After dithering for a week I finalized my little getaway and boy did I make the right choice! Not only did I have great weather every day, but I totally missed the blizzard back home. I managed to miss the flight problems too. And the neighbor plowed our driveway!
I flew down on Monday night and picked up my rental car (flight was about an hour late) and drove to the Hilton Garden Inn by the airport (separate review pending). I was able to use HHonors point stretcher so it only cost 18,000 points. Plus as a gold member I got a king suite and complimentary breakfast. It was a nice hotel and worked out great.
Tuesday I drove over to Sanibel and went straight to the Holiday Inn (also review pending). It was early afternoon and I lounged by the pool while I waited for a second floor room. After I got in the room it got a little cloudy so I went over to Bailey's and picked up a snack lunch. I do admit that I spent some time looking at the orange crunch cake but finally decided it was far more than I could handle alone!
Then back to the hotel and ate my lunch in one of the cabana chairs after being literally attacked by seagulls when I tried to eat it on the beach. Spent some time lounging then when it got near low tide I did my first shelling walk. I was very lucky that the low tides were about 7 am and 6 pm or thereabouts so I didn't have to buy a lamp (I'm really just an amateur). That night I took myself to Cheeburger Cheeburger just before it closed and had a nice cheeseburger and malt while I read. I had been to the one in Naples and learned that it is now closed. I had also been to the restaurant where Cheeburger is now so it was all quite familiar.
Wednesday I got out at 8 and shelled some more, then had breakfast in the room. Back out to the beach; basically I spent most of the day on the beach doing just about nothing which was my goal. Shelling again before dusk. I went over to Jerry's, bought a few souvenirs, said hello to the parrots, and got a TV dinner since I was really tired. (I went down to Florida with a cold and came back with it - didn't cough at all on the beach thanks to that nice damp salt air!)
Thursday I got up at 8 and drove out to Blind Pass, remembering it as a good shelling spot. I didn't know that the Sanibel side beach was almost gone although I should have suspected when there were no other cars in that lot. So I just walked over the bridge and shelled on the Captiva side which was fine. Then I drove back to the Sanibel Cafe for breakfast (coconut french toast) and admired the tables. Last winter I made a shadow box like those tables so I felt quite artistic. I did a little window shopping then went to She Sells Sea Shells for a couple more souvenirs and got some post card stamps at the post office. Then back to the beach and pool for more nice relaxation and of course shelling. I ate the Sunset Special dinner at Courtney's at the Holiday Inn - lots of people getting in before the 6:30 deadline for that. I had a nice Chicken Francese for $12.95 with bread, salad, pasta, and broccoli - good food and service so I was quite happy. After dinner I went back to Jerry's and picked up a huge slice of Lemon Merinque pie. My husband was in New York for the week and we compared dinner prices. I won! (His Lindy's cheesecake was $8; my pie was $3.59.)
I got a late checkout for Friday so was able to keep the room until 12:30. With a slightly later low tide I was able to walk a sand bar for an hour. Then I spent the rest of my time just relaxing on the beach, watching the waves and listening to the seagulls and painting a mental picture to last the rest of the winter. After checking out I drove to the Lighthouse Cafe for lunch, did a little window shopping, and went over to Lighthouse Beach for another stroll. By mid-afternoon I was getting tired so just headed back to the airport where I spent a few hours reading and eating until my flight. Then back home to a happy cat.
I wasn't sure how I would feel on my own but it worked out OK; I didn't really like eating dinner alone but otherwise was fine. I talked to lots of nice people wherever I went and the hotel staff were friendly. I wanted to just relax and that's what I did - I did feel a little guilty without my husband. But without him I didn't have to bike, didn't have to kayak, didn't have to pack up and go to a different beach every day....just walk out to the beach and lay down! I didn't find any really exciting shells but had a good time searching and got lots of pretty little ones - I'll post a list when I have a chance to look them up. Before I left I promised myself not to bring home more of the same ones I already had but apparently I lied to myself!