J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge and Mucky Ducks!

After spending the day on Sanibel and Captiva Islands, I understand why people fall in love with them!    Sherry and I stopped at the  J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and hiked a mile around the perimeter loop.

We were on the look-out for alligators…which made it more exciting!

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We didn’t see much wildlife because it was the middle of the day.  A couple of birds and some turtles!

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Sanibel Island is about 12 miles long…so after driving through Sanibel we arrived at Captiva Island.  This house caught our eye.

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When we arrived to the Allison Hagerup Beach on Captiva, we were prepared to pay the $2.00 per hour fee to park.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take my time to read the screen thoroughly and inserted $20.00 and chose the two hour option, before reading the “No change provided” sign on the screen.  The irony of this is that I had just chastised my husband a few days earlier for not picking the correct number of hours for our stay.

We took a couple of long walks and I was even able to convince Sherry to brave the chilly water and enter up to her waist.

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We timed it just right and arrived to Mucky Ducks at 4:30pm to snag a table on the patio and add our name on the list to be seated for dinner by the windows for the sunset at 5:00pm.

We split the Seafood Platter and a slice of Key Lime Pie!!

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We’re getting used to seeing palm trees and Christmas trees next to each other!

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What can I say!!

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Sherry leaves tomorrow and then my friend April arrives on Thursday.  Let’s see how much longer I can find new, fun and interesting things to do here!!

Food, Friends and Fun in Florida

Last night was so much fun!  We spent the evening with a couple who are close family friends of Sherry’s—-Curt and Becky.  This is the view from their beautiful home in Cape Coral.

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We had yummy Cosmopolitan martinis on their sailboat (docked) before heading out to dinner at Rum Runners.

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After the sun set…I took a quick photo before we went to dinner…

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I usually order fish…but the filet sounded delicious and it was!  Sorry…no photo…I was really hungry!

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Kurt and Rebecca have been married for over 30 years and he still makes her laugh!!

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This was the view from our table at the restaurant…

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Who needs a bar when you can have so much fun dancing at home?

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I’m keeping this short and sweet…still recuperating!!

 

There’s more to Fort Myers, Florida than Beaches

If you’re like me…when you think of certain places like Fort Myers, Florida…you think “Beaches”!  After walking around Downtown Fort Myers and their “River District”, I discovered a new layer of personality!  Within a few blocks, they’ve packed in Restaurants, Bars, cool architecture, and much more!

I dropped my husband off at the airport yesterday to fly back to Cincinnati.  Tonight, I pick my girlfriend “Sherry” up from the airport and she’ll stay for 5 days.  We want to go out dancing, so I researched some of the options and one of them was the Red Rock Saloon.

Being that it was a Thursday afternoon…there were only two people inside.  They have some great happy hour specials and live music!

I love this wall inside the bar…

The Cigar Bar is well known in town…

Not only do I love reflection shots…barbershops have made the list!

I “heart” Architecture…

The River District is just off of the water…

I keep forgetting it’s almost December!

Cool shop/deli…

I LOVE the colors in Florida!

Even the Administration Building is interesting!!

If you ever visit Fort Myers, I recommend you visit the River District!!

 

Edison & Ford Winter Estates and Museum

The Edison & Ford Winter Estates and Museum are well worth the $25 per person fee to have a guided tour!  This Banyan tree, one of the largest in the U.S., was planted by Edison on the 20 acres where the Estates, Museum and gardens are located.

Thomas Edison purchased the property in 1885 because bamboo trees are plentiful and he used them in his light bulbs to extend their life.  He built two homes on the property.  Henry Ford was one of his good friends and bought the property next door.  They’re located on the Caloosahatchee River.  They both loved nature and planted a wide variety of flowers, trees and plants.

The views are gorgeous!

The entire place is camera friendly and although you’re prohibited from entering the homes, there are areas to view some of the rooms.

As you can see, they’ve decorated for the holidays.

The museum was impressive…not only with the knowledge it conveys, but also in its aesthetic nature.

An “electric pen” looks like fun!

There were lots of family photos and movies to watch.  Edison was a workaholic, so it’s nice to see him enjoying time with his family.

My “artsy” shot…

Hope you enjoyed your “virtual” tour!  Bye, bye!

What to do on Sanibel Island

Located 10-15 minutes from Ft. Myers, Sanibel Island has lots of fun things to do!  After paying a rather pricey toll charge of $6.00, we devoured a freshly caught grouper sandwich at Grandma Dots restaurant.

Located at a marina, it’s cute and casual!

Driving just a few minutes down the main drag, we arrived at the lighthouse beach and paid $4.00 for two hours of beach time!  Today it was warmer…almost 80 degrees…so we took a dip in the ice cold ocean and went for a long walk on the beach!

These paddleboarders were fun to photograph!

I have to give credit to my husband for this photo…

Here’s the bridge we crossed to go back to Ft. Myers/Cape Coral…

Not all beaches are created equal…but I love them all!!

Lee County Dog Park, Kayaking to Lovers Key State Park & Bicycling

If you live in Florida or travel with your dog…Lee County Dog Park next to Ft. Myers and Lovers Key State Park is a fun..fun place to take your dog!  We arrived about 7:30am to meet a friend who took us kayaking and checked out the Dog Park while we waited for him to arrive.

One of the dog owners told us that the place becomes quite busy with dogs and their owners on the weekends.  Depending on the tide…you may have to wade through a foot or two of water to get to the little island where the dogs are in the photo below.  It was a bit chilly this morning to do that…50 degrees.

I spotted this bird while we were watching the dogs…

I’m becoming obsessed with reflection shots…

I have my down jacket on for the beginning of the kayaking experience.  We paddled about three miles total and even ventured out into the Gulf from the coastal waterway.  We stopped at Lovers Key State Park and walked around.  I’ve only been kayaking once or twice before…so this was a lot of fun!  Thanks Wayne!!

Yesterday, the lumberjack and I went and bought a couple of used beach cruisers to leave for the family members that let us use their condos…and for anyone else that visits.  We purposely bought these type…you know…the old style where you push back on the pedals to stop and only one gear…forward!

We took a ride this afternoon.  Of course, the lumberjack would have to ride by me and screech his brakes really loudly to scare me…which worked…but also made me angry!  This was after the chain fell off…preventing me from being able to stop…which was scary!  But…I had fun!

We’re headed to have a drink at the small beach nearby and a bite to eat…while we watch the sunset.  Lovin’ Florida!!

Day Trip: Naples..Lowdermilk & Barefoot Beaches

My Black Friday was spent exploring Historic Naples, Lowdermilk and Barefoot Beaches.  As always, I was on the look-out for unusual shapes or patterns…such as this one…

Historic Naples reminded me a bit of St. Petersburg, Florida—less creative and more artificial…but still beautiful!

My husband and I wandered into a few shops that caught our fancy.  These pillows are so cool…

The strawberry/blueberry smoothies I made for breakfast didn’t keep us full for long…so we stopped at a restaurant (wish I remembered the name for you) and had excellent brick oven pizza–Mediterranean for me–three meat for him!  This was my view…

Malbec to go with it…

On the way to the parking garage…

Based on recommendations from Trip Advisor, we stopped at Lowdermilk Beach in Naples to check it out.  You’ll find a park and sand volleyball courts after parking…before walking onto the beach…

Next, we drove back towards Ft. Myers and stopped in Bonita Springs at Barefoot Beach.  To access the beach, you drive a mile or two through a high dollar residential area and then pay $8.00 to access the beach, which reminds me of Sanibel Island—very nature oriented (lots of shells).

I loved the steps leading to this home!

We’re going Kayaking tomorrow!  See you then!

Sunset at the Yacht Club…Cape Coral, Forida

If you’ve been following my three-week adventure up to this point…you’ll remember I started in Cincinnati, Ohio…Couchsurfed through Asheville, N.C., Charleston, S.C. and Savannah, GA, and then visited the Panhandle of Florida, where I had rented a unit through VRBO for a week (but only spent five days because I was lonely there)–moving on to the Tampa Bay area, staying with fellow blogger Zully for four nights–and finally driving here to my brother’s ex-wife’s sister’s condo.  I was joined by my husband, who will visit for a week and then a couple of girlfriends will arrive for a week.  The condo is located 30 minutes from Ft. Myers beach…in Cape Coral.  Less than 10 minutes away is a small beach, marina, yacht club and restaurant.

Here are the beach and pier…

We arrived just before sunset…

I never grow tired of the sunsets!  As soon as the sun set…people started walking back to their cars and I thought…this is when it gets good…you shouldn’t leave yet!

This one looks to me like someone is painting strokes of color in the sky.

If you don’t mind being uncomfortable sometimes (sleeping on a couch) (relying on the kindness of strangers)…then Couchsurfing will afford you the opportunity to discover new places through the eyes of your host/hostess, make new friendships and be able to extend your trip because it’s more affordable!

My new motto…”Life is better at the Beach”!

 

Thanksgiving Day in Florida

This year my Thanksgiving is being celebrated in an unusual way.  I’ve been traveling for three weeks now and am spending the next two – three weeks in Ft. Myers, Florida and stopping somewhere in Tennessee or North Carolina on my way back to Ohio.  Typically, when our parents were alive a few years ago and my son was living with us, I would have a group of 10-15 family members (which is small compared to many families) gathered together to celebrate.  Things have changed and the few of us left decided to travel to various locales this year.   I’ve always been one to embrace change and I have much to be thankful for…including the generosity of family for the use of their condo here in Ft. Myers!

I picked my husband up at the airport last night and he’ll spend the next week here enjoying the warm weather and spending time with me!  We started our day out driving less than ten minutes to a small beach area to watch the sun rise…

I prepared a turkey day feast of an eight pound turkey, stuffing, corn, sweet potatoes and pecan pie for dessert!  We ate our dessert first and had our dinner very early… 11:00am…followed by a nap.  And…since it’s a beautiful day here…we soaked up sun at the pool.

It’s odd to see a pool decorated for Christmas…

We had the pool to ourselves…

We rented a movie for later tonight.  It’s an unusual year for us…but it’s wonderful!  Happy Thanksgiving and make it a great one!

 

26th Annual American Sand Sculpting Championship at Fort Myers Beach

This year’s Fort Myers Beach Sand Sculpting Championship was amazing!  I’ve never attended a competition and it was exciting to see them up close.  Their site online said it started at 9:00am…so I arrived there about 8:45am…wanting to get early morning light for good photos.  Once there I found out it didn’t start until 10:00am…so I had an English muffin at the Holiday Inn (where the competition was) and took a walk on the beach…

There was a fence with black netting around the sculptures so you couldn’t see them…until you paid the $5.00 entrance fee.  Since I’m tall…I snuck one…

I was the first one through the entrance and was able to get some photos without people in them…

The event is for 10 days and began on Friday the 16th.  The judging took place on the 18th and I attended on Monday, the 19th.

This is the sculpture that won…

Although I really liked that one, it wasn’t my favorite.

I met one of the sculptors and he informed me that the theme was winter wonderland, so I’m surprised they awarded first place to one that wasn’t within that theme.

Love this one…

This is my second favorite…I think the detail is amazing!

Jack Frost was my favorite!  The eyes look so real…I love everything about it!

This is Bill (one of the competitors).  He’s on the road a lot for competitions, and home is Montana.

This is a partial view of one of Rod Green’s chain saw wood carvings.  I lucked out with the position of the fish and the sun.  Twice a day he makes a sculpture for the audience.

Here’s Rod at work…

This one took about 30 minutes to make.  Very cool!!

I had packed a sandwich that was in the car for lunch…so I ate that while I drove the 30 minutes to my condo.  I took an afternoon jog and had salad for dinner.  See you tomorrow for the sunset at the Yacht Club that’s less than 10 minutes away!

Seagulls attack peaceful tourist at Siesta Key Beach, Florida

I went to Siesta Key Beach with the intention of relaxing and eating my lunch peacefully.  As you can see the beach is spacious and beautiful!

Notice the seagull…

Instead…I’m acting like a lunatic running from masses of seagulls…flapping and flailing my arms…ducking as they dive bomb me…chasing them back…throwing sand at them…trying to protect my food in the aluminum foil!

Other beach goers were laughing and a few of them said, “The same thing happened to me!”

I’ve heard the sand there is white quartz — known for its healing properties!  You can read “Your Sarasota” for more information concerning this.  Perhaps next time I won’t take food so that I can soak up some of the healing energy!

The Best of St. Petersburg, Florida

St. Petersburg should be on your destination “Bucket List“!  There’s Art!  There’s a beach!  Restaurants!  Great Weather!  Although Florida is known as the sunshine city, it was mostly cloudy the morning I took these photos…

What a Tree!!!!

The photos are in order of what I saw while walking…

This restaurant worker or possibly owner…was very friendly and sweet!

I was intrigued by these guys and received permission to take a photo.  They actually seemed a bit shy.  I think some people would automatically judge them as possible deviants…with tatoos and facial piercings.  Similar to lumping all “Harley” riders into a particular stereotype.

Big horse with big nostrils…

Sexy…

Fun…

Simon says…

View from the elevator going to the top (4th floor) of the pier…

I’m grateful for my ability to walk…you can discover so much more about a place when you walk it!  A trolley is available for 50 cents per ride around Downtown and we did take it at the end of our walk to the pier.

There’s more…don’t go away!!

 

Sunsets at Pier 60

Clearwater, Florida has a daily festival on their pier and surrounding area called, “The Sunsets at Pier 60.  I had to jump for joy from the beauty!

The Hilton was glowing…

I noticed this girl and asked if I could take her photo because her hair was pretty.  She seemed surprised and quickly said “Yes”!  Her name was Ebony and we told her she should be a model, but she said she has MS and couldn’t wear high heels.  I told her upon leaving, that she was beautiful!  It feels good to make other people feel good!

This drummer was using empty buckets as drums and was very talented!

Walking back to the car, I told Zully this palm tree looked almost like fireworks going off from the lighting…

When we got back to Zully’s condo, we had pizza delivered and it was sooo good!  Another great day! 🙂

Life’s a Beach in Dunedin, Florida

Dunedin, Florida reminds me of Yellow Springs, Ohio.  It’s artsy–small–cute–quaint–spiritual!  Zully (my blogger friend) and I stopped by there on Wednesday morning.

One of the shops is very spiritual with crystals, books on Shamanism, sage.  I love the painted tree with artificial vines…

LOVE this peacock tree…

A pretty painting in one of the shops…

The very stylish entry to one of the shops…

Zully is working her magic on a shop keeper’s dog.  She (Katie) is smiling…

More street art!  They even have wine tastings here…

We took a quick walk on the pier in Dunedin and I followed this Great Egret around trying to get a good photo.  He had just eaten something (a fish, we think) because his neck had a big bulge!

The day’s not over yet!  Zully went to lunch with a friend…I got my nails done and tomorrow I’ll post about our evening on Pier 60!