DAY 6 – MON 12th NOV

ake up at 6:00AM again with my feet itching from all the insect bites. I seem to be the only one affected by them. They always go fro the sweetest meat, you know.
I have been using insect repellent, but they ought to call it insect attractor. You can practically see the insects licking their lips as I spray it on. I’m sure I heard one of them ask “Do you get fries with that?”

Me, Tam and Grandma(D) stroll down to the beach to see the sunrise again. It’s true that every sunrise is different. This one is cloudier, but this enables you to see the great red orb for longer.

After breakfast we set out for Tarpon Bay. Tam and I are going kayaking. We drive the rest of them to the beach and then continue to Tarpon Bay. This is a large estuary that looks really deep but we are told that if we fall out of the kayaks it would only come up to our waists! Tam looks suitably relieved.

This is a guided tour with a naturalist (Dan) along to explain everything as we go. Dan (the nature man) firstly gives us some brief instructions and we then get to clamber into our two person boats.
We meet up in a sort of mini flotilla before setting off across Tarpon Bay. This is the longest and most tiring part of the tour, but we all make it safely across. There are 8 kayaks and we reassemble at the mouth of the canoe trail where Dan explains a bit about the estuary and the creatures found in it.
We then set off along the trail at a slow pace to the next meeting point. All told we assemble in 4 different places where we learn about the eco-system and especially the mangrove plants and the mullet. (We are all made honorary mullet for the day.)

It is totally blissful floating through the mangroves watching the osprey, blue heron, ibis and cormorants.
There is no sound other than the crickets and the paddles gently slipping through the water. The sun glints through the trees and the tranquillity is total.
After 1 ˝ hours of quietly paddling through narrow channels in the mangroves we meet up for the last time in the centre of a large lake where the mullet are leaping all over the place.
Here Dan gives us one last talk and then tells us we are free to explore as much as we like before returning to base. We paddle around for a while, but then have to head back as the others are waiting for us at the beach. The trip back would have been just as restful had we not passed another boat that has a radio playing loudly! Heathens!

The water in the bay on our return journey is choppier as the wind has got up, but this just makes it more fun. We make it back to the shore and I am just about to congratulate myself on staying dry through the whole thing, when a small wave washes over the back of the boat and soaks me! I knew I should have made Tam sit in the back.
It costs $25 for about 2 ˝ hours in the boat (you can stay out longer if you want) and both Tam and I agree that it is money well spent. You get to see beautiful scenery and close up views of some amazing creatures.
Our only disappointment is that we left the video and digital cameras in the car for fear of getting them wet. As it turns out, I think you could quite happily take a camera.

Back at the beach we pick up the rest of the troop. They have great fun and the girls are covered in sand after being buried by Granny(J) and Grandma(D).

We drive along Periwinkle Way and stop at a pizza house for lunch.

Back to the condo where we drop off all the beach gear and jump on the bikes for another look around. A short way up the road is the Periwinkle Park & Campground. This is a strange place with permanent caravan type homes with a small aviary in the middle. They also have ring tailed lemurs and parrots.
The parrots seem particularly friendly. One of them calls out ‘Hello’ as we walk up. The girls are laughing themselves silly as the parrot chats away to them. As we are walking away he says ‘Bye.’ A few more steps. ‘Bye.’ More steps. ‘Bye.’
The more he says it the funnier it seems and the girls are beside themselves with glee.

A little further down the road is City Park, which is a rather grand name for what is actually a pull in off the road with views across a watery swamp. There are signs up telling you not to feed the alligators but, try as we might, we cannot see any.

Back at the condo a swim is in order. It is coming up to 6:00PM, getting dark and the girls are still in the pool, which they have to themselves. I’m not sure how many units are occupied, but it certainly is very quiet.

After showering I have to drive us to dinner, mumbling and grumbling as we go. This evening we try the Sanibel Café, which is more of a diner than a restaurant. We all try blue crab legs as a starter. I can’t say that I’m over impressed, fairly tasteless really. Our main courses include tuna salad, angel hair pasta, BLT in a croissant and meatloaf. I have pork tenderloin, which is spoiled a little by the heavy BBQ sauce. The bill for the 4 of us is $68. An OK meal, but no more.

Back to the condo where we see if there is anything decent to watch on TV. Yeah right! ‘Something decent’ and ‘American TV’ are words that do not belong in the same sentence. Nothing to do with the quality of the programmes, more to do with the frequency of the breaks.
‘And now’ – adverts - ‘the news’ – adverts -‘at 9:00PM.’ – adverts.
There is no way you can become fully immersed in a good film. Just as the detective is about to announce the murderer, we switch to someone trying to sell you incontinence pants. Somewhat spoils the tension. Thank heavens for the BBC.

We give up on TV and I write up my trip report while the others play cards. The women retire at 10:00 while I stay up and watch the football. (Advert disruption and all.)