Monday, June 19, 2017

Sand Dollars, Starfish, Stingrays and Sandy Sanibel

We're back home now and I thought I would make one last post to catch up and share some pictures from the week.  Have you ever noticed the older you get how time seems to fly by faster?  I can remember as a child summer vacations that seemed like  they went on forever.  Now a week is here and gone before you know it and a weekend goes by in the blink of an eye.  If I didn't know better I would swear the earth was turning faster.  One thing for sure when I was a kid it was a time when things were much simpler and took longer.  While technology is great, I think it will deprive some of our younger generation from some of the simpler joys in life.  Things like "kick the can" and staying out and playing all day just making sure you got home when the street lights came on.

The waters have been clear and full of sea life this trip.  You can stand in the ocean chest deep and see your feet!  We were concerned about how the week was going to go because the week before we came down was pretty much a rain out, but this past week was great.  Nothing spectacular in the shell department but it didn't keep us from looking.

On Wednesday we had several groups of Stingrays pass us while we were in the water.  What do you call a group of Stingrays?  A pod?, a flock?, A swarm?
A S_ _ _  Load?  Answer is a "fever".  Not making this up folks, found it on the Internet and we all know everything on the Internet is true.
Look close a fever of stingrays!
I was out in chest deep water and began seeing people frantically rush towards the shore. The only thing missing was the jaws music.  So I stood there still as possible and the "fever" passed me on both sides.  I was apparently in their way. There was probably close to 50 in the first group.  Nana and the Beach Angels soon joined me in the water and before you knew it the others that were rushing to get out of the water were back in trying to get a look as well.   The stingrays were all travelling west and word has it there was a lunch special at Mucky Duck on Captiva so I guess they were going to lunch.  There were several groups that passed us that day.  All headed west towards Captiva.  The last group had a manatee escort with them.  It was a cool sight.  Couldn't get a real clear picture and couldn't convince any of the stingrays to jump up on the boogie board for a photo.

Sand dollars and Starfish were all plentiful.  We persuaded a few of them to take a photo with us before returning them back to the ocean floor.  You know here they are sitting on the ocean floor minding their own business when all of a sudden an alien from above scoops them up for closer inspection before returning them back home again.
Lexi with Sand dollar

Close Encounters 2017

Taylor with starfish
Thursday we had to work on our beach art for 2017.  Let me introduce you all to Sandy Sanibel, (Sandy, get it?)  She is a lady of the sea also known as a mermaid. Sandy was quite popular this week.  She participated in several photo shoots but refused to sign any autographs.

Sandy Sanibel 2017
Hair care by Welk 

Keeping Sandy cool with some gulf water
Time on Sanibel/Captiva is not complete without taking some time to worship the Sun as it falls into the ocean and places a bookmark on your day with the promise of a new chapter in tomorrow's adventures.
Searching for Sunset

Sunset 2017

This week was filled with many memorable moments.  The youngest Beach Angel (Taylor) had recently seen Sushi being made on TV and said she wanted to try it!  Not wanting to deprive her the opportunity we got some while at Timbers.  Will she eat it?

Nope! Barely touched her tongue

Our Condo was on the third floor and had an elevator.  Taylor didn't care much for the elevator because it made a clunking noise when it took off.  She spent the week using the stairs rushing up or down to be at the elevator door when it opened.  Nana and I decided to prank her and act like we were making out in the elevator when the door opened and wouldn't you know it the one time we did it there was somebody else there waiting for the elevator!

Our oldest Beach Angel Lexi is going to be on the cheer squad in high-school next year. The beach was here acrobatic playground this week.  I think Nana still had bad memories of the sprained ankle she got during our last visit here.  She kept telling Lexi to knock it off cause she didn't want to go to urgent care this trip.

Practice makes perfect

Beach Angels 2015

Beach Angels 2017

When on Sanibel and Captiva there is so much treasure to find whether it be an exotic plant, bird, or gift from the sea.  This year the girls found a new dimension of treasure hunting while there.  On Thursday we decided to go to Cheeburger, Cheeburger for a late lunch/early dinner.  Our little Beach angel a.k.a. Rock hound came upon a painted rock that said "Rock On" on it.  There was also a note glued to it that had a facebook address with instruction to post your rock picture on their facebook page. 

when you find a rock its yours to keep or you can post a picture and put it out for another to find. 
The cool thing would be to take it some place far away and see how far the rocks would travel. Kind of like a modern day message in a bottle.

After Taylor found her rock and we figured out what was going on, the hunt was on so they went out and found another. 

 1st find
2nd find

While our week went by entirely too fast we did enjoy every minute while on the island.  Someday  many many years from now I hope the girls will pull out these old post and remember some of the great times we had in our "Happy Place". 

Life is a highway and its not always about the destination but about the journey, except if your on Sanibel or Captiva.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Tuesday's addition chasing the sunrise

So Tuesday we spent on the beach.  The nice thing about being right on the beach is you seem to spend much more time on it.  We have logged quite a few hours on beach time this week.  Since we only see it once a year the more time soaking up the sun and the surf the better.

On Tuesday morning we got out early Carol wanted to see if she could get some pictures of the sunrise.  We are not on the best part of the island for sunrise or sunset pictures we are spoiled from spending so much time on Captiva where sunset especially, is worshiped.

One beach Angel (Taylor) was up for the task the other Beach Angel (Lexi) did one of her favorite things SLEEP!

When we hit the beach like a kid and a mud puddle I'm drawn to the water and automatically go into treasure hunting mode.  I looked up and Carol and Taylor are gone.  They were on a mission to find that sunrise and it was some where down the beach around the bend.

A quick check of my pockets,  no cell phone check, no wallet check, OK I'm good to go.  To cover the most ground this morning I'll walk the surf line.  It's like a fresh canvas every time a new wave comes in and then retreats back to the ocean.  The shells are plentiful but I'm looking for something special to catch my eye.
 Breakfast Meeting
I came upon a spot where there was a large flock of Brown Pelicans congregating just off shore.  Every now and then a couple of new ones would glide in and join the flock.  For some reason it reminded me of a bunch of senior citizens meeting at the local McDonald's restaurant every morning for a bite to eat and conversation.  Don't know why but I couldn't get it out of my head.

If I was a sea bird I would prefer to be an Osprey instead of a Pelican.  Besides looking kinda goofy could you imagine getting a mouth full of sea water every time you went to catch a fish for dinner.  At least the Osprey uses their talons to catch their prey.

Osprey (yes)

Pelican (No)
There are around 20 turtle nest within a half mile stretch of the beach around us. I saw volunteers with the SCCF out checking the beach for new crawls.  They were stopped at a crawl and they took a rake and smoothed out the sand. No sign of an active nest so not really sure why they were covering up the trail.  They mark the nest with barriers to keep you out.  If this stretch of beach is any indicator it looks like it will be a good turtle season on Sanibel this year.

After about a hour the girls are back.  Carol said they made it down to Casa Ybel which is quite a hike from where we are staying but still wasn't able to get the kind of sunrise shots she's use to getting on Captiva.
Sunrise on Sanibel
Could someone point me to the ocean please

Welcoming a new day in paradise

A good hike and we made our way back to the condo.  Coffee and donuts today on the lanai as soon as Taylor and I get back from Jerry's me for the donuts and Taylor to say Hi to the parrots.

In this time where there's nothing good reported in the media one thing that stays constant is the sea breeze and sound of the rolling waves.  I can't think of a better way to replenish the soul.  

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

"I DO"

So forty one years ago on Monday we said "I DO".  A few pounds, some gray hair and lots of wrinkles later we still Do.  Forty one years ago we didn't even know this place existed and even if we did we probably would not have been able to afford coming here.
We still DO

Our good friends Herb and Sue Maddox introduced us to Sanibel about 17 years ago.  Who would have thought that a small vacation with some friends would have turned into a life long family destination. We have been able to experience and share this place with other loved ones. They probably don't know just how blessed they are to be able to experience this place at a young age.

A few hours at the Beach today then darkening skies to the south and distant thunder reminded us of getting caught on the beach a few years ago in a Southwest Florida thunderstorm.  You might think what the heck I'm wet anyway. Believe me its not a good decision to stay.  Rain driven by forty mile an hour winds seems to have a stinging quality to it.  We made it back in plenty of time to watch the skies open up. Watching a group in a large open bow boat travelling in the gulf trying to make it back to safety.  I would not have wanted to be on that boat.

Today was a Win/Win for dinner.  The Beach Angels can still be a little picky when it comes to their taste in food.  Their meal of choice Subway.  Carol and My meal of choice Thistle Lodge at Casa Ybel Resort.

Casa Ybel is one of those places on Sanibel that has an illustrious history.  George Barnes built Sanibel's first cottage in the mid 1880's after his boat ran aground on the island.  The place grew into a 30 room resort over the years.  It was one of Sanibel's first resorts.  Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were some of Casa Ybel's first vacationers. Supposedly George Barnes daughter married one of the resort guest in 1890's and he built her a grand manor on the property known as "Thistle Lodge"  Today a great place for dinner with some real old Florida 
charm.  Today the resort has over 100 rooms. 
Mango Margaritas at Thistle Lodge

Grilled Vegetable Cannelloni w Chicken& Slow Roasted Berkshire Pork “Osso Bucco”

Girls dinner

Casa Ybel then
Casa Ybel today

Our dinner was great as usual and the Beach Angels were happy campers as well  Finished the evening off with a walk on the beach time.

Another anniversary in the books.  Forty one more might be asking for a little much but we'll take whatever comes our way and hopefully many more in this beautiful place.

Boogie Board Beach Angels

So Sunday started off with overcast skies, a quick thank-you to the man upstairs for giving us such a beautiful place to be, and breakfast at the Lighthouse Cafe.  Best seafood omelette on Sanibel hands down.

When we got back we were in "Beach Mode".  Not Marshawn Lynch "Beast Mode" but Carol lets getting moving, time to go to the Beach Mode.  Since the skies were still overcast we weren't  in full Beach Mode which means we didn't take all the usual stuff.  For those of you that have been with us you know how much of the usual stuff we take!

I would have to rate this as one of the best Beach Days for the Beach Angels that I can remember.  Our spot on the beach has a nice sandbar running  just out from the shore line and it made for Boogie Board heaven for the girls today.
The Beach Angels 2011

The beach angels 2017

It doesn't seem like that long ago we would have to take them up after a couple hours for an afternoon nap.  Ok, that was awhile back.  But use to be, a little salt water in the eyes or a good mouth full of the gulf was sure to mean game over. Today was a totally different story.  They had a blast on the Boogie Boards today and we stayed out there longer than I can remember them ever staying.

I think the word for the day was "Here comes a big one". As they would get positioned and ride the waves.  The girls were in Boogie Board Heaven.   Me I don't Boogie!  I'm more like a Bobber.  Just hang on to the board and bob up and down with the waves.

Even though most of the day was overcast it still turned out to be a great day. Not a bad start to our vacation.
Our Beach Angels

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Finding your "Happy Place"

So it's been two years since I've been to my "Happy Place".  Now don't get me wrong it's not that I'm an unhappy guy.  I have a good life and a great family.  There are many things that make me happy.  Anything from a giggle to a hug from any of my five granddaughters makes me happy.  A cruise in my 66 with the top down and the deep rumble coming from the side-pipes makes me happy.  Sitting on the porch and hearing nothing but the call of a mourning dove in the morning or a bull frog breaking the evening quiet these all make me happy.

However; when it comes to going to my "Happy Place" there really only one place that does it for me and that place is Captiva/Sanibel.  It's been two years since we've been here so this trip will be like catching up with an old friend.

For those of you that know what it's like to find your "Happy Place" congratulations.  For those of you who don't the best way I can describe it is like the feeling you get when you take a deep breath and exhale slowly. Feels good don't it!

This year its just Carol, me, and the two oldest granddaughters.  When they are down here they are affectionately known as the "Beach Angels". Lexi has been coming to paradise with us since 2004.  Hard to believe next year she will be a freshman in high school.  Wow!

I know she will probably soon out grow going on trips with NaNa and PaPa but I have no doubt she will never grow tired of this place.

This trip will be a little different we usually rent a house on Captiva but this year we're trying a condo on Sanibel.  Sand Pointe is a 45 unit complex off of West Gulf Drive.  We are beach front so with a front row seat to the gulf and the constant breeze from the ocean I'm sure i feel a good stretch of lazy coming on.

Last time we were down here Taylor our other Beach Angel found a rare shell for down here, an Imperial Venus.  Can't wait to go exploring with her and seeing what she comes up with this year.

First order of business once we're at the condo is make sure there are no loose floor mats laying around!  We don't want any sprained ankles or trips to urgent care this year.  We will have to go to CVS though because last time we were down Carol twisted her ankle on the floor mat at the front door where we were staying.  Because her foot swelled up so much she got a pair of flip flops at CVS.  She loves those flip flops so much she has to go back for another pair!  Flip Flops yes, Sprained ankles NO!

We arrived on Saturday afternoon.  The trip most of the way down was clear, but as we got closer to paradise the skies darken and we we're in for a rainy afternoon in southwest Florida.  I did learn a new breakfast combination this year.  On Saturday morning when we leave Valdosta GA its usually a mad dash to paradise so we don't stop for breakfast.  Taylor's breakfast of champions on Saturday morning is powdered donuts, SlimJims and Chocolate milk. Yum!

After the floor mat check we're off for a quick trip for groceries and dinner at Doc Fords. Then a visit with an old friend as we check out the beach for the first time this trip. The skies were cloudy so no beautiful sunset this evening.  The sunsets this year will not be as spectacular as we are use to when we stay on Captiva.  Where we are staying on Sanibel this year the island faces pretty much South.  Captiva has more of a Western exposure.  The water was cool and we leave the beach as the daylight dwindles with hopes for a better day on Sunday.  Apparently last week was pretty much a rain event so were praying to the beach gods that this week will improve and provide us with some much desired vitamin D.

Stay tune more adventures and pictures to come! 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Beach Angel turns 12

We Today is our oldest Beach Angel "Lexi's" birthday.  They grow up so fast.  we looked back on some pictures and videos from vacations past they are filled with many great memories of our time on Sanibel/Captiva.

We made a little video to celebrate Lexi's special day.     

We also made up a little display box to safely store Taylor's rare shell find she has told everybody about her shell.  I have no doubt she will have this shell for years to come.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A special Find

One of our Beach Angels "Taylor" had a rare find while on Captiva this year.  She found an Imperial Venus shell!  Thanks to "Shellady" for confirming the find.
                  "Taylor" A.K.A Beach Angel 

                                    Imperial Venus 2015

You might remember the story I told you all awhile back about Taylor's fascination at a younge age with collecting rocks.  To most of us just plain old rocks.  She would collect them from around my Koi pond, NaNa's garden or sometimes maybe in the middle of a gravel parking lot. 

                                                                PaPa's Koi pond

She of course turned her attention to shells as soon as we began taking her to Captiva.  Even now though she won't pass up a good  rock if she sees one.  Taylor's first shells on Captiva were usually broken or had holes in them, far from perfect specimens. While most of us would have smiled and most likely tossed them back in the ocean Taylor saw the beauty and collected them anyway.

Shells are alot like people we all have our flaws and most of us are far from perfect.  The beauty found for each of us comes from the perspective of the person making the find.  Every now and then we are surprised and blessed with a rare find.

The shoreline of Sanibel and Captiva are loaded with alot of shells with many choices to make.  By comparison the world around us also provides us with many choices. Finding that rare shell or person is not always easy.  Where you may pass it by the next person will pause find the beauty in it and collect it.

Like all proud grandparents I look at all my Beach Angels as rare finds.  Far from perfect but beauties to me. Truly something that NaNa and I both cherish.

I had a rare find myself last year with a Lion's Paw and a piece of a Junonia.  Taylor's find this year with the Imperial Venus just makes the week  even more special.  We will have to get a special box so Taylor can keep her special find safe.  You always want to protect a rare find!  I don't consider myself a hard core sheller.  I know people that put in much more time and effort than me when it comes to finding shells. Like a moth to a porch light I'm drawn to the ocean and automatically go into a search mode when this special place is within reach.

                                   Last years find Lion's Paw and piece of Junonia

I took an extra week off this week and the Beach Angels are at our house during the summer vacation during the day while their Mom is at work.  Taylor was excited and proud to learn about her find this morning.

I also wanted to share a picture of something on my kitchen counter this morning.  You guessed it a rock.  Picked up in the driveway by you guessed it Taylor.  The picture doesn't do it justice this one sparkles when the light hits it right.  Just like Taylor!

Hard to see in the picture but lots of sparkles in this specimen. 

Two years in a row with a unique find makes the anticipation of our next visit that much more exciting.

So remember take the time to cherish those rare finds in your life whether they be a rock, a shell or that special person in your life.