Saturday, August 21, 2010

Even a Hot Dog Tastes Like Gourmet Cooking on Sanibel

As Joe and I advertise blatantly on our website, we are fussy. We got into the vacation rental business because we are so often disappointed with accommodations and bought several of our own so that we could make them the way we want. We insist on a comfortable king sized bed, lots of cooking aids, good electronics and decent linens in our places, as much for our selves as for our rental guests.

We are equally fussy about food and ambiance....most of the time. We don't mind paying more for fresh ingredients, a nice presentation of food including the table setting, good service and a pretty restaurant.

There are several restaurants on Sanibel that meet our needs in all of those respects and we do go there when we want to eat out on the Island.

But we were on Sanibel today doing further inventory on our Toucan House and bringing over some things from our Naples condo to prepare for some updates to Toucan House.

It was a bright, sunny, breezy day and we needed to take a break so we went to lunch.

We were in a bit of a hurry to return to the tasks at hand, so we went to Schnappers, the closest thing you can get to fast food on the Island. The bright colored "shack" is exactly what you would expect inside. Simple, easy, limited in choice but not in taste.

My hot dog (without the bun) and french fries were so particularly good, better than ever, in fact, that I had to ask at the eatery if they had changed cooks, or formulas or owners. No, I was assured, everything was exactly as it has been for years. I told them things were crisper and more delicious than ever and all seemed pleased.

But not nearly as pleased as I. The crispy dog and crispy fries hit the spot. And sitting under the umbrella at the outdoor table feeling the breezes and watching few cars pass by was all I needed to feel on island and on point.

Even fuss pots like us can appreciate the simple things in life, and life on Sanibel can make even the simplest things feel absolutely grand!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sanibel Manatee Easy to say some

At our little farewell wine and cheese with our French neighbors here in Naples, we were entertained with a variety of stories.

The funniest one was of the French family's recent trip to Sanibel Island. Like us, they love Sanibel, and, like us, do find some distinct differences between the main land and the Island.

Apparently, the mom and dad are accustomed to getting up early and going to the beach while the two daughters sleep in. And this one morning, they jumped into the Gulf for a refreshing swim, but it did not last long. No sooner were they in the water than the dad felt a heavy hit to his torso. He yelled, mom began a desperate swim away and both were amazed as a huge, bewhiskered face lifted from the water and sprouted water from its huge mouth. They, and all those watching from shore alerted by the father's yell, just thought this was hilarious.

To be honest, I would have been frightened to death were it me. And to be perfectly honest, we have never seen a Manatee on Sanibel Island. Dolphins yes, birds of all kinds, yes, alligators, yes, even a couple of glimpses of bobcats, but not yet a Manatee. Yet our French friends claimed that they saw Manatees every day during their stay on Sanibel.

I have to believe them. A Manatee is a pretty hard thing to miss. Manatees have a mean mass of 400 to 550 kilograms (880 to 1,200 lb), and mean length of 2.8 to 3 metres (9.2 to 9.8 ft), with maximums of 3.6 metres (12 ft) and 1,775 kilograms (3,910 lb) seen (the females tend to be larger and heavier). When born, baby manatees have an average mass of 30 kilograms (66 lb).

In addition to their pure bulk, they have a face one would not forget. They have a large flexible prehensile upper lip that acts in many ways like a shortened trunk, somewhat similar to an elephant's. They use the lip to gather food and eat, as well as using it for social interactions and communications.

And, they are "up in the air" a great deal of the time, again making them an easy target. Half a manatee's day is spent sleeping in the water, surfacing for air regularly at intervals no greater than 20 minutes. Manatees spend most of the rest of the time grazing in shallow waters at depths of 1–2 metres (3.3–6.6 ft). The Florida subspecies (T. m. latirostris) has been known to live up to 60 years.

Though sometimes attacked by sharks and alligators, their main threat is man. Hurricanes, cold stress, red tide poisoning and a variety of other maladies threaten manatees, but by far their greatest danger is from watercraft strikes, which account for about a quarter of Florida manatee deaths.

They are mutilated by propellers on a regular basis, and the descriptions posted are pretty horrifying.

As on land, operators of moving vehicles are told to "slow down"....a good piece of advice for their own well being as well as those of the creatures threatened by life in the fast lane!