive.
New things that I learned about Robert on our trip:
- He loves, loves, loves his family and feels very comfortable around them.
- He is a beach boy and knows more than I thought about the ocean, fish and boats.
- He has never played corn hole in his life. (WHAT?!)
- He enjoys taking candid pictures with his camera which mostly result in his subjects standing in unattractive poses.
- He has a lot of patience exemplified by reeling in a Tarpon (which took 20 minutes), playing soccer with his 6-year-old cousin, and driving 10 hours home while I slept, woke up to ask questions and change the music, slept, read magazine articles out loud and slept more.