J.N. “Ding” Darling Scheduled Re-opening

Just in time for Ding Darling Days, the refuge WildLife Drive will reopen on October 1st with a grand reopening celebration. The drive has been repaved for smoother transit by drivers and cyclists. Come on down! Enjoy the event  and take advantage of West Wind Inn’s special lodging deals.

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Ding Darling Days 2013

It’s that time of year again – In about month from now, “Ding” Darling Days 2013 will begin!

DDD_logo_2013_1Opening day is October 20 and includes a whole day of Free Family Fun. The value is $50 per adult. But for you, on Sunday, October 20, all this is free:

10:45am – FREE Flag-raising ceremony
11am-noon – First arrivals receive a ready- made recycled t-shirt bag or bring your own t-shirt and learn how to make one, EC parking lot
11am – FREE Talking Trash Game with prizes, EC parking lot
12noon – FREE Live Florida Animals Program, EC parking lot
12noon – FREE Naturalist-narrated 60-minute walking tour of Indigo Trail and the NEW Children’s Education Boardwalk, limited spaces – pick up ticket at Archway Info Table
1pm – FREE Snakes Alive! Program, EC parking lot
2pm – FREE Amazing Live Animals Program, EC parking lot
2pm – FREE Naturalist-narrated 60-minute walking tour of Indigo Trail and the NEW Children’s Education Boardwalk, limited spaces – pick up ticket at Archway Info Table
3pm – FREE I Love Reptiles! Program, EC parking lot

Plus all this through out the day:

FREE hourly (on the half-hour) life-size Endangered Species & Wildlife Puppets and puppet crafts garden presented by Heather Henson, daughter of the late Muppets creator, Jim Henson
Archery Skills Lessons
FREE Naturalist-narrated 60-minute guided tours — limited space, pick up ticket at Archway Info Table
FREE Face-painting in the EC Birding Room
FREE Hot dogs
FREE Shuttle service from TBE and Special Events Parking site (look for signs)
FREE Butterfly House
FREE Hands-on nature crafts
FREE Environmental displays and informational booths with free giveaways to fill your Tshirt bag

For a full schedule of events, head to the official Ding Darling Days 2013 website.

Now is the time to reserve your room for the week of “Ding” Darling Days 2013 at West Wind Inn, the closest Sanibel beach resort to “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

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BIG Arts 2013 Is Coming!

When people picture “paradise”, they don’t think just of swaying palms, enticing beaches and tropical drinks with plastic umbrellas. They imagine a place with a lot of generally pleasant experiences.

West Wind Inn has a lock on the palms, the beach and tropical drinks at our friendly upper deck pool bar, but we also offer a place where happiness prevails, in part as a result of the work of Barrier Islands Group for the Arts, familiarly known as BIG Arts.

Wendy Webb & Friends

WENDY WEBB & Friends “November Moon Concert”
Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013 at 8pm; Pre-reception at 7:30pm

BIG Arts is every bit as much part of the Sanibel Island experience as is the West Wind Inn Sanibel Beach Resort. We are proud to sponsor their annual season and happy to be so conveniently located for our guests to enjoy the events. This is part of why we say West Wind Inn is True Sanibel – everything you visit Sanibel for, all at hand.

As the summer concludes, BIG Arts begins. From Classical Concerts to pop and jazz, theater at the Herb Strauss, dance and more, the Season Schedule is coming together. You can find it here.

Among the first attractions will be Wendy Webb and Friends: November Moon Concert on Sunday, November 17, 2013 at Herb Strauss Theater. The 8pm performance will be preceded by a reception beginning at 7:30pm.

Look the schedule over now and take advantage of some preseason discounts and make your reservations at West Wind Inn, where the stars above are joined by the stars down here.

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Upcycle! Art Fest

When art meets nature, this is what it looks like, as the “Ding” Darling Society presents a new art fest to benefit J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

alligators from recycled tiresNamed “Upcycle! Art Fest”, the idea of this inaugural event is “to provide an artistic venue for artists to showcase fine art and craft of the highest quality made from recycled and re-purposed materials. It will also educate and entertain the public on the importance of recycling and ultimately protecting our wildlife.”

The event is scheduled for Saturday, April 26 and Sunday, April 27, 2014 at Sanibel Community House, 2173 Periwinkle Way, and will offer visitors ideas and visions of yard sculptures made from used tires, healthful food options, art and craft projects, live music and a plein air art event along Wildlife Drive. Perhaps most spectacular will be a group art project featuring seven artists collaborating over seven days on a single exhibit to transform trash into treasure. The completed sculpture will be revealed on Saturday, April 26.

Plan on being here for this first-time-anywhere event. For more information, visit the Upcycle! Art Fest website.

Book accommodations for the weekend and the run-up at West Wind Inn. We’d love to have you here!

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E-Award Excellence

You have something to say about how you are treated when you visit Sanibel Island and the Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau has a system working on your behalf. Have you experienced great customer service by someone who really went above & beyond the call of duty? The “E Awards” are designed to recognize that person.

Anyone who experiences exceptional customer service can nominate a person an award, assuming that person meets award criteria. Nominations are reviewed by an objective panel of industry experts and those reflecting the Tramadol most compelling instances of service are selected for the top awards. The awards are announced and presented at a major breakfast meeting in September. Every nominee and his or her employer are invited. Whether a top winner or not, anyone nominated considers it a true honor.

Ready to nominate someone? Visit the VCB website to read the full program description and criteria, then follow the link at the bottom of the page.

Thank you for participating. You are the best judges of how friendly and supportive our destination is.

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We All Scream For Ice Cream

Will you be bringing your kids to West Wind Inn in June?

Here’s a deal. Local yogurt and ice cream shop, Poco Loco in Jerry’s Shopping Center, is now offering locally-famous LoveBoat Ice Cream, and promising a free single scoop of ice cream for kids under 12 who come in with their parents in June (one per child).

PLlogo2smallPoco Loco was a recent addition to the array of shopping options at Jerry’s Center. The owners have  been long-time participants in the activities of Sanibel and Captiva. We appreciate their generosity in so many ways.

As for LoveBoat ice cream, it is made locally in their scoop shop on San Carlos Boulevard and has been a traditional stop for adults and kids for a few decades. It is excellent to see that brand and the scrumptious ice cream available on island.

Okay, there are other good sources for ice cream on the islands, and we don’t mean to ignore or slight them. But FREE is FREE, right?

If you have another favorite ice cream stop on Sanibel, send us a comment and we will post the name on the blog too.

“I scream. You scream. We all scream for ice cream.”  Ah, the joys of childhood!

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Sanibel Summer Camp

Summer Camp on Sanibel – Summer Arts Camp, that it is.  This a great way to keep youngsters creatively active while school is out.

Scheduled to start on June 3rd and run each week through July 26th – with a hiatus on July 4th, Camp is a popular summer activity with both parents and kids. If you are here year around or visiting Sanibel for the summer, enrollment can be weekly or for multiple weeks.

K through 5 youths will receive hands-on activities on a rotating schedule including acrylic painting, ceramics, dance,
photography, performing arts, music appreciation, folk art and general arts and crafts.

Middle and high school students Middle and high school students have the option of attending camp solely as a student —OR participating in the fine arts apprentice program, spending half the day as a student and the other half assisting instructors of K-5 classes as a volunteer to receive community service hours.

Tuition for K-5 is $10 per week or $115 pr week for three or more weeks. Tuition for middle and high school students is $80 per week. Tuition assistance is available by application to BIGArts 239-395-090. Camp hours are 9 AM to 3 PM.

For more information, visit BIGArts.org

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Shooters Wanted at “Ding” Darling NWR

Don Parsons

Don Parsons

With a wealth of photographic subjects available in the J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, you might want to learn to shoot from an expert. And if you have plans to do that, we suggest you book a room at West Wind Inn in May, June or July. We are the Sanibel beach resort nearest to the Refuge, where Tarpon Bay Explorers’ Don Parsons is offering half-day photography workshops in May, June and July.

Each workshop will cover basic camera settings for the best quality pictures, exposure considerations, lighting, macro equipment choices, and techniques for getting close-up images. According to Parsons close-up photography is available to anyone with a camera and, with today’s technology, it doesn’t have to be expensive.

The first workshop is May 18, with subsequent workshops on June 16 and July 20. The sessions are available for anyone 13 and over. But a maximum of 30 people can be accommodated in each workshop. To reserve a place, which is required, call 239-472-8900. The fee is $40 per attendee.

The three-hour workshop is designed for digital single lens cameras, but Parsons feels that point-and-shoot cameras often have the necessary capability for close-up photography. If you sign up, you should plan to bring a camera, extra camera battery, digital storage media with lots of capacity, an external flash, a tripod, towel or pad to kneel on when shooting close to the ground, and any macro lenses or filters you may have. You can also use what you learn to shoot subjects on the West Wind Inn beach, the koi pond or the butterfly garden.

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Sweet Sixteen – FGCU vs UoF

West Wind Inn on Sanibel devotes a lot of its blog space to arts and nature events. This weekend, the nature of the art is basketball as our local Florida Gulf Coast University meets the University of Florida in the next round of the Sweet Sixteen NCAA tournament. (Coincidentally, it’s the Eagles vs. the Gators. Does it get any more “natural” than that?)

So, Friday night, we venture that every TV in every room at the West Wind Inn will be tuned to the game. FGCU is the Cinderella story of the tournament. You don’t have to be an FGCU fan to be turned on by their play and possibilities. (We admit to a little bias toward the hometown team, but not so much as to be testy about it.)

If you are not privileged to have a West Wind Inn room reservation for Friday night where you can go to watch the game after a day of Sanibel beachcombing, there are plenty of Sanibel-Captiva restaurants and pubs that will be offering TV to their patrons. Join us all in spirit if not in person! Cheer for Eagles or Gators – no one in Florida loses on this one!

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Sailors Valentines

Being right on the Sanibel beach as we are, with all that is True Sanibel close at hand, West Wind Inn is naturally drawn to all things relating to seashells. We thought this news from the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum would interest all of our guests – past, present and future.

The Museum Store has signed an exclusive agreement with Susan Black, a Colorado shell artist, to offer her Sailors’ Valentines art in kit form. After meeting with the artist while she was on Sanibel for a recent visit to Sanibel’s 76th Annual Shell Festival, the museum store agreed to be the exclusive outlet for her do-it-yourself kits. Ms Black designs, assembles, and sells the kits for re-creating Sailors’ Valentines.

Susan Black portraitAccording to Ms Black, “The history behind them is fascinating.” Seafarers of the 1800s couldn’t easily send valentines home to their sweethearts. Their solution was to bring home with them elaborate shell mosaics made by craftspeople on the Caribbean island of Barbados, a frequent stop on the maritime trade routes of the time. Ms Black’s interest in Sailors’ Valentines was heightened when she first spotted them in a Nantucket whaling museum. “The antique versions can cost thousands of dollars,” she said. “That’s when I decided to design kits inspired by them.”

Each of the kits sold at The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum Store contains dozens of shells, along with instructions, a pattern and a handmade octagonal wood shadow box with a glass front and brass hinges. Ms Black’s nine original patterns use geometric or floral motifs, including hearts, stars and rosettes, and sentimental messages spelled out in shells. The Shell Museum is working with Ms Black to develop kits that reflect the islands of Sanibel and Captiva, their shells, and the Museum’s permanent exhibit of Sailors’ Valentines.

Such activities are further evidence of the unique qualities of Sanibel & Captiva. The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum, accredited by American Alliance of Museums, features more than 35 exhibits of shells and mollusks from around the world. Exhibits are devoted to shells in art and history, shell habitat, rare specimens, fossil shells, common Southwest Florida shells, and more. The learning lab features a hands-on play area for children, displays, games, and a tank with indigenous mollusks. Two half-hour videos, “Mollusks in Action” & “Tales and Trails,” are shown throughout the day, and a children’s video is shown continuously. The Museum Store offers a wide selection of shell books. The Museum is open 7 days a week, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.  and is an excellent diversion for children an adults drawn to Sanibel by an interest in shells.

Fortunate for those who stay at the West Wind Inn, we are the closest beach resort to the Sanibel’s Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum. A stay with us places you right in the middle of shell heaven.

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