A few weeks ago I celebrated my birthday. My bff, Linda aka MsBirder, knows I love hiking and so does she, so we set out on a birthday adventure of geocaching and hiking in Letchworth State Park. The park is in Livingston and Wyoming counties, New York and is about 14,500 acres. WOW! It has numerous waterfalls and it known as the Grand Canyon of the East. The gorge is about 600 feet deep in places and the Genesee River flows through it. The views are amazing!
Usually when I go to Letchworth State Park I end up at the same end of the park, seeing the same things. This time we went to the opposite end to see the Mount Morris Dam. The dam is not exactly in the park, but right next to it. It was built between 1948 and 1952 by the US Army Corps of Engineers. My bucket list includes the Hoover Dam, it must be massive compared to this little dam! It’s still a modern marvel how man can build something like this!
At this time we were losing our minds and just having a great time!
Linda was not trying to choke me, she was taking a funny selfie and I had to capture it!
Linda and I continued on to do some hiking. We weren’t exactly sure where we were going, but we had some coordinates for geocaches. The trail we took had a yellow blaze with the number 20 on it. I looked it up once at home and it is the #20 Highbanks Trail which is almost 5 miles. It follows the west rim on the northern part of the state park. The trail starts at the Mt. Morris Entrance and ends at cabin area C. We didn’t get that far, maybe 2 or 3 miles because I was hungry! There was a small ravine we had to carefully make our way down. Unfortunately for Linda, and fortunately for me and your viewing pleasure, Linda slid down on her butt. Here’s a very short video that she will have to forgive me for sharing. Love you, Linda!
It’s not poop! LOL!
We found a geocache and a little lean-to that was being re-built.
The face on the tree wasn’t the geocache, I forgot to take a picture of that! But, isn’t the face cool!
We hiked about 2 miles or so, maybe 3 and I got hungry! There is a restaurant in Letchworth called Glen Iris Inn. We had a great lunch there and visited the Middle Falls.
We made our way out of the park and headed home with the geocache app on. We made a quick stop in a cemetery for a cache and then a Christmas tree farm. I couldn’t believe how beautiful the Christmas tree farm was!
As we continued on we were stopped in traffic on the road. Apparently a horse had gotten loose. It was captured and thankfully no one was hurt, not even the horse.
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.
Back to the outside! On our condo property there was a bridge that led to the beach.
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!
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.
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!