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,
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! :)