Category Archives: Florida

Yes, we’re going to Sanibel Island again!

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.

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At the International Mall: The Bamboo Club

Had dinner here on Tuesday night. There’s an outdoor collection of restaurants called “Bay Street” at the International Mall in Tampa. Lots and lots of restaurants there. The food was good, but the portions were ridiculous. One order of rice can feed a small third world nation!


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!

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The Perfect Day Ends

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!

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Final destination – The Lighthouse Beach

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.

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From your grocer’s freezer

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.

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Down Bailey Road

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.

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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.

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Time for a little sustenance

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.

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More sooper sekrit photos of the undisclosed location

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!

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Sooper Sekrit Undisclosed Location

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.

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Blind Pass

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.

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Wanna peek in my bucket?

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.

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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.

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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!

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Heartbreaker – WAAAAH!

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.

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The last we’ll see of Mister Moose

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!
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A beautiful Sanibel day

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!

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It’s 7:06 AM and we’ve arrived at our first destination

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.

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It’s 6:42 AM and I’m going to Sanibel Island!

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.

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Tuesday 12/04/2007: Cuba Gets Closer

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.

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The Royal Promenade

Standing on an above deck, looking down on the beginning of the Royal Promenade. That’s one of the glass elevators to the left.

I never did figure out what this dude is holding…

There was some activity or another on the Royal Promenade nearly every night.

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Catch a wave and you’re sittin’ on top of the world!

ABOVE: Surfers!

They probably wait out there every day for a cruise ship to come by and give them waves.

Goodbye, Fort Lauderdale – goodbye!

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More movin’ out

ABOVE: Pinkish sunset clouds on the horizon

BELOW: People on the rock jetty started waving at the ship; I waved back!

ABOVE: Our ship starts generating waves toward the shore….

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Waterfront properties

ABOVE: Hotels and/or condos facing the port

BELOW: Waterfront homes; the one on the extreme right is under construction.

ABOVE: Stay tuned, something interesting is about to happen on that little beach…

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Abandon ship!

No, not really. This was the safety drill. Unfortunately, our meeting place was on the side of the ship with the broiling hot setting sun. It seemed like we were trapped there in our sticky life jackets for freakin’ EVAH! I like how you can see my arm reflected in the sunglasses (I took this pic myself).

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Can you take some more reception?

ABOVE: When you walk off the Viking Crown deck to find a place to smoke, you find yourself overlooking the basketball court and the miniature golf course.

BELOW: The front of the Viking Crown lounge overlooks the pool

Dee and Ellen, with Cathy

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Yet more reception

ABOVE: That’s about one quarter of Glo, followed by Kimball and Carol

BELOW: Michelle, Sandi, Cathy’s back, and a little bit of Susan’s face

ABOVE: Carol, Kelly, Wendy and Mary

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More reception

The Mango Lava Flow was exceedingly sweet – too sweet even for me. But it sure did look pretty in the glass!

Someone is always trying to make out with Deb on these Moose trips….

Glo stands ready to digitally capture any misbehavior for posterity.

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All-Aboard Reception at the Viking Crown Lounge

Cathy and Michelle of Starfish Travel arranged a “Meet Your Fellow Cruisers” cocktail reception for us. Many of us had already met at least once at the 2007 Lodgeboards Moose Meet in October, but an equal amount had never met. What a fun bunch of ladies!

Here’s Tricia + the mystery passenger, and KellyB

ABOVE: Wendy (aka, The Wendyrazzi), Mary, Lesia, and Cindy with her daughter.
BELOW: Cathy, Susan, and Sharon standing, with Linda sitting (Deb’s aunt).

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Final stateroom shots

The tile on the shower floor (I don’t think I’ve ever been in a round shower before). Also, you can see me sitting on the sofa, taking a pic of the vanity/desk area.

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The Stateroom

The beds were pretty comfortable. If there had been a third person in the room, the sofa would have been opened flat each night by the stateroom attendant, and closed up the next morning when the room was made up. The main bed separates into two twins, which we had done while we were at dinner. There was a veranda for smoking and just sitting out with coffee each morning (had that delivered to the stateroom). Bath and shower cozy but not really a problem for me until it came to shaving my legs – there’s no room to do it in the shower bending over (oof, not good for the back, anyway), and there’s nothing to prop your foot upon. All in all, pretty comfy.

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Just trawlin’ the decks

Just traversing the ship, checkin’ out the sights. I didn’t really anticipate doing Johnny Rockets here, as I have a Johnny Rockets right in Fort Myers that I can go to any time I wish. I think it was at this point that they called out for us to report to our cabins.

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Monday 12-03-2007: More of the Solarium

Here we see more photos of the Solarium. There were some interesting statues up above the doorway back to the interior of the ship. I also love the Venus statue.

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Monday 12-03-2007: Solarium

OK here’s where we pick up from when Blogger started rejecting the photos last Monday.

Behind the main pool area is the Solarium, which has a couple of hot tubs, a bar, and a “quiet pool”. This area is pretty much adults only, and the deck chairs are cloth-covered in this section. Loved the statue; will find pics from the other camera and post them, too.

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*snif* The Lodge Ladies Cruise has come to an end!

Horrible internet access on the ship. Each page would take several minutes to load. Other multiple problems + the cost of paying by the minute for slow load was the reason that this blog didn’t get done at all, never mind in real time, during the cruise.

We all had the best time!

Here’s my game plan. I will first go through and comment on the pics that already got loaded (it worked until about 1PM on set sail day, Dec 3rd). Then, I will start captioning the rest of the photos I took, and I’ll start sending them to the blog from Picasa. Be patient, I have 5 days worth of photos to get through.

There was a pparently an outtage of some sort

Started getting error messages while taking pics of the ship. Something about exceeding the number of posts without doing a captcha. A WHAT? Called Bro. No. 2 and gave him my credentials to log in and poke around. He found some discussion on a newsgroup indicating that there was a problem with picture posts today. Anyhow, the WI-FI on the ship is slow and expensive, so I’m going to have to develop a strategy for doing most of the work offline – maybe put them into Picasa on my laptop, with captions, and then hitting the blog button? I dunno. Just wanted to let y’all know I’m not slacking!

uh, yep, it’s a bar

Drink Of The Day can happen here! You get them in a glass shaped like a wine glass, which you get to keep. There were, I believe, four colors – blue, amber, green, and red. I did not collect them; would be just more stuff to squeeze into my luggage.

Down the center

Several decks of inside cabins have windows that look down upon the Royal Processional down the center of the ship. There were some parades down this area, on Deck 5, throughout the course of the cruise.

Coming up the gang plank

Was not allowed to take pics between the first security check in and the ship. Here’s one of the lifeboats taken from the gang plank (which is sort a like a skyway between customs and the ship).

Party at the Ramada

After dinner, Mary and I headed out to a different hotel, where a lot of the Lodge Ladies are hanging their hats for the evening. We found them and THIS CARNAGE out by the tiki bar. Sat around swapping family war stories for a few hours.

Trivia questions

Hi vb

The waiter was asking us trivia questions about Forrest Gump. The last question he asked was “Mama always said you can tell a lot about a person by ….”. I thought it might be shoes, but I wasn’t sure. Racking our brains, I finally said to Mary, “you know what, call VB, he probably knows”. So here’s me while Mary is on the phone with VB.

PS – I was right, the answer was “by their shoes”.