Sanibel Island, FL
We left the Florida Keys, drove north on U.S. 1, then cut west across the tip of Florida on the Tamiami (pronounced tammy-amee) Trail. The road connects Tampa and Miami, and the name is a combination of the names of the two cities.
We traveled the part of the trail from just west of Miami to near Naples, FL. This part of the Tamiami Trail runs along the northern border of Everglades National Park and through the Big Cypress National Preserve. While clipping along at 60 mph and with brush, weeds, and grass partially blocking our view, Margery was still able to catch glimpses of somewhere between 75 and 100 alligators sunning themselves along the banks of the waters beside the road. Paul was able to see quite a few alligators himself, even while driving. Although most of the 'gators were small (2 to 4 feet long), there were one or two that were more like 8 feet.
We pulled into Imperial Bonita Estates RV Resort in Bonita Springs, FL, in the early afternoon. Imperial Bonita has a section for RVs and park models and another section for manufactured housing. The RV section is primarily used for seasonal rentals, but they have a good many sites in the RV section they use for transients like us. The RV sites have full hookups with 50 amp, paved roads, gravel pads, and concrete patios. The photo below shows our site at Imperial Boniva.
There is a real mix in the RV section. There was a newer park model on our right and an older, stationary trailer to the left. However, most of the stationary RVs and park models are neatly kept. Most of the more-permanent, manufactured housing in the other section of the park was very nicely landscaped, even though some of the units there were older, too.
The main reason we stopped in Bonita Springs was that it is less than an hour from Sanibel Island. Sanibel Island is located off the west coast of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico near Ft. Meyers. The island is about 12 miles long and 4 miles wide.
The beaches of Sanibel are world-famous for shelling. The reason the island is so good for shell collectors is due to its geographical location. The Gulf is quite shallow in this area and there are a lot of shells. The island also lies east to west so it acts as a scoop as winds, tides, currents, and storms push shells up from the shallow waters onto the beaches. The photo below is a view of the beach at the eastern end of Sanibel.
The beach below Margery's feet was littered with millions of shells.
Most shells are broken, but there are a few nice ones that are still intact. Shell hunters who are there at the right time (usually right after a storm) can sometimes find a shell that is fairly rare.
They have a name for the way shell hunters walk on the beach. It's called the "Sanibel Stoop," and Margery is demonstrating it in the photo below. It's hard on the back, but serious hunters will walk all the way down the beach bent over like that.
Sanibel Island also has a lighthouse on the eastern end of the island right near the beach shown above. The lighthouse tower was constructed from iron in the north, shipped to Florida, and erected on a foundation of iron pilings in 1884. There are also two lightkeepers houses on the site.
We drove the entire length of Sanibel and stopped at another beach a little farther west and took the self portrait shown below.
The western end of the island is said to have larger shells while the eastern end gets the smaller, more delicate shells. The main reason for this is probably because the western end of the island sticks farther out into the Gulf of Mexico and gets a little more wind and stronger currents.
We also drove to the end of Captiva Island, which curves northward from the western end of Sanibel. Captiva has some nice resorts and some VERY large, expensive-looking houses.
We only planned to stay in Bonita Springs a few days, then we will be moving about 100 miles north the Escapees co-op park called the Florida SKP Resort in Wauchula, FL.