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Plenty To Do At Pine island

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On: Tue, Dec 28, 2010 at 2:07PM | By: John Paeno

There was a lot to do last month and we had the opportunity to meet a lot of people. Pine Island's Creative Coast Weekend is always a hoot. You can catch live entertainment, refreshments, and fine art in the island's galleries. Last month the Snook Cowboy told stories around a bonfire at the Earth and Spirit Gallery (Storyteller's Corner). They have a huge coral stone fire pit with shell walkways, a gazebo, and stunning gardens with sculptures. Water fountains bubble from large ceramic urns. Under the starlight in these surroundings you can lose yourself in the stories of the past and the prophecies of the future. The stories start around sunset. Contact the Earth and Spirit Gallery for details at 239-282-1025. If you are a storyteller interested in sharing your stories on one of these nights contact me at or call 239-938-5342. Coming soon: Calusa Backwater Guide Co-op. Free to the public.

With the recent weather changes it has been hard to get on the water every day, but we head out when we get the chance. This time of year the snowbirds come in, and I don't mean the ones that drive cars. Roseate spoonbills, white pelicans, kingfishers, wood storks, and many others show up this time of year to spend the winter. Paddling adventures now bring new experiences and discoveries. Paddling into a back flat at low tide I came across hundreds of white and pink wading birds. I never cease to be amazed; it reminds me that this estuary is a cradle of life and one of the most diversified eco-systems in the world. The back bays and flats teem with life. Pine Island Sound, Charlotte Harbor, and Estero Bay boast the largest resident bottlenose dolphin population in the world. Your chances of a dolphin encounter are better here than anywhere else in the world. While these creatures are very clearly intelligent and curious, it is ill-advised to try to touch them. It sometimes is hard to believe that they are wild, but remember they are.

We have our trailer and kayaks set up behind the Bokeelia Pier on Pine Island and offer adventures in Back Bay and Jug Creek where the chance of a dolphin or manatee encounter is very good. We also offer historic and eco-paddles from Pineland to the "Hidden Lagoon" of the "Cushing Lost Manuscripts."

In Bonita Springs, we have set up a nice artist cabin where we both handle our kayaks and make art and replicas. The Riverside Park in Bonita Springs offers an assortment of events and things to do throughout the season. Last month we had "Taste of Bonita" and "Holiday in the Park." These events drew thousands and there was live entertainment, food, and even gifts for the kids. In addition to these events, we also had two "Evenings in Park"—one themed "Las Vegas Night" and the other "Hawaiian Night." On Vegas Night all you had to do was draw one card from a deck in each artist cabin and every half hour to forty-five minutes the best hand would win a door prize. We had Linda Liles singing and Tony Paeno played some folk guitar. Free refreshments and snacks were available for everyone, including wine and cheese. The park is home to six artist cabins, the Liles Hotel (Bonita Springs Historical Society Museum), a bandstand, water fountain, and riverside docking. It also adjoins two other parks—Depot Park and Island Park. This is beautiful old Florida and a sheer pleasure to walk. Our "Evenings in the Park" are on the second and fourth Fridays of the month, and each one has a theme. Contact me at Calusa Ghost Tours for more info.

We are right on the Imperial River and this river offers a look at the old cypress forests that once dominated the area. With the cold snaps we have been having the manatee have started to move up river and the chances of an encounter is increasing. We sometimes refer to it as "Manatee Madness." This is a very gentle and docile creature and if not chased or bothered will interact with man on its own. I have seen them scratch their backs on my boats or even nuzzle a man's hand as he held his hand still at the surface of the water. So, please have a great time here and come see us for your paddling Florida Adventure.

Seasonal events: The 2nd weekend of each month is Creative Coast Weekend on Pine Island. The 2nd and 4th Friday night of each month is "Evening in the Park" in Riverside Park, Bonita Springs. Check the city of Bonita Spring's website for free concerts and city events calendar at

To take a Calusa Ghost Tour by paddle contact John at 239-938-5342. You can contact us in Bonita for kayak rental or tour at 239-949-9156. For a motorized Calusa Ghost Tour adventure to Mound Key on the Estero Bay Express call 230-463-3600. Email me at or visit us on the web at and check out our You Tube videos. You can see our videos by going to You Tube and searching calusajohn. For Calusa Art, replicas, seminars, and demos check us out in Artist Cabin #6 in Bonita Springs, Riverside Park.


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