Tuesday, March 3, 1987

1987 Marco Island, FL (2/26-3/3/1987)

Thursday, February 26, 1987
We left at 15:30 to drive to the airport for our 17:45 flight to Pittsburgh. Kent and I had seats A & C, which were next to each other on the DC-9. Served a snack and drinks. In Pittsburgh we had to take a shuttle bus to the next terminal to catch the 20:10 flight for Fort Myers, FL. We were in the first row that faced backwards across a table from the second row. Again a snack and drinks and we arrived a half hour late at 23:00. Kent’s parents were waiting and drove us to Marco Island. Balmy weather with clear skies!

Friday, February 27, 1987
Awoke and opened the shutters to be blinded by the sun!
Southwind Condominiums pool
Kent and his parents at their condo
After breakfast and Kent’s mom’s morning pool exercise class, we went for a walk along the beach. Went at least three miles, seeing sand sculptures.
Kent and his parents on the beach
Turtle sand sculpture
Ran into a couple who were neighbors in the condos, but also Kent’s mom’s high school classmate. More “small world” when we ran into someone Kent’s mom had worked with, along with her husband and three children. They hadn’t seen each other in 5-6 years. After lunch we went to lay on the beach, but the windblown sand chased us to sit by the pool.
Kent and Tamiko by the pool (photo by Ada)
Kent’s mom brought us sodas in individual foam cooler holders.
We had dinner at Kretch’s, a simple place. We had iced teas and “Caesar” salad (two kinds of lettuce and croutons in a Swiss type dressing with Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. Kent got the Maryland fried oysters, and I had Coquilles Saint-Jacques (scallops and mushrooms in a Mornay sauce/cheese with wine sauce). Kent’s mom had the grouper Florentine and his dad had catfish with a lemon-pepper sauce. We all had the puff potatoes, like tater tots rolled in parmesan cheese. Dessert was included – NY cheesecake, very light and lemony. Home to do jigsaw puzzles.
Kent and Tamiko start a jigsaw puzzle (photo by Ada)

Saturday, February 28, 1987
Sat out by the pool, and Kent found a gray hair on my head! After a cold-cut sandwich lunch, we went to the flea market at Goodland. An interesting item was Mabel’s drawers, a giant pair of polyester underpants a good five-feet square! We headed east on US-41 towards the Everglades.
Where last year we saw thousands of birds, now there were only a few, supposedly because it was high tide. At low tide food is more easily seen. We pulled to the side of the road a couple times, and stopped at the Fakahatchee Strand area. Saw several little green herons, a great blue heron, little coots with bobbing white faces, great white egrets and many snowy egrets, and anhingas sitting with wings spread wide to dry. Kent spotted an alligator head in the reeds.
Possible alligator
Fakahatchee Strand area
Down another side road we saw more birds and Kent saw a fast black snake. Lots of fish were jumping and turning out of the water. Mullets was the guess. Kent showed us a floating piece of alligator. We headed back to the condo and the heat and the motion of the van put me and Kent to sleep! When we arrived, I took a walk on the beach with Kent’s mom. Mike had arrived when we got back. After a snack, we drove to find where Naomi and her family were staying. As we arrived, a car pulled up and the family piled out. So we went in to admire the rental house with the built-in pool. There was a jasmine bush out front that looked like a tea bush with small five-petal white flowers that smelled sweet when crushed.
Kent, Tamiko, Ada, Mike, and Bert
After drinks, we drove to the Isle of Capri to the Pelican Bend Restaurant. Kent’s dad started with seafood chowder. Everyone except me had an iceberg lettuce wedge with a peppery Italian dressing. Kent’s parents each had a fried grouper sandwich with potato chips. Mike had the Pelican Blend Platter with shrimp, scallops, oysters, fried grouper, clams, and frog legs. Kent had the Seafood Combo with clams and shrimp, and I had the shrimp scampi, drowned in butter with some parsley and a hint of garlic. The three kids had “ranch” potatoes, which were baked potatoes cut in wedges and deep-fried!

Sunday, March 1, 1987
Kent’s mom made a huge breakfast with scrambled eggs with mushrooms, sausage, a half grapefruit, and slices of a maple walnut coffee cake!
At 10:00, Kent, Mike and I took Mike’s car and canoe over to the Collier-Seminole State Park, paying a $2 entrance fee. We dropped off the canoe, and Mike went to park while Kent used the men’s restroom in the mangroves. The three of us got in the canoe, with me in the front, Kent in the middle, and Mike in the back, and took off. We had a sketchy map to follow, with a canoe trail to Mud Bay in the mangrove wilderness.
Collier-Seminole map
Mangroves and egrets
The mangrove root system is always amazing to see, much of it like branches reaching down into the water, from 10-12 feet up in the tree. The mangrove filters out salt from the water. It also produces peapod-like things that float along in the water while still attached to the tree until they can get a hold in the mud. A root is extended and a new mangrove tree is started. We spotted tiny fiddler crabs along the banks under the mangroves. Mostly you saw the white crescents an inch or so in length, which were the large claws of the male crabs. But we were close enough to see the whole of the usually blueish bodies as they scurried along or up the roots.
Every once in a while we heard plopping into the water, which seemed too loud to be the fiddler crabs, so we surmised we were hearing fish jumping. Next we began seeing numerous herons in the mangroves and along the mud banks. Lots of little green herons and snowy egrets. Once in a while a great blue heron or a great white egret. We passed a couple motorized boats and a few other canoeists. Mike estimated it was 1.5 miles to Mud Bay, which was full of muddy shoals.
Mud Bay
Wood stork and great white egret
Great blue heron
Great blue heron
Mike got out and pulled us for a while. Out in the middle of the “bay,” we just couldn’t move forward because of mud, wind, and current moving against us. We noted thin empty sacs and globs of a jelly-like substance that Mike speculated were reproductive sacs. We headed back to the canoe trail. Saw several ibis, a yellow-crowned night heron, a crested lesser heron, and a bittern. Flying in the sky might have been a golden eagle, plus several vultures and an osprey.
We came to the Blackwater River and followed that, but again the current was against us and the wind was strong, so we began to drift back. After drinks, we lazily paddled and drifted along. We noticed an alligator nose and eyes floating towards us. But then a motorboat came from the other direction to scare him underwater. We waited around about 10-15 minutes, but he never re-surfaced in the area. We saw belted kingfishers, and Kent thought he saw a water snake just below the surface of the water. Saw a mullet leap out of the water and belly flop.
We tried some precision paddling, then speed paddling to “ram” into the bank to end our canoe trip.
Kent and Mike
Tied the canoe on top of the car and headed back to the condo. Despite overcast skies, we got some ultraviolet rays.
Later at 16:30 we drove in the rain to the Marriott Hotel just down the street for the buffet dinner, with a German theme. We ordered iced teas, then headed to the buffet. First salads: tossed salad (with Italian dressing, a tomato, cheese, carrots, mushrooms, and croutons), a dry 3-color pasta salad’ cucumbers in vinegar, and a unique potato salad with potato slices in mayonnaise. You could also get onion soup. The German items were SpƤtzle in a creamy mushroom sauce, knockwurst and sauerkraut, sauerbraten, Bavarian meatballs, turkey schnitzel, and roasted lamb. Also rolls and butter, and a fruit salad. Finally dessert: I had shortcake with strawberries and chocolate mousse. White chocolate mousse was popular with the others. Mike left us to drive home to Fort Lauderdale, and we went for a drive around the condos at the southern end of Marco Island. Impressive. Back at the condo to play Scrabble.

Monday, March 2, 1987
After breakfast we piled into the van to drive to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary of the Audubon Society. It was sprinkling rain. We had to go back to the condo to make sure the stove was turned off. Kent saw a porpoise as we left Marco Island. We missed the exit off I-75, but made it to the Swamp where there was a $4 admission fee. Used the restroom near a birdfeeder with a brown-headed cowbird. Saw lots of red-winged blackbirds. We drove into the sanctuary, passing pine trees and the low cabbage palms below them.
Pine tree
Saw bobwhites under the palms. Also saw a pileated woodpecker busy in a tree. A bright crest on his head. Also saw him hopping on the ground. Later saw a smaller red-headed woodpecker on a closer tree.
Although still sprinkling rain we walked along a boardwalk into the swampier areas. The undergrowth was quite dense and the rain increased. Noted some wildflowers along the way, more notable were the white buttercup-like flowers in deep water, and large white “lilies.” There were also small purple and yellow flowers. Passing an open area, I spotted a white-tailed deer. Kent’s dad thought he saw a fawn also and that was confirmed with binoculars. The pair came closer as the boardwalk curved, but we still didn’t have a great view.
Doe with fawn
Cypress swamp
Entered a stand of pond cypress with interesting reddish lichen and numerous air plants, including the stiff-leafed pine that is sometimes called the Florida orchid. It has a red “blossom.”
Tillandsia fasciculata/Stiff-leafed Wild Pine airplant
Red lichen
Spanish Moss
There was Spanish moss, maple and willow trees, myrtle, and several types of ferns including Boston, Strap, and flag-leaf. Came to a stand of the older, bigger, and fatter bald cypress. The trunk/roots of the strangling fig wrapped around one cypress, like thick vines.
Strangler fig roots on a bald cypress
The songs of the birds were quite noisy and we heard a woodpecker. In the distance we saw what looked like a giant mourning dove, but we never got close enough to identify it. There was an observation post over a “prairie,” a wet one, but we saw nothing interesting. Back in the cypress stand we saw duckweed, like miniature lily pads crowded on the surface of the water. Later we came to the lettuce lakes, with cabbage-looking plants side by side, creating a carpet across the water.
Pistia stratiotes/Water Lettuce
Lake filled with water lettuce
So much to see and a lot of it was new to us! We didn’t see any alligators or the famed wood storks who come here to nest. We did see a cardinal, and lots of little birds. Certainly heard a lot of birds! We were pretty soaked by the end of the boardwalk, and perused the gift shop before returning to the van that Kent’s dad had warmed up.
We drove east along CR-846 to Immokalee, a migrant farmer town, then south along FL-29. There was the usual ditch or waterway along the road with numerous egrets and great blue herons. A stretch with anhingas and also little green herons. I thought I saw a baby alligator lying across a large rock, and soon afterwards we passed a pond with several alligators. We turned back for a closer look, and only one was left.
Also saw turtles. At US-41 we headed NW and saw many more birds, including ibis and the elusive wood stork! As we crossed back to Marco Island, I shouldn’t take all the pelicans there for granted!
Back to the condo for lunch. The prevalent palms here are called pineapple palms and are short and squat.
We got dressed up for dinner at O’Shea’s, getting a table by the window overlooking the Rosie O’Shea, a steam paddlewheel boat. As we ate, it prepared to go on a moonlight dinner cruise. It left, having to seesaw to move away from the dock. We had iced teas and salads, mine with the house vinaigrette dressing, and small rolls with soft butter. I had the rich O’Shea Seafood Fettuccine with both egg and spinach fettuccine, several shrimp, lots of scallops that were so sweet, and pieces of fish. Very good! Kent had the shrimp scampi on linguine, nice and garlicky. Kent’s mom had the “light” chicken supreme, lightly breaded with a crisscross of asparagus and cheese on top, with mixed vegetables. Kent’s dad had the chef’s special with broiled chunks of four different fish including grouper, snapper, and dolphin in a Creole sauce over rice. He had a side dish of linguine with white clam sauce. Lots of good food. Again Kent’s dad treated. Home to read; I am on my fourth novel during this vacation!

Tuesday, March 3, 1987
After breakfast, we lay by the pool since the sun was out again. Then after lunch we packed and left at 15:30 to drive to the airport. We said our thank-yous and goodbyes to Kent’s parents and went to wait for the 17:30 Northwest flight to Memphis, arriving at 19:30, or 18:30 local time. Caught the 19:45 flight to New Orleans where we just had drinks and no snack. Arrived 20 minutes late at 21:10. Decided to take the taxi for $18 rather than to wait for the $7 airport van.

Next: 1987 New Orleans I.

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