Our first stop was in Atlanta to see our dear friend Steve Sizemore- and Don's best friend from junior high and high school. There just isn't anything like catching up with an old friend- and we hadn't seen Steve since we left San Fran. After High School Steve and I saw each other very rarely until one time I was on a business trip to San Francisco and decided to try to find him at Berkeley where he was working. I don't remember the year, but it had been at least 20 years since our last meeting. The amazing thing was during that visit and every one since then it is like we simply take up where we had left off, almost as if it were the week before instead of months or years before.
The first night Steve took us to a Malaysian Restaurant. The food was fantastic!
Now I must tell you that Steve has been essential in my exploration of ethnic foods. The first time we went out to eat with him in San Francisco more than 17 years ago he took us to an Eritrean Restaurant- a first for me. And then while we were living in San Fran he took us to my first Dim Sum Restaurant! What fun! I think pre-Steve my entire range of ethnic food was Mexican. I've come a long way baby!
And then for breakfast he took us to The Original Pancake House in Atlanta. Now there is a breakfast you won't ever forget!
After breakfast with Steve we headed our traveling "minivan" for points further south. Our next stop was St. Pete's Beach and a much needed visit with our dear friend, Gay Madden- my best friend from junior high and high school. Gay had to work late when we arrived on that Friday night- So wha-ta-you-know- We stayed up until 4 in the morning catching up. Now that is way, way, way past my bedtime. But oh my- just couldn't stop myself.
The weather in St. Pete's was glorious- so Saturday we were off to the beach!
And I even got in one of the pictures...
And of course there were plenty of birds posing for a photo-opportunity. I just wish my family were so accommodating!
And need I mention that we found PLENTY of opportunities to sample a bit of the vino...
Next we left Gay and headed south for a visit with my sister in Sanibel. Along our way we first stopped at the The Salvadore Dali Museum in St. Petersburg- I highly recommend the museum. Though we couldn't take any pictures in the museum I did take one looking out of the museum over the garden.
Then we continued south to the The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. We hadn't planned this stop but as we were driving south on I75 on our way to Sanibel our friends Mary Jo and Don Peairs were traveling north on I 75 from Sanibel to Cincinnati. Mary Jo emailed us via "smart phones" and told us about this great swamp to visit. We quickly found it on our "google maps" and we were off! Don't you just love technology- and the opportunities it creates! Corkscrew is a beautiful swamp with a magnificant stand of cypress. It was late afternoon when we walked through on the raised board walkway. The place was almost empty and the quiet of the swamp was wonderful.
And Don even photographed a pileated woodpecker! Now you don't see those often!
And finally we arrived at Mary and Bob (my sister and her husband) for a wonderful stay on Sanibel Island. Their home and garden are beautiful- and it was so special to be able to spend time with them on this beautiful island. Because of Sanibel's residents' commitment to preserving the natural environment over half of the island is actually a wild life preserve.
In addition to our meandering drive through Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge one day, we spent one day riding our bikes through other protected refuges. (PS Thank you Don for packing and unpacking our bikes for this trek across this adventure! We hauled those bikes for 2600 miles so we could ride for 3 hours in Sanibel. In addition to ALLIGATORS, we saw a great variety of birds- and of course Don took great photographs for us to enjoy. This guy was about 12 feet long resting right beside the road.
These next three were laying on the bank on the other side of the water, which made me kind of glad since we were on our bicycles.
This guy was a small 8 feet long
This guy was a small 8 feet long
These next two were closer to 10 feet.
But we both loved the birds the best! Nice of this Egret to pose for me.
These Roseate Spoonbills were beautiful
We even had a picnic!
And then we paid a visit to the Sanibel Library where Mary works (she manages all the periodicals!) We even got to see her in action. That should be a lesson to her- even if you're just stopping by to "visit" if you're not careful they'll put you to work!
But as wonderful as exploring the island- and Mary and Bob's beautiful home and garden, the best part of course was spending time with my sister (and her husband)! More on Bob's garden yet to come too in a later post.