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Coolly cruising Captiva in a little “Scoot Coupe”

I had all the posters on my wall.

The lemon-yellow Indy 500 racer coolly piloted by Rick Mears. The tri-colored Pontiac that helped Richard Petty annually rule Daytona. The black-and-gold Trans Am every pre-teen boy was sure would make him as cool as Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit.

Even the navy blue Harley-Davidson Softail my brother raced around the streets of our hometown.

OK, that last one was more a snapshot than a poster.

And I concede to still-lingering trauma from a harrowing 100 mph stint as a passenger after ol’ Mitch snatched me from college for an impromptu 21st birthday weekend in Niagara Falls.

Some years have surely passed since No. 21, but the vibe for cool means of transport remains.

Especially when it comes to cool places.

So when it came to a recent return to Captiva, the mandate was clear.

That meant another 20-minute stroll from the Tween Waters Inn to Yolo Watersports on Andy Rosse Lane, where there’s been a new addition to a burgeoning roster of ways to experience the island.

This one’s called the “Scoot Coupe,” which translates to a three-wheeled, open-air scooter car powered by a 49 cubic-centimeter gasoline engine. Said engine carries the two-seater at a super-efficient 80 miles per gallon and allows it to top out at an impressive 35 miles per hour.

It’s the perfect ride for an afternoon in Captiva’s “downtown” area, which for a brave passenger – my 10-year-old son, Ryan – and I meant a spin from lunchtime quesadillas at RC Otter’s to book perusing on the shelves at Captiva Memorial Library to vanilla bean Frappuccinos at Starbucks down Captiva Drive.

The geared-down speed limit on the island’s north end prevented us from burying the speedometer needle in the red, but the sun on our backs and the breeze past our heads were no less exhilarating as we wrapped up our voyage with a visit to the sandy shores at Alison Hagerup Beach Park.

The promise that the coupe would be sleek, elegant, practical and fun was nothing if not spot-on, and the experience as a whole provided the exact same kick-start for Ryan’s wannabe driving fantasies as the aforementioned Chaparral, Grand Prix and others did for his old man way back when.

If you plan to give it a try, remember it’s a two-seat vehicle and is made for only two passengers – meaning not two adults and a baby and not two adults and a dog, only two heartbeats per machine. Renters and drivers must be at least 18 years old (sorry, Ry…), passengers must be at least 6 and the maximum combined payload (passengers and gear) cannot exceed 415 pounds.

A valid driver’s license and credit card are required as well, and prices range from $129 for a four-hour rental to $179 for an eight-hour stretch.

A 24-hour rental goes for $199 and an additional day can be tacked on for $89. More information is available at 239-472-9656, 239-472-1296, 239-472-1162 or via info@yolowatersports.com.

I’ll certainly be back for a return trip before too long.

And who knows, maybe I’ll even give Mitch a ride to the next birthday bash.

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Turning rainy season into Tween Waters rainbows

Greetings weary (or soon-to-be weary) traveler.

If you’ve made it to this portion of the Tween Waters Inn website, there’s a good chance you’ve either arrived here in blissful Southwest Florida or have plunked down non-refundable airfare for a trip.

So now that that’s done, it’s time for your favorite outdoor adventurer to come clean.

Regardless of what they tell you in the brochures or what’s suggested in other places, summertime means far more in our area than simply beaches, sunsets and umbrella-borne drinks.

It rains. Quite a bit.

In fact, from the point our northern friends begin opening swimming pools on Memorial Day to the instant they’re lamenting the prospect of a killer Labor Day frost, we down here experience what the brainy meteorological types have scientifically labeled “rainy season.”

It’s all got to do with air mass thundershowers that build in the tropical heat and drop bursts of heavy afternoon precipitation nearly every day, amounting to an average of 29.27 inches across June, July and August – according to Weather.com – which translates to a daily dose of 0.318 inches.

And while the phenomenon has made celebrities of the TV weather talent at NBC-2 and its alarmist “First Alert” ilk, the application to vacationing TWI guests is a bit more practical.

Once the rains drive you from the sand or the pool deck, you’re going to need to find something to do.

Which, dear friends, is why we’re here.

In conjunction with summer’s official arrival, we’ve assembled a quick list of suggestions that’ll get you through the spates of midday precipitation and perhaps add a little flavor to your respite, too.

Less than a mile from the Tween Waters front desk at 11560 Chapin Lane (that’s a 16-minute walk for the hearty umbrella-toting crowd), the Captiva Memorial Library offers access to the collections of the entire Lee County public library system. Programs have an emphasis on local information and nature sources, and the library sponsors activities for adults, teens and children, including family programs.

The library is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesdays from noon to 8 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s closed on Sundays, Mondays and holidays.

Meanwhile, if you can’t get the beach completely out of your system, the nearby Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum on Sanibel – an 8.5-mile car ride to 3075 Sanibel Captiva Road – is the only museum in the U.S. solely devoted to shells and the mollusks that make them.

A world-renowned malacologist and two marine biologists are joined by highly educated docents to offer knowledge, surprising facts and rare insights into the lesser-known complexities of shells, including their cultural, historical and culinary facets of shells. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., offers loads of free parking and free admission to both active military and children under 5.

Of course, if time away from home brings out the shopper in you, a little rain is no concern.

Toward that end, the Tahitian Gardens shopping mall – just a shade past 10 miles at 1975-2019 Periwinkle Way – offers a “Something for Everyone” retail experience that stretches from the elegant to the whimsical and features designer labels, unique collections, toys and jewelry, not to mention family-style meals from breakfast to dinner.

But hey, let’s face it. If you’re soaked from a dip in the water and/or sporting an outfit that’s not quite ready for public consumption, you might just want to keep your endeavors on familiar resort turf.

To some, that’ll mean it’s time for a massage at The Spa or a quick workout at the Fitness Center.

To others, though, a few rain clouds instantly trigger the instinct to continue revelry under cover.

In that case, you need only park flip flops at TWI’s own Crow’s Nest Beach Bar & Grille, where you’ll find great food, great fun, great times and great entertainment served up nightly.

More than 74 percent of reviewers on TripAdvisor.com gave the place a rating of “excellent” or “very good,” and the 2017 menu of beach tapas, salads, oysters, sandwiches and entrees is supplemented by an entertainment calendar that includes live music on weekends, the not-to-be-missed Captiva Crab Races on Mondays and Thursdays and the always entertaining Wednesday night karaoke.

And who knows, by the time you’ve downed some tuna tostadas or worked your way through a creole grouper, your own version of Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville” might not sound so bad.

Happy drizzling.

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