I often wondered as I posted updates on various beach bars after hurricanes Irma and Maria struck what people thought of my posts. I knew the community of beach bar bums would get it but how would someone who just didn’t get it understand? These bars were more than just places on the beach where we consumed alcohol and cheeseburgers. They were, among many other things, places where we had created wonderful memories that would generate stories for a lifetime. Follow along as guest blogger James Greer explains it much more poetically than I ever could.
In the aftermath of the dueling killer hurricanes this year, beach bars are in the news. Places where people gravitate for the energy, the ambiance and the primordial instincts aroused by the sea… Gone with the wind. With a tenacity born of the overpowering lure of a lifestyle of laughter, love and great island drinks, they are rebuilding. I am drawn to their stories because of a place far away, and too long ago.
Our oldest daughter lived for a time in Ft. Myers, Florida. I saw her once, maybe twice a year – have Travelocity, will travel. These were precious gifts, too quickly over. We savored every moment, knowing the fleeting nature of time. A quick trip from the airport to drop off my gear, and we headed for the beach.
We always began at the Pierside Grill on Estero Island. Ft. Myers Beach, just over the causeway from her townhouse. Night time, and the tourists had all retired, the snowbirds long abed. The building is right on the beach, the broad white sands extending miles in either direction. Depending on the tide, there was often twenty or thirty yards between the establishment’s sea wall and the Gulf meandering gently ashore. The lights of Naples glowed to the south. Across the water stood the lighthouse of Sanibel Island.
Often, a local band played energetically, if erratically, covering songs we all knew by heart. We sang along while revelers several rounds ahead of us danced unsteadily in the moonlight. The laughter, the people watching, it was part of the charm.
So were the cold Coronas, glistening with the accumulating dew of a warm, humid evening on Pierside’s patio, the Blowfish Bar. We had a lot to talk about, to catch up, to exchange the pleasantries of a man whose daughter had grown up too fast, and a woman who would always be Daddy’s little girl, even as her own life continued to unfold. To laugh, to look into each other’s eyes… All the while the warm water tiptoed ashore with a sigh, just past the open window.
I would often return, alone, to eat lunch while she worked. The fresh food, served on a patio overlooking a reinvigorated beach afternoon, lent itself to the festivities within view. Boats, swimmers, dolphins and birds fishing for their own meals. It was a beach bar plopped down amongst a vitality that reappeared with each sunrise.
She lives in Maryland and works as an attorney in DC. Visits involve different piers, far removed from those sandy beaches of years gone by. I’ve been to dozens of beach bars before and since – dives, mating ritual venues and beautifully rendered upscale affairs. Still, in my mind’s eye… Tall, cold beers. Footprints in the sand, the sea tugging at our ankles. And a place on Estero Island right on the water where memories are made to last a lifetime.
About the Author
James Greer is a freelance writer who lives in Lakewood, CO with his wife Pat, two Portuguese Water Dogs and a cat of uncertain lineage. He and his wife travel extensively, believing that if there is not a beach bar nearby, it is not a destination. It is merely a way point.
If you’d like to contribute to a blog post, please send me an email at info (at) beachbarbums (dot) com. You can write it yourself of just send me a synopsis and I’ll write it. Probably not as well as you would write it but hey, it’s guaranteed to get posted. Either way, I’d love to feature your story!