One of the great things about our full time RV travel pattern is our ability to return to favorite places without feeling like we are missing out on opportunities to see new ones, and Sanibel is definitely one of those spots. Along with Key West, we made Periwinkle Park on Sanibel Island a regular destination even before we were full time, back when we were doing weekend trips in The Barracuda.
Nowadays we try to work Sanibel into our winter itinerary for a week before and after our long stop in Key West. It’s the most expensive place we RV all year, $58 a night with no weekly discount, but we treat ourselves with the knowledge that for much of the rest of the winter we are enjoying vastly discounted daily rates at the Naval Air Station in The Keys. And for the second year in a row, we would further offset the Periwinkle costs by participating in a set of Naples markets bracketing our stay.
So Friday, December 1st, would be a busy day indeed. The morning saw us up bright and early setting up shop at the Bed Bath and Beyond market in Naples that we had done twice in 2016. Later that morning I returned to the nearby Naples RV resort and broke camp, bringing Serenity to the large vendor parking area behind the BBB. Once the market ended, we packed up, hooked up, and made the hour plus drive up through Fort Myers and across the causeway to Sanibel to check in and set up at Periwinkle Park.
And then we broke out the bikes for two hours of riding along the bike paths as part of Sanibel’s annual Luminary event, in which miles of pathways are lined with candle, sand, and paper bag luminaries and many of the merchants along the route host various events, often involving wine and hors d’oeuvres. We had planned our stay around this once a year extravaganza, having stumbled into it last year. After more than a couple of stops we wisely chose to turn around well before reaching the end of the luminary path, and made a few more stops on the return trip before capping the day off with live music at Huxsters, the market and deli store adjacent to our park.
The next day we began a mixed schedule of relaxation and beach time interspersed with furious activity to prep for, drive to, and sell at markets in Naples. The original plan, based on the market schedule from 2016, was to do a Saturday and Sunday event each weekend with a six day Sanibel stay in between such that there would be no need to run back and forth between the the island and Naples. Unfortunately, the Saturday market was moved to Friday, so it was either shorten the Sanibel stay or suck it up and make the drive. We chose the latter.
So day 2 may have been a day of rest, but day 3 had us back on the road for the Naples market on Pine Ridge, which for two years running has proved a much better vending opportunity than the BBB event. Given this, we will likely drop the BBB market entirely next time we are in the region; it’s just not worth the time and effort, particularly since we are essentially forgoing an extra day at Sanibel to work it. We had been on Sanibel for three days but only had one full day uninterrupted by sales events.
Because of that hard running first weekend, by day 4 we decided to extend the stay from a week to 10 days, and before the end of the week we stretched that to 13 days, tentatively moving our Tampa area plans to March of 2018 during our likely meandering exit from Florida.
This gave us the rest of that first week to truly enjoy the island without the looming threat of a complicated “markets plus departure” itinerary. For Rosemarie, this meant, above all, shelling. Aside from the joy she derives from it, we had heavily depleted the shell supply stockpile with the sales of so many shell crowns and other items. While in past years Rose had focused heavily on the stretch of the island between Bowman’s Beach and Blind Cut, this year she spent nearly as much time at the other end, near Light House Point.
The breathing space allowed us to settle into our island time lifestyle; social hour at the pond front deck, frequent sunsets on the beach, occasional trips to the library to take advantage of the high speed internet, and generally comfortable days in our excellent tree shaded site.
During our last trip to Sanibel we had purchased a box of Pencil Sea Urchin Spines from which Rosemarie made and sold a bunch of earrings and pendants. We finished our first week during this trip with a return trip to the seashell collector in the hopes of buying another box. Unfortunately he did not have a large selection of the larger spines, so we ended up just getting a select handful, along with a few other items Rose plans to transform into one of a kind jewelry.
Next post: another week in Saniblel, two more markets, and visits from friends.