Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sarasota and Naples

We left St. Pete on Sunday, January 18th headed to Sarasota. The day before, Louis had lowered our mast so we could take the inside route—going through small towns and under bridges so that we wouldn’t have to wait for them to open for us. We were traveling with “C-Life” and “Reel Estate” and it was a beautiful and calm day, but still very chilly. We enjoyed seeing numerous ospreys nesting on the channel markers—they’re not afraid of getting too close to humans—like eagles are. This must be the nesting season too—every nest we’ve passed has been occupied! There are a lot of ospreys in this area.

We arrived in Sarasota a little after lunch, pulled into the very pretty Marina Jacks and called Tracy Guess—Travis’s father, who lives in Sarasota. Tracy wound up coming to our boat late afternoon and going out to dinner with us and the gang (8 of us total)—we went up the street just two blocks to a great Mexican restaurant, Dos Senoritas—everyone had delicious dinners—cheap too! But it was a mighty cold walk back to the boats—are we really in south Florida? Certainly doesn't feel like it!

Monday, we left the marina and headed to an anchorage—Cape Haze—recommended by Peggy and Guy. We rafted the three boats together in a quiet little cove—surrounded by beautiful homes—feeling safe and secure for the night. (Another cold front was to come in during the night—bringing high winds.) Louis got our dinghy down for Brantley to use with his dog, Rudder, and off the two men went with the dog—seeking a nice grassy spot. Boy, do we both still miss our Buddy! I fixed a big pot of homemade vegetable/beef soup and since there were 7 of us, we ate our supper on “C-Life”. Thanks Kay & Robert!

The cold front did indeed come through during the night waking everyone up but me—how I slept through those two hours I’ll never know! But our anchors held, so everything turned out as hoped. TYJ. We pulled up our anchors the next morning and were in for an ugly surprise—the muddiest, blackest, bottom we’ve ever seen! We spent quite a long time in the howling wind getting all that muck off our anchors—very thankful for our washdown hose on the bow.

Tuesday, Inauguration Day for our new President, we headed to Cabbage Key for the much heralded cheeseburgers they serve. Accessible only by water, this famous place is also known for the thousands of initialed dollar bills hanging from the ceiling and posts. The staff there claims to have over 50,000 bills hanging at all times and so the saying goes, once the bills fall to the floor they’re given to charity. This place is an institution around these parts—and I’m glad we didn’t miss it—even if Louis and I did have a really hard time getting “Bella Luna” secured to the dock in the high winds. By the way, the cheeseburgers were great too! It’s still cold here—but our children back home have snow on the ground today—so we really shouldn’t complain.

After lunch we left for Ft. Meyers—getting in there just at sunset. We were greeted at the dock by Bonnie and Bruce Dailey—residents of Ft. Meyers—and friends on “Phantom of the Aqua” who have just completed the Loop—congrats to them both!! Our boats had lots of salt spray on them—a good bath is in order for them tomorrow!

Wednesday, I watched the morning repeats of the Inauguration in between running back and forth to the dock’s laundry. Once that was accomplished, I started making the breads from the “starter” Peggy had given us—an Amish recipe that you divide and then bake every 10 days. Kay made a chocolate recipe and I made the traditional one—both delicious! Louis and Robert were working on our dinghy’s outboard most of the day—it’s still not working correctly—but I have faith that it will be fixed soon! The guys also rented two cars for us to use the next couple of days. We wound up going nearby to a casual restaurant for dinner—Brantley and Brenda going to the airport during that time to pick up Deb Van Nordwik, who will be traveling with them for a couple of weeks. Also, Margie and Larry, from “Wanderin’ L & M”, joined us for dinner —we’ve missed them during the weeks apart for Christmas. They are in a near-by marina having their boat repaired and will join us as soon as they can—hopefully before we cross to Marathon—where we’ll all be together for a month.

Thursday morning, Brantley, Brenda, Deb, Louis and I took off in our rental car for Sanibel and Captiva. Both small islands, they are known for their beautiful beaches, lush landscapes and superb shelling. Walking the pretty beach, we found lots of beautiful shells (small conchs), 9-fingered starfish, and other sea-life that had been washed ashore in the past two days’ high winds. We also went to lunch at one of Sanibel’s most popular spots (and one of Louis’s top 5!), “Cheeseburger-Cheeseburger”. With over 20 different toppings to choose from, plus five kinds of cheese, and all cooked to perfection, need I say more?! We’ll be back, for sure! That evening, we were still stuffed from lunch—but not wanting to miss a thing, we joined the group and went for sushi and Chinese at the Dailey’s favorite near-by spot.

Friday, “Reel Estate” took off for Marathon early. Poor Brantley, he had gone slowly long enough and was ready to “let the big dogs run”. It was a beautiful day and calm water and he was in Marathon by mid-afternoon—in comparison, it will take us 5 good days to get there—but we’re still enjoying the journey, slowly. No sooner had they left than Louis’s cell phone rang and it was Alice and Phil (of “Wonderland”) and Jackie and Lyn ( of “Carolina Captains”) both Loopers and both in Ft. Meyers for the day—by car. Both couples came to our boat and we all got in a nice visit before going to Joe’s Crab Shack for lunch. It was really great seeing both couples—it had been April ‘08 when we saw them last. “Wonderland” will be in Marathon when we get there—yea!

Saturday (yesterday), we fueled early and were underway by 8:30am headed for the Naples City Dock Marina. We arrived around 3pm, got situated in a great spot and called Judy and John Woody—who were coming for their annual winter solstice not too far from us. After getting their RV set up in its’ own special pretty place, they drove down to the marina and met us and the crew of “C-Life”. It was “Saturday Night” and we all had a blast—Judy and John fitting in perfectly with us crazy Loopers. Eleven of us went to the end of the dock to a very popular and crowded restaurant and continued on with “you-know-what”. It was such a special and fun evening and even more so by having the Woodys with us—we really do miss our friends from home! (John, you’re slipping!—you need to practice back-to-back evenings—we know you can do it!)

So now it’s late Sunday afternoon (Jan. 25th) as I am writing this. We left Naples this morning once the tide got high enough and have come down a calm ocean (outside) to Goodland, just below Marco Island. This is the weekend that the tiny village of Goodland celebrates the “Mullet Festival”. The crew of “C-Life” and us walked into town to see just what was going on and found a crowded area of about a square block filled with several thousand orderly people enjoying a live band, lots of motorcycles & old cars & beer drinkers, jewelry & trinkets & fresh vegetable stands, and mullet cooked about any way you can imagine. None of us stayed long—but it was all worth seeing, if nothing else but the clothes (or lack thereof) that some of the people were wearing. What a hoot—any reason for a party!

We’re in the Calusa Island Marina now—in a very quiet and secluded spot among thousands of mangrove bushes. There’s a long wooden dock that weaves around these low, lush mangroves that takes us back to the office, which is hidden from view and quite a long walk away too. We hear none of the noise from street traffic or near-by bars and don’t smell any food cooking in restaurants—it’s really quite refreshing and unlike anything we’ve experienced so far. Needless to say, we don’t have cable TV or Wireless—but that too is befitting this special spot (I hope to use Louis’s phone card to publish this in a while). This is as close to being “au natural” as you can get without being on anchor. The sun will be setting soon—it has finally warmed up—and we really feel blessed to be in Florida now. The windows on the boat are open and Louis has been taking a nap—just right—only the ospreys are making any noise. And with the sun to my back, this is the perfect place to sit and type and gather my thoughts—I love it! We’re having dinner on “C-Life” tonight with Kay’s & Robert’s guests, who have been with them for several days now. What a grand week we’ve all had!

1 comment:

Captain Chip's best mate, Michele. said...

Oh Bella Luna...if only we had known you were so close! Chip and I (Ithaka) have a little cottage on Goodland, (where Bill & Eileen from Blue Max moored for the past week or so) and I was just there yesterday...YES, yesterday! Also, we live in Naples and would have loved to have had you over or at least stop by for a visit while you were here in our pretty town...we live on the water right off Naples Bay! Ah! I read the looper blogs when I can't sleep and just clicked on yours for fun! I am so sad that we missed seeing you. BUT, you did get to experience the Mullet Festival...not too many loopers can say that! Sunshine and Blue Max are just a couple of days ahead of you now. Be safe! and Have fun! I love reading about your adventures!