Sanibel Island

The sun is finally making an appearance! Jim hopped out of bed early to get that big fish that keeps getting away… and he caught it!

Jim finally catches that big mouth bass in Dave’s pond
Jim has a new friend who makes sure he’s doing this fishing thing right.

After morning fishing time, the clouds started to part and we wanted to hit some sights! We have heard about Sanibel Island from family and friends for years and we wanted to see what all the fuss is about. So we headed northwest of Dave’s place about 27 miles, crossed another big bridge, and found ourselves in the land of bicycles, mangroves and millions of seashells!

Blue skies ahead for our trip to Sanibel Island

We meandered around the island that tries to keep the “small town” feeling. There are strict restrictions on building new houses, so most of the homes are modest looking or in older condominium complexes, similar to Maui (but there are a few more ritzy resorts hidden away). There are miles of bike trails all over the island with families biking on rented bikes (it’s spring break here). There’s also a huge wildlife sanctuary that takes up about half of the 12-mile island. To get our bearings, we first headed to Gulfside Beach Park which was recommended online as the best “free” place to start “shelling” (but they have since added parking fees – $5/hr).

There were so many shells that they just crunched under our feet while we walked! Scallops, clams, something called whelps… the beach is full of them! There was a light layer of sand, but if you dig down, there are more shells!

After walking the beach and beachcombing for a bit, we headed to the “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge — yes, that’s what it is really called. “Ding” was a Pulitzer prize-winning cartoonist in the 1930’s who was a leader in the conservationist movement. The park has tram tours, walking and driving tours and a visitor center. There are flocks of “tall birds” like egrets, storks, pelicans, and flamingo-looking birds called roseate spoonbills. There are acres of mangrove bayous and supposedly alligators, but we didn’t see any of those after much hunting. We didn’t take as many pictures as we thought, but it would be a great place to hike and bring the big cameras.

After our trek through the park, it was Jim’s turn to get hangry. Lisa broke out the emergency Kind bars and VitaWaters and we were headed to the other end of the island where we found Grandma Dot’s Cafe at a local marina. Cute place, good food, big boats — The perfect combination. Jim was happy and it was time to head back to the Estero.

Tonight was our last dinner with Dave and Bunny and tomorrow we head for the Keys. It’s been great to stay with family and catch up on all sorts of things. It’s also been great to let the clouds head east ahead of us this time. The Keys are about 2.5 hours away and the forecast says SUN. We can’t wait to just stop and …. what’s that word? …. RELAX!

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