Someone Loves Her Beach Time

And her dog does, too 🙂 Listen to Star’s excitement as we turn into the lane along the shore where she is about to walk. How cute is this? (It’s kind of how I feel when we drive there, too).

And this is why we love it.

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Turtles, Flowers, Sand Owls and Friends

Jen wanted to learn more about animals and the trails that they leave. I had to admit, I was curious as well. So on our last full day on Marco Island, Mary Beth took us on a local nature tour. In the pics below she showed us some turtle nests, turtle footprints, and how to identify turtle scat.

 

As we traipsed through the community, I was drawn to the different beautiful flowers. I don’t know what any of them are. If you do, feel free to let me know in the comments, and I will label them 🙂

Updating as we go along. Wendy identified Vinca (the single white flower) and Bougainvillea (the purple ones).Thanks for that! I remembered the Papaya after I wrote this.

We walked back to the house and checked out an empty osprey nest on the property.

old nest and moss

 

I also learned about a cool tree that Native Americans used to paralyze fish. The bark has paralyzing qualities apparently.

fish killer tree

 

After checking that all out, we hopped into the car to drive a few miles away. A special treat lay there as we checked out squared-off protected areas, which contained sand owl homes.

 

Doesn’t look like much, does it? But the owls are sooooo cute! They come out of the ground at night. I know because we came back after dark and saw them.

IMG_20160404_210104866

Here is a very horrible picture of one since my phone camera isn’t so great at night. Better images are found here.

Now here is a funny scene we saw as we were driving around. We saw two turtles hanging in a yard lot. One moved in font of another and started kicking sand back on the other. For about two minutes, that turtle seemed un-fazed, then it retaliated. It started shell-bonking the first turtle! Quite funny to watch. I clipped the video so you can see just the bonking part, instead of having to wait.

So funny.

As the day wound to a close, we ate grouper and snapper at a local joint (delicious!). Some followed that with gelato.

Smooth Sails on Sunday

 

A week-and-a-half late on this one, but better late than never. My favorite part is the end 🙂

It was very windy that Sunday, but we were determined to go fishing again since time was running out on our trip. So we hit the backwaters.

It really wasn’t a very successful day for fishing dinner-wise, but we still had a lot of fun. Highlights of the day included seeing some sea turtles in the distance. According to Mary Beth, that’s a pretty unusual sight for those backwaters. I didn’t get any good pictures since we kept seeing their heads but not much else, and they were quick with diving back down. We think there were two of them, but it might have been one — playing tricks on us.

Another highlight of the day was brainstorming with Jen about possibilities for her next book, now that Been There Done That is complete.

We caught several fish, but after measuring them, had to throw them all back since they were to small. Oh well.

On the way back to the house, we had a treat. A pod of dolphins decided to play in our wake.

 

Bobcats, Panthers, Tigers and Coons

I didn’t see the bobcat that was kitty-corner (see what I did there?) to the house we stayed in, but Mary Beth and Mike saw its tail as it headed into the bushes away from us. So I think that counts. Mary Beth regaled us with tales of other sightings in her neighborhood–down by the docks and right in her own driveway as she gardened. So cool!

On Saturday we decided to head to the sanctuary where a woman had been surprised by a panther a few weeks prior.

As we headed out, we stopped off to meet Cal (short for Calusa) on the way. Jen and I have heard a lot about Mary Beth’s horse over the years so it was a treat meeting him live. And what a beauty he is!

Jen MB and Cal

 

So we didn’t see the panther, either, but saw a ton of other awesome wildlife specimens along the way.

I was reminded of the limitations of my cell phone camera when I realized that my pics of several birds, great frogs, a huge alligator, a smaller alligator, a lizard, and a huge snake didn’t come out. But the beauty is still there in my mind.

I did, however, get a pic I love. Why is it that raccoons are so adorable in the wild, and not-so-much when they are in your garbage can at home?

Coon babies

Chris, being the goof-ball he is (I saw completely endearingly ‘cuz I love that man!) “rescued” sunglasses from the swamp and an alligator. The alligator became a group effort, as you can see in the clip below. Later, he gave it to some kids, and they happily clacked it ahead of us, scaring off pretty much all wildlife for a while 🙂 But their smiles were worth it.

Chris got Alligator

We were enjoying nature so much it took us about three hours to walk about a mile. We had to hurry through the last bit since they were closing. Ah well, it was still amazing.

Mary Beth mentioned several times that you don’t need much imagination to fabricate stories in Florida. Apparently bizarre things happen all the time. We witnessed this as we were going down the road. I looked out the car window to find myself almost face-to-face with a tiger. That was a bit startling, and definitely very cool. The tiger seemed very relaxed and happy on its perch.

Eventually we parted ways on the highway, and we continued into the main part of Marco for some dinner at the Snook Inn. There was a 45 minute wait so we yakked on the dock. Remind me to never put my back to the water again. I felt a splash and heard the sound of a pretty big animal. We searched for it, and my friends saw a tail a bit off shore. I had been splashed by a manatee, but never saw it. What a treasure I missed! But still fun to know it was there.

I had a grouper sandwich for dinner and loved it. I don’t know why I suddenly like seafood after 44 years, but I’m just thankful. Perhaps it’s because I’ve realized it’s a bit like wine. Every bite has a fun story behind it, and each nibble is unique. Flavors and textures swirl around the mouth and tongue making every morsel a new adventure. How have I missed out on this so long?

  • If you love nature you might want to see the extended version of the coon watching –

Holy Mackeral! I Love Fishing!

The things I discover after all these years…Thursday broke at the crack of 7:30, my body and brain still not comprehending the concept of sleeping in. But that’s okay. It gave me the luxury of writing time before the others awoke. Mary Beth had gotten up before me, but she was at the stables since her horse, Cal, was getting shoed that day.

By the time she came home, the others were awake so we packed some food and headed to the dock to load onto the boat. It was fun seeing different personalities emerge in the unique way we made sandwiches. Chris and Jen are quite meticulous, and layer everything just so. Jen added some basil flair. Mike wraps his cheese on the outside of his meat and cheese sandwich, and I opted for Peanut butter and butter (a favorite of mine in spite of the fact that one of my co-workers had just publicly labeled this delicacy as one of the strangest things she had ever eaten. For the record, I find that fact strange).

We headed out to the Gulf of Mexico, stopping to get some shrimp for bait along the way. There was a house boat next to us on the dock, and it had cool art on it. There was a chair I could imagine Chris making, and some people designs that were reminiscent of Jen’s Kokopelli people.

Although I grew up on Long Island, I had more of a beach/sand upbringing than an actually out on boats upbringing. And while we have sailboats on Lake Ontario, I’m not really used to motor boats. We kicked the motors on and flew, and I loved it. When I was standing, it felt like snowboarding as  I adjusted my balance according to wave, speed and turn. And I really loved the wind on my face as I looked around at jumping fish, playing dolphins and diving birds.

We anchored and started fishing. I remembered most of my lessons from the day before. About one minute after casting my line, I got a bite. And it scared the heebie jeebies out of me as I hauled in the mackerel. It was huge (in my opinion), wiggly and mad! Everyone was reminding me to stay away from the teeth.

Our hosts were impeccable (as they seem to be in every arena), and they kindly and calmly walked me through the steps of staying safe as they got the fish off the hook and into our ice bin. We spent hours hauling in trout, pompano and mackerel as well as some ladyfish, blue racers and jacks (which we didn’t keep). Poor Jen was feeling a bit sub-par so she rested while we hauled, but she was a great sport and is willing to try again. Maybe with some meds ahead of time.

After a few hours we went back to shore.

We were humored as we motored in to find a crow yakking away to a stationary carved owl that guarded the marina. It had a swiveling head so we wondered if the bird thought the owl was real.

The guys cleaned the fish while we girls cleaned the boat.

We headed back to the house and had a swim and soak in the hot tub before eating our catch from the day.

hot tub

Lionel and Sheila (David’s parents) joined us once again, regaling us with tales from life in South Africa, where they grew up. Another delightful day on Marco Island.

dinner