Today was a big part of my objective for this trip. We spent a good part of it at J.N. “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island. But first things first.
The day started off with rain and fog. When we finally got out of the hotel around 8:30 it was drizzling pretty good. We idled away some time wandering through Ft Myers and Cape Coral on our way over to Sanibel just to see what’s there. As we worked our way towards Sanibel we found a place to eat (Nestors) and the time there got us closer to the 11:00 a.m. dry-up time the weatherman promised us.
Nestor’s was Ok. It’s clearly an old people’s Greek family restaurant: clientele and staff. I got a kick out of the lineup of calculators on the waitress stand. They clearly want to make sure their bills add up. However, on the positive side, they have had the same cook for the last 18 years. Depending on how much you like the food that’s a good thing (yup) or a bad one. 🙂 I had an asparagus and swiss omelette. Peg had pancakes and breakfast meat. It was good and reasonably priced.
We stopped off at a Tanger Outlet in search of a pair of suspenders (mine broke yesterday) but ended up with new chapeaus instead. Peg has been wanting a replacement sun visor — the one she had was printed with black and white stripes on the underside of the visor and she felt like she had vertigo…. and she found one. I realized my straw sunhat was falling to bits so I found a light cotton one to replace that…. Still in getting-ready-to-go-mobile-mode — it’s one thing in and one thing out.
From there it was on to J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. We love refuges and this one was no exception. Upon returning to the hotel I realize I left the connector cable for my CF memory card reader so I wont be sharing images until I get home — iPhone captures will have to suffice for the time being. And now that I know I don’t have the cord I’ll duplicate some shots just to share along the way.
The landlocked side of the refuge has a nice interpretive center as well as walking/biking trails and a 4 mile driving trail through the refuge. There’s a guided tram that follows the sam route as the drive-through, but we did the drive so that I had cameras, tripod, etc. easily accessible. It was a great joy to be back out in the wild shooting. I took the summer off from carrying heavy camera bodies and lenses but I missed being out there doing what I love. Once we get the silly house sold I’ll be doing a lot more shooting but for now this trip is a special treat for me.
After about 3 hours at the refuge we did a drive up to the end of Captiva Island and then stopped at the Sanibel Fish House for dinner. Grouper for us both filled our tummies along with some conch fritters and key lime pie stuffed cheesecake — and yeah…. it’s quite as good as it sounds. Terribly decadent and complete with heart palpitations. Gina our waitress is from Central Illinois and happens to be a Packers fan. So we had a lot to talk about (NOT). If we know anything about football that might have gone better. 🙂 But, it was a nice way to end the traipsing around part of the day.
We stopped off at Walmart on the way back to the hotel to pick up suspenders and Peggy said she needed a new purse (not sure if the old one will go out though — that rule doesn’t seem to apply equally to men and women).
All in all it was a good day.
Tomorrow we head to Homestead via Naples and the old Tamiami Trail. We’ve got about 140 miles ahead but we intend to poke around Naples a little and check out the outlying Glades locations along Hwy 41. We’ll spend two nights in the Glades on the Homestead side and Wednesday we’ll decide how much time to spend elsewhere in the Glades after we see how much time we might want to spend shooting on the East side. There are no plans to enter Miami, or the Keys.
I think it fair to say that aside from the refuges neither one of us is taken with Florida. The weather is nice, but there are other warm places in the U.S. Part of our retirement wanderings are to see if there is a place in the U.S. where we might like to settle into for our retirement years. Those of you who know us know that we are NOT people who like lots of other people. We like people — but in controlled quantities. Years ago we were the first in line for places like Summerfest with the hordes and crowds. But we haven’t gone to Summerfest in 20 years and we aren’t all that keen on big cities either. We love people. Just not a lot of them.
After three days here we have seen that Florida has no exclusive grasp of utopia. There’s too many people who want to be here for it to be our kind of place. Yesterday as we worked our way through areas like Clearwater and Bradenton and there were too many high rises and not enough low rises. Lots of people in confined areas make for slow traffic, and lots of retirees in confined areas make for lots of driving risk. We observed more than enough of those to be thankful for all our defensive driving lessons. Too many people are in too big a hurry and have forgotten any sense of courtesy or good manners. (yeah — I know, I’m an old fuddy-duddy).
In conversation between us I think we agree that we like S. Texas more than Florida — but there’s a long way ahead of us before we begin thinking seriously about whether or where we might let the air out of the tires and find a place to stay. The good part is that birds and critters don’t need a lot of people around, in fact they do better when there aren’t a lot of people. We are a lot like the birds and critters. We do better when there aren’t as many humans around too.
- J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge and Mucky Ducks! (travelspirit333.com)