by M. Joy Gorence
Located about six miles south of the intersection of Routes 951 and 41, a fishing village in southwest Florida transforms itself into a gathering spot every Sunday afternoon for an eclectic array of visitors.
On the road to Goodland early Sunday mornings, local fishing enthusiasts claim their favorite spots. Folding chairs, umbrellas and coolers are positioned along the road’s edge. Road signs post a speed limit of 55 and wooden power lines, some still leaning as a result of Hurricane Wilma’s visit, provide platforms for nesting osprey against a backdrop of azure skies.
Barren of civilization, this road seems to slow the pulse of the modern world. But as the Goodland Bridge carries Route 92 over the Marco River, where egrets, pelicans, and seagulls rest precariously on outcroppings of roots, one is reminded that civilization still has its finger on nature’s artery.
At the foot of the bridge, a sign directs you to take a sharp left. Here, the road hugs the water’s edge on one side and a walking path lined with mangroves on the other. About a mile and a half down the road, an opening on the left reveals a one-story boutique in vibrant yellow and blue. The sign on the building, "Island Woman,” indicates you’ve arrived.
Along the road, cars compete for parking spaces, and motorcycles line up in front of Stan’s Idle Hour, a Sunday afternoon destination for locals and visitors. Stan has his claim to fame in the music industry, and faded pictures documenting his younger years decorate the walls inside the restaurant.
Few people, however, sit inside on Sunday afternoons. The cement rectangle in front of the band provides a dance floor for those willing to throw away their week-day inhibitions and dance the infamous Buzzard Lope. (If you don’t know how to dance the Buzzard Lope, Stan will sing out the directions while Queen Mary demonstrates the proper way to throw your legs up in the air, spin around, and dance the Goodland dance.)
Once the festive air has pulsed through the crowd, the dance floor provides a perfect venue for having fun. If you’re too shy to dance—have no fear. There are plenty of seats on the balcony and around the dance floor that provide a perfect location for people-watching.
As the sun beats down on the revelers and the cars crowd the only road in and out of Goodland, a walk along the streets reveals three other restaurants.
The Little Bar, literally a stone’s throw from Stan’s, has some of the best hamburgers and appetizers on the island, and is home to the yearly Spam Party.
Right next to the Little Bar is a fishery, open only on weekdays during the fishing season. You won’t find fish any fresher than this on the island.
The Old Marco Lodge, so called because it once was located on Marco Island, also has a restaurant, outdoor bar, and music.
A new addition to the island, Marker 8 Restaurant, offers a limited breakfast and lunch menu. On weekends from 3 pm until closing, you can get a beer and hotdog here for $3.
About six o’clock the music begins to wind down. By sunset the island transforms itself into a quiet fishing village, and only the cries of the osprey and gulls fill the night air.
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