PART ONE: New phone, who dis?;
or, Think Of it As a Trial Separation
[Spoiler alert: It’s me. I’m what the cat dragged in in this scenario.]
The cursor is judging me again, guys.
[VIMH©: You brought this upon yourself. Procrastination and drinking and stuff and now you don’t know where to start. Tsk tsk]
Ok, ok, the VIMH© may be on to something. In reality, I haven’t written in a while because, well, I was kinda busy having lots of fun trips and waylay days with family & friends, and, besides the boring-as-f*ck three days that was Georgia, life was pretty much the easy-breezy, vacation that everyone assumed we were taking in the first place.
I last left you hanging over a cliff in McClellanville, promised you a good story, and then let everyone down [I know you all have been losing sleep over this don’t lie]. For all you know, we could have been murdered in that small fishing village after an intense fight with pirates trying to commandeer Black Powder. And, honestly, considering McClellanville, I don’t think that would be too far from probable.
With a population under 500, at first look, besides its fantastically facial-haired dockhands, McClellanville has little to offer. When, in fact, it also has really old trees, one kinda weird restaurant, and lots of skulls decorating front yards.
Oh, and also, the parking lot of the marina is apparently the party spot, where the village’s pickup truck gang gathers with their 40s of Natural Ice, their off-leash, untagged, and still-testicaled hounds, their guitars and their long-ass beards and just, like, chills. Cool, cool.
We locked our doors that night and made sure to clean the rifle.
The trees, though, were super old and cool, so.
McClellanville: I suppose the people who live here are warning gators and humans.
McClellanville: There is one restaurant and it is this.
McClellanville: Definitely haunted.
McClellanville: THIS TREE IS 1000 YEARS OLD!
The next morning, we made a quick hop-skip-and a puddle-jump over to Charleston, SC, the city I was maybe most looking forward to this whole trip. My dad had arranged to have lunch waiting for us at the dock—so nice of him, and as we were tying up, here he comes—carrying lunch down the dock to us!! Surprise!
Our planned one-day way lay in Charleston turned into two, and we had a great time exploring the city. I met up with an old friend from NYC, met some new friends, and ruined my liver for the three nights we were in town.
We were in love.
We toured the downtown area by horse-drawn carriage in 1000 degree heat, which I very quickly regretted cause all I wanted to do was rescue and release all of the horses and bring them to a pasture with me and love them and be their best friends and [only when they want] ride them bareback into the breeze and like in beautiful, clear lagoons and rivers and stuff and take naps with them in the long grass [there are no bugs in this fantasy] and tell them they never need to work again.
In reality, they have better work schedules than any humans outside of the EU. Retired Amish workhorses, they pull these carriages for three days and then have four days off. There are vets that check their temps and hose and ice them down after every hour-tour, and then they have an hour to rest in between. That made me feel a little better, although I still think they would be happier in my little dreamy pasture paradise of milk and honey and gold and rainbows and waterfalls.
Mom & Dad at Middleton Plantation. They do not look nearly sweaty enough.
The next day, we visited Middleton Plantation, just north of Charleston proper, where I was thrust into heaven when I arrived to see that THEY LET ANIMALS ROAM FREE. I turned 10 years old and chased lambs and ducks and goats and horses and pigs and OMG WAIT THOSE ARE RED ANTS AHHHHHHHHHHH ABORT ABORT ABORT.
We roamed the beautiful gardens, I cried reading stories about enslavement, and then it was so super effing hot that my mom and I quickly found the bar while my dad and A actually did the real museum-y thing.
A good time was had by all. My liver was happy to see that the sunrise meant our departure Monday morning. My head would have appreciated another hour or day of sleep.
Take a look at some of my favorite moments from Charleston below!
Most haunted alley in Charleston.
Most haunted alley in Charleson. #Iaintafraidofnoghosts
Part II: Deliverance;
or, Once Upon a Time We Almost Got Blowed Up
From slightly south of Charleston, we had hoped to make an offshore run in order to skip all of the bleak nothingness of the Georgia ICW, which is made up of 80% marshland, 10% alligators and 100% broken dreams [#fuzzymath]. Unfortunately, we weren’t #blessed with the weather window, and so we headed on-set for Deliverance and resigned ourselves to The Ditch.
This is Georgia. There is nothing.
Unlocking our doors, we left our second and final Georgia port on Jekyll Island [which had a pool that wasn’t 100 degrees, so, bonus], we headed through Fancy Bluff Creek, which leaves Cumberland Island off port and Kings Bay’s Naval Submarine Base off starboard, which is guarded by more armed security boats that I was still not allowed to wave at.
This spot is very familiar to us from our delivery trip up from Florida. Passing the base, the channel gets a little wacky, kinda shallow in places, and there are constantly new markers being added and so knowing where to go is pretty prudent.
Now, we’re freaking PROS. Three years ago? Not so much. [On that trip, the Lady Pirates were accompanied by my father, my husband, and my dad’s sister, Auntie. Many more eyes for I-spying, many more beers that need buying. #poetry]
Let me fire up the flux capacitor and take you back in time…. [beep beep boop beep]
Lady Pirates & Co: Yo-ho, yo-ho a pirate’s life for me… we’re really bad eggs… Hm… is that the channel? Looks like it! I mean: red markers to port, green to starboard, not rocket science [raucous laughter]… Yo-ho, yo-ho…
Radio [channel 16]: [kreeech] Pleasure vessel Black Powder, Black Powder, over.
LP&C: Hm… [kreech] This is Black Powder, over.
Radio: [kreech] Pleasure vessel, this is Black Powder, over.
LP&C: ????????????????? [kreech] This. Is. Black. Powder. Over.
Radio: [kreech] Yes, pleasure vessel, this is Black Powder. You’re going to want to stay away from those buoys, you are entering a restricted area.
LP&C: IS THIS THE TWILIGHT ZONE? WHO IS TALKING TO US? IS THIS US FROM THE FUTURE??? [kreech] …. [kreech]
Radio: [kreech] Black Powder, this is Black Powder, repeat, you are entering a restricted area. Acknowledge. Over.
LP&C: [someone smart—idk, probably definitely me—grabs binoculars, looks around at the base, observing the docked navy vessels and large weaponry on security boats]
Radio: [kreech] Pleasure vessel Black Powder, this is Navy vessel Black Powder. I repeat. You are entering a restricted area. Over.
LP&C: OMG NOW I get it—that huge battleship is named Black Powder! Look! Look at the binoculars! Your turn! [laughter] That is a pretty legit name for a battleship. Yeah, it is. So cool. Yo-ho, yo-ho…Wait a minute—RESTRICTED AREA? [commence Muppet panic, arms flailing] Is that security boat coming towards us?? Where’s the chart?? WHERE ARE WE?!?!?! [Muppet panic Muppet panic Muppet panic flail flail]
[LP&C, somehow FINALLY, with 6 sets of eyes, figure out where the eff they are, and notice that they are about to pass dangerously close to a live submarine bay, quickly abort mission, right their course, and snap pictures of the Navy Vessel Black Powder, for proof.]
LP&C: [kreech] Uh… Black Powder, this is Black Power, Roger. Over.
Radio: [kreech] Black Powder, this Black Powder. Captain, my name’s not Roger. Over.
LP&C: [kreech] LESLIE NIELSON IS THAT YOU?! [kreech] No, but seriously, good looking out, bro. That security boat definitely has machine guns mounted on its bow and I have a feeling they know how to use them. Over.
Radio: [kreech] Yeah, well, you know you’re pretty much the coolest pleasure craft ever and your name is pretty sweet so, you know. Us Black Powders gotta stick together! REPRESENT! Over.
LP&C: [kreech] OMG do people always mistake your name for Black Power too and then do you feel super racist and like weird and awkwardly correct them by saying—‘No, PowDer, like bang, bang’—and stuff? Over?
Radio: [kreech] Nah. Over.
LP&C: [kreech] Coo, coo… Ok, well… over & out, broseph.
So that’s how it went, pretty much verbatim. Yes, there is a naval vessel that lives in King’s Bay called Black Powder and it’s only slightly larger than us and that’s how you can tell the difference otherwise we’re pretty much identical.
This time, we steered clear, giving the base a wider berth because A) we were petrified, and B) there was an actual live submarine in its bay so it was a little bit easier to make out where the restricted area was. I still wasn’t allowed to wave at the security boat, which did still follow us for a bit. Guess our reputation preceded us.
Our BFF Captain Not-Roger from Black Powder invited us over for afternoon tea, but, sadly, we were still trying to make-up time from Chesapeake. Next time, Roger. Over.
Part III: Sail Away, To An Unknown Dimension;
or, Sibling Rivalry
LP’s in Jacksonville.
Ah, the pan-handle. Stopping briefly in Jacksonville to pick up my dad [and to meet new friends-via social lubrication-who showed me around all of the college bars and made me feel like an ancient old hag], we headed down to Palm Coast, Florida, because…
MY BROTHER AND SEESTER WERE COMING!!!!
[seester: \cee-ster\ n; one who is your sister but who isn’t really your sister; ex.: sister-in-law; half-sister or step-sister that you actually like; bffl; bfflaeaeae; someone who you want to be bffs with unrequitedly because either she already has a bff or she doesn’t know you but you figure if you just force it and send her locks of your hair, after the restraining order expires she will eventually have to cave in [ie Sara Bareilles & I]; close cousin; favorite cat] Source: The dictionary in my head.
My brother is 3 years younger than me, but ever since he was 18 he looked older, such that I would get carded and he would not [not that we ever participated in under-age drinking though].
He is a firefighter paramedic and idk whatever is kinda cool and will probs save the world one day. The best thing he ever gave me was my seester, his wife of two years [and this gift comes from a little brother who used to buy me the COOLEST Polly Pockets available at Santa’s Workshop, so I mean, she’s pretty high up there]. I have no idea what she’s thinking because she is with him even though she’s smart and stuff. She’s a nurse, he’s a medic, I call them everytime I have a rash or I stub my toe, and in return I let my brother make fun of me at parties. Or just, on a Tuesday.
Just for a little insight: do you guys remember Jimmy Fallon and Rachel Dratch’s SNL skit “The Boston Teens?” Take that accent, multiply it by 800x, add almost as many f-bombs as I drop, and you will get my seester. They say that a Boston accent is the hardest for an actor to replicate, and I concur. I try all the time. She just yells at me and tells me I sound like I’m from NY.
Anyway, if she’s the best gift my brother ever gave me, the best gift my parents ever gave me was that stupid little redheaded idiot brother of mine. Growing up, we were lucky to actually like each other sometimes. Our childhoods were SUCH A DRAG because we had to spend almost ‘ughh every weekend’ in the winter skiing in New Hampshire and almost ‘ughh every weekend’ in the summer on the boat, so we really were forced to like each other.
[Side-note: I want to go back in time and roundhouse-kick my younger self in the face for ever complaining about not being able to hang around with kids from school because I had to go skiing or sailing, and I wrote this here just to publicly embarrass that little 13-yr old, angsty asshole.
A few months ago, while working at my restaurant on the Upper West Side in NYC, a couple and their kid, about that age, sat in my section and his dad called him out as I came over to the table, “Miss, can you tell my son he’s being a spoiled brat? He is supposed to leave for London tomorrow for the summer and he’s complaining about it.”
The kid replied, “Ughhhh but it’s for so long and I won’t be able to see my friendsssss.” Cue mental roundhouse kick to his stupid little face. What is with those little shits???]
We got along well, despite the occasional EPIC showdown, kick-fight, slap-fight or scratch-fight [my brother had an affinity for using his nails as weapons and one time a fight over Pokemon cards turned nearly deadly as he dug his nails into my arms and I told him I was going to call the police and so he ran away from home].
Once he discovered he could be remotely funny, he started writing “stand-up,” which was comprised almost wholly of jokes about stupid shit I did. It’s too bad he wasn’t funnier cause if that actually worked for him I would definitely be getting royalties right now for all that material [to be fair, the common sense sector of my brain did seem to develop at a relatively low pace].
We went through a super-cool sk8r kid phase together [even though we couldn’t sk8], memorized the entirety of Matilda when we got stuck on the boat in Hurricane Danny, became Pokemon masters together, did theater after school, and, even though he tried to embarrass me in front of boys and did a whole lot of annoying shit in high school, we still managed to get along for the most part. When my husband & I went away to college, the best part of coming home was always hanging out altogether.
I would trust him with my life, even before he was a medic/firefighter. The four of us, along with Alex’s brother [same age as my little bro] worked together one summer at Six Flags, and stayed in the GHETTO of Springfield and—no lie—got stuck in the middle of a gang-fight, where my 16-yr old brother jammed a car door in a bad guy’s face LIKE A BOSS and my husband hit someone pulling a gun on us with the car. True story. I’ll tell you about it sometime.
My husband was the best man at his wedding and he, along with my husband’s brother, was one of our “best men of honor” at our wedding. [My brother helped me get to the church on time, and Alex’s brother fluffed my dress at the altar.]
Whatever, I’m lucky. Shut up. And if any of you tell him that I said any of this nice stuff about him I will deny, deny, DENY.
Having grown up together on both snow skis and the high seas, boating is definitely something that we can bond over, in addition to binge drinking IPAs and Pokemon. We’d always have the responsibility of clearing the decks and helping with the lines and fenders for dockage, and I gotta tell you, we fell back into the swing of things very quickly; I was grateful for the help on board, especially because the extra hands are clutch when navigating the many locks on the pass through FL. [Plus this left extra time for Seester and I to lounge around and tan like princesses.]
He didn’t get to come with us to deliver the boat up from Florida, cause he had a real job and I was a slouch, so I think it was probably cool for him to be able to come down and join us for a leg. Regardless of whether or not this leg was supposed to start in New Orleans and end in Houston. [Damn, bananas.]
Now, I would like to give you all a special treat for making you wait so long for this entry, and share with you perhaps the best song you would ever hear if it had actually been produced.
For a while, as kids, my parents would pawn us off on Captain A for a week in the summer to go sailing with her. It was always awesome. We were at the age where we could entertain ourselves just by playing with our fingers and tying knots [our favorite game was A tying us up in the most complicated ways possible and then trying to race each other to break out] and I was coming into my own, writing short stories which I wish I could find cause I’m sure they were COMEDY GOLD.
However, while those stories might be lost to the sea, one brilliant collection of writings from that time period still survives.
One summer in particular, A and my brother and I [maybe 8 & 11?] were just rowing around in the dinghy, enjoying our lives, exploring beaches, when I noticed my little brother in the bow, humming a little melody. Our interaction went a little something like this:
Brother: Hmmmmmmmmm hhmmmm hmmmmm sailing…..hmmmmm…
Me: What is that song?
B: Oh, I just made it up.
Me: Really? I kinda like it. What’s it about?
B: Well, it doesn’t have any words yet, but it’s about sailing.
Me: Cool. Well. I can write some words! [taking over this project like the bossy older sister I was]
B: Ok! I think it should be like ‘sail away…’
Me: … ‘To an unknown adventure?’
B: Yeah! ‘sail away…’
Me: ‘To the adventure of your life?’
B: YEAH! ‘sail away…’
Me: Hm… ‘To an unknown DIMENSION?’
B: BRILLIANT! ‘Sail away…’
Together: ‘To the adventure of your life!’
Here’s the whole thing:
Sail away, to an unknown adventure;
Sail away, to the adventure of your life;
Sail away, to an unknown dimension;
Sail away, to the adventure of your life!
When I was a younger lad I didn’t know adventure;
I was kinda panicky, I wouldn’t risk my life.
Then when I got older I knew I should have some fun!
Adventure wasn’t bad, but I shouldn’t risk my life.*
[*In the VH1 pop-up video of this song, you would learn here that the original lyrics were actually, ‘adventure wasn’t bad, and it’s OK to risk my life,’ but, our parents made us change it for obvious reasons.]
I would swim in the dark;
I would swim with the sharks;
I would hold my head up, and let the wind take me hiiiiighhhher- eh er
This song was slated to be performed on the Mickey Mouse Club but we couldn’t agree on terms.
Sail Away marked the birth of our brother/sister band, Sibling Rivalry, and over the course of our short writing career, we wrote such hits as Superman [I’ll be your Superman, Batman, Ironman, Spiderman, Aquaman, oh baby yeah…], and Abduction [They’re going into my mind, they’re scrambling up my brain]. We really tried to cover all our bases, and wrote songs that spanned every genre. [One time I’ll show you the folder of lyrics I still have. It’s pretty much the best.]
We produced a fierce album cover on Windows Paint, wrote our bios, and then recorded a Toys R Us commercial, just so that we would have it ready when the time came for our ad campaign.
Unfortunately, my brother’s voice changed after that summer and Sibling Rivalry just couldn’t withstand the backlash plus we didn’t play any musical instruments.
But when we get together, we can still sing Sail Away word for word, with perfect synchronicity, identical phrasing and dynamics, and even a bit of simple, sensible choreo.
You’re all welcome.
Palm Coast, though. Before we got
a little messy.
Back to Present Day.
Palm Coast. Was. BEAUTIFUL. We stayed at the Yacht Harbor Village, which was a part of a resort that had a huge pool complex including a lazy river, water slide, and SWIM-UP BAR. [I meannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.]
We quickly made friends with one of the poolside servers [courtesy of $20 bills, bills, billZ] and therefore had a constant stream of liquor into the bloodstream, making for a hilarious shit show of an afternoon & evening. [Even though that idiot that shares my blood almost got us kicked out after dropping a chicken wing in the pool.]
We had a couple of great days running down Florida, stopping in Titusville, and ended up in Stuart, FL, right at the mouth of the St. Lucie canal, which cuts into the Okeechobee. A particularly hilarious and lively pod of about 10 dolphins followed us for about 30 minutes, flipping and flopping and jumping and really probably just laughing at how dumb we humans are. [Video courtesy of my seester’s uncontrollable excitement.]
Only commie’s don’t like dolphins.
Copernicus is all like: BE MY FRIEND, DOLPHINS!
We went to dinner at this funky little spot in Stuart [my seester and I took an Uber over while the rest all wanted to walk so we got an extra round in].
I made my brother and seester stay out with me after dinner and hop over to another bar next door [of the tiki variety] where LOW AND BEHOLD IT WAS LOCALS KARAOKE. Dear Baby Jesus is there anything better? Everyone was dressed to the nines, a couple of fabulous old ladies wore rhinestone studded cowboy hats.
The singing was off-key, my brother and I sang Suddenly Seymour and all was right in the world. Of course, then I bummed a cigarette off a guy at the bar [I KNOW I KNOW it’s only every once in a while], and he proceeded to follow me to the next bar and proposition me and so my brother almost killed him. Oops.
Those are karaoke hats if I’ve ever seen karaoke hats.
My father left us in Stuart and we finally headed into the Okeechobee to cross Florida. We had been hoping and praying that this cut would be possible, as there had been a serious disgusting algae problem stemming from the Okeechobee lake and pouring out into the connecting rivers, some people reporting that the water was as thick as avocado is some places and the smell was just unbearable.
Without crossing, we would have had to go around the Keys, which would have totally been so incredibly awful because it really sucks down there, but it would have added almost a whole week onto our already quite delayed trip. [Damn, bananas.]
Once I tutored my little brother on how to steer the boat in a straight line he did an ok job, and he credits all of that to watching and learning from me just like everything else in his life, and I gotta give him props for steering us out of the Okeechobee lake in a rainstorm.
So there you have it. Just a whole lot of silly fun, an easy trip, it felt like an actual vacation, and I was just living my best life. The rest of the trip was going to be a piece of cake; we could just feel it.
After all, we were sailing away to an unknown dimension, and nothing could go wrong.
Algae isn’t terrible.
Locking in to the Okeechobee.
Part IV: Panthah crossing!? Ya gotta be f*ckin sh*ttin me!;
or, There’s No Improvisation in Synchronized Dancing!!
PSYCHE! Things can always go wrong. ALWAYS.
People kept asking why I hadn’t written in a while, and I kept saying that I lacked for real material. So, Poseidon cursed us.
After crossing the Okeechobee Lake, we stopped in Clewiston, which put us in a great spot for our next day’s trip into the Caloosahatchee Canal [best name ever?] and bring us to the west coast of Florida, finally!
This is where things got a little interesting.
My brother navigated us through that rainstorm to Clewiston, and the rain stopped just as we were preparing for dockage, which was awesome.
There would be no dockhands to help us tie up, so it was great that my little bro was also on board to lend a hand. Without dockhands, you basically just have to wait until the boat gets close enough to the dock, jump off with a line in your hand, and ta-da, it’s beer:30!
Well, of course, as Cap’n is taking the boat into the harbor, the rain starts up again. But, not rain. BUCKETS. Of rain. An actual. Monsoon. The length of the dock that we were pulling up to was covered by a tin roof, so as we approached the sound was so deafening it was literally IMPOSSIBLE to hear each other, although we were maybe just 10 feet away.
My bro and I would both be jumping off onto the dock and securing the lines. I still had my sunglasses on because they’re prescription and I’m blind, so, without windshield wipers and with the dark sky, I was in a precarious position. But, whatever, #ladypirate and stuff.
As we get close to the dock, I gauged the jump off the boat, and made my move—I should say actually that in my blind, deaf and soaking stupor I MISGAUGED the jump and realized, mid-air, that I was jumping from a height of 6 feet and a width of about 4. NO BUENO, mid-air Alyssa, NO BUENO.
At the last minute, I tried to adjust my landing, thinking that I couldn’t make it, and my feet landed hard on the wet deck, there was a pop! in my right foot and I was on my ass. But at least I wasn’t in the water. Still cool.
I jump to my feet and look around quickly to see if anyone noticed, and of course, there’s my dumb brother, having landed safely on the dock, laughing at me. We secure the lines and get on the boat and—oh shit, my foot REALLY hurts. Like. OH SHIT. I’m pretty positive it’s broken.
Luckily, there was a first responder and a nurse on board, and neither of them thought it was broken, just badly bruised and the next day they made fun of me for being a baby. [BUT, I will say that it is getting worse and I’m pretty sure they’re wrong whatever.]
This was gross. But photogenic.
There was a Tiki bar at the marina, and you all know our rule so I limped behind everyone to the bar, where we—obviously—all ordered our own fishbowl which contained possibly the most disgusting alcoholic concoction and tasted like it was filled with 50% Fireball. I’m pretty sure I made many a Jungle Juice in college using Karkov vodka and canned fruit that tasted better. But we don’t waste alcohol in our family. Bottom’s up.
[VIMH©: Well, ok, Poseidon. Thanks very much– now I’ve got something to write about, ha. ha. Very funny. Now let’s get on with the trip as before.]
We had arranged for my husband to fly in the next night and surprise my brother and seester in Fort Myers, so we took off early the next morning to make a long 10-hour run to the West Coast. My brother and I tag-teamed the ride, he steering the boat relatively well and me expertly navigating the waters, watching for gators.
Who left us in charge?
Then. Disaster. The aft bilge pump is running. [The bilges on the boat catch any water that may enter for one reason or another and when the water level gets high, the pump goes on and pumps it overboard.] In other words, it should NOT be running.
My mother and I run down to check it out and make a terrible discovery. Water is coming in, leaking from the rudder on our starboard side. Not good, at all. It wasn’t a heavy flow, so we decided to try to make it to Fort Myers anyway, where we could have the boat hauled and repaired, and so my brother and I took control of the boat [very scary thought], while Cap’n and my mom monitored the leak, and manually pumped water overboard every 5-10 minutes.
As it turned out, a lock on our path was under construction, and we would have to wait 2 hours for an opening, so our plans changed and we took shelter in a little marina in Moore Haven, which boasted full service repairs.
With terrorizing déjà vu, we watched Black Powder once again get hauled out of the water to assess the damage. A line from a crab pot had been wrapped around our starboard propeller, the force of the pulling exacerbating a problem that apparently already existed. The props would have to be removed and repaired along with a few other parts, and it was Thursday, the weekend preventing us from going anywhere soon.
[I would like to take this opportunity to point out that even though I posted a picture of my brother and I handling the boat on our own, immediately followed by a picture of the boat being hauled, the latter was absolutely NOT the result of the former.]
The marina did have professional mechanics but was in the LEGIT middle of NOWHERE. I’m talking the absolute boonies of Florida like you read about in the picture books, perfectly framed by a dilapidated trailer park and infested with gators. So, obviously we needed to get out of there and head for greener pastures.
DUMB! STUPID LINE!
Fort Myers was an hour drive away and so I scrambled to find a dog-friendly hotel in the area, we packed up our bags and a cooler, and, with heads hanging low, piled the five of us, three dogs, and a mountain of crap into a pickup truck with an Enterprise driver who was just a little more than slightly amused by us. [We asked the marina if we could get an Uber from there and they legit laughed at us. MIDDLE. OF. NOWHERE.]
Driving on the highway from Moore Haven to Fort Myers was a distinct lesson in the true meaning of sparse nothingness, and the road was spotted with signs warning of “panther crossing.” [My seester, as eloquent as ever, upon seeing these signs, exclaimed, “PANTHAH CROSSIN?! YA GOTTA BE F*CKIN SH*TTIN ME!” This entertained our driver to no end.]
As it turned out, I happened to find a perfect spot in Fort Myers Beach [not Fort Myers, I didn’t know there was a difference at the time], a cute little cottage efficiency with a kitchenette and a pool, only a block away from the beautiful white-sand beach, and only two blocks away from endless debauchery at the bars and restaurants in Times Square.
My husband showed up that night, and, until this past Thursday, we vacationed in a pretty great spot—truly, the only thing that would have made it better was if we were on a MOVING BOAT. At least it wasn’t Chesapeake.
My brother and I experimented with synchronized dancing in an effort to make my mom, understandably upset, laugh, but he didn’t follow my choreo and claimed I was improvising when really I think he just forgot the last couple of steps. We loudly sang many renditions of Sail Away, drank way too much, fell asleep on the beach, and watched the Olympics opening ceremony at a bar where the seats were SWINGS. [Moving swings + booze = definitely 100% a great idea.]
Gators. Surrounding us.
Having my husband with us was awesome, although I’m pretty sure he was more sad to leave Copernicus than me on Saturday. [I’ll get him home, soon, Love, I promise!] He did finally get to see the boat on Friday night, when it went back in the water and we spent the night back in the middle of nowhere with gators circling us.
The next day, he accompanied us on the actual boat to Fort Myers, where he had flown into 10 days prior, and if I didn’t know any better, I’d say he was pretty happy he didn’t get put much to work on this trip. Check out our week-long way lay in Fort Myers Beach below!
Way lay. Again.
I also do dumb things.
Fish out of water.
We like big drinks and we cannot lie.
Like mother like daughter.
Can’t stop won’t stop.
My name in lights.
Man and pup.
This is not photoshopped.
This is definitely not photoshopped.
There is no way we took these with a plywood cut out in a parking lot.
Purely for embarrassment purposes.
Part V: BINGO BANGO MANGO;
or, I’m Almost Done I Promise
Yesterday, we departed Fort Myers and jumped over to Useppa Island, a private island where A’s dad & stepmom have a winter home. We arrived early, around 1pm, which gave us lots of time to explore the island the only way a private island is meant to be explored: BY GOLF CART.
As if we were stuck in a game of Crazy Taxi Driver, A escorted us around the island off roading-style, splashing through puddles and almost knocking my dog and my beer off the cart many a time.
After a little lubrication, I’m fearless, and Wildcard Status struck me when we came upon a wild mango tree, and the most beautiful, perfect mango I have ever seen brilliantly shone down on me from heaven. I had to have that mango.
There was no way it could be reached without climbing. I was in flip-flops, my foot is likely broken, I didn’t care. I had. To have. That mango.
No f*cks given. Only mango.
I climbed an estimated 12 feet, plucked the heavenly fruit, and am currently planning the deliciously perfect salsa it is going to make.
Useppa is a wonderfully weird and completely beautiful little place. On one side of the island is The Blue Grotto, which you have to see to believe, and therefore I am gifting you with the sweaty, drunken Snapchat story for you to see for yourself.
Inhabitants of the island have carved out a little maze of wildly random and weird treasure troves made out of all sorts of random things: shells, flip-flops, wind chimes, weird stuffed dummies [terrifying], random pieces of granite, an old barnacled dock. At night, I can only assume a witch lives there but I just feel like she can’t be the kind that eats children cause Useppa is too peaceful so she’s probably a nice witch but still it would be terrifying.
At the end of the path, there is a small treasure chest, where you can leave something/take something, and it was truly weird and beautiful.
After our tour, we swam in the pool, ate a great dinner at the only restaurant on the island, where we were the only guests [off-season, remember?], toured A’s parents’ beautiful home, and I decided I’m going to go there and live in a mango tree.
Today, we head to Sarasota. Tomorrow, we rest. Wednesday, we go to Clearwater, and from there we make a 27-hour overnight run offshore, cut to the panhandle, and get this f*cking boat to Texas.
Crazy taxi driver.
What are you, weird little island?
Left something behind that seemed fitting.
But like what in the actual f*ck is this though. Useppa, what are you?
The Useppa Way.
Turtle didn’t want to be friends.