Friday, April 27, 2012

Sanibel Island: Part 3

We wanted to leave Florida having seen an alligator in its habitat, so we decided to walk on a nature trail through the Conservation Lands called The Bailey Tract.  We ended up starting our walk right at noon on a nearly cloudless day.  The kids were HOT and wanted to be carried.  Alice named the hike "The Desert Walk" and she was right!

I gave William a lift.  Whew!

 Grandpa Jeff was determined to spot an alligator.  He had Nora on his shoulders, and Audrey nearby.

Can you spot the alligator in the center of the picture?  For reference, an alligator's snout is shaped like a "U" unlike a crocodile's snout, which is shaped like a "V".

We saw many turtles--a favorite of the kids.

A cormorant dries its wings while a turtle looks on.  Cormorants dive under the water and chase their prey, however, their feathers are not waterproof, so they spend much time drying their wings.

Nora taking a turn on Papa's shoulders.

Jeffery pointed out a 2nd alligator, do you see his eye?

William started to melt (physically, not emotionally)--

Group shot on the Desert Hike.  Looks like they were looking intently at something!

Audrey and William outside a fun restaurant--The Lazy Flamingo.

After lunch at the Lazy Flamingo, we crossed the road and enjoyed beautiful Turner's Beach.

Happy Happy Nora!

William, looking rather serious.

Big Sister Audrey helping Nora.

I will never tire of this view, when is the next vacation?

Love my William!

Love my Audrey!

Love my Nora!

Toward the end of the vacation, William got pretty adventurous.  


Little Nora.

Another favorite vacation picture.  

The girls walking with Mummi Alice in front of the condo.


Alice, looking so carefree--love it!

Mummi Alice and Nora settling in on the flight home.

William and Audrey at the end of vacation.  We must do this again soon!

Thank you to my sister, who arranged her schedule to be our transportation.

Thank you to my mother, who stayed at our house with beloved Martha.  While we were away, we missed a storm that brought heavy snow and knocked the power out for 30 hours, and nearly sent a tree through our windows.  My mother was a trooper!

Thank you to Alice and Jeffery for being willing to vacation with us, for helping us with ALL the kids and ALL the luggage, for allowing us some time alone, and for being great company!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sanibel Island: Part 2

We arranged to have a charter boat ride to do some dolphin-spotting and more shelling, so we headed back to Fort Myers.  We learned about sea life and the history of the area.

Audrey and Nora, Boating Beauties.   

Here is our captain, Dwight.  He was funny, knowledgeable, and wonderful with the kids!  

William loved being on the boat.  He had a constant stream of questions for Dwight (and Dwight is convinced that William will someday be a lawyer).

The mother osprey set up her nest here. Her babies are 2 weeks old (and nearly the size she is).

A mangrove forest.  

Estero Bay with Fort Myers in the background.

 Audrey and William looking for dolphins.

---and there are the dolphins!

Grandpa Jeff and Nora taking it all in.

A pair of pelicans keeping watch.

The private island where we docked to go shelling.  The island has fine sugary sand that is perfect for sand castles and sand sculptures.

Darin and Audrey, searching for shells.

When Audrey realized how great the sand was, she was done shelling!

Captain Dwight let the kids explore the boat.

The sisters!

We found more dolphins!

A pair of dolphins very near the boat.

A dolphin right behind the boat!  

Our crew.

Captain Dwight let the kids take a turn driving the boat.  William was thrilled!

"I drive!!!"

The three at a fountain at the marina.  Audrey was pretending to be a dolphin!

This was a storage building for boats at the marina--check out the huge fork lift---a little boy's dream!

The next day we went to the J.N. 'Ding' Darling Wildlife Refuge.  We first checked out the Education Center.  Here are the kids at the Build A Bird Exhibit.

Audrey in the bird lookout room with her binoculars.

Nora, Audrey, and William, and the centenarian volunteer (yes, she is 100 years old!).  She wanted to make sure the kids got special frogs to take home!

In addition to the Education Center, the Ding Wildlife Refuge has a Wildlife Drive, complete with observations towers and viewing platforms to see animals in their natural habitat.  Below, the 5 of us.  We saw many birds, but no alligators!

After all the learning we did at the Wildlife Refuge, it was time to take a break and enjoy the beach.  This is the beach in front of our condo.  

William found a shell-collecting tool.

Audrey dipping her toes in.

Nora had no fear on the beach, and very little desire to stay close to the group.  

Audrey and Grandpa Jeffery.

The group, but Alice is behind the camera!

A rare family photo, with only 2/5 of us looking in the right direction!!!

My Audrey Girl, a favorite photo of the trip.

The boys constructing something great.

Alice and Jeffery join the effort.

We had to catch a sunset at Bowman Beach.  

Love the golden color!

Jeffery and Alice, another favorite picture of the trip.

Jeffery, Darin, Nora, and Audrey, picking shells and waiting for the sun to set.

William making a tunnel in the sand.  This child is always constructing.

My girls.


GASP--another picture of the 2 of us!


It was a beautiful sunset on a beautiful evening.

Look at this precious, sandy little face!

We played at the playground on the way to the van.  William scaled the climbing wall!

This girl was meant to climb.

Pretty sure Nora was giving instructions here.

What better way to conclude a romantic sunset on the beach than with homemade ice cream?  Best ice cream EVER!

It was time to settle in and get ready for the next few days of beach--