Sunday, October 26, 2008

Nokomis Beach to Sanibel Island

Oscar Scherer State Park turned out to have very nice campsites – they were well spaced with dense vegetation between them. The mosquito population was also significantly smaller than in other places we’d stayed. We were glad we were there instead of at Myakka River for another night.

We spent the rest of the afternoon kicking around our campsite before driving south to Nokomis Beach for the evening. We’d read about a drum circle at sunset on Nokomis Beach which sounded intriguing.

When we arrived about an hour before sunset, there were lots of people there already and they just kept coming. Soon there were a couple hundred people spectating and participating.

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The crowd was an eclectic mix of locals and tourists, young and old.

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There were numerous drummers.

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Some of them had elaborately painted drums.

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Soon, the dancers joined in.

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This guy had his own unique martial-arts-inspired style.

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The kids joined in, running around the circle and laughing, adding their voices to the mix of the music.

The looming rain clouds held off, and as it got dark, several people brought out lighted balls or hula hoops.

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We found our way back to the car when there was just barely enough light to still see our way. From there, we went to a local joint called Pelican Alley in search of Game 6 of the American League Championship Series between Tampa Bay and the Red Sox game. Sadly, TBS was having “technical difficulties,” so for the first half hour what we saw instead was a rerun of some old sitcom. We were about to leave when the baseball game finally came on.

There were about a dozen people in the bar watching the game, and everyone was very friendly, though in rooting for the Red Sox, we were clearly not in the majority. We chatted with a local named Ardie for quite some time and learned the history behind all his tattoos, how much the area had changed in the last fifteen years, and why he’ll never live away from the water.

At 10 pm, the bar closed. Though the game was far from finished we headed back to our campsite for the night. We cheered the Red Sox on to victory from our tent.

In the morning, we took a nice run through one of the park’s nature trails, getting completely lost along the way. The map made the trail system look straightforward but in reality there were oodles of bulldozer paths that made it very confusing. We decided that “hiking” in Florida is not very exciting. Given that Florida is so flat, the vistas aren’t generally that interesting.

Our next stop was Sanibel Island. We’d read that Sanibel and its sibling island, Captiva, were “paradise”. After paying the hefty $6 toll to drive across to Sanibel, we forked over our parking fee and walked to the historic lighthouse.

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Continuing along the nature trail, we found the fishing pier on the bayside of the island. Kiteboarding was popular.

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Fishing was very popular, along the pier and along the beach.

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We went back to the beach and played in the water until our parking ticket was about to expire. It was a nice beach, but didn’t compare to some of the other beaches we’d been at in the past month. It was also way more crowded, probably because it was a Sunday and the beach is quite close to Fort Myers.

From there, we drove north across the rest of Sanibel and onto Captiva Island. Captiva had numerous excessively large beachfront houses. The beach there was much nicer than on the southern tip of Sanibel but it was also harder to find parking. For a while, we thought that only residents actually got beach access. Finally, we found a tiny parking lot.

We spent the next hour wandering along the beach and playing in the waves. The waves were enormous and lots of fun to bodysurf on. Sarah wished she had a boogie board.

After our day on Sanibel and Captiva, we drove off the islands to the local La Quinta where we’d spend the night. After a week of camping, we were ready for a night indoors. We watched the sad finale to the American League playoffs, where Tampa Bay ousted the Red Sox. This was supposed to be the year that the lovable losers from each league, the Cubs and the Red Sox, met in the World Series. But it was not to be. Tomorrow, we would head to the Everglades.

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