One Sandy Anniversary

I love new experiences of all types, so when I learned about the American Sand Sculpting Championship in Fort Myers Beach, Florida several years ago, I knew we had to go. What’s more, it happens at the same time as our wedding anniversary in late November, and we got married on Sanibel Island which is right next door! We added it on as the perfect end destination to our Miami/Keys/Everglades trip.

We don’t often stay in nice hotels; sometimes it’s rare for us to even stay in hotels. For our anniversary, though, a hotel seemed appropriate. Although we didn’t find luxury, we did find we could use some of our hotel points at the exact hotel hosting the sand sculpting event! That was definitely going to be a special treat, so I booked it immediately, and bought us 3-day passes to the event.

We arrived on a Thursday night and the event started the next day. Although we’d only be there for a four day weekend, the event is two weeks long, with amateur, state and national (master) levels, as well as singles and doubles competitions at the national level. This is big!

We went outside Friday morning after picking up our tickets.

We walked all around the grounds. There were “welcome” sculptures all over the place that the sculptors had built in the prior day or two. We were impressed even by those.

Our favorite was the detailed one of Florida. It was so cool to see where we were and where we had just been over the past week!

The first weekend of the competition would include the amateur level and the singles master level, but at this point the sand was mostly just in big piles and/or forms – plastic or wooden frames that give the pile its initial, rough shape. Each master sculptor had a pile and although some had already made what seemed like great progress, we knew there was much more to come. We entertained ourselves by talking to some of the sculptors about what their hobby/profession was like, what they were sculpting, etc.

Luckily there were also some other things on the itinerary, like live steel drum music and sand sculpting demonstrations/lessons for beginners.  We loved the sculpting lesson and couldn’t wait to go try some stuff on the beach.

Listen to the steel drum music man

There was another activity called Quick Sand Competitions. This is where we the audience got to pick a thing for the master sculptors to create.  Only, they were given just one bucket of sand, and two minutes in which to carve their masterpiece!

That evening we headed to the Fort Myers Beach for one of our favorite things – happy hour on the beach.  Whenever we spend time at a beach we like to grab a few cocktails and watch the sun set.

On day two of the competition, we took a quick spin through in the morning to see the master sculptors’ progress, but then jetted out of town over to Sanibel Island. We had an anniversary to celebrate! We went straight to the West Wind Inn, the hotel where we stayed when we got married. We swam in the ocean, walked along the beach collecting shells, and visited the spot where we first said our vows. Then we relaxed by the pool for a while, and even the light rain didn’t discourage us.

 

That evening we decided to have dinner at The Island Cow instead of the fancier Jacaranda, where we had eaten on our wedding night. We were in the mood to change things up, and we were so happy we did! The food was awesome and the portions were huge.

068 We're finally here

Sunday was the end of the solo master sculptor competition, and it turned out to be a tough last day. The rain had come Saturday evening and done a little bit of damage which the sculptors were trying to repair. But Sunday mid-morning brought more heavy rains, and so the smooth, even edge of most of the sculptures was lost. The rain does a lot less damage than you might think, but some smaller fragile pieces of sculptures did fall off. That said, the final results were still amazing!! See what you think.

 

Monday was a quieter day without any specific competitions going on. We decided to volunteer since they needed extra help. Elliott was psyched to help out and get a free lunch and free entrance for a fourth day of fun for us! (Don’t forget the T-shirt! –E)

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