Settling in at Our Ocean's Reach Condo

Bright and early start to Day 2! We hit the beach on our last day at Casa Ybel Resort just after sunrise to find abundant sea life eating their morning meal and TONS of bait fish swimming close to shore in the shallows. I even spotted what looked like a piece of seaweed floating in the water - but was actually a juvenile lookdown fish. He was my first catch of the week! We also saw two stingrays, pelicans, more live sand dollars, and a big fish that we couldn't identify (maybe a snook?) 

Mr. ArtSea Chic had the most amazing find of the entire trip - a medium sized empty lightning whelk!!

Gosh we both were so excited! It was hard to find any good sized empty shells, so this one definitely made the keep list. So proud of him. :)

When we were walking back to our suite to start packing to check out, a random pink balloon appeared just in front of the first sandbar, drifting closer to shore. Couldn't let a seagull or pelican try and eat it, so I went out to get it and bring it back.

Checked out of our suite at 11 AM, and headed to get some brunch at Casa Ybel's Coconuts Pool Bar & Grill (we were hungry after that beach stroll!). Casa Ybel has a gorgeous casual pool setting surrounded by palm trees and just steps from the beach.

After brunch we made our way down the street to our final accommodation for the rest of the week, Ocean's Reach. Yes, that's right we walked with our suitcases in hand! That's one of my favorite things about Sanibel, is you can walk or bike anywhere and people don't stare you down thinking what in the world are they doing...

After checking in and getting the keys, we went straight up to our condo! Back in 2011 we stayed in the same unit, so I was anxious to see what had changed. Ocean's Reach has an awesome feature on their website were you can choose the building and unit you're interested in, and view all rooms, furnishings, and views! Check out our condo 1D4 here.

Our condo was on the 4th floor with a fantastic view overlooking Gulf City Park Beach and the outlying city in the distance across the ocean. The balcony is fully screened in which helped a lot with the bugs since there were many more than what we had at Casa Ybel. There's more flush vegetation closer to the buildings, so suntan lotion AND bug spray were a most for me every time I stepped outside. Unfortunately I'm a magnet for mosquitoes. :(

The unit has two bedrooms, two baths, a living and dining area, plus a fully equipped kitchen! No need to worry about bringing your own dishware, cups, or utensils since the condo owners keep everything you could possibly need to cook with there for you. But again, the only thing missing is a pantry.

The rest of my family met us at the condo, so when they arrived and settled in we headed for the beach! We chose to checkout Blind Pass/Turner's Beach first to take advantage of having pictures against the sunset on the fishing rock-line. It's a popular place for shellers too since many shells gather in and around the rocks. If you're lucky you can also find starfish, baby octopus, fish, and crabs.

There were a lot of fishers, kayakers, and shellers on the beach! We saw a very rich colored sunset, which always looks stunning against the contrasting blue waves. Threw down a beach towel and watched the sunset (regretted later...more on this side note as you scroll down).

We also had a little bit of fun while the sun went down, having my photographer parents snap a few fun photos of us. Don't judge, we can be silly sometimes, especially when Mr. ArtSea Chic pulls some surprises on me!

Continuing on from the side note mentioned above, the aftermath of laying down on the beach towel at Blind Pass/Turner's Beach is pictured below. What does that looks like to you? If you're thinking I got bitten alive by mosquitoes you're actually VERY VERY wrong. I thought the same thing and let it slide for two days before I just couldn't take the itching and appearance of even more bites any longer. I was so frustrated that bug spray with deet wasn't working at all. I took to Instagram with a shout-out to all Florida natives to help me solve this mysterious bite issue I was having, and eventually the same problem my mom (who also laid next to me) was having.

Turns out, thanks to my dad's research, I had dozens of bites from SAND FLIES (also known as Sand Fleas). They are a very tiny crustacean living in the sand that goes after mainly rotting seaweed for their meals and nesting, but also on occasion picks on human blood for the same thing. HOLY SHELL did this scare me!! Not only did something bite me, they could've laid eggs in me. :(

I was overwhelmed by the itching. More bites would show up overnight turn red, and itch the entire day. I used Cortisone with aloe about 3 times a day to try and help decrease the urge to itch. It did help, but only if I reapplied on time. At night I would apply my homemade lotion to help nourish. By Day 7 of our trip, most of the bites had decreased their swelling and redness, but it wasn't till a couple days after I returned to Texas that all healed. I have a few dark spots/scarring, but I really don't care since I was able to overcome those little buggers!! I found a great site called Goodbye Sandfly for anyone who'd like to know more about sand flies and how to deal with their bites, you can read here.

What a long but exciting day! We were all kinds of tired and ready for some sleep to be able to wake up in time for church on Day 3.

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