Day 10 – Driving among Maniacs to visit friends

The bridge from Sanibel to Fort Myers

The bridge from Sanibel to Fort Myers

We tried to drive the length of the island, but gave up because we needed to visit a friend and her husband in Arcadia, so again we drove through the insane mess of roadways, nearly getting into a major accident when some moron in a white contractor’s van ran a red light and nearly into us. What should we expect in a NASCAR state?

At least after that, it was a country road that took us well off the planned route, to Arcadia, and we had a lovely visit with our friends, who were delighted to have company; we had lunch, talked about everything under the sun, and with Trixie (who explored the whole house ahead of time) got a tour of the sprawling settlement.

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Day 10 – Visiting Sanibel Island

Sanibel Island Light

Sanibel Island Light

After a so-so breakfast, we drove on through the utter maze of roads in Fort Myers to the west to get to Sanibel Island; $6 admission for a car to drive across bridges and causeways to get there. Mum and Pops had visited there 30 years ago, and in the intervening years it was leveled by a hurricane, then rebuilt into a tourist trap, with mini-malls, gift boutiques and restaurants – the last time we were there, they were lucky to have a hamburger stand.

We went to view the lighthouse at the southern tip of the island – a metal skeleton type, similar to one we saw near Salem Massachusetts. The views were quite nice, as was the beach – plenty of pictures were to be taken.  This is one reason we try to visit lighthouses, because they often have great views to admire, as well as seeing the tower itself.

Day 9 – Watching the Red Sox at Jet Blue Stadium

Trixie and her Mum wait for the start of the game.

Trixie and her Mum wait for the start of the game.

Then we went back to the ticket booth, where Pops stood and waited to get the tickets released from the players. No handicapped places were available, so we got three tickets for section 204, row 6, seats 18-20 for $87 – that’s $29 per ticket.

Yes, Trixie went in, and Trixie had her own seat – other than barking once when a foul ball banged hard on the metal roof over us, she was a perfect little girl. She got anxious during the national anthem and the sweet Caroline song too, since the speakers were right overhead.

The game wrapped up 4-1, Red Sox winning for a change; they have not done so well in this series. But darn, it was late! Past 10:00 when the game ended. Luckily, the hotel was nearby, but locating it in the maze of roads in the black of the night was nearly impossible.

Day 9 – On to see the Red Sox

The Red Sox and Twins play in the practice fields behind Jet Blue Park.

The Red Sox and Twins play in the practice fields behind Jet Blue Park.

We had intended to get to Sanibel Island this day, but the Red Sox beckoned, so we drove on to JetBlue Park, home of the Red Sox Spring Training Program – Trixie had thought that would be enough for Mum to see, but no, we had to go to the night game at 7:00, but tickets were sold out.

So we hung around to the gift shop, and then to see the Sox play the Twins in their practice fields. There are a total of six fields behind the sprawling ballpark, and the AA and AAA teams were playing; Minnesota Twins vs the Red Sox. It worked out well enough; we managed to get a couple of new players to sign a ball for us. Now all we have to do is hope they go on to become superstars, and the ball will pay for Pop’s retirement!

Day 9 – The Tamalia Trail

Birds seen at the Big Cypress Preserve.

Birds seen at the Big Cypress Preserve.

We found Tamalia Trail/ Route 40 and began heading west to Fort Myers – this route goes through the Everglades, with only the odd gator show or Native American Village along the way. Not to mention the Native American Casinos that were right at the start of the trail.

The route was hemmed in by a canal to the north, and forests to the south for the first part; massive locks were in place to help with flood control all along the route.

The nature of the land began to change as we entered the Big Cypress Preserve, with more Spanish moss and bromeliads – air-plants – hanging off the trees, and more open fields of everglades. We stopped at a small visitor’s center to stretch our legs, and spied some alligators, plenty of birds and other local flora and fauna from the modest boardwalk along the canal.

Day 9 – Departing Key Largo

A Florida Farm sandwiched between the city and everglades.

A Florida Farm sandwiched between the city and everglades.

Our room was ideally located to enjoy the sunrise over the canal below, and indulge in an overpriced breakfast on the balcony. Trixie poked her nose out between the bars now and again, wondering how cars were vanishing under her spot – they were going into the under cover parking under the hotel. We tried driving down to the sea, but the road dead-ended at a gated community. We guessed Floridians do not like to share their views if they do not have to.

We got underway on time, looking for the Tamalia Trail/ Route 40 – this is the southernmost east-west highway in the state. The GPS had a lousy time getting us there at first because of the maze of streets in Homestead, but soon we were driving north past fields of tomatoes, corn and palm trees along with garden centers. The route – a straight shot up – is mostly rural and bears a passing resemblance to the drive in South Dakota last year.

Day 8 – Key Largo

The canal seen from the hotel on Key Largo

The canal seen from the hotel on Key Largo

The bridges broke up the plains and monotony, offering views of the light blue waters that were dotted with whitecaps – the wind is blowing hard here, and even in this allegedly tropical area, it is cool.

After a meal, we drove down the keys as far as Isabella, before turning around – the highway is a straight shot down the center of the islands, mostly divided in the center, and boxed in on both sides by lush vegetation and houses that block views or access to the ocean.  The islands seem to be riddled with canals to ensure that condoners have access to their boats and the sea, but there are few places for a driver to pull over and admire the views.

We stopped at a tourist trap place to pick up a few souvenirs, then found our way to the hotel – a cute Mariott on stilts – our room had a fine view of a canal, and a houseboat for sales – ah, now there would be a way to see the country! We enjoyed the sunset, and retired for the evening.