It has become clear that the lazy days of summer are in full swing in Goodland. During season, Goodland is a bustling town, filled with locals and vacationers. There is never a dull moment and there is always something to do. Yet, as summer approaches it seems as if at least half of Goodland goes into hibernation. This drastic change brings a number of questions to mind. In particular, why does Goodland turn into a virtual ghost town during the summer months? More important, what do the few of us who dare to stay do during this extremely quiet time?
In regards to the extremely slow paced life Goodlanders experience in the summer months, I have come up with a few theories that most locals would agree upon. We all know that the heat and humidity in Southwest Florida is outrageous this time of year, but this is only a part of the problem for our tiny village. Located among the Ten Thousand Islands and so close to the freshwater of the Everglades, Goodland is literally a breeding ground for mosquitoes. I don’t dare leave my house without the sweat-proof, extra deet, extra deadly form of bug spray. Covered head to toe, I can manage about twenty minutes before the barrier begins to fade. At this point, no matter what I’m doing, I must run into any building or structure to escape the onslaught of mosquitoes attempting to suck me dry.
The next downside to summer in Goodland that I would bring up would be rain. However, we have had barely any this year compared to the norm. Every day I watch as the storms build up to the east, creating a beautiful sky of dark blues and grays. It seems evident that a storm is approaching. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case as many of these beautiful and huge clouds bursting with rainwater somehow break up just before Goodland. They seem to hit Marco and Naples just fine. The gods of rain must be boycotting Goodland. What did we do to deserve this? Without the rain it only seems hotter.
Due to the reasons above, my conclusion is that those who can afford to leave for the summer do. Many travelers are savvy enough to know what a vicious time of year this is for Southwest Florida and they also stay away. This eliminates many of Goodland’s residents as well as the tourists who flock to our Old-Florida town for its fine restaurants and marinas, airboat and Everglades excursions, the freshest seafood around and its unique architecture.
As there are few in town to enjoy the many gifts that Goodland has to offer, many ofthese businesses slow down or come to a complete halt for the summer. This leaves those who are left to start to use their imaginations. What can we do when it is hotter than hell and there are blood suckers at every turn? This is when Goodland really gets creative.
If one wants to be outside, I always recommend moving quickly. This provides one with a nice breeze and the mosquitoes can’t seem to keep up with a fast pace. This is one of the many reasons why I love that Goodland allows golf carts on its main roads. It is an excellent way to walk your dog without worrying that you will be carried away. My dog loves nothing more than to run next to me as I drive along the few streets of Goodland. When she’s had enough, she hops right in the cart and catches a nice breeze with me. It’s also always fun to cruise around and feel that breeze as you check out what your neighbors (the few that are left) are up to.
Other alternatives to beat the heat and bugs are boating and air boating. Goodland offers a number of marinas and boat ramps that stay open throughout the summer. Hop in your boat and at high speeds those skeets will never get you. Is the heat getting to you? Then jump in the drink and cool right off. The airboat tours on Goodland are also fast and informative. A nice excursion into the Ten Thousand Islands is a great way to keep cool on the hi-speed boats on a hot afternoon.
My personal opinion is to just stay inside. My lazy days of summer are filled with catching up on episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy” via Lifetime. That, unfortunately, only takes up two hours of my day. Other activities include meeting with my few friends who are left for card games, dominoes and movie nights. Indoor barbeques are common as well as Happy Hour at Marker 8, our local watering hole for the summer months.
For all its negatives, spending the summer in Goodland isn’t all that bad. There’s lots of free time and lots of freedom. Life slows down just a bit more, if that is at all possible. Those who are left reach out to each other more frequently as well. Just don’t reach out to me between 1:00 and 3:00 PM. That’s when “Grey’s Anatomy” is on.
Natalie Strom has lived in Goodland for over two years and has worked in Goodland on and off for more than five years. She is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is also a former Buzzard Queen of Stan’s Idle Hour in Goodland