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Welcome back to #TravelThursday. I was going to write about something different this week, but then I decided to wait until next week to write about that. Such is life as a blogger. Those of you who blog know what I mean. It’s always best to write about what is fresh on your mind in the moment rather than what you were planning to write about.

So last Thursday morning I did a Target run here in my hometown for the first time ever. That’s because we actually have a Target store here in Homestead Florida for the first time ever. It’s the southernmost Target in the contiguous 48 states. It just opened last month.

The next nearest Target is over 30 minutes away in normal traffic. It’s physically located in an awkward location. It’s a regular-sized Target of 124,794 square feet (not a Super Target) – built 25 years ago.

Our brand-new Target is just 3 miles away from my home. It’s also physically located in an awkward location, and people unfamiliar with our local area may have a difficult time trying to find it.

We got a smaller Target. At 72,301 square feet it’s about half the size of a typical Target. When you walk in – it’s noticeable small. You can easily see all 4 walls of the building. Many people are complaining about that in online reviews of the store. Target is actually building more smaller stores than larger ones. In fact – they even build stores that are half the size of the one that we got !

To me our store seems packed merchandise-wise, but it’s laid-out in a weird way – particularly with the smaller grocery and toiletry area. I believe that a major flaw with that area is the signage that’s hanging from the ceiling and facing the wrong way. You actually can’t read any of it if you’re looking down the aisles to see what’s there, as the signs don’t face outward. You actually have to go to the middle of an adjacent aisle to read what’s on the signs on either of the next aisles !

Nevertheless – I’m glad that we finally got a Target here in my hometown – even if it’s a half-Target. It’s also got a little Starbucks inside of it. That makes it even better. I’ll be visiting both on a fairly-regular basis – now that I’m in the Target Circle !

Next #TravelThursday I’ll go the distance. At least that’s what I’m planning to write about. That’s subject to change. Such is life as a blogger. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

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Step By Step

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. I’m on my 4TH smart watch now in 7 years. I was introduced to the wonderful world of Fitbit back in November 2015. It was one of my surprise #ThanksChristmasGiving gifts that year from my family. I wasn’t expecting it. I didn’t really know what a Fitbit was back then. They bought me a Fitbit Charge. I eventually got that first Charge replaced with a new one free-of-charge because the wrist band broke on it. After a few years I got a Fitbit Blaze to replace my Charge, and that was definitely an upgrade. I had to replace the wrist band for it several times, but recently it’s been increasingly difficult to find replacements because it’s obsolete. (I’ve been lucky to find it mostly via Amazon.)

I asked my brother for a Fitbit Sense 2 (brand-new in 2022) as my main #ThanksChristmasGiving gift this year, and that’s exactly what I was expecting to open at the Christmas tree on Thanksgiving morning.

I did not get that. I removed the wrapping paper, and there it was – an Apple Watch. For a few moments I was disappointed. My brother kind of sensed that, as he mentioned that he had the gift receipt for it in case I didn’t want it.

I don’t return gifts. I embrace gifts. So as is tradition on Thanksgiving morning – after everyone in the family opened all of the gifts underneath the Christmas tree – I went upstairs to pack. (I usually drive or fly back home the next day.)

But before packing for the return trip home – I unpacked my new Apple Watch, and I charged it up all the way while doing research for it online. (I knew nothing about Apple Watch until I read all about it.) The more I read – the more I got excited about it. I was looking forward to having it completely charged so that I could take off my Fitbit Blaze for the final time and put on my Apple Watch for the first time. And so I did that.

My new Apple Watch has been on my left wrist ever since then – with the exception of showering every day and recharging it every couple of days. I even wear it to bed to monitor my sleep. In a nutshell – I love it. It’s got far more features than my former Fitbit Blaze – particularly all of the charts and graphs on the various iPhone apps associated with it.

I wonder how long this wrist band is going to last ?

I guess I’ll be with Apple Watch indefinitely now. Fitbit had a good 7-year run on my wrist.

Next #TravelThursday I’ll go the distance. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

Blogging Commerce Driving Food Geography Nature Photography Shopping Travel Weather

Fort Myers Beach Florida

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. On Wednesday September 28TH 2022 Fort Myers Beach Florida changed forever as Category-4 Hurricane Ian made landfall just a few miles north of the area. The Southwest Florida Gulf coast from Flamingo northward to the Tampa Bay area experienced widespread damage. The area from Marco Island to Venice was especially hard hit, and Fort Myers Beach – “Ground Zero” – was virtually destroyed. The photos online have been heartbreaking. They have brought tears to my eyes.

The Southwest Florida coast is my favorite part of the state. Over the past 35 years I’ve enjoyed numerous short visits over there (about 2 to 3 hours away from home). My last visit was a daytrip to and from Naples 3 months ago. I wrote about it on a 2-part #TravelThursday this past July.

From 2011 to 2020 I visited Fort Myers Beach on 9 separate occasions. I spent a combined 17 nights on (or just off) the island at several different hotels on 7 of those 9 visits – both on the north-end and the south-end. I walked in the surf, drove on the streets, rode on the trolleys, shopped at the stores, and ate at the restaurants. I took 366 photos of the island. 122 of them are featured within my Fort Myers Beach album on my Flickr site. They are presented in chronological order from oldest to newest starting with April 28TH 2011. That was my very first day / night ever on the island, and I instantly fell in love with it. I soon decided that not only had I found my brand-new weekend vacation paradise getaway, but I had also found my eventual retirement landing spot.

After the first 6 visits – all between 2011 and 2013 – the idea of eventually moving to the island upon retirement had waned. But I would still visit on a regular basis. I became concerned during those early visits that if (when) a major hurricane makes landfall on the island or very near it – there would be catastrophic destruction similar to what I experienced here in Homestead after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. I thought that it would be the Gulf Of Mexico destroying the vulnerable island via storm surge rather than wind. That was one of the main reasons to change my mind about retiring there.

I’ve captured some of the most beautiful sunsets of my life on that island. One of my favorite things to do during those 17 nights was to exit my hotel room, walk directly onto the beach with my bare feet, head for the surf, and join the dozens of others just like me who had the same idea to prepare their smart phones and cameras to be aimed up the beach at the setting sun on the WNW horizon.

I was originally scheduled to drive to Fort Myers tomorrow (Friday) morning – and spend 2 nights there – and attend a concert at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. The hotel was damaged, the concert hall was damaged, and the show was moved to next March. The entire area is a disaster zone, so the last thing they need right now is tourists. I canceled my trip to Fort Myers. (It would not have included a beach visit.)

It will take many years to rebuild Fort Myers Beach. It will never be the way that I knew it during those 9 visits and 17 nights on the island. I have my fond memories and 366 photos to look back on my former paradise on the Gulf Of Mexico.

Next #TravelThursday I’ll visit Fort Lauderdale Florida. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

Blogging Driving Food History Shopping Travel

Naples Florida

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. Last week I wrote all about the first-half of my short one-day road-trip to and from Naples. This week – it’s the second-half of that fun day some 2½ hours away from home.

My next stop on my museum tour was the Naples Historical Society Historic Palm Cottage a couple of blocks from the beach along historic 12TH Avenue South.

Here’s what I wrote about it on TripAdvisor:

This was my 4TH of 4 museum stops in Naples on this day, and it was the highlight of my day. I was the only participant for the 1 PM tour, and the docent was still eager to give the tour. Very admirable. He was very knowledgeable on the history of the house and the surrounding neighborhood. The house was beautiful and interesting. After the 45-minute tour I watched the 25-minute video, and that was very informative. I then looked around the house one last time on my own before emerging out into the front porch. I talked to the docents out there for a little while about the house, the neighborhood, and my own plans for next year when I’ll transition from a long career into retirement and serving as a docent in a few museums in nearby Highlands County Florida. GREAT experience at the Palm Cottage !

This visit almost didn’t occur. Parking is at a premium in this area. Nearly all of it is for the nearby beach and pier. It costs money ($3 per hour), and vacant spaces can be rare or non-existent – even during low-season in July. When I arrived no spaces were available. I drove over to the nearby shopping center where there was plenty of available parking, but signs were also posted stating no beach or pier parking. I drove back over to the “legal” parking area, and I stumbled across a vacant parking space right in front of the Historic Palm Cottage. I paid $7.50 for 2½ hours of parking, and I’m glad I did, as I spent nearly 2 hours at the cottage itself enjoying the tour (guided and self), watching the video, and then talking to the docents.

My final stop in Naples was Tin City – a historic and quaint shopping and dining village right along the banks of the Gordon River. It’s been there for over 100 years. Nowadays it’s a small collection of mom-n-pop shops selling antiques, knick-knacks, souvenirs, clothing, candy, and food. They also have a few larger restaurants there. I enjoyed an early-Dinner at Pinchers (a local Southwest Florida seafood chain). I then picked-up some monkey bread from Mon”Key” Bread Factory.

It was a fun day in Naples. 2½ hours to get there. 7½ hours of fun while there. 2½ hours to get home. 230 miles total. I need to do it again – maybe when the weather turns cooler in the dry season. I definitely want to visit the Historic Palm Cottage again. They also do guided walking tours of the immediate neighborhood. They look very educational. In conjunction with my next visit to Naples I also want to visit nearby Marco Island and Everglades City.

Next #TravelThursday we’ll head to the beach – 1,100 miles up the coast in Ocean City Maryland. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp