Becky arrived, from Boston, Monday afternoon to spend a few days with us. We relaxed the rest of Monday, enjoying the sun and warm temps. On Christmas morning, I made double chocolate and banana nut muffins. We went for a walk around the park, went to see the movie Les Miserables and then drove out to Sanibel Island/Captiva. The movie was great and I must say I think this is the first time I've ever gone to a movie on Christmas day. I couldn't believe how busy it was. It was pretty driving around the Captiva area...cute shops and beautiful beaches. Again, I was surprised how many people were out on the beaches, having picnics and just hanging out. Sanibel is known for the wonderful shelling along the beach. The shells lay in piles all along the water's edge, where the high tide has deposited them. Many people go out in the wee morning hours, once the tide recedes to look for intact, neat shells. We didn't find any of those but it sure was fun to see all the massive piles of them and pick through them. We drove through the "Ding" Darling Wildlife Preserve and saw a bunch of white pelicans and other birds in the bay areas.
Yesterday, we went on one of the Babcock Ranch Adventure Tours. The bus that our group took out on the ranch is shown above, with us standing on the loading platform. Our tour guide drove us around on the ranch, explaining the history of the ranch from the purchase of the 91,000 acres back in the 40's. The swamp areas were purchased for five cents an acre and the good land for twenty-five cents and acre. Pretty cheap land, don't you think ? Here's a picture of the turkeys running to meet our bus, along the route. Our tour guide had some corn on board and boy, did they love it. You should have seen how fast they were running to get to us. It was really cute.
Our guide had this little guy on board to show us and tell us about alligators. She let us touch his tail on the top and underside. He was so soft and it didn't feel at all like I thought it would. We drove out through the swamps and got to see lots of his full grown cousins. One fella was chomping on something he had just caught in the water and was thrashing around just over the side of the bridge where we could watch him. There were also lots of pretty birds in the same water hole as all the alligators....quite a neat sight. It was a fun tour.
When we left the ranch, we drove to the Manatee Park. Our timing was impeccable as the ocean temps were only 66 degrees, so the river in the park had lots of manatees, seeking the warmth of the water. Any temps 68 degrees or less and the manatees can die from the stress of the cold so they seek the inland rivers that are warm. The hard thing is that the seagrass they need for their daily diet is found out in the ocean and not in the river. When we had stopped at the Manatee Park last week, the ocean temps were warm enough that they were out feeding. Apparently the two cold days we had and the cold night temps recently have cooled down the ocean temps and forced them inland. It was fun to see them poke their noses out of the water as they'd surface from resting, to get their lungs full of air before sinking again. What a neat sight !
We crammed as much as we could into Becky's visit with us and had such a good time. We drove Becky to the airport this morning, concerned she might have a delay due to all the storms in the northeast. We had checked her departure time, before leaving the house and all was fine. We said our goodbyes and left the airport only to have her text us when we were only about a mile away. When she got to the ticket counter, checking in, they told her her flight was delayed by two hours. We drove back and picked her up. We went to a diner and got something to eat, figuring it was going to be a long day. She never did get to fly out till almost four this afternoon.....her original departure time was 11:50 a.m. She's back home now, safe and sound in Boston and we had a wonderful Christmas vacation while she was here. We wish all of our kids and family could join us at holiday time but know that isn't possible, as they have lives of their own and work obligations. We cherish the time we do have with them. We hope that all of our friends and family created wonderful Christmas memories like we did. Here's wishing a grand finale to your 2012 !