One of our goals here was to ride a section of the 110 mile bike trail on the dike that circles Lake Okeechobee. We tried to do so yesterday, but wherever we tried to get on the trail, the area was closed and under repair. We've heard that the lake level is much higher than usual due to excessive rain, but aren't sure if that had anything to do with it. Very frustrating!
We've enjoyed nature viewing and it's a safe thing to do during these COVID times but we don't want to do so every day, so we decided to take our bikes to Sanibel Island, which has 25 miles of paved off-road bike trail which cover virtually the entire island. We were there previously in January 2008 and remembered crowds of tourists and having a hard time finding a place to park. Beach parking was permit-only for locals or $5/hour.
Things were quite different today. We were allowed to park for free at the visitor center and rode about 18 miles of the island passing occasional other tourists. The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas tends to be less touristy and perhaps the perils of travel these days were also a factor in the reduced population. Our bike ride included lunch at a restaurant with many outdoor tables that felt safe as a gentle breeze cooled us off and blew the cooties away. We can't remember the last time we ate in a restaurant where someone actually served us. It almost felt like normal times had returned, except for wearing a mask before and after we ate. Sanibel is famous for sea shells and the beach was still overflowing with them and the lighthouse was beautifully decorated for the holidays. But we can stay at the beach on our side of Florida for free anytime and so we shall.