No Rest for the Wicked

18 09 2014

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Zero miles (yay!)

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Good morning Estero Bay

I wake up ready to go this morning, but the weather is not cooperating.  When I look outside all I see are gray skies and rain, rain, rain.  My tee time on Raptor Bay is not until 10:00 so I am holding out a teeny bit of hope that it will dry up by then.  However, I am prepared to spend today inside – maybe at the Outlet Mall.  Doesn’t really sound too bad.

There is a fantastic fitness room at the Hyatt and as usual, I cannot pass it up.

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One of my favorite “Levi” workouts i!)s on the agenda for this morning (big shout out to Elite Total Fitness in Mesa).

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Breakfast for me is downstairs at the coffee shop – Cool Beans.  I grab some oatmeal and an iced latte and settle in with my computer to complete yesterday’s blog post.  I like my lair where I can write and people watch.

Notice the huge crack in my computer screen!

Notice the huge crack in my computer screen!

By the time I get back up to my room and look out the window it is sunny!  Yay!  I can’t believe how fast the weather changes in Florida.  Golf togs are donned and I make the 2 minute drive next door to Raptor Bay Golf Course. Raptor Bay is a course much like Old Corkscrew in that it is built on a nature preserve.  There are no houses and no distractions.  It is absolutely gorgeous.

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The starter tells me that I am paired up with 2 others, but if I want to take off by myself on the back 9 I will probably not run into anyone.  Since it is my first time playing here I decide to go it on my own.  That was a really nice choice for this morning.  The course is so deserted and serene that I am happy not to have to chit chat. I have a really god first nine on the Hawk 9.  I make the turn and soon catch up with one gentleman on the Osprey 9.  Since Osprey is really the front nine, he is just starting his round.  He invites me to join him.  Since I am playing pretty good and feel comfortable, I accept the invitation.

The Hyatt is in the background.

The Hyatt is in the background.

Charlie is great to play with. He is around 70+ years old and has played a LOT of golf in his lifetime.  He tells me he used to be a single-digit handicapper, but his game has gone downhill because his back is bothering him.  He still puts up a very good game.  We discuss Florida and courses that we both have played.  He used to be a member at Old Corkscrew and tells me that it is widely known to be the most difficult course in Florida! We have a great time together and I keep up a very good back nine.

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When we finish Osprey (my back nine, Charlie’s front nine) I am not ready to quit.  We pass the starter and I tell him I am going to play Hawk again with Charlie and then I will go into the pro shop to settle up.  No problem.  We zoom around Hawk and I continue to play well – feeling good. When Charlie’s round is done, we part ways and I go into the Pro Shop to see about finishing my second round.  I was thinking they might give me a smokin’ deal for my second round since there is nobody out here, but they only gave me half a deal!  Oh well – I have already played nine holes and want to finish the entire 18 for the second time.

My last nine is also fun – with literally no one on the course, I can either relax and play slow or I can zoom around depending on the hole.  When I finally finish, the cart guy laughs and asks if I have had enough?  I am sure he can’t believe that a woman would stay out and play 36 holes!  Obviously, he does not know me and my friends.

The Outlet Mall is still calling to me.  I shower and change, then drive 15 minutes to the mall.  It is pretty cool and HUGE!  I am not really a big shopper and I am also tired of being on my feet or I think I could have done some real damage here.  There was an Ecco store where I managed to score a couple of pair of awesome golf shoes – I hope they really are as comfy as they seemed in the store.  Ecco’s are usually very expensive and these were a bargain.  We’ll see.

By now I am absolutely starving.  I had breakfast and two protein bars today – that’s all I had time for.  The Tanglewood Restaurant back at the hotel sounds pretty good.

At Tanglewood I asked to be seated in a little balcony overlooking the busy lobby area so that I could people watch.  I settled in and ordered an unusual small plate – Burrata with roasted Stone Fruit and Brioche Croutons.  I LOVE Burrata (a milky, soft, fresh mozzerella) and it sounds pretty interesting.  A glass of Murphy-Goode Fume wine completes the picture. I tell the server that I might order something else.  Let’s see how I feel after this course.

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The Burrata dish is absolutely fabulous – very unusual – creamy and a bit sweet with peaches and plums.  The Brioche Croutons are killer.  I eat every bit.

I decide I am not hungry for anything else so I stop by Cool Beans to get a DVD to take to my room.  I had my eye on The Butler, but someone has taken it!  Damn.  I should have picked it up this morning.  My second choice is 12 Years a Slave.  Turns out to be an awesome movie.  Take a look at it if you get a chance.

I am absolutely beat and the bed is calling.  Tomorrow’s tee time is a blissfully late 10:30 (I have decided that it is no hotter to start at this time instead of 8:00.  In fact, it is drier as it gets later.) The plan is to check out, play Raptor Bay (once) and then make the short drive down to Naples to the Ritz Carlton Golf Resort where I will stay and golf for the last golf portion of this trip.  Just when I was getting the hang of Florida golf…

 

 

 





Makin’ It On My Own

17 09 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

210 Miles

Up and out of Ocala by 7:30 this morning.  I have a relatively short drive to my final destination (Bonita Springs) and have chosen to make a stop at Old Corkscrew Golf Club in Estero for an afternoon round.  It is pouring rain for almost my entire drive and dashes my hopes for a golf round.  However, as I got closer to Estero and continued South, there was a break in the weather.  This could work after all.

I pull into Old Corkscrew and it all comes back to me.  Rich and I played here in 2011 (read about it HERE). At that time we titled our post “Corkscrewed!” because the course was so tough.  I was determined that it will not get the best of me this time.  We also gave it our highest acclaim as the most beautiful course we played that year.  That part is still very true.

The course is empty when I start and I immediately remember how stunning it is.  There are no houses around and the surroundings are true swamp land (I mean that in a good way).  The pictures really don’t do it justice.

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For the first 7 holes I am holding my own and feeling pretty good.  Then I catch up with a young guy (Mike) and he invites me to join him.  He is very nice and an ok golfer.  Can’t believe he is willing to play with an old lady!  Anyway, I think I wanted to impress the young buck and my game went down the tubes for a while.  I finally managed to calm down and pick it back up, but overall it was not a great round.  I shot much better than my first time here, but I was not satisfied.  Just when I was turning my game around the skies opened up and we got dumped on.

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We were already at hole 15 by then so we just kept on truckin’ getting soaking wet.  It was kind of fun, but doesn’t help your game at all!

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I left Old Corkscrew thinking of how I could manage to get a crack at it again.  We’ll see…

It is only a 15 minute drive to the Hyatt at Coconut Point in Bonita Springs. On the way I pass a huge Outlet Mall and make a mental note that this could be a great hangout if my golf gets rained out in the next couple of days.

The Hyatt is a beautiful property right on Estero Bay.  I have two free nights here (yay!) and plan to play their signature course – Raptor Bay – twice.  I hope the weather holds out.

Lobby at the Hyatt

Lobby at the Hyatt

Check in is quick and easy.  They also offer a glass of champagne!  This is how it should be everywhere.  (See, I have to stay at the Sleep Inn to truly appreciate the Hyatt).  There are also two huge Newfoundland dogs (Hoss and Honeybear) that are the hotel’s mascots.  Right now they are napping, but the caretaker walks them all over the property every day to interact with guests. I hope I see them out and about.

They must be worn out!

They must be worn out!

I go up the elevator to the 16th floor and my room.  I am figuring since it was a freebie that I will have a view of the parking lot, but I am surprisingly mistaken.

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I have an awesome room over Estero Bay and beyond to the Gulf.  My room looks down on a pretty lagoon where I spy a tiny golf “green” with a flag and tiny sand trap.  I later learn that guests can get balls and attempt to hit the cute little green.  Maybe I will try it if it ever stops raining.

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My belongings are dumped and I get properly cleaned up before taking off on a little tour of the gorgeous ground of the HHyatt.

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The tiny green

The tiny green

Hunger has set in.  Lunch was not included in my day today so I am planning on an early dinner at the hotel and an early evening to bed.  There are three restaurants at the hotel: Mangroves (a bar with small bites), Tarpon Bay (seafood) and Tanglewoods (American). I look at the menus at both Tarpon Bay and Tanglewoods and settle on Tarpon Bay.  First though, a cocktail at Mangroves sounds pretty good.

When I walk over to Tarpon Bay the hostess tells me that I can either sit at a table or at one of the bars – including the Ceviche Bar,  I choose the Ceviche Bar where I have a ringside seat not only into the ceviche stationm but also into the entire kitchen.  Perfect.

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The “Ceviche Master” – Roman – and I strike up a conversation.  When asked which ceviche is the best he tells me that he loves the conch ceviche, but the tuna is also great.  Hmm.  I am torn so he gives me a taste of the Tuna.  It is fantastic, but I jump at the chance to have the conch.  Great choice.

Roman, the Ceviche Master

Roman, the Ceviche Master

Conch Ceviche

Conch Ceviche

For my main course I go for the seared Florida Snapper and Blackened Kale.  The fish is superb and the kale pairs perfectly with it.  I am in heaven.  Roman and I chat throughout my meal.  It is nice to have someone to converse with since I am alone these days.

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This was a fantastic meal.  I enjoyed every bite.  Roman tries to convince me to order dessert, but I cannot.  Instead I make a stop by the coffee shop – Cool Beans – and peer over their DVD library (free to guests).  I order a little something to bring back to my room and top off my evening.

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Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

16 09 2014

Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Miles: 620 for Linda
about 30 for Rich

The alarm goes off at an obscene hour – 5:00am.  I have a really long drive today and will lose an hour (time zone change) along my way. I really need to get out of here at a reasonable time.  The boys are riding a relatively short distance today – about 30 miles.  They are eager to get rolling as well.

Getting ready

Getting ready

Last night we checked out the route from our hotel to their chosen starting point to see if it was possible for them to actually leave from the hotel (thereby not having to re-pack and unpack all the bike gear again).  The road between hotel and start does not look bike friendly at all.  The decision was made for me to drive them down to the river with their bikes and they will take off from there.

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Bikes were unloaded and bags were loaded. Without further ado, the boys zoomed off for their ride to Indiana leaving me to turn the car around and head back down to Florida.  This all sounds pretty convoluted, but it was the only way we could make everything work.  I don’t really mind the driving except that today will be long.  I am looking forward to more golfing and then a self-indulgent spa stay down in Miami at Canyon Ranch.

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Ready to go our separate ways

Ready to go our separate ways

Jack carries some "mojo" for the ride.

Jack carries some “mojo” for the ride.

They're off!

They’re off!

Bye-bye!

Bye-bye!

My drive went pretty smoothly.  I tried to stop every couple of hours to stretch, get gas, etc.  Everything was great until I hit the Florida panhandle and directly into torrential rains.  The drive for the next couple of hours was through periods of persistant rain peppered with minutes of total downpour.  That did not make for pleasant driving.

I arrived in Ocala (at the Sleep Inn – much nicer than the one we stayed in last night) around 7:00pm.  Dinner was take out BBQ from Sonny’s next door. No great thrill. I was beat and need to get my rest tonight.  Tomorrow I will be on my way south to Bonita Springs via an “old friend” golf course – Old Corkscrew in Estero.  Hope I can stay dry.

Almost as nice as the Four Seasons???

Almost as nice as the Four Seasons???





On the Road Again

15 09 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

556 Miles

We packed. We drove. We ate. We slept.

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Rich and Jack put the final touches on packing the car.  We literally cannot see out the back.  OUr stuff is piled high and there is a little cubby hole just for me in the back seat.  We drove all day from Atlanta to Baton Rouge stopping only once for breakfast at Cracker Barrel just outside of Atlanta. (Well, we did take gass and bathroom breaks).

When we arrived at Shangri-la (our hotel, Sleep Inn) in Baton Rouge, it was pouring down rain.

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The boys unloaded all their bike gear thinking that they would ride to their chosen sarting point tomorrow.  As we left for dinner we decided to check their route to get to the starting point.  Nope.  It was way too busy and absolutely no lane.  The decision quickly became to re-pack all the junk in the morning and be driven to the start of their ride.  That means an extra early morning.  I have many, many miles to drive tomorrow and want to get an early start.  Couple that with the time zone change and it means we will be taking off at 6:00am tomorrow.  yikes!

Dinner at Portobello Grill was surprisingly great.  Mushroom pasta for Jack, Grilled Redfish for Rich and a Steak Salad for me.  We turned it in early and Rich finished off this arranging/packing of his bike gear.  We all have a long, long day tomorrow.

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Bye-Bye Florida (at least for now)

14 09 2014

Sunday, September 14, 2014

441 Miles

(The next couple of posts will be short.  There is a lot of driving and not much else going on for these days.  Hang in there.)

Packing and moving day today.  We have about a 6-7 hour drive ahead of us and try to get an early start.

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Bye-bye Florida (at least for now)

Bye-bye Florida (at least for now)

The ride is completely uneventful (I suppose that is a good thing).  We motor through Florida and into Georgia as we make our way to Lawrenceville (a suburb of Atlanta).  Since it is Sunday the traffic getting into Atlanta is not bad and we arrive at Jack and Fran’s place in the late afternoon.

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Jack give Rich some highly coveted "Bottlecaps" candy

Jack gives Rich some highly coveted “Bottlecaps” candy

The Tasso’s house is an amazing labor of love by both Fran and Jack. Fran dreams up the ideas and Jack brings them to life.  Every time we visit here they have done something new.  This place is fabulous.

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Do NOT trespass at the Tasso home!

Fran has a friend (Sandy) in from New York who will be keeping her company while Jack is away. The five of us go out to dinner at a local pub and have a nice evening together.

Wondering if it will all fit.

Wondering if it will all fit.

When we get back home we all play for a while with Dashiel their super cute dog.  If I could assure that my dog would turn out like Dash, I might agree to get one.

What a sweetie!

What a sweetie!

We spend the remainder of the evening wondering if we will be able to pack all our things AND three people in our SUV for the trip to Baton Rouge tomorrow.  Jack and Rich are also still trying to decide whether to pack a pair of long pants on their bike trip. They are not so much concerned about being cold, but aren’t sure they want to step into a backwoods bar in Mississippi in their bike shorts…

This is an early night – we need to pack the car and get going tomorrow for the 8+ hour trip to Baton Rouge. Jack and Fran have graciously given us the Master Suite and we turn in by 10:30.





Finishing in the Woods

13 09 2014

Saturday, September 13, 2014

24 Miles

An early start today.  Lexie takes us on a weird circuitous route through local neighborhoods, but eventually gets us to our destinaton:  Brookville Florida and the World Woods Golf Club.

Regular readers might even recall that World Worlds was the sight of Linda’s second ace, two years ago.  She’s hoping that history will repeat. (You can read about that event HERE.)

World Woods is a prime destination for traveling golfers.  There are 2 excellent courses coupled with some of the finest and expansive practice facilities we’ve ever seen.  The courses are carved through beautiful Florida pine forests without a single residence (to hit with an errant ball) on property. Throw in a relaxed friendly staff, and you can almost guarantee a positive golfing experience.

A whole group (yeah probably a gaggle) of wild turkeys greets us right away.

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We wait for a few minutes at the 1st tee on the Rolling Oak course and strike up conversation with the starter.  We end up talking about golf club conventions and pretensions.  For instance, most clubs will not allow jeans or uncollared shirts.  Some clubs will not permit the wearing of golf caps inside the clubhouse.  Some clubs disallow the hitting of more than one ball from the tee box.  To go even further, we’ve heard of some clubs banning the wearing of low (ankle bearing) socks.  The starter tells us that World Woods used to be fairly prudish about such things, but has relaxed greatly in the past few years.  We certainly welcome that.

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Starting out on the Rolling Oak course we’re partnered up with a veteran WW player named Marty.  We hit it off right away when he suggests we play casual and ready golf, you know, aimed at having fun (like it should be).  That’s an immediate good thing because I hook my 1st tee shot into the woods, and so had to tee up a second.  (For the record, I ended up finding my first and eeked out a bogey anyway).

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Linda and I are playing for $1 a hole today.  It’s a lot of fun to root for each other like we always do – golf is tough enough – but also mock-cheer for each other’s frequent errors.

At lunch we figure up all the handicap stuff and totaled up the damages: an even draw.  That left Linda still owing me $16 from our previous matches.  Let the afternoon round commence.

This time we play the Pine Barrens course, with narrower fairways and greens just a little bit more diabolical.  Linda makes a duly valiant effort on #3 (where she aced in 2012) but alas her shot falls just a little bit short.

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On one hole, I decide to go for a long uphill approach shot, but catch the greenside bunker with it.  Arriving at the bunker, you should have heard Linda’s groan when we saw this:

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That “GUR” stands for “Ground Under Repair” and you get to pull your ball out with no penalty.

In the end, we both hit the ball fairly well throughout the round but had trouble scoring due to, well you know, the usual reasons.  Sunspots perhaps, or changes in the lunar gravitational pull, something like that.  Linda struck a gorgeous tee shot on #15 which we both thought would surely drop in the hole, but stopped a mere 8 inches short.

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I faded on the back 9 but also managed a nice birdie on the final hole.  Linda put up a dandy 41 on the back.  After tallying all the numbers and side bets, Linda came out $3 ahead for the day, reducing her debt to $13.  Chipping away.

Yelp led us to Angelo’s Pizza back in Inverness.  It’s located in the historic downtown area of town near the old courthouse – a pretty location.

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While we waited for the pizza, we hit up Stumpknockers next door for a mug and a half of their cold beer, meeting friendly barmaid Donna in the process.

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Hot takeout pizza (excellent) in front of the TV finished out this mega-golf day.  This 36-hole day represents the last golf I’ll play for about 3 weeks, so I’m glad it was at a place as grand as World Woods.





Slowww Golf and a Fishy Ending

12 09 2014

Friday, September 12, 2014

45 Miles

This getting up early has got to stop. We are on vacation for Heaven’s sake…

I manage to fit in a quick workout before breakfast. Then we are off to Dunnellon, Florida and the Juliette Falls Golf Course.  Juliette Falls is one of the “must play” courses in this area because it is such a pretty layout.  We can see that right from our first glance at the clubhouse.

I think this will be nice.

I think this will be nice.

Unfortunately, we are not paired up with anyone today.  We really do like to play with another twosome not only for the company, but it really helps with pace of play.  Looking ahead of us, that doesn’t seem to be an issue.  Course looks wide open.

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This turns out to be a very interesting course that is in great shape and very pretty.  There are many huge trees which make for some great shade all around.  Both of us have pretty good front nines.

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Then we get to number 10.  We run smack into a foursome ahead of us and our pace slows down to less than a crawl.  Seriously.  For the next couple of holes we are waiting more than we are golfing.  It is brutal. I am checking email in between shots and Rich is trading stocks.  It is quite difficult to remain interested in the game.  We can see that the group in front of us is waiting on the group in front of them (maybe that is why they haven’t waived us to play through).

Finally by hole #14 we have had it.  We do something totally out of character – we decide to cash it in and leave. We just can’t take it anymore.  When we get to the clubhouse we consider having lunch, but the vibe is not all that welcoming so we decide to motor on down the road and find another place.

On our way back to Inverness I get on Yelp to find a spot for lunch.  Bingo!  Swampy’s on the Rainbow River looks just right.  We heard yesterday that Rainbow River is a fantastic place to kayak and perhaps paddleboard.  We are happy to check it out.

Swampy's

Swampy’s

Swampy’s looks perfect.  It is situated right on the Rainbow River and there are tubers and kayaks floating past.  We choose to sit outside under an umbrella for a front row seat on the river.

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A couple of beers and a shared burger later we are convinced that we need to visit and paddleboard the Rainbow River next year.  This place is awesome!

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After a relaxing lunch in Dunnellon our plan is to drive to Homossassa and pick up fresh fish for dinner at another Yelp winner - Shelly’s Seafood Market.

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This place is great and we quickly settle on Hogfish fillets and two scallops for Rich.

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At home we relax for awhile and then start dinner preparations.  Rich works on the fish and scallops while I get going on spinach and a couple of salads.

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Shark Tank on television and a fish feast on our table – what could be better?

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The fish was amazing.  If we coule get this type of fresh seafood in Arizona, we would be eating fish all the time.  We enjoy every morsel.

Tomorrow is our 36 hole day at World Woods so we call it an early night and try to sleep fast.

 

 

 

 

 

 








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