I ain’t gonna lie. The last four weeks have been one big, burly bear I feel as though I’ve been fighting alone leaving me mentally drained. Being the eternal optimist, I’ve been finding time to let the sunsets recharge my soul in my backyard of Charlotte County, Fla.
One of my goals for 2015 was to limit my travel and spend more time in my home community. I was also hoping to build and strengthen relationships with others. Yes, I know. For someone who travels for work and writes a travel blog, this may seem like an odd goal but for my own sanity, it’s what I’ve needed.
Although I’m still finding it bit of a challenge being single here, my wanderlust heart has been anchoring roots in North Port and Charlotte County. In the last 30 days, my only travel has been limited within the state yet, my professional and personal schedules were busy enough. Okay, busy is an understatement. It’s been one of those months full of 10 to 12-hour workdays and 6-day workweeks leaving me feeling empty.
I recently heard Dan Buettner, best selling author and National Geographic fellow, speak in Sarasota about longevity. He said one of the keys to longevity is a workday no longer than 8-hours and said he’s rarely in the office beyond 4 o’clock. (He also encouraged attendees to learn one good bean recipe. Check out his new book The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People due out April 7, 2015.)
I really connected with what he said and vowed to make more “me time” which has included recharging my mental batteries. Coincidentally, I’ve done this around Charlotte County sunsets.
Living in Southwest Florida is paradise and I’m fortunate to live here. People save money and plan for years for a Florida vacation and I have it at my fingertips.
I won’t say where my favorite place to recharge my soul in Charlotte County is, because each has their own charm, but following are a few of my favorite activities at sunset.
An Amble Across the Gilchrist Bridge
When late afternoon business meetings call in Punta Gorda, I pack along my workout gear to walk the Gilchrist Bridge over the Peace River. It’s a great workout for the body and soul. Sometimes I’ll see dolphins, rays, birds, and fishermen and almost always see the sunset tours.
Pedal Along the Cape Haze Pioneer Trail
I’m not recommending riding the Cape Haze Pioneer Trail in Rotonda at sunset or after dark but with more hours of sunshine after the workday ends, there’s plenty of time to enjoy all or a portion of this nearly 8-mile trail. It’s a rails-to-trails path, meaning it was once a railway line, carrying the Charlotte Harbor & Northern Railroad from the early 1900s to 1970s. I’ve begun popping my bicycle on the back of my car in the morning before work making it easier to stay motivated to pedal till sunset. It’s an awesome high pedaling the trail with the wind against my face and Mother Nature at my side.
Scooping at Stump Pass Beach State Park
Stump Pass Beach State Park on Manasota Key in Englewood closes at sunset so plan your visit accordingly. I typically like heading out here about 90-minutes to 2 hours before sunset and set out walking the beach toward the end, stopping every so often to scoop up fossilized shark teeth and any seashells that catch my eye. I love the white, skeleton-like trees and especially the trees adorned with seashells representing people’s wishes. At least that’s the local lore I’ve heard. The golden light prior to sunset plays against the sand and water is pure magic.
Stroll Down the El Jobean Fishing Pier
I’m not much of an angler but I enjoy strolling along the boardwalk of the El Jobean Fishing Pier watching the fishermen throw their nets for bait fish and cast their rods for fish. It reminds me of the time I spent with my grandfather in Sarasota when I was a kid. Fireball sunsets over the Myakka River are pretty spectacular and so is the post-sunset light.
When you’re feeling mentally drained, what do you do to recharge your batteries?