I could’ve gone to Lovers Key State Park, but it was really out of the way, especially this late in the day. Plus I wasn’t thrilled to see another beach. So I decided to skip it this time around and go onward.
Which was a great decision, ‘cause it meant I could spend more time at Koreshan State Historic Site) (photos and street view). The history of the place is amazing, and many of the buildings of the people who settled here are still preserved. Several are over a hundred years old. With Florida’s climate, it always astounds me to find these old wooden buildings still in great shape. They really did know how to build ‘em back then. I spent nearly an hour there, take shots all over the place. I could see stopping here again, and spending some time just soaking in the atmosphere.
Another great thing about this park is that they’re one of the management centers. The state park system is divided into regions, and each region has one of the parks as the headquarters. Koreshan is the one for the southwest. What’s great is that they’ll have passport stamps for the other parks in the region that don’t have rangers. I was able to get 8 stamps all at once! Mind you, I only actually visited the one, but I do plan on visiting the others, and now I have the stamps for them. Yippee!
Once I left, it was up Tamiami Trail to Fort Myers Beach. I had to head west on CR 865, and ran into, yes, construction. Several miles of it. By now it was around 4, and the traffic was getting like it does in a larger city at rush hour. This is why I prefer travel on the weekends. I saw that there was backup in the direction I was heading, and not a small amount. I decided to skip Fort Myers Beach and U-turned. What was Sanibel Island going to be like? Knowing how popular it was, I feared the worst.
It turned out to be not that bad. There was a toll plaza on the mainland end of the causeway to get onto the island. You have to pay to go to Sanibel, but not to leave. The traffic was horrendous, but all heading towards Fort Myers. The traffic going to the island was relatively minor. So I suppose there’s a lot of people who work there, but who support those that actually live there.
Once on the island, I headed for my first stop, an old school that’s now an art gallery. All the way there, there was solid traffic heading the other way. I decided to take a circuitous route to my next stop, which was on the other end of the island. Before I got to the residential area, I drove by one of the entrances to the J. N. “Ding” Darling NWR. I figured I’d check it out, but there wasn’t much to see from the parking lot, so I took a shot of the sign and continued. Once I hit where the folks lived, speed limits decreased, but there was little traffic, so I was moving the whole way.
I reached the tip of the island and the Sanibel Lighthouse (photos). Underwhelming. Oh well, they can’t all be like the St. Augustine or St. George ones. The parking was 2 dollars an hour, which sucks if you’re not gonna be there that long. I guess most folks who go there are going for a while, so it works for most. The beach around the lighthouse was nice, though, and lots of folks there. Again, what are these people doing, not being at work on a Monday?
There’s a museum on the island that was on my list, but I can live without seeing it. So as far as I’m concerned, Sanibel Island is done. I’d also taken long enough so that the worst of the traffic was over. It was a bit slow on the bridge off the island, but not less than 35 mph.
Found MacGregor Boulevard (above), which is one of the main Fort Myers thoroughfares, and headed north. There are palm trees all along, which makes it very stately. I turned off to get pictures of a couple of houses, one on the NRHP (the Jewett-Thompson House) and one not (the Burdette-Roberts House).
It was now 6, and my watch started beeping. I’d reset it yesterday, because I figured this would be a good time to start hotel searching, wherever I was. I drove by the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford Winter Estates, so I knew where they’d be for next day’s running around. I found US 41, and knew there had to be hotels along there. Sure enough, I spied a Holiday Inn after a couple minutes. Inside, I found the rooms were $100. Pricier than I liked, but I had to sleep somewhere, and at the moment could afford it. Turned out to be another 3rd floor room, which was kinda neat.
After finishing checking in, I asked about food. The front desk recommended a couple of places. What appealed to me was Joe’s Crab Shack. The directions got me somewhat lost, but I found it. Right on the water, as a crab shack should be.
But it was a crab shack in name only. Really, it was a regular seafood restaurant. Nothing wrong with that, but not the rustic place I was hoping for. Very popular, though, at least halfway full, which is good for a Monday night. Lots of waitresses, but I got one of the only waiters. Lucked out there with Alex.
Oh, he was fine. Late 20s/early 30s, cute glasses, a bit of grey in the hair. He looked like he’d stepped out of an old cigarette or aftershave advertisement. Without the cheesy porn ‘stache. Wish he hadn’t been wearing saggy jeans, though. He had a nice athletic build, and it’s a shame the rear view wasn’t as good as it could have been. I wonder if he might be an actor/model in his spare time? The whole “the worse the economy, the more attractive the wait staff” thing. Very personable, too. He wrote his first name on a paper towel, I suppose because he didn’t have a name tag. Yes, I saved it. You take your mementoes where you find them.
The food? That’s right, I did go there to eat, didn’t I? The place specializes in buckets o’ seafood. Actual buckets. Filled with crab legs, clams, or whatever you’d like. Pricy, as large quantities of seafood can get. But I don’t like that kind of seafood. My tastes are simpler.
I got a bowl of New England Clam Chowder. Very good, very creamy, clammy and bacony, with bits of orange bell pepper and celery. Then it was the classic fish and chips, which when I asked, Alex recommended, saying he ate it often. It was also very good, with all those lovely crunchy batter bits, which is the best part of fish and chips. All told it was about 20 bucks, but way better than Long John Silver’s. Nothing against them, I like Silver’s. But this was several steps up the cuisine ladder from them.
I got back to the hotel after 8, so I missed some of Dancing with the Stars. I had all the intentions in the world of going to bed early, but for some ungodly reason got caught up watching the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. It was nowhere near as good as the original, and to me more overtly preachy. I didn’t get to sleep until after 1. I figured if worse came to worse, I could take a nap the next day to recharge if I needed it.