Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Full throttle at Revs

Pic by ALT.
I first visited Florida in 1972, when I hitchhiked there from Washington D.C., and have been there, on and off, ever since.
Sat 12 March
Dep 16:50 Air Canada from Toronto Pearson Terminal 1 (YYZ) to South-West Florida International Airport (RSW). Pickup blue Hyundai Accent rental car at Alamo, Fort Myers Airport. The lady at the check-in desk insists I look like Donald Trump. I wonder what training course she attended?
Via I75 to check-in at Ramada Naples. Late supper at the Cheesecake Factory, 1900 Tamiami Trail, veggie burger, pasta, $34.80, $40.11 incl tip.
Sun 13 March
To Downtown Naples, drive around, park at 5th Avenue. Walk to lunch at "The Café" 821 5th Ave South, fruit yoghurt, ham and brie Panini, $26.98 plus tip. A touch precious for our taste.
To Publix grocery, 1981 Tamiami Trail, shopping $64.34, including 750 ml Lindemans Pinot Grigio $5.99, "Dixie Lily" quick grits $1.35 (to take back to Canada). Supper at the hotel room including Entenmann's Lemon Cake. Pitstop at Pompano Surf & Turf (the hotel bar), three pints Bud Light $10.50, plus an 18% service charge which comes standard, baffling to European visitors. A good old boy is sat at the bar, in his eighties, complaining about an underdone burger. He tells the bar staff to fire the chef. They give him a slice of cheesecake to placate him, which he donates to Annette. Turns out he had worked in Toronto managing the Claussen pickle factory, back when Hogtown made things. He used to stay at the King Eddie Hotel.
Mon 14 March
To the Revs Institute, also known as the Collier Collection, for 09:00 research appointment.
This is a stunning facility dedicated to preserving the history of the motor car. The phrase "World Class" is overused, particularly by a certain Toronto politician, but applies in this case.
Put simply the museum has a car collection; facilities for restoring and maintaining the cars; plus a document, photograph and film library.
We talk to Paul about the provenance of an AC Cobra he is researching. Could the steering wheel have switched sides? A bunch of guys are lamenting the quality of petrol used at Le Mans in the nineteen thirties. One of them does not want to let a precious document out of his sight. This is petrolhead heaven.
I particularly admire a silver 1962 Lotus Elite Series II SE, Serial No. EB 1661, registration 300 TKK. We book to visit the car collection on Thursday.
Lunch at Spanky's, 1550 Airport Road North, is recommended to us. Soup, Tuna Melt, Chili, sitting among the memorabilia. We stop at Walgreen's for Flossups, $8 sunglasses for Annette and find Goldenberg's Peanut Chews. (Walgreen's are taking over Rite-Aid, our favourite U.S. pharmacy, so now we know they will be in good hands.) To Barnes & Noble, 5377 Tamiami Trail, $29.68 for two Lemony Snicket hardbacks. Back at Pompano Surf & Turf Annette orders a Keylime Pie.
Tues 15 March
To the Waffle House, 6531 Dudley Drive, for cooked breakfast including grits, $20 for two including tip. The Waffle House is reassuringly familiar - you could be in Brooks, Kentucky, St. Robert, Missouri or Tupelo, Mississippi - stops on previous tours. Annette tops it off with raisin toast and apple butter.
We drive on to the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, 375 Sanctuary Road West, run by the Audubon Society, $24 for two, $2 off coupon, no tax applied (plus $3 for one binocular rental). "Welcome to the swamp."
Worthwhile guided tour, lasting 90 minutes, conducted by knowledgeable volunteer docent. Unseasonal rain in January means that the swamp is much wetter than normal, affecting the breeding habits of the Wood Stork. They are apparently giving it a miss for the second year in a row. We hear of the devastating effects of an estimated 10,000 Burmese pythons, rampaging through south Florida and killing 90-95% of the small mammals and birds of the Everglades. They are thought to have originated from a Homestead, Florida, petstore set free during a hurricane. This shows the folly of allowing the import of exotic pets. Attempts to stamp them out are proving futile.
After a coastal tour among the highrise apartments at Vanderbilt Beach we are hungry. We stop at Cibao Grille where the patron triumphantly announces they are closed for lunch at 13:30. We retreat next door to Rosati's, a Chicago-style Pizza Restaurant, at 818 Neapolitan Way. The reception is altogether more convivial. The lady running the place is from Wheaton, Illinois. We order the special, a large mushroom Pizza to share, with unsweet iced tea. $24.37 plus tip.
Wed 16 March
Get some cash at First Florida Integrity Bank, 895 Fifth Avenue South. To 5th Avenue Coffee Company & 6th Street Diner, for morning coffee and cookie. Spacious corner location, pleasant atmosphere midweek with reasonable prices. Reading the Naples Daily News. Earlier we saw a McLaren supercar parked outside.
After a stroll we took lunch at the newly-opened Crispy Seafood & Wine Bar. This proved to be a mixed bag. The wait staff were green. There was no iced tea, a $5 fail for two of us, and lady customers were being advised to use the gents as their washroom was out-of-order, not something you wish to contemplate while lunching. The food however was excellent.
I move on to Tin City, some old sheds selling souvenirs, by the water. I met up with my nephew Owen and family, reflecting on how we both managed to be in Naples at the same time. On return to the parking garage I saw what appeared to be an abandoned vehicle next to mine, with extensive rear damage, door open and files or folders on the passenger seat. Nobody was about apart from somebody sitting in a nearby SUV. Not wishing to become part of an incident I beat the retreat.
Thurs 17 March
For breakfast we drive to 360 Market, 2891 Bayview Drive, a trendy restaurant by a boat dock. They have a Vince Lombardi quote on the wall, something like: "I am not remotely interested in just being good."
California Benedict for Annette, Fryup for me, $36 plus tip. Then to Naples Botanical Gardens, total $27.90 for two, $1 off coupon. Two green parakeets entertain us in the parking lot. Strolling round this splendid place is relaxing but pay heed to the gator warning signs. We have a quick snack back at Spanky's, 1550 Airport Road North. At 12:00 we are due at Revs. We produce our booking number at the cash desk. The lady says that number has been cancelled. We all are momentarily puzzled but then she recalls we are to get in free! So begins a marvelous tour of the car collection. The core collections are the cars of Briggs Cunningham and a sammlung of Porsches, including an Elva-Porsche, built in Sussex. Everybody is most gracious, showing us behind the scenes, including the workshops and the library. Quote: "Nobody gets in the library!" We head out with a Briggs Cunningham mug on the house!
The swamp, the botanical gardens and Revs have something in common: donations and volunteers.
To Grouper and Chips, 338 9th Street North, we share a crabcake starter and two-piece grouper basket with chips. Recommended.
Back at Pompano Surf & Turf I chat to Greg at the bar, a Porsche fan, who is unaware of the kampfgruppe from Stuttgart nearby. He vows to visit Revs soon.
Fri 18 March
Drive south to Marco Island. Having enjoyed the 5th Avenue Coffee Company in Naples we call at their store at 740 North Collier Boulevard, Marco Island. The boss meets us outside afterwards and thanks us for stopping by. While enjoying breakfast outdoors we have spotted Winn Dixie across the street: "Proudly serving the southeast since 1925." We cannot resist a visit, acquiring the ingredients for crab rolls and "cheese flavor" grits to tuck in our luggage. You can't beat a good groceteria.
We have our sandqwiches at Caxambas Park Marina, a small boat launch, where we see pelicans, egrets up close and, in the distance, dolphins. Evening meal at Cosmos Ristorante and Pizzeria, 536 Tamiami Trail. A Sardinian restaurant: Calamari starter, Pasta Special (Fettuccine with seafood), Risotto al Salmone. Good for a last night treat but a bit spendy at $83.92 including tip. Walking distance from the hotel so we saved on cab fare and I could enjoy an $8 glass of wine.
Sat 19 March
Depart hotel at 05:20. I have chosen the option to return the car to the airport empty so we are hypermiling just in case. We pass Pelican Landing, Bonita Springs on Hwy 41, turning right at Corkscrew Road. Arrive at airport 06:07 for the flight to the frozen north. The holiday has ended all too soon.

No comments: