Sunday, February 19, 2012

Heights by great men reached and kept were not obtained by sudden flight but, while their companions slept, they were toiling (Stooping) upward in the night. - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (added TEB)

On Friday February 17, 2012 - 700 Sanibel Stoopers set a Guinness World Record on Bowman's Beach - Sanibel Island, Florida.

 Whether it's education, athletics, business, or hobbies; everything we pursue in life has it's pinnacle of success.  Runners have the Boston Marathon, world leaders have the Nobel Prize, B-level celebrities have Dancing with the Stars. I'm not a very competitive person. The only award I ever won as a kid was 2nd place in a 50 yard dash when I was 10. In high school I kept a pretty low profile.  As an adult I have been pretty satisfied to keep my hobbies & interests on a casual level except for beach combing.

Shells are my passion.  Finding them, learning about them, making things with them, & collecting more of them has been a pursuit of mine for many years. There are awards in shelling - that's what shell shows are for.  Unfortunately, my mermaid mosiac was 5 inches too wide to enter into the Sanibel Shell Show.  My dream of winning a Sanibel Shell Show award ribbon was dashed. There are other shows but my heart was set on the creme de la creme. What I lack in competative spirit I make up for in flexibility & resilience.  The opportunity to be a Guinness World Record holder called & I answered "Heck Yeah!".  I was to join 700 other passionate shell lovers doing our official stance known as the Sanibel Stoop. But why wait for 10am Friday morning when there is a minus .07 low tide at 3am?  

Enter my partner-in-shelling crime Shellbelle.  You would've thought we were a couple of 12 year old kids who couldn't sleep the night before a Disney World trip. Why wait? We left Englewood at 10pm Thursday night & pulled into Blind Pass on Sanibel Island at midnight.  After spending an hour or so on the sand bar & shell pile we headed over to Bowman's Beach hoping there wasn't a locked gate closing off the parking area. There wasn't and we took the first parking spot right up front.  We wheeled our beach carts the 1,000 yards out to the pitch dark beach crossing 2 small foot bridges & a long sandy path.  Setting up our little (not a camp site because that is highly illegal) area with our chairs, lantern, & tarp on the ground we proceeded to drink hot coffee from one of the 3 thermoses we brought and deciding which way to go on the beach- right or left. We wiled away the wee hours of the pre-dawn morning shelling both directions, listening to the birds, watching the moon, stars, & finally the sun rise.  

As the morning progressed a  steady stream of Sanibel Stoopers started filing on to the beach.  Shellbelle & I had not pre-registered so we made our way up the beach to stand in a humungous line to register & get our names officially in the record books.  It all got a little too hot, claustrophobic,  & chaotic in the staging area for our sleep deprived sensibilities.  The organizers were trying their best to instruct the Stoopers & keep confusion to a minimum but it was tantamount to herding cats.  Shellbelle & I left the line & walked back to our little not-a-campsite. Who needed their name in the Guinnuss World Book of Records anyhow?  Well, I do! That's who. I came to play!  Leaving Shellbelle to enjoy the beach I scrambled back to get in line.  After getting my name offically on the Guinness list I stood in another line with all the other 700 Stoopers because Guinness rules dictated that all participants had to enter the record setting area at one time. It was all over in 30 minutes.  We stood up straight from our "hiney's hovering" position to wave wildly to the helicopter taking our picures over head. So this is what it feels like to be a World Record Holder.... sweet.  I promised Shellbelle my new title wouldn't change things between us. I'd stay the same simple humble beach comber that she had always known & loved.

Champions are willing to pay the price to be at the top of their chosen endeavor.  In our case it was dark, dewy, & cold but we enjoyed a wonderful low tide on Bowman's Beach.

The Wonder Wheeler beach cart makes not camping on the beach so easy.

As the sky lightens up the early bird  beach combers start to arrive.

Bowman's Beach at sunrise. Our Sanibel Stoop trip was blessed with nice weather & no rain.

The lines were long but needed.  When setting a Guinness Record there are lots of rules that have to be followed .  All participants had to sign in & sign out after the event for their presence to count.

Every record setting event needs an official t-shirt.

Shell sistah Pam from iLove patiently waiting in line.

Heading to the record setting spot

Bloggers are always taking pictures.  That's the back of Capt. Brian Holaway's head & Pam.

Getting ready to assume the position.

We get last minute instructions & are told the helicopter is on it's way.

One, two, three, STOOP!

And hold that Stoop for 30 seconds to insure we don't get disqualified for any non-stoopers (also know as Stoopid)

Blogger Capt. Brian of CB's Observation's on the Water snapping some fotos from down under.

Looks like a massage table or an on-site Chiropractor would have been a good idea.

Are we done?

The helicopter takes a victory lap around the jubliant  World Record holding Sanibel Stoopers.

A good blogger has an eye for the photo op & this stooper in a caution vest was irresistible.

Pam is great at chatting it up & getting all the details.

What a fun day & great blogger friends to share it with. (L-R) Me, Capt. Brian, & Shellbelle

A Guinness World Record & a big honkin junonia... my work is done here.


  1. OH MY! I have been waiting for these photos! And now look at you...YOU are FAMOUS! And among some of my favorite people in the world...Shellbelle and Pam! I know you are still our humble beach comber...but your life it changed forever! What an amazing experience...something to tell and retell for years to come! I'm so happy for you...and proud of you! WAY TO GO!!! ♥♥♥

  2. Woo-hoo! What a cool thing to do! It's was like a blogger reunion there as well. Did you pick up a special shell to bring home as a souvenir of the event?

  3. I enjoyed your post a lot. While I might be willing to join you for the midnight shelling experience, I am less inclined to join the long line-up to be in the world record books, lol. Happy shelling and congratulations!!

  4. Congrats to you record holder! That is awesome! I think it's so cool that you and Shellbelle went early. Arriving before the crowd was smart. Did you find any goodies?

  5. Really a fun post, Karen!!! You had to hold your video camera and the stoop for 30 seconds...awesome!!

  6. Looks and sounds like a fun day with many shell-sisters... and brothers :-) And you're a world record holder, congratulations!!!

  7. Very cool Karen, thanks so much for sharing this with us, I only wish I coulda been there in person! What a blast!! You and I are going to have to meet one day and do some Sanibel Stooping!!
    I know how you feel about being part of all of that, you might not know about this but several years ago Virginia Tech had a similar thing that they formed a "VT Thanks You" formed with people that was to be taken by satellite to thank everyone for the support during the shootings. I was part of that, and was so proud!! I just wish I could've been at Sanibel to help with this....please know, I was there in spirit!!

  8. Oh, you guys are so committed. Love it that you got yourself into the guinness book. The shot of the stoopers is awesome. Frameworthy!!

  9. Sounds like quite a time. And ya'll started long before daybreak.


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