As volunteers struggled to keep the tents pegged and registration papers on the tables at Lovers Key/Carl E. Johnson State Park, they were afraid the windy weather Saturday would discourage people from showing up at the Outdoor Adventure Day.
“People are coming but they might not stay long. I hope they do, but I don’t know,” said Sue Horning, who was helping sign people up for free bike tours of the Black Island Trail.
But while the blustery winds may have kept some within the safety of their homes, it didn’t do anything to dampen the spirits of those who decided to venture out.
“I thought they had a great mix of activities for the day and we wanted to try them out,” said Gary Bonvillian, a Bonita resident who not only came out with his wife, but even brought along friends who were visiting from New York.
Adventurers kept coming in at a steady pace, eager to try the bike trips, beachwalks and birding, and scavenger hunts and fishing contests for the kids. There also were displays by the Friends of Lovers Key and Mote Marine Aquarium from Sarasota. Everything interested eager visitors, kids and grownups alike. Everything but the canoe and boat trips.
“I am not in the mood for a swim. I think I am going to keep my feet on solid ground,” joked Brenda Wingate, who was at the park with daughter Natalie.
They were visiting grandparents in Estero and decided to come out for some fun.
“We are from New Hampshire so this is still pleasant for us. I heard it’s raining up there,” she said. “I am just happy to be out.”
The two are in the area until Monday and weren’t about to let a little windy weather keep them home.
They joined a group with ranger Matt Kruse for a bike trip. As the group cruised part of the 2.5 miles of trails on Black Island, Kruse told them stories. Legends of the pirates and their treasure that gave the island it’s name. The story of the origin of the Spanish moss hanging from the oak trees.
“What you see hanging from the tree is Spanish moss. However, it’s not Spanish and it’s not moss,” Kruse said.
Once a maiden who was trying to escape her captor climbed up on an oak tree and out on to a branch. From there she climbed another branch of a tree across the canal and escaped. When her captor tried to follow, the branch broke and he fell.
“Now he had a big beard hanging down from his chin,” Kruse said, holding a bunch of moss to his own smooth-shaven chin. “When he fell it got caught in the branch and that’s how Spanish moss originated.”
The tales delighted his listeners and as Kruse got ready to take another group on a trip, Natalie and Brenda discussed it among themselves.
“I liked that it was windy; it made biking fun,” Natalie said. “And that he told us stories. I love legends.”
She had always thought the name Black Island had something to do with the color of the soil on the island, Brenda said.
“From now on, whenever I am with someone and we see Spanish moss,” she said, “I am going to tell them the story of how it was first formed.”