Saturday, March 29, 2014


You can't always have action packed days like the last few in Saddlebrook. There are always in between times like the last few.  We had to get to Miami in time to watch the Sony Ericsson tournament taking place in Crandon Park on Key Biscayne, one of the bigger islands off the Florida coast near Miami but we had a couple of days in which to cover the 500 or so miles.  So we stopped off in Naples for the night.

The drive down I75 is pretty dull it has to be said only livened up by annoyingly not picking up all the articles we'd bought in Dick's Sporting Goods and having to turn around and get them when we realized what had happened.  (Memo to self: Always check what's in your shopping bag before leaving the store!).  But the GPS worked just fine and enabled us to reach the Ritz in Naples without much difficulty.

What a nice hotel and what an efficient bunch of people that run it.

We'd stayed in the Ritz on 7-Mile Beach on Cayman before so were looking forward to a pleasant if brief stay.  I'd been keen to stay somewhere on the Gulf Coast as I'd never put foot in it before so as soon as we dumped our things we went for a swim (reluctant on my part as the sea was cold!) and walk along the beach.

The Gulf Coast

First thing to say is that the sea was quite wavy.  The staff said this was unusual but it was also a little windy which didn't help much either. Mind you the beach was enormously long in both directions towards who know where.  It sort of reminded me of 7-Mile Beach except that the sand whilst white was also grubby in parts and the architecture of the buildings was very similar to that on 7-Mile Beach except surprisingly there was not so much of it.

Quite some beach!  This is headed north.  South is just the same.

Now under-developing isn't a trait I usually attach to Americans.  Normally I would have said if they start building something, they build a lot of it.  And there was certainly no shortage of available land along the gulf coast there.  I suspect it must have been the protected mangrove habitat along the shoreline that stopped them.

Isolated clumps of development along the gulf coast waterline

In Cayman, the planners had allowed building right down to the beach.  I don't know if there were mangroves before but there are none now.  The result of this is that there is constant beach erosion along 7-Mile Beach.  In Naples there was a mangrove line that I think prevented some if not all of this.  Wise move although it does mean that there is wetland between the hotel or other buildings along the beach that I am sure houses bugs a-plenty in the humid summer months.

Another great trait of the Ritz is that they have great beds!  Just what the doctor ordered after a few days exertion!

It's only a 2 hour drive to Miami from Naples along the part of I75 that borders the Everglades to the north.  Every so often there were lay-bys where people put their boats into the water and presumably head off into the 'glades to go gator hunting or whatever.

We stopped at one and actually ran into at least one gator that was both awake and interested in what we were doing enough to swim over and greet us.  Reminded me a little of Alice in Wonderland.

How Doth The Little Crocodile
Lewis Carroll

How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!

How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spread his claws,
And welcome little fishes in
With gently smiling jaws!   

After dropping the car off in Miami and dumping our gear at the apartment Viv had organized for us right downtown off Brickell, we went for a stroll to remind ourselves of the layout of the city and came across a group of Peruvian street vendors serving stone crabs and ceviche and chowed down immediately.

Very lovely but very fishy so we had to immediately change flavors at our favorite Japanese ramen noodle shop, Moni Ramen (see website here), where mine host offered us a new sake he was looking to import from Japan.  Unusually it comes in a can (he said it is sold in dispensers like Coke here!) and is served cold as opposed to warmed to a temperature of 98.4 degrees fahrenheit as James Bond states in You Only Live Twice -- see here.

007 would NOT have approved!
Tennis starts tomorrow but this time we are watchers not players.

The view from our apartment!  Not too shabby.

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