Friday, April 20, 2012

Marco Island, next day and a half

I woke up on Saturday morning determined to get in a long-ish run on Marco Island. I hydrated well on Friday, I took a gel before running, I wore my water belt and I also picked a different route-- a loop. I figured I would have to finish a loop, unlike an out and back, there is no turning around early!

It ended up being a much better run than Friday, but still tough. When I got back to the house I stripped off my shoes and socks and running shirt and jumped in to this:

I think I could do ANY run if it ended with a dip in the pool! This pool was probably colder than the Gulf was, which isn't saying much. The Gulf was 78* while I was there!

And then it was time to eat breakfast, poolside.

After breakfast my mom and I got ready and headed out for a morning of shopping. Of course, I had to hit up the one Starbucks I had spotted on the island! You can take the girl out of Seattle . . . .

After some browsing at a few different shops we went in to a giant store that sells t-shirts, towels and all sorts of other obnoxious beach-themed tchotchkes. I found a couple of Marco Island t-shirts for Iris and Eloise and then we headed back to the house for lunch. Oh, and a nap. It started raining in the afternoon so it was a perfect time to catch a little snooze on the couch in front of some random episodes of HGTV.

My mom in front of the fountain in one of the shopping centers we were at. 

After the nap we headed out on an adventure. While shopping my mom got some info about a little trail where you can see some great wildlife, it is part of Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge. We parked and headed in, not really sure what was in store for us! I wish I had more pictures, but they are all on my mom's camera. We saw three little alligators, one huge alligator and tons of birds. And I got bitten but lots of mosquitoes. Not so fun. It was a little creepy, walking along this trail with mangroves on either side-- it felt like you never quite knew if something was going to slither across the path or jump out and make you lunch!

The one photo with my camera.
After some more driving around we headed back home and got ready to go to dinner. We chose a little bistro and shared a BLT and a variation on a Waldorf salad. Both dishes were excellent. Then it was back to the house for dessert, a movie (Pretty Woman!) and bed! 

Sunday morning I decided to forgo the run because we had planned to do a kayak excursion and I knew that I would get plenty of exercise paddling around the mangroves. We checked in at the marina just before 9:00 am and met our captain for the day, Sean. 

The tour was just myself, my mom, another mom from Boston and her 11 year old daughter. We had an absolute blast! Sean was a perfect captain (and pretty easy on the eyes, if I do say so myself!) and our companions were chatty and very nice. 

The boat took us out of the harbor and around Isle of Capri before heading up in the mangroves. On our way out of the harbor we saw osprey, pelicans, bottle-nose dolphins and  . . . . a manatee! The whole trip my ONE objective was to see a manatee. Captain Sean made it happen! 

The dolphins were feeding along the sea wall here. There was two or three of them, but we never saw much more than their dorsal fins popping up.

The manatee was extremely curious about our boat. He (she?) kept swimming in close, then under the boat, then back out again over and over.

So cute!

Manatees' backs are covered in algae and sometimes barnacles. They aren't the fastest moving creatures! Sean said that manatees will rub their backs on the undersides of boats to clean themselves off. This manatee had a few scars on its back, as well.

After hanging with a the manatee for a while we made our way back in to the mangroves and set off on our kayaking adventure. As we were unloading the kayaks a couple of dolphins swam right past us, but unfortunately that was the only non-bird wildlife we saw while kayaking. Sean took us back around and around the mangroves, occasionally directing us through tunnels created by the branches so we could test or (very mediocre) skills. It was so peaceful out on the water. I will have to put the pictures my mom got up when I get them.

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