Lovers Key State Park and Sanibel Island
By Rachelle Siegrist
Yep . . . that’s me, the wee tiny little spot, with touches of pink showing, on what seemed like our very own personal island! Now come a little closer . . .
I only had to share it with the occasional bird flying over or walking by. “Nice!” I thought, as I happily floated in the emerald colored sea, seemingly without a care in the world, just enjoying to the fullest, one of my favorite happy places!
Feeling the gentle rise and fall of the waves passing under me, I contentedly floated, with the warmth of the sun on my skin and the soft saltwater caressing me, I felt as if I could float there forever, never tiring of this most relaxing hobby! Wes floated with me for a short while, then dove wearing a mask, looking for shell treasures, of which he found a perfect one during one of his underwater searches. He walked along the beach, taking photos and looking for more shells, while I happily floated . . . and floated! I love being in the water, on the water, and swimming, and was so thrilled to spend at least half of our time during our week in Ft. Myers in the water!
We ended up spending 3 days of our week long vacation at Lovers Key State Park, since we fell head over heels in love with it after our first visit! Lovers Key use to be a group of Wilderness Islands, covered by dense tangles of mangroves and pines. Walking along the beach was just about impossible, and very hard to reach, since you had to crawl through thick underbrush and mangroves, which extended in some places to the shoreline, just to reach the gulf. In 2004, Hurricane Charley changed it completely, and it now consists of 2 1/2 miles of sun drenched sand and beach! Wes and I never tired of walking along the beach while looking for shells. Having walked some distance, we came upon a tree skeleton, which had fallen over and was covered with shells in assorted shapes and sizes.
I thought it was most interesting and added a shell each time we passed by this adorned tree, with hopes of returning to this beautiful destination some day! There were snags in all shapes and sizes lining the water’s edge in some areas, creating stunning landscapes, with the gray color of the bleached wood against the backdrop of the turquoise water and clear blue sky! We felt as if we were far, far away, on a deserted island somewhere, relaxingly walking along, with the gentle waves and calls of Ospreys and Seagulls serenading us as we went.
Leaving the beach, we decided to walk a couple of the trails located inside the park, which lead you beside mangrove lined lagoons. We saw numerous Gopher Tortoises in all sizes mostly by their burrows, with a couple crossing the trail in front of us. I think it’s the most that we’ve ever seen in one place!
Then Wes just happened to look up and spotted a beautiful Yellow Rat Snake laying on a branch of a nearby tree!
We were always seeing something new and neat, Sheepshead fish and mullet in the lagoon areas near the bank, along with assorted warblers and lots of nesting Ospreys, flying above and returning with freshly caught fish to feed their young.
We came upon a most impressive tall bloom on a large Century Plant! My granny had them in her yard, so I’ve always been fond of them finding this to be quite a treat!
Next along the hike, we stopped by the Gator Pond, where there were indeed several gators . . . 6 young ones to be exact!
At the end of the day, we had worked up quite an appetite, so we went to Doc Fords Rum Bar & Grille, where we enjoyed a delicious dinner. The view from the outdoor dining porch, located directly on the water, was delightful and offered views of boat filled marinas, complete with numerous pelicans flying over and seagulls passing by. We had so much fun that first day that we returned again a couple of days later and spent most of our time swimming in the Gulf and combing the beach for shells, of which we found a great and stunning collection! Each time we headed for the beach, it was always fun walking through the mangrove lined lagoon areas once again, to see what we might spot in the shallow water below.
That day there were a few more people out enjoying this beautiful sunny spot, with several of them fishing. One Blue Heron decided it was easier to try and steal an occasional small fish, rather than catch its own! Several Snowy Egrets also tried this mostly unsuccessful tactic as well.
While floating and swimming, we found ourselves at times surrounded by schools of small fish, catching and reflecting the bright light of the sun when they would quickly turn sideways. Wes also found a few starfish, and we thought this small one was so delicately beautiful!
We were so excited to have my family join us for the weekend, and started off our fun with a swim in the heated pool at the hotel on Friday night when they arrived. Saturday, we spent on Sanibel with a visit to the Ding Darling Refuge, followed by lunch at Island Pizza Company where we enjoyed delicious pizza with curly crust! That afternoon we spent swimming and playing at Tarpon Beach there on Sanibel Island.
Although Wes and I had also spent an afternoon swimming at Gulfside beach on Sanibel Island, we personally liked the expanse of Lovers Key better, so that’s where our family spent Mother’s Day Sunday. We had a wonderful time, most of it spent in the water with the kids having a ball, especially playing with their water guns! Wes and Tyler really got into it while trying to blast down the sand castle they had built earlier in the day!
We only got out of the water long enough to enjoy a picnic lunch on the beach under the shade of my brother’s beach tent. And as usual, the average sandwich tasted totally delicious just because it was being eaten on the beach! We graciously let my parents take a wee nap, while we all continued to enjoy the surf and sand! Even though we hated to leave, the day was growing short, so after changing and packing up, we all headed to the Bass Pro shop in Ft. Myers, where we spent time checking out the enormous collection of outdoor goodies they have as well as the aquariums.
We enjoyed a delicious and fun supper at the Islamorada Fish Company, located inside the Bass Pro store. With a wonderful view of the large saltwater aquarium, we talked, laughed and ate, while being happy to just be together! Needless to say, I was also thrilled to be able to spend Mother’s Day with my Mom as well! Lots of wonderful memories were made during the weekend and our time there that week, and I’m ready to go back already!
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Until next time . . .