Jeff and I left Palm Beach early Saturday afternoon after some good rest and a great breakfast with Grammy. We headed West across Florida and Jeff worked on my very limited knowledge of country music by playing the best of Josh Turner, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, and more. These turned out to be a great fit for our sunny drive and I was especially moved by the Tim McGraw track that gave me a title for this post. Although we didn’t stop, a standout moment from the drive was the brilliant smell of lavender that rushed through the open car windows on two separate occasions passing by some fields…truly unforgettable.

We made it across to Fort Myers and our first stop was to pick up Jeff’s girlfriend Nikita from the airport to join for the adventures ahead. The three of us continued on to visit Jeff’s mom Sue and her husband Andy at their beautiful home. We had an amazing group dinner with their friends Bob and Jackie and Ron and Jeff. The food and the company were stellar and the sunset was exquisite.

 

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After dinner we laughed the night away playing Jenga and Scrabble and I was reminded of the importance of finding the extraordinary in the absolutely ordinary. Jeff and I realized the power of this mindset on a visit he made to New York in the fall and it continues to reveal itself as a necessity for a happy, fulfilled life.

Overall it was a simple yet spectacular night with friends both new and old. Sue and Andy were amazing hosts who clearly have some fabulous people in their life and it was a joy to be included for a few hours.

After a solid night’s rest (thanks Ron and Jeff!!) we spent most of Sunday by the pool and I started a book I’ve been meaning to get into for a while, The Power of Now. This one came highly recommended from my old college buddy Derek Vigoa and I can already tell it’s going to be a powerful tool for embracing the moment and realizing the power within each of us.

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Our newly formed threesome decided to hit the beach to watch the sunset tonight and Nikita had the excellent idea to bring some art supplies along with us. We made it just in time to have a half hour to paint before darkness hit and had our first attempt at a group sunset speed painting session. With the softest sand imaginable underneath our feet we got to work as quickly as we could to capture the colors before they vanished before our eyes. It was a really neat experience for a first time painting en plein air and hopefully something we can do with some frequency the rest of the trip.

 

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We were lucky to have some spare cardboard in the car to use as our canvases and did our best to capture the beauty of the night. A special thank you to my aunt Buff for the amazingly handy French easel that has been a great companion the past year and has now made the journey from my Brooklyn apartment to the beaches of Florida…who knows what it will see next!

It’s time to wrap up here and get ready for an early morning drive across the gulf coast en route to New Orleans. It’s been an incredible first week of the trip and we’re excited to get week two off to a roaring start.