Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Miami to Ft. Lauderdale to Ft. Pierce

As we passed through Miami, we counted 5 huge cruise ships—all restocking and waiting for new passengers and anticipating other ports of call. We once drove to Miami and took a 7 day cruise with our girls over New Year’s Eve celebrating Louis’s birthday—remember it, Geni & Catherine? Fond memories, for sure! Sadly today though, none of the ships here were taking on passengers—we would have loved to have honked & waved at them—and it was surprising to see them all there on a Monday. As we got closer to Ft. Lauderdale, we saw 3 more beautiful cruise ships tied to the docks—this is definitely the region for cruising!

We entered a narrow part of the ICW coming into Ft. Lauderdale and I’ve never in my whole life seen a more conspicuous, ostentatious, concentrated display of mega wealth. Absolutely unbelievable! We probably passed for a good mile or so, mansion after mansion with huge—and I mean really huge—yachts tied to docks “behind the house”. All well over 100 feet, these yachts were so beautifully pristine from bow to stern—I was blown away by it all—so amazed that I forgot to take even one picture! We’ve been on the water in Palm Beach several times with Brantley before, but we’ve never seen such a display of excess like this anywhere—and I never thought Ft. Lauderdale had so much of that kind of wealth. Others have called that area the "Gold Coast", but we’ve named that stretch in the ICW as “Billionaires Row”. I’m so glad we got to see all that pulchritude (remembering our dear Pete!)—evidently the notorious local bad-boy here, Bernie Madoff, didn't have any of these people as clients!

We arrived at Los Olas Marina in Ft. Lauderdale in time Tuesday to give “Bella Luna” a much-needed good long bath—after a week of neglect (and being without an outside water supply), she was covered in salt. We were tied-up in a slip right near the bulkhead and while washing the boat, we saw three manatees swim alongside our port side—two adults and a baby. We were told they were headed up further north to a power plant seeking warmer waters. With all the boat traffic and narrow channels, I hope they will make it there safely. The main cause of death among manatees is boater interaction and several years ago the state of Florida enacted strict regulations concerning these gentle giants—making manatee safe zones all along this stretch of water. Today, due to such increased awareness and boater co-operation, their population has definitely increased. Yea!

Our friends from Ft. Lauderdale, Cheryl and Harold Lovell on “Victory”, had all six of us over to their wonderful home for a delicious lasagna dinner Tuesday afternoon and evening. We had a great time being with them—talking and reminiscing about our travels together—we traveled most of the Canadian canal system with “Victory” and they finished the Loop right before Christmas. It was also great seeing their precious 16-year-old nephew, Billy, who stopped by to say hello. Billy was ½ of the team (with Bruce, “Phantom…”, being the other half!) that helped change our props in Campbellford and we will always be so grateful for that big, strong, strapping boy who was able to help us out in record time. The Lovell’s home is right-smack-dab on the inlet, so several times that night we saw huge freighters and cruise ships coming and going—so fun to witness! We thank them both for their hospitality.

Wednesday was restock and laundry day. Ellen and Roy from “Our Turn” came by with two (!) cars to take us each in separate ways—the guys one way & the girls the other! The girls, of course, went to Publix and such—the guys to West Marine & Sailor Man. Then both groups met up for a delicious late lunch of sushi, Bennie Hanna, and Chinese. It is one of Ellen’s favorite places to go in the area & all of us could taste & see why! The two cars came back to the boats with everyone so satisfied and stuffed—thanks to them both for spending the day with us!

Yep, it’s Spring Break in Ft. Lauderdale. Late in the afternoon, all of us walked the two blocks up to the beach and it was full of young people—all enjoying themselves in this beautiful weather. We saw just a few people in the water and no one was surfing because there are no waves at all here—but everyone was having a good time none-the-less. Between the skimpy bathing suits and the tattoos on both guys and girls, all “us old people” were shaking our heads! Lord, how times have changed since Louis and I were that age! But after walking up and down the beachfront, we got an outside table “street-side” at Spazio’s and watched for several hours all the passers-by. The huge 2-for1 frozen drinks made it even more enjoyable (love those mudslides!) and we saw so many Rolls, Bentleys, and Jaguars that we finally lost count—definitely the place to see and be seen! We vacated our most-coveted table after a beautiful full bella luna rose, Kay and I really hoping (in our current state of mind!) to get a “Spring Break 2009” tee-shirt—but sadly, none were available in our size—oh to be 18 again!!

Thursday morning, we left Ft. Lauderdale and began our next destination towards Ft. Pierce. Along the way, we went through Palm Beach, feeling comfortable in the waters and reliving some great memories of our trips here with Brantley. It was early, so we didn’t stop for lunch at some of our favorite spots (Waterway CafĂ© or The Square Grouper)—but we were finally beginning to feel a little bit closer to home. Going by The Square Grouper at Jupiter Inlet, we hung a hard left and entered beautiful waters again—waters like the Keys—the clearest extended aquamarine waters we've ever seen. When it’s so clear like that, we’re told, the bottom is all sand—the reflections we see are not hampered by coral or grass. Absolutely breathtaking!!

We also saw something we’ve never seen before—right on top of a channel marker in an osprey’s nest were two owls! With their pointed ears sticking up and heads carefully turning watching us pass, what an amazinging sight—and in broad daylight, no less! Sadly, by the time we were on top of the nest, I couldn’t get the camera out quick enough. I can’t remember seeing an owl up that close ever, especially two at the same time, and much less in the daytime. WOW!

We anchored twice with “C-Life” and “Wanderin’ L & M” on our way up to Ft. Pierce. The second night, Kay made a special cake to celebrate Margie’s & Larry’s completing the Loop—and Larry’s 60th birthday. We had a great celebration all afternoon and into the evening—even dancing on our boat to Ronnie Milsap—a first! The Rosses will be staying in Ft. Pierce for a month with their family—we will miss them as we make our way homeward and will think fondly of them as we raise our gold Looper flag.

As we pulled into our slips Friday afternoon, we realized the marina in Ft. Pierce was a really great spot to be with nice laundry facilities and two restaurants on site. Both complete with live music, we had dinner at the more casual one that night—so delicious too—the place was packed. Saturday morning, we took advantage of a wonderful farmer’s market held right at our docks every Saturday October through April—probably the best one we’ve been to on this entire trip! Both Kay and Louis love pork ribs, and each of them got a whole slab (!) to take back to the boats—boy, were they good—cooked just right over charcoal too. But by noon, most of the vendors had sold out their goods and were packing up their gear—city rules state the park must be vacated by 2pm. We also tried to get tickets to see Bill Cosby, who was going to be Saturday night at the near-by Sunrise Theater, but both shows were sold out (within 15 minutes, we were told!)—too bad, that would have been such fun to see him! But I did manage get a super gyro (from the farmer’s market) and some fine Chinese fried rice take-out. Also on Saturday, I got a much-needed haircut and pedicure (my first since then end of December!)—thanks Margie for the reference to the great salon!

We left Ft. Pierce Sunday morning for an anchorage near Melbourne, Florida in order to see the space shuttle launch which was scheduled for Sunday night--March 15th. I'm working on my thoughts about that spectacular night (and my next blog) and will post them hopefully in the next few days.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Welcome Home! I shall miss your 'musings' about the journey you traveled this past year. From my 'armchair' perspective, it has been a glorious memorable trip that I have enjoyed from the first few feet from the dock last May!

Thank you for the blog updates as they were delightful. I cried over Buddy as he departed to his heavenly home, held my breath as you made your way through the locks, and traveled familiar territory in the northeast rivers.

God bless,
Louise Smith