Thursday, March 19, 2009

Arrived Home ...Happy to Be Here

Monday, March 16,2009
We left Norris at 8:45 after having coffee and bagels at Jack and Loy's. The first 2 hours of our drive were filled with rain and heavy, thick fog-the kind that you cannot see 20 feet in front of the car. I was driving about 45 mph while everyone else sped by at 70 mph. Somewhat nerve racking! It seemed like 4 hours of fog not 2 hours. Had rained until noon but skies were clear the rest of drive.

Made stop at Cinci for cigarettes and liquor. We were home aboout and sound. Everything looked good at home ...Thanks to Mike and Pam for watching over everything and stocking the kitchen with food and cookies. Unpacked the car and made a frozen dinner.....big change from what we had been eating. Always good to be home to our bears and our own bed.

This was a good 6 weeks in Captiva but we missed our family and friends who were with us in past years.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Trip Home Continues

Sunday, March 15
We had a complimentary breakfast of waffles, juice and coffee in the motel lobby and then left for the drive to Knoxville to visit Cecilia, Rob and Beth and our great nephew, Jacob who is now 10 days old. We met Cecilia at Stein Mart because she had to work today. While at the store, Al bought more shoes, 2 tee shirts,a shirt, and a grill press. After spending time with Cecilia and shopping, we drove to Rob and Beth's and met Jacob, who is a beautiful baby boy with lots of brown hair and undetermined eye color....maybe green or blue. Proud parents, Rob and Beth beamed with joy and pride.

We headed to Norris, TN about 25 miles north to visit Jack and Loy. We are spending the night at their friends' garage apartment where we have enjoyed staying before.
We had dinner at a local Mexican Restaurant that serves authentic food, not anything like a Taco Belle. Fave place of Jack and Loy's since it is so close and the food is great. Spent fun evening catching up with them and exchanging stories. They promised that will visit us soon and make the trip to Captiva next year.

The Trip to Home Begins

Saturday, March 14
We were on the road by 8:30 after a quick breakfast of toast and juice. It was a sunny morning as we crossed the causeway and left the islands. Al sang his pelican song as is our tradition when we cross the causeway and see a pelican. There were many fish boats under the bridge as we left. We made a stop at Sun Harvest to buy oranges and grapefruit. Al drove the first leg of the trip headed north to our first layover in Carterville, GA at the Best Western at 5663 Highway 20 NE room #318. We arrived there about 8 o'clock shortly after sunset. There was rain on the last 3 hours of our trip at which time Al was driving again. We were slowed down by about 3 accidents. The drive through Atlanta seemed easier than the drive through there on the way down even with some fender benders slowing the city traffic. Al was quickly checked into our room. It has cooled down to the mid 40's...missing the warm temps already.

We went to a nearby Ruby Tuesday's for dinner. The food was great...started with Asian Dumplings filled with a blend of chicken and seasonings, then steamed and served with peanut sauce. I had Jumbo Lump Crab Cake made from fresh, premium crab meat and seared to a golden brown with sweet and spicy chile sauce. Al had Shrimp Scampi & Steak served with fresh, steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes. But the service was as bad as the food was great! Our waitress took our appetizer and drink order and served them to us. We ate the appetizer, waited forever and finally flagged her to come over. She asked if we needed anything and we said..."Yes, we'd like to order dinner and wine." A kitchen person served our food and we asked that she check on our wine orders. Again our waitress came over and asked what we needed...she had forgot what wine we ordered. When we again told her, she got Al's wine wrong and then she said that they did not have the Red Zinfandel that he had ordered from the menu. How many minutes ago was that? Why is she just now telling us that, not when he ordered the first time? DUH? Furthermore she had not removed the dirty dishes and empty glasses or even the menus from the table until we asked her to do. Of course we had to call her back for the check after another long wait. A Good dinner ruined by really bad service!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Day 40 on Captiva

Tomorrow we leave! These 40 days have gone very quickly. We began some serious packing this morning and loading the car. Every thing was loaded except what we need for today and for our trip home. We had brunch around 11 on the porch...made omelet with corned beef. Al checked our reservations in Cartersville, GA. This was another beautiful day to spend on the beach for our last day. No dolphins today... and not many people either...just a quiet day relaxing with each other...sunning, walking and listening to the radio. Left beach about 4:30.

Rene invited us for a fish fry tonight. He and a couple from Toronto had been out fishing this morning and caught several sheephead which is a tropical climate fish. Also invited were Josh and Michelle, the couple from Toronto, and Ella. Rene did the deep frying of the fish in a beer batter. Margarethe served a first course of pasta and tomato sauce. She made a German tartar sauce made with finely chopped apple and sweet cucumber wafers for the fish and served a mixed green salad. Josh,a wine connoisseur, brought several bottles of white wine. The dinner was finished with a plate of cheeses and crackers. Dinner was can't get fresher fish than this!

The sun sets on our Captiva visit.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Day 39 on Captiva

Skimmers at Bunche Beach

We drove over to Ft. Myer's this morning. Our first stop was Bunche Beach to see the skimmers who seem to be here this time of the year. Also spotted a great blue heron and many gulls. Even though it was only 8:30, there were also a lot of people setting up for a day at the beach. Nice view of the causeway from here. Then off to the car wash for a much needed cleaning. Then we made a stop at Tanager Outlet to shop for shoes for Al. We bought white shoes, sandals, white Polo hoodies, and Polo shorts for Al. Also took a quick look at an Arts and Crafts show in the parking lot.

We wanted to lunch at the Lighthouse Restaurant near the causeway but there was no space to eat outside so we drove back to Sanibel to the Thistle Lodge (Casa Ybel Resort)which we have not been to in several years. Al had reuben sandwich with fries and I had a wrap of crab and shrimp salad with fruit salad.
Late afternoon was spent at the beach. We saw a group of dolphins playing in the rooster tail behind the Sanibel Thriller (a diesel powered 55' motor yacht for touring) which sails by every afternoon. Great blue herons are starting to nest in a location by the beach high in an Australian Pine by the dunes. We observed the male heron in the nest doing what seemed to be a mating ritual stretching his neck while another great blue watched from a swaying branch. They both made sounds by clacking their bills together. After sunset, we had dinner again on the porch dining on yellowtail snapper, cheesy grits and salad. Started packing this evening for our trip home.

Great Blue Heron Nest

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Day 38 on Captiva

Early this morning, we walked the Bailey Tract. Not much bird activity but we saw a very large alligator sunning on the shore of the first pond. It must be the same one we heard bellowing about 4 weeks ago. Saw several mottled ducks, grebes, tri-colored herons, and blue winged teals. We noticed that blue ribbons were tied about every 50 feet along the trails marking small hav-a-heart traps. We wondered "what are they trying to trap?"

After our walk we had brunch at Over Easy. Al ordered his usual lox and bagel and I had tuna salad on tomato half. Stopped for groceries at Bailey's. Back to an afternoon on the beach for reading and watching shore birds.

Sunset is now after 7:30 with DST...seems so late. Have not really had a "wow" sunset this trip. For after sunset-dinner I made chicken puttanesca (which has become a fave of Al's) and salad. Was a beautiful sunny day and warm enough to eat outside on the porch.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Day 37 on Captiva

Took early walk on the beach and Al did his walk on bike path. Today is another "free day" so we spent time in the morn leisurely. Lunch of bologna sandwiches. Made copy of Danny Sinoff CD for Ella. To the beach about 2:00.....sun was hot but a cool breeze stirring. Three dolphins from the south swam by and came close to shoreline (directly in front of where we sat) then circled around in the gulf before continuing north. It was the first time this trip that we were together when we saw the dolphins. Think it may have been a young one with 2 adults. I followed them up the beach until they were out of sight.

We had dinner tonight at The Mad Hatter just across the Blind Pass Bridge. Mike joined us for dinner at 6:00. He brought us a copy of the diary that Peggy wrote when she journeyed to Galapagos Islands, Ecuador in 2003 with her daughter Candice. It is titled "The Voyage of the Ahmara". It brings back memories of Peggy since she often talked about her adventures on that trip. (Mike's wife Peggy died October 2007)

Al and I shared a Caesar Salad, hearts of romaine tossed with house Caesar dressing and Parmigiano-Reggiano served with garlic crostini. Mike had Hudson Valley foie gras pan seared with rosemary & honey caramelized Asian pears drizzled with an aged balsamic reduction, as appetizer. Al had as his entree the Grilled Buckhead filet mignon with fresh BĂ©arnaise sauce served with yukon mashed potatoes & grilled asparagus. I had pan seared Tuna Au Poivre with a cracked black peppercorn crust finished with a cognac, peppercorn cream sauce served with roasted garlic baby red potatoes & grilled asparagus (delicious sauce). Mike had another appetizer as his entree....crab meat in a martini glass crowned with tropical fruit salsa & yucca chip finished with mango cream beurre blanc,shrimp with a barbecue sauce, and a third delicacy.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Day 36 on Captiva

Today is free day...nothing planned. Al walked and I worked on blog. We had coffee and pastries from Santiva General Store. Al finished another book "The Associate" by John Grisham. Other books he has read here are "Lethal Legacy" by Linda Fairstein, "Run for Your Life" and "Cross Country" both by James Patterson.
After a lunch of bologna sandwiches we went to the beach for a couple of hours of sun. It was the hottest day we have had on the sand. We left for dinner at 6:00 which was more like 5:00.

We went to McT's Shrimp House which is owned by Paul Gator (Ella's brother). I recognized Paul and Margarita sitting in the bar and went over to say hello. Paul had manager Joe bring us complimentary drinks. We ordered oysters on the half shell to continue our search for the best on the island.
Our rankings to date are: #1 Sanibel Grill, #2 Doc Ford's, #3 Timbers, #4 Lazy Flamingo, #5 McT's.
For dinner Al ordered King Crab legs served with house salad and baked potato. I had Seafood Pasta - Lobster pieces, shrimp and scallops prepared with garlic, white wine, butter and fresh vegetables, served with linguine. Huge serving! Loaded with zucchini, squash, artichoke hearts,tomatoes,etc as well as seafood. Maple bread was very good but salads and dressings and potato were disappointing. Would go back but stay with seafood items. Waiter was new and inexperienced.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Day 35 on Captiva

Forgot to set clocks for DLST..thought I was getting up at 6:30 but really 7:30. Headed to the beach for low tide to check for shells but only found small ones. Saw a dolphin swim by very close to shore so I was glad I was out early. We drove to DDWR...great am to see and photograph birds. We found only 1 lone white pelican at the island where they gather, but we waited and saw several more fly in which is a wonderful sight to see. Pelicans must not have adjusted time for DLST because they were late arriving. Also saw kingfisher, green heron and black-crowned heron as we waited. It was in the high 80's when we left the reserve at 1:00.

Back home to a lunch of tuna salad on croissants and cold beer. Worked on downloading some pictures and then headed to the beach. Hottest day we have had the entire time that we have been here.

For dinner we had porterhouse steak(cooked by Al), Rene's potatoes (wedges of potatoes coated in oil, then fine bread crumbs with garlic and grated Parmesan cheese roasted at 450 degrees for 30-40 min) and baby green salad with orange sections and citrus vinaigrette.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Day 34 on Captiva

Busy day today. Had early breakfast and went to 72nd annual Shell Fair at the Community house about 9:30. This is an showing of both scientific and artistic exhibits of shells and also booths selling shells and items made of them.(See Pics) Spent 2.5 hours looking at exhibits much to Al's chagrin. Then we went to Gulf Beach for a picnic lunch of corned beef sandwiches and chips. We made a stop at Jerry's for milk and OJ and to CVS. Then to our beach for a couple hours of sun.

Dinner tonight at Ellington's Jazz Bar and Restaurant at 7:30. Enjoyed Danny Sinoff and his quartet....Danny Miller was on the trumpet. Guys on drums and bass were sitting in for his regular members. We met the manager Sharon Wise who said business was off 25%. We bought Sinoff's last released album with his Quartet and David "Fathead" Newman on saxaphone. We shared a Cotton Club Caesar-hearts of romaine, lemon garlic dressing, applewood smoked bacon, pickled red onion,and corn bread croutons. Al dined on Ellington's Lamb "Wellington" with wild mushroom, spinach, wrapped in pastry, mashed potatoes, Madeira wine sauce and mint salsa verde. I had Sinatra's Yellowtail Snapper-pecan crusted snapper with jumbo lump crab, lemon butter sauce, crab boil potatoes, frisee-asparagus, red onion salad. The fish was very rich. Had drinks before dinner, wine, coffee, and after dinner drinks. Pricey dinner but worth it with the great Jazz!
Click on pointer to start Video of Band

Friday, March 6, 2009

Day 33 on Captiva

Restful day at the beach.Worked on pictures. Made dinner of pork chops with sauce of onions, garlic, wine, broth and mustard served with salad and grits.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Day 32 on Captiva

We took an early drive through DDWR...usual birds....was low tide so a lot of shore birds feeding. Picked up subway sandwich and picnicked at Tarpon Bay while watching canoes and pontoon boats and birds in the bay. While out, Cecilia kept us posted about Beth and Rob at the hospital awaiting the birth of Baby Nye. Jacob Robert was born at 1:25 in the afternoon.

This evening we attended Ella's birthday dinner at Rene and Margarthe's home. Also attending were Agnes(E's sister), Paul (E's brother)and his wife, Magarita, Mike and his date Debbie, Sally from Boston. Dinner began with Margarthe's antipasto followed by Agne's Lasagna. Entree was roasted lamb with Rene's potatoes, salad, and green beans with tomato. Margarthe served homemade pumpkin roll for dessert. It was an evening of conversation and fun.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Day 31 on Captiva

Another cool day but very sunny. Went to a new art gallery in South Seas, 2 Island Gallery. They were featuring works of 2 fine art photographers of Florida, Alan Maltz (left) and Clyde Butcher (right).

Stopped at Doc Ford's for oysters on half shell and beer and we then went to 5:00 show at the Island Cinema and saw "Last Chance Harvey"....a light drama with Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson. Not outstanding but entertaining. This was the first movie we have been to in years.

Had light dinner at Island Cow...Al ordered fried clam basket with fries and coleslaw. I had catfish basket. We sat at bar becuse there were so busy. Girl at bar reminded of Lazy Flamingo service. Fun day.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Day 30 on Captiva

I went shelling early again ...just after sunrise. Not as good as yesterday. Lot of calico scallops that were still alive had washed up .....good feeding for the gulls. Of course, I managed to find some to bring in. Stayed in most of the is very cool....high of 60. Al took a short walk.

I created a blog for Tom and sent to him so he can enjoy blogging. Hope he will use. Al spent most of day reading. We went to Sanibel...looked for a lamp to fill with shells for the bathroom. Shell Fair starts here on Thursday...always a big event for Sanibel. Stopped at Jerry's and Timbers fish market.

For dinner we made Yellowtail Snapper, rice, and tossed salad with country French dressing.
Snapper Four Seasons Recipe: 4 Snapper Fillets, Lemon Pepper, 2T butter, 1/2 c Sherry(used white wine). Melt butter in saute pan at medium heat. Sprinkle lemon pepper on top of filets. Place filets, seasoned side down., in pan and cook 3-5 min. Flip fish and add sherry. Cover pan. and cook another 3-5 min. Serve with the sauce from the pan.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Day 29 on Captiva

After a day of high winds, this morning was a great day for shelling. I spent over a hour on beach collecting a lot of banded tulips, whelks, more calicos, olives, angel wings, lace murex and conches. I found one each of sailor's ear, sand dollar, nutmeg, and Florida cone. Best day of shelling for the trip! Had to bundle up because it was cold and windy.

Al took short walk and brought home bagels for breakfast that we had with scrambled eggs and bacon. Spent day cleaning shells and reading.

Ate at Sanibel Grill next to Timbers tonight. Shared oysters on half shell and house salad which was enought for 4. Al had hamburger with grilled onions,etc and fries. I had crabcake appetizer. Place was very busy even tho we went at 6:00....guess everyone had same idea to skip sunset.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Ospreys Seen From the Boat

Ospreys spotted on our boat trip. Osprey nests were quiet numerous on Buck Key.

Day 28 on Captiva

We went out at 8:00 this morning with Rene on his 16 ft fiberglass speed boat to go birding in the Buck Key area in Pine Island Sound. There were a lot of little and great blue herons, tri-colored herons, snowy egrets, ibis and kingfishers. But the highlight of the trip was a pair of bald eagles spotted sitting in a tree and flying together. Was a magnificent sight! Al and Rene were busy clicking their cameras ---lot of Kodak moments. Rene was also checking out fish in the area...saw red fish and trout to name a few. I think he wished he had his fishing equipment along.

We arrived back to the dock just as clouds came rolling in encompassing the sky and bay. It began to rain as we climbed onto the pier.

Rest of day was very windy and cool. Did a drive through DDWR around 4:30 but most of birds were keeping tucked away from wind.

Dinner tonight was inspired by a meal that Al read in a book this week. I prepared chicken puttanesca....chicken breasts were browned for about 4-5 minutes and kept warm while a sauce of garlic, diced tomatoes, capers, black olives, anchovies, red pepper flakes, tomato paste or puree, basil, and lemon juice simmered until thick. Served chicken and sauce over pasta with arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette. Enjoyed with red wine. Great dinner for a cool night!