I did some reading about the Island before we even left home so I knew two things about it: 1) We would have to cross a scary bridge to get there. 2) There was only one motel on the Island.
The bridge. Yes, I hate crossing bridges - have since I was a child. But I told myself we would have to cross a lot of bridges and a lot of water in order to go and see what we wanted to. I guess that helped some because I didn't get as freaked out as I usually do.
This is the Gulf Breeze Motel where we stayed. It has been owned by the same family since 1982. Nothing wrong with staying here except we missed the lower winter rates by two days. It was clean, comfortable, close to the bay side and the beaches.
Which is were we headed as soon as we unpacked the car. It was a bit windy and cool, but oh so much better than what we had left behind in Iowa.
I limited myself the number of shells I would bring home from each beach. The little one at the bottom was still hinged together when I found it. I tried packaging it so carefully, but of course it was in two pieces when I got home.
Indian Shell Mound Park is one of the bird sanctuaries on the Island. We heard more birds than we saw except for these two guinea hens. I was hoping they would make a noise because I've forgotten what they sounded like from when we had white ones when I was a kid.
The historically significant park was so named because of mounds of shell middens found here - mounds composed of discarded oyster shells. These mounds date to the same Mississippian period (1100 to 1550) as the other mounds we visited.
The Audubon Bird Sanctuary is the largest on the Island at 164 acres. Here Bud is on the pier at the pond in the middle of this birders' mecca reading about what can be seen here. Alligators were on the list, but we didn't spot any. (Thank goodness.)
However, I did get a picture of this turtle though it was very shy. What birds we saw were too far away to identify or even see in the pictures I took of them.
Our day had begun when I asked the motel clerk for a recommendation on where to go for breakfast. He suggested the country club which was open to non-members. I told Bud, "This is going to be a pricey breakfast." When we drove into the parking lot, there were no other cars. We wondered if they were even open. But they were and it was a surprisingly cute little restaurant - not at all the fancy place I was expecting. We were seated at a table overlooking the gulf. My breakfast choice included a side of grits. My first on this trip. We're in the south now, hun.