Since moving to Georgia, one of our favorite things to do each year is rent a cottage through one of the websites such as Home Away or Airbnb, pack up our kayaks, and head to the water. Although we enjoyed Sanibel so much we visited there twice, we decided to explore new places each time in the future and enjoy new experiences.
This time, we headed to Laguna Beach, Florida to spend two weeks kayak fishing, swimming, walking, and exploring the state parks.

The following are some of my favorite photos from our visit. The complete photo album of 79 shots can be viewed at www.ExquisiteCards.Fototime.com .


The “Think Pink Cottages” were our home for two weeks in Laguna Beach, Florida, along the panhandle.  Our pink kayaks fit in perfectly, don’t you think?


Bruce snagged a nice slot-sized redfish, but threw it back.  When fishing from his kayak, he is a catch-and-release fisherman.



The view of Panama City Beach from St. Andrew’s State Park


An alligator catching a few rays at St. Andrew’s State Park




These guys were waiting for a handout of fish scraps from the cleaning table.





Grayton State Park



The view of Panama City Beach from the pier.


Panama City Beach Aquatic Center was my training site on a daily basis.  It was a beautiful facility, and I especially enjoyed getting the opportunity to practice block starts.


Our last couple of days in Sanibel were beautiful. Overall, the weather was terrific; sunny and mostly on the drier side. There were a few humid days in the middle, but our friends were right about it being a really nice time of the year to be there. There was more wildlife to see in November, though, so we would opt for a fall visit, next time around.

We spent the first part of our last full day going over to Captiva to have brunch at RC Otter’s and check out the Manatees at Jensen’s Marina. RC Otter’s is a very laid back place with a casual outdoor dining area and killer blueberry pancakes (Bruce’s choice) and delicious crunchy granola with fresh berries (my choice).

As for manatees at Jensen’s Marina, we were told by our RC Otter’s waiter, last November, that they can be spotted there all of the time, as long as the water is warm. And, as promised, we saw them last November and during this visit. There were five “sea cows” feasting on the sea grass, next to the dock and just feet from the shoreline. Here is one of them:



The remainder of our afternoon was spent kayaking at the J.N. “Ding” Darling Refuge (see my November posts for more info.). And, I am happy to report that Bruce caught another fish; a legal-sized speckled trout, this time around (Wooo HOOOO!). But, just as he did with the pompano, he released it immediately after I shot this photo:


To wrap up my Sanibel posts, I will include more of my favorite shots from the last couple of days. Stay tuned for a post about our detour, as we made our way back home…




There were hundreds of these crabs running around all over the shoreline! They were quite amusing to watch.


We finally took the opportunity to walk to the lighthouse in the morning, so I could get a shot of the sun shining on the roots of this dead tree.


This cormorant, resting in the shade under the pier, may have been sick or injured, because he just didn’t seem to have the motivation to move as I got up close to it.


We learned that osprey mate for life and always return to the same nest. After mating season, hubby and wife fly off to take separate vacations, and then meet again at the nest for the next round of baby-making.



Snowy egrets have yellow eyes, black bills, and yellow legs. Great egrets are larger in size and have black eyes, yellow bills, and black legs. Both species can always be seen around Lighthouse Pier snooping around the fishermen’s bait buckets, waiting for a handout.



This cute woodpecker had made a home in a dead tree, in front of a house down the street from our cottages.


These signs can be seen along the roadside in several areas throughout the island. They’re no joke!


When in Rome…


…do as the Romans do.  We take that old cliché to heart when we travel, always being sure to seek out the local haunts and do what the locals do.  So, today, we thought visiting the local farmer’s market would be just the local kind of thing to do- and, something we always enjoy no matter where we are visiting.

It was the first farmers market of the season and it seemed like the entire island showed up for the occasion.  It was a great atmosphere, people running into friends and exchanging hugs, people with their dogs, tourists toting their free Bailey’s General Store reusable bags (I know, because we used our coupon for one, too), and plenty of smiles to go around.  And, the vendors seemed genuinely pleased to be back in business for the season.





We surveyed all the options, settling on large pink shrimp ($15/lb.) from one vendor and fresh goat cheese ravioli from another.


 Next, I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw a young German couple selling their homemade German baked goods at their booth.  Pretzel rolls!  I absolutely loved sinking my teeth into those when I was in Germany, last year.  Two to go, please!  Tonight’s dinner was now planned- and, cooked to perfection by the best “Cook” in the world:  Bruce Cook.  Paired with some Barefoot Bubbly, it was delicious!

Sanibel Island Farmers Market was well worth the stop.  From the beautiful produce to the fresh seafood, bakery, cheeses, and artisan chocolates; there was something for everybody.  And, by the time we left, it appeared as if everybody had arrived.  It was time to get outta there and head to Captiva Island.

Captiva is connected to Sanibel by a bridge, however, at low tide, you can walk from one island to the other; the two are so close.  At only five miles long, Captiva is smaller than Sanibel, but just as beautiful.  And, from what we could tell, the one percenters who don’t have a home (or second home) on Sanibel, have one on Captiva, instead.  Both islands are quite high dollar, but Captiva had some ridiculous homes- that is, if you could see them through all the high-end foliage.

But, we weren’t there to gawk at the real estate; we were there to look for manatees- oh yeah, and breakfast at R.C. Otter’s, at the recommendation of our Sun City friends (again!).

Breakfast was delicious (homemade granola with HUGE fresh berries for me; blueberry pancakes for Bruce), but I was determined to see manatees before returning to Sanibel.  Thanks to our waiter pointing us to Jensen’s Marina, we were in luck; we saw three.

Did you know that the closest relative to the manatee is the elephant?  I sure didn’t! They are big, though; the average adult is 10 feet long and weighs between 800 and 1,200 pounds.


Since they are found in shallow waters, they are easy to spot.  One manatee we saw was feeding on the sea grass, just beyond the rocks of the marina, next to the shore.  In one day, these slow-moving gentle giants consume 10-15% of their body weight in vegetation.  So, much of their time is spent eating, like this one was doing.  They are mammals, though, so they come up to breath.  But that’s about all you will see of them above water; just their whiskers and mouth, grabbing a breath of air.  And, that, my friends, explains why I don’t have any photos of these “sea cows” to show you!  Photographing these big blobs below the surface of the water isn’t the easiest thing to do.  Just seeing these manatees, though, was a highlight.  They are an endangered species, so I felt fortunate to have that opportunity.

After returning to Sanibel for an afternoon swim, we grabbed our shelling tools to end our day with a stroll on the beach by our cottage.  The pelicans entertained us as we hunted for shells and watched Bo fetch her ball. 


Another great day!