Brandt and I are in the Netherlands! The mouse insisted on playing from three to four in the morning, but otherwise we had a good night, sleeping until 9:30 local time. We borrowed my cousin Marijne’s mamafiets (I’m not sure what makes it a mamafiets–it has hand brakes and gears so it’s a much better ride than an omafiets) and cycled to the train station to meet my friend Deirdre, coming in from Delft.
We did some eating and shopping and despite drizzling for our ride to town, the weather was beautiful (beautiful=sunny, but still very cold). We first stopped for a drink in Grand Cafe Brinkmann and Brandt played with a little dutch brother and sister until we were told to keep our kids off the floor. Brandt’s become quite the little lover and repeatedly hugged the little girl. He hugs properly, around the shoulders now…last week he was hugging his friends around the neck, so maybe more like choking. I (and the recipients) like this method better. Brandt took a nap soon after (chasing and hugging is tiring work) so he missed out on his first uitsmeiter, but once he woke up we found a herring booth. He wouldn’t eat the haring, but he did like stabbing the pieces with a toothpick, dipping in uitjes, and feeding to me. We’ll try again tomorrow.
We got up and out early enough to rent kayaks at Tarpon Bay at eight. I’d been hoping to do this all week, but getting papa bear and baby bear (moreso papa bear) unhibernated early in the morning is quite an undertaking. The kayaking was awesome! Tarpon Bay Explorers had a nice trail marked out, but it was quite hard. Dan did most of the paddling while I tried to keep Brandt in the boat. He was mostly content to point at birds and skim the water with his hands or feet, but I could tell he really wanted to jump in. He was surprisingly OK in the life jacket (they’ve passed them out in swim class a couple times and he’ll have nothing to do with them).
I had really hoped to see a manatee, but we didn’t have the energy to paddle out to the mouth of the bay. However, on our cycle up to Tarpon Bay we saw an armadillo and a bunny. None of us had seen an armadillo before. I noticed its ears first and thought it was a rabbit while Dan noticed its shell first and thought it was a turtle. Brandt, of course, called it a bird.
Since we were up and ready to go early enough to get breakfast before eleven, we went to Sanibel Bean. The bagels were nothing fancy, but the coffee was great. And the photos on the walls of people holding I heart The Bean bumper stickers all over the world were so cute that I wanted to send one in, too (but the feeling passed). Riding back home from Sanibel Bean, some old dude took a look at Dan and said, “Bad idea, dude.” I think he didn’t notice the bike seat and assumed Brandt was sitting on the top tube. Dan thinks he was commenting on Brandt’s outfit of red hawaiian shorts (Dan doesn’t like ’em) with blue t-shirt and yellow bike helmet.
Dan needed to stay in and work for a bit today so Brandt and I took a massive bike ride. We headed all the way east to the lighthouse, but made a bunch of stops on the way: Sanibel Historical Village to see if it was worth going back when it’s open (nah), Sanibel Community Park to ride a chipmunk, the park at Periwinkle Place to ride on a centipede, and Pinocchio’s Ice Cream in Old Town Sanibel for a mango smoothie.
The lighthouse itself was heavily mosquitoed so we didn’t stay there too long. Dan says the beach up there is supposed to be really nice so we might head back at some point. B fell asleep in the bike seat just a few minutes from home which turned into a nice two-hour nap while Dan finished up working. The cycling one-handed while holding the baby upright really isn’t that hard, I was happy to learn.
Dan had wanted to ride along east on West Gulf/Middle Gulf/East Gulf to see that part of the island, so that’s what we did. We were a bit disappointed that we couldn’t see the beach (all the houses blocked it), but they certainly were pretty plantation-style houses. But even better than the lovely houses, we saw a bobcat. Yes, a bobcat! It just ran across the street right in front of us. Brandt doesn’t sign cat yet, so he just called it a dog.
On the way home we had a dinner of appetizers at McT’s. The seafood bake was *so* good. We didn’t remember to save room for the “almost world famous mud pie,” though. And we saw a snake in the bike path right by Biddles Bucket. Brandt missed it, too bewildered by my freaking out. Dan didn’t know what I was going on about, either, but I finally got out “Snake, snake!” as it slithered out of his path.
The picture is our modified hands-free biking. Yesterday Brandt decided he wanted to do the steering (you know, because he’s a toddler now and has to do everything himself) so he repeatedlly pried at Dan’s hands, trying to get him to let go. This morning I discovered if he can’t be distracted by pretending there’s a bird just up ahead, you just have to lift your fingers and declare “No hands!”
We’ve escaped the Vegas heat to enjoy the Florida heat. Dan has fond childhood memories of vacationing on Sanibel so that’s where we are. I’m just excited to be anywhere in Florida for the first time. And the island is super bike-friendly so that’s a bonus.
This morning we rode our bikes to breakfast at the Over Easy Cafe and then over to the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. I was hoping for a nice shady jungley area to walk around and play with manatees, but it was a four-mile long wide exposed car/bike/ped road and it was hot! But it was very pretty and we saw lots of birds and jumping fish and even an alligator. One thing that struck me as odd about the refuge: people were allowed to catch fish and crabs. So I guess it’s only a refuge for certain critters. On our way to the refuge we saw our first turtle along side the bike path.
All the excitement was a bit much for Brandt and he fell asleep on the ride home. It’s bad for babies to sleep in a bike seat because the weight of the helmet is too much on their slumped over head (or something like that) so I convinced Dan he needed to hold Brandt’s head up with one hand while rushing home. Thank goodness we put the bike seat on his bike! (We rented bikes, but we brought the Bobike Mini and Brandt’s helmet with us rather than rent a crappy bike seat and helmet here.) I tried to keep up, but gave up in the end and Dan and Brandt sped on home ahead of me. I had a flashback to Oma taking Alex and me for bike rides on Terschelling, shouting “You kids keep up!”