Merry Christmas from Florida!
Whether your Christmas is enjoyed in a warm climate or in front of a warm fireplace, may you find comfort and peace this holiday.
From, Mike & Terry
Enjoying a BBQ at our RV site in Fort Myers Beach with three old retired pipefitters and their wives (looking good, Kathy and Suzie). All from our hometown in Washington. We called it the Local 598 Retirement Party. Good food. Good company.
Some tall tales were told at this get-together. Scary part of it--it was all true!
[From left: Kathy Clouse, Terry Clouse (old retired pipefitter), Terry Main, Mike Main (old retired pipefitter), Suzie Turner, and Mike Turner (old retired pipefitter)]
An alligator decided to take a stroll through the neighborhood today pausing at one of the RV sites. Probably a good idea to look under our truck and 5’er before we venture out in the future. Culture shock.
The no see ‘um bugs are another animal. The tiny bloodsuckers pack a bite and the welts itch for up to a week. Only the females bite, usually in the shade or at dusk/night near water. Here in Florida water is everywhere, so they bite often.
We also spent several hours at Fort Myers Beach this afternoon. Fun place to people watch and walk on the beach. Did you know the sand does not get hot on the beach here? It is soft, white finely crushed coral. Easy to walk with bare feet as far as you want.
Sanibel Island is known for shells on the beach. No kidding! The beaches have piles and piles of shells on beautiful white sandy beaches. People walk down the beach, stop, and bend over to pick up another interesting shell. Best shells found today are in the picture on the right.
Mike spent the day fishing with Terry (not me, the other Terry) off the bridge near the beach. Caught a couple of sheep head fish. Nasty looking teeth. Kathy and I stayed on the beach and did a little reading, a little swimming and a little wildlife watching. “Swarms” of mullet fish swam by, jumping like popcorn with dolphins in pursuit. The heron seem to pose for pictures letting you walk within a few feet (big guys standing about 4 feet). Mike is doing the Sanibel Stoop in the picture right.
To access Sanibel Island, you drive over two causeway bridges after paying a six dollar toll (conveniently located 3 miles from our RV location). The island is a different world from Fort Myers. The pace slows down considerably. Speed limits down to 30 miles per hour. Paved bike trails parallel all the roads. Much of the island retains the wild nature look of tropical jungle with a multi-million home or small pastel-colored beach shack tucked in here and there. Everyone with a smile.
The Randy Wayne White books are favorites with each new book downloaded on the Kindle as soon as it is published. The main character is Doc Ford who lives in a stilt house over the water near Fort Myers Beach. Action. Adventure. Each book is a new ride.
Two miles from our current RV home location is the setting for Doc Ford’s house. And in real life, the location of Randy Wayne White’s Bar and Grill which is called….wait for it….Doc Ford’s!. We stopped by the bar tonight to have a drink and listen to the country band playing. Great setting. Lights in the bay with all the shrimp boats lined up. I looked for the stilt house…
Each day is a new learning experience and places to explore in Florida. The drive to the Everglades National Park has as much to see as the actual park with alligators along the road and a gazillion different birds. Mile after mile of grass and water. The land is below sea more than it is above.
Land of Ten Thousand Islands.
The trip home included a stop at Tin City in Naples, Florida, for lunch. Just a quirky, little tourist area for little shops, but it was fun to eat lunch outside at the Riverwalk Restaurant and watch the smaller boats travel up and down the river. Just the pure joy of eating outside in 80 degree weather is pleasure enough in December.
Terry and Kathy are hamming it up with the local attractions outside the restaurant. –>
We got off of Highway 41 (Tamiami Trail) to take the road along the Gulf shoreline and through Fort Myers Beach to preview the beaches we will be visiting in the next few weeks. Great white sand beaches with fishing, sand castle building (no waves to knock them down) or just people watching.
After arriving home, we walked over to the Tiki Bar for a cocktail and met another great couple, Bob and Sue from Wisconsin. They have a Harley back home too and we traded some great stories. Both are golfers and we have plans to play later this week.
Life is good.
Friends, Terry and Kathy, are staying here in Fort Myers until April and they have this place figured out. Not only on land, but by sea. Terry figured out a pretty good deal on a “boat club” for the time they are here. It is a rental pool of a number of different boats and they take full advantage of the water—fishing, floating in the sun, and sightseeing the shoreline of Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, and Fort Myers Beach.
We cruised over from the marina to Sanibel Island. Like a lot of Florida coastal towns, the island has canals allowing boats to dock at homes located right on the water. Gorgeous homes. Gorgeous boats.
Beaches. Restaurants. Marinas. Nature Trails. Boating. Shopping. Services.
Gulf Waters RV Park is in the heart of this happening place. No reason to leave the park, though. They have a great pool with a Tiki Bar (the perfect margarita can be purchased there), friendly people, and lots of activities. The RV sites are huge, I mean really huge. Most are owned and each area has been personalized with pavers, patio furniture and lighting. If the owner is absent, you can rent their spot (that is what we are doing for the month of December).
The park even has a resident alligator in the pond (warnings signs around the water to keep the little doggies away).
We are leaving January 3 and visiting Disneyworld for two weeks, but we may end up back here after that. That is if we can find a opening. Right now Gulf Waters RV is completely full after January 3. Putting our names on the list for any openings.
To see manatees from above the water is pretty cool, especially when they are all grouped together, their backs look like stepping stones in the water. To get a little more up close and personal, we booked a tour in the Three Sisters Springs area (located in Crystal River, Florida). With a year-round water temperature of 72 degrees plus a full wet suit, we were ready to swim with the manatees. The mouth of the Three Sisters Springs run is blocked by concrete posts to prevent boat access; only snorkelers and kayakers can enter the springs. Our boat dropped us off at the opening of the springs and we swam in.
Even without the manatees, it was a great snorkel—clear fresh water and lots of fish. But we saw many, many manatees. Mike had one guy come up a nuzzle his hand. They are so gentle and trusting. These guys are huge—around 500 to 1,000 pounds (also referred to as “sea cows”).
While snorkeling, we were constantly observed by Fish and Wildlife officers and self-appointed “Friends of the Manatees” all following us in kayaks. You are not to swim towards the manatees, if they swim towards you, you are to stop and hold your position. Anything that appears to be harassing the manatees results in a large fine (around $500). I would be surprised if they allow the “swimming with the manatees” much longer with all the concern. We did not make any inappropriate moves and had a wonderful day swimming with the manatees.
Not the infamous haircut, but a mud fish in the Floridian waters—that is what we ate tonight at a local restaurant in Carrabelle, Florida. We ordered mullet and shrimp at a local restaurant and it was gooood! The local customers walk back into the kitchen and help themselves to more. Ding Dang Dong. That is all we can hear when the locals speak with such a heavy accent. The customers mingle booth to booth talking and kissing the kids.
I can get into this Florida vibe. Really laid back.
It is all about fishing around here. Take a look at that view.