Thursday, August 31, 2017

Captiva Island and Quality Family Time

The first thing I did on my first morning at South Seas Resort on Captiva Island was to lace up my running shoes and go for a little run. I can get 4 miles in, with a Starbucks stop along the way and never leave the resort! Then I headed over to the condo to bake some special chocolate chip muffins for everyone. Surprise! The kids were still in bed! Actually, they'd had a really long couple of days traveling and were still on west coast time.

Even the lure of swimming and beach couldn't get these tired kids out
of bed on the first day.

The grandkids were literally overwhelmed with choices! The condo pool? The waterpark pool? The main pool? The beach? Decisons, decisions!

We opted to take everyone to the H2 Whoa! water park and let the kids get that experience before making any other plans for the day. They loved it!! I walked over to the Tiki Bar at the main pool complex and got Bloody Marys for me and daughter-in-law. A great start to the vacation!

Cheers!! Bloody Marys by the pool on first day.
Mom and daughter...first day at the pool

Marissa going down the water slide

Trevor...just a big splash as he exited the faster water slide

The next few days were a blur of activity, I can't even sort it all out. Some activities were done solo, some done with one or two grand-kids, some done with the entire family. But there was plenty of pool time, plenty of time spent at the beach, and plenty of time spent at the ice cream parlor.

The granddaughter took part in a couple of the kids' activities at the Activity Center.

Craft day for Marissa..."sandy candy" art

The kids took time on several days to go out in search of the 15 different Discovery boxes scattered about the resort. Each box has a plaque with information about the flora and fauna on the island or about the history of the island settlement in the early days. In the box are rubber bracelets. The kids collect all 15 and then turn them in to the Activity Center and receive a commemorative bracelet and their name on the wall for the week. We even went out one night after dark with flashlights to find one of the boxes. Fun adventure!

On our way to find the Discovery boxes at Redfish Pass

We spent a couple of days at the big pool complex, having drinks in the morning and then lunch poolside, brought to us by a cadre of waitstaff. So luxurious to be waited on as we lolled in our chairs!

We had rain one afternoon, so spent a couple of hours indoors playing board games and doing some little girl crafting. Then it was time for dinner, and while my son grilled some steaks, we spent a little time in the pool at our little condo cluster.

At the condo pool

Marissa making a little stuffed animal. I bought a really
cute sewing kit for girls...5 different animals. So adorable!

I got a couple more runs in, one of them almost 6 miles, leaving the resort and heading into the cute little Captiva downtown area. And of course, a stop at Starbucks on my way back! One day we took the Cabbage Key day cruise (separate blog entry).

Another of those days I went out for a run and my son and family took my car to Sanibel Island to take a kayak guided tour of the Ding Darling National Wildlife Preserve. As I was returning back to the north end of the resort with my Starbucks, they passed me on their way out. Quick waves and "good mornings" and they headed off for their adventure and I returned to my room for breakfast.

Next: Our boat trip out to Cabbage Key for lunch!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Captiva Island With Family - Getting There

I have owned a timeshare unit within the absolutely stunning and luxurious South Seas Island Resort since, oh, I guess somewhere around 1984 or 1985. I went there with my then-husband and my son on vacation, booked through our corporate in-house travel agency. To our snow-weary bodies, it was heaven on earth.

We loved it so much, we visited the sales office on the resort grounds and bought a unit on the spot. This was in the mid-80's when the bottom was falling out on time shares due to shady practice, broken promises, and a recession. However, these were small clusters of ownership units tucked within the grounds of a very large, fully functioning luxury resort. It had hotel rooms, rental villas, beach cottages, several restaurants, more than a dozen pools, a 9-hole golf course, and more than 3 miles of gorgeous, pristine beach along the southern Gulf coast. The price was so ridiculously low that we bought it using a credit card!

My son grew into his teen years visiting and enjoying that resort every year. Now, 32 years later, we could introduce his two kids - my grandkids - to all that this stunning resort has to offer!

My unit is a two bedroom, two bathroom condo with fully equipped and modern kitchen with all amenities. The management company for the timeshare units, is Hilton Grand Vacations. Over the years they have done a spectacular job of maintaining the units, refurbishing, refurnishing, updating and managing them. Even through Hurricane Charlie in 2004, when the resort took a direct hit and suffered quite a bit of damage, they had the properties cleaned up, restored, and ready in two years. Same for the resort property itself.

The hurricane hit while I was there. I had to cut my visit short and changed my flight to get off the resort and back home on Wednesday and the storm hit on Friday. Before I did, though, I rented a bicycle from the resort and took a photo tour to capture the resort as it looked before the storm. View that album here: South Seas Resort 

I returned that first year it reopened and, while I've not gone back every year, now that I am widowed, I do like to go maybe every other year, depositing the other years' weeks with Interval World and trading for other locations around the world. The resort has changed significantly since that hurricane, and for the better. It is now more family-friendly, with much better pools and restaurants, better amenities, a totally redesigned golf course, but just as beautiful as ever.

So the plan was for me to drive to Florida rather than fly, and then pick up the family at the Tampa Airport along the way. The family were flying as I was driving my first day. I stopped in Tallahassee for the night, and they got a hotel room at the Marriott at the airport. This worked perfectly! I got to Tampa right at noontime, we loaded the car with their luggage, and then headed the last 100 or so miles south toward Captiva.

A stop at the big Publix grocery store in Ft. Myers, located just before we cross the causeway to Sanibel, pretty much filled the car! $400 worth of groceries for a week for 5 people, plus a few beach toys. Now we're all set!

Groceries and luggage for five people. Crammed to the roof!

The drive from the mainland, through the entire length of Sanibel Island, then the length of Captiva Island to arrive at the resort on the northern tip takes about an hour. It's slow going, with speed limits of anywhere between 25 and 35 mph. But...finally! We enter the resort property, stop at the main gate to get our car tag, then to the registration center to check in. I knew the condo would be full, and I also knew that I'd want some privacy and "space" here and there throughout the week, so I booked myself a room at the hotel which sits on the marina and is right across the resort road from my timeshare condo. It would be perfect!

We unloaded groceries and luggage into the condo, and then I dragged my wheeled luggage over to my unit and dropped them off. We'd purchased a rotisserie chicken for dinner the first night, so I returned back to the condo, had dinner and made plans with family for the upcoming week.  I had purchased a few items to have in my own room - fruit, cereal, snacks, sparking water, wine - so I said good night and then returned to my own room with my groceries.

It was going to be so much fun sharing this great place with the grandkids!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Getting Back in the Running Groove

The summer running doldrums! When the overnight temps don't fall below 80°, you know it's summer in Texas. It's the time of year when hardly any half marathons can be found anywhere in the country except the far northern reaches of the U.S., and motivation to get out of bed early in the morning and put some miles in has all but disappeared. It is just so hard to crawl out of bed at 5 AM, leave the comfort of a/c and of snuggling kitty cats, and get going.

July 24 - just a little over 3 miles

Coffee pot started, mailbox key pinned to my running shorts, a slug of water, start the Garmin GPS watch....then just go. Don't even take the time to think about it.

July 27 - 4.5 miles

The first mile is usually the worst. But then, as I move along, get in the groove, it gets better. The roosters are crowing off in the distance, neighbors are just starting to rouse, getting their newspapers from the end of their driveways, walking their dogs. A few "regulars" are out there walking or riding their recumbent bicycles. We greet one another with familiarity as we go about our morning routines.

July 30 - just under 4 miles

We're almost two months past the summer solstice and, as Earth makes her way around the sun, tilted on her axis, the days are getting shorter. It's dark at 6 AM now, which means I'm usually treated to a nice sunrise somewhere along my running route.

August 2 - just a little over 4 miles

Squirrels and rabbits are up and about, and the golfers are just starting to tee up for their first hole as I'm finishing up my morning run.

August 4 - 5.5 miles

It's all about keeping the fitness level somewhat in line until the race season fires up again in the fall. Just gotta stay somewhat aerobically fit until that first race on my calendar comes around. That will be a half marathon in Philadelphia in mid-September. Just gotta start ramping up the miles again in preparation...just gotta.