Monday, May 27, 2013

Calling for comments on the Best KeyLime Pie on Sanibel!

No doubt about it.

Key Lime Pie is iconic of Florida.

Every town, city and suburb has at least one place that boasts the best Key Lime Pie in Florida.

And we have tasted many selections.

They have varied from the super good to the mediocre.

And the differences are quite discernible.

There are Key Lime Pies that are tart, Key Lime Pies that are sweet, Key Lime Pies that have the consistency of cheese cake and Key Lime Pies that have the texture of jello.

So, to be honest, choosing the best Key Lime Pie on Sanibel Island is very contingent on your expectations and tastes.  They are all special in their own way.

We would like to point out some of our favorites in this blog post, but also invite you to comment with your reactions and suggestions.  We hope you will view this post as interactive, and the more people who chime in, the better sense we will have of where to go for the Island's best.

Cip's Key Lime Pie has got to be in the top considerations.  In fact, all Cip's desserts rate five stars! Their Key Lime Pie and the Whiskey Walnut Pie are must try’s, but be prepared to share, serving portions are ample for two.  Cip's pie is definitely tart, but of a thicker consistency than others on the Island.  If that is to your liking, you will probably love Cip's!

The Sanibel Grill has great key lime pie. Doc Ford's is not as tangy but has great flavor and texture.  We also  also like the key lime pie and BEST key lime martini at Jacaranda.

We also have to admit that Key Lime Pie with a view is better than Key Lime Pie without a view.  And on that level, we thoroughly enjoy the Key Lime Pie at Grandma Dot's where the boats and waterways totally enhance the taste of the food.  In addition, Grandma Dot's Key Lime Pie has a very distinctive taste as it has ginger snaps for a crust.  You can ask for your whipped creme on the pie or on the side, so we suggest an on the side allowing you to taste and savor the flavor before adding on the extra sweetness.

Sanibel Cafe  used to serve a classic key lime pie, the filling had the perfect fragile set and was very creamy, but not at all dense. The filling was maybe 3/4" thick only - which is exactly what it's supposed to be.

Trader's is next closest to the classic filling.

Timber's and Grandma Dot's are similar to each other but the filling is a cross between a classic and cheesecake style.

Those are our top picks, but we would love to hear from you!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Incredible Courage of Sanibel Sea Turtles

If you pay any attention to Sanibel and its devotion to wild life, you will quickly and easily see that our Sea Turtles are among the most loved of all our critters.

There are signs all over the Island's beaches asking that people not trespass on the areas marked as sea turtle nesting spots.  The dark skies program was created to help sea turtles find their way to the sea.

And now, there is a program being launched to educate the general public, adult and child, as to the need for sea turtle awareness.

Through a $20,000 grant acquired by the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society (DDWS), the refuge has coordinated a Saving Sea Turtles program with two publications: a 16-page coloring book featuring fun sea turtle facts, puzzles and word search games for kids as well as a full-color tri-fold brochure offering simple steps to protecting sea turtles for both adults and children, in addition to information about various sea turtle species.

According to supervisory ranger Toni Westland, the grant funding came from funds generated through the Florida sea turtle license plate sales. “Our goal is to put these books and brochures into as many hotel rooms as possible in order to maximize our visibility during sea turtle nesting season,” said Westland, who noted that more than 300,000 Saving Sea Turtles brochures and 63,000 activity books were printed.
So why all this attention to these little hatchlings?
Well, there is definitely a cuteness factor involved, we won't deny that.  The wee babes are about as adorable as any baby animal, 4 legged, winged or finned, on the Island.
But the reality is that these special hatchlings are endangered by so many elements.
Sought by predators and susceptible to dehydration, sea turtle hatchlings have only a one in a thousand chance of survival.  Human activities can and do further reduce that chance.
By following a few simple rules, we can all help to ensure the greatest rate of survival for our brave sea turtles, hatchling and adult alike:
Turn off or shield lights near the beaches
Remove furniture and other items from the beach and dune area between the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Pick up all trash
Honor the leash law
We are worried that our adorable babies will not even make it as far as that dash to the sea, let alone survive the journey.  And we want to help them in every way we can!


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Beach Rules on Sanibel (Not what you are expecting!)

Most anyone who has ever visited our Island agrees that the beach rocks.

Because most of Sanibel is a nature preserve, the beach is gently used by humans and greatly used by our fine feathered friends.

It's an easy place to relax, read, gather shells, observe the birds on land and the creatures of the sea.  Both Dolphin and Manatee are readily apparent much of the time, and there are many times where you can see the smaller creatures, some times jumping right out of the water.  On the Gulf side  you can actually catch sea trout, snook, and even an occasional tarpon.  Or you can just sit there and watch them do their leaps.  Of course, we prefer the latter activity.

But there are rules that go along with such a pristine, tranquil and natural beach vacation destination.

No collecting of live shells is an absolute imperative.

No cars on the beach is equally important.

Dogs are allowed, but must be kept on a leash at all times.

And, perhaps not stated specifically, excessive noise is not appreciated.

Alcohol is allowed on Sanibel beaches at all hours during the summer and fall, but it is unlawful to have alcohol on the beaches one hour after sunset through one hour before sunset between December 15 and May 15.

These are easy rules to follow, and most do.

But when we say the beach rules on Sanibel, these are not the rules we are writing about.

What we are alluding to is a more fun way of looking at how to get the most out of your island vacation, especially the special time spent on our beaches.

So these are the rules, our own rules, that we would like to leave you with:

  • Soak up the sun (but do use sun screen!)
  • Breathe the salty air
  • Build sandcastles
  • Ride the waves
  • Flip flops required
  • Relax. Unwind. Enjoy.
  • Nap daily
We are confident you will be able to follow these rules and wonder if you have any more to add?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Little Sanibel a Big Winner in National Contest

If you are regular readers of this blog, you may recall our post talking about a competition for the title of Happiest Seaside Towns.

The contest, held by Coastal Living Magazine, is an annual one and Sanibel has always placed in the top fifteen of those competing.

The winners, as always, would be determined by the number of votes, and voting was allowed hourly on a daily basis for the many weeks the contest was active.

At the time of our posting, Sanibel Island was struggling mightily to push into third place.  It was a bit of a question as to the success of the venture as the several of the 15 towns were in large geo - areas where there were thousands of people voting every day.

We are thrilled to see that the winners have been announced, and our lovely, little Island did, indeed, come up as number 3.  Of course we would have been more thrilled to win the number 3 spot, but we are not complaining.  Not a bit.

The contest has been making the rounds of the media, and the buzz on the Internet is deafening.

Apparently, many who are viewing the news are not familiar with Sanibel, and the advantages of the Island are being passed around between friends and family.

Some of them, but not all, are outlined in the Coastal Living Magazine article where the winners were announced.

Calling the Island "a pastel dream", the editors note that Sanibel won for "combining pale blue skies, white-sand beaches, and millions of seashells that have literally built the island on which it sits".

As if that were not enticement enough for a would be vacationer to take notice, this description certainly would capture the attention of  even the most seasoned traveler:  "As for the quiet, away-from-it-all life that Sanibel offers its 6,469 residents, consider that there are no stoplights, nor buildings taller than the tallest palm tree. And the shell-seekers know that Bowman's Beach, a natural stretch accessible only via pedestrian bridge, is one of the best for shelling (and birding)."

Of course none of this is news to our residents, return visitors or even local non islanders.

But the more the benefits of Sanibel vacations become known, the more likely it is that the rush to discover our nature , our beauty and our unique offerings will take place. 

It will be interesting to monitor how much of a bump this title and the subsequent news coverage will cause for tourism on the Island.

We are torn between wanting to keep our special secret among those who already know and love us, and also wanting to share the bounty.

We thank everyone who voted for Sanibel in this competition and hope you do take pride in your accomplishment.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Stopping "Traffic": A Rare Day on Sanibel

With 2/3 of the Island a nature preserve, no traffic lights and no building taller than a palm tree, Sanibel does not come to mind when thinking of traffic jams.

And it probably would not have been a jam a few weeks ago had communications been all that they should have been.

But one hand did not tell the other that our beautiful causeway was to be used for filming a commercial, and the cars and trucks lined up waiting for the clearance on both sides.

Essentially, this is the way it went: Mercedes-Benz USA filmed the commercial using the entire Sanibel Causeway in both directions from approximately 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the day of the filming.

The commercial was filmed aerially by a helicopter and at least four deputies were assigned to assist with traffic control on the bridge while the filming was done. 

So, many cars and other vehicles waited and waited and waited.

Understandably, lots of  people were not happy with their hold up to get on or off the Island. 
But there was an upside to the incident. 
Christian Bokich of Mercedes Benz USA released a statement saying: “This week, Mercedes-Benz chose the Sanibel causeway and its beautiful surroundings to create stock film footage of our new 2014 E-Class and its various body styles. We estimate that we invested around $100,000 in the local economy by staying at hotels and eating at restaurants, as well as hiring most of the locally-sourced film crew."
And beauty was the objective.
While we may prefer that no cars transverse the Island as was the case in days of old, the fact is that there is no stopping them now.
And if we have to have a communications snag, the multiple benefits to the Island may make up for the inconvenience.
Right now, we are just staying tuned to the TV to see how our causeway looks in a commercial production.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Geckos, Anoles and Skinks, Oh My: Our Sanibel friends come in all shapes and sizes

We know people love Sanibel for its shells, beaches and birds; but the Island is also a fabulous site for Lizard watching, Lizard being the general term used to classify geckos, anoles and skinks.

Actually, you do not even have to look very hard at all.

Geckos, anoles and skinks are residents on the island in the thousands, and easy to spot.

They are not just present in numbers, but in varieties as well.

Both native and non native species roam freely, often observing you before you see them.

Just look on any bush, wall, or palm tree trunk and you will likely observe one of our green anoles.  Or, more likely, they will be eyeing you from where ever they are sitting.  Friendly little guys, they can be luminescent green and quite beautiful. 

Green anoles are medium-sized lizards with long tails. They are the only anole native to the US. Sometimes called chameleons because of their color-changing ability, they can be anywhere from emerald green to brown or gray. When stressed, they turn dark brown. Males have a pink or red extendable dewlap or throat fan. Males often engage in lateral displays that includes head bobbing and pushups. The toes have adhesive pads on the undersides.

Green anoles are easily tamed and are common in the pet trade. They are active during the day, often around human habituation, and regularly bask head down on tree trunks, fence posts, decks or walls.
Almost as numerous, but perhaps not quite as colorful are our brown anoles.  Brown anoles were introduced to Florida from Cuba and the Bahamas and are now found throughout the state. They thrive in disturbed habitats, among ornamental plants and are common around buildings. Where brown anoles coexist with the native green anoles, you will usually see the brown anoles on the ground and the green anoles on the upper trunk and in the canopy of trees.
Among our skinks, the 5 lined skink is most populous on Sanibel.  Skinks, some times mistaken for snakes,  look more like smooth anoles with long tails and the 5 lined skink is distinguished by the stripes running down its back. Females are dark, chocolate brown with five yellowish-white stripes down the back. Males may be lighter brown with lighter stripes. In adults the tail is brown to bluish. In spring, breeding males have orange heads and cheeks.
This is one of Florida’s most common skinks. It occurs in many types of habitats and is often seen basking on fallen trees, walls, or in piles of trash. It makes it living on the ground, scratching through dead leaves and plants in search of insects. When alarmed, it vanishes into the dead leaves or sometimes takes to the water.
Our most common gecko is the Indo-Pacific Gecko. 
Though the Indo-pacific gecko resembles the less numerous Mediterranean gecko, the two species can be distinguished by the Indo-Pacific’s smooth skin. In addition, the Indo-Pacific gecko is the only species of house gecko with a yellow-orange belly.
The Indo-Pacific gecko is replacing the Mediterranean Gecko in many parts of south Florida. Both species are usually found near humans, usually around buildings with lights, although the Indo-Pacific is also found in many of South Florida’s native habitats.
Indo-Pacific geckos are nocturnal, emerging at night to wait near walkway and wall lights, where they feed on insects attracted to the lights. Unlike other lizards, these geckos vocalize, making squeaking or barking noises as they fight about territory.
This gecko is unisexual, reproducing by parthenogenesis – a process in which eggs grow and hatch without fertilization.

So now that you know, will you recognize the difference between a gecko, anole and skink?