Legroom? No! We haven't been out to Florida for a couple of years and we are looking forward to seeing George. Dan strategically scowls… but Assana's chipperness causes her to be groped by the TSA. Thanx TSA. Merry xmas to you! During our flight to Fort Meyers we learn that we hadn't seen the worst of airline seats! We were unfortunate enough to be sitting in front of the exit rows and in addition to having zero leg room - even for Assana - our seat did not recline. Thanx American Airlines! Merry xmas to you too.

Treated like "staff" We love hanging out with George. He is nurturing, kind, and as always, makes us feel very welcome. We do some tech support, go on a boat ride, catch up on the rest of Susan's family (Lohra is in between boyfriends, and continues to be out of a real job, Lee and his prize-of-a-wife moved back to Kentucky, the cousin finally got a job after a year of being out of one, etc). We have sightings of Susan here and there as she continues to have zero interest in her house-guests, but unlike previous trips, she does join us for dinner every night. Polite chit-chat about mundane subjects covers the bulk of our conversations… except for the incident where Assana mentions how interesting Biscayne National Park, US's only underwater National Park, would be to visit. There was a long stare and a final dismissive comment: "We are not National Parks kind of people." Ummm, well, you are not! George is, and possibly Lohren will be soon too! Sad to see George, along with his interests, get dismissed so readily.

Not So Fragile Lohren has come a long way. She does continue to be painfully shy, but she definitely surprises us with a few exhibitions of awareness. For example, amidst the shy whispering of silly chatter, she asks Dan's opinion on Apple's new privacy policy! Or inquires about Yellowstone and shows a deep interest in the subject of National Parks… another side of her that has been hidden from us until now. We invite her to join George and us for a day trip to Everglades National Park and she accepts with enthusiasm.

Loosen-up We have come to the conclusion that, as good a job as they are doing raising her, George and Susan don't give Lohren enough credit, and the constant projection of their own opinion on her is stifling her personality and independence. We ask her opinion on things, and her replies are often very different than the ones her parents pin on her. We regularly hear "Lohren isn't ready for that!". In reality, it is Susan who is not ready, and George goes along with it. Some of the over-protection is understandable, given Lohren's background and family history. But she is a lot stronger than she is given credit for. Loosen the apron string folks!

Grounded Our first attempt to visit the Everglades is derailed by Susan who, without any regards for George's plans for the day, orders him to stay home waiting for some cabinet maker to come by and fix a shelf. She, herself, can't stay because she has the all-essential daily tennis practice, which is obviously a lot more important than George's visitors who visits for 3 days once every two years. Whatever.

We decide to, instead, take a drive up to Sanibel and Captiva Islands. They are super touristy and quaint, and it seems like half of the properties of Captiva Island are for sale! We aren't sure if it is the economy or the constant tropical storms!

Before heading out we join George and his two (out of three) morning-walk friends on a fantastic walk to Pelican Bay. Typically they solve the world's problems during coffee, but the presence of a Californian democrat throws off this super ultra mega republican crowd: instead, they try to solve Assana's problem (she is too green). They fail.

Sunning Lohren soaks up the day trip to the Everglades like a sponge! We buy her a National Park Passport and she excitedly stamps it at both visitor centers (probably the last it will ever see!). We take a airboat tour, with Dan and Lohren taking turns as captains. On the way back to Naples we walk on a beautiful boardwalk in Big Cypress Bend. Heading back to the car, we obliviously walk right past a giant alligator sunning on the side of the trail! Doh! How can we not notice this giant 7-8 feet long gator? As we are walking Dan all of a sudden exclaims, "What did we just walk by?" Yup! Billy-the-gator, sitting 3-4 feet away!

Dad, thank you for your hospitality and generosity. We had a great time hanging out with you! Hope to see again very soon, hopefully out here in California.

References & Links