Sunday, January 31, 2016

Day 2 0n Captiva

This is our home for the next six weeks on Captiva Island.  
Today was a late start to our getting up at 5:30.   After coffee and muffins, we went to the Farmer's Market in Sanibel for fresh produce and fresh Mozzarella cheese.  It was pretty much the same vendors and layout as last year.   We also purchased cut flowers, a basil plant and some bear claws in addition to produce.
We headed to the Sanibel Café for brunch and  were ahead of the Sunday crowd and did not have to wait for a table.    As usual,  Al had Smoked salmon and bagel with cream cheese, served with tomatoes, red onions and capers. I had the Shrimp Salad served over Romaine lettuce with  melon, fruit, and a  walnut muffin.  Very good food and service.  By the time we left,  there was a line of  customers waiting for tables.

We decided to take a drive through Ding Darling even though it is now about noon.   The highlight of the drive was seeing a Dunlin up close as he walked along the shore line .

"The Dunlin is a familiar shorebird around the world. The winter dunlin is basically grey above and white below.  Medium-sized sandpiper. Moderately short neck. Moderately long, drooping bill. Moderately long, blackish legs. Slightly hunched appearance."

Other sights on the drive:

White Pelicans

 Roseate Spoonbills
Island of White Pelicans
We spent a restful afternoon doing not much of anything.  It was too cool to sit on the beach,
 Al made us a new drink for happy hour made with Vodka and muddled Blueberries, calling it Kim's Berry Delight.  Very Refreshing! 
For dinner, Al was to grill steaks but the outdoor grill would not heat up enough, so he cooked inside with potato wedges and we served with Arugula Salad.   It was not one of our better meals as the steak was a bit overdone for our liking.   Glasses of wine did make it better! 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Arrival on Captiva 2016

Today was the last leg of our trip about 250 miles from Ocala to Captiva.  We began with a breakfast at the pool house of eggs, link sausages, bagel, and muffins with juice and coffee.  The hostess, Darlene,  who had been here for all the years that we stayed here has left to open her own business in the mall.   We missed seeing her but her replacement was very friendly and helpful.  This breakfast spot is always busy with people passing through.

We left about 7:45 traveling all the way on I-75 S with one stop for gas.   We saw a lot of water in the medians and shoulders along all of I-75 from the recent heavy rains.   At one time a few weeks ago parts of I-75 were even flooded.  A lot of road construction going on most of the drive.  Luckily, we had sunny weather and a beautiful day for our drive and temps reaching in 70.

We arrived at Ft. Myers about 11:00.   We made a stop at the Sun Harvest store for juice, grapefruit, and oranges
 and then a stop for a car wash at  1st Class Car Center on Gladiolus Drive.

Next stop was lunch at Minerva's Bar and Grill near the Publix where we shop for groceries.   Sitting at the bar,  Al ordered  Grilled Chicken Sandwich topped with sautéed mushrooms, bacon, and provolone cheese with fries and I had Minerva’s Crab Cake Sandwich-homemade crab‏ cake with lettuce, tomato, and island sweet chili sauce and coleslaw.  Service was quick and food was very good.

Then we shopped at Publix for supplies.  We spent about an hour getting provisions including sushi and steak for dinner.  After spending $200+, we had most of what we needed but will buy produce tomorrow at the Farmer's Market.
The drive on to the island was smooth but traffic on the island was backed up in both directions, a sign that the season has started. We arrived at "our final destination" about 3:00.   Margarethe greeted us as we arrived and assisted us unpacking the car and taking things up the steps....very much appreciated her help.   Things were very much the same as last year but all new windows and sliding doors have been installed.  New toilets in the bathrooms and some new furnishings in the guest room.
We had a great trip this year with out any freezing weather or rain.  Just a few slow downs at  a couple spots and more road work ongoing on I-77.   Glad to have arrived safe and sound.
After unpacking and settling in,  we decided to cook a Bertolli freezer dinner served  with salad and hot roll for dinner rather than eating out or grilling.  Tried a Risotto with Roasted chicken-Italian rice and roasted white meat chicken with Portobello mushrooms and asparagus in a parmesan cheese cream sauce. Not bad! 

Lovely evening but a bit cool.  Looking forward to our first day on the island tomorrow.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Second Day of Trip to Captiva

 Today  we left Rock Hill, SC about 7:30AM traveling to Ocala, FL which is about 465 miles. We had breakfast of waffle, eggs and muffins in the lobby restaurant.  It was a cold morning and the car windows were frosted over.  Our stay here was very pleasant and the access to the interstate is as good as it could be.  We took I-77S and had a 30 minute delay due to an accident shortly after
leaving.  We drove to I-95 and then took US-301 all the way into Ocala to SW 10th St. (Fl-200)  which goes to the Best Western  at  3701 SW 38th Ave,  We avoided I-75 traffic and congestion.   US-301 was a good route, even with the slower speeds and driving through towns.  There was more traffic on 301 than I remembered last year.  We experienced wonderful weather today with sun all the way.  Temperature rose to hi 60's.  We arrived about 4:00 and was pleased with the room 435 and service here.


We had dinner about 6 at the Olive Garden.   As last year we again ate in the bar area at one of the side booths to avoid waiting for a table in the dining room.  But our dinner was not that enjoyable as a group of people (10+) crowded in  around a high top table for 4 next to us and was very loud and noisy screaming out to each other and others arriving for their party in the dining room.  They also flustered the waiter who lost control of his service to the bar area.  We ordered the same items as last year--We started with Calamari and  Al ordered   Braised Beef and Tortelloni - tender slices of slow-braised beef, portobello mushrooms and asiago-filled tortelloni tossed in basil-marsala sauce.   I had Eggplant Parmigiana - lightly fried, topped with homemade marinara and melted mozzarella, served with a side of spaghetti.   My dinner was not good, the eggplant was soggy as if it had been cooked and set for awhile.   The manager ended up quickly comping the dinners .......we think he realized things were a bit out of control as he began checking on some of the other tables who had been complaining. We ordered glasses of wine but never received them and told the waiter not to bother bringing them.  Overall, a bad dining experience. Thumbs Down!
I turned in early again but Al stayed up late on the computer and watched TV.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

First Day of Trip to Captiva 2016

Thursday, Jan 28, 2016
     Al and I are traveling again to Captiva Island for 6 weeks of sun and sand on this beautiful island.   This begins my daily diary/blog of our annual trip to Captiva Island on the west coast of Florida west of Ft. Meyers and Sanibel Island.  I will be writing about our daily activities  and adventures in Florida.  Please join us as we enjoy our stay.

 We left around 8:00 am this morning getting up early at 5:30.  We had packed the car yesterday all except food for the trip and toiletries. The morning was cold but not as bad as last year when we had freezing rain for the first 4 hours of that trip.  We  traveled the same route (paid $6 in tolls) as last year driving on I77 South through West Virginia, Virginia, and the Carolinas with the first overnight stop in Rock Hill, SC.  We did experience some slow down as we traveled through Charlotte NC  and lost some time due to snail speeds.  Our first leg of the drive was 485 miles  and ended about 4:30 at Exit 82 with a right turn into Cherry Rd and a stop at the Quality Inn. We were more pleased with our accommodations this year as the motel has been completely renovated inside and out and furnished with all new furnishings.  And the rate did not even increase.  We stayed in Building 5, Room 170....great location and easy access.  Even the complimentary breakfast was much improved over last year.  We were not disappointed that we gave this place another try after last year's bad experience.


We had dinner at the  Mexican restaurant next door, Senor Nacho's, same place as last year.  We enjoyed very good Margaritas (but too big-do small ones if we come back) with warm Nachos and Salsa.   Al ordered Grande Fajita Quesadilla-a big flour tortilla stuffed with chicken, melted cheese, tomatoes, bell peppers and onions, served with lettuce, sour cream and guacamole.  I had Enchiladas del Barrio-three enchiladas with chicken topped with sauce and parmesan cheese served with lettuce, pico de gallo and sour cream.  The sauce was very good and not too hot or spicy.  Both dinners were very good and service was pleasant and friendly.

 I was early to bed to rest for the second day of our journey.  Al was a bit later turning in.  Good start to our trip.