Monday, 27 June 2011

The American Suburbanite counts down the days until she returns to Rural England

As I was driving across the causeway from Sanibel to the mainland I received a phone call from my Mom.  She was home in PA and I had just received a UPS delivery from the British Consulate.  I told her to open in right away and let me know what it was.   

After a few tense moments she said "I think it is good, there is no letter"

I quickly asked her to look in my passport for a visa, and sure enough it was there.  I  was so excited I called my husband 3 times until I got a call back.  

He was in a meeting for work and didn't pick up the phone right away.  He called a few minutes later after the meeting adjourned and the two of us were so excited we didn't know whether to laugh or cry.  I think we did a little bit of both!   

21 Days until I depart for England to be at our home!

Friday, 24 June 2011

Doc Fords

After all my walking on the beach, I built up a healthy appetite.  I went to Doc Ford's, one of my favorite restaurants, for dinner.  My husband and I found it on our first visit to Sanibel and ate there several times because they aired the world cup matches.  We loved the food, it takes the best of fresh Florida ingredients and puts them together in an interesting way.  We enjoyed the menu so much we replicated some of it for our wedding menu. I had an idea of what I wanted before I got to the restaurant.   When I found out my salad did not come in a small portion it helped me finalize my decision.

Captiva Style Crab Cakes

Sorry about the blurry picture, I took the photos with my phone.  These are some of my favorite crab cakes and the spicy remoulade is a great contrast to the cool and sweet apple cider slaw.  I came into the restaurant knowing I was ordering the crab cakes.

Tropical Salad
For my main I had the tropical salad.  I was unsure if I would have a variety of appetizers or a main course.  I chose a main course and I love the tropical salad.  It has such a mix of flavors, dried cherries, tomatoes, spiced pecans, mandarin oranges, mozzarella cheese, and a balsamic vinaigrette.  I love the mix of sweet and savory, crunchy and juicy... just what an entree salad should be.

Drunken Parrot Carrot Cake

Gossling's Black Seal Rum makes this carrot cake super moist.  It was such a big piece I ate it in 3 separate sittings.  I figured I had to get some rum in if I was eating at a Rum Bar and Grille!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Sands of Sanibel

Whilst stuck in America, I decided to make the best of it.  I have been in Florida for the past week and couldn't fit in enough of my favorite things so I extended my trip for another week.   I will continue to blog about my favorite things while here as well as some favorite things from PA before I head back to England.  

This weekend I went to Sanibel Island on the way back from Kissimmee, yes Sanibel is quite a diversion from Tampa, but felt it was necessary.  My husband and I got married here in November and there is so much about the island that I love, I couldn't get this close and not visit.  The beaches here are absolutely chaca with shells, and not shell fragments, whole shells, and nice ones at that.  I walked miles a day, even in the 95+ degree weather and enjoyed every step of it, that is until I realized I forgot to reapply sunscreen on the return part of one of my walks...

OK, so this one is alive, but there are hundreds that are not.

Sea turtles also use the beaches for nesting.  Monitoring sea turtle nests was one of my first paid jobs in my field after moving to Florida and the little guys hold a special place in my heart.   When I first walked out onto the beach I noticed 2 nests flanking the area where we had our wedding ceremony, and the next morning, another nest was deposited there as well.  I will attempt to following the progress of these nests to the best of my ability from the UK.

turtle tracks returning to the Gulf

Sanibel is teaming with wildlife, here are a few more pictures:

A brown Pelican

A great blue heron

An Ibis

A green anole

An osprey nest

Beach Sunflower

ghost crab


And what would a weekend at the beach be without a beautiful sunset.  Gulf coast sunsets are some of the best I have ever seen:

Monday, 20 June 2011

Old Habits Die Hard...

Whilst in Florida I visited some good friends and colleagues that work in wildlife education.  During this time we went to the animal park where I visited animals I cared for and met some of the new animal ambassadors.  At one point, I heard a rustling in the maintenance equipment.  At first, I thought it was just an anole running through the brush.  The noise continued and I soon realized it was a slither and not a run.  When I looked down I saw that it was a snake.  Not an unusual sighting, we are near the St. John's River and the area is fairly undeveloped.  I quickly identified the snake as a black racer.   

Photo from Florida Natural History Museaum

During this quick assessment, I also noticed he was not slithering freely.  A roll of landscape netting had been left out and the snake was tangled amongst the little openings.  His small head fit through easily, his thicker body however, could not make it through.  

With very little thought I picked up the whole roll, got it out of the sun, and began to tear the snake out of its prison.  As I tore the openings in the mesh, the snake became more agile, and began to turn around and try to bite me, he unfortunately did not realize that I was there to help him.  Just at that momet, one of my colleagues happened to walk through the gate with a pair of canine nail clippers in her hands.   Without hesitation, she secured the gaping mouth so that I could continue to work on freeing the snake.  

Together and with the clippers, we quickly got the job done and released the snake.  We let him go in the same area, as a native snake he is an important part of the ecosystem and an excellent natural form of pest control.  More importantly, we removed the deer mesh from the outside storage area and moved it indoors.  

I lived in Florida for 14 years participating in wildlife rescue, rehabilitation, and release the entire time.  It felt good to get back in the saddle, however, frustrating to know that 90% of cases I have handled in more than 16 years now are a result of human interaction.  Please think about what you put in the environment, regardless of where you live.