Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Marco Island, first day and a half!

Yesterday I returned from an amazing, and much needed, vacation on Marco Island, Florida. I loved every second of it and can't wait to go back! Though the break from family was incredibly relaxing, I did spend a lot of time thinking about how much the girls would have loved it. I think Matt would have, too, but he's not as much of a beach person as the rest of us. I got to go to Marco Island because my mom, who lives in Michigan, was there house and dog-sitting for a friend.

I flew in on a red-eye and arrived Thursday just before lunch. My mom picked me up, we zipped "home" and immediately changed in to our bikinis! Marco Island is really amazing because the island has dozens of canals and it feels like everywhere you turn there is water, so hanging out in a bikini all day seems totally normal!

After ooohing and ahhhing over the island and the house (and the indoor swimming pool!) we headed out to a beach called Residents' Beach. It was, you guessed it, a beach only for residents of Marco Island. We got to go there because my mom was using the car that belonged to the people who lived there and we had a special pass on the car. On my map above, if you go to the west end of San Marco Road, where it intersects with N. Collier Blvd, that is where the parking lot for Residents' Beach is.

Here is my mom, telling me something about something. This is the path up to the beach.

Walking along the path.

On the wide, almost white beach. The sand on these beaches isn't hot like it is in Michigan! It is almost impossible to walk on dry sand in Michigan without hurting your feet. Not here! The sand reflects the sun, I was told.

The beach is very, very wide.

Looking back up towards the path.

We walked right up and stuck our feet in the water. This is standing at the edge of the Gulf of Mexico, looking north. I had never been in the Gulf before and was amazed at how warm it was!

Looking south. Lots of condos along the water, but they aren't right on the beach. You can walk south along this beach for a long ways. In fact, later in my stay we went to South Beach which is, you guessed it, right at the south end of this strip.

This one I took with my phone. 99% of the pictures from my trip don't include me. Or scratch that, the ones that do, I took! Ha. After we took this it was time to go shelling for the first time. These beaches are basically a giant pile of shells in various stages of being broken down, it's incredible!

On the way home we stopped at the grocery store to pick up some provisions and then we spent the rest of the day at home eating, drinking, walking the dogs and swimming in the pool.

I crashed pretty early the first night as I hadn't really gotten any sleep because of the flight. The next morning, Friday, I woke up at 6:00 am in an attempt to get a run in before it became too hot out. Of course, on Marco Island, the lowest temps were around 65, which is still hotter than what I usually run in!

The sun coming up. This is the view across the street from our house. That house on the left is for sale, but I think my mom said the house was 2.8 million. Just a touch out of our price range, boo!

What 99% of my running route looked like on that morning. I love, love, loved passing countless palm trees and tropical plants! So much of it reminded me of Hawaii, too.

Okay, this is a terrible photo taken with my phone, but see the small bit of brown in the grass in the bottom left of the photo? That is a burrowing owl. This lot is home to a few of these guys (and gals) and every time we went past we could check on the owls. The next morning I ended up spooking one because it was right next to the road as I ran past. If owls are making their home in a lot they are protected and can't be disturbed.

This run with pretty rough. I was hot, tired, sore, under-nourished and dehydrated.

When I got home I had to shower and eat quickly so we could head out to Tigertail beach for a walk/talk with a naturalist. It was so informative! Unfortunately the tide was high so many of the animals that hang around at low tide weren't there, but we still learned about everything. In my map above, if you go straight left from the red "A" in the center of the photo you will see a piece of land that, well, looks like a tail! That is Tigertail.

Unfortunately most of my photos I took with my mom's camera, which is still with her on Marco Island until next week.

This is the path to get from the parking lot to the beach, looking toward where the parking lot is.

This is walking out on to the beach.

All of those people are walking across this low channel to get out to the Gulf. You can't really swim in this channel, the water is low and while it is warm, it's not great for swimming. It IS good for watching for wildlife. We saw lots of birds, like osprey, red egrets and sandpipers. We found shells, most of them still with creatures in them, some with hermit crabs in them! While you can collect non-living shells, it is against the law to take shells with creatures living in them. We learned about the mangroves and the difference between red, white and black mangroves. Very interesting stuff.

My mom and I went home for a little while before heading back to Tigertail with our swimsuits on. We collected more shells, relaxed and swam before heading home for eating, drinking,  and dog walking!

This was my favorite mailbox on the island. Wondering if I can get one in Seattle? That wouldn't be weird, would it?

More to come!

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