Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ft Myers

Siesta Bay is a RESORT!  2 heated swimming pools, 2 fishing lakes, tennis, shuffleboard, bocce ball and pickle ball courts besides shuffleboard and horseshoe!  The streets are paved and well lit and although the sites are not huge, they are adequate and most have palm trees and grass!  There are over 900 well-kept sites of either park models, old trailers that have been covered up and added onto, motor homes, a spattering of fifth wheels and a few trailers. Everyone speaks to everyone else!  The park is well located – right between the two bridges to the islands of Sanibel and also Ft Myers/Estero Beach.   Wide sidewalks allow for safe bike riding to and from the bridges, shopping and the wifi and McDonalds!. 

As on Anna Marie Island, there is a trolley system that runs out onto Ft Myers Beach.  This one costs a whopping 25c per (old) person!  The first trolley heads to the very north of the island to beautiful Bowditch Park and Beach.  H attempted to herd a flock of wary seagulls, which we all know, doesn’t work.  Neither does herding cats!   As we kicked up sand on the beach, a cruise ship headed out towards the Gulf with its load of prospective gamblers on board.  The channel was just feet from the edge of the beach!   Back down at the junction of the bridge and Estero Beach Rd is the extremely busy touristy area, aptly named “Times Square” with its balconies, patio restaurants and multitude of tee shirt shops.  The fishing pier, complete with fishermen and an accompanying pelican, gave great views of the expansive beach full of colorful umbrellas and the millions of folks attempting to perfect their winter tans.  With the deep blue sky and temps up in the mid 80’s – they had an easy task!   At the other end of the island is Lover’s Key State Park.  The trolley pulls right in the entrance area but we realized that we had already been to their beach – so we stayed on the trolley and enjoyed the reverse ride back down to Times Square.  On another daytrip we did stop at a beach just past Lovers Key and found out it was a dog beach!  Folks unleashed their four footed furry friends and let them romp and play on the beach and in the water.  As we watched, 4 little Dachshunds commandeered their area and chased all the bigger dogs away.  Yippy yappy little Napoleons!  The key looks like it has great kayaking areas and we saw the fabulous views of the Gulf!    The south end of the roadway takes you off the island and into the fancier areas of Barefoot Beach, Vanderbilt Beach and Bonita Beach.   Silly H!   Thought that since we were driving thru Barefoot “Beach” that we would be able to see some beach!  For $8 parking - a block away – you could.  Not us!  But we did end up in a rather well to do area of red bricked roadways lined with Royal Palms and gracefully dotted with expansively large mansions, almost hidden behind expertly manicured trees and lawns.  I felt way more comfortable back at our humble “condo”!

Since the fee for just driving over the bridge to Sanibel Island is $6 and parking is even more – we parked on the causeway beach area and watched a group of kite boarders fly across the choppy waves with their bright U shaped kites pulling them with amazing speed.  That was before the cold front came thru last evening and brought the rain and cooler albeit still windy weather!  Thursday morning arrived with clouds and rain – a perfect time to do laundry and our usual household chores!   The morning weather and traffic reports were full of the terrible weather up north and the consequence of the small amount of rain down here  - 16 traffic accidents before 9am just because it had rained and folks forgot how to drive on wet roads.

Friday is the last day of month and our last day in Siesta Bay.  The road in front of us is leading east but where we’ll end up for night is up for grabs yet.  LaBelle or Moore Haven?   Our winter adventure is half over, but we are not at our destination yet!  

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ruskin to Ft. Myers

EG Simmons Campground in Ruskin still has all the Osprey platforms lining the roadways and the resident Ospreys were there, watching for us when we pulled in!  My “Welcoming Committee”!   Soon after we both backed into our side-by-side campsites, a very vocal big black and white bird roosted in the empty branches of the tree at the back corner of our “condo”.   Several times during our week’s stay, we watched him enjoying his tasty lunch of fresh fish, obviously caught in the mangrove clogged canal behind us.   The sunsets turned the canal and the sky behind our condo a bright coral most evenings.   Our bikes finally made it out of the back of the truck and we managed about 5 miles a day, touring the “neighborhood” and seeing which campers had gone and who had moved in.  SPFB – really takes hold this time since we’ve camped in this same park many times before and even in the same spot.  Same flea market – same Laundromat –same power plant in Apollo Beach!  Even the same trolley ride from Ybor City to downtown Tampa.  And the same HUGE RV show in Tampa! On our trip out to Anna Marie Island we did learn to ride the FREE trolley instead of fighting traffic to get to the Pier and then back to the white sands of the beach.   The bad part about our stay this year was the “No See Ums”.   A hot dry spell really drew them out and they were hungry!   Our evenings were spent indoors with an exhaust fan on! 

Myakka River State Park had only one spot that was available and only for one night.  We have never been to that park and our gypsy GPS took us right to it.    Too bad they were out of their bar patch for my jacket.  MRSP is one of the older state parks so it is a bit more rustic than most.  It’s a long narrow park on the Myakka River and is divided between oak/palm hammock and rare dry prairie lands.  The neatest thing it is known for is the “Canopy Walkway” – the first one erected in America.  The walkway is 25 ft above the ground and goes 100 ft between 2 tall wooden towers.  You can feel the wooden slats sway under your feet as you step onto and across it!  You can reach out and touch the various air plants and the branches they grow on.  Don’t forget to duck for the gnarly live oak limb that hangs across the walkway at eye level!
The 2nd tower stretches 75 feet high.  Neither of us went all the way to the top of that tower but the trip up was well worth the long, round, down and around trip back down to terra firma!  Thru the jungle path behind our campsite was the marina where you could take an airboat tour boat ride along the river and its lakes with all the alligators and beautiful birds.  

On down the road in Punta Gorda is another PA resort – Alligator Park.  It’s a nice park, good sized, with mostly permanent park models and old trailers.  Once again, we were the smallest unit in the transient section (the field) of the park.  Our first day was spent out exploring Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte - the neighbor across the river, and Englewood - on the gulf coast.  Lunch at “Gators” consisted of 25c wings and grilled fish sandwiches – mine was a Reuben.   Fish and Sauerkraut!  That afternoon, as we wandered, we ended up at a park right on Charlotte Bay where the Spaniards were reported to have landed and the first white man was killed.   H really leaned on every word of the Spaniard he met – Can’t you tell??  I was lucky to be able to spend an afternoon with my dear friend Emily who spends her winters in Port Charlotte.   After a lunch at a spiffy diner called “Lickity Spit” we gathered at the church she attends with a great group of her women friends for Bible study.  

The weather is warm and Siesta Bay RV Resort in Ft Myers has a spot with our name on it. Our amaryllis loves the warmth and the sun and she is now in full beautiful bloom!   You didn’t think we left her at home, did you??    Her bright coral color is not as vivid as last year but she is still gorgeous, don’t you agree?