Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A Full Fun Day at Sanibel

Our adventure to Sanibel started at 8:11 am when Ken & Bonnie in their car and Chuck & I in our car drove out to the Publix right off the island to meet Ken & Bonnie's friends, Ernie and Noela from Quebec.  We each took one of Ernie & Noela's bikes and then the girls rode together in our car and the guys rode together in Ken & Bonnie's car.  The guys took the lead but they didn't have their navigators with them so they had to call us a couple of times for directions.  :)

We stopped first at the visitor center to get a map.

They were very helpful and gave us a couple of new trails to try out.  I really like their sign as you enter the building.  :)

We first rode to the city park where we could park our cars and go for our first bike adventure of the day.  We rode out this new trail that exits out the back of the park to a small preserve...

...where we saw an anhinga drying its wings,

a couple of wood storks,

and a gator!

Next, we rode our bikes to Periwinkle Park which is the only campground on the island.  It has some nice sites.  It's easy to see why it stays booked up in the winter because there is so much to do on Sanibel.  The campground also has a bird preserve and even a couple of monkeys in a cage.

They had some cute and unusual ducks,

and some beautiful wood ducks.

They also had these big blue birds with red eyes, peacock-looking feathers off the back of their heads, and legs that have almost a giraffe-skin pattern.

We rode out the back of the campground following the signs that pointed to beach access which took us to a road and then another road before we arrived at the beach access.

We parked our bikes and the girls headed straight for the beach,

while the boys meandered out discussing some really important things -- I'm sure!  :)

As we got closer to the water, we noticed what looked like snake skins all up and down the beach.

Don't they look like a snake?

They are the casings within which the eggs from a welch shell are hatched.  Welch shells are the shells that look like a spiral.  Ken tried to cut one open to see what was inside:  just sand.

Bonnie stayed away from the sand snakes and looked for a few shells.

After a few minutes at the beach, we got back on our bikes and headed up to Island Inn Road which was another trail that had been recommended to us.  We spotted this osprey sitting on top of a tennis court light eating his lunch.

One of the things we like about Sanibel is they have very good bike trails and they are everywhere.  In fact, you just about get where you want to go faster by bike than by car because of all the traffic.

We kept riding back north until we reached Island Inn Road which was a quite packed sand road that took you to another preserve.  We parked our bikes and ate a quick snack.  Ken spotted an alligator across the lake.

After a few minutes rest, we got back on our bikes and started back to the cars stopping at an outside shell market set up under a tent for a few minutes.  They had crates and crates of all kinds of shells.

After we got back to the cars, we loaded the bikes and drove up to R C Otters about 30 minutes away on Captiva Island.  Chuck and I split fish tacos.  They were made with fried grouper and were so good!

Everybody's food was good.  Noela tried one of their clam pots which she said was very good too.

After lunch, we walked down to the beach on Captiva Island.  Bonnie looked for more shells,

Noela enjoyed the water,

while the boys discussed some more real important things!  :)

Next, we drove back down to Sanibel to the J. N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.  We chose the perfect time because it was cooler and there were a lot less people which was perfect for riding bikes.

We stopped at some of the viewpoints to watch the birds and the fish.

We saw this Little Blue Heron...

...and lots of white pelicans basking and napping in the sun,

...and an osprey taking flight.

We also saw a lot of some kind of fish jumping out of the water but they were too fast for me to get a picture.  One of the viewpoints was in the middle of a lot of mangroves.

The tide was going out and we could see some of the little crabs that like to hang around the mangroves.

At the edge of the mangroves, the water was perfectly still.

We continued riding further and decided to take the long way around rather than the two mile cut-through because it would take us by more water.

This particular viewpoint was a tower.

We saw these little ducks that spent more time under water swimming and fishing...

than out of the water.  (I barely got his picture!)

We watched all the birds for a little longer but didn't see any alligators the whole way around.

The way we chose to return to the cars took us by more water and places to observe the birds but it also takes you back out to the bike trail by the road where we rode and rode and rode and rode until we finally got back to the cars.  We had ridden 18 miles today!  Whoa!!!!

Our last stop of the day (and the one I was most looking forward to) was Pinochio's Ice Cream.

I had the Captiva Crunch Ice Cream and I think Bonnie, Noela, and Chuck all had the Sanibel Crunch Ice Cream.  Ernie and Ken were both very disciplined and just had licks.  :)  Both ice creams have coconut and some kind of nuts in them but the Captiva is with chocolate ice cream and the Sanibel is with vanilla.

We got back in our cars and by the time we got back to Publix where Ernie & Noela had left their truck it was 8 pm!  Wow!  It was a wonderfully fun day with new friends and old friends!  :)

(Thanks for the picture, Ken & Bonnie!)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Pickle, Picnic & Pictures at Pine Island

Anxious to resume our Pickleball fun, we were on the court by 8:15.  We had decided ahead of time that we would only play for about an hour but we were having so much fun we may have gone just a little past an hour.  Chuck and I were surprised that we did as well as we did after not having played for almost four months.  It was a great start to the morning.  I asked Chuck to take a picture.

He thought I wanted him to take a picture of the court.  No, silly, of all of us!  :)

We did have so much fun but in the interests of not hurting my back or Ken's heel or anyone else's body parts again, we decided we should limit our pickleball playing to every other day.  

Later that morning, we packed a picnic lunch and went for a bike ride to the south end of the island.  We stopped off first at a new preserve that just opened up on the island this year:  Galt Preserve.  

The preserve is very nice and new with some nice (but short) hiking trails.  

There is also a very small lake with a dock/viewing area.

We took the trail to the dock.  Ken had fun trying out his new camera with a 60x lens.  I'm so envious!  :)

We saw a few birds.  They really blend in with the surround vegetation...

...except this one who stepped from behind the bushes to have his picture taken.  :)

The sun was out bright and it felt very hot (but a lot better than snow and 10 degrees or less)!

As we were leaving the park, eagle-eye Ken spotted an eagle way off in a tree.

Ken can really spot those eagles!

After leaving Galt Preserve, we rode our bikes toward St. Jude Preserve.  On the road to the preserve there is an eagle's nest,

with not just an eagle but her little eaglets.  :)

We parked our bikes at St. Jude's Preserve and took the 1/2 mile hike...

...out to the water where there was a dock and benches where we could eat our picnic lunches. We enjoyed our lunches and the peacefulness of the water.  We walked out to the water.  From the picture, it looks like we were trying to throw each other in!  :)

We enjoyed the peacefulness of the water for a few minutes more...

...and then walked out to our bikes and rode back to the campground.  When we returned, we went up to the pool and enjoyed the nice water for about an hour and the hot tub after that!  Boy, did that feel good!  :)

Chuck grilled chicken and corn-on-the-cob for dinner and we tried this citrus glaze/marinade we had bought at Costco.  It was delicious and had just a little kick to it also.  We haven't grilled in months and we plan on grilling a lot while we are here.  

After dinner, we hooked back up with Ken and Bonnie at their place.  This time, the women won at SkipBo and the men won at Pinochle.  Winners all around again!