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[ft-l] Cheeseburgers in Paradise

Not trail related, but a fun weekend if you care to read my report:

I spent the Memorial Day weekend camping out with the boy scouts on Cayo 
Costa Island in Southwest Florida.  The island is accessible only by boat and 
is three islands north of Sanibel Island for those who are somewhat familiar 
with the area.  There is a state park on the island as well as a wildlife 

Among the wildlife encountered:

Bald Eagle
Roseate Spoonbill
sea gulls
turkey vultures
frigate birds
wild pigs
Sand dollars
Sea Urchins
Large welks (not related to Lawrence)
and a cast of thousands of bloodsucking insects  :)

We arrived Friday evening and set up camp by a very bright full moon.  It 
took several trips in a motor boat to get all our gear and 16 people across, 
but the process was reasonably orderly and without trouble.  For several of 
the young boys, this was their first boat ride on the ocean and watching the 
rapture on their faces was a thrill to the rest of us.  As the weather was 
clear, we left our flies off and spent a comfy night with breezes countering 
the high temperatures.

Saturday morning was spent mostly on beach, fishing and boating activities.  
In addition to the motor boat, we brought a small motor jon boat, a canoe and 
a kayak that the scouts used in their adventures.  Because I had to lead a 5 
mile hike on Sunday morning, I used Saturday to explore the island's trails 
and walked about ten miles during the heat of the day.  About half of the 
mileage was either on the beach or in the surf with pleasant winds to make 
the walk comfortable.  I missed lunch, but was back in plenty of time for a 
killer dinner of filet minon wrapped in bacon, baked potatoes and corn on the 
cob. Easily the best campout meal I've ever eaten.

An evening thunderstorm caused us to put our flies on, but the rain passed by 
10 PM.  However, none of us was confident of the night time weather so we 
left the flies on that night.  The lack of a cooling breeze inside my tent -- 
I have a full rainfly -- made for a sweaty hot night, but sleep came 

On Sunday morning I led a 5 mile hike for the younger scouts who needed it 
for rank advancement.  Part of the hike was on the Quarantine trail which led 
to the site of the dockage where 18th century ships had to land and be 
checked out by an island doctor before being allowed to clearance to come 
ashore in Florida.  We also examined a small but old graveyard containing 
graves of people from the 19th century.  We also stopped at the ranger 
station and examined skeletons and artifacts from the island's history.

At noon, we made the 15 minute boat trip to Cabbage Key where the 
restaurant/bar immortalized in Jimmy Buffet's song  "Cheeseburgers in 
Paradise" is located.  Getting a table for 16 on one of the busiest weekends 
of the year required about 2 hours of patience, but the chance to turn young 
impressionable children into Parrotheads seemed a small price to pay.  ;-)  
Actually, I think the high point was showing them the dollar bill covered 
walls of the place.  There are many thousands of dollars taped and stapled to 
every square inch of available wall and ceiling space.  Along with the lack 
of air conditioning and the island style building, it created a wonderful 
ambience everyone should experience at least once.  The cheeseburgers weren't 
bad either.  Judging from the reactions afterwards, I think the scouts 
enjoyed our little trip to Cabbage Key.

I went for a canoe ride with the Scoutmaster after we returned and we paddled 
into a shallow lagoon south of our campsite and were rewarded by seeing many 
shellfish and seabirds.  The highlight was a bald eagle that flew overhead 
and then landed on a sandbar about 25 yards away from where we were paddling. 
 What a majestic bird! On the way back we got towed most of the way by two of 
the older boys who had gone out in the jon boat, but they made us paddle the 
last half a mile so they could taunt us from the beach.

Because of our late lunch, dinner came late but consisted of fresh sea trout 
caught by our intrepid fishermen -- augmented by some store bought catfish! 
-- along with potatoes and cole slaw.  The weather was much nicer Sunday 
night, so we decided to remove the flies and were rewarded with a comfortable 
night's sleep.  BTW, I've now grown accustomed to wearing earplugs each night 
when group camping.  Initially, wearing them bothered me, but after getting 
used to them, they really are a wonderful sleeping aid.

Monday morning was spent breaking camp and returning by boat to the mainland. 
 Seas were running 4 feet -- about twice normal and with a fully loaded boat 
made for an extremely wet and exciting ride.  Everyone enjoyed it immensely.  
I'd have to say this was one of my best scout campouts ever and seeing all 
the smiles on the boys' faces showed me they agreed as well.

Happy trails,

Solar Bear
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