Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fort Myers, FL (part one)

We are here in Fort Myers, Florida for the next 8 days and this will be quite an adjustment for us. The park we are in is tight quarters, but that's actually not too bad, the adjustment here is the crush of people.
Today started off sunny and warm, so we were excited to get out and do some preliminary work scoping out the beaches in the area. Job one was to get snorkeling equipment for us, but I was hoping to get it on the cheap if I could. I was set to go to pawn shop or Goodwill, but as luck would have it- the Outlet Mall fell under our sights first. Buy one, get one free was all I needed to hear.

We jumped in the car and headed for the causeway to Sanibel Island where I had the info on seven public beaches. What I did not research, was that the bridge to Sanibel was a toll bridge. It was close to noon and we thought better of spending the $6 to get to the island and not be ready to spend a whole day- besides Fort Myers Beach doesn't have a toll bridge to get to it- so we felt we should investigate those beaches on our half-day.

After a quick lunch at home, we set out for Ft. Myers Beach, about 3 miles down San Carlos Blvd. We figured we'd be getting wet in about 15 minutes. Uh-uh. Grid lock traffic with EVERYONE going to the beach. The 3 miles took us 45 minutes of torturous stop-and-go traffic. When we got to Estero Boulevard that runs along the waterfront it too was near gridlock- so we headed south to see if the crowd would thin out some and give us an opportunity to park and hit the beach. The island of Fort Myers Beach is 7 miles long, so we headed for the half way point and found a public beach where we actually found an empty parking space. Then we saw the parking meter. One look at the rate schedule told us why the space was vacant. $2/ hour (that's 8 quarters) We were not prepared with change and even though there was no limit on the time you could buy- we could only dig up enough coinage for 50 minutes- what the heck. We dashed for the beach, set up our chairs, and I headed for the water.

My new gear worked well, but the water clarity was very disappointing. I swam and snorkeled for 40 minutes.

Very soon our time was up and we had to pack up and leave before we got a parking ticket.
The whole 7 miles of beach is completely built-up from one end of the island to the other. The city has done well with frequent opportunities for public access, but the parking is another matter. The city offers only about 10 metered spaces for each access point. All other parking is either paid lot or metered.
We decided to continue on south down Estero Blvd. and leave the island on the south end to avoid the traffic we had encountered on our way in from the north. In the end it was no quicker, maybe even slower. We stopped one more time to check out the beach near Lovers Key and got back to the RV around 5 PM.

As the sun set the temperature moderated a little but was still warm and pleasant as the evening surrendered to darkness.

Our quest for tomorrow- we must find a beach with clear water and no meters!

Jeff and Joan

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