Florida 2013

February brings the most awful cold weather to Canada forcing us to gather our puppies and hightail it south. Brent and I aren’t fond of the cold and neither are Taz, Poco and Jackson. This year we decided to take it easy and not haul down our travel trailer. After “The Trailer Fiasco of 2012” we wanted to simplify and just take the canyonario. Even the bikes were stored inside the vehicle. The first order of business before we departed on our southern adventure was to find and secure a farm sitter. My best friend Billy offered to leave the big city of Toronto and come take care of the farm while we were away. How will a city boy handle the feeding, watering and cleaning of our horses, pigs, duck, dog and cats? I’m hoping Billy will write a guest spot and tell us how he made out while we enjoyed the 80F and sunshine of south western coastal Florida. One of our big concerns is our thoroughbred Turtle, as he’s a handful and Billy doesn’t have much experience with horses. We solved this problem by sending Turtle to a boarding facility for the month. He’ll be pampered at the horse spa while we’re away and Billy will be left to care for two of the most easy going mares in all of Ontario. Autumn and Splash won’t cause any trouble, but our goat Nelly might be a handful.

Turtle’s digs while we’re away

Our next problem was Gus. Our big kuvasz isn’t fond of people and does not tolerate his space being invaded by anyone regardless of how many legs you have. Luckily, our fears were unfounded as Gus walked up to Billy gave him a sniff and deemed him A-Okay.

Gus likes Billy

With the farm looked after and truck packed we only need to start driving. Proudly, we were only an hour later than our scheduled departure time. We drove hard the first day. That is, Brent drove hard while I slept after working till 2am and getting up at 6am to head south. I didn’t find the first day all that tiring as I slept through a few snow covered states. The puppies were awesome as usual in the car and only woke up when we arrived at our hotel room.

Day two began slowly as we made our way south to our next hotel in Jacksonville, Florida. We stopped at a lovely outdoor patio in Georgia where the temperatures soared into the 80s shocking us and the puppies who still had their winter haircut. Even the locals said this is unseasonably warm and they were disappointed to not have cooler weather. Our waitress told us its so hot in Georgia in the summer that they look forward to winter and the cooler days. I can’t imagine.

Taz, Jackson, and Poco at our first Georgian patio!

Jacksonsville, FL came and went until we were on our way to the rented house in Cape Coral. Brent’s folk. After a day of relaxing we went to the flea market in Fort Myers knew we needed. We also shopped at a pottery and bamboo store where we spent far more and found all sorts of fun stuff. We bought on a four foot tall pot and a multi-coloured pottery sun to hang on the wall.

How we’re going to get this stuff home without breaking I’ll never know. Brian and Ellen had been at the house for a week and had it all set up including dinner for our 4pm arrival. We made a handful of stops along the way through central Florida in search of delicious oranges. We pulled into an market with an orchard and decided to have a quick look around. We walked down the single lane road past a clump of trees and saw a nice bungalow surrounded by fence with no trespassing signs. We were startled by loud shouting and turned to watch a twelve year old boy come out of a small shed carrying a shot gun with an older man following behind. This was enough to make us turn around and head towards the market. They didn’t have the good oranges, so we carried on our way discussing gun ownership and children as we hit the gulf coast. The single story rental house is very spacious with a large living area and a 2400 square foot lanai with a pool and a hot tub. No bugs to worry about biting Taz and the inside is big enough to play a rousing game of fetch.

Hello, Florida digs!
Getting some food at the flea market
The Bomb
Dinner on a patio
Dinner on a patio 2

After all those days in the car and then shopping we needed a day of biking, so we left the house in the morning and set our sights on Rotary Park a mere 5.5 miles from our house. We were winded when we arrived, but happy to have expended some energy and hopefully kept that little extra weight off as we’ve been eating terribly the past few days. The puppies loved the bike ride in their buddy riders (except Taz who still loves the basket best).

Taz and Poco are careful navigators
On our bikes: you are the wind beneath my years

Rotary Park was lovely with a bike path going around the entire park and a special fenced off leash area for the dogs. Unfortunately, Cape Coral charges an annual $30 per dog fee to access the park, so we found a shady spot to chill. There was a bit of wild life in terms of birds and butterflies, luckily we did not see any alligators.

Brent chilling
Amy chilling wtih Taz and Poco
Crocodiles!

With a perfect weather day on the horizon and the red tide receding we planned a trip to Dog Beach located in Bonita Springs, Florida along the Gulf coast. This was not our first time to dog beach and hopefully it won’t be our last. With the sun shining and a cool breeze off the gulf we walked the beach and then sat to watch the dogs play in the water. Taz ran wildly with a border collie and then laid in the diamond sparkling water to cool off. Jackson took a few dips into the water and Poco walked with us down the shoreline. It was an amazing beach day.   We ended this day with a trip around Sanibel Island. We found a pet friendly patio for a late lunch with fancy drinks and very friendly folks who took great delight in the puppies. An after lunch walk let us to the Cupcake Shop where it was Cupcake Countdown time. Lucky us got buy one get one free cupcakes! A lazy drive back to the house and everyone relaxed for the night. We’re planning another trip to the flea market, a trip to a state park and possible a drive to Key West. So far this has been a wonderful adventure, except for the oil leak. We’re staying in Cape Coral, so to get to Dog Beach in Bonita Springs you have to drive through Fort Myers. There is only one bridge to the north that will get you to the little sand bar known as Dog Beach. It took us a very long time to reach our destination as the traffic in Fort Myers was outrageous, but it was worth the trek to watch the pups playing in the water and having discussions with other dogs. It’s always so entertaining going to Dog Beach where dogs run free into the ocean and people stand by and watch delighted. We also saw a pair of dolphins playing in the water near shore. Dog Beach is a great spot for a photo shoot! This is Dog Beach with the tide just going out. Each day the tide comes in and washes Dog Beach clean (but you’re still expected to pick up your dog’s poop!)

A beautiful dog beach

Taz caught in the awkward phase of her blasting run down Dog Beach. Jackson is shocked to see anyone run so fast.

Taz blasting down the beach

Taz was so hot after her run down the beach in 83F weather that she had to cool off in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The water dances like diamonds in the sunshine.

Taz in the water like diamonds

Brent, Taz and I hanging out on Dog Beach. Love this beach where the dogs can run free.

Another great-looking dog beach couple

Jackson is not fond of the water, but the water’s edge is so calm that he couldn’t help wandering in to cool off in the balmy Florida heat on Dog Beach, Bonita Beach.

Jackson braving the edge of the fair sea, and Taz

One of Poco’s favorite games is to chase splashes in the water. He can’t see anymore, but he can hear the splash and played a little bit with Brent.

Brent and Poco playing the splash game

I’m standing on Dog Beach watching these two dolphins play in the wake of the boat. It was so cool I wished I’d had the kayaks to paddle out and have a visit with these friendly creatures.

Dolphins playing beside a boat across from the dog beach

This is why we call her Super! There is no way an eight pound shih poo can out run and out maneuver a border collie, except perhaps a Super Taz. She was so incredibly fast! All four paws off the ground too!

Even a border collie can’t catch the super Taz. Look at her go!

Again. All four feet off the ground! Super Taz is in her prime of her life. Hard to believe this little one can move so fast.

Run, Taz, run! All four paws off the ground – pulling a Poco!

All three puppies having a relaxing moment with daddy.

Three dogs and a Brent

After our long drive to Dog Beach we took a day to lay by the pool. With temperatures soaring into the mid 80s F we could play in the pool and sit in the hot tub. Taz would get outrageously upset that she couldn’t get into the pool to get us while we played a rousing game of paddle ball. She was an excellent retriever and brought our ball back to us whenever we hit it outside the pool, however this game involved a lot of barking.

Brent and I having some fun in our pool

Taz was frustrated to not find a safe way into the pool. She had a great time running around the pool.

2 gorgeous girls at the pool. Hello, honey!

After a day of rest Brent, the puppies and I made a day trip to investigate Sanibel Island where all the beaches are dog friendly. They still require leashes, but we enjoyed an afternoon of warm weather on a beach well known for shells. There were all shapes and sizes of shells all over this beach. The skies were blue and the sun was shining, but the water was remarkably cold.

Sanibel island Beach Day. How’s that cold water, Brent?

I finally got the right focus on the camera to make Jackson sharp against the back drop of the eastern edge of Algeries Beach on Sanibel island, Fl. The wind made for great pictures. Brent and I sat and read books on the beach for the afternoon before setting out to find a sunset.

Jackson the beachbum on Sanibel Island beach

The beach was about 30 feet wide and had an area of vegetation where Taz and Jackson went to investigate. The tromped through the grass and looked menacing in their adorable way.

Look at those beach bums! Jackson and Taz exploring the beach on Sanibel Island.

Great picture of Jackson shaking out his ears in the wind on Algeries Beach, Sanibel Island. I’m working on the sharp focus of the foreground and a blurred background. The beach was sharp with shells and the wind was strong, but the sun was warm and the ocean made some great sounds.

Jackson shaking it on Sanibel Island

At home in Southern Ontario Canada our winter sunsets tend to be bleak and grey. There is no colour. No bright golden colours to remind us of warmth. This is why I find the sunsets so fascinating on our trip to Florida in February. The first sunset is taken from our backyard in Cape Coral, Fl. The stillness of the water made for an incredible reflection.

Sunset from house on Cape Coral, Florida. Breathtaking.

The house in Cape Coral was beautiful with a lanai and heated pool. We backed onto a canal which provided a lovely back drop to our pool sitting. Unfortunately, Cape Coral is a very sparse area with few treats and many empty lots in the subdivisions. It was incredibly quiet and peaceful.

Sunset reflection from the house on Cape Coral, Florida.

After our day at the beach on Sanibel Island we stopped at the fantastic causeway beach on our way out of the island. We had to stop and watch the sunset over the island. We pulled out a blanket and sat on the beach with the puppies and watched as the sun set slowly over the Island. We had a beer and toasted a beautiful day in Florida.

Sunset on the Anibel Causeway. Gorgeous, isn’t it.

Causeway at Sanibel Island Sunet as the sky turned golden with light and warmth. We were in the perfect spot to have the palm tree highlighted in the middle of the setting sun. It was magical.

Sanibel Causeway Sunset

As part of the setting sun theme these were taken at the western edge of Punta Gorda. It seems like a secret spot we stumbled upon as we drove aimlessly in the hunt for a sunset. The sky turned golden and foreign as we watched and relaxed in the warmth.

Punta Gorda Sunset, Fl

This was one amazing sunset. Like little fingers from heaven spearing down to the earth.

Punta Gorda, Fl Sunset

Hard to believe the very next day was rainy on our adventure to Pine Island.

A rainy day on the Gulf of Mexico

A good day to drive around and check out places for next year!

Rain threatens us in Bonita Springs, Fl

The puppies in their stroller after an active day at Fisherman’s Village. See the next post for more on this adventure!

Dogger in Punta Gorda, Fl

Pet friendly peer to enjoy our shrimp pots and yummy lunchtime drinks.

Fishman’s Village in Punta Gorda, Fl patio lunch.

The shark is not real. It’s a fake. We would never participate in the anything that involved the death of another living creature for our entertainment.

The family

Brent and his favorite little girl!

Fisherman’s Village, Punta Gorda, Fl

After a long day at Fisherman’s Village Jackson settled down for a nap on his new blanket not realizing that Poco was under the blanket. Well done on the camo Poco!

Jackson didn’t realize Poco was under the blanket.

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