Monday, June 28, 2010

Sanibel Offers a Different Kind of Shoe (Store)

Had to run over to the Island today. It's actually a short run from Naples where we are currently living while we plan and ponder as well as implement the renovations on Toucan House.

It's an interesting transition going from the very lush and uncommercialized area we live in through the kind of honkey tonk and colorful environs of Fort Myers Beach, then onto the little tropical paradise of easy, breezy Sanibel.

And after coming to the Island for so many years, I find little corners with nuances yet undiscovered.

Today, we had some meetings to attend with a little time in between so we explored by foot.

Stopping at the charming Sanibel Library to jot off a quick email, I was pleased to see that in my absence the heart of the Library had grown significantly larger. Just a year ago the number of computer stations may have numbered 8 at most, but there is a large expanse of the library now devoted to the new technologies. There must have been 20 computers in the large and airy space, testifying to the growing number of people reliant on internet communications.

One meeting later with more time on my hands, I wandered off to the little strip mall where Chico's used to be. As it was the original store with lots of Island lore, I was sad to see it was gone. But several doors down I found a nearly hidden and delightful
shoe store, Rinaldi's Fashion Shoes.

No Ismelda Marcos, my quest for the perfect shoe, a unique foot fashion, something that can stop (foot) traffic is practically nil. My indifference is based on my frugality (less is more) and my demand for comfort.

So I was duly impressed that there were so many pretty AND comfortable shoes at Rinaldi's. OK, they were not inexpensive, and even the pair I purchased on sale was nearly double what I normally pay for shoes, while the other pair--- not on sale--- was quadruple the price.

But I put them on, they were pretty, and my feet felt like they had landed in cushion heaven.

I walked out of the store with one pair on (the other tucked under my arm) and the bright breezy day went through my well being right down to the soles of my feet.

A good shoe should never been undervalued. And neither should a day spent on Sanibel Island.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sanibel and Environs: The Upside of Electrical Storms

Florida is known as the lightning capital of the world, and for good reason. Lightning bolts are as common on late afternoon summer landscapes as are Palm Trees, and, quite honestly, just as pretty.

Though the Sunshine state has a flat topography and does not offer spectacular views (as in Grand Canyon) in other ways, the electrical storms on and around Sanibel are awesome.

They provide a sound and light show not to be seen in most of the other states and they do have a pattern that is fairly predictable so one can make ready for the performance.

Somewhere between 4 and 6 p.m. from June to October, the clouds roll in, the sky darkens to deep gray bordering on black and thunder can be heard rolling at a distance. Because there are no mountains and barely any hills to obscure the view, the show can be seen (and heard) from miles and miles away. And a unique feature of these gala events is the chiaroscuro of shadow and light that they present. The sky can be nearly pitch black, but rays of sunshine will be breaking through highlighting and making buildings appear "lit" in orange or yellow florescence. It is quite a sight!

These phenomenal storms are memories in the making, and worth every dime spent in travel to Sanibel Island or almost anywhere in the state of Florida.

And if you have found the water in the pool at your vacation rental a bit too luke warm for your taste, the secondary benefit of the afternoon "visitor" is the cooling off the heavy rains bring with them----- refreshing the pool with every visit.

But caution should be taken with each passing of a new storm. Mother nature can be deadly and you need to abide by her rules.

Here are some simple guidelines to help make your summer stay on Sanibel and the area as safe as can be during lightning storms:

  • Follow the 30/30 rule. If the time between seeing the flash of lightning and hearing the thunder is less than 30 seconds, take shelter. You are in a strike zone.

  • Immediately get away from pools, lakes and other bodies of water.

  • Get off the beach.

  • Never use a tree as a shelter.

  • Avoid standing near tall objects.

  • Keep away from metal objects including bikes, golf carts, umbrellas, fencing, machinery, etc.

  • Get indoors if at all possible or get in a hard-topped vehicle.

  • Remain in shelter for 30 minutes after the last flash of lightning.

Once secure, enjoy. You won't find visions like this most any place else!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

On and Off Island: A Sanibel Sampler

It's been a while since I posted.

The oil spill worry has been consuming me. And though the experts are predicting only a 10 percent chance of the oil hitting Sanibel, I am concerned none the less. I am concerned for Sanibel and for the Gulf as a whole. Florida is accustomed to hurricanes, they come through on occasion. They are a major inconvenience, but they leave. The spill may take a very long time to dissipate, and the damage it has/is/will cause is yet to be calculated. All these thoughts kept me from posting more regularly.

And then there has been the move. We left New Jersey 2 weeks ago, settling into our condo in Naples while we renovate our house on Sanibel and fulfill our rental agreements.

The area where we are living in Naples is quite lovely. It's low key, nothing fancy, but quite lush and tranquil, only a 5 minute drive to a great beach and a 10 minute drive to the glamorous sections of this beautiful town.

Being as comfortable with these current surroundings as I am, it was a really nice comparison to leave Naples yesterday to do some business on Sanibel.

And, yes, Virginia, there is a difference between being on and off island.

The island environment is just smaller, more compact. The roads are smaller. There was no traffic anywhere to be seen, and, of course, no traffic lights. We opened up some bank accounts on Island and the fellow who helped us was dressed in a polo and chinos. He said that is how he comes to work every day.

We stopped at Jerry's for groceries and a light bite surrounded by folks who had thrown something over their bathing suits, but with their hair still wet and sand clinging to their toes.

There are few GRAND houses on the Island, and if you want to see them you need to search. We remembered when Hurricane Charlie had come through Captiva and how surprised we were to see the vegetation blown away revealing very modest homes on that very pricey island. No high rises on Sanibel or Captiva, and nothing taller than a palm tree on Sanibel itself.

The few cars moving moved slowly, almost the pace of the Island tortoises. The few people we saw were on their bikes. The few birds barely moved at all. It was as if time was standing still.

The towns off island such as Naples, arguably the liveliest and prettiest of them all, have a lot to offer. But if one is looking for a truly laid back, tropical and natural experience, none of the towns can compete with the 12 mile long Sanibel.

We love where we are. We love where we are going. We are so, so lucky!