Peace Bridge Sidewalk

I almost missed this!

Once in a while I have to push myself to do something I just don’t feel like doing. Our day hiker meet-up was going downtown to a little park and I didn’t feel like going. I almost called to cancel, but I didn’t.  My bff, Linda, wouldn’t have let me anyway.

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Driving down the thruway, I would see people walking on this strip of cement in the middle of the Niagara River and wonder about it.  I thought it would be cool to walk “in” the middle of the Niagara River on that strip of cement.  I didn’t even know it was a park!  You see, there is a long cement pier that splits the Niagara River and separates the Black Rock Canal and the Niagara River.   The pier is very narrow and runs about a mile and a half.  It goes under the Peace Bridge that connects the United States and Canada.  Now that I made up my mind to actually go on this walk, I was really excited to check it out!

History lesson time!  The Native Americans had their own name for this island, but back in 1812 the English called this island Squaw Island.  That was the name that was used until last year when a Native American woman petitioned the Courts to change the name because members of the Seneca Nation of New York felt the name was racist and derogatory to Native American women. It is now called Unity Park.  The island is home to two parks – Broderick Park and Bird Island Pier – and you get to it by crossing a drawbridge.  Bird Island Pier was built in 1860 and there are a lot of people that fish here.  Apparently, you can catch some really big fish!  I only saw a dead one on the sidewalk, sorry no pictures of that!

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Broderick Park was the location of the former Black Rock ferry.  It linked Buffalo and Fort Erie, Ontario until the mid 20th century.  The ferry’s dock was used as an Underground Railroad station.  Escaped slaves would take the ferry or other boats across the Niagara River to Canada to their freedom.

This is also a great place to watch the sunset.  From my last post, you know I love the sunset on the water!  The evening walk began with a little geocaching, of course!  I was with Linda and when Linda is around, there’s a cache to be found!  The cache was in dire need of maintenance!  Which reminds me, I still need to log that!

We walked through Broderick Park and approached the narrow entry of the Bird Island Pier and looking to my left I could see the concrete thruway that Buffalo thought would be so smart to put right on the water. How beautiful.  NOT.  But, in the canal were crew boats.  The men rowers were grunting and rowing so fast!  The lady rowers were almost as fast, but not quite!  It was quite a sight.  We also saw the Edward Cotter Fire Boat.  This fire boat was built in 1900 and is still in use by the Buffalo Fire Department.

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I glanced up and noticed the Peace Bridge looming large above me.  I was going to walk right underneath it!  How cool is that!

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There are many birds that hang out along the rocks on either side of the pier.  Some even managed to leave their feet print on wet cement, leaving their permanent mark on Bird Island Pier!  Walking on the pier you had better watch where you plant YOUR feet!  The bird poop was everywhere! Although we noticed that they liked to poop on the left side more than right!

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At the tip of Bird Island Pier stands the glorious United States Flag.

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It was a gorgeous evening for a walk on the pier.  This wasn’t my favorite hiking destination; as I like my trails without cement.  But, it was fun to finally experience a place I’ve only looked at from a car window traveling down the thruway.

Now, back to the woods for me!

 

Sand Between My Toes!

Well, traveling in Southern Florida is nothing like Western New York or the Appalachian Trail.  The only thing similar is maybe how hot it can get! Florida is very flat and there are a lot of paved paths!

Sanibel Island is on the Gulf Coast of Florida near Fort Myers.  The Island is about 12 miles long and you get there by crossing a long bridge from Ft. Myers.  The main attractions (for me) on Sanibel Island are the (1) BEACH and (2) Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge.

The Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge comprises more than half the Island.  There is a Wildlife Drive that you can drive your car through, walk, or bike.  There are other trails that I didn’t get a chance to do mainly because it was very hot and also, I was on vacation and slept in or went to the beach!

At the Refuge you can see a lot of different kinds of birds like the Roseate Spoonbill (many people think they are flamingos, nope!), Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Ibis, Green Headed Night Heron, and many, many others.  Just naming a few.  Years ago I was avid birdwatcher, now, not so much.  I needed my Peterson Guide to help me identify them.  There is other wildlife on the Refuge like Alligators! (Remember, you can click on a picture to make it bigger!)

We looked and looked for Alligators, but had no luck here.

One early morning, I took a leisurely drive along Wildlife Drive.  I would drive a little, get out and walk and look and drive a little further.  It was so quiet, only fishermen were around.  I had the place pretty much to myself. Just me and a couple thousand birds!    It was very peaceful and calm and I enjoyed my walk about the Refuge very much.

We stayed at the Blind Pass Condos.  It was located on the Western end of the Island away from the restaurants, shopping and touristy things.  That was good and bad.  Good that it was quiet on our beach, bad that we had to drive to restaurants, shopping and touristy things!  That being said though, we were on Bowman’s Beach!  The sand was soft, the shelling was super and it was never crowded.  We rented bikes for the week for the kids and that seemed to help with their desire to explore.  Our condo was set up with two bedrooms and two bathrooms.  The owner thought of everything you might need for a beach vacation: beach towels, hats, beach toys, shelling tools, buckets, pool noodles, boogie boards, beach chairs, beach umbrellas, beach cart to lug it all, a cooler, even tennis rackets and balls if you wanted to sweat it out on the court.  It was nice to have a kitchen to keep food cost down; we only ate out for dinners mostly.

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The condo owner provided the big yellow sun hat for the big yellow sun day that I wore on Sunday and every day!

Back to the outside!  On our condo property there was a bridge that led to the beach.

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The bridge went over a murky lagoon that we could kayak or canoe in.  NO THANKS.  That’s where we saw our Alligator!!  In our entire week stay we didn’t see anyone kayaking or canoeing in that lagoon!  We also saw the Manatees here.  I think there were two big ones and a small one.  The pictures didn’t come out well.  My son’s girlfriend, Amanda, took the nice photo of the Alligator!  I shamelessly stole a few of these photos in this article from her Facebook!  Thanks, Amanda!

On the other side of the bridge was the BEACH!

I just realized I didn’t take many pictures of the beach during the day!

The fabulous thing about Sanibel Island is the amount of sea shells you can find and collect!  I think I brought home 10 pounds worth of sea shells!  I must have walked miles on that beach with my back hunched over scanning the waves.  The Islander’s call it “The Sanibel Stoop.”  It’s amazing I didn’t need a Chiropractic adjustment when I came home!  On the beach you will see taped off areas that are nesting grounds for sea turtles.   The little babies hatch and come out after dusk and follow the moonlight into the ocean, and if they see the lights in our homes they might be drawn the wrong way, so we had to close our blinds in our condo by 9:oo pm so the baby sea turtles would not be confused!

One of my most favorite times of day is sunset.  The beach seems to always have an incredible view of the sun disappearing.

And the sunset from the lagoon was stunning, as well.  Amanda took an amazing photo!

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At the Eastern end of the Island is the Sanibel Lighthouse.  We visited the grounds there and the beach.  The beach seemed rockier on this end of the Island and had more seaweed (yuck!).

Of course, I did a little geocaching!  I was close to finding 100 geocaches so I decided I would find my 100th geocache on the Island!  Dave and I went bike riding on the bike path, which is LOADED with caches.  Then I got the fever and we found a few more with the kids.

We also visited the Sanibel Island Historic Village.  It’s a group of original and replica homes and businesses from the beginnings of residency on the Island.  It was Carl and Amanda’s idea to visit and Dave and I tagged along.  We were glad we did, it was really interesting to learn about the hardships the Island pioneers dealt with.  There was no bridge back then and everything was brought to the Island by ferry.  The hurricanes that hit the Island would often completely demolish all the buildings and they would have to start from scratch.

On our way to the airport we stopped by the Henry Ford and Thomas Edison Museum in Fort Myers.  We walked about the gardens and were amazed by the banyan tree.  It was planted in 1925 and is believed to be one of the biggest banyan trees in the United States.  This is ALL ONE TREE!  Its limbs drop down to make it appear it is multiple trees, but is actually ONE TREE!  It is 400 feet tall and spreads nearly an acre!  These pictures just do not do it justice.  We all wished we could play in the limbs and climb through it, but it was all roped off.

In Tampa we checked out the Museum of Science and Industry.  With my Life Membership at the Buffalo Museum of Science we got in FREE!  Carl rode a bike that was on a tightrope high up in the air!  Carl also finally found a brain (see photo) and we studied all about the human body.

There was a really beautiful trail outside near where we parked.  Too bad we had a plane to catch; I didn’t have to time to do more than take a picture of the enticing trail head.

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I wanted to hike on this trail so much! Wish I had more time!

After a two hour plane delay, we were glad to be home.  I will miss the beach, the relaxing, and the important quality time spent with my son and his girlfriend and of course, my husband!

Until next time Sanibel Island!

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