Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sanibel Island, Fl December 6 thru the 8th, 2011

So that wonderful time of the year has arrived, and so has my better half's birthday. This year we decided to go and see more of the real Florida, after all how can you live in this wonderful state and not get to really know it. We (I, with some help, lol) decided to head to Sanibel Island, on the west coast of Florida.

We arrived at the hotel on Tuesday early afternoon to a beautiful view of the Gulf, and soon after headed to the beach. The water was cooler than expected, yet refreshing in contrast to the sun. The weather couldn't have been better, no humidity, clear skies, and a nice breeze blowing.

Day 2: The lighthouse- the pier and lighthouse are on the east end of the island, and after an approximately 8 mile quad-bike ride around the island (not all the way around) we headed to the famous ligthouse. There we ran into dolphins right by the shoreline, birds, seashells and gopher turtles.

 The place truly is a wild life refuge and it still has some of the wilderness feel to it, even as motorboats pass by. After some time relaxing, and shelling we walked back to the car, but on the shoreline instead of on the trail we took earlier so that we could keep collecting shells, and yes it becomes addictive, once you start seems impossible to stop.

The island seems full of shops, and most buildings are "key west" style, and lush landscapes surround everything. Bike/walking paths stretch from end to end of the island, and always appear to be in use by tourist and locals alike. There are also conservation areas with hiking paths, that run in loops that appear to be a "must visit" item (next time). The day came to an end with a nice dinner for the birthday girl and quiet evening following such a long day.

 Day 3: Started out with a nice walk on the beach for more shelling which seems to be the top ativity in the area for both tourist and locals alike. It was a beautiful crisp, actually cold day with temperatures in the 40's and 15 m.p.h. winds, but beautiful none the less. Birds seem to enjoy the refreshing weather and shared the shoreline with the people as they bask under the sun.

And with so much natural beauty in this little piece of paradise it was hard not to take hundreds of pictures, well 287 to be exact, but who's counting? The rest of the pictures will be available on our Picassa web album. And for us, well this is our last trip of 2011, but certainly not our last trip as we keep on discovering the natural beauties of this wonderful "Sunshine" state.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Around town

Life hasn't allowed me to get away on the camper as much as I would like, so I thought I'd share some of the natural beauty of the city I live within, and the place I've called home for the last 15 years.

The city of Fort Lauderdale is not only where I've built a career, and a life, but also a formidable place also known as "The Venice of America" partly due to it's over 300 miles of navigable in-land waterways.

The city also has almost 8 miles of coast line, and this makes for a miriad of choices as to where to spend the days, and what to do around town. Some of my favorite things to do around here are near or on the water, wether riding my beach cruiser bike to the beach, or paddle on a kayak, or stand up paddleboard, to occasionally body surf or surf.

In this particular blog all pictures where taken from a stand up paddle board, and as you can see it not only gives you an enjoyable work out, but it makes for a great picture taking platform.

This particular summer morning happened to be peferct for both, the waters were calm, the skies almost completely clear and plenty of marine life to see.

And not to leave out the beautiful architecture that lines our great beach, here are some views that I beleive if more people could enjoy, maybe everyone would be a little happier.

At the end of a long day, it's always nice to be able to enjoy living in such a beautiful place like this. If you ever have a chance to visit I highly recomend it!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Naples, August 2011

Something will always hold true, "life is what happens in between the plans you make" and this was very much the case on our first getaway on our camper trailer. In all fairness to my other half, I was a bit unnerved by the fact that the plans I'd made to make this trip a special one were "washing down the drain" with all the rain, but she did remind me of what really matters and things started looking up.
The drive across alligator alley was a wet and windy one, but the jeep did what it was meant to do, get us there safely despite inclement weather.

Once at the RV resort (Rock Creek RV Resort) the weather held up, long enough for us to set up and make ourselves at home. The resort was very nice, quiet (despite the executive airport next door), and the creek and grounds made it feel as it if were the middle of the tropics.

What started up as a "wash down" quickly became a very well deserved and enjoyed "R&R", a little "Food for the soul" (shopping at Whole Foods) and off to a cozy night in watching a rental movie on the Tablet.

Thursday was off to a great start, weather was nice, just a few clouds on the horizon, and not too hot or humid. The beach was calling us, and being beach people, "how could we not answer? "

This was a great way to start the day, beach, shelling, and picture taking, along with some small wave body surfing.

When you visit such a pretty place, you have to go for a walk, and this city made it as walk friendly as it gets, from the free parking all along the street, and "double wide" sidewalks, plenty of shade in the form of awnings, umbrellas and trees. Shops lined the sidewalks, restaurants, galleries, and all sorts of other business too.

There was so much to see here, from a memorial to U.S. veterans, to collectible cars along the road.

After plenty of walking there are only a few things left to do.....lunch followed by a movie, all the while escaping the summer heat.

The drive home couldn't be complete without a torrential downpour, and sideways rain, however after every storm, the sun will shine.

This was our first camping trip and like always a learning experience, of which I'm glad to say not only I have a great life partner, but an amazing camping one too!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Long Key State Park, June 2011

Day 1: On the way out of town I had to stop at a local gas station to change the ball on the hitch for the right size one, and after I was done doing that, the owner of the station was very curious about the set-up and my solo trip, it didn't seem too normal that I was going alone, but he was very friendly, and enthusiatic about it.

The drive down was nice, althou the first 25-30 miles were a little "different" as it's been a while since I've towed the camper.
On the highway there were waves, smiles, and thumbs up from passing by motorists, as well as a police officer. Most people looked very curious, and once they realized it was just me in the jeep, they seemed to be "cheerful", not the usual south florida drive.

At the state park I was greeted by two very helpfull Park Rangers, that were very helpful and knew everything from good fishing spots (which turns out is most if not all of the island), to where to grab a bite to eat with the locals.

As faith would have it, once at my campsite the electric winch that would lift the pop-up camper for me would not work. However the "digital" system work fine, a little slow, but fine.

Finally Breakfast around 3:oo in the afternoon, at Grassy Key. A place called The Wreck and Galley Grill, a "local's mostly" looking place, with a very keys look to it. The food was very good, and the people that worked there better, a friendly welcoming crew thart made you feel like a local, or an old friend and would be a blessing in disguisse since I'd ended up sitting there for a little over an hour due to a traffic accident on MM 70, and since it's a two lane road, that means, sitting around until clean up is done.

Dinner was had a Isla Morada Fish Co. and followed by a movie at "Camp Gio".

Day 2: The morning seem perfect for some kayak fishing, and the tide was going to be changing at what seemed the perfect time too. With kayak geared up I headed out to try my luck and find some snapper, red fish, or even bone fish among the many species that inhabit this area. After 2 and half hours of no luck, 2 charter boats of having no luck either, and the temperature and humidity rising to nearly unbearable levels it was time to call it a day, on the water at least.

Lunch was at Isla Morada Fish Co. followed by an afternoon of "hiding" from the sun and heat in my camper watching a movie and a drinking a cold beer. After the sun started heading down the outdoors called on me again, and the view from the campsite needed to be enjoyed once more. I met the neighboohrs on both sides of my campsite, we had a few beers, and talked for a little while.
That night was a little "camp made" dinner and off to bed.

Day 3: Woke up and realized that while most of my packing was done very well, the food list hadn't been revised before leaving the house, so off the convenince store it was for some ground coffee, and eggs to make breakfast with. After breakfast was done I had been wanting to go hiking in the park since I first heard about it. A not so long walk from my campsite lead me to the trail entrance, which I guess could have been done in less time, but there was so much wild life and backcountry scenery to see that it seemed to take forever. Once at the entrance of The Orb Trail the heavy tree canopy gave a refreshing shady path an inviting feel, however the ranger's words kept me looking around for water moccassin snakes around the brush, and fallen branches. There also seemed to be alot of wasps flying around and as I got closer to the first mile marker in the trail they seemed to increase in both size and numbers. I reached a small bridge and there it was mile marker 1, and 50 feet or so after what at first appeared to be a group of flies covering the path of the trail. Upon closer inspection I quickly realized that it wasn't flies, but wasps, over their nest.

I decided to just walked back and enjoy another trail within the park, and that led to a hike to the southern most part of the island on what became a somewhat desolated beach, with some private beach houses, and docks along the way. Some of the homes looked like they belonged on post cards for the keys.
On the walk back I noticed the oddest thing, mine were the only footprints for miles. By the time I made it back to camp it was already too hot, and time to stay in until the sun began setting again.
being my last full day there I wanted to try my luck with the fish one last time (for the time being), so I casted a line out and let the fishing rod sit against the fence on my site, and proceeded to relax, have dinner and a couple of beers. All along one could hear the fish in the water less than 20 feet away, and I jokingly said "with my luck my bait it's been long gone by now" and laughed. Little did I know that I had a surprise on the line waiting for me to pick it out, a 20" Red fish.

It has been said a million times that "there is no place like the Florida Keys", and after spending four days there mostly by myself it became clear to me why so many have drifted there time and time again.