Tuesday, October 13 – We ventured out to Sanibel Island this morning. Sanibel is located just across the bridge from Fort Myers, Florida.
We chose Bowman's Beach, known as a sea shell collectors dream world, to look for a couple unique shells. Our first surprise was the $3 per hour charge for parking. Granted, along with the parking were nice restrooms, outdoor showers and changing rooms, but we couldn't get our arms around paying $12 - $15 for collecting a few shells and laying on the beach.
We paid for an hour and a half, since we came this far, but were surprised with the lack of shells. We talked to another couple from Delaware that were staying down the beach at the Holiday Inn, and they stated there were many more shells and sand dollars on the beach at their hotel. We really weren't hoping to collect 100's of shells, we were more interested and seeing them. With that in mind, we gave up on the shells and moved on to the Wildlife Refuge down the road.
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is also located on the barrier island of Sanibel in the Gulf of Mexico. The refuge is part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the United States. It is world famous for its spectacular migratory bird populations.
There are three trails that can be accessed for wildlife viewing. We chose the Indigo Trail. A 4-mile round trip trail that is a gravel trail where one often can spot wildlife such as alligators, heron, pelicans, osprey, warblers, ibis and other migratory songbirds.
The best months for viewing are late October through April. We are still a bit too early in the season to see most of the wildlife. We enjoyed the hike but unfortunately, it was too early to see many migratory birds and too warm for alligators to lay on shore sunning themselves.
Did you see the raccoon in the above photo?
We then decided to use our America the Beautiful pass and drive the 4-mile, one-way road that leads through the heart of the mangrove forest. This is the most popular way most visitors view the refuge. Nearly 800,000 visitors pay the $5 fee (free with the senior pass) to drive the paved Wildlife Trail annually. If you prefer, there is a guided tram available or you can rent a bicycle instead of driving your car.
We didn't have any better viewing luck on the driving trail. There were more people in the refuge than wildlife, at least what we were able to see. :-)
As we headed back to the COE campground, we stopped at Sun Harvest Citrus. This retail store sells and ships Florida citrus fruit anywhere in North America. We thought this would make a nice gift for one of our Ohio neighbors that mows our grass while we are gone.
They sell and ship boxed Florida oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, and other citrus ranging from about $35 to well over $100 which includes the cost of shipping. They also have free tasting of orange juice, grapefruit juice, and several mixed citrus drinks. Delicious!
That was enough for the day, so we headed back to the campground to relax at our site along the river for the remaining part of the day. Besides our daily visit from three manatees, we have some other visitors……
Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see y’all back real soon. Have a great day!