Here’s the pile o’ Nanny from another angle. This was actually only one spot of heavy concentration. It was not this bad the entire beach over.
Here’s a heartbreaker shot. I should have put something down for scale. I’m going to guess that if this true tulip still had its head, it would have been the entire length of my hand.
Here’s some red algae aka “The Nanny” embedded in the sand. There were some squishy spots, where you would sink down because there was Nanny hiding under there. The Nanny itself smelled tangy – that first day of Nanny smell. The other smells were coming from elsewhere, up at the high tide line…
Here we see that there are still lots of sea urchins left, even after Kim and I collected a bazillion last weekend. I have 20 of these sitting on cardboard on the table out on the lanai. They are drying slowly but surely. I should go out and flip them over tomorrow. Tootie thinks maybe some of them will be stuck to the cardboard… good thing I got 20 of them!
These sea urchins have been there a while, conceivably since last weekend. Notice that the teeth and guts are gone from this one. That doesn’t happen overnight by itself, I’m guessing. It probably dried out but good, and fell inside.
First stop, 7-11 for coffee. Then we drove to the Lighthouse Beach, where we patrolled up and down for maybe 90 minutes or so. Found some small treasures there, including some wentletraps, which made Kim happy.Next up, Access 7. On the beach, Kim started carving messages in the sand (see pics, right). I hope you all like them! No, I do not know what the bright orange thing is in the “o” of “LOVE”, but you can bet that if it was something significant, Kim would have grabbed it!
We all dressed rather speedily, and stealthily left the house. You don’t want to make noises like the household is awake, because then Lexi will start squawking and demanding to be uncovered and such. Also, Gary and Tootie were still asleep, as far as we knew. So we were good and quiet. Transferred beach gear to Kim’s car, which was last in the driveway, and away we went.
Well, Kim snores too, but she snores little. I snore big. I snore operatically. So then I figured she must have been awakened by the symphony coming from the next bed, and removed herself to the couch. But I wasn’t sure. So then I went to awaken Chris, who was just sitting up on the bed in the next room. I told her that I lost Kim, and thought maybe she was sleeping downstairs. Yep, there she was!
In the morning, I woke up naturally at around 7:00 am, and Kim was gone. So was her phone. I figured she was making a call, probably outside since I didn’t hear any talking. So I tiptoed out of the bedroom and through the kitchen to the deck, but the door was locked. Went out, smoked, thought to look and see if her car was there. Yep, it’s there.Then I realized – I SNORE – LOUD!
An amazing amount of us needed to stop into the CVS across the street from the restaurant, so we did that afterward. I don’t know why anyone else needed to go, but I neeeded a toothbrush. See, my electric toothbrush ran out of juice the other night, so I fished my manual toothbrush out of my luggage to complete the job, and then forgot to fetch it from the bathroom while packing up for this little overnight. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. After this, we went back to Gary’s house for a bit. Kim ditched her car, and we all piled into Gary’s vehicle for the long and arduous journey to The Crow’s Nest, a lounge at The Tween Waters Inn
For dinner this fine evening, we’d settled upon all meeting up at The Hungry Heron. Gary, Tootie, Chris and I arrived a wee bit late; Anne, Al and Kim were already seated. Kim brought along her friends Connie and Daryl, who were delightful dinner companions. The majority ordered the garlic crusted grouper, which was delicious, and came with a HUGE baked Yukon Gold potato, as well as grilled vegetables. Chris and I were really impressed with the veggies (as usual, I picked out all the onions, but there were plenty of carrots, red and green bell pepper slivers, yellow squash, etc. to keep me happy). The menu at The Hungry Heron goes on forever and ever; at one point, before I’d looked at the specials menu, I was considering another dish which was number 176, and only halfway through the menu!
I just think it’s a funny commentary on these times. There are three cameras congregating here, and three camera/mobile phones. Four, if you count the one in my hand taking the photo. Where would we be without our toys?
The guest room where Kim and I would bunk for the night is customized for our chillaxin’ pleasure. Please note the Disney’s Finding Nemo night light, as well as a portrait of Kim, Mister Moose and I posing on New Year’s Day. We all look damned cute! There was also a memory foam pillow on my bed. My neck loved it!
Well, I did say that we were zoning out…
Windcatchers, really. I’d gotten Gary one for Christmas, a round sun-and-moon one that’s flexible, so you can bend it into the shape that zones you out the most. Well, this sparked Gary’s memory, and he came strolling out with a long, twisted one that looks like it’s made of lucite, and has rainbow tint along the edges. Talk about zoning out! You can stare at this thing for hours as it twists and turns on a short length of fishing wire. Below right, the gang relaxes on the back deck, diggin’ the grooviness of it all, man.
When I got to Gary’s house, Chris and Kim were already there. We all hung out for a while, shooting the breeze and pouring over a couple of shelling “bibles” of Gary’s. One of them is called The Sanibel Kaleidescope: A View of Seashell Variations in Color, Pattern, and Structure by Harlan E. Wittkopf, and the other is Living Shells of the Caribbean and Florida Keys by Robert E. Lipe and R. Tucker Abbot.
We also sat around for a good 45 minutes debating which restaurant we would grace with our presence that evening. A decision was made, and so was a call to Anne and Al to communicate place/time.
At some point, a passel of us trooped out to the back deck for a smoke, and there was a beautiful bald eagle sitting in the dead tree just beyond Gary’s backyard. We all made a mad rush for our cameras, and he was quite accommodating.
Soon, Kim needed to leave to go get her stuff and get dressed for dinner. She, Anne, and Al would meet us at the restaurant, called The Hungry Heron. Christene declared her intention to become a horse conch herder when she grows up.
The causeway beaches were getting full when I crossed. Here we see some of the surviving pine trees; most were taken out by Hurricane Charley a few years back. These are a non-native species to this area, and don’t tend to hold up well to high winds. You can pull in and park your car right on the beaches along the causeway; if you are lucky, you will get one of these trees for shade. On the other side of the road is a rest room and an array of picnic benches, which is currently under renovation and all fenced in. This is a favored spot for wind surf/sailors.
As mentioned last week, there is still some cleanup construction going on with the new causeway. It’s so much better than a year ago, when cranes and barges abounded. Soon, I hope to get a clean shot of this view, sans construction equipment.
Kim has not yet returned to West Virginia. Christene arrived from Tampa for the weekend. Anne and Al arrived earlier in the week from frozen New Hampshire. It’s time for a meeting at the Hut! I’ve been invited by Gary and Tootie to spend the night at the Hut, as have Kim and Chris. Anne and Al are ensconced at their resort. We’ll all be going out to dinner and to make some mischief this evening, and staying over will save me having to make the perilous crossing late at night, hauling butt back to the mainland. To the left, we see the Lighthouse under overcast skies.
Above, the king’s crowns have emerged from their bleach bath and a good scrubbing with an old toothbrush. They were FILTHY, inside and out, but most of them cleaned up really nicely!
Other shells, still soaking in the dishpan. You can see above that I picked up a couple of decent sized whelks in good shape, among other things. You may be wondering why there’s one lonely king’s crown in there, separated from his brethren. Well, he had lots of greenish mossy stuff on the inside, so he needed a little more time in the bleach bath. Below is the other end of the dishpan.
It occurred to me while I was rinsing and rinsing and rinsing the mud from the king’s crowns that the last time I had a king’s crown from the mud flats, some little winged creatures hatched out of it after about two weeks and started dive bombing me all over my house. I could not figure out where they were coming from until one night I happened to turn the king’s crown over, and it was CRAWLING with these bugs! Well, I raced to put it outside, and forgot that the house alarm was set. I set off the alarm when I opened the door to the lanai! It was an “I Love Lucy” type of comedy at my house that night. So anyway, I got to thinking that despite my best efforts to get all the mud (and therefore, any pre-hatchling type things) out of them, I’d best bundle them into the freezer for a couple of weeks, just to be safe. So I’ve put them in a Ziploc and they are now chillin’ out.
OK, that’s the true end of the adventure. Man, I’m TIRED! I think I’ll hit the hay soon. Thanks for reading!
Above, the Lighthouse is all done up for the holidays, with bows and everything. Below, Kim finds a beautiful live whelk. Back in he went.
By this time, it was about 2:00 PM. We’d been tramping the beaches all day, since 7:00 AM. We were DONE! Kim drove me back to where I’d ditched my car, and there was a the inevitable transfer of gear and clothing. It had been spitting on us on and off since we left Jerry’s. It was now drizzling in earnest. We said our goodbyes for now. She will still be on the island next week when Anne, Al, Chris and Jon arrive for festivities and fun. Can’t wait!
Here we are at the pier. We found some small, satisfying stuff here at the Lighthouse Beach. Also more dead fishies
I don’t know why Kim changed clothes. She only got wet again. By this time, I was in sneakers and socks, and playing chicken with the waves, trying to scoop stuff with my net-on-a-stick. Kim was in flip flops, and despite rolling up the jeans, the waves nailed her a few times.
Lots of dead fishies – we’d heard that there was a massive kill due to the cold front. Saw lots of dead crabs, too. Don’t know what all of these are. Kim thought the one below was a puffer fish, and maybe the upside-down one was a trout. I kinda like the last one, with the yellow tail.
After Dixie Beach, we lit out for the little beach down at the end of Bailey. Here’s one of the many starfish Kim found. Some were rejects because they were sort a chewed up, or else looked like they had freezer burn.
Was surprised to see construction at the Causeway on a Saturday. This machine was picking up a large cylindrical object that appeared to be made of metal, and dropping it repeatedly upon some huge chunks of concrete. Where there were enough smaller pieces, the backhoe picked ’em up. You could feel the thudding under your feet.
At Jerry’s, Kim had the blackened salmon sandwich, and I had my “usual” – the “Sanibel Boat”. It’s half a pineapple that’s been hollowed out (they give you the chunks they removed) and filled in with FRESH seafood salad. You get other fruits on the plate, and cottage cheese too (which I never eat). Also a little loaf of wheat-ish looking bread. We both slugged down mass quantities of iced tea as well.
After Jerry’s, we decided to hit the bay side of the island a bit, so we lit out for Dixie Beach.
There wasn’t a whole lot going on at Dixie beach. The tide was very high, so there was really no beach to walk on. We made several forays down to the water via the rocks, but there wasn’t really anything to see except for these lovely mangrove roots, above. The sky was starting to look a bit threatening, too.
I never realized Santa was such a sloth-and-loafer! Was also pleased to see Mickey and Minnie cavorting amongst the palm trees.
Kim blindfolded me again and led me out of the sooper sekrit undisclosed location, once again making me promise not to tell. Soon, we were back in the car and heading back to the home of her hosts, where we deposited Noelle for some much-needed rest. Then we went to Bonnie’s to get cleaned up and change our clothes. At some point, Kim called Gary and Tootie to let them know we were headed to Jerry’s for lunch, but got the answering machine. Soon we were off, and I busied myself capturing the holiday ambiance at Jerry’s for blogging posterity.
See that vast expanse of wasteland? No, it’s not the surface of Mars. It’s a mud flat, and yonder’s where we found an amazing amount of king’s crowns in really pristine, if muddy, condition. Below, we find an egret, a couple of little blue herons, and three birds that had beaks like the ibis, but their feathers were not all white. Perhaps they were juveniles? Anyhow, we spent a good hour or more here, and found lots of treasure!
Imgaine my surprise when Kim pulled out a pocket knife and proceeded to prick both our fingers so I could swear a blood oath not to tell the location of our next stop. Then she made me pinky swear, too! Finally, she blindfolded me and got us to our destination. It was hard to keep up with her, seeing as how I couldn’t see. Seemed like she led us through sticker bushes and quicksand, which threatened to remove the dive boots from our very feet! Finally, she removed my blindfold, and I saw that we’d been following the tracks of a racoon, above. A little bit away, there was some shallow water, and I got a glimps of our quarry – king’s crowns! This one is alive; we’d be looking for dead, empty ones.
Here we are at Blind Pass, aka Turner Beach. Noelle was feeling frisky, so she decided to prance on the beach under her own steam instead of riding in the sling snuggled up to Kim. There wasn’t whole lot here to speak of, despite what you see in that “pile”. It was all clams and a bunch of broken up stuff mixed in. At this beach, you really have to be there as they are rolling in, otherwise they just dash themselves against the rocks and self-destruct. Below, the other side of the rock jetty. I did find two turbans on this side, one of them flaming orange! After only about 10 minutes, we were ready to move on to the next location.
Top right, inside the grocery bag, you can glimpse some of the sea urchins I picked up. Below that, sitting on top of the mesh collection bag, are a few mac-n-cheese. Since any day you find mac-n-cheese is a good shelling day (for I have decreed it thus), this was a good shelling day! On the left, assorted treasures.
Below, Kim heads down the path toward the beach at Gulf Pines. We didn’t find anything there; we came, we saw that there was nothing, we moved on to our next destination.
Bonnie found a GINORMOUS shrimp! He got swept in on a wave, but was still quite alive. I think maybe he was 6-8 inches long; Bonnie will correct me if I am wrong. After marveling at him for a bit, we put him back in the water, whereupon he was promptly swept onto the shore again, this time on his back. Had to throw him out FAR to get him to stay there; hope he made it!
Kim found a seahorse! He was dead, poor thing. I think the recent cold front was really a shock to some of these animals. I wouldn’t really know what to do with a dead seahorse. I’ll have to google about it and see what’s what.
Our final critter is Noelle, Kim’s little doggie. She’s just as cute as can be. After prowling Access 7 for a while, Bonnie needed to go take care of some work, so we all left. Bonnie dropped us where Kim’s car was parked. Here, Noelle is just chillin’ on my lap in the car as we motor toward our next destination.
It was sea urchin hell out there today. Everywhere you looked, sea urchins, sea urchins, and more sea urchins! This is the reason Mister Moose got the boot from the bucket. I’ve never successfully transported a sea urchin all the way home in just a net or a bag. They always break into a million bits. So I figured they would have a better chance in something hard-sided, like a bucket. Kim gave me a plastic grocery bag, to keep them segregated from everything else, so I wouldn’t toss heavy things on them. The strategy proved successful; I now have all twenty of the sea urchins I picked up, laid out on the table on the lanai to dry out. Now, getting them cleaned without breaking them will be another matter entirely; stay tuned!
No fair! That woulda been a NICE macaroni and cheese (juvenile horse conch). Well, I took it anyway. I can submerge the broken part in the middle of a bowl of mac-n-cheese, and no one will know the difference.
I let Mister Moose hang out and dig through the piles for a while, but we were really on the move, patrolling up and down the beach. I ended up zipping him into my jacket to carry him to and fro. The bucket is busy holding a passel of sea urchins and shells. Mister Moose is headed to Wisconsin momentarily; I hope it’s not a shock to his system after hanging out in Florida!
It was pretty cold at first; I was wearing a long sleeved thermal shirt, a sweatshirt, and my red Mickey Mouse jacket, which is lined with sweatshirt material. I was also wearing my new dive boots that I’d bought on the cruise ship; this would be their virgin shelling expedition. I knew the water was cold, and was hoping that they would help to keep my feet a little warmer than Teva sandals would!
This is why you can’t go barefoot on Sanibel beaches. SHELLS! We love them, but they about kill our feet.
Above and below, here’s what had collected at the high tide line. This might look impressive to the uninitiated. However, earlier in the week when the cold front was really coming through, there were six foot seas at the shore, and Kim experienced a major roll-in. I, alas, had to work that day!
After some jockeying of vehicles and equipment, we piled into Bonnie’s car and headed for West Gulf Drive, Beach Access #7. Here’s Bonnie and Kim waving to the blog, above. Below, Mister Moose settles into my bucket for his journey down the path.
I woke up early, and briefly considered going back to sleep, but ended up making coffee and settling in with the laptop to cruise some message boards. I saw a message from my friend Kim, indicating that she and Bonnie were shooting to head out shelling around 6:00 AM, and that I should call them! Well, I went into crazy evacuation mode, getting dressed, gathering up warm clothing and my shelling gear, and heading out the door with a travel mug of coffee. I called Kim’s cell phone at 6:15 AM, and they hadn’t left yet. They waited for me! I got to the rendezvous around 6:45 AM. Above, I’m crossing the causeway to the island; below, we see the baby fingernail moon in the very early dawn.
When I emerged from the spa (which was fabulous, by the way), Cuba was a LOT closer! I had the thought that maybe I would see one of those boats full of escapees that lands on the shores of Sanibel periodically, but didn’t see anything smaller than a couple of other cruise ships now and then.
She called to tell me that she was afraid that the Broadway strike would interfere with us seeing The Little Mermaid over Christmas. Frankly, I hadn’t thought of that; I just assumed they would resolve it by then. But I guess it is a real possibility that we won’t be able to go. She says the website for Disney on Broadway says people can get a refund. Of course, I would reschedule if it came to that, but it would be a bummer!
Anyhow, I’m glad she called, see above.
… even a small one, is a very good day!
The water is pretty cold, and their little “fingers” are pretty stiff. I’m pretty sure they were all dead.
After shopping till I dropped (and didn’t find much worth buying, alas!), I went to the Lighthouse Beach on Sanibel Island.
This is the butterfly garden out back of the Periwinkle Place shopping plaza. The butterflies were too fast for me to get their photos.
We’ll be going there later. Right now, we’re going shopping.