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Ibis in the Bird Sanctuary

Ibis in the Bird Sanctuary

First morning in Florida.  What to do?  Obviously, the first thing we always do.  Take a hike down through the Bird Sanctuary, out to the Gulf of Mexico along the white sands behind the Holiday Inn, then meander along the shore to the Outrigger.  At the Outrigger we linger beneath the thatch-covered tiki huts drinking orange juice or coffee (take your pick) while laughing with family members.  Ahhh…we’re in Paradise.

My dad always looks up at the jets flying into the Fort Myers Airport, sighs and informs us:  “Another bird coming in to Paradise.”

He rode his bike to the Outrigger and my brother walked along the sidewalk, but Mom and I took the “Kathy Walk” through the Bird Sanctuary.  They call it the “Kathy Walk” because my mom usually only walks it when I’m around. When other folks (like my sister-in-law) accompany her, it’s referred to in that infamous manner.

Oh how I love this walk!  Years ago a ferocious hurricane blew wildly through the south end of Fort Myers Beach, altering the previous landscape.  It left small lagoons between the condos and the beach.  Here great wild birds pause to peck underwater creatures, to float, to dive.  We’ve seen egrets, pelicans, ibis, oyster catchers, sandpipers, terns and even the elusive pink spoonbill.  How I wish a pink spoonbill will appear before the end of my vacation.  You would ooohhh and ahhhh to see this magnificent creature.

Instead you may view another pink creature playing along the shore.  She stared so fixedly at her pink pail and shovel, lost in imaginary worlds, that she barely even noticed our passing.

Digging by the shore

Digging by the shore

We watched flocks of seagulls spreading upward from the sand in white undulating waves of birds.  Another photo I would love to share with you, indeed!  We plowed through deeper sand walking from the shore back to the Outrigger.  It’s a good work-out.  Kind of like going to the gym.  While it’s a snap walking atop the harder crust of compressed sand, deep sand stretches endurance.  By the end of this week we’ll be fit and in shape.  (You believe that one?)

Tiki huts at the Outrigger bar

Tiki huts at the Outrigger bar

It’s a three mile walk from condo to the Outrigger and back again.  Today we didn’t return home until almost noon.  How much do you want to hear about our leisurely vacation?  I’m sorry some of you are envious… 😦   I wish you could all be here, too. 

Do you know there were actually people around the pool this afternoon complaining because the clouds obscured the sun and wind whipped the palm trees to and fro.  They actually uttered the words “cold front”.  Ridiculous!  These people don’t know what “cold” is.  It was 78 degrees.  I lay atop a beach towel by the pool and baked.  Not a boiling bake where sweat drips off your sunscreen lotion, but a luxurious slow bake that warms you down to the frozen innards.  I’m sure there’s still frozen innards, deep inside, after this long winter in Upper Michigan.  The whirlpool helped melt away any remaining frost.

Immature coconuts in those palm trees (I think that's what they are)

Immature coconuts in those palm trees (I think that's what they are)

One last photo for my husband.  Hi Barry!  I’m posting this just for you.  Just think, if you were down here you might be catching a little fellow like this for our grill.  It’s only about seven inches long though, and the fisherman threw it back in the Back Bay.   Ooops, sorry, didn’t mean to rub it in…

Baby red snapper (once again, I think that's what it is!)

Baby red snapper (once again, I think that's what it is!)

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…was I dreaming?  Could it be true?  Had spring fever finally overcome rationality?  Could that be a palm tree growing next to Lake Superior?  Could it suddenly be 80 degrees?  What was happening?  Was I losing my mind??

Palm tree branches waving in the breeze

Palm tree branches waving in the breeze

 Enough joking!  Michigan’s Upper Peninsula couldn’t grow a palm tree if it tried.  And for 80 degree temperatures to hit our thermometers it would be mid-summer.

Instead, I have flown half way across the country to beautiful Fort Myers Beach, Florida, to visit with my mom and dad for the next eight days.

YES!!!

This involved getting up at 4:10 a.m., two airplanes, a bagel in the Detroit airport and a blessed bath of hot air when we finally walked outside at the Fort Myers airport about 2 p.m.   Double YES!!!  YES!!!

Gorgeous Florida yellow blossom

Gorgeous Florida yellow blossom

My camera searched for vibrant colors.  Rich green leaves.  Splashing yellow and red and blue flowers.  From white winter snow drifts to…exotic blossoms.  It feels like one has awakened into a dream of summer.  Summer isn’t a hope and a prayer after all.  It exists.  And I get to play in it for the next week!  (and that means you all can play alongside me…)

Shall I set the scene for you? The condo where they spend four to five months a year has seven floors.  It oversees a point of land overlooking the Back Bay, a brackish backwater filled with dolphins, manatee, pelicans and egrets.  The Gulf of Mexico can be glimpsed out their front door, about a half mile to the west.  We’ll walk there tomorrow morning, through the Bird Sanctuary, a walk infamously known as “Kathy’s Walk”, don’t ask me why.

My parents have been coming here about 17 years now; I’ve visited off and on during those years. Last year I came twice, once with husband and once with daughter.  This trip is solo, as everyone else has other commitments.

Hungry blue heron begging fishermen for fish snacks

Hungry blue heron begging fishermen for fish snacks

So, you want to know what my outdoor experience has been today?  You wouldn’t believe it!  Besides the fifteen minutes lusting after everything green and vibrant and multi-colored in the landscape and wildly snapping photos, I attended a St. Patrick’s Day party down by the pool.  I was introduced to a dozen people, every one named Bob and Bill, and enjoyed the most fantastic potluck. 

I could get used to this kind of outdoor adventure, let me tell you.

Condo St. Patrick's Day party

Condo St. Patrick's Day party

It’s now almost 8 p.m. and I’m almost ready for bed.  Here’s a theoretical question for you.  Should I go down for a soak in the whirlpool before bed?  Let the spa hot water jets melt away and dissolve all those memories of 13 below zero and six foot snow drifts?  Goodnight, dear reader…

Anyone care to join me...?

Anyone care to join me...?

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