Monday, June 29, 2009

Camping On Sanibel Island

Sanibel Island is an island off the Gulf Side of Florida that is famous for it's shelling. We've wanted to visit there for awhile...but never found the time.

We had a camping trip planned this weekend for Blackwater State Park, 9 hours North in Floridas Panhandle. But then, one by one, all the families we were supposed to travel with backed out...and pretty soon our family was facing going to Blackwater all alone.

I guess thats' not a big deal, but the weather forecast said rain, and Jason was less than thrilled about driving 18 hours for 2 days of we made a quick change of plans. I looked up camping on Sanibel, and found 1 available spot on the ONLY campground on the island. Not hesitating, I totally snagged it.

We were delayed leaving by 2-1/2 hours because of stormy weather...but we FINALLY took off in the afternoon. We got there, set up camp, and headed for the beach.

The campground was was privately owned, and had lots of really cute amenities, like a duck pond surrounded by tropical birds, and a GREAT laundry room, and even a fish-cleaning station! The kids loved the bird (A Scarlet Macaw named "Fred") actually talked and would say about 40 different things to the kids. They LOVED it!! Fred even whistled at Savannah every time she passed, which totally made her giggle and blush BRIGHT RED!! It was SO ADORABLE!!

And they weren't kidding about the amazing shelling!! We collected all kinds of great shells, made amazing sand castles, and played in the warm (albeit a little rough) ocean. And thankfully - there was no rain.

There was, however, lots of HEAT. We were the ONLY tent campers in the park, and right around 11am, everybody disappeared into their air-conditioned campers and didn't come out until then sun went down. And even then, it was STILL hot. hot that sweat was actually dripping off the ends of the kids HAIR hot!!!

In fact, it was SO HOT, that after 1 sleepless night, Jason was ready to call it quits. After a morning trip to the beach, he headed over to the camp office to see if we could get a refund if we broke camp and left RIGHT AWAY. The nice lady said: "Are you the tent campers?"

Jason answered in the affirmative, and she said: "I don't blame you!! NOBODY tent camps in the summer!!" and she gave us a refund for our second day.

So, we broke camp early, stopped for ice cream on the way home, and took the Tamiami Trail, a two-lane scenic highway that cuts RIGHT THROUGH the Everglades, home. We stopped at my favorite backwater joint, Joannies Blue Crab Shack, for some grilled gator, frog legs, fried green tomatoes, hush puppies, and crab cakes. We enjoyed the singing of Raiford, the local yokel who sings and plays guitar and harmonica, and ate our swamp grub. Since we were the only patrons at the time, he played kids songs for Old MacDonald and She's Coming 'Round The Mountain, along with Johnny Cash and the Beatles. Nicolette could hardly keep in her seat. She said: "Look at my feet, mama. The music makes my feet wiggle!!"

I was excited to drive the Tamiami with Jason, because although the kids and I have done it a few times, Jason has never gotten the chance. The scenery is just incredible...there's stuff you just don't SEE anywhere else but here...cypress trees dripping with Spanish Moss, gators sunning beside the road, Indian villages filled with straw-covered homes and long houses, signs advising you of panther crossings, and tons of tropical shore birds. We saw lots of wildlife, and had lots of time to chat. It was really great...and a great weekend away with the family...even if we DID cut it a little short.

We have a LONG vacation to Southern California and Utah coming up in a week, and I'm very busy getting ready. I only took a disposable camera with me camping, so as soon as it's developed, I'll scan in the pics.

I'm also a little slow because we (and by "we", I mean "my husband") purchased a new computer (...which means so much for a new camera for "me", or a cruise for "us"), and now we're in the process of getting it set up and transferring all our important files. It might not get done until I get back at the end of July!!

But don't are coming!! Until then...

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