Monday, March 9, 2015

Friends, Ft. Myers, Flea Markets and Fun!

On Sunday morning we were on the road about 9:45 headed to North Port, FL, to visit with our friends Dieter and Helen, from PA.   We had not seen them since our trip up north last June - so we were looking forward to catching up and spending the day with them.   We arrived at their home about 11:15.

Helen had prepared a great lunch of turkey, salami and Swiss cheese on marbles rye or wheat flat bread, mandarin orange jello, and a plate of jelly donuts and cream horns!   They had the day all planned, so about 12:15 we were on the road again, headed for Ft. Myers.  First stop was at the Fleamasters Flea Market.  This place has been around forever (opened way back in 1986) and it's huge ( 400,000 square ft of booths!)    Just about anything you can imagine.  ( And I loved that every other booth was not JEWELRY!)  Everything from antiques to fresh produce with a little furniture, books, arts and crafts, metal,golf and fishing and tackle shops, snack bars..........and a Music Hall!  Today the Dixielanders Jazz Band was playing; Jazz with a New Orleans flair.  People were dancing too on the large dance floor. We grabbed a dish of ice cream and sat and listened for a bit.

The fishing and tackle shops were pretty nice.  Good selection of  "new" stuff.  So Rich really enjoyed that.  He was able to find a new fishing pole (finally), just the size and weight he was looking for, to go with that new reel he got for his birthday!   AND - we saw this absolutely HUGE pole. (if you look in the picture you will see Rich holding it.  Under his left arm is the fishing pole he bought for size comparison!  And take a look at the size of that Reel!!!  I do wish I'd purchased that wall plaque.  Would have made a great conversation piece down on the dock!

You know...I'm always the one who wants to go to the flea markets and always comes home with NOTHING!   I also ALMOST bought picture that would have fit and looked perfect in our guest bathroom for only $5.  Always............almost!

Next on the agenda..... was a visit to the Shell Factory.  Love this place, and almost wish we had skipped the flea market.  We could have spent the whole day problem.  As soon as we got out of the car, you could hear the music playing and see the people dancing.  It was a festive atmosphere that was very inviting.

As you enter there is a huge photo of the layout of the Factory and Nature Park.  As indicated in the picture below, it is the largest gift store in the US and the largest retail shell store in the WORLD.  Some of the exhibits are really awesome............and look so real........below is the Pirates Exhibit, and the Military Museum.

 There is definitely something for everyone.  Below are just a few, including the Home Made Fudge area, some novelty gifts, and wine center.  The Candle Shop, the Beach Shack and the Holiday Center where Helen and I take a break and chat with Santa.

A couple of the most amazing and most interesting are these next exhibits:

First" The largest collection in North America of taxidermy animals!  These were spectacular!

And the second:   The signature piece of the new Shell Museum; the the sea shell replica of All Saints Church.  This along with some of the very largest shells you will ever see.  Beautiful!

We had no idea that there was still so much more to see.  But, by this time it's very late in the afternoon, and we still had dinner and about a 2 hour drive back to North Port and then on to home.  We  had dinner right there at Capt'n Fishbones Steak and Seafood Grill.  A little pricey - but not bad considering we were still at the park.  Rich opted for the spaghetti and meatballs, I just ordered the tuna sandwich ( which was huge!), and Dieter and Helen went for the grouper; Helen with the sweet potato fries and Dieter, the Grouper Reuben!  Food was OK.  Below is Dieter and Helen in front of restaurant.

We both would really like to go back here.  There is a large Nature Park with animals and reptiles, and botanical walks and garden, a fun water area, zip lines, and dog training area that we just did not have time to see.   And we would have liked to just sit, have a drink, dance and enjoy the music outdoors.   Our next overnight trip to Ft. Myers ( when we go to the Broadway Palm) will definitely include a return trip here.

Thank you Dieter and Helen for a really fun day.  Hope we see you at least once more before you head back north.

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