Enjoying Grandson!

March 7 – 14, Cape Coral FL to Lantana, Fl (and back)

My daughter asked us in January if we could take care of Arden while she and Chris went to a wedding in North Carolina and I said “of course!”.  As a result, we combined our travels with a trip north (3 hours) to Tarpon Springs to get Dirk’s permanent cap and to have lunch with our boat friends, Kris and Roger. After lunch and Dirk’s dentist appointment we drove about 5 hours to Sarah and Chris’s house in Lantana, a bit south of West Palm Beach.

I surprised our grandson Arden in the morning when he started making some noises, and then proceeded to have a great time with him for the long weekend. Sarah and Chris left Friday morning and came back late Monday afternoon and I thoroughly enjoyed taking Arden to parks, making pancakes with him, and playing in the backyard, etc. Arden is full of energy and charm and made both of us laugh.

Just a few photos of joy follow. We are now back in Cape Coral and leave to head south tomorrow.

Cape Coral and Surrounds

March 2 through 5 – Friday through Tuesday in the Cape Coral area

Last Thursday evening we traveled up the Chattahoochee River toward Ft Myers, but took a turn north to Cape Coral where our friends Rick and Eleanor Gentleman from Acton, Mass were renting a house on a canal off of the Chattahoochee river. Their rental has a dock and even a marine electrical outlet, so perfect for the Wandering Star. Note: Rick and I are twins from different mothers – we share a birthday and year!

We’ve been tied up at their dock since last Thursday, and are enjoying the area very much. Not only do we have a place for the boat, but we are also  staying in their guest room  – such comfort! It was perfect timing because (1) we need to head back to Tarpon Springs area tomorrow afternoon so Dirk can finish his emergency crown replacement started there a few weeks ago and (2) then we are taking care of our grandson in Lantana, FL while Sarah and Chris (daughter/son-in-law) go to a wedding for the weekend. So we were able to relax while Eleanor and Rick took us to local activities like an art walk, farmers market, the Irish Fest, the artsy town of Matlacha,  and beaches to see sunsets in Cape Coral and Fort Myers beach and to visit the Edison museum in Fort Myers.

The Irish Fest:

Famous artist (Leoma Lovegrove) shop in Matlacha

Cape Coral public Yacht Club – Watching the sunset

Rick and Eleanor’s rental is also close to a Rotary park with trails and a nature center where I found great brochures with local animal photos to share with our grandson Arden.  We had some fun there…

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Here’s some scenes of Fort Myer Beach the next day:  Walking around the area, some relaxing and yes, another sunset! It’s a very busy area.

We later walked along the long pier at the beach and then found a place for dinner. (Never go to Nervous Nellies! Horrendous service!!!!)

We visited the Edison Museum in Fort Myers: Edison and Henry Ford had winter homes next to each other on the Chattahoochee river where Edison conducted research in his labs to find a source for artificial rubber. His lab grew and analyzed 100’s of tropical plants including banyan trees such as this massive tree planted around 1905.

Note: I’m sitting next to his second wife, Mina, who donated the Edison summer home, gardens and labs to the city of Fort Myers. The water sculpture is in the butterfly garden on the grounds of the museum.

Traveling to Cape Coral

March 4, 2018 Monday in Cape Coral Florida

I’ve been remiss in updating the blog this week.  We are visiting with friends from home and I got out of my routine. More on this visit in the next blog entry.

We left St. Petersburg on Wednesday Feb 28th and anchored out two nights on the way to Cape Coral. We looked behind to say good bye St.Pete, traveled into the bay and under the bridge and traveled on bays and canals for about only 4 hours since we were tired from a rough night in the mooring fields due to strong winds blowing right into the bay most of the night.

As you can see from the above photos, the first anchorage was popular but there was plenty of room for us.

On Thursday we passed Sarasota and numerous lovely or ridiculously large homes along the water.

As we traveled south on the Intracostal we were once again blessed with dolphins playing with the boat along the way.

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We took a slight risk heading into our somewhat shallower anchorage this evening but it was almost high tide and we made it. I was delighted because we were close to an opening inlet to the Gulf. Once we were settled I put on my bathing suit, got out the rope ladder so I could climb back on the boat when I returned and then swam ashore. There was a  small dock nearby, but the current took me further toward to channel than I expected. I noted that I’d have to be careful to start further up the current from the boat when I returned from my adventure.

I walked a mile or two along the Gulf coast, floated in sand dune ponds and the open gulf, and smiled and exchanged hellos with some people that pulled their motor boats ashore. With the smaller motor boats  people just come up to shore, raise the motor and set an anchor in sand – easy.  There were shells everywhere and I just had to bring a few back with me, even though I knew I’d have to stick them somewhere in my bathing suit while I swam to the boat. It was a lovely time.

When I returned to the dock near the boat I got lucky. A small boat was just pulling up near the dock, and I quickly said hello and asked them for a ride to our boat. They looked confused but I gave enough of an explanation (current is strong; don’t have a phone to ask my husband to get out the dingy) and they were nice enough to let me climb on board and take me to the boat. I was almost able to gracefully get onto the swim platform, but fell back in the water. I waved bye and and thanks and then struggled with the rope ladder for a while and finally got back on the boat.  But it was worth it! Loved that Gulf water.

St. Petersburg Museum Day

February 27, Tuesday – St. Petersburg

The mooring area of the marina where we spent the first night back from our travels to Marathon  looked beautiful in the morning. Note the opening to the bay in one of the photos, which will become an issue later on (when winds come in from that direction).

After breakfast (still ginger, cinnamon, banana oatmeal) we took the dingy to shore and walked to the Salvador Dali museum – a work of art in itself.  It contains the largest collection of Dali’s work outside of Spain thanks to the Morses’ who were passionate collectors, and decided that their museum should be located in St. Petersburg. The collection contains works from his traditional beginnings, through his very surreal phase and then his grand religious works later in life. But I was amazed at the complex details in all he painted – tiny figures that actually made up a face from a distance for example. Thanks to  a number of docents describing the painting we also learned of the deep symbolism in the images – most of which I would have missed.

We had lunch at The Hanger – a cafe located at the local private Albert Whitted Airport next door to the museum.  The airport will also soon be hosting the Grand Prix –  grand stands were already being set up on the field. We hear that the the downtown will be very busy and noisy for that weekend (glad we won’t be there).

Dirk headed back to the marina but I was excited to see the Chihuly Collection – a master glass artisan whose work is astonishing. There was a exhibit in Boston a few years ago that I missed (but there was an example for us to see during the Lake Boon Boat Parade that year! (Lots of colorful balloons in a boat!))  I digress…

Again there was a  docent to provide background to what we were seeing including how the glass is illuminated (always from the outside) and moved to each site (individual pieces that all need to be reassembled according to details directions). And to describe how something that looks rather simple is quite challenging (glass balls).

The Glass Garden Room was about 40 feet long and contained so many glass shapes…

We were also able to view a lengthy example of glass blowing with many layers of glass to produce the multi-colored effects inside and out. It takes a lot of strength and patience from what I could see.

As I walked back to the marina I saw more examples of wall murals and building art. It’s quite the artsy city!

We joined our friends Jane and Bryce for dinner on their sailboat, also in the mooring field. It was a great last day and evening in St. Pete.

Driving to Marathon and Back

February 24, 25, 26  (Saturday, Sunday, Monday from St. Petersburg to Marathon in the Keys and back.

Our friends from Brick, NJ who helped us when we grounded our boat a few times in New Jersey and also helped me see a doctor when I was pretty sick there, were having a party in Marathon, FL (a 6 hours drive away) on Sunday and we didn’t want to miss it since it would likely be the last large gathering of fellow loopers we’d be able to attend. On Saturday we wandered around two nearby parks in St. Petersburg and enjoyed an amazing display of art for sale ( maybe 50 booths) and then a very huge farmers market with many temptations. Later we rented a car, moved our boat to a mooring ball vs the slip to save money ($15 vs $80 /night) and then drove to Homestead FL at the top of the Keys for the night as we headed toward the Sunday party in Marathon.

Sunday morning we stopped at our boat’s home port in Islamorada and visited with the owner, Pam Anderson, telling that we hoped she’d have a place for us in April, and then continued south. We almost made to the party spot, Banana Bay Marina, when we saw the Air Museum that had been closed last time we tried to visit. In we went, only to find out that a number of the antique planes blew away or were destroyed in hurricane Irma last year. Very sad. But Dirk talked with the manager,  looked at what was there and enjoyed the stop.

We reached the marina where Pat and George Hospedar, authors of two Great Loop books, greeted everyone, gave us name tags (very useful!) and we immediately spotted our friends Jan and Ron.

We chatted with friends we had met along the way, Loopers that finished their trips years ago and a couple that was just started to plan their journey. Pat H. had hired a wonderful band and even sang with them at one point (she was a music and choral teacher) and many people gathered for a sunset photo.

We stayed overnight in a lovely place – Coconut Bay Resort – which has gorgeous grounds and lovely cabins. It felt like we were in a botanical garden! In addition the owner makes delicious multi-flavor scones every morning for the guests. I’d love to spend more time there if I ever get the chance.

We traveled back to St Petersburg most of Monday. We returned our car, Ubered back to the marina and found our dingy still at the dingy dock  (yea) and took it to the boat for a quiet night.

Forward to St. Petersburg

February 22, 23 Tarpon Springs to St. Petersburg FL

We had planned to leave for St. Petersburg on Thursday, but Dirk was up most of the night Wednesday with a stomach bug so we quietly recovered instead. I walked around the Sponge Docks again, chatted with boat neighbors and we went to bed early.

Yesterday (Friday) we were up and out by 8am, and although it was windy (6-8 knots) on the larger waters in the GIWW (Gulf Intracostal Waterway) the swell was only about a foot so no drama for us. (Yea!)

We enjoyed our final views of Tarpon Springs as we traveled through the Anclote River to the waterway.

Initially we encountered both waterfront homes as well as beaches and southern “woods” along the way, but after Dunedin and our first Florida bascule bridge, both sides of the rivers, bays,etc were just solid with homes, condos and high-rises of all sorts. I guess that is what we will be seeing for a while.

We also needed to slow down for no wake zones and people fishing along the way. This is normal in Florida but it was the first time it had been required quite so often since we were on canals in Canada.

We found the St. Petersburg Municipal Marina on the second try (there are three marinas in the same area) and settled in. It is fairly large and has very nice facilities (clean shower room!) and is 2 blocks from the downtown of the very large city. We immediately saw Jane Johnson, a friend from the Mobile, AL marina, and we joined her and another couple for dinner.

We stopped to listen to a band near the restaurant and then left for the short walk back to the boat. See our boat with the lights of the city beyond? Pretty cool.

 

Ukulele Fun and Good Friends

February 20 & 21, Tuesday and Wednesday; Tarpon Springs, FL

In the last two days I’ve traveled south to the town of Dunedin – by car and bus – not boat. And why? So I could play ukulele along with Jan Mutaska’s dulcimer; Jan being the boating friend that we ate dinner with the other night. Yesterday she drove 1/2 hour north from Dunedin to pick me up so I could enjoy their Dulcimer Club meeting at the Dunedin Senior Center. I was amazed at the number of players –  25 or more- all playing lovely dulcimer music. Jan had told me to join in with my ukulele and people were very welcoming. Of course there were 3 women there originally from Massachusetts and we chatted a bit.

We had a quiet evening and I took a walk around the marina at sunset.

Today (Wednesday) Jan and I had more musical plans. We joined a groups of blue grass musicians that play together for a few hours each week next to the Rail trail in Dunedin. There were 3 fiddlers, a banjo, a bass and 3 guitars, a hammered dulcimer, Jan with her dulcimer and myself and another woman with our ukuleles. It was fun and challenging in that we had no music and had to figure out when to play which chords by ear. I’m not sure the ukes added much but it was fun.

To get to Dunedin I decided to figure out the public transportation in this tourist area – which is the Jolly Trolley! It involved going online, downloading an app (of course) to get a schedule and then walking about 5 minutes to the local stop. But I forgot about the “exact change” part and ended up “borrowing” a quarter each from two nice young men on the trolley!

Since it was our last night in Tarpon Springs we planned to go out with our friends Chris and Roger to the famous Rusty Bellies seafood restaurant. (They had non-seafood options as well). To  organize our outing I downloaded yet another app – “Nowait” because the restaurant always has long wait times.  The app lets you get your name on the wait list before you leave your abode (aboat?).  We had a good meal and a very good time. We will miss our new friends.