My little sister flew into town on Friday for a weekend visit before venturing over to Miami for work. Her to-do list among other things included petting an alligator, visiting the old homestead in Venice and riding on the front of an airboat and screaming "I'm King of the World". She's not normal.
My wish list was to keep from offending anyone and avoiding another "go kart" incident like the one back in '98. Ma-Le and I called this Operation Angry Badger.
It seemed the best way to accomplish our task was to get her in a boat and paddle her out into Estero Bay. What could go wrong?Our destination was Mound Key, the largest Calusa Indian shell mound in the world and the highest point in Lee County. (our paddle trail highlighted in orange)To get there the three of us would paddle with the tide, the presumed 3 miles out into the bay, cross the bay and arrive at the island which is 40 feet above sea level at its highest point and covered with tropical hardwoods like Mahogany and Gumbo Limbo. It's a beautiful site. Crossing the bay proved tougher than I imagined as the wind was driving into our faces and the tide had turned around. With only one mile to go, we pushed on toward the island. The island is guarded by a ferocious Jack Russell Terrier with an orange vest.
The island is now a State Park and no artifact collecting is allowed. There is a loop trail that brings you up and over several massive shell mounds and around the island which is ringed with mangroves. It was hot and the badger was not well hydrated. The first mosquito bite could have been a hive of angry bees by the way she reacted to it. From the peak you can look out over Estero Bay and the Gulf of Mexico and see a multitude of high rises. The Calusa built the first!Apparently the ghosts of the Calusa are not fans of technology and my phone and Mandy's decided to turn off on their own. They were charged. They had been getting reception. They just stopped working! The Badger was getting ferocious as she combated the heat, bugs and lack of phone reception so we had to abandon the island before we had a chance to explore the whole thing. We couldn't risk a full blown tantrum.
When we returned we told the rangers that we had made it out to Mound Key. They were impressed. It turns out it was 10 miles round trip and few people are dumb enough to attempt this. It was entirely worth it to stand on the ground the Calusa once occupied. For several thousand years they lived along the gulf coast from Tampa to Everglades City and nowhere is their presence more apparent than here on the ceremonial center of their kingdom on Mound Key.