Thursday, August 28, 2014

Nothing Fishy about Sanibel's New Fish House

So you've been to Sanibel Island before and have taken the kids to The Bubble Room, The Mucky Duck, Matzaluna and The Island Cow.  Maybe you've even hit The Blue Giraffe.

Or perhaps you are planning a month long stay in one of our vacation rental houses and need more options for the family.

Well, we've got a nice surprise for you, a genuine delight.

The new addition, called The Fish House, offers a very nice alternative to our great choices.

Colorful inside and out, The Fish House, provides both ample parking and a nicety rarely found in Sanibel eateries.  A pull up covered entrance where passengers can enter the restaurant without getting drenched in a storm.  This advantage is best appreciated when experienced.  The Island can get some pretty heavy down pours at night, almost always at the exact time you are headed to dinner!

Also a bit different and a very nice aspect to eating is the expansive seating in the restaurant.  So many rooms and places to sit helps to give each family a feeling of privacy and to cut down on noise when the restaurant may be booming.

There are both tables and booths and little hideaways as well as larger spaces to dine.

The theme throughout The Fish House is , appropriately, all things of the sea.  Mermaids, boats, fish in bright colors adorn the colorful interior.

And while the sea food options are numerous, including Shrimp, Calamari, Clams, Crabs, Tuna and Grouper among the many, many choices; one is not limited to eating the delicious delights found in the water.

There are also options  with chicken,  pulled pork and pasta as well as dozens of sides that do not include fish.

The Fish House is moderately priced, which is also a special attraction for the family looking for an affordable night out.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sanibel Island: I've Looked at Clouds from Both Sides Now

Those of us of a certain age, remember well the sweet lyrics of Joni Mitchell's popular song, Both Sides Now.

And all of us at any age probably think we know clouds even though Mitchell's words deny that is possible.

But any one interested in beautiful , unique and ever changing cloud formations must come and visit Sanibel Island.

On any given day, the skies are inspiring.

Our clouds can be white and fluffy hovering over the island like bleached cotton candy ready to be plucked from the sky, a perfect background to our tropical vegetation.

They can be spread out, low in the sky, and ever transforming in color.  Our sunsets are punctuated by these low lying, dream like images which can be pink, purple, orange or a combination of all at dusk.  They are all special.

Lying on the beach is always enhanced with cloud watching.  We watch to make sure the clouds do not bunch up too closely and threaten storms.  We watch to see how our many birds fly past them becoming part of the canvas.  We watch to avoid looking at our own watches as the clouds help to tell the time. 

There is beauty throughout the world.

And while we regret that our islands do not offer hills and mountains, we do offer some of the most amazing clouds to be seen anywhere.  They keep our gaze entertained and our hopes up.

Now we challenge you in your next cloud observation on our tropical island to think of what you are seeing ......and not to have this refrain echoing in your mind:

 Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I've looked at clouds that way

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Gumbo Limbo trees get a new “skin” on Sanibel

Ten years ago, Hurricane Charley hit Sanibel and Captiva Islands and left behind life long impressions,  but far fewer trees.

But the residents of Sanibel jumped right in to replace all the lost flora and now , for the most part,  the Islands look as they did before Charley.  The Australian Pines are largely gone, but all the sturdy tropical vegetation is back.

So it was very distressing when  an "attack" was made on our Gumbo Limbo trees in the Ding Darling Nature Preserve, not by Mother Nature but by human  beings.

Gumbo limbos are native island trees nicknamed “tourist trees” because their red, peeling bark resembles sunburnt tourists. The gumbo limbo’s soft, smooth bark is also more susceptible to vandals destructively carving their identity or affections into the vulnerable trees.

We do not take such behavior lightly on the Island, and are alarmed that such graffiti invites more of the same. 

These arrogant actions not only result in scarring these beautiful trees and exposing them to greater harm and disease but they also ruin the natural wilderness experience many of our visitors come here to seek." Toni Westland, the US Fish & Wildlife Service supervisory ranger assigned to the refuge, echoed the sentiments. "It just makes me sick to see these beautiful trees defaced," Westland said. "The culprits need to realize that they are vandalizing federal property on federal lands, which is a punishable offense."

Because we take our trees seriously on Sanibel,  we were happy to see a good Samaritan step up to bat and come up with a plan to discourage "decorating" our Gumbo Limbos.

Landscaper Robert Walton with Grounds By Green Ways on Sanibel Island has donated his expertise, time, and materials to mask and mend gumbo limbo trees along the Calusa Shell Mound Trail at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, trees that have been compromised by graffiti vandalism.

A few weeks ago, Walton showed refuge interns how to wrap seven damaged trees with special biodegradable, corn-based landscape fabric that is rated to last 10 years.  "Rob has advised us to cover the graffiti with landscape fabric to protect the trees from disease and allow the scarred trees to heal faster, " said Westland.

We thank Mr. Walton and all who have come to the rescue of our Gumbo Limbos.




Friday, August 8, 2014

Safe Biking on Sanibel Island

An iconic view of Sanibel, no matter where you are on Island, are  the bikers gliding effortlessly past our tropical vegetation, the sun on their shoulders and wind in their hair.

It's a very inviting vision as biking is a great exercise and a great way to see the Island.

And, Sanibel is known for its 25 miles of bike trails so many visitors have biking in mind when they come for vacation.

Despite the compelling reasons to bike and the relative safety of biking on our little tropical island; there are from time to time accidents on two wheels.

While largely safe for most visitors and residents aboard a bicycle, Sanibel surveys gathered for the year show that riders between the ages of 51 though 65 are more prone to injuries, chiefly due to falling, a report issued by the city shows. A few related injuries have been caused by car/bike run-ins, bike on bike, or a cyclist running into an object like a tree or a dog. No bicycle-related fatalities were reported through June. The typical situation for an injury, according to the city, is a lone rider or small gaggle of middle-aged bikers pedaling a path. Older bicyclists aren't always as nimble as they were as kids, city officials suggest.

What often happens is that riders in a group will swing towards one another, to hear directions, to chat, to share the elegance of the island's natural beauty. Unfortunately, some swing too far, colliding. Others fall navigating, boarding, dismounting a bike, negotiating curves and crossing paths, even checking a cell phone. Because many teens and young adults use bicycles as a means to commute or play, they are less likely to get injured, experts agree. In all, 11 riders to date in Sanibel have been injured.

Anyone considering a bike vacation should first rent. There's balance, things to practice if (you're) not used to riding.  City Manager Judie Zimomra said the community has spent nearly $1 million in recent years to smooth, widen, or otherwise make safe the miles of bike/pedestrian paths in Sanibel. She recommends practicing before rushing on to a trail that in season is as congested as Periwinkle Way. "The old saying about never forgetting how to ride a bike may not necessarily be true," she said. 

But biking is a special way to spend time on Sanibel so a few precautions and a little practice will help make it smooth and safe vacationing!