dreaming of summer; the last photos of our trip to Sanibel Island

IMG_7839By now, I am sure you are ready for me to move on from my summer vacation photos but considering the hurricanes that have blown through that part of the world, I had to post this last group of photos.  While we were on Sanibel Island, we found a walking trail by accident.  We had left our hotel room, on foot, and walked to a nearby restaurant for dinner.  As we approached the front of the building, we realized that it was not open.  Since we were set on having dinner, we turned around and began walking back to go somewhere else and that is when we saw a small sign for the Pond Apple Trail.  And yes, we also saw signs for alligators-this little guy did not pose much of a threat but everybody knows that small alligators are the result of big alligators…

IMG_7852We didn’t walk the trail that evening but we did go back one afternoon while we were out riding bicycles.  A portion of the trail winds around several square ponds that are part of a stormwater remediation program for the island.  This handsome fellow was watching over the water for possible snacks.

IMG_7849If you are curious about the remediation method used here, small rafts of plants are assembled and allowed to float in the ponds.  The root systems of the plants help clean the water of pollutants that are washed into the ponds during storm runoff.

IMG_7844The trail gets its name from the native pond apple trees which are relatives of custard apples and soursops.

IMG_7854Although they were perfectly edible, we decided not to eat them.  We enjoyed the trail and look forward to a trip back to the island so we can explore it again.

IMG_7862On the day we were leaving, I scheduled the flight home late in the afternoon so that we could spend the day exploring some of Fort Meyers.  Mother nature had other ideas and we were stuck walking in drizzly conditions.  We found a great place to explore despite the rain!  Six Mile Cypress Slough is one of the most unique trails I have ever walked and I highly recommend visiting if you are in the area.  The entire trail is a raised wooden boardwalk that wides its way through a cypress swamp.  Currently, the trail is closed and I am assuming it is because of storm damage.

IMG_7863The stumps in the water are called knees and cypress trees develop these roots as they grow in the water.  The water was so clear, golden in color but clear with amazing visibility!

IMG_7865The ferns grow everywhere!  These were colonizing the base of a tree trunk.

IMG_7867Have you seen those air plants for sale everywhere?  They grow wild all over Sanibel Island and here in the slough as well. The lichens were pretty amazing as well, I have never seen them in this color before.

IMG_7875More air plants, they can get pretty large.

IMG_7869Ferns, love ferns… The way the little fronds unfurl…

IMG_7871Of course, it would not be a proper southern swamp without some hanging moss.

IMG_7872The boardwalk, it was only a mile from start to finish but we took our time and probably spent an hour wandering the walkway.

IMG_7873At every turn, there was something to see.  Plants above water, plants below water.

IMG_7877IMG_7881And it wouldn’t be a proper hike without a reflection shot.

IMG_7888Moss and ferns, two of my favorite things.

IMG_7901IMG_7904This guy was just hanging out, he let me take his photo.  Hopefully, the damage to the trail was not too extensive and it will reopen soon.

waiting for the green flash on Sanibel Island

Visit enough beaches on the Gulf Coast of Florida and you are going to hear about the green flash at sunset.  It sounds like a legend, a hard to believe it’s true type of story but the truth is, that green flash is a real thing.  We spent plenty of sunsets on the beach during our recent visit to Sanibel Island but were never lucky enough to experience it ourselves.

IMG_7793Another fact, taking a live sea creature as a souvenir carries a $500 fine per creature.  That could be an expensive lesson to learn!  We found this guy on the beach in the tide line.  He, or she for that matter, was just laying there and I saw the shell first.  Thinking it would be one to add to my collection, I picked it up and when I turned it over to check, there he was-a live Florida Fighting Conch!

IMG_7795This little guy was as curious of us as we were of him.  As Darry held him up so that I could take some photos, he slowly crept further and further out of his shell.

IMG_7798Look at the love in his eyes…We returned him to the water and wandered on in search of that elusive green flash.

IMG_7800This just goes to show you that barnacles will attach to anything, including cheap sunglasses.

IMG_7811Sunset was approaching and so was a thunderstorm.  The view from one end of the beach to the other was very different.  In this direction, sunny.

IMG_7814Turn 180 degrees and not so sunny.

IMG_7817This little guy didn’t let the clouds stop him so we decided to follow his lead and keep walking on-even if there was thunder in the distance.

IMG_7818The sun was sinking fast and that meant we might just see that flash.

IMG_7820Thankfully, the storm seemed to be moving past us and no rain fell near us as we walked on the beach.

IMG_7821Those clouds, the colors; the camera did not catch it all and I hate adding color to the photos; it seems like cheating.

IMG_7826We had to wait a while, there was still at least half the sun above the horizon.

IMG_7829The clouds just kept getting better and better, so did the colors in the sky.

IMG_7830You would not have to do much to convince me to chuck it all out the window and move to the beach.  Seriously, I could very easily learn to adapt to summer weather all year long and sunset walks on the beach.

IMG_7833With about a quarter of the sun left, we waited patiently.

IMG_7835To see that green flash, you need to be there just as the sun sinks below the horizon.  We began walking back as the moment of truth approached and this was the last photo I took.  If there was a green flash when the sun finally disappeared below the horizon, we did not see it.  Thinking this means we need to go back to the beach!

how I spent my summer vacation…off season on Sanibel Island

IMG_7774If you ask me, the perfect summer evening includes a long, leisurely stroll on a beach.  Slowed pace, feet covered in sand and tickled by the surf, eyes scanning the tide line in search of seashells, breathing in the salty breeze-absolute heaven.  We may not be world travelers, or even frequent vacationers, but one thing is certain, we will more than likely visit a beach if we plan a trip.  Over the years, we have been to beaches on the East, West and Gulf coasts but this was the first time we visited Sanibel Island on the Gulf coast of Florida.

As is typical in the Gulf, the surf is a bit gentler and the waves are smaller (most of the time) and during our recent visit, we had no reason to worry about riptides.  We chose to visit in July for two reasons; it was the best time for Darry to take time off and it was off-peak season for the island.  To be honest, July really is a great time to visit the area.  The lack of a crowd meant easy access to public parking, although you can easily bicycle to just about anywhere on the island.  It also meant that we did not have to wait for much.  Restaurants always had a table available, bicycles were easy to come by, tourist attractions were sparsely populated and traffic was just about nonexistent on the island.


If you have ever heard of Sanibel Island, you know it as a shell collectors paradise.  That was just one of the reasons I wanted to visit.  Read up on the island and you will see all types of activities and festivals connected to sea shells.  On our first evening, we walked the beach and found ourselves stunned by the amount of shells just laying on the sand.   IMG_7777The stripes formed along the tidal path are just littered with shells, mostly small but still beautiful and worthy of collecting.

IMG_7778As I took photos, I noticed Darry doing his best “Sanibel Stoop” while he scanned the surface of the sand for treasures.

IMG_7780He quickly retrieved a few shells to show me, from left to right:  a Scotch bonnet and two Florida fighting conchs.

IMG_7786It was somewhat addicting.  Finding intact shells was also pretty easy and we had a bag full in no time.

IMG_7788So many shells…

IMG_7790Horse conchs can get very large, the world record shell is just over 2 feet long, but we didn’t have much luck finding anything over an inch or so!

We did more than just stroll the beach!  The folks living on the island have a strong sense of preservation and quite a bit of the land has been designated as preserves.  We visited JN “Ding” Darling Wildlife Preserve on one afternoon while bicycling and the next morning returned to take a guided kayak excursion in Tarpon Bay. If you visit the island, I highly recommend visiting the preserve on bicycle because you can see so much more and it is easier to stop along the way.  As for the kayak trail, do it but if you are paddling with your spouse and neither of you knows what you are doing, consider going in a boat by yourself!  Two novices do not make an expert, synchronized team… For all of the information on the preserve and Tarpon Bay Explorers, visit the website.

We found several small trails on the island as well and one afternoon, we parked the bikes and explored the Periwinkle Preserve.  This small 17 acre preserve has gone extensive renovations to remove invasive plants.  We walked the short trail that can be accessed from the bike and walking path on Periwinkle Way, the main road on the island.  The slide show is just some of the plants we saw there and elsewhere on the island.

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Rather than bore you with a weeks worth of photos, check back here, I will post more on the trip soon!