Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Lion's Paw: Children's Book or Adult Dream about Sanibel & Freedom

Back in 1946, author Robb White came up with a brilliant idea for a book.

Titling it The Lions Paw, a lovely seashell found on Sanibel and Captiva and the name of the boat in the book, White wrote a story designed successfully to capture the imagination of every child from 9 to 90.

It wove together adventure, excitement, mystery, thrills, beauty and even a great deal of true to life descriptions of  boating.

While the two orphans in the story escape an orphanage to find freedom and love, the  young man they connect with is not so much fleeing as hanging on to the memories of his long lost father and the boat that belonged to him -----now in jeopardy of being sold.

Who could not be enchanted with a story of the sea, animals, friendships, a treasure hunt and an escape from some very nasty adults?

Apparently no would could escape the magic, and The Lion's Paw was a special  book for decades, read in schools and in the homes of millions of Americans. 

It had gone out of print, but now in its new edition,  it is gaining the popularity it once had, despite the fact that it was published so long ago.  And, quite honestly, much as it did in its original publication, there are probably as many adults caught up in the magic of this Florida tale as there are children enjoying it.

We have a strong hunch that the descriptions of our tropical islands and the entire sense of escaping reality are strong drivers in the popularity among adult readers.

The rousing dramas described as the boat gets tossed about in storms, as the two orphans find their sea legs and as the young boat captain out thinks and out maneuvers those hunting him down are crowd pleasers and page turners. 

And those of us who live on and work on these tropical escapes of Sanibel and Captiva totally relate to the desire to get away.  Though we may not be avoiding anything negative, the positive experience of being on a barrier island, away from it all, surrounded by turquoise seas and in the lap of mother nature with her creatures at beck and call is exhilarating.

We encourage all our vacation rental guests to pick up a copy of The Lion's Paw before they arrive.  It will only heighten their enjoyment of our beautiful islands!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Fodor's pick for 5 must do Activities on Sanibel Island

Once again, it is accolade time for Sanibel.

And when travel experts like Frommer and Fodor applaud our little island, we have to share the wealth.

We loved the article on Sanibel, and how could we not with an opening stating: Sanibel—an island situated in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Southwest Florida—is one of America's most precious vacation destinations.

We love the word precious, because it is exactly the word we would use to describe Sanibel, meaning of great value; not to be wasted or treated carelessly.

We do appreciate that the piece mentions one of the biggest distinctions between Sanibel and the rest of the state, indicating that , thanks to careful city planning, residents have effectively controlled development and encouraged the preservation of the island's ecology.  This has been so since passing the Sanibel Comprehensive Land Use Plan in 1974.

But most of all, we like the "activities" suggested in this article because the emphasis is on the natural enjoyments of the Island.

Rating highest on the list of "must do's" is seeing the island the slow and easy way, on a bike or a segway or even better, on your own two feet.  What ever method you choose to navigate will allow you a special view.

Also on the natural side, the suggestion to do the Sanibel stoop focuses attention on two of the highest values on the Island, the beach and the shells.  As a side suggestion, and a good one, is the mention of Sanibel's Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum.  Though there are more shells on display than on the beaches themselves, it is impressive to know that over 250 kinds of shells can be found on the Island.

Another discovery possibility, and one that never every visitor is aware of , is the exploration of Tarpon Bay.  Tarpon Bay, on the north side of the island, is a fantastic place to spend the day. There's Tarpon Bay Beach and an expansive bay on which guests and residents alike can kayak, canoe, or enjoy by pontoon boat or standup paddleboard. Tarpon Bay Explorers is the licensed concessionaire at Tarpon Bay as well as the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. They rent fishing equipment, boats, and bikes. They also offer guided kayak and canoe tours plus breakfast, daytime, and evening cruises on covered pontoon boats.

Their final two recommendations are those probably best known and possibly best loved.  Ding Darling, by car, foot or bike, offers an undisputed incredible view of bird life and encompasses the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the country.  And, of course, the Center for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife is on the must list.  The CROW complex features a state-of-the-art hospital manned by veterinarians and volunteers. At CROW's Education Center, get in on interactive games like "Be the Vet," in which participants try to diagnose an animal's medical issue.

While we think there are many more must do's on Sanibel, we see this list as an excellent start!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

More nice words on Sanibel: A compendium of compliments

We who live and work on Sanibel totally appreciate how unique a place it is.

And we realize our vacation rental guests recognize the value of all this topicality and nature in such a wonderfully convenient location.

But despite all this adulation, we must admit we do feel pleased when others , not quite so familiar, write glowingly about our island.

Recently we received international recognition with a BBC publication lauding the island as a sanctuary.  And just a few days ago, Sanibel was again applauded for being among the top ten best family beach vacations in the country by US News travel.

We wanted to share some of the lovely language used in the "penning" of these two pieces.

The BBC article lavished praise in great detail, much of it focused on the geographic and natural elements of the Island, distinguishing it from most other beaches in this sunshine state. " Amid Florida’s theme parks and overdeveloped beach fronts, a slow-paced, family friendly refuge cuts against all Sunshine State stereotypes. Sanibel Island, located in the Gulf Coast near the city of Fort Myers, is part hard-won watery nature reserve, part vigorously defended small town, where more than a century of careful design continues to pay dividends to its people and its wildlife."

And we could not agree more that despite its popularity and comfort, Sanibel's development has not significantly compromised its "islandy" feel .  "Because of the length of the beach and the set back and height restrictions on the resorts, much of the island feels secluded. Wildlife spills from the refuge, and it is common to see flocks of snowy egrets perched on lawns and several gopher tortoises crawling beside the heavily speed-restricted roads and numerous bike paths."

Similarly, the US News piece concentrates on what is different about Sanibel in its article ranking Sanibel 4 of 10 best family beaches in the USA.    According to US News ,  Sanibel is considered even more low-key, quiet and quaint than its Gulf Coast neighbor, Fort Myers.  " Casual is the order of the day on Sanibel Island; a shabby chic vibe permeates the galleries, restaurants and shops; seashells cover every sandy and linoleum surface. In fact, the abundant seashells have become this island's  claim to fame. You'll find plenty of beachcombers practicing the "Sanibel stoop" -- what locals call shelling -- on any lengthy stretch of sand. Plan on joining them for at least one afternoon of your stay; that is, if the mood strikes you. The residents of laid-back Sanibel wouldn't have it any other way."

And both publications are absolutely correct.

Sanibel fits no stereotypes. And we would not have it any other way!