SWIMMING, SHELLING, AND KAYAKING IN SANIBEL

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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.

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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!

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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!

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:

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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:

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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!

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:  www.seahorsecottages.com ; 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.

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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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)!