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February 19, 2017 / lennonsoehl

And then there were 3…

Set out on Friday night around 1030pm from our house.  Ellie was asleep for a couple hours, we delicately (as possible) put her into her car seat, buckled her in and set out for our night, not knowing what would be in store.  The drive was amazingly easy even though we first hit some traffic, where else but as we got onto the Belt Parkway!  However, after that it was smooth sailing. Sean drove the first leg, thru NY and all the way through DC hitting Richmond, VA (maybe a little bit beyond?) by 330AM. Ellie had awoken and was cooing, so we did a diaper change and bottle of milk and as I took over at the wheel, she went right back to sleep. I was amazed at how easy Ellie was, I accepted before leaving that anything could happen and was willing to roll with it. Apparently, that is how Ellie felt too! We managed to hit the infamous “South of the Border” by 730AM. Who hasn’t stopped here? It seems every trip I take on I-95 this is a requisite stop– even if it is full of cheesy souvenirs that are not “Made in America”.  Seeing lots of families stop to change at the public restrooms which are surprisingly clean and have an entire s”changing room” side of the restroom.  Ellie slept all the way through til we got here! After changing out of PJ’s Ellie charmed everyone in the Waffle House waving hello and smiling while she happily ate from our “hash brown bowl”— which I recommend! It was delicious with crumbled sausage, hashbrowns and two scrambled eggs with cheese. Here are some pics from the morning’s adventures around the roadside attraction…

August 26, 2014 / lennonsoehl

JN “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge Drive 8-11-14

Our days have been quite busy but there is more to share about our trip. Won’t you join me as I retell our adventures?

As if the canoe ride through the Tarpon Bay and part of the refuge was not enough, I convinced Sean that we just “HAD” to take the wildlife drive as well. Before we could do the drive we needed a quick break to revive ourselves after the scorching hot kayak ride in the Florida sunshine. 

We hit a few of the shops on Periwinkle Lane and landed a few gifts for our moms back home as well as a beautiful necklace for myself that Sean bought me. 

Since it was so hot and the sun was not setting til 8:05 we wanted to try and time going through the refuge for twilight.  Finally feeling enough time had passed, rehydrated and ready to take even more wildlife pictures, we set out back to “Ding”Darling refuge.  We were trying so desperately to see an alligator that we even walked down a path to a “swampy” area but saw only the fecal remains of several birds that like to eat crabs.

Equipped with binoculars and camera around my neck and Sean as my chauffuer, we set out on the 4 mile wildlife drive (it would quickly turn in to a nearly 3 hour tour)!

Most of our sites were of egrets- great and snowy, as well as the resident ospreys over the bay. The bugs were ridiculous and it was hard to get out of the car for long but I did my best to get some good pics. 





Sean was amazingly patient even though he was so hungry I am sure he wanted to just drive by after seeing one too many egrets, but he held on for me. 🙂

We saw several ibis- white and glossy and we kept seeing immature yellow night crowned herons. I have to say they are one of my favorite birds because once they are in hunting mode, there is no disturbing them. They become positively still and zone in on the water from which they will grab a bite. It really blows my mind that they appear to have so much concentration on their task that they cannot be interrupted. 



I was able to convince Sean to take a short walk on a trail that goes out to the water where Roseate spoonbills can often be found. As we walked out amongst the bugs we again were greeted by a Yellow crowned night heron– but this time an adult!!!   Took some shots of this one intent on hunting despite us being on the road. 



Beautiful birds and I admire their determination as hunters. Nothing is going to stop them from getting their meal! After walking by the heron we did come to the wetlands and we did in fact see a roseate spoonbill with our binoculars, however it was a bit far for the camera. I have supplied the pc anyway as proof that we did see it and Sean can add it to his life list! I have created a fellow bird nerd! You can just about make out the pink coloration of the spoonbill in between the egrets. 



Our final bird sighting but with no pics was of ….. wait for it…. a PILEATED WOODPECKER! Another favorite of mine these huge woodpeckers are the very bird Woody was based on. Sean was at first skeptical but when we heard his call and then heard him banging on some dead tree close by, we knew we were right. Went to the bird book to show Sean the flight silhouette and he was hooked! The rest of the drive was basically spent looking for our friend as we hear him again! It was fun to see Sean get excited about a bird and to want to try and track it down! Bird nerd what did I tell you?!? 

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Unfortunately it was getting dark and we were starving and our pileated woodpecker was nowhere to be found. WE did see another osprey roosting in a tree alongside what looked like a small falcon– amazing to me they would even sit next to each other- but that is in fact what we saw– which falcon I cannot be certain but it did have the typical long squared off tail of a falcon. The osprey was much larger and we ended our tour of the wildlife drive there and went back to our Tween Waters hotel to shower and quickly make it out to a Mucky Duck pub for some grub (which happened to be delicious) making it in the nick of time before they were closing down seating people. 

We missed the awesome sunset that this Captiva restaurant boasts about, but we did see beautiful moon and enjoyed a superb meal of pork chop and scallops au gratin. 


Retired for the evening and had breakfast and  quick shelling session in the morning before we left to head to Charleston! Sean saw two pileateds while I was trying to get more shells but was not quick enough with the camera! Our other awesome bird sighting was a swallow tail kite from our car while driving up to SC! We saw about 3 of them and it was amazing as well. It seems our new phrase for bird sightings became “good find”– so if you are around and hear Sean and I say that, now you know.  I also think I made a “good Find” in my choice of husband! Who else will walk, drive and kayak with me through swamps and bug infested trails just for a glimpse of a bird! 


For Sean to see a swallow tail kite is a pretty amazing feat! And 3 no less! Lucky guy seeing them as a beginning birder! I’m jealous! And with that we had a highlight of our trip to Charleston which was everything we though it would be! More to come on our Charleston southern comfort! 












August 14, 2014 / lennonsoehl

Sanibel and Captiva Islands Monday 8-11-14

We said our goodbyes to Ralph, Sherri and Grandma and left early Monday morning for a little over an hour drive to Sanibel. We took the bridge over Tarpon  Bay into Sanibel and stopped briefly at the Visitor Center which wasn’t even open yet (before 9AM). 


We continued on Periwinkle Way to check out one beach off Amelia Lane— the beaches all have parking fees ($2/hr) so you want to make sure you want to stay for a while before you pay. This beach was nice and quiet and I did actually manage to find a unique shell the minute i got there- a turkey wing. 



This is definitely the land of shells and there are so many unique ones to find- I am hoping to get some whelks but all I managed to find were their egg cases.  

We continued on deciding to go to another beach but we stopped first for breakfast at the Over Easy Cafe. All I can say is delicious! Great food and great service– and of course another glass of sweet tea! 

We decided to hang out at Tarpon Road Beach- paid the meter and walked down with our chairs, books, and bag for shells. it was hot- real hot—over 90 before 10AM and humid! We saw a few fenced off turtle nests and set up our spot. I immediately got to work on “shelling” and was dipping my feet in the Gulf where a shoreline chain of baitfish were hanging out— the line of tiny one inch fish did not stop (as far as I could see) and they created about an 8 inch swath of darker water at the edge of the rippling gulf shore.  I found some bay scallops, zigzag scallops, ark shells and a few others I am still identifying by using the Bailey-Matthews National Shell museum website- they are located on the Island and to my knowledge are the only shell museum int he nation. Alas, we did not stop in- though I am sure it would have been great! 

I wandered the shoreline for a while doing what is known as the “Sanibel stoop” for looking for some of the island’s most unique shells. I found mostly small shells and they are fun but I never did find another turkey wing so I consider that one a special find. 

I turned back and Sean had already started walking to look for me I was gone so long (not really). I was getting very hot though an we actually decided to leave the beach before our 2 1/2 hours was up— we were heading to the car and AC before 12:15 and decided to check out the frozen yogurt spot we saw before the beach. 


We called a few hotels and discovered that many had vacancy ( on a Monday in August, I would assumer that) and found that Tween Waters- recommended by Sean’s dad actually had a reasonable rate. So we decided to drive up to Captiva, got the room and then set up our home base for the night.

After a very brief reprieve from the heat, we decided to go kayaking through Tarpon Bay and the mangroves that make up the JD “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge. It was nearly 3pm when we set off in our kayaks on a self guided numbered tour through the “swamp”. 

DSCN6408DSCN6411It was still super hot and we were dripping sweat after about 5 strokes. It must have been too hot for even the wild animals because there was not much stirring except for the mud crabs that climb on the mangroves and the mullet that were jumping out of the bay. I could not get a shot of these guys because you never knew where they were going to jump! On our way back through the mangroves (the trail was a loop), we finally saw some birds– little blue heron, immature night crowned herons and a few white herons and an anhinga. DSCN6433  DSCN6437

Our highlight for our kayak ride was the osprey that were hunting right around us and diving for fish. I did get a few shots of the osprey which was nice. We did get a little nervous when they were circling where we were paddling and then looked like they were zoning in on fish near our ‘yaks.

DSCN6448Hovering above our kayaks!

DSCN6449Osprey diving in for a fish!


After this we were hot, sunburn and sweating– we needed a little break and took a tour of a few shops for some souvenirs.  Of course our day was not over as I decided we just had to take the wildlife drive through the refuge in hopes of redeeming ourselves with some more wildlife. We did get lucky although still no manatees, alligators, bobcats or turtles. We did however gets pic of egrets, anoles, yellow crowned night herons, one roseate spoon bill and we stayed cool in the car. We were able to spot, see and hear two pileated woodpeckers which were a definite highlight. Sean is officially a bird nerd because even he was excited about the woodpeckers and wanted to track them to see more of them! Our car however was not meant to travel as the crow flies- or in this case Woody!   


August 14, 2014 / lennonsoehl

Boca Grande Fishing Pics Sunday 8-10-14

DSCN6352The boat…

DSCN6354The Captain and the First mate (finally getting a chance to drive in years)…

DSCN6353sunrise from the boat before we left the slip


Father and son bonding


Sean hooked a grouper but we could not keep it– throw back 😦RSCN6397 The turtle we saw swimming out in the Gulf!DSCN6360 Sean is his fishing garb!DSCN6375 Sean getting hungry! 

August 14, 2014 / lennonsoehl

Charleston r&r

We were pleased to arrive in Charleston knowing we have a place to rest our heads for three nights! A beautiful room on third floor with a stained glass window, four post queen bed and lovely wooden desks and dressers to place our things on. We are enjoying the romance of the inn as well as the relaxed but fun atmosphere of the Holy City as its called. Our day trip to folly beach today was perfect and we are taking a ghost graveyard tour tonite!!! We will def be ready for our sherry nitecap tonite!!! Stay tuned!!!


August 13, 2014 / lennonsoehl

Just relaxing after our am walk along the battery, creme brulee French toast, fresh fruit out on the porch! Beautiful location and wonderful historic b&b!


August 12, 2014 / lennonsoehl

Sunday Fun-day Fishing 8-10-14

Got up early Sunday for a half day of fishing out in the gulf just off of Boca Grande. Sean’s dad, Ralph, grabbed ice, drinks and made us sandwiches. We pushed off about 7:20am with a small short rainshower that cooled off the morning. 


We stopped for bait– live shrimp and then headed out of the Bay/Harbor. The boat rides so nice and smooth, it was an enjoyable ride. I lathered up in suntan lotion and enjoyed the breeze on my face from the water. It really is the best place to be on a hot August day in Florida! We saw some flyiish fish, which Ralph said he had not seen in a while. They look like rocks skimming across the water (almost) but they were slender, long and had a blue color to them.  We went out to the mile buoy so we were right past the channel. As we pulled up there was a turtle– a loggerhead? just hanging out drifting in the water— very cool I had never seen one in the wild- only aquariums! 


Sean’s first catch of snapper was not a keeper but he hooked it as soon as he dropped his line. I did have success hooking 5 fish with 3 of them keepers!  No one went empty handed for the day and we had about 10 fish caught for dinner. 


We made snapper fish tacos and the fish tasted delicious! No fishy taste and so fresh! 

Great dinner to end our stay in Punta Gorda! Sean’s Grandma ate with us and we got to spend time with her. She is 96 years old and is in amazing shape! She has some great stories from the past and remembers alot from her parents growing up in Brooklyn to her and her sister living in Copiague (originally!) She loved the pictures from  the wedding and the video trailer as well. We knew it would be tough for her to make the trip but we are glad we were able to see her only a couple months after being married. Planning to make her a small album so she can have it to look at while she is in her condo in Florida. 

We did another evening stroll through the condo complex and got another sunset pic along with shots of the supermoon. Then we retired for our next adventure awaiting us– departing for Sanibel Island on Monday morning! 

More to follow and pics too!