What a Year

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2014 has been a pretty entertaining year, both in the way of fun and challenges.

Lots of lessons learned this year. Patience. Humility. Determination. Fighting on in the face of struggle.

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We started off 2014 by calling it “The Year of Fun”. It’s certainly been that as we have had a lot of fun. But it’s also been the year of continuing to be happy when our circumstances have dictated otherwise.

“The happiest people don’t have the best of everything; They just make the best of everything.”

It’s been a wonderful year of shelling the beaches of Sanibel.

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We took some great trips.

We had a ball at the Florida State Fair.

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We loved Lobster Fest in Key West.

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While the Blueberry Festival in Brooksville was memorable,

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the Central Florida Barbecue Blowout in Oveido was forgettable.

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We (I, actually) enjoyed the Pepper Fest in Pinellas, mainly because of the fun we had afterwards with our friend Karen at her home beach – Stump Pass.

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And we dove. Boy, did we dive.

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We dove Sanibel.

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And I found a MONSTER Alphabet Cone too.

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We dove the Keys – the upper, middle and lower….

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HWC

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and we’ll be diving in a few other exciting spots in a few days. We had 12 festival stops planned but did not get to hit them all. That’s ok though!

We also met and got to hang out with some very sweet and kind people this year. We’re quickly approaching 500 additional friends on our Facebook page. Thank you all for coming along for the ride this year.

We have a lot to be thankful for and we definitely are.

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We’ve had fun and learned some tough lessons as well, which has made us grow as people throughout this year’s journey.

But isn’t that what growing up is all about?

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😉

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, friends. See you in hopefully a very exciting and fun-filled 2015.

Summer Beach Tips (Repost)

Today, I’m reposting an older blog post from 5/13 of last year. Although a year has passed, the information below is still vital for your summer at the beach 🙂

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Sometimes, a few minutes after you hit the beach you can tell whether or not it’s going to be a good shelling day. Yesterday was that day.

Once you have paid for three hours of parking in the hopes that you’d be spending those three hours shelling – only to find limited shells, that leaves you with really only two remaining options (unless you brought your fishing pole):

1. Sun tan

2. People watch.

You can do both at the same time. I decided to do both.

Now, during Option #2, there is always great entertainment. Not a “let’s watch and make fun of people” type of entertainment. More of a “did this person read the posted signs?” entertainment….or the “has this person ever seen the ocean?” entertainment. I do admit that sometimes I have laughed at what I’ve seen while being a people watcher.

Like the time I saw a man come onto the beach at Blind Pass (it was 85+ degrees), dressed in a black suit. He kept his shoes (black dress shoes) and jacket on the whole time, posing for photos along the jetty rocks for well over an hour, while a woman in a bathing suit took several pictures of him using an iPhone.

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I write this post today, not to ridicule or make fun of anyone but to educate. Here are what I like to call Beach Basics 101.

So, let’s first talk about Sunscreen.

It is very important to apply sunscreen, because in this climate, you can get scorched fast. The Queen and I have been here for several years and we still get burned, either because we didn’t put on a high enough SPF or because we didn’t re-apply. Unless we’re constantly re-applying, normally we go 2 hours on the beach and then we’re done.

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So if you’re from the North (like we are originally), listen carefully. 😀

It is wise to apply sunscreen BEFORE you get to the beach, not when you set foot onto the beach. An extra 10 minutes before walking out the door goes a long way. If you haven’t been out in the sun, start with an SPF of 30. Trust me, you will still get a sun tan. I sat under the umbrella for a good two hours yesterday and still got good color…..and don’t forget to re-apply. Otherwise, you could look like this:

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Which reminds me, don’t forget sunscreen on the tops of your feet. My first weekend here, I neglected to put sunscreen on my feet. It was miserable to wear shoes for the next several days.

Secondly, let’s quickly talk about sand.

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It gets hot in the sun. It will burn your feet, whether you think it will or not. Always wear something on your feet….sandals, flip flops, what have you. Let me repeat – that beautiful sugar sand that’s so nice to look at will burn your feet.

If you’re going to be near jetty rocks, it’s smart to wear something on your feet. Trust me again on this one. My feet are now very used to walking on rocks and I still get the occasional cut on the bottom. Matter of fact, about a month ago I stepped on the wrong section of jetty rock and tore a nice gash into the ball of my foot.

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Speaking of jagged jetty rocks, let’s talk about snorkeling.

Blind Pass is often hit or miss when it comes to snorkeling. Sometimes the water is calm and crystal clear. Other times, it’s rough and murky. You just never know until you get there.

Yesterday, the water at Blind Pass was very rough. Shelling was sparse, fishing looked to be the same. Yet there were still people in the water, enjoying the surf. I made my way up the shore line early and saw that the water was just too rough and too murky to snorkel. Mainly, too rough. I like to snorkel. So I was disappointed. I made my way back to my chair and plopped down in disappointment.

However, shortly after I watched a young lady (who was not in the greatest shape) grab her mask and snorkel and make her way down towards the front of the jetty rocks. As I watched her walk that direction, I turned to the Queen and said, “That’s not a smart move.” How she didn’t see the impending danger, I’ll never know.

The water was extremely rough and we both foresaw what was about to happen. Sure enough, within minutes, she was being blasted against the rocks. After two minutes of fighting against the current. She was soon out of breath, tired, beaten and bloody and it took two men to pull her out of the water. By that time she was sobbing uncontrollably…another victim of Mother Nature’s waves.

So let’s recap:

Below, great snorkeling water.

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and….not-so-great snorkeling water.

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The Queen made a valid statement yesterday on the ride home.

“You can wrestle with the waves, but make no mistake, the waves will always win.”

Another thing to keep in mind while snorkeling or even swimming for that matter – and this is a big one:

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If there are people fishing, you probably don’t want to swim or snorkel near their bait.

Especially if you have those kind of fishermen (and we’ve all seen them) who catch a keeper fish and decide to kill it right there in the water or slide it on a stringer. They’re basically chumming the water. We saw this all morning yesterday. So it’s not smart to swim near them. Especially out at Blind Pass, where it’s a known fact that Bull Sharks tend to hang out there.

Now, there hasn’t been an attack in our waters in quite a long time, so please don’t let me frighten you. But if you’re wearing that nice new yellow swimsuit, some shiny earrings and you’re swimming 5 yards from a dude who just stabbed his freshly caught Redfish in the head – you’re putting yourself in danger.  Don’t swim at dawn. Don’t swim at dusk. There are sharks on Sanibel. Lots of sharks. Be aware, my friends.

Along jetty rocks, you’ll tend to find Redfish, Sheepshead and Snook. They hang out and eat little fish. Bigger fish hang out and eat them. So it’s probably not a good idea to snorkel there, especially if the water is murky.

and Four – Hydrate

We always bring a cooler with drinks – Gatorade, Juice, Water, Sodas, along with several snacks. Stay hydrated.

These are just little basics of the beach that we’ve learned over the years. Sure, there are a lot more things that go with visiting a beach, but these are the ones that stand out to us.

So enjoy your Summer and have fun at the beach. Just make sure to pay attention to the signs and above all, be careful!

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