Saturday, March 17, 2018

Bridgewater by the Bridge, on the Water

This week we made our first visit to Florida since 2002 or so -- not counting hectic layovers in MIA, Capital of Latin America. We had certainly not been there since starting this Bridgewaters Project blog, and on the second day of this brief visit, Pam suggested we should seek some Bridgewaters in Florida. Careful readers of this blog will know that it started as an exploration of towns that share the name of our town, of which there are quite a few in the United States and a few other English-speaking countries.

Careful readers will also know that we like blogging so much that we have extended our scope to include shopping malls, housing developments, and other geographic ephemera. Hoping to find a couple such places, I did a lazy search on Google maps, and found something like this:
Of these, the Bridgewater Inn was close to our planned travels for the day, so we started heading that way, following the low-tech map I sketched on the back of a restaurant placemat. When navigating in a rented car, I can use my phone's GPS, but I prefer to go old-school on longer stretches like this one was to be.

Following Burnt Store Road from I-75, we began to wonder if my navigational technique had failed us somehow. We passed mile after mile of low-density development being carved into the flatness to the west of Ft. Myers, block by block, until we lost track of the scale of our drive. We were both starting to think of giving up when we finally arrived at Pine Island Road. We were then surprised to find ourselves in the kind of resort-town traffic jam we associate with places like South Padre or Ocean City.

When we first found the inn, we were somewhat underwhelmed.

Usually we have nothing to do with crabs outside of the borders of Maryland. But this one was very cute.

We were confused when we first found the Inn, because it seemed very small and without an office. We abandoned our quest, and realized almost immediately that this was a small annex located just a few yards away. We learned, though, that amidst all of the sprawl and free parking in southwest Florida, we had found one spot where parking is at a premium. A nearby gift shop advertises free parking with any purchase.
We then found the main entrance and availed ourselves of the limited parking just long enough to take a few photos. 
Island time begins on this side of the bridge; no need to wait until getting across to the actual island.
Geographers love examples of "sense of place" -- the symbols by which people manifest their connections to places. This bric-a-brac collection certainly tells us where we are, and how the innkeepers see it.
Even more specific to this place is a mural in the main office that shows us both the bridge and the water. Rooms on the western side of the inn have a great view of both!
Since we started spending more time near the water over the past five years, we've become more aware of the rhythms of weather and water. Writing the daily details on a board like this might be a better way to get in tune than any digital gizmos.
The next time we go to Florida between blizzards, we might find a way to spend a couple of days right here, in the southmost Bridgewater we've visited so far.

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