Charlotte Harbor to Fort Myers Beach (Florida) / December 19 - 27, 2014
December 19, 2014
We left Charlotte Harbor around 1 p.m. Tim had found us a means of transportation to get to the boat ramp located near the Boca Grande Bridge. By taking this, we avoided retracing the path we had taken to get here. Tim came with us, and our "Good Samaritan", to the boat ramp. We were emotional when the time came to say goodbye, but we will always treasure very good memories of our adventure. We hope that Pam’s mother will recover quickly and that her health will be good.
We had a short day of paddling. We planned to camp at Hoagan Key. The conditions were superb and we had a beautiful sunny afternoon. When we arrived on the island, it was already occupied. Nevertheless, we found a little place of our own to set up our tent. In the evening we reminisced about the last week. We feel privileged to have shared our lives with so many extraordinary people.
December 20, 2014
We left without hurry this morning. We only had a short distance to paddle to get to Cayo Costa State Park (located on the island of the same name). Between Boca Grande and Cayo Costa we experienced a strong current, but the crossing went well. Near the island of Cayo Costa, we paddled very slowly as we were fascinated by the marine life. We saw lots of fish, crayfish, horseshoe crabs, shellfish, mussels, a shark ... And we were still seeing dolphins, pelicans and different types of terns.
When we arrived, we were surprised to see that a valet service was offered on the island to get to the campground, located ¾ mile from the Ranger’s Office. We decided to stay for a few nights. It has been a long time that we have not been on our own and this place seems very relaxed.
21-25 December 2014
Cayo Costa enjoys a desert climate. There are palm trees, but also cactus. The sand is white and there is always a refreshing breeze. There is an abundance of flora and fauna, and many trails to discover this little paradise accessed only by water. Most people come here by a shuttle service from Pine Island, where they leave their car. Some people come, like us, by their own means. We greatly enjoyed our stay here and it seems that for the first time since we began, we did not have a schedule. We are enjoying the warm weather and we have to wait until spring before paddling north again on the East Coast of the United States. We are therefore in no hurry. It is a very pleasant and unusual feeling. We walked a lot on the island, which was good for our legs. We met nice people. We met a group of young adults who had promised themselves to do a trip together annually, since finishing their studies. It was an enjoyable encounter and they form a very nice group. It was their second vacation together. They also gave us a lot of food before leaving the island. Thank you so much to all of you again! We also met Betsy and Joe from St. Louis. We drank wine with them on Christmas Eve and shared dinner on Christmas Day. Again, a great encounter! Then we met an unusual, but very inspiring couple: Ida Little and Michael Walsh. They arrived on the island by canoe (with a sail) the day after our arrival. We had the pleasure of sharing stories with them. They travel a lot, by sail, canoe and backpacking. As Michael said, they have been retired since they were 30 and 20 years old. Now older than us, they continue to live freely and to take several trips by canoe/sailing and enjoying the outdoors. They also wrote a book about their means of transportation and their life, based on their 70s and 80 adventures. It was refreshing and reassuring to meet them. There are more people out there wanting to live with the seasons, the wind and currents. We quickly developed a friendship with them. It was really a nice surprise and an honour to have met them.
December 26, 2014
We left Cayo Costa around 10 a.m. after saying goodbye to Ida and Michael. We hope to see them again in the spring.
It was grey this morning and there was wind, but we were not disappointed with the weather, because it saved us from the heat during our paddle. Pine Island Sound is a shallow bay. We did not follow the channel markers, but paddled through the islands, and at times, we had to walk the canoe in the water. However, we saw a small, 3 foot shark, dolphins, shells, including a few conch (with its shellfish alive inside) and mussels. It was a beautiful day of discovery.
We arrived at Picnic Island in mid-afternoon. The place is ideal for camping. We spent a very pleasant evening.
December 27, 2014
Around 4:30 a.m., we were awakened by lights and a boat that entered the bay to beach next to our camp. We were very surprised to have company so early. Pierre got out of the tent to meet the man who had just arrived. Later in the morning, we learned that Greg had taken advantage of high tide to come to the island. He brought everything needed for a big family party.
Around 10 a.m., we left Picnic Island. The fog was beginning to lift. It was really nice to see the islands and the bridge through the mist. We arrived at Fort Myers Beach around lunch time. It was quite a change! There are many people, lots of traffic, high rise buildings and the beach was full of people on the campground where we stopped. There is a saying that "we live in a small world". Well it's true! Our camping neighbours are from Quebec! Pierre and Michael know many people in common, especially from the canoeing world, and I've worked with Francine in the past. What a funny coincidence! We had dinner together and spent a pleasant evening.