Posted by: David Carlson | February 26, 2009

Sanibel Island, Florida

On the sidebar see the Flickr slideshow from our week on Sanibel Island.  My new header shows a scene from a kayak trail, at the south end of J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Preserve.

For $30+ tax  each, my daughter and I rented a two person kayak.  We followed Janet, our guide, out into Tarpon Bay, where  dolphins played with their food before eating, tossing mullets in the air.  Our group of five kayaks rafted together now and then for a naturalist talk, and otherwise proceeding single file through twiting and turning  mangrove tunnels.  After 1 1/2 hours our guide sent us off on our own.  Only a few egrets, herons, and ibis were hiding amidst branches and roots. Vultures circled overhead.

Driving to Sanibel Island costs $6 to cross over the Causeway from Ft. Myers Beach, no charge returning to the mainland.  Spring Break has begun for some. Traffic gets heavier each day.  Max speed limit on the island is 35 mph. Our rented condo at Blind Pass on the north end of the island is about four miles to the business strips, and normally takes about 15 minutes.  The strip continues another three miles to the Causeway, and that can take as much as 25 minutes.

Some people might consider Sanibel overdeveloped.  Captiva Island is the next one to the north, and you could make a better case about overdevelopment there, with older vacation homes being crowded out by huge new contruction.  Structures under construction look like castles, and not a hint of financial chaos delaying the work.  High density condo developments on Sanibel are hidden from view, and wildlife protection gets strong enforcement.

People come to the beaches to collect shells. Every wave and tidal surge  brings an amazing, fresh collection,  geological limestone stratification in progress.  I wouldn’t have thought to look for mounds of  fossilized shells in a limestone formation.

We made Sanibel home base for the first two Twins Spring Training home games, a cruise to Key West, and a tour of the Edison-Ford Winter Estates.  Meanwhile, there was a golf tournament at Naples, about 30 miles south of Ft.Myers.  A tri-county fair starts this weekend.

We found too much to do at Key West on a daytrip. It was Fat Tuesday.  Probably too wild for teatotalers such as ourselves, but I could put up with it for a week.  A cruise from Ft. Myers Beach was interesting once, but 3 1/2 hours on the water each way was boring once land was out of sight.  Dry Tortugas National Park was in sight to the west as we approached Key West, and that would be a cruise destination in itself.

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