Thursday, May 1, 2014

Pelican Bay, Naples, Florida

About 16 years ago, my Mom and Dad decided to move to Florida.

Jack had just been born and we were all in a bit of shock that they were choosing to "leave" as we were just starting a family.

For most years since then, we have left behind the Maryland winter and visited their home in Naples.  My Mom and Dad lived there for ten years before my Mom passed away;  I am so glad that they moved when they did.  As I head toward an empty nest myself, I've gained a new appreciation and understanding of a decision I couldn't grasp 16 years ago.  Funny how life works like that.

Our annual trips to Pelican Bay have nurtured our souls, renewed our spirits and given us family moments and memories that are priceless.

Me and Dad
Dad lives in an area of Naples called Pelican Bay where bike and walking paths provide access to recreation and shopping areas as you wind your way within and through a tropical wonderland.  You can't help but get out and go walking.

Unlike much of the overdeveloped coastline,  Pelican Bay was developed with the environment and conservation in mind.

Jim loves picking the limes that grow in the backyard to use in his drink at happy hour...


Notice the professional fruit picker made by my Dad...a coat hanger taped to the end of a broom handle.

A walk around the lake behind his house led us to this huge tree which was loaded with berries.  It was at least five stories tall.  As we got closer, the tree seemed like it was moving, alive with a flock of over 200 cedar waxwings migrating through.  

Ficus Citrifolia or Short Leaf Fig/Wild Banyan tree

It was a magical moment.  Jim and I just stood there looking up into the huge canopy as discarded berries rained all around us.


Another tree I like to visit is this guy...


It looks beautiful from far away but as you get closer, its secret is revealed...


The trunk is completely covered in thorns!  I've never seen a tree like it.  There's no climbing it that's for sure.  Does anyone know it's name?  How about the berry tree?

As we head west toward the beach and the gulf of Mexico, there is a 2.3-mile biking/walking path through "The Berm", a mangrove environment housing red, white and black mangroves and hundreds of different species of birds, animals and aquatic life.

One of our favorites is the anhinga...



Using its webbed feet, the anhinga swims in the water, diving underwater to seek out the fish which are its prime source of food.  When done swimming, they spread their wings and tail feathers and dry out in the sun, sometimes in some very funny places.

Because Pelican Bay was developed with conservation and the environment in mind, the dense mangrove forest was preserved and boardwalks were built to provide a pathway to the beach...



Mangroves protect shorelines from damaging storm and hurricane winds, waves and floods.  Mangroves also help to prevent erosion by stablilizing sediments with their tangled root systems...



They maintain water quality by filtering water pollutants and serve as a nursery for many different animals and fish.



Like these baby egrets nesting in a tangle of mangroves...


And this baby alligator...


It's an absolutely magical place, like having your own National Geographic special just by walking out the door.  

Zebra Longwing Butterfly
After we make it through the mangrove forest, we're rewarded by this view of the Gulf...


And the pelicans which inspired the area's name...


Jim hits the beach and starts searching for treasures, trailing the sandpipers who zip out ahead of him...



We've found that the beach changes every day and we're much more likely to see something new by going frequently.  

When I asked him how the treasure hunting was going, he said "The shells are always there, some days they just hide better than others."   So wise that man of mine.

I couldn't believe my luck when I spotted this beauty...


Bending over to pick it up, I was startled by the guy who had taken up house there...

Yellow-lined Hermit Crab
The beach there never ceases to delight me.

All of this is prelude to THE story of the week and the highlight of our trip to Pelican Bay this year. A tale I'll share next post.

It's good to be home and posting again.  Waving to you all!

28 comments:

Lisa said...

Lovely to see you back! I've been missing you! How grand of your parents to give you such a delightful "home away from home" in Florida that you can visit so frequently! I love your stories of your family activities there!

I'm not sure about the tree with the berries, but I think the spiny tree is known as a silk floss tree! Seems very appropriate for you to find one!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for 'refreshing my eyesight'. It is a literal translation from a Spanish saying: 'refrescar la vista'. We say it when we see something beautiful.

Marva

Rita in Kansas said...

I your posting made my day! Thank you ,until now I was very sad to know my oldest boy is moving to Florida to follow his girlfriend who got transferred to Rivera Beach ,now I have to look at all the good that will come out of it !

Allison Aller said...

...and waving back to you, from the sunny green valley of the Washougal!

Lorraine said...

Welcome home! Certainly looks as if you had a lovely vacation. A rather timely post as DH and I are thinking of spending Christmas in Florida this year....

coral-seas said...

Your pictures and words make me feel like I am strolling through Pelican Bay with you but my favourite picture of this post is the one of you and your Dad.

ga447 said...

I love Florida and the beach, my family lived in New Port Richey and I visited Naples and got to stay at the Ritz. Thanks for bringing back great memories for me.

Renata's arts and crafts said...

Ohh... Your post is so beautiful and descriptive I had the feeling like I was there with you just reading about all that mangrove forest beauty.
You are really blessed to be able to go there even once a year. Enjoy al the time you go
Renata

annamaria magda said...

Thank you for a nice trip, wonderful piuctures, I have never been there, only I have gone to California, have a good days, bye, ania

cucki said...

Aww thank you for such a sweet post
Love from South Africa x

Rachel said...

What a lovely stroll around your father's neighbourhood!

Sandy said...

Beautiful tree...never seen anything like it. A Locust tree? Does it have seed pods later?
Waving hi back from Canada where the trees haven't even got buds on them yet. A very slow spring.

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

Your parents really DID do the right thing in moving to an area that they could enjoy each day to the fullest.

Being newly retired, I can tell you that this extended winter has taken its tole on Terry. I keep extremely busy, but his hobbies are all outside. He is having a rough time being stuck in the house.

I look forward to THE story.
xx, Carol

Sarah said...

We had a tree like that in our field when I was growing up. We called it a toothache tree. I'm not sure what it even was, but my step father said his family used to chew the leaves of those trees for toothaches and make poultices for minor wounds. We used to dare each other to climb it!

Vicky aka Stichr said...

Waving from Gig Harbor, in Wa too. Out on our coast there are tusumi remnants coming ashore. Sad, but also interesting how Mother Earth takes care of herself. Like the mangrove trees.

pamelaric said...

I do believe your thorny tree is a kapok tree. Looks just like the ones we had in southern california. Wonderful post as usual. Thanks for the peak into your Florida visit.
Pamela

Judy S. said...

Welcome home! I had a hunch that you were gone since your blog was very quiet. Your lovely photos made me miss FLA; we spent our winter vacation in CA this year which was lots of fun but not the quite the same critter-wise.

Irene said...

Love the fruit picker ... Need to make one!

The area looks beautiful!

Createology said...

Such a lovely and loving post. If only we had our wisdom younger in life. How very thankful that you are able to spend time with your father and enjoy his surroundings. Love the Lime Gathering Tool.

margaret said...

how I have enjoyed strolling around with you, your Dad is so lucky to be living here looks an idyllic place to be

Wilma said...

Waving back Susan!
Thanks for sharing those wonderful pictures. Have been in Naples once and it brings back great memories.
Loved the Art Galleries over there also.

Susan Hook said...

What a fantastic place!

deb* said...

beautiful photos--I really enjoyed!

Natasha said...

thank you for such a refreshing post. I felt as if I was walking along. I love that area of Florida, perhaps one of my favorites.

When we go to the beach that is all I do, comb for shells and take in the beauty.

Have a fantastic day!

Suztats said...

That sounds like a wonderful place to live, with nature all around. So glad you're able to enjoy this with your father.

Nancy said...

The tree may be a silk floss tree. Fits the description I read online. Beautiful photos. I have never really wanted to visit Florida until I saw these photos. Gorgeous.

Nancy said...

Check this link to see if it matches the tree with thorns:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceiba_speciosa

Catherine said...

A beautiful place indeed!

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