Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Monday, August 2, 2010

Summer in Sanibel, Day One

I decided to do something different this weekend. No, not, not kayak. Does a triple negative make a positive? Do an overnight adventure. Not camping, much to hot, humid and rainy for that.
A few sprinkles fell after I exited I-75 in Fort Myers and drove towards the causeway linking Sanibel Island to the mainland. Mostly cloudy skies, but clearer north, towards the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge. Decision time. To I put in from the causeway, risking rain and more as I paddle across the open waters of San Carlos and Tarpon Bays, or launch from Wildlife Drive, and stay closer to land? I chose the causeway. I want to get an early start in the main part of the Refuge, so I’ll be there Sunday.
Considering I woke up 223 miles away, being on the water at 9:55 am almost qualifies as “early”. I set course west across San Carlos Bay to Woodring Point. Keeping an eye out for boats, as I had to cross a channel.

The other eye looked for wildlife. Both eyes suffered obscured vision as a shower passed through. Not hard, but steady. Thankfully, no lighting. It stopped as I neared a line or oyster shell/mangrove islands in Tarpon Bay. In December, the time of year I usually visit Sanibel, white pelicans are in these waters. None in mid summer, they are migrants. Still, an impressive number of birds roosting.

And, another dolphin, making at least 5 so far. And the last, as it turned out.

Tarpon Bay is part of the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. No jet skis, no wake allowed. The Refuge concession is on the south shore of the Bay. Makes an good landmark, as once around Woodring Point, the shore is undevolped. A bit west of the building and launch site ($7.00 fee) is the entrance to Commodore Creek. The sign is new. Stimulus at work? The rain was a good thing, as it may have kept the Creek a bit less busy. I was able to enter without seeing any one go in ahead of me.

I saw the first people just after the yellow crowned night heron.

More folks after that, and less bird life.
Nothing until back to the same anhinga and night heron. The trail is a loop, and part of it you repeat coming and going.

The birds I saw seem to be used to the traffic in the Creek. Out of the Creek, I paddled closer to shore than I had on the way in. Hoping to see a manatee, which I had read, are present in Tarpon Bay this time of year. I did not see any. Saw one last December.

While photographing the egrets, I found myself on the back side of a line of signs. Must be No Combustion Engines, I thought. Wrong, No Entry, Research Area. Opps. Should have remembered from prior Tarpon Bay excursions.

I took a lunch break just about on the tip of Woodring Point. The shore constantly rocked by wakes of far off power boats. Near shore is a manatee zone, but a steady stream of boats in both directions kept the wakes constant. Lots of jets skis near the causeway. Including a family who arrived just after me. I had asked them to keep an eye out for a watch, mine. When I landed at 2:45 it was on top of the car.

Yak on the car, and off to my lodging for the next two nights, the Parrot Nest. I stayed here back in 2005, with Pete, Jackie, and Andy. I know Pete and Jackie stayed here at least one other time. I may have joined them. Here are a few pics, including a failed attempt at a self portrait.

A full refrig, 2 burner stove and coffee maker. Pretty darn good for 177 bucks including tax and a dollar a day donation to the Ding Darling Wildlife Society. Need to save my receipt for April 15. The unit is L shaped the bed, sleep number mattress is to the right of the desk with the mirror, a wicker love seat is behind the chair I’m in as I compose. Tight squeeze to turn to the kitchen. Guess way that’s why its an efficency. Efficient use of available space. Once settled in, it was time for a bike ride. I brought both. Road and trail. As the trail was on the back of the car rack, that’s what I rode. Now is the part of the Tale where I thank brother Pat for letting me stay with his family in their beachfront condo all these years. 90 dollars a night does not get beach front accommodations on Sanibel. I had a new perspective as I rode, looking for public access points. The Gulf views are from two of them. Of course, with all the timeshare turnover, just walk down any ramp like you belong, and chance are, no one will question you.

I dismounted at the short trail near a cemetery. Turns out I could have ridden. The boards are there for when the trail is wet. It was plenty firm. The gator was on the edge of a water hole.

Back on the bike, I rode to to the dirt road leading to Gulfside City Park, them turned back.

This dock is adjacent to the bike path on Middle Gulf Drive. I’ve pedaled past it 50 times, never stopped. Until today. Back to Anhiga Lane, the dirt road which is my weekend address, I continued on the bike path to the lighthouse. I had to ride into the Shell Island Beach Club. Looked fully occupied, including 12D.

Beach walk. I don’t see sea turtle nests in December, my usual time visiting Sanibel.

This snowy egret roost is at the fishing pier. Snowies, in my experience, usually fly away when disturbed. I guess the potential for a meal keeps them near the pier.

Something else not seen in December. Lots of people in the water, not just gliding across it.

Osprey above the bike path. 89 90. Anhinga Lane, where my lodgings are located, ends in private property. So no water access. However, both streets going towards the lighthouse, have bay access. No parking, unless you are a resident, but an easy walk from the Parrot Nest with a cart.
The view from the end of Seagrape Lane, and Buttonwood Lane.
Into the Nest for steak potatoes, and corn. Gotta take advantage of the kitchen. I’ll eat out Sunday. Another beach walk, as the sun set. Which really can’t be seen from this part of Sanibel, east- west orientation, the Gulf is to the south. Still, some nice dusk shots.

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