Captiva Island, Part 1

2:40 PM

This September, we took the 18 hour trek down to our annual beach destination - Captiva Island, Florida. This was our 6th year to go there and the 3rd year in this particular house. We look forward to this trip each year in ways you can't imagine. It might seem dull to return to the same place every year, and ordinarily, I would whole-heartedly agree with that sentiment, but there is something unique about Captiva. Just ask those who find themselves returning year after year.

It's a place of peace and utter relaxation. Of afternoon thunderstorms, lazy days in the ocean throwing frisbees and searching for shells without critters in them. A place with familiar restaurants whose menus you have memorized. Home of the Orange Crunch Cake. Of manatees that everyone sees but us! Of dolphins, sea stars, crabs and shells galore.  A place with roads as familiar to you as your own hometown. There's something isolated and private about it, even though there are houses everywhere. 

This year, we went later in the year than we've ever been before, after school had started, and our week overlapped Labor Day weekend. 

It had been a lovely, but hectic summer and Kyle and I were eager to shed the trappings of our everyday lives and enjoy some quality time with each other and the kids. We always leave early Friday morning, drive all day, stop and sleep, and drive another 6-7 hours until we arrive in Fort Myers, Florida where we load up on groceries for the week and then drive onto the island where we don't budge for a full week. 

Wyeth did remarkably well on the trip, although he figured out that he could slip his arms out of his harness. A clear sign it's time to move up to a bigger carseat!

The kids were super excited. They love the routine of the 2 day drive it takes to get there as much as anything. Largely because I drop all my restrictions on sugar and they get more than they ever want or need from their treat bags. There are movies to watch, books we read aloud, Adventures in Odyssey cds to listen to, naps to take...

We definitely have the best decorated beach house I've ever stayed in. And I love our homeowner. She is incredibly helpful and has done a fantastic job making the house welcoming and equipped for every need. 

I love the huge map of the island and surrounding locations that greets you as you enter.

Some native wildlife greeted us as well.
Now, which way to the beach???

Thank you, Wyeth!

This was his second year here, but he was older and wiser and this ocean was a tad daunting to him. He was a little unsure. Exercising caution around the ocean is always a good idea.

Each day, we loaded our beach buggy with the chairs, umbrella, beach toys, towels, snacks and walked the short way to the beach to claim our spot. All of the stuff we hauled down there (minus the food) came with the house. Can't beat that.

This is the walkway from our house/neighborhood area to the beach. 

There it is....what we traveled so far to experience...

August gets super excited about Captiva. He loves making things in the sand and finding shells and body surfing and swimming and playing...

Kyle soaks it up.

Various expressions of joy look like an impromptu dance...

Hoping to sight a manatee, we strolled across the main road to the harbor side of the island.

The sky was dark and ominous, but it didn't dampen our enthusiasm. 
Sadly, we never spotted any manatees.

But we had fun tromping about the piers and calling for the manatees. That alone, was quite fun. There's a song from Veggie Tales called "Barbara are the one for me..." We sang that in hopes that it would attract Barbara. It did not. A few odd looks, yes.

After the weekend, the majority of people went back to work and school, and the beach thinned out considerably. It felt very much like our own private ocean. There were a few other families out there with us, but for the most part, it was blissfully quiet.

Captiva/Sanibel are known for their shells, but this year, we found unprecedented numbers of them. Sand dollars by the hundreds were under our feet in the sand...thousands of shells with little crabs occupying day, Kyle found about 6 enormous sand stars, all in a group. They were about 14 inches across. It was amazing!

 A friend we made while there said a manatee swam within a few feet of him - they were equally startled to find the other so close. And the dolphins were out like we'd never seen them! That was such a treat. One day, a momma dolphin and her baby were fishing in the shallows and swam within about 3 feet of us. It was unbelievable.

Sweet little Dorien. He put on his floatie and had the best time hanging out in deeper waters with me and Kyle.

Wyeth, on the other hand, just wanted to be with us. In our arms. He was not keen on any sort of flotation device. WE were his flotation device. And despite his white hair and blue eyes, he never burned and actually got pretty tan!

Some days the ocean was as smooth as glass. A couple of days the waves were so rough, I body-surfed for hours! You never knew what to expect. Every day was a brand new ocean.

Kyle and I were still training for our triathlon, so we brought our bikes and swim gear and did some open water swimming, biking up and down the island and lots of running.

White sunscreen on my white little baby boy.

August, in contrast to Wyeth, turned so dark he looked like a Native American. His hair lightened considerably, too!

Brooklyn turned brown as a nut, too! She had so much fun!

Hanging out with my littlest man while playing frisbee with Kyle. There's something about the ocean that makes me want to play frisbee. 

For hours. It's addicting. 

More tomorrow.....

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