For many years, our family has had the privilege of traveling to Florida and staying in a condo owned by my wife's parents near Nokomis. The interstate trip is long, 1000 miles and 16 hours, but the reward is well worth the weary hours on the road. If preferring to fly, it only takes two hours, and I would suggest taking advantage of the small and homelike Punta Gorda Airport. Afterward, I would find a way to visit the city of Punta Gorda and to take a stroll along the Harborwalk. When driving around the area, it is quite interesting to see the canals lined with boats by each road and row of spectacular homes.

Once sleeping on a welcomed bed after the exhausting drive, we go to one of our very favorite lunch spots in Nokomis, Pelican Alley. It is located on the intracoastal waterway, and pelicans are always in view. (Paranormal investigators have even found evidence of ghosts.) The long-time owners have somehow survived a very damaging hurricane and the coronavirus, and they are quite grateful to customers who refused to allow their music and great food to stop. Yes, the owners are also musically gifted and perform during the weekends on a stage in an open area snuggled close to the restaurant.

Besides Punta Gorda and Nokomis, we have enjoyed lots of wonderful places close to the home of my wife's parents, but I'm probably fondest of the small town of Venice. It is located about halfway between Tampa and Fort Myers and a short drive south of Sarasota.

When serving on a committee several years ago thinking about Hope in the future, we discussed the importance of first impressions. It only takes a short while to immediately feel as if you are in one of the best places in the world when approaching and in the small town of Venice. The city was well designed by John Nolen with a focus on Northern Italian Renaissance architecture. There are multiple historic landmarks and points of interest.

You could spend days in shops that capture your attention off of three avenues: Miami, Tampa, and Venice. I tend to sit on a bench and read or write while my wife shops. There are many dining options to pick from as you walk. One of my very favorite places for breakfast is the Upper Crust Cafe & Bakery which offers delicious scones that actually compete with those my wife has perfected since her days in England while working on her teaching degree. I prefer the plain scone served with lots of strawberries and cream and hot tea. The taste is delightful from the beginning to the end.

There are several galleries/studios offering a variety of artwork and experiences. The Venice Theatre provides entertainment throughout the year.

Venice, often referred to as Venice Island, is off of the Gulf Coast. Bridges take you in and out. There are many possible water activities, plenty of interesting wildlife, miles of connecting biking and walking trails, and beaches throughout to enjoy the sun as well as magnificent sunsets. Known as the Shark Tooth Capital of the World, my wife has spent much time searching for and finding shark teeth.

Temporary lodging is not a problem if you can't stay with a relative or friend. There are several appealing senior living communities if wishing to make the area your new home.

Retired, I'm thinking I could just stay in Venice. Then, I think about how much I would miss another place I am very fond of, Hope, a place I have called home for many years. There are many reasons why people in Venice, Florida would find Hope, Indiana to be a wonderful destination point too. I typically proudly invite people I meet there to our Surprising Little Town.