I’m back home now and let me tell you, Toronto, Ontario is no Naples, Florida! The warm talcum powder sand that my bare feet became accustomed to has now been replaced with snow, snow and more snow. From flip flops to thermal socks and fuzzy slippers!
Ugh. Whaa whaa. Woe is me. Boo hoo. Suck it up, Donna.
No more whining. Instead, I’m going to warm up with a pictorial walk down vacay memory lane by sharing some of the photos I took in beautiful Naples.
What I love most about travel is the opportunity I get to experience an entirely different view of nature in all its glory: birds, animals, and vegetation unique to the area I’m visiting—daily portraits of a lifestyle that so contrasts with my home in northern climes.
There truly is nothing more exciting than leaving behind the everyday familiar and breaking out of the ordinary to give yourself the gift of a change of scenery. Travel is the tonic I crave. I wish I could do it more often.
In Naples we stayed at a house that backed onto a river. From the deck, we watched all sorts of turtles, fish and birds as they swam, foraged and played. Here are my backyard bird pictures:
Anhingas: These birds are such fun to watch. They swim in the river—body submerged, long neck bobbing above the water’s surface (at first glimpse, you think you’re seeing a snake rising from the water). Then they dry off by perching in a tree or sitting on land with their wings spread open in the sun. Every evening at around 6:pm, one by one they fly in to find their perch for the night in the trees on the other side of the river. Most of them have beautiful turquoise eyes.
Great Blue Heron and Little Blue Heron: I only saw the Great Blue a couple of times but a Little Blue could be seen foraging along the river at some point every day. I guessed he was gobbling the tiny minnows in there.
Glossy Ibis and White Ibises: Also seen foraging along the river were both types of Ibises. The Glossy is a rich burgundy colour and the White Ibises seem to travel mainly in pairs or groups. You’ll see them roaming around just about everywhere—in parking lots, on lawns, at the seaside. Their beaks remind me of tweezers!
Little Egret: I think that’s what this bird is. Though I’m not positive.
Muscovy Ducks: These ducks are everywhere. They’re quite tame and can even be pesky if you feed them. But they’re pretty, especially the black ones whose feathers shine like a metallic rainbow in the sunshine.
Sunset on the river was always such a peaceful time, a perfect ending to every day.
Gorgeous trees and plants: I love tropical vegetation, particularly the palm tree, of which there are over 2,500 varieties, believe it or not! My absolute favourites are the Bismarck Palm with its silver fan-shaped leaves and the Royal Palm with a trunk that appears as solid as concrete and fronds that look as soft as Ostrich feathers. I discovered one called the Pandanus Palm, with round fruit that looks like small pineapples. I’m not sure if the fruit is edible but it is pretty.
Of course, being in Florida we passed a number of farms with orange groves when we went for a drive inland. We also saw orange trees growing in a few neighborhood yards.
I saw an interesting tree at Big Cypress, as well as at the Naples Zoo and at Lowdermilk Park called the Strangler Fig. This tree seems to wrap itself around another tree as it grows, while still allowing the other tree to grow as well.
Yards in Naples are beautifully landscaped (fortunate for them, it’s summer all year round) and there are so many gorgeous varieties of flowers and shrubs to plant. My favourite has always been the Bougainvillea but there are so many splendid blooms; if I owned a home down there, I know there would be an explosion of colour in every corner of my yard!
Beaches, beaches and more beaches: With Naples right on the Gulf of Mexico, there are endless miles of beaches to enjoy. My favourite is Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, though they’re all pretty breathtaking. The draw for me at Delnor-Wiggins is that it is a seashell-collector’s paradise. Is there such a thing as Seashells Anonymous? If so I need rehab because I have a serious addiction!!! It doesn’t matter that I have a cupboard loaded with shells I’ve collected from past beach trips, I simply could not walk past a beautiful shell without scooping it up. Of course I am back at home with yet ANOTHER carton filled with shells. Looks like I have some more shell art projects ahead to work on. 🙂
Aside from collecting shells there was no end of entertainment in the form of wildlife antics. I often felt as if I were watching a live documentary unfold—big pelicans and snowy egrets hanging around all day in the sand beside the fishermen, waiting patiently for a morsel of bait to fall off someone’s hook. It’s pretty funny to watch the fisherman who forgets to tighten the lid of his bait pail because the minute his back is turned, one of these birds will sneak up and attempt to steal the contents.
Very often between about 4:pm and sunset, we would catch sight of dolphins playing in the surf. It feels like magic, watching these amazing creatures leaping and rolling like little kids right there before your eyes. At times they were only a few yards away from shore. It was a spectacular sight to behold. I got a picture of a fin but was too mesmerized watching them to capture any more than that.
At the end of every day spent at the beach listening to the waves washing up on the sand; collecting shells in the sunshine; observing the birds and sea life; watching the sun dip behind the horizon, turning the sky into a plein-air canvas awash in hot pink and fiery orange, soft violet and glowing ruby; I would return to the house with the deepest sense of calm and well-being. Who needs a spa? The seashore is the most rejuvenating place on earth.
My last set of pictures were taken while sitting on the backyard deck. This little lizard, which I think is called a Brown Anole, is the size of my little finger. He would pop out from under the deck every once in a while to soak up the sun.
So long, Naples.