birthdays trip

April is birthday month in my house. Well, let's not just limit it to April. It also encompasses part of March in the lead-up to my birthday on April 2nd. And let's not just limit it to my house: I celebrate my birthday wherever I go. I've even had audit clients sing Happy Birthday to me, and I enjoyed every last note.

This year, I decided to celebrate my birthday in a new place. My parents were on a pre-retirement multi-week trip to Florida, and I had a free weekend in March (can you believe it??), so it seemed like a logical decision to pay them a short visit.

But don't think I planned a mini-vacation based on logic. That would be too boring. Nope, I planned this trip based on birthdays. That's right, I needed to celebrate two birthdays: my own, of course, but much more importantly, my mother's!

This lovely lady might just be celebrating what I would call a "milestone birthday" this year. I won't reveal the number, but if you guessed based on appearances, you'd probably be wrong.

Anyway, just a bit on my travel arrangements: My parents were staying in Cape Coral, which is roughly half way between Tampa and Miami. While it was nice to have options when choosing an airport, my mind was already made up: I've heard way too many sob stories about flying through Miami in regards to customs, immigration, bag check, and overall airport friendliness, so I was glad that the Tampa flight worked within my budget. To be fair, I've never flown into Miami from an international airport, but I will say this: Flying into Tampa was a joy. Clean buildings, efficient customs/immigration, and friendly staff. I could have vacationed there! But my ultimate destination drew me southward.

The drive (on the right side of the road - woohoo!) to Cape Coral was roughly 2.5 hours. If I wasn't rushing (no, not speeding, rushing) to see my parents, I would have totally stopped to take a photo of the Sunshine Skyline Bridge, in all its golden glory. The photo I found below shows the bridge quite nicely and pretty much depicts the weather on the day I arrived as well.

photo from
I finally made it to Cape Coral, where Mom literally had dinner on the stove, ready to go. (Wonder woman! Remind me: Do I even make dinner? Ever??) Dinner was served, the dog was kissed, and then we were off for some Cape Coral show-and-tell.

Mom is the family map-reader. A long time ago, before my very first birthday, Dad had a personal plane. Mom was his co-pilot, reading the maps of the sky. Now, almost 40 years of marriage later, she's made a study of the maps of Cape Coral. And here is the reason why:

That's right! M&D are moving to Florida! Wow. I'm still wrapping my mind around it.

While I've been sitting over here in a daze, M&D have researched neighborhoods, purchased a plot of land, picked out all the features for their soon-to-be-built home, and bicycled through nearly every nook and cranny of their new "hometown".

In a matter of months, this street will be their home address.
 And they couldn't be happier.

I feel like I'll watch the next phase of their lives as though I'm seeing a slice of their past - the segment before I showed up (on my birthday, don't forget), where they were just two young married people, enjoying their own activities and friendships and hobbies and interests. Back then, they rode motorcycles and flew planes and on a whim, made the trip from Williamsport to Philadelphia just to visit their favorite salon. For most of the time that I spent with them, they were too busy raising four kids to be flying a plane for recreation. In fact, they pretty much traded Dad's motorcycle for tricycles, his wings for a mini-van, and expensive salon visits for homeschool textbooks. Now that I've typed that all out, it sounds like a dreadful phase, but they claim it was well worth it and even enjoyable. However, they now have four self-sufficient kids out of college, and they're good and ready to cut loose and live the good life.

Ahhh the good life. That is what I was after the next day, when Mom and I gathered our coupons [and credit cards (sorry, Dave Ramsey, I'm a sucker for bonus points)] so that I could benefit from some retail therapy. Although I'm typically pro-Cayman, I am not generally pro-Cayman shopping. Too much of a sale-rack shopper for all that. As a result, I go months without walking inside a clothing store. Mom calls it mall-orexia. Fort Myers was my rehab.

Our first stop was the Miromar Outlets in Fort Myers. Although we did check out other malls in the Fort Myers area, this one stop really covered all my bases.

In the evening, M&D took me to Cape Harbor, where not only did we find lots of boats and lots of American flags (and who doesn't love that combo), but we also enjoyed a dockside dinner, tasty gelato, and a live band.

Spending time with the two of them was such a treat. Like I said, I grew up in a home with four kids. That meant you always had a "friend" (as my mom called my siblings, which I thought was crazy, until recent years), but you rarely had quality time with just Mom and Dad.

Thankful to have these two in my life!
 For my final evening in Florida, Dad drove down to Naples for a birthday dinner at The Capital Grille, where the Kona-crusted Delmonico makes my heart skip a beat.

Dad's definition of a good day: Eight hours of sunshine, followed by twelve ounces of medium-rare.
 Exploring 5th Avenue in Naples as the sun set was dreamy. The vibe I got in Naples was "casual living on a posh budget". If you can swing it, it sounds like the perfect balance.

Seeing Christmas lights on palm trees reminded me of Camana Bay.

Weekends always fly by so quickly - even the long ones. Before I knew it, I was back in Tampa, boarding a plane for Cayman. It's comforting to know that the short trip from our home to my parent's will be a pretty easy one in the future. Goodbyes are always a bit easier when another visit is on the horizon.

And now it is time to officially hand over the birthday month reins to the woman who made my birthday possible in the first place. She's the world's greatest! Happy birthday, Mom! 


  1. oh my word, so many things to say! Happy birthday, to you and your mom, so glad you were able to spend it together, I want another of those Capital Grille steaks, I LOVE that you were in Naples (we love it there!) and what a treat for a quick vacation! Sad that we won't see your mom and dad when we're "home" but they need to know that they're on the list of "must-sees" for when we might get back to Naples :) such a fun post!

    1. They'd be glad to see you in their new FL surroundings! Gotta love the Sunshine State!

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you Susan! I enjoy getting to write about my family :)

  3. Hi!
    My name is Jane and I'm with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blog posts about Cape Coral to share on our site and I came across your post...If you're open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
    Hope to hear from you :)