Hard to believe it’s almost a month since we took that wonderful trip to the islands off of Ft. Myers in Florida. It is definitely a place that has been on my bucket list over and over again. Our children get lots of hugs and thanks for taking us there to celebrate our 50th anniversary.
So I looked back over my blog that I wrote BEFORE we took the trip. I wrote down several things that I thought we’d do and then lots of things that I HOPED we see and do. Here’s how it went!
The long trip down from North Carolina was broken up with a way too brief visit with my sister and her family, and then a quick stop in Blue Springs for a chilly dip and maybe see some manatees like last year. But no manatees this year. Then one last stop for groceries at Publix right before the causeway to Sanibel. Meals for a week with 11 people took some planning but with 3 baskets heavy laden – we were off to find the house! And what a treasure it turned out to be! First was a long porch over 15 feet wide – plenty of room for all the activities we were thinking of doing. There was a craft table, a shell table and even a table for meals! And a few comfortable chairs with ottomans for someone who often needed a bit of time away from his nieces and nephews!
Bedrooms and baths for everyone plus 2 sets of washers and dryers. Boy, that was a plus!! And the kitchen? Well, it was complete with every gadget a cook could want. Except a can opener but after heading down the island to my favorite hardware store to purchase one, we found an electric one tucked up in a cabinet.
To get to the beach, we had to walk a short distance down a sandy road kept cool by the overhanging branches shading it from the sun. There were several banyan trees, giant seagrapes, a very large plumeria, a blooming jacaranda, banana trees, and many huge palms. So many different varieties of palm – glad to find a book in my favorite hardware store with good descriptions. Once we got near the beach there was another shadowed walkway and you could see the clear water through a tunnel of seagrapes. We all love the seagrapes and decided it would be so fun to make plates using one as a pattern.
We did rent that boat and drove it up to Cayo Costa. We might have missed it 20 years ago – but there is now a ranger station with a tram to take you across the island to the beach side. It would have been a long hot walk so we were really grateful for that!
There were just a few people on the beach – very deserted as we hoped it would be! There was a storm brewing south of us and rain had been predicted so we kept a weather eye out just in case we needed to make a run for it. As usual, we spent most of our time IN the water. Everyone had snorkels and masks and it was such fun digging around for shells. If I lived down there, I’d never need to use an emery board again! We were determined that SOMEONE was going to find a junonia. And although we found lots of shells and quite a few live sanddollars (which we carefully put back where we found them) not even a piece of a junonia did we find. So after a couple of hours, we were happy enough with our finds to head back up the beach to catch the tram. The kids loved the bumpy ride and entertained us with camp songs.
Picnic lunch on the boat and then a quick stop at Cabbage Key for keylime pie and the kids were tickled to be given masking tape and a Sharpie. All they had to do to ensure that they’d return someday was to write their name on a dollar bill and then go find a place to stick it. The walls were covered! Arch and I finally found the piano where we’d stuck ours 20 years ago. Sadly it was gone, but as bills that fall off are donated – we knew our wish had come true just to be able to return to this wonderful place.
On the way back up in the big Pine Island Sound – we caught sight of a dolphin pod fairly close by. Daughter Maury got her Dad to stop the boat and she and her 3 children got right into the water with them. No fear. Of course the dolphins were busy fishing and paid no attention to the hopeful swimmers at all. When we arrived back at the marina – another treat was waiting for us up at the seawall. A few manatees were lounging around near a fresh water outlet. As hot and tired as we all were, we loved getting to see these gentle creatures up close and personal.
The rest of the week was filled with lots of beach time, gathering shells and swimming in the fairly clear water. There was a craft day with the kids and moms making gorgeous tiedyed t-shirts. A visit to the Ding Darling Preserve – didn’t see one alligator but did see a spoonbill. We loved visiting the shell museum and the necklace making and lecture that went with the trip. And obviously SOMEONE had been finding those elusive junonias because there were lots on display!
One of my favorite memories is of our son teaching his nephew how to dive from the side of the pool and all of them how to do the sidestroke. Since rip tides sometimes happen off the NC beaches, it’s the perfect stroke to learn to help them swim to safety. And for a special surprise, he found a photographer to take photos of all of us on a beautiful evening by the gulf. So thoughtful to remember to do that for us.
So many wonderful times to think about and can’t wait to start putting these stories and memories into their own special album. The last album I made about this place was traditional! This time it’ll be digital, of course! The photos are now in a Forever album that is shared with our family so years from now, our grandchildren can see the fun we had and read the stories about this very favorite place.
Happy memory making,
PS and yes, one of our granddaughters found a piece of a junonia on our last visit to Blind Pass. Out on the sandbar was just this small broken shell and she scooped it up!
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