Sanibel Island Trip Report, Day 2 – Saturday November 28

The proper reaction when your wife’s new hat blows off and she has to chase it down the beach is NOT to tell her how funny that is. The proper reaction when your wife’s new hat blows into the ocean is NOT to tell her that is even funnier.

I thought I had clued Ken in enough on the plans to get up and take sunrise pictures but he was still somewhat reluctant. Sunrise is pretty late here, about 6:55 or 7 but it is pretty light before then. The cool thing is that it is also pretty close to low tide, so you have access to much more of the beach than before and tide pools are left behind with interesting things like horseshoe crabs, starfish, fighting conchs and sand dollars. Yesterday I saw a lot of sand dollars, but lucky for them, they were all still alive – but today there were some expired ones so I was able to pick up a few.  After sunrise and collecting a few shells at our home beach, we hopped in the car and drove down to light house beach, finding different kinds of shells and seeing a funny little leopard crab enjoying the day, and an osprey hanging out in a tree eating a fish. We also saw two starfish, both still alive and kicking, so we just took a picture and made sure they were returned safely to the water. I did some research on something I found yesterday (and returned to the water) and it was a big chunk of sea pork, bright orange in color.

Shells collected so far, going to need to start figuring out how to get these home:



Went to breakfast at Sanibel Cafe – Ken had bacon and eggs and I had a mango mimosa, smoked salmon eggs benedict, and parmesan grilled tomatoes, which were excellent. I need to figure out a way to make those at home. Of course, the tomatoes are probably from within the state and were far better than most winter tomatoes. Cute little family run restaurant with seashells displayed in the tables. The waitress was wearing a Tim Tebow jersey (FL/FL State game today) and so Ken had fun giving her a bad time about that.




Walked down the rest of the shopping area to check out shops and found one with super soft hoodies so that is going to be my clothing souvenir. Then went to CVS in hopes of finding a flash drive so we can store a few more pictures, found one, got some water for Ken who dislikes the FL Sulphur water, some snacks, and another hat for me since I only own about 20 hats but I am incapable of remembering to bring one on any given trip. I found a new hat but you know how that turned out already. The hat got rinsed out and hung on the patio to dry.

We went back to the hotel and changed into swim gear, and went down to the beach and sat on the loungers under the umbrella while I typed up Friday’s blog. Then we did some beach walking, finding a few more shells vital to my collection. I am more than willing to pick up just about anything I see on the beach and scrutinize it to determine what it might be. I am pretty sure I returned a sea cucumber to the ocean this morning. Ken, on the other hand, does not care to closely examine the cute little dead crab when I am more than willing to hold it RIGHT CLOSE to his face.

Lunch was at the Island Cow- very extensive menu but I had scoped things out online beforehand and knew I wanted Stone Crab if it was in season. We started out with pina coladas for lunch, hey we are on vacation.

Meanwhile we are looking at pictures from and the ice skating is open for the season in Denver. NOT SAD TO BE HERE.

I had the stone crab with cheese grits and hush puppies for sides, Ken had the pulled pork platter with fries, it also came with cole slaw and hush puppies. Ken said the pulled pork was good but too filling, he then complained all afternoon about being too full to eat ever again. He said the sauce was good but the texture of the pork was more “mashed” than what he was used to, but very good.




I would have eaten his hush puppies had they been good but they were not very hot and fresh. The cheese grits were excellent, good grits with two kinds of cheese on top, not melted and stirred in, but very good tasting. I am starting to realize when I say “I am going to eat a lot of seafood” I mean “shellfish” because that is what I have had at every meal – and lunch was no exception with the stone crab claws. Stone crab claws are very good but unfortunately the shell is very thick, so there is sometimes shrapnel. I kept the shrapnel to a minimum this time (we were eating outside, that was helpful) but there was spray, Ken got it in the face once, and I had to go back and change my shirt afterward, and there is no “just spot cleaning” that shirt, it went in the laundry right away. I think the drawn butter caused much of the problem. I also saw they had a draft root beer which I had to try, not local to Florida but local to the south, Abita root beer from Louisiana, sweetened with Louisiana cane sugar. It was also tasty. Fun place to eat. I might try it again if I didn’t have 15 restaurants on my list and only 8 or 9 meals left….

Then we came back to the hotel, it was already after 3 at this point, and started listening/watching the Jackrabbit football game on ESPN 3 on the computer. Well, I was listening, someone else needed a nap and fell asleep. I was considering going shopping but decided I didn’t have that much time, as we were planning on heading up to a more west-facing beach for sunset pictures. So I caught up on Facebook while listening to the game and investigated which restaurant we should go to tonight, and tried to determine a plan for going to the wildlife refuge at some point. And the Jackrabbit game was not going well so it was no sacrifice to leave it and drive up to Blind Pass beach, which is the very first point of land on Captiva Island, and faces west, to get sunset shots. And I was hoping for more shells, but there were very few up there, sad! But we did get some spectacular sunset pictures. And even though the Jackrabbits lost, we did have the weather here for consolation.



Tonight’s dinner was Doc Ford’s Sanibel Bar and Grill. It was a bit of a drive back up toward Captiva Island, but now we knew where we were going. We had the Doc’s Beach Bread “baked French bread topped with three cheeses, diced tomatoes and just the right spices.” And added bacon because, well, bacon.

I had the conch chowder, very interesting version, lots of vegetables, pretty spicy, and the Yucatan Shrimp, which were peel and eat shrimp bathed in butter and spices, and supposedly cilantro, but I didn’t see a trace of that. They were tasty but there was so much butter I had to be extremely careful so as to not trash another shirt that I couldn’t re-wear again. Ken had the baby back ribs, and he said they were good, but too much food after he had a big lunch earlier in the day.

We both had excellent drinks, I think mine was called the Sanibel Sunrise, and Ken had a rum and coke – Doc’s has a lot of specialty rums so that was fun.

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Ken’s pictures from today: sunset Sunsetstarfish



Lighthouse, decorated for Christmas.

The blog comes back to life! On a trip to Sanibel Island!

Well, since I renewed my domain name a few days ago, perhaps I should post here every now and then. So here I go with a trip report on our 2015 Thanksgiving Vacation to Sanibel Island.

Sanibel has been on my bucket list for several years, I can’t remember when I stumbled across it on the internet, but maybe when I was researching for a work trip to Tampa. That trip I only made it to Clearwater beach, but I was determined to get to Sanibel and its seashells someday, inspired by and her shelling tales. And since it is in the teens back in Denver, and 80s here, this seems like an ideal time.

Tales of a vacation, chapter 1:

20151126_204858 This is what happens when you own three pair of sandals that are the same style but different colors – you go on vacation with four shoes and only have one pair, but three of a kind. Not the best poker hand, even for shoes. But I get the idea that you don’t really need that many shoes around here.

So we arrived safely at Sanibel, after various and sundry adventures getting here. Just getting to the airport was a bit dicey this morning, with the icy Denver streets, but the main airport road was in good shape. Made it OK, plenty early, wearing the turkey hats so we could amuse our fellow travelers. And we got lots of comments and looks. (Ken did not want to wear the turkey hat, but everyone on Facebook voted that he had to wear the turkey hat. He insisted on wearing the roast turkey hat, which is apparently LESS HUMILIATING than the other one. And telling everyone he had been coerced.)


Going through the body scanner, the TSA agent accidentally scanned me as male the first time through, and had to rescan me. Of course an extended conversation ensued between Ken and the agent, concluding with the agent proclaiming “She’s all woman as far as I’m concerned,” and Ken replying, “I hope so, I’m married to her.” This after Ken requested a copy of the scan of me as a boy. We have more adventures before we get on the plane than most people do on an entire vacation.

We were flying Frontier out of A Concourse, but my tradition (if I am not running for the plane because I am late) is to go out to Concourse C and get a breakfast calzone at Villa Italian. Well, it isn’t a calzone any more, they discontinued those, which is unfortunate, because I miss the green peppers in those, but they have two different kinds of breakfast Stromboli, I got the one with spinach. And extra sauce.


Full plane to Tampa, several kids but they were all pretty quiet. I decided the knit hat I was working on for a Christmas present was WAAAAY too huge and ripped it out. And then ripped it out again when I figured out I had twisted the join knitting in the round, so it was a moebius hat. That works OK for cowls but not for hats. AND the first time I had cast this hat on, I had also twisted the join, so this is the 4th time I have cast on this hat. It is beginning to haunt me.

It was a bit of a drive from Tampa to Sanibel, but the flights into Tampa were much cheaper than the ones to Fort Myers, although next time I think convenience will win out. Tampa has this extremely spectacular bridge on the causeway heading out of town, of course they don’t want you to stop and take pictures – if you don’t want people to take pictures then you need to tone down your architecture!



Ken’s remarks about Florida drivers: “Oh I see we like to tailgate here as well. And drive slow in the left lane.”

We didn’t get to Sanibel until just after sunset, so we had to find our way around in the dark, my bossy GPS on my phone was a big help. She only occasionally tries to kill us.

This island is extremely dark, not a lot of street lights and not a lot of lighting around buildings, it is kind of strange. And people are quite comfortable walking around in the dark in dark clothes, riding their bikes with no reflective gear, etc…..eeek!

There is an almost-full moon, enough light to walk out to the beach in the moonlight. Our room is literally about 50 yards from the ocean (a good sand wedge, DH says). We have the sliding patio door open right now and can hear the surf. And a cricket.

We saw 2” lizard on the wall above our door and now Ken is paranoid that he is going to get a lizard in his shoe. Apparently he is not paranoid about having one waltz across his face while he is sleeping, but he doesn’t want one in his shoe. Especially, god forbid, the golf shoes….

Had Thanksgiving evening buffet at a local hotel that was pretty highly recommended on the internet, and it was just OK, had all the requisites, I guess, but I wasn’t overly thrilled with any one thing. The best things were: mango chutney for the ham, fresh cherry tomatoes and fresh pineapple. I guess maybe I really have re-set my tastebuds the last several months. And I appreciate local produce. Had a nice glass of Pino Grigio and then was charged for the full bottle, glad I noticed……it was a nice glass of wine but not a $39 glass of wine.

Sunrise is at 7 a.m., we need to be up about then to get breakfast and get Ken to the golf course, and me out to the beach…..I already picked up my first two shells tonight, we will see what high tide brings tomorrow morning. The little one is actually a very metallic purple, a good find for the first night after dark!

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Ken has already taken some really neat photos in the dark!






San Francisco Thanksgiving 2010 Trip Report Part 3

Links to all of the trip reports from this trip:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Saturday: As I got up and staggered around the house, I could see that this was not going to be a clear sunny day…clouds and rain. The boys had a small project to take care of before we left the house, replacing the headlight and blinker bulb in Nick’s car. Ken had sounded just like his dad the day before, “You know, you need to get that replaced.” So they tried, but there is still a problem with the bulb for the blinker, so that one is still not fixed. We discussed our options for indoor activities. I had no idea that San Jose wasn’t really that far away and that is where the Winchester Mystery House is located. This is another location in my book that I have wanted to visit for a looooong time. April thought it sounded cool and the boys were willing if not thrilled.

We didn’t really have firm plans for lunch, and it occurred to me on the way down to San Jose that WE ARE IN CALIFORNIA, WE CAN GO TO IN AND OUT BURGER! I had never been before but it is kind of one of those things that you have to do at least once. So with the help of Nick’s iPhone, we figured out where one was and that was where we ate. Of course, I had my burger Animal Style and my fries Animal Style and everyone else just had normal food, but it was pretty good. Next time I would get more beef patties because the meat kind of gets lost in the bun/tomato/lettuce ratio. Then we had to find a gas station and fill up the car with the overprices San Francisco gas – $3.19. Yow. (This was written in 2010 when I had not yet paid $3.50 and up for gas in Colorado.)

The Winchester house was built by Sarah Winchester, who was the widow of one of the Winchesters who made all the guns. After her infant daughter and husband died, she went to a psychic who said to appease all the ghosts of all the people that had been killed by Winchester guns, she needed to build a house that would never be finished. She had a fortune of 20 million dollars, and she went to town. In 1884 she purchased an 8 room farmhouse 3 miles west of San Jose and for the next 38 years, the building never stopped, with carpenters working 24 hours a day. The mansion eventually grew to 160 rooms. Now, if this were a mansion that a rock star were building today, it would cover city blocks, but this place is really relatively small. The rooms are not giant. The whole house covers about six acres.  Now, from the book I read, I thought this was kind of an isolated place, but it is right in the middle of San Jose, with streets and a movie theatre right next door. They still have preserved a large part of the grounds, but not miles and miles. They were pretty busy, people getting away from the rain maybe, and out of town T-giving guests? We bought our tour tickets, decided to go for the basic tour plus the “behind the scenes” tour, and then perused the gift shop until it was time for the tour.  Let me tell you, their tour guides are a little more rehearsed than we used to be working at Rushmore Cave during the summer. I think they have a script that they pretty much stick to. They do not emphasize the ghostly spiritual angle much. But it is quite a tour around switchback staircases, narrow halls, windows in the floor, elegant bedrooms, some of the earliest elevators, stairways that end at the ceiling, doors that open onto a large drop, etc. The tour groups aren’t too large so you kind of stay together and you can hear the guide well. THEN we went on the behind the scenes tour. Our tour guide for that part was studying for a future career in used car commercial announcing. She really needed to work on appearing to have a natural style at least. It was interesting to traipse around the grounds, tho, and see the grapefruit tree and yew tree that are original plantings, and then go into some of the more unfinished rooms and into the basement (hard hat required, Ken bonked his tall head a couple of times on the pipes) so we were glad we did that. And then we were about toured out.  We had to get our traditional souvenir of a magnet, and of course the book.
Got in the car, the rain had settled down, and drove back north toward Richmond/Berkeley.

Next stop: IKEA!!!! We are getting one in Denver next fall but I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to get an idea what they might be like. Ken’s idea was that we were just going to make a “quick visit” there but from my reading about IKEAs, I was pretty sure that was not even possible. Those stores are just huge and take a long time to wander through. I restrained myself to only buying finger puppets (there was a shark one in the assortment, I HAD to). If there was one of these close to us, I would go just for the food and the toys, never mind everything else. Plus, they had a large bin of wind up kitchen timers, and you know what I had to do with them. I hope the people shopping the rest of the night enjoyed them going off randomly.
Dinner tonight: Spengers Seafood Grotto. They have well-known cioppino, and that was one of my foods I wanted to eat in SF. I had the cioppino, april had mac and cheese with andouille sausage and shrimp, Nick had the stuffed salmon, and Kenny had the fish and chips. Little oddities:  the crab fork I originally received had one of the tines bent at almost a 45 degree angle. We were pretty sure that was NOT the way it was supposed to be. Then April got her mac and cheese, and it had chicken chunks instead of Andouille, we told the waitress about that but never got an explanation. She was still happy with it. They were busy, probably had run out. I had creme brulee for dessert, and Nick and April had the pumpkin pie. Kenny tried the creme brulee, and decided that hey, creme brulee is pretty good. Well, there goes me having that dessert all to myself. On the other hand, he might let me get a torch now, to make my own. “Under close supervision” he says. Hmmm, just because of a few minor oven fires and that one burned up toaster oven, he is hyper cautious. Excellent dinner all around, but I did decide that I prefer squid in my cioppino over crawfish.

Then we came home and I talked everyone into playing Trivial Pursuit and a Christmas/Birthday gift to me. They were more willing when I said it could be all of them against me.  Nick and April have the 20th anniversary edition, I think those questions are on average a little difficult, because they center on the 20 years of 1991-2001 that the game has been in existence, so there aren’t a lot of history questions. I of course had to go get my shark finger puppet to join in the game. His name is Bruce, he was a big help. Then everyone else had to have a finger puppet. At one point Nick had one on each finger, so that greatly added to the amusement of the game. Nick is really good at coming up with the correct answer and then talking himself out of that answer and going with his second impression so that helped. We got down to the last question for each of us, and they kept giving me sports questions, and I kept giving them the literature category, and of course they got the question about George magazine, which we had already had a question on previously in a different category, so they won, but still it was great fun. And the finger puppets enjoyed it.  And then we all fell into bed as it was  11:30 or so.

Sorry, no pictures from today, here is another one of Rodeo Beach.

San Francisco Trip Report – Day 2 (Thanksgiving 2010)

Links to all of the trip reports from this trip:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Friday: I was up around 7:30, of course, would be nice if I could sleep in on vacation but the older I get the more that seems impossible. By the time I am Mom’s age I am sure I will be getting up at 5:30 a.m. like she does.

Before we got on the road to Muir Woods, Nick asked if anyone got carsick on twisty roads….I said I might but I would let them know how I was feeling. Well, this road was considerably worse than either the road between Hermosa and Custer where I used to get sick as a kid, or anything in the Black Hills for that matter. But I was OK as long as I had the window rolled down. When we got to the hiking area, to hike to see the redwoods, we knew it was a bad sign when the parking area was full. Then the overflow parking was full, then all along the road was full, then a mile down the road was full, so we decided we didn’t want to have to hike 2 miles for the start of the hike, and just continued on. Nick told us about the eucalyptus trees in the area, they are kind of an invasive plant, they were brought over from Australia to provide wood for building but their wood is terrible for that. But, they are really flammable, so they are good for brush fires!

Next we went to Rodeo Beach.  This beach is rocky instead of sandy, and you know how Petersons are with rocks.

So I was picking up good rocks and putting them in my pockets, of course. Found some tiny pieces of green sea glass. This beach is surrounded by bunkers and gun emplacements. I didn’t know about all the military installations in the area, but SF was considered such an important port in the late 1800s that all of these bunkers and buildings were built to guard and protect the coast, and there are still barracks, etc., where the soldiers stayed. After the advent of radar, these facilities were declared obsolete, but the ruins are still there, and are historic landmarks today. Ken really thought one was a great place to make a zombie movie.  I also discovered that while I am not typically bothered by heights, I am bothered a bit by heights that involve tall ocean cliffs with rocks below. Yikes.

We hiked up one hill to look at the bunker at the top and see the view (while we were at Rodeo beach.) Ken would not let me pick up any large pieces of sea weed to take home. Or, the dead seagull which I know Nick and April’s cats would have enjoyed.  We drove to the other bunkers/gun emplacements. While looking over one of the cliffs, I had the first seal sighting. The boys were too impatient to stick around and see him poke his head out of the water, but April confirmed for me it was a seal.

I wanted to dip my toe in the ocean, so I took off one shoe. April joined me. The ocean had its own ideas, and so both of us got both feet wet.

Speaking of the cats, it is really nice for us to stay somewhere that they have cats, because then we don’t miss ours so much. Nick and April are way more strict cat parents than we are, however, they don’t leave a light on for the cats when they know they are going to be gone all day and get home after dark. Also, no cats sleeping on the bed in their house. We are having fun playing with Newton and Zoe.

Then we headed to Golden Gate Bridge. There were a lot of people there, but we didn’t have to park too far away. There is a park area, and a walkway with historic information signs  (and more bunkers and gun emplacements) and we walked out to the overlook for the bridge. Lots of picture taking.

We decided it was about time for lunch and headed back to the car. April and I investigated the bathrooms and decided that we could hold it until we got somewhere far far away from there.

We drove over the Golden Gate to get to Ocean Beach, where we ate at Beach Chalet (well, really we ate at “Park Chalet” which is the part of the restaurant that faces the park rather than the beach.) All of the other three had local beers, I had my beloved diet coke. April had wild mushroom and goat cheese pizza, Nick had the crab roll, Kenny had a burger, and I had calamari and ceviche. Oh, good April quote to Ken, I don’t remember when – “I didn’t know that you were so picky!” Uh-huh, welcome to my world. Then we had to go walk on that beach, because if I am anywhere near a beach, I have to go investigate.

This beach was sandy, with some small shells and parts of sand dollars washed up. I always have to collect some shells to take home for our shell jar. Once again, I was not allowed to take the very interesting large pieces of kelp.

Part of the fun of this trip to SF is that I have a science fiction/fantasy book that I really like called “Earthquake Weather” that is partially set in SF. So there were some locations that I really wanted to go to, like the Sutro Baths and Cliff house. The Sutro Baths were a large indoor bath house built along the ocean in the early 1900s, and they are only a ruin now. You can walk around on the old foundations, and there is a tunnel you walk into that has two cave openings to the ocean where you can hear and see the water, and a spot at the end of the tunnel where you can see the waves on the rocks.

I got Ken’s attention when I stumbled a bit on the foundations and he was pretty sure I was going to fall in.

I decided that if I was going to fall into the murky green water in the ponds or the rocks on the ocean side, I would rather fall into the water.

This is April and I reflected in the water.

After we staggered back up the large steep hill to get back to the car, we watched the sun starting to go down over the ocean, and you could see the clouds rolling in from the cold front that was supposed to move in. Over and over during the day we heard what a great day this was, how flat the ocean was, and how this was NOT TYPICAL!

Then we drove around downtown for awhile, drove the Haight Ashbury area, and then to that crazy Lombard street, that has all the turns – we were going to drive it but the line was waaaaay long so we drove to the other side and watched other crazy people drive it. We headed to the house where we started the debate on where to have dinner. G’s rule on vacations is to not eat anywhere she could eat at home – so we are supposed to go somewhere local! We tried to go to Looney’s, a BBQ place Nick and April highly recommended, but they were closed, must have given their employees the day off after T-giving. So then on to T-Rex, another bbq place, somewhat inexplicably named, because there was NO dinosaur theme, much to my disappointment. Had excellent ribs there, Ken and April had the baby back ribs, actually that is what all of us were going to have, and then our waiter gave us a bad time and told us we weren’t challenging ourselves…so Nick had the Long Cut Beef Short rib, which was something like the piece of meat Fred Flintstone orders that knocks his car over, and I had the spare ribs, which came in an order of 6 and I only managed to eat 3. They came with potato salad (red skins, fress dill! YUM!) We also ordered the side of mac and cheese with bacon, which was deeeeelicious and a huge hit. I had a ginger beer which made me feel old-timey and nostalgic for the 1890s, but was quite tasty and I am sure good for me.  And then we went home and the girls pulled out the yarn and the boys pulled out the remotes, and we discussed the possibility of cards or a board game and just never got around to it. We did watch an episode of Diners Drive Ins and Dives that had a restaurant on it that is in Berkeley and very close to Nick and April here, not sure if we will get there or not….so many things to do, so little time……