As we have mentioned in multiple posts, Periwinkle RV Park on Sanibel Island is one of our favorite places to stay. Despite the price ($55/night during the seven month[!] high season, no club discounts, very limited monthly discount), the fantastic location, interesting grounds, beach oriented activities, and sense of community among “The 49ers” in the RV section (so named after the number of RV sites) make it, by our measure, worth the price for at least limited periods. It is why we named Periwinkle one of the top three out of the 31 private RV campgrounds we visited in our 2015 year end wrap up.
So as we approached our planned departure date from Venice, and then learned that our hosts for our next stop were feeling under the weather after only recently returning from a cross country vacation, we scrambled to find an RV park somewhere generally along the route. Periwinkle fits that bill perfectly, and to our surprise this very popular and usually full winter destination happened to have a six day opening. So we locked it in and returned to the place we had left just over two weeks before.
Our average RV stay in 2015 was three days, so a six day stay anywhere is a luxury; a six day stay in Sanibel, though? Top notch. Now whatever beach, sunset location, island specialty store, restaurant, activity, social gathering or wildlife area at which we felt shorted during our previous stay got a visit from us during this one.
The downside of this visit? The weather. We had a good amount of rain and wind during our earlier stay in December, but this week surpassed that greatly. Two days of heavy rain, high winds, flooding, and even a 30 minute tornado warning received by automatic text that had us darting for the first the closest cement block building. Thus we spent half an hour with 25 of our closest friends the shower house.
No worries though, we had four days of decent weather to enjoy the island, and we took advantage of the time, especially after the day after storm passed, to shell on the nearest beach, finding a good variety of interesting things washed shore. Aside from actual shells, Rosemarie added to her growing hoard of sea urchin skeletons, and we even found a lightening whelk linked egg casing, which dries out into a pretty interesting decoration.
We also took a few hours to explore J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, a pretty amazing bit of mixed fresh and salt marsh-like land that serves as a major bird sanctuary. Aside from the man ospreys, we spotted at least one bald eagle, multiple types of heron (including a couple of apparently rare birds), cormorants, wild ducks, anhingas, and a significant flock of roseate spoonbills.
I also continued my quest to “clear” the more than one hundred geocaches from the island. The pursuit of said caches led to us meeting Ken and Ginny, who are responsible for placing and/or maintaining nearly half of the caches on Sanibel, as well as a couple of dozen more in other places. Not only did we have geocaching in common, they are seasonal RVers currently volunteering at the Darling National Wildlife Refuge. We met up with them to exchange stories and pick their brains about volunteer work in various desirable national or state parks in exchange for free RV camping.
Rosemarie also attended a class on shell crafting at the Sanibel Community House. The art involves creating things out of shells. Yeah, I’m failing at explaining this, so here’s a few examples. Made entirely of shells:
Now, Rosemarie aspires to that level, but the $2 class was a basic intro, allowing all participants to make a basic periwinkle flower, all supplies, er, supplied by the hosts. It also introduced techniques and tools to the participants that they might not otherwise have encountered.
After six days we loaded up, pulled in the slides and leveling jacks, disconnected, and headed for I-75 South towards Naples and then east to Fort Lauderdale and Coral Springs. We remain in touch with the Periwinkle staff, hoping for another surprise opening in late March as we start working our way north through Florida, visiting friends and family along the way.