Friday, March 4, 2011

Sometime I wish the aliens would abduct me and crown me as their leader. - George Noory

This was the packet of shells that came when you paid admission to the shell show

People give me a quizzical look when I tell them I am heading for the mothership.  My friends & family know that means I'm packing the truck up with my shelling gear & heading for Sanibel Island. On one of my first pre-dawn drives down as I was crossing the San Carlos overpass that leads to Sanibel the lights reminded me of the spaceship in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  I start laughing every time I cross that overpass thinking it's transporting me to close encounters of the shell kind. 

 I live 2 hours north of Sanibel travelling by Interstate. Now, if I had a boat Sanibel is just 30 miles south of me as the seagull flies. But alas no boat so I must drive.  I usually get on the road early - about 4am.  That puts me on the beach before sunrise. Early morning shelling is the best.  As the sun rises I get to  watch the beach wake up.  Not to mention I have the entire thing to myself unless another crazy sheller got up as early as me. 

Can you believe with all the beachcombing I do that this was my first Sanibel shell show or The 74th Annual Sanibel Shell Fair & Show 2011 to be exact.  The show consists of an outdoor Shell Fair which had shell crafted everything for sale.  Shell flower arrangements, shell mirrors, shell critters, shell jewelry oh and just plain old shells for sale.  There were past shell show winners/artists doing demos of their crafts like sailor's valentines & shell critters. There were live shell exhibits by the junior members of the club. There were fossil shells & a display of apple snails and how they were cleaned. There was popcorn, smoothies, & BBQ. I haven't even gone inside yet.

Inside The Community House is divided into 2 rooms - one for the scientific displays and the other for shell craft & art. I wish I could convey how overwhelming to the senses the Shell Show is. Since I was there on opening day it was packed. There was no apparent flow to the foot traffic so you just had to keep moving.  I just snapped pictures my first time through. I went outside and found a nice quiet spot and chilled out for a bit then dove back  in for a second go-through. 
This was my favorite
Sally Webber  made her own t-shirt from pics of shells from her own collection.  She is a past winner from 1999
The Shelling Queen of Sanibel Pam (right) of i Love Shelling blog with the queen mum (left)

I spent about 3 hours there soaking in all that shelling mayhem. I bumped into Pam of i Love Shelling.  She has some great stuff on the show on her blog. Also Fine Shell Art blog was there.  Her pictures are much better than mine. Local shell guide Captain Brian was there too. 

Enough, the Sanibel sandbar is calling my name. Low tide was at 5:30pm so it was a perfect time to get out to the sandbar and start looking for goodies. Now, I usually park at 5 am not at 2pm in high tourist season & on opening day of the social event of the Sanibel season. After circling 2 parking lots 3 or 4 times each a spot finally opened up - Thank you Lord! I loaded up my wonder wheeler beach cart with my cooler, shell gear, & chair and found a prime location right in front the sand bar. Yep the only thing between me & that sand bar is about 100 feet of cold water. I'm gonna get wet - that's for sure.

Sometimes as a blogger you can get so caught up documenting things for your blog that you can miss actually "being" somewhere.  Opperative word - being.
So that's why I don't have pictures of the current in the water as it rushed out between the shore & the sandbar. Or the swimmers laughing & floating with the current like it was a lazy river ride at a water park. No pics of me eating the perfect Publix sub and drinking an ice cold St. Arbuck's vanilla latte.  No pics of me having the sand bar entirely to myself except for about 3 or 4 hundred sea birds. 

 I don't have pictures of the nice couple from Lutz who I chatted with about their shelling adventures. Or the momma whose daughters begged her to swim out to the sand bar with them.  She went to her car & got the boogie board.  They held onto her like little cubs as they swam the 100 feet across. I watched them as they frolicked on the sand bar. That momma just made a memory forever in her daughter's hearts.  They were beaming when they got back and came over to show me all their finds. The shell show was awesome but the real action is always on the beach.
You have to swim to get to the sand bar
The tide was going out so you have to be careful of the current
Lots of fighting conchs, nutmegs, and another blasted piece of Junonia
Juvenile banded tulips, horse conch, & true tulip
Lots of nutmegs
So save the date - 2012 is the 75th Anniversary Shellabration.  To kick off the festivities the Shell Fair committe is organizing an event for the Guinness Book of Records. They want to assemble 1,000 people doing the Sanibel Stoop on the Causeway Islands. We will all be wearing 75th Shellabration t-shirts and there will be an arial picture taken.  COME ON!  See you there!