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.

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Thundah, Lightnin’ and Saturday Shellin’

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We couldn’t have been more ready to hit the beach than on Thursday night. The recent rains have really made Thursday Thunder quite literal. Before we left the house, the sky looked bright and the radar looked like we’d be in the clear for a couple of hours. That turned out to be wrong.

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I thought the clouds would pass by us, as they were moving Northwest. I figured the way they were rolling, we’d be ok and get an hour of shelling in. Again, wrong.

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Because that big chunk of black cloud decided to roll back around and hang out for a while, which was pretty freaky and reminded us of the tornadoes we’d get in Indiana. We saw four lightning bolts shoot down from it and high tailed it back to the car. Within five minutes, it was a torrential downpour. Total time from exiting the car to getting back into it – 15 minutes.

Friday turned out to be one of the nastiest lightning storms we’d seen in years with something like 4,000 lightning strikes in less than four hours.

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Which is why we were beyond anxious to hit Little Hickory on Saturday morning. We were fortunate to run into the Shellebrity as he was leaving. We gabbed for a little bit and he let us know that there wasn’t anything on the shore. He was certainly right. I was bummed out walking to our campsite, but as soon as I saw the clearer water, I knew I was going in.

Thankfully since the changes have been made (slight ones) by the Army Corps, the water has definitely improved. Now it’s not as clear as we’ve seen over the last couple of years, but it was such a huge improvement over what we had here last month.

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The water was warm and clear to about 4-5 feet. I could see my feet clearly in waist deep water. NICE. But it was almost too clear, as there were more stingrays and bait fish than we had seen in a while. The bait fish followed me my entire snorkel. Normally I wouldn’t recommend swimming in a bait ball, but I figured I was ok.

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Queenie was my spotter again, so I was in good hands. About halfway up towards the point, I was in 4 foot of water or so and picked up a huge True Tulip the size of my hand. We’d never found a keeper like that before and unfortunately, the soich continues mama, since this one had a guy inside. We weren’t able to snap a pic though, as we left the camera back at camp. Had to run back and get it and by that time the little guy inside was pretty agitated, so I put him back.

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As you can see, the water was pretty daggone clear. You can see the line going from clear to murky was about 5 feet in front of me. Bout time we had some clear water down here.

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No, it was not 4:20 when Queenie took this picture. I was in between blinking my burning, salt water filled eyes.

“Hey bro…check out this cool crab I found…heh heh heh wait…what?”

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These two guys weren’t far from each other in about 4 1/2 feet deep water. Had to dig up the Alphabet as I only saw a glimpse of it in the sand, but you know those stripes are certainly recognizable.

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A taste of the good stuff. Virtual shelling anyone?

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A nice sized Nutmeg, a juvie Horse Conch, a dark Sharp-Ribbed Drill and two of the many Tinted Cantharus shells we found in the water.

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I’m always amazed at the different shapes and colors on Whelks. The Pear is certainly my favorite whelk, and we found quite a few.

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Queenie loves the pink Sunray Venus. Wow! One of the four Dusky Cones we found went down the sink drain when I thought I could rinse them off without dropping any. 😦 But how about those striped Scallops?

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Shined up Gaudy Nautica shells. Seems like Little Hickory always has an abundance of those lately.

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And of course, the Alphabet Cone, all cleaned up and shiny.

What a beautiful day at Little Hickory. The water and the sun were both warm….Couple that with some cold drinks and some old 70’s soul music playing on the radio and I coulda stayed there til the sun went down.

Don’t forget to check us out on Facebook…and we’re on Instagram too – @TheShellKing

As we mentioned on our Facebook page last week, The Queen and I are working on a little monthly feature here. We’re always showing the shells we find. But, we wanna see what YOU find – and we’d like to share them here on our blog.

So if you have some pics that you’d like to share, send them on over to IAmTheShellKing@gmail.com with a little back story, and we’ll gather them up for a future blog post.

😀