All I need is a good dose of vitamin sea - Garfield and Tango Travel the Long and Winding Road - CycleBlaze

February 28, 2022

All I need is a good dose of vitamin sea

Naples bike ride #2

We were both up early today as we intended to do a longer ride over to Marco Island. By 9 am Garfield was loaded and rolling west.

Unfortunately we had to ride busy Collier Rd for most of the way but it did have a bike lane on it. Despite it being a Monday and a work day, the traffic was still incredibly heavy with a constant stream of people going to the island. I wondered if they were all locals or tourists or a mix? Oh well, time to just settle into my seat and enjoy the area. 

We passed some retail areas before it changed to mangrove swamp on one side. The other side had some high end developments - including a fancy RV resort (only big coaches allowed) and a golf club community. The sign there said the homes ranged all the way to over 3 million dollars. That's a bit out of our price tag!

Our route was flat today (as is usual in southern Florida) except for a couple of big climbs over the bridges leading to the island. They went up quite high and the effort to reach the top had us both huffing and puffing. 

After the first bridge, our nice bike lane disappeared and we had a choice of fighting traffic on the shoulderless road or getting on the sidewalk (the signs stated this was a "shared use trail" for walkers and cyclists - we weren't impressed). We chose the sidewalk.

Don fought the sidewalk for a few blocks as we rode by homes at first, then got into a retail area where there were numerous driveways, and worry about cars pulling in and out without watching for us. As soon as we found a side road to take we exited that madness and guess what? Yup - found bike lanes again. Weird! It reminded me of Key West.

We were hoping for some beach/ocean views and thought that this road would take us to the one to the north end of the island. It was an enjoyable ride as we passed many beautiful custom homes and a marina. But Don had warned me that when he had looked on-line for bike routes on the island, he had discovered that most of the side roads didn't go through and that was the case with this one. Ok, guess we turn around. Sigh.....

It was back to the busy road and sidewalk riding until we found a sign for the beach. That side road did take us to a beach but when I walked over to take a peek, all I saw was a little white sand and a bay ringed by mangroves. Not what I expected at all!

Well, guess it was back to the busy road and more sidewalk riding. I was sure not thrilled with Marco Island at this point! 

We kept going a little further past many retail shops and high rise condo buildings that I'm sure had nice ocean views. After a few more blocks we found a path between the buildings that indicated that it led to a beach. 

While I  babysat the bike (no bikes allowed on the beach), Don walked over to see what he could find. He came back saying it was an actual beach on the ocean! Nice, but I didn't feel like going to check it out right now as we still had many miles to ride.

From here we back tracked to a road that took us off the island. As before, when we got off of the busy road, we found bike lanes, nice homes and light traffic. 

One thing we saw all over the island was that most of these homes backed up to  canals leading to the ocean and each had their own boat slips. Many also had screened in pools or patio areas. Quite nice but pricey I'm sure!

This road eventually led us to another big bridge and back to the mainland where we found mangrove swamps and lots of water. Part of the area was the Collier-Seminole State Park. We had considered camping there as they had openings but when Don read some reviews on-line, they all complained about mosquitoes. No thanks! We had enough of that in the Everglades.

After a few more miles, we finally reached Highway 41 where we turned north back to return back to Naples. There was a nice bike trail on the west side of the highway and we took that until it ended. At that point, we had no choice but to continue on the shoulder of 41 which was fine. 

Despite this being a through road between Miami and Naples, it doesn't have heavy traffic. So it was a nice ride along the canal where we saw lots of egrets but not much else. The worst part was that we were now fighting a headwind. On the earlier part of the ride, we had been cruising along at 16-17 mph but the wind slowed us way down to 11-12 mph. Still not bad, but it did take effort.

A few more miles took us into the outskirts of Naples, busy traffic and noise. But it wasn't far now to our RV park and home. Whew! What a day! Except for the sidewalk riding, we were pleased with the ride, but I think we'll pass on going out to Marco again. At least on a bike. 

After we rested, rehydrated and cooled off for a couple of hours, we got cleaned up and drove back over to the island for dinner. I had researched seafood restaurants and found that one we had passed on our ride was rated quite highly. So we headed there to have dinner. 

Despite arriving at the restaurant (the Snook Inn) at 4, the parking lot was packed and it looked very busy. We thought we might have to park elsewhere and walk, but luckily someone pulled out and we snagged a spot. 

This place didn't take reservations but we didn't think it would be this busy during the week. Especially at this early hour. We would have preferred to sit outside, but the wait was an hour while we could be seated indoors right then. It wasn't too busy inside, so we opted not to wait.

We had a nice view of the bay near the windows and enjoyed looking at all of the fancy boats passing by us. Each of us tried some different fish dishes tonight and while both were tasty, they weren't nearly as good as the meals we had in the Keys. I chose snapper while Don had a platter of different fish and shellfish. Neither of us could finish our plates so we took quite a bit home. 

I had hoped to watch the sun set over the ocean, but we didn't want to deal with finding parking near the beaches, so we just headed back, satisfied with our day. 

As we went over the causeway bridge to Marco Island, we had nice views of the marina (check out those boats!).
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Many of the homes we passed today were built in this Italianate style.
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At the marina we came across this interesting indoor stacked boat storage. While we've seen the outdoor variety, we had never seen a building devoted to storage.
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I'd love to pick up some of these shells on the beach.
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The ocean!
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This was quite a large beach but it looked quite crowded near the water.
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Lots of high rise condo buildings on the island.
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My dinner tonight was grilled red snapper with coconut rice. The snapper was ok, but not as tasty as the mahi I had in the Keys. But the rice was really good and the orchids a nice touch. I don't think I've ever had flowers on my plate before!
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This was quite an interesting boat - a cycle boat where everyone pedals to move the paddle wheel. Maybe a few drinks helps:)
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Today's ride: 40 miles (64 km)
Total: 499 miles (803 km)

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