Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Way We Were: Sanibel Nostalgic Moments

Maybe it's because winter is officially over and our rental guests have thinned out.

Maybe it's because there has been so much turmoil in the world, and especially in the USA, over the last couple of weeks.

Maybe it's because we, ourselves, are a year old then we were last April.

But what ever the cause, we are feeling a wee bit nostalgic today.

We were alerted yesterday about a traffic jam at the Sanibel Causeway caused by the making of a commercial for Mercedes Benz.  Now that is good company, to be sure, and they have good taste as well.  The new Sanibel Causeway is truly a work of beauty, if not art, and a great background for most any kind of commercial.

But we remember when...

The first Sanibel Causeway originally opened for traffic on May 26, 1963, replacing a ferry boat service that ran from Punta Rassa to Sanibel since 1912. Construction on the entire causeway, and the three original bridges lasted 15 months and cost $2.73 million.

Before the Causeway opened, the little road that transversed the Island had little traffic.  We have had guests who recalled pedalling down the road on their bikes, pretty much no one else around.  And one of them had their pet parrot perched on their shoulder for the ride.

The Island has become much more sophisticated since the opening of the Causeway, but we do have a bit of reluctant remembrances of those times gone by.

And though the Island is probably one of the best places on earth to watch the stars, this past meteor shower was obscured by the cloudy skies.  The near miss brought to mind the meteor showers of the past when the normally dark island was lit up like day light because the skies were so clear and the meteors so bright.  We miss that, too.

But one of the joys of Island living or visiting, is that both resident and guest are not likely to live in past memories for very long.

Each year, there are new places to eat, new shops to explore and new nature viewing to savor and photograph.

And of course, we always have new and special vacation rental options.

In fact, if there is one very positive aspect of the changes, it is the number and variety the Island now offers.  Homes that were never before offered as rentals, are now available to the traveling public.  While most are 28 night rentals, the space, convenience and locations they offer are inducement enough to stay for 4 weeks rather than just 1.

And there is a never ending updating to the condos on Island, making them more inviting and convenient than ever before.

So with the time forwards, comes a more comfortable and exciting way to vacation on Sanibel.  If you have not yet paid us a visit, this is a perfect time. Rates are down, the Gulf is warming up, the nature viewing is better than ever!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A diller, a dollar.....Why Sanibel Island may be as appealing later in the day!

A diller, a dollar,
A ten o'clock scholar,
What makes you come so soon?
You used to come at ten o'clock,

But now you come at noon.

Perhaps we are dating ourselves with this Mother Goose rhyme, and perhaps our readers may not even recognize it. 

But the implied disparagement at the late riser, late arriver, presumably at the school room, may not apply to our rental guests on the Island.

Yes, we know that an early morning on Sanibel summer days is definitely a bit cooler.

And we readily admit that the best birding on Island takes place at the crack of dawn.

But those two considerations aside, there are some inherent advantages to a later day start.

First and foremost, let's face it: you are on vacation.  If your internal rhythm croons sleep, sleep, sleep at 7 a.m., you should listen to it.  It is the best time in your year to ignore the light of day and close your eyes again.  There is no boss awaiting your check-in at your desk, no call you absolutely must make, no deadline pressing you to the computer.  If for no other reason then change of pace, you are entitled to a longer bed time and the Island is quiet enough to assure not only a good night's sleep, but an uninterrupted one.

Second, there are certain things to do on Island that are not available when the rooster crows, or more aptly when the pileated wood pecker starts rapping at the palm tree.  Boat trips to Sanibel's little neighbors like Useppa Island and Cabbage Key, do not leave dock until 10 a.m. or after.  And many cruises are sunset cruises, giving you all day to wake up and stretch your legs.

Off island, the Ford and Edison Estates do not open until 10 a.m. and on island, the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum does not open until 10 a.m.

So waking at 9 and enjoying a leisurely breakfast in your rental or at one of the Island eateries will start you day off with a pace most appropriate for a tropical island.  And we are accustomed to late breakfast diners on Island.  Amy's Over Easy Cafe, one of the best stops for your morning fuel, serves "breakfast" until 3 p.m.!  Even if you are not hungry enough for a full breakfast, Dolce Tesoro dishes up some of the best coffee and the most delicious cupcakes with the doors opening at 10 a.m.

And, honestly, the sun will be waiting for you.  No need to head to the beach at sunrise unless you really want to see the special view.  If you hit the sand at noon you will get more sun and more tan than you could ever ask for.

In our book, while we do see some advantages for an early rise, the early bird motto is a bit over-rated!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

How you know winter is over on Sanibel Island: A little bird tells us!

It is easy in some areas of the USA to know winter is gone, Spring is here and Summer is not far behind.

Trees begin budding.

Flowers pop up from the ground.

Snow melts, ice disappears, temperatures rise by 40 degrees and every one looks happy.

Since everyone looks happy on Sanibel the whole year through, the heralding of Spring and Summer is infinitely more subtle.

We have no ice and snow, flowers bloom year round, the trees are always green and temperature adjustment between the end of winter and beginning of Spring is better measured in the rise of humidity rather than the uptick in heat.  The difference on the thermometer is minuscule.

But we do have a warmer Gulf of Mexico for swimming and the heat in the pools can be turned off.

Best of all for those of us who love birding, we begin to see some of our fine feathered friends who make only rare appearances in winter, or no appearances at all.  

Though the Island is a wonderful winter haven for migratory birds and some, like the White Pelican, only appear in the colder months, other birds, particularly the smaller and special song birds, are sure signs that Spring is here.

The Black Whiskered Vireo, for one,  never makes a winter appearance but is common in late Spring and all through summer.  The Black-whiskered Vireo is a small passerine bird which breeds in southern Florida, the West Indies, and some offshore Venezuelan islands.    Black-whiskered Vireos are partial migrants, with the northernmost populations moving to Greater Antilles, northern South America and Costa Rica in winter months.

So the Vireo is a welcome sight as we know that Spring is here when we see them.

Another welcome sight is the Yellow Warbler.  Like the Vireo, the Yellow Warbler does not make an appearance on Sanibel in December , January or February.  The pretty little thing makes a rare appearance in March, then is commonly seen in April and May.  The Yellow Warbler is easy to spot, though.  It's tiny body is a bright yellow and its song drips with honey.  In fact, the song is so melodic and endearing, that a group of Yellow Warblers are called a "sweetness" of Warblers.

Appropriately, the Summer Tanager, whose name translated means small red bird, is not to be seen in Winter.  But this beautiful bird is a common sight in Spring, as is his equally brilliant friend, the Scarlet Tanager.  The Scarlet Tanager is distinguished from the Summer Tanager by it's black wings, and is a welcome sight because it feeds on gypsy moths, never a guest that Sanibel or any area wants to have. Scarlet Tanagers have been recorded eating over 2,000 gypsy moth caterpillars in an hour. That's quite an appetite for one little bird.

There are many birds on Sanibel in Spring and Summer that are not observed in Winter.

So when we say we know Winter has gone away because a little bird told us, we are absolutely serious.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Common terms: Sanibel Island a great place for seeing the lexicon come to life!

The weather on Sanibel ,  though much subtler than in the rest of the country , still holds to a flow of seasons.  We, of course, get no rain, snow and ice, and only a few days all winter would even be considered cold.

Yet the gradual changes do mimic the country at large.  And now that we approach the end of winter, we are seeing the old saying, in like a lion, out like a lamb, spring into reality.  Not that February was harsh, but there is a gentleness in the air now that does feel easy, breezy and down right cuddly.

Thinking of that saying, we are reminded of the many sayings we use every day that reflect life at the beach.  In fact, it has become a common practice these days to even say life is beachy instead of life is peachy, and people get exactly what we mean.

The beach, and particularly the Sanibel Island, beach is an icon for ease and contentment.

As such, there is so much more we take away in addition to our sand dollar collections and golden suntans.

And there is so many sayings we can play with that reflect our glistening Gulf and shimmering shells.

For example, we can jest and say "Be Shore of Yourself" or "Come Out of Your Shell" when encouraging another to be bold and purposeful.  Is there anything more certain than the wave kissing the shore?  We think not.  Look at how many times the wave comes in, only to be turned away from the shore.  But the wave is never discouraged, as it keeps coming back and coming back....just like our vacation rental guests, we might add.

And, from time to time, we are witness to the awesome sight of a delightful mollusk showing its face, literally coming out of its shell.  Again, this is a courageous act on the part of the mollusk as what ever tender part is showing is clearly at risk from all those sea birds just looking for an easy bite.  But the mollusk shows itself, not to be seen necessarily, but to see.  The look of wonder on its little alien face demonstrates that it is worth the risk to take a look around that great stretch of sand we call the beach.

Other special advice that parallels the shore thing might be:

Take time to coast.  Yes, even on Sanibel, there might be a yen to pack every single moment as full as your suitcase.  But that could be a mistake.  Some times the most magnificent moment of any given day is the one totally spontaneous.  Two dolphins leaping in the sunrise, the roseate spoonbill that flies over your head at dusk, the bob cat that peeks its beautiful face through the brush.  So coasting could be the best thing you do on your vacation.

Avoid pier pressure.  Pressure and Sanibel should never go together.  The only pressure you should have is checking out on time the day you leave.  Other than that, throw away your watch, disconnect, enjoy the pier and don't let it ever pressure you!

Make waves.  Waves of joy and celebration!  This is your holiday, make it all you want it to be!!!!