Thursday, March 25, 2010

Have a Pooch? Need a Place? Sanibel is Waiting!

When the referendum to create a dog park on Sanibel was defeated about a year ago, the unknowing may have interpreted that as anti-dog. That interpretation could not be further from the truth! The dog park location, was the issue and not the use of land for a dog park.

Both residents and visitors on Sanibel Island love their pooches, but they love nature more. The issue with the previous location was that the nay votes cast reflected a concern that the dogs would be in conflict with the indigenous four legged inhabitants. Even with that concern, the referendum only failed by 41 votes.

And now a new location is being discussed that will not require a referendum to establish a dog park, so it is at least likely once funding and other issues of concern are resolved, the dog park will be created.

All that said, Sanibel has lots of attractions as it is for vacationers who want to holiday with their happy tail waggers.

Though not every accommodation is pet friendly, many are.

However, please note that most condos do not allow any pets at all and even many of the cottages and homes that do allow a pet have limitations on breed and weight of dogs. So you do have to ask if your species of pet and size of dog is ok.

In addition, make sure you clarify if there is an additional fee to bring your best buddy. In almost all instances, there will be a pet fee, and most times it is non-refundable. The fee generally ranges from $250 to $400, often contingent on the breed of dog. The fee is often used by the owner of the property to do a special clean up on your departure, banishing any tell tale signs that there was a pet in the place.

If the fee puts you off, consider the alternatives.....leaving your beloved at home with friends or family or boarding the adorable beast which will probably cost you as much as the pet fee. And where will your pup be happiest? Well, that's up to you to decide.

In addition to being able to find a house that allows a pet (and sometimes even 2 pets), you will find that the people on Sanibel and business owners will be pet friendly as well.

This extends to your being able to take your dog with you to the beach.

Bowman’s Beach is considered to be one of Florida’s most beautiful beaches, and is one of the most remote beach areas on Sanibel Island. Dogs must be on a leash, but this is a very small price to pay for access to such a beautiful spot. Here you’ll see lots of birds, tropical plants and wetlands. Pets (leashed) are also permitted on Algiers Beach, Lighthouse Park Beach, and Tarpon Bay Road Beach.

Now, how nice is that? A glorious sunset with a glass of wine and Fido at your side!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What's in a Name? A Quick Guide to "Native" Plant Life on Sanibel

Often, the word "exotic" is used to describe something desirable. This is not the case when talking about exotic plants in the Florida Environment and on Sanibel in particular. In fact, these so-called exotic plants are capable of killing off native Florida plants that animals need in order to live.

The ones that have been removed and are still being removed from the Island are mostly from the horticultural industry, introduced about the turn of the century with the Brazilian Pepper the most prolific and "infamous" among these exotics.

Exotic plants were imported to Florida as a way to beautify the state, but nobody predicted the destruction they would bring.

They tend to take over a community and dominate it with one species of plant which reduces the diversity of the plants in the community and also the animals that can use it.

So, while Florida plants have insects and animals that keep their growth in check, these exotic plants are able to grow without threat as they are virtually viewed as "undesirable" by the native insects and animals.

While the list of undesirable exotics is short, the list of plants native to the Island quite extensive.

There are, according to the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation, four different kinds of plant habitat on Sanibel Island, and an enormous variety of plants are growing readily in each. Though not "exotic" in species, the names of native plants often bring our senses to other places.

Upland Communities, one of the plant habitats, are defined as areas that rarely flood, get less rain than other parts of the island, and have extremely sandy soil. Examples of upland areas on Sanibel are: WestRocks, East Rocks, Gumbo Limbo & along West Gulf Drive. In upland communities, there are 16 kinds of large trees growing naturally which include the Gumbo Limbo, Jamaica Dogwood and Mahogany. Of the dozens of small trees and shrubs, there is the Bahama Cassia and Spanish Bayonet.

Low areas are defined as places that may have standing freshwater or “muck” during the rainy season but slowly drain, leaving very dry soil during the winter. A drainage ditch or swale may be considered a low area and some wild flowers and ground cover in this habit also wear some exotic handles such as Blue Eyed, Horsemint and Climbing Aster.

Freshwater Wetlands and the Mangrove Fringe, the two remaining habitats, have equally enticing native vegetation.

A visitor to the Island with an eye toward studying its native flora will not be disappointed with the large variety of trees, flowers, grasses and ground cover to be found in the four plant habitats!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jimmy Buffet Echoes Song on Sanibel

Sometimes you can get to "know" a place before you even arrive.

That happens when some one talks about it so much and with such deep feeling that familiarity breeds content.

It can occur when you have read a lot about the destination as well.

And it even comes about from hearing music that you associate with a particular spot on earth.

When travelling around Sanibel
and the area, I think of Jimmy Buffet quite a bit. The only connection between Jimmy Buffet and the Sanibel area that I found documented was his time on Cabbage Key where he supposedly wrote Cheeseburger in Paradise.

But despite the lack of documentation, there are so many places
on Sanibel and nearby where I can clearly envision the great songwriter strumming his guitar and composing.

Like, at dusk on Santiva watching the sun set and creating the Lyrics for "Margaritaville".
I can literally see the young Buffet at the helm of his ship sailing over San Carlos Bay and singing "Son of a Son of Sailor".

And a slightly more mature Jimmy, along with some friends, exploring the mangroves of Pine Island harmonizing to "A Pirate Looks at Forty".

There are no end of JB images an aging Parrothead can see on Sanibel for this prolific song writer. With 72 albums and hundreds of songs
behind him, the great Buffet has created an incredible song book. And there is no better place to hear the songs than on Sweet Sanibel. The Island provides an incredible value. It's a lovely place to vacation and take it easy. And, it offers echoes of the Jimmy Buffet way of life. You can hear the music if you listen carefully!