Makin’ It On My Own

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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