What a Year

20141123_063215wm

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.

IMG_2915a

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.

20140720_144346wm

20141123_090508wm

4-20-1wm

We took some great trips.

We had a ball at the Florida State Fair.

IMG_3029wm

We loved Lobster Fest in Key West.

IMG_3416wm

IMG_3427wm

While the Blueberry Festival in Brooksville was memorable,

IMG_3151wm

the Central Florida Barbecue Blowout in Oveido was forgettable.

IMG_3163wm

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.

IMG_3198wm

IMG_3212wm

And we dove. Boy, did we dive.

IMG_3796

We dove Sanibel.

4-20-6wm

And I found a MONSTER Alphabet Cone too.

4-20-7wm

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

IMG_3376wm

IMG_3395wm

72600018wm 72600007wm

HWC

20140911_120443wm

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.

DCIM100GOPRO

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?

20140405_112202wm

😉

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

Advertisements

A visit from Andrea – Part 1

Due to the large number of shells found and photos taken, I’m going to break this blog update into two posts.

Hope you all are fine with that. 😉

Blind Pass, Sanibel Island

Tropical Storm Andrea stopped by to say hi during the middle of this week and she brought some rough surf along with her. With the rough surf comes sea shells. Lots of them.

Blind Pass, Sanibel Island

The Queen and I thought we’d be rushing it a little bit so soon after Andrea left. We honestly didn’t expect to see shells just rolling in, but our fingers were crossed.

6-7-7wm

6-7-5wm

The Shells were there for sure, but you had to work for them. They were very hard to see in the murky water. So here’s what I do in that situation:

I have polarized sunglasses to help me see through the water. Even though it was overcast, it still helped me a great deal. So I look first, then move to where I see a large group of shells. Then I feel with my feet until I feel the bigger, more pointy ones and I scoop. Then I sift out the sand by shaking the scoop in the water, I bring the haul up the sand a bit where the Queen awaits and I dump them…just like this:

Sanibel Shells

Queenie searches through the debris for keepers and puts em in the bucket.

After an hour or so of scooping and dumping, we made our way to the Sanibel side of the jetty rocks, where there was just a small patch of sand. On the rocks we saw False Limpets enjoying a dinner of algae at low tide.

False Limpets

Along with a really nice Purplish Semele, we picked up this nice sized Whelk. He was empty, but the mollusks on the shell were alive and well. So back into the water he went.

Knobbed Whelk

Walking alongside the jetty rocks led us to just near the bridge, where we ironically found this HUGE Hermit Crab without a shell.

Hermit CrabQueenie saw him lying on his back. At first, we thought he was dead. Apparently he got caught up in high tide and got stuck between the rocks under the bridge. I poked him with the edge of my scoop to check and sure enough, claws were a -clawin’. We turned him over and brought him in the scoop to the water’s edge where not two feet away we saw ANOTHER Hermit Crab – except this guy had a shell.

Hermit Crab

Hermit Crab

I didn’t know this about Hermit Crabs, so I’ll take this right from Wikipedia’s page:

As the hermit crab grows in size, it has to find a larger shell and abandon the previous one. This habit of living in a second hand shell gives rise to the popular name “hermit crab”, by analogy to a hermit who lives alone. Several hermit crab species, both terrestrial and marine, use “vacancy chains” to find new shells: when a new, bigger shell becomes available, hermit crabs gather around it and form a kind of queue from largest to smallest. When the largest crab moves into the new shell, the second biggest crab moves into the newly vacated shell, thereby making its previous shell available to the third crab, and so on.

Take a closer look at him – he looks like a Lobster….only, his tail isn’t hard like a lobster’s. Looks more like curly, red PlayDoh.

Hermit Crab

6-7-22wm

So homeboy hit the water in a hurry and scurried away, no doubt in search of a new, larger shell.

6-7-16wm

I think I was more amazed by the Hermit Crab than the shells there. Always cool to see marine life up close.

We made our way over to the other side of the bridge….

and that’s where I’ll leave off for now and begin Part 2.