Thursday, October 8, 2015

Captiva Island, Part 2

In the evenings, we played games, read books, and I worked on knitting projects!

I apologize for the sideways nature of this picture, but I love how cute Wyeth looks, slinking down in the chair!

At home for a lunch break before heading back out for more sunshine and salt water!

August, Brooklyn and Dorien would play "I spy" using the chart of shells. I think they have the shell chart completely memorized by now.

Heading out for dinner!

Me and my Brooklyn!

Eating at the Island Cow - there was lots of open space, unlike previous times of the year when we'd been there! (I love how August buttoned his top button!) 

I don't know what the sign means...but it was an opportunity to sit by a skeleton.

Brooklyn knew it wasn't real, but she still didn't want it touching her.

The lighthouse at the bottom tip of Sanibel Island. A 15 mile bike ride there and back gave Kyle and I each a nice 30 mile ride!

What a gorgeous day and a gorgeous boy!

Here I come!!!

Wyeth and Kyle!

Little brothers -  Wyeth (almost 2), Dorien (4).

Reading in bed before lights out.

Wyeth squeezed himself between Dorien and the screen wall in order to sit in Dorien's lap.

A late night walk down to the beach...

Revealed a white sand crab that quickly scuttled sideways into the grasses. 

It was a completely black night. No moon, no stars...just darkness and the sounds of waves rolling over rhythmically down the shoreline.  Staring out into the blackness, we began noticing these sparkles at the edge of the water just where the waves broke. Glittery, glowing brief shimmers of light. It definitely wasn't jellyfish. I did some research when we got back and I think it was phosphorescent ocean plant life. It was a first for all of us and incredibly cool!

All good things must come to an end, and we began our drive home on Saturday morning. Ironically, we found out that the next morning there was to be a sprint triathlon on the island!!! Had we known, we totally would have planned our trip around that! Maybe next year...

On our return journey, I knocked out two hats. One was intended to be for Brooklyn (the lilac one) and one for me (multicolored hat). It worked out exactly opposite of how I'd planned. But it's ok, because Brooklyn decided she really liked the multicolored version.

Side view - this is the PurlBee Cozy Ear Flap hat.

Back view of the lilac version of the same hat. 

Clearly too big for her, but so cute at the same time!

Driving back through Dothan, Alabama, we happened to catch the most glorious sunset right as we were pulling into our favorite restaurant for dinner!

We discovered this place, The Cactus Flower, several years ago just after it opened. I have no idea why we stopped here - there's nothing to really attract attention to it, but it blew us away with how good it was. It's kind of a fresh Californian approach to Mexican, and it is amazing. If you are EVER near Dothan, plan to stop here. It is well worth it. I always get the vegetarian quesadilla which is about the size of a medium pizza! It's at least 2 meals for me, and perhaps the most delicious thing I've ever put in my mouth. It's a well established part of our trip routine. 
So, until next time....farewell Captiva!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Captiva Island, Part 1

This September, we took the 18 hour trek down to our annual beach destination - Captiva Island, Florida. This was our 6th year to go there and the 3rd year in this particular house. We look forward to this trip each year in ways you can't imagine. It might seem dull to return to the same place every year, and ordinarily, I would whole-heartedly agree with that sentiment, but there is something unique about Captiva. Just ask those who find themselves returning year after year.

It's a place of peace and utter relaxation. Of afternoon thunderstorms, lazy days in the ocean throwing frisbees and searching for shells without critters in them. A place with familiar restaurants whose menus you have memorized. Home of the Orange Crunch Cake. Of manatees that everyone sees but us! Of dolphins, sea stars, crabs and shells galore.  A place with roads as familiar to you as your own hometown. There's something isolated and private about it, even though there are houses everywhere. 

This year, we went later in the year than we've ever been before, after school had started, and our week overlapped Labor Day weekend. 

It had been a lovely, but hectic summer and Kyle and I were eager to shed the trappings of our everyday lives and enjoy some quality time with each other and the kids. We always leave early Friday morning, drive all day, stop and sleep, and drive another 6-7 hours until we arrive in Fort Myers, Florida where we load up on groceries for the week and then drive onto the island where we don't budge for a full week. 

Wyeth did remarkably well on the trip, although he figured out that he could slip his arms out of his harness. A clear sign it's time to move up to a bigger carseat!

The kids were super excited. They love the routine of the 2 day drive it takes to get there as much as anything. Largely because I drop all my restrictions on sugar and they get more than they ever want or need from their treat bags. There are movies to watch, books we read aloud, Adventures in Odyssey cds to listen to, naps to take...

We definitely have the best decorated beach house I've ever stayed in. And I love our homeowner. She is incredibly helpful and has done a fantastic job making the house welcoming and equipped for every need. 

I love the huge map of the island and surrounding locations that greets you as you enter.

Some native wildlife greeted us as well.
Now, which way to the beach???

Thank you, Wyeth!

This was his second year here, but he was older and wiser and this ocean was a tad daunting to him. He was a little unsure. Exercising caution around the ocean is always a good idea.

Each day, we loaded our beach buggy with the chairs, umbrella, beach toys, towels, snacks and walked the short way to the beach to claim our spot. All of the stuff we hauled down there (minus the food) came with the house. Can't beat that.

This is the walkway from our house/neighborhood area to the beach. 

There it is....what we traveled so far to experience...

August gets super excited about Captiva. He loves making things in the sand and finding shells and body surfing and swimming and playing...

Kyle soaks it up.

Various expressions of joy look like an impromptu dance...

Hoping to sight a manatee, we strolled across the main road to the harbor side of the island.

The sky was dark and ominous, but it didn't dampen our enthusiasm. 
Sadly, we never spotted any manatees.

But we had fun tromping about the piers and calling for the manatees. That alone, was quite fun. There's a song from Veggie Tales called "Barbara are the one for me..." We sang that in hopes that it would attract Barbara. It did not. A few odd looks, yes.

After the weekend, the majority of people went back to work and school, and the beach thinned out considerably. It felt very much like our own private ocean. There were a few other families out there with us, but for the most part, it was blissfully quiet.

Captiva/Sanibel are known for their shells, but this year, we found unprecedented numbers of them. Sand dollars by the hundreds were under our feet in the sand...thousands of shells with little crabs occupying day, Kyle found about 6 enormous sand stars, all in a group. They were about 14 inches across. It was amazing!

 A friend we made while there said a manatee swam within a few feet of him - they were equally startled to find the other so close. And the dolphins were out like we'd never seen them! That was such a treat. One day, a momma dolphin and her baby were fishing in the shallows and swam within about 3 feet of us. It was unbelievable.

Sweet little Dorien. He put on his floatie and had the best time hanging out in deeper waters with me and Kyle.

Wyeth, on the other hand, just wanted to be with us. In our arms. He was not keen on any sort of flotation device. WE were his flotation device. And despite his white hair and blue eyes, he never burned and actually got pretty tan!

Some days the ocean was as smooth as glass. A couple of days the waves were so rough, I body-surfed for hours! You never knew what to expect. Every day was a brand new ocean.

Kyle and I were still training for our triathlon, so we brought our bikes and swim gear and did some open water swimming, biking up and down the island and lots of running.

White sunscreen on my white little baby boy.

August, in contrast to Wyeth, turned so dark he looked like a Native American. His hair lightened considerably, too!

Brooklyn turned brown as a nut, too! She had so much fun!

Hanging out with my littlest man while playing frisbee with Kyle. There's something about the ocean that makes me want to play frisbee. 

For hours. It's addicting. 

More tomorrow.....