We finally made it to Florida, after having been delayed, cancelled, postponed and delayed again due to Stella. I suppose safety is more important that timeliness, but it was a tough 2 day wait in Rhode Island. Thankfully we were staying with old friends in Warwick, who had recently become owners of a fabulous new home with tons of space for extra visitors who over stayed their initial plans.
Luckily on Wednesday I had the opportunity to stop in at the Steamship Historical Society of America, and meet with Astrid their librarian, and find a few photos and floor plans of the Flying Enterprise II. They have a ton of information on the American Merchant Marine and I would recommend checking out their website for all things steamship at www.sshsa.org. I know I will be back there as I need some more research for my novel.
So today, was the first day we got to venture out on our own without the obligatory family visits. So we headed out to Boca Grande. A nice little island about 10 minutes from home base Placida. It costs $6 to cross the drawbridge onto Boca Grande, and I recently heard that residents of Boca were able to raise a few million dollars in just a few days to purchase a large piece of property abutting said bridge to prevent some developer from building condos. They then proceeded to tear down the existing ugly structure and plant palm trees, so all in all it did enhance the area, while allowing them to continue to keep their little island paradise free from the riff-raff.
We had our $6 pass in hand and crossed the bridge quickly and easily heading towards our favorite consignment shop–Boca Bargains. A quaint little shop that raises money for the Boca Grande Women’s Club, supporting over 20 charities and scholarships. A pretty impressive group, supporting a multitude of island causes.
Both Frank and I usually make out quite well at Boca Bargains, I almost always leave with some cool new clothes, hats and even ski boots for a mere $25. Frank usually finds Tommy Bahama shorts and shirts or fishing shirts for under $10. So a total bargain for us (the riff-raff they are surely trying to keep out). This time, we found no new clothes, but we did score a Bose speaker for a mere $25, it needs a power cord, which has been ordered already. Seriously a Bose speaker for $25? We thought we made out well. And I am reasonably sure you all will appreciate the new sounds for yoga class, radiating from arguably one of the best speakers ever made.
So happily on our way back to the mainland after checking out the busy main streets filled with golf carts (the locals main choice in transportation) and bypassing the Gasparilla Inn shops and eateries this visit. We stumbled across the local library book sale. Never one to pass up a book sale, we found a sweet parking space and trooped towards the library.
This library was not quite like any other library I had been too, fairly innocuous from the outside, you walk up the stone steps, enter into a dim corridor and are lead towards the light, into a gorgeous courtyard, with little reading chairs, a fountain, a large grassy area and lots of colorful Florida tropical plants. Sort of like a miniature Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum but open to the bright blue sunny Florida sky.
Off to the right, down the stairs and under the porch were about 8 tables of books for sale. At first I was somewhat disapointed having run book sales far larger, I was expecting a better showing. However, upon closer inspection I was pleasantly surprised and could have contented myself at the library for hours and hours. Frank, however, had perused the entire area in about 5 minutes but was a total trooper as I browsed, and browsed and browsed…you wouldn’t think 8 tables could hold my attention for that long, but these Boca people are some seriously, serious readers. There was not one cheap romance or mystery book in sight. All quality books most in hardcover and covering a wide range of topics, fiction, non fiction, trade paperbacks, books on CD, cookbooks, and kids books. I spent the majority of my time perusing the non fiction table, 5 rows of hardcover books covering every imaginable topic. I had to restrain myself but managed to leave with 9 books for $26.
I was particularly looking for historical and political books related to the middle east and immigration in an effort to educate myself on both the issues in the middle east and the effects of immigration in general. I picked a good spot to go book shopping. You can imagine the majority of the population on Boca is quite wealthy and educated with a wide variety of reading choices leaning heavily towards the non fiction. Although, on the fiction table, almost all of our book group choices over the past 5 years were on the trade paperback book table.
So I now have lots of poolside reading material for the next few weeks, which was a big relief as I had finished the reading material I had brought with me, and since reading is arguably my first choice in leisure activity, I am happily feeling prepared for the next week of vacation. My mind shall be nourished. YAY!!!