1983 June 5th
We traveled south from the Orlando area and headed out for our honeymoon. My Mom had given us a 4 day 3 night stay at the Hilton on Sanibel Island. Young and a full life ahead we made the trip with a little cash and some anticipation of getting to relax and collect shells on the beach. If you ever have been there you know two things, no See ums bite at sunset, and there is a wild life drive called Ding Darling. We had dinner at Timbers and drove through the Island. Lots of shells and a drive down a crush gravel road through a mangrove forest teaming with life, plenty of gators and birds to see. It was open and inviting. Back then things were a bit different. It was natural and had a rough appeal for the enthusiast and not too crowded.
2018 November 2nd
While staying at a Wycliffe Summit in Bonita Springs we decided to take the Jeep over to the island for a nostalgic visit. We took the long way through Ft Myers Beach… the road was under construction and thick with traffic. After traveling over the new bridge we headed to the wild life drive. Did I mention I don’t like bridges… tall ones. This bridge is pretty high and has a low rail that my Jeep tires could easily pop over. I continued to quote the verse that says God has not given us the spirit of fear.
A short drive through the Island brought us to the gate, the gate that was closed… a big sign said “CLOSED ON FRIDAYS” What? I just drove over an hour to visit this place. Google maps said it was open, but that is just the visitor center. They use that day to allow the wild life to spend a day un disturbed, and maintenance. Friday? Really? The guy on the phone said of course we are closed, its every Friday. We took the quick road back to the hotel and decided that we would return on Saturday. Had I known what I do now I would have probably skipped the trip and headed south to Big Cypress.
Saturday November 3rd
Loaded up and ready to head out we traveled over that stinkin bridge again. When we arrived, we paid our fee and to my surprise they paved the whole road. There was a lot of people there that day, cars, bikes, hikers, but not too much in the way of wild life. Some pelicans, anhingas, spoon bills, pipers, and egrets. No gators were to be seen. Perhaps it is better in the morning like most places. A pleasant and un eventful ride down a paved road was not what we had remembered. If this is what you are looking for, then enjoy your time, us we are looking for a bit more nature off the beaten path. Make the most of you time by getting out and walking down some of the trails and you will see more. Enjoy the surroundings of the mangroves and know that that’s natural Florida coast line, minus the paved road.
We did make a stop at a place on the Island called the Island Cow. They had a mix of foods and it was interesting to see all the décor. I had my first burger in a month, The Yeti. Smothered in cheese and some fries. Randy had two tacos, bang bang shrimp and grouper. The tacos were HUGE. Good price for the amount of food you get. After that it was back to the hotel. Next year we will be ready to head to Big Cypress, but until then we will be heading to Bartow for some off roading fun.
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Matt N Randy
Jeep Enthusiast, Pastor, Photographer, Artist, A husband and wife team that loves going out and seeing God's Creations.