Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Boat Ride and our Next Park

Well, first of all, I hate to add insult to injury but we've spent a good part of today watching the Weather Channel report on the blizzard-from-hell that seems to be covering a good part of the country. I talked to Henry at work today and he said that only one-third or less of the employees were able to make it in. Then I read my daughter's blog and looked at the picture of the damage from the ice storm that they went through. So - and I KNOW I'm unbelievably mean - but the first thing I have to do is attach a picture I took of myself today. PLEASE don't hate me.

Ok, now that I got that out of my system, a quick update on the last few days. On Sunday we had the opportunity to go out with our friends Scott and Deb on their boat. What a wonderful afternoon. As I mentioned earlier, they live on Pine Island for probably a good seven months of each year. They have a really cute "block" house right on one of the canals and have a nice pontoon boat that they keep parked dockside. We went out for a lovely ride in the afternoon - the four of us and their friend Mary, who was very nice! We went across the intracoastal over to the pass between Sanibel and Captiva Islands. It's amazing to me how SHALLOW the water is - it had to be a good two or three miles to cross the water, but for the majority of the trip we could see bottom. Scott says it's probably not much more than eight feet deep at the most. The ride over was warm and sunny and perfect, and then we rode down through some canals on Captiva and pulled up onto the shore of a hotel/resort and walked into the pool area, which had a nice "tiki" type of bar. I think Deb and Scott must go there a LOT because all the waitresses seemed to know them by name! We sat there for a couple hours then came back across and rode up and down some of the canals on Pine Island. It's amazing to me - it's like a whole different life - the canals just run up and down like city blocks, but each one of them has some type of boat parked in front - there have to be HUNDREDS of houses on the canals - and that's just one tiny little island out of all of Florida. Anyway - I've attached a few pictures of us in the boat and sitting around the pool - eat your hearts out, everyone!

That was a GREAT way to end our two weeks on Pine Island, but then it was time to move on. And we were probably getting ready to move anyway - we didn't really mind it at the KOA on Pine Island, in fact it was probably the most enjoyable "RV resort" place we've ever stayed. But we REALLY like state parks and being in a more "outdoorsy" type of setting. So we packed up Monday morning and headed in a direct line straight across the state, over to the ocean side. The drive over there turned out to be quite interesting to us. Once you get just a few miles outside of the greater Fort Myers area, it's like you enter a whole different world. There are only a few towns as you cross over, but what's really noticeable are the hundreds of square miles of sugar cane (at least, that's what we think it is). The land is completely flat and appears to be very black muck type of land. And there are these endless fields of crop, with an occasional huge processing plant every now and then. There are absolutely NO houses other than in the little towns - there are no farmhouses or anything like that. It appears that the land is totally commerically owned and operated. And then - just like that - you hit the outskirts of West Palm and the Palm Beach area. Honestly, it makes you wonder if the people who live in those areas ever get in their cars and drive 10 miles inland - I think NOT!

So after suddenly hitting heavy traffic and massive commercialization, we arrived at our next stop, Jonathon Dickson State Park. And what a WONDERFUL surprise it is. It's absolutely gorgeous. The park is 11,600 acres - really big! - and has two campgrounds. We're in the new one, which is REALLY brand new - gorgeous big sites with pea gravel pads, which we like, brand new bathrooms and sewer hookups! The park has a river running through it so it's perfect for kayaking; in fact they rent out kayaks, canoes, etc. They also have tour boats that take you up the river for a relatively small fee - we may do that while we're here. By our campground there is a very pretty little lake called the Gator Hole where Dave actually caught two fish on his first night out (in fact, he's back out there again as we speak!). There are also nice bike trails, very nice hiking trails, and a neat observation tower that you can climb and look out to the ocean. In other words, it has every single thing that we enjoy doing! Lovely! Now I see why this is one of those parks that you absolutely have to reserve 11 months in advance if you want a prayer of getting in.

So yesterday we just messed around, did some hiking (me) and biking (Dave and I both, but not together) and fishing (Dave). We also checked out the observation tower and the rest of the park. Today we got up and took off in the kayaks at a fairly reasonable hour (about 11:30 which is pretty good for us!). And what a nice paddle it was. We started up the river, which got a little boring fairly quickly, because the banks were pretty much solid mangroves (which all look exactly alike). We started out on the southern side of the park and paddled north, and soon after we passed the place where they rent out kayaks and stuff we came to a creek that ran off to the right. I had done a little walk yesterday and came across an observation deck so I knew the creek was there so that's where we were specifically headed. And that was REALLY cool. We saw three alligators, a river otter (what fun!), and a bunch of turtles and ospreys and other birds. The creek was cool because it started out fairly wide and just got narrower and narrower until we finally turned around when it got to be probably six or eight feet wide. It was very pretty and very interesting. We were out for about four hours and I had on the top as in the picture at the beginning of today's blog, and BOY did I get a little bit sunburned. This is the first time I had on a halter-type top and my poor little shoulders and chest and back are suffering for it. But, compared to frostbite, I'll take it. So anyway, we are really looking foward to the rest of our time here...AND, next Tuesday, Cindi and Glennda arrive. It'll be great to see them!

So - to you at home - PLEASE drive safely and be careful - it actually sounds quite horrible up there! And I'm not gloating - really!

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