We have made some interesting observations being in Sanibel during the spring, after visiting here during last fall. Most noticeably, we have seen very few calico scallop shells on Lighthouse Beach, whereas they were quite plentiful, last November. Are shells seasonal? I had never given it much thought.

Birds, on the other hand, were something we learned about back in grade school. Some species migrate south for the winter and others stay year around. Last November, the white pelicans had just arrived from Canada. And, we saw birds everywhere. During our paddle through the Mangrove Tunnels, last November, we saw birds all around us. (Check out my Sanibel blog posts for photos.)

Kayaking through Mangrove Tunnels this time was much different. We saw only three birds in the tunnels; none of the species we saw last November. This bird isn’t even on the Sanibel bird species page of the Sanibel Chamber of Commerce guide, so did it migrate from the south where the seasons are opposite of ours? Does anybody know what the name of this bird and where it is from? Perhaps it is a local bird, after all, but we sure didn’t see any last fall.


There haven’t been as many dolphins feeding out off of Lighthouse Beach this time, but we did enjoy watching this one cruising for fish, just 30 or 40 yards off shore. When it spotted a fish, it would chase it up to the shallower water and trap it just feet from the shore. It was quite a show!


As for the water temperature during this visit, it has been perfect at 78 degrees; very inviting for my morning open water swims. Last November, in addition to the horrible red tide, the water temperature was cold; fine for kayaking, but too cold otherwise.

One thing that hasn’t been much different is the fishing. Bruce had no luck last November, but neither did anybody else, due to the red tide and sudden drop in water temperature.

We thought Bruce would have much better luck this time around. Considering his success fishing from his kayak in San Diego Bay (I witnessed him catching a bass on several casts in a row and 5-10 fish in a typical hour on the water.) and at Lighthouse Lakes, in Texas, it seemed like a no-brainer to catch fish here. He did his research and had the right tackle. But, once again, it has been tough. And, once again, we haven’t seen anybody else catching much of anything either. BUT, he did catch this pompano, yesterday.


That was one full day! It began with a fast-paced 40 minute open water swim, followed by a pool training session; a total of 5,000 yards between the two. I capped that off with a PT session in the gym.

After brunch back at the cottage, we packed up for our afternoon kayak fishing trip on Tarpon Bay. The winds had kicked up to 11mph, so we had a rough paddle against the current to a protected area where Bruce caught his pompano. But, it was a fun couple of hours out on the water, before riding the current back to our launch site. And, at that point, we declared the day DONE. It was time to head back, clean up, and relax over dinner- and, dessert.

After dinner, we were strolling by shop windows and noticed a group of guys sitting around in a circle playing guitars and one playing a drum. They were in the Sanibel Café, a breakfast and lunch café that had closed hours ago. When we did a double-take, the owner invited us in and offered us a beer on the house. I mentioned that Bruce played harmonica, but had not brought any with him. The next thing we knew, one of the guys went out to his car to get his harmonica and Bruce joined in on a loosely organized jam session that meets on Monday nights at the café. Bruce blew them away (no pun intended) and it was a fun way to finish off an action-packed day!


The last two evenings have been beautiful on Lighthouse Beach, during sunset. The tide has been low during the nicest time of the day, so we have strolled along the shoreline with our Friskies and camera, taking a sip here and photographing a shell or bird there.












Enjoying the sunset on Lighthouse Pier were Noodles and Summer, two very sweet Weimaraners; my favorite breed!








Like our last visit to Sanibel Island, this has NOT been a sedentary vacation! And, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Following my last post, Bruce and I took a late afternoon walk along Lighthouse Beach to photograph the shells, watch the birds and fisherman on the pier, and just enjoy the beauty all around us.




Notice I said “photograph” the shells. Last November, we collected all sorts of shells, but ultimately decided to keep only the most special ones. The remainder came back with us to Sanibel. I threw them into the water at the end of the pier, to wash up on the shore, once again.

Yesterday morning, after my 45 minute open water swim, I walked along the beach looking for shells, while Bruce continued to fish. (Notice I said “fish”, rather than “catch”.) I found a beautiful lightning whelk on this hunt; definitely a keeper that won’t find its way back to Sanibel, next time around.

The swim before my shell hunt was another in-the-zone experience: Perfect water conditions, a gorgeous morning (just after sunrise), and a dolphin swimming by just 50 yards away, as I headed back to the shore. My sighting even improved (Alligator eyes for you, Cooooach Mike!) as I felt more comfortable in my surroundings and adapted with my Meniere’s.

The activity for the day didn’t end there, as we made our way to the Sanibel Recreation Center for our real workout. While Bruce exercised in the gym, I managed training 2,500 yards in the pool; a not-so-fast sprint session, since I already had an open water session behind me. After that: PT exercises in the gym. It was afternoon before we finally had “breakfast”.

Today was another fitness boot camp day: Four hours of paddling (with a few stops to photograph the birds), followed by a full training session in the pool and gym. Pure heaven!









And, now, to cap off a perfect day, a toast to my friends Melody and David: With Frisky (Fresca and Spiced Rum; Melody’s invention) in hand, we celebrate the success of your surgery and David’s remission. Cheers!



I don’t remember the last time I swam any distance in open salt water. Since swimming during the summers of my youth at the Alamitos Bay Peninsula, in Long Beach, I have kayak surfed, body surfed, snorkeled; just about everything BUT swim for any distance in anything other than a lake. So, returning to the saltwater for a good long swim was pure joy.

While Bruce fished from the shore, this morning, I swam back and forth, practicing my sighting for the upcoming Clemson open water swim, in June, and the Georgia Games 3k and 1k swim, in July. In my very first open water swim competition, last summer, I swam in the Georgia Games and swam the 3k and 1k back-to-back. Winning a silver and gold in my age group was the icing on top of a fantastic experience- and, learning I am really better suited for long distance swimming, after all.

In my first open water swimming experience since those races at Lake Ackworth, I really felt like I was swimming in the zone. The water was a perfect 78 degrees, I swam straight, and, Bruce even said a dolphin swam alongside me for awhile; something I didn’t even notice, since I was turning toward the shoreline to take my breaths and the dolphin was on the other side of me.

It was a beautiful morning, capped off with a pool workout and PT exercises in the gym, before heading back to Seahorse Cottages for breakfast.



Sanibel Island, Florida, is one of those places where, when you leave, you just know you have to go back. If you read Sanibel Island blog posts from last November (in the Domestic Travel section) and see my photos, you will understand why Bruce and I returned.

Today, we arrived for another 10-day visit and were greeted by perfect weather; it was a gorgeous day! And, the first thing we noticed when we stepped out onto the beach was that familiar scent of saltwater we enjoyed so much when we were last here; just like back in San Diego.

It’s spring now, so things look a bit different than during our November visit. There are more flowers in bloom, different birds running up and down the surf line, and less humidity- thankfully. And, no red tide!

We hear the fishing is good at the moment, so Bruce is looking forward to giving it a try in the morning, while I go for an open water swim in the perfect 78 degree water.

Just to give you a taste of what our late afternoon was like, the following are a few of my favorite photos of the day:












They Called Him “Flipper”…

Do you remember that really cheesy, sappy TV show, “Flipper” with the even cheesier theme song?  When I was a little kid, Flipper was my favorite show; must-see TV for me.  I was so envious of Sandy; I wanted my very own pet dolphin, too!  I was so crazy about dolphins, my dream was to grow up and become a dolphin trainer at Marineland (no longer in existence) or Sea World.

Well, fast forward to 2012 and now I am a baby geezer, remembering that childhood dream.  Flipper was from Florida and now I was on a mission to see his distant cousins here, too.  Sure, I have seen plenty of dolphins in my 50 years, but “plenty” is never enough, when it comes to seeing your very favorite of anything.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself, as far as yesterday’s adventures go.  The day started out back at J.N. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge; this time with our kayaks, rather than a tram tour.  There are two places to launch within the reserve and we opted for the second, after passing the white pelicans.



Bruce brought his fishing gear, intending to catch this time, rather than just fish.  But, it just wasn’t meant to be.  It’s not that he’s a bad fisherman; I used to watch him catch 6-10 bass in one hour off Coronado Bay, from his kayak.  And, that’s no fish story; it was a regular thing!  But, here, the fish just aren’t going to bite at much of anything when they are suffering from a sudden 10 degree temperature drop.

So, while Bruce fished, I chased around a blue heron and watched the egrets on the shoreline.  It was a gorgeous day and so quiet and tranquil.


After fishing, a swim workout, and a deli sandwich from Jerry’s, we headed for the Lighthouse in our kayaks in search of dolphins.  They were there the other day, so we figured our luck would be with us again.  Sure enough, before we even launched our kayaks, we spotted them, just 50 yards out.  FLIPPER!

The gulf was completely flat and winds were only 4mph; perfect for ‘yaking.  We paddled towards the pier and spent the remainder of the late afternoon paddling around a couple of pods of dolphins out for their evening meal.  A mother and baby, close by her side, didn’t seem to mind us at all; a surprise, since mothers are always so protective of their young.  At one point, Mom poked her head up by Bruce’s kayak to have a look, before swimming right under his boat.  He must have met her approval (how could she not???), because they continued to hang around the area.



A few times, the dolphins surfaced right by my boat, as well, before taking a dive right under me.  (Of course, every time, I was too slow at the trigger and ended up with plenty of photos of just a fin sticking out of the water…)  It was such a thrill, reminding me of the times I had paddled with the dolphins before; once in Long Beach and the other in Aransas Pass, Texas.

The main thing was that it was such a blast to be out there with the dolphins, so close to the shore, watching them feed.  At times, they would dart towards the shore chasing down their dinner; their speed and agility amazing to see.  We were having so much fun; we didn’t want to turn back when the sun was almost set.  For that hour or two, I was living that childhood dream.  “They called him Flipper,  Flipper, Flipper, …”

Birds in Paradise


Summer fun at the Alamitos Bay Peninsula, in Long Beach, where I grew up, always included watching the pelicans fly overhead and dive bomb into the surf, in search of lunch.  I used to love watching “pelis”, my favorite bird. 


Here in Sanibel, pelicans are everywhere!  And, we saw plenty of them today, along with great egrets, snowy egrets, reddish egrets, and cormorants; all hoping for castoffs from the fisherman along the beach and Lighthouse pier.

Before we found ourselves surrounded by birds, the day began with my swim workout, while Bruce took a long walk on the beach near our cottage.  (For my Sun City friends who have been to Sanibel, Seahorse Cottages are located directly behind the Lighthouse Café; a great location!)

At the recommendation of those same Sun City friends, we enjoyed brunch at Grama Dot’s, thoroughly enjoying peel-and-eat shrimp (me) and fried shrimp (Bruce), after working up quite an appetite.  It was a gorgeous day, so the view of the boats at Sanibel Marina was the perfect way to enjoy those shrimp.  I had hoped to also see manatees or dolphins, but the water was too cold for the manatees and the dolphins were elsewhere…

Bruce had opted not to fish today, so it was back to the beach for some shelling and photography.





Our last stop was back at Lighthouse Beach, where we had seen dolphins and pelicans the first time.  We thought we would try our luck again.  So, that’s where the dolphins were hanging out today!  Overheard on the pier, spoken by a sunburned fisherman who had been there…awhile:  “Those dolphins have been here all damn day!”  Of course, we were ecstatic, however, he wasn’t too thrilled about the dolphins eating up his potential catch.

We didn’t see just one or two dolphins; we saw several pods, all out cruising for their lunch.  A couple of times, we watched as one would chase a fish all the way up to the shallow edge, just feet from the shore, then dart back out again.  It all happened so quick, I never had my camera ready.  But, I did manage to get my favorite bird and (part of a) water mammal together in the same frame.


Meanwhile, back to the birds, as soon as a fisherman threw some bits of fish to a pelican on the beach, birds came out of nowhere and everywhere.  It was a free for all and quite a hoot to watch.  I never had this much fun watching birds in Long Beach!








How Many Laps (In This Pool) Is A Mile?

When we made reservations with Seahorse Cottages, on Sanibel Island, I wasn’t concerned whether it had a pool or not, since I had done my research and knew the Sanibel Recreation Center pool was suitable for training.  So, I really didn’t give any thought to what I would find, once I arrived to our cottage.  Imagine the look on my face, however, when I saw this:


Needless to say, I never laughed so hard at the sight of a “pool” in all my life!  It is, I’m sure, smaller than Sun City Peachtree’s spa!  I thought about getting my suit on and having Bruce photograph me “swimming” backstroke, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet; I’ve been too busy swimming in this pool, instead:


So, what do you think?  How many laps do you think it would take to “swim” a mile in our cottage pool?  I should measure the pool and figure it out…

Meanwhile, Sanibel Recreation Center’s pool is quite nice.  The facility is only five years old, so everything is in excellent condition and quite clean.  And, I don’t get kicked out of the pool between 9am – 10am, like I do at Sun City Peachtree, when the four or five noodlers get the entire pool all to themselves for their “water aerobics” class!  Here, they keep two lanes open at all times during every water aerobics class!  And, it really is water aerobics (no cd’s) with a teacher who encourages those ladies (and gentlemen) to move.  She is an excellent instructor; so good, even I might even become a noodler, if I lived here on the island.  These noodlers have it good!

Fishing (and Not Catching); No Fish Stories Today

If you already read yesterday’s blog, you might want to scroll back and take a look at a couple of photos I added; the alligator I mentioned and some beautiful white pelicans that just arrived from Canada.  I was too tired to go through my photos last night, so I went through and picked out a few favorites to add to yesterday’s and today’s post.

We ended the day, yesterday, with a relaxing walk along Bowman’s Beach, noted for its excellent shelling.  But, the shelling actually turned out to be better 1-1/2 blocks from our cottage, not far from the lighthouse.

So, here are the photos I collected, rather than shells:





Today, after swimming at the Sanibel Recreation Center, we took our kayaks out on the bay for some fishing and photography.  Note that I said “fishing”, not “catching”.  (After all, Bruce did purchase a fishing permit; not a catching permit.) Thanks to the ten degree drop in water temperatures that occurred just before we arrived on Sanibel, the fish are in a bit of shock, perhaps.  But, it was fun watching the birds, including two ospreys on their nest, surveying the activity below.  And, to top things off, we saw a pod of dolphins that came quite close to Bruce’s kayak.  Although I didn’t get close enough to get a good photo, it was fun watching them- and, trying to catch up with the pod!

I did get a few photos of the ospreys and other birds; however, you won’t be seeing those (or any other kayaking photos) until after we return home.  I didn’t realize until today that I don’t have my new waterproof camera’s software on my netbook; it is only my desktop computer- at home.  It’s not that I forgot to do load it; it just never even occurred to me.  Note to self, added to my spiral notebook that goes everywhere I go:  Load Fuji software on netbook!  That was notated right below:  Write Debbie’s October 28th birthday on my 2013 calendar!  Happy belated birthday (again), Deb; we’re thinking about you!

Some Sanibel Scoop

We didn’t know Sanibel Island even existed until our friends, Becky and Paul told us about their vacations to Captiva Island, Florida, located just past Sanibel Island.  They couldn’t say enough great things about it though, which explains their once or twice per year annual visits.  So, we were convinced we just had to see it for ourselves.

Sanibel Island measures roughly 12 miles long and five miles across at its widest point.  Captiva Island is smaller at less than 5 miles long and a 1/2-mile wide.  Both are accessible from Fort Myers by the Sanibel Causeway Bridge.  At a bridge toll of $6 and steep beach parking fees, they are not frequented by Floridians as often as other destinations- just the way the locals like it.  So, it is not as touristy here like, say, Daytona Beach or Orlando.  Rather, the vibe is low key and relaxing.  This is where we are staying: ; a very low key place in a great location near the beach.

There are so many reasons to visit Sanibel Island; especially if you are a beachcomber.  Sanibel Island ranks number one on the continent for shelling and we could see why!  We literally saw piles of shells as we walked along the beach at sunset, on the evening of our arrival.  Due to its east-west torque of Sanibel’s south end, it acts as a ladle, scooping up all the shells that the Gulf imports from the Caribbean and other southern seas.  The abundance and variety of shells draws serious shellers from all over the world.





 Birders are also drawn to Sanibel, because of the abundance and variety of gorgeous birds that wade in marshes and cruise the shorelines.  In our first day alone, we saw everything from two varieties of each of pelicans, herons, and egrets, to ospreys and the bright pink Roseate Spoonbill.  And, on the beach, there were dozens of willets, plovers and sandpipers.





Even if you ignore the shells and birds, the beaches here are gorgeous!  And, that’s before I even get into what is beyond the shore.  Last evening, we saw our first bottlenosed dolphins frolicking about just 50 yards out.  From what we hear, there will be plenty more of them to see.  But, we really hope to see manatees, too, known to frequent this area.


There is also the 6,400 acres of J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, the natural showpiece of Sanibel Island.  After my swim at the Sanibel Recreation Center (a wonderful facility!), we visited the refuge today.  We took a guided tram ride and thoroughly enjoyed the beauty of the area and the wildlife we saw, including a variety of birds and even an alligator catching some rays in the shallow water right near the road.


Tomorrow, we will get our kayaks out on the water, so Bruce can fish for Redfish, Speckled Trout, Tripletail, Snapper, Cobia, and/or Snook.  He plans to mostly catch and release, but I’ll try to snap a photo or two first.

Our first impression of Sanibel?  We’re hooked (no pun intended)!