Monday, November 28, 2016

Monday...where did the time go?

Sunset on Saturday at St. Pete's Beach
We departed Tarpon Springs Saturday morning and before I knew it…it was Monday afternoon and we are anchored at Cayo Costa State Park in Boca Grande FL! So a quick recap…Saturday was a non-event travel day with our only goal “be anchored & set before the Egg Bowl”.  Goal reached & victory documented…Wahoo!!!!  Anchored at St. Pete’s Beach was phenomenal and put it on our “must visit again” list.  I’m a HUGE fan of anchoring – you get the BEST sunrise & sunset pictures – not to mention the solitude…**sigh**!

Sunrise on Sunday at St. Pete's Beach

Up early on Sunday and headed further south…remember how the anxiety level was elevated 12 days ago because we had to cross the Gulf of Mexico?  Well…that adventure was highly over rated…crossing Tampa Bay??  Now THAT was an adventure!!  We were NOT prepared for that challenge and it was VERY “active”!! We entered Tampa Bay to see St. Petersburg but it was way too windy to stop anywhere! 
However, we survived physically – after I picked up all the fresh produce thrown about – mentally, we were spent!  We dropped anchor at Siesta Key, FL & I was too “keyed” to sleep – toughest day yet!

Sunshine Skyway Bridge!!  Exiting Tampa Bay!!! YAY!!
Monday was “Bridge Day”.  Sunday we passed under 6 bridges (some had to open due to our height) but MONDAY??   How about EIGHT bridges before lunch? And the wind, traffic and current on Lemon Bay…geesh!!  However, we had the unparalleled opportunity to see Sarasota & Venice FL from the Waterway…absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!  Venice has a walking/running/biking trail on BOTH sides of the water!!  I just wanted to drop anchor and swim to shore and run!  Yep, Venice is a must-visit-again-and-stop-the-boat!  Gorgeous!!
Corner Lot! Location, location, location...
Neighborhood in Venice - Feels like Italy!

Lot for Sale - described in Square FEET! Wonder what the "lower price" is?
Dolphins LOVE to swim with us - everyday since saltwater!
We experienced our FIRST rain shower this afternoon while exploring the island. Like most of the country, it was not enough to combat the drought…but it did rinse the salt water from the boat!
Rain clouds moving in from the Gulf side of the island

Tuesday will be a “rest day”.  We will remain at Cayo Costa – hiking (ok walking-there are no hills to hike), running, biking, & enjoying the Gulf side of the island.  The weather is forecast to be in the 80’s so sunscreen is a must!
Tortoise on "hiking" trail at Cayo Costa

May you continue to give kindness and gratitude toward others – it may come back to you!
My Happy Dance!!  Solid Ground!!
Be blessed!

Friday, November 25, 2016

It's Friday!

And beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

What a fantastic Thanksgiving Day we had at Chris and Debbie’s!  It was great to see family, meet some for the first time and make friends with a neighbor from Germany…even off the water we have a good time!  Of course, I failed to take the camera but trust me…we didn’t leave hungry!!! W. O. W.!

So Friday kicked off with a quick trot to the grocery store because Saturday morning we will pull out of Turtle Cove and anchor out for the next 4-5 days!!  YAY!! Tarpon Springs has been a wonderful stop and besides the fantastic people, the architecture has to be my favorite non-person thing about this town.  It seems every building or home has a story.  The Greek culture is alive and well – including the buildings!!
A Bed & Breakfast tucked away-check out their website!

The courtyard at the B&B - bed frames used for the fence for the Blessings road.

THIS HOUSE!! Across from Craig Park-where people jog & manatees play! Wow, Wow!!
This afternoon we took a dinghy tour of the neighborhood – we were told about some beautiful homes on the other side of a bridge and decided to go exploring.  Little did we know several other looper were on the same dinghy tour!
Bridge clearance of 6' & required a 2 hour notice to open - glad we were in the dinghy!

For Sale - Corner Lot! Hammocks in the front yard!
Honey, I'm home!!
Hey! The crew from Sanctuary - we know you!
In several of my runs through town, I’ve been up and down one street watching a man decorate his home.  Today he said that tonight would be the initial lighting, so after dinner our group of 13 went on a “walk to the lights”.  The children of the home were super stoked and I felt like we should sing a few carols…no one agreed, so there were no songs!  But we were welcomed and appreciated…again, such kindness!!

Merry Christmas from Tarpon Springs!

Archways on the sidewalk (right) & lighted palms on the left - HARD WORK!
As today draws to a close I have to say my favorite time of the day was a phone call from Debbie.  She & Chris came by the boat and after the “big tour” we had the opportunity just to sit down and visit.  Long overdue – very much enjoyed!  We need to do it again before another 30 years pass – crazy girls!!

Saturday mid-morning we will pull out of the marina and head south (of course).  As stated in an earlier blog we will head to Fort Myers but we are in no hurry. So we have several anchorages picked out…which means we may or may not have internet service – will find out when we get there!
"Road signs" on the water - just in case...
As we move into the Christmas season, my prayer is for peace and contentment with life as it is.  Embrace the present, try to improve the future, learn from the past and always, always move forward resting in the Lord.

God Bless!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving Eve and ONE MONTH!!

Christmas Tree at the sponge dock in Tarpon Springs

Happy, Happy Thanksgiving to all!  We are still riding high on our blessings from last year and here we are …another season of thanks is upon us! AND we have reached the one month mark of our journey…yes, we are still having fun AND we are both still on the same boat – together and most importantly we are meeting people from every walk of life…finding common ground and molding friendships.  Life’s blessings just keep pouring in…

Tarpon Springs is rich in Greek heritage and culture and we are loving it!  Yes, they LOVE their meat and bread…ohhhh, the bakeries!! But they also have such love for family – everyone seems to live, work and play in the same community.  They love LOUD!!  Since Charlie doesn’t want me to make this blog a history lesson, I’m going to hide the fun facts in the links.

There is so much to do and no need for a vehicle!  The Pinellas Trail is a great biking, walking, skateboarding stretch of 47 miles! Tarpon Springs has a fitness park surrounding the start of the trail – super cool!  And yes, Charlie has really used his bicycle (including the helmet) for quick trips to pick up those small yet necessary boat parts. Naturally the lesson of sponges can be learned from anyone standing in a shop or the parking lot but perhaps the best info came from our “fun map”

brief recap of sponge diving business
Of course the culture of Greek food is a lesson in its own rite.  I found it interesting the area restaurants put a scoop of potato salad in the bottom of a traditional/Greek salad – quite an unexpected surprise!  When asked why …it’s tradition.  You see, when the young Greek men arrived in Florida to kick off the sponge diving enterprise, their traditional food was not readily available.  In order to keep their tummy full – remember they were doing manual labor – cooks started putting a scoop of potato salad in their food.  That practice is still in play today!

We have enjoyed Tarpon Springs and tomorrow will take us to Holiday FL (via car) to enjoy the day with family. Friday will be spent prepping the boat for our continued journey south…next stop is Fort Myers…in a week or so.

A few stats of our journey:
We have driven/floated approx 875 miles, stayed in marinas 18 nights, anchored out 10 nights, stayed 2 nights at free municipal docks and ONE night driving all night across the Gulf of Mexico.  Based on those numbers we need to start anchoring out more often or finding municipal docks – it’s my favorite part!

Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday – where ever you are and whoever you’re with, embrace it and make it a pleasant memory.  Friends are just family we choose.

God Bless!
Because the bar TOP is where we draw the line?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Another GREAT Monday!

I know it’s been a day or so since the last update…too much fun happening!!

We have recovered from THE CROSSING, the laundry is done and I/we have explored the town on foot!!!  Poor Charlie – every time we leave the marina it’s an “automatic 5 miles”!  Today was only 4 (well, ok, maybe 5) but not all at one time!

Laundry facilities on the 2nd floor - no bad...
We started out heading to West Marine with a side stop at the grocery store.  We were more than cool walking through Tarpon Springs, down the highway and across the large parking lot pulling our wagon!  What a better way to see a new town AND get a little exercise.  It was back to the boat, a quick bite of lunch then uh-oh…Charlie needed a “micro SD memory card” for the chart plotter.  No problem!!  Walgreen’s had them…only 1.2 miles away…YAY!!!  And here we go again in a different direction – new sights…YAY!!!

Of course, with all the excitement of pedestrian life I failed to take any pictures except this one…although it’s a Jamaican Restaurant, I’m thinking it could be the name of a variety of businesses.  It smelled great but we kept walking.

What a name...Love it!

The bright spot of my day was a conversation with my long-lost Aunt Phyllis!  She lives “a stone’s throw with a strong arm” from the marina.  And I’m ashamed to say it’s been WAY TOO LONG since our last visit (my fault). However, she has invited us to join her and family for dinner on Thursday – I’m so excited to see her and catch up on the latest stuff! 

Tonight we had a spur-of-the-moment dinner group heading to Paul’s Shrimp House…yes, we walked there too!  It was 2 for1 Fish & Chips and it was DELICIOUS and too much fun with our looper family!  The owner and staff could not have been nicer or more accommodating – it’s amazing how 8 folks can walk into a restaurant and become friends with everyone else in the room…its looper magic!
The weather has been SUPER!  A little windy but sunny and temps sitting in the 60’s…I think we can tough it out until we get further south (sarcasm intended).  Tomorrow I plan to visit the sponge docks AND take my camera! So maybe you won’t continue to be bored with the narrative.

Take time this week to take a deep breath and don’t stress for the moment…then dive right in and ENJOY your time with family – and those who you wish were family!!

Happy Tuesday evening…Be blessed!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Crossing - SUCCESS!

We have arrived in Tarpon Spring FL!!  Everyone (all 6 boats) arrived in one piece – in need of a REAL nap – and no boat issues along the way! Thank you Lord!!  No doubt, this group has been blessed by the good Lord! 

Sunset on Friday - crossing the Gulf of Mexico!

Sunrise on Saturday - STILL crossing the Gulf of Mexico

Later sunrise of Saturday - Southern Cross to the right

We had six boats – one couple per boat – and not one of us had experience crossing the Gulf of Mexico!  However, Steve & Teresa on Sanctuary have crossed Lake Michigan!  So they took the lead not only in the line-up but also in facilitating the meetings and suggestions prior to the crossing…words cannot convey our heart-felt appreciation for their willingness to take on this random group of strangers and make us friends!!  There’s a lot of anxiety (and opinions) when facing 170 miles of travel at 8.0 mph!!

Sanctuary leading the way, Southern Cross second in line
Robin's Nest - FUN FOLKS!!

So here we are for Thanksgiving week…Turtle Cove Marina, Tarpon Springs FL!!  If you’re in the area, stop by & say HI!!  We are in slip #3.  Charlie & I have already skipped (ok, strolled) through the main street looking for a hot meal and Hella’sRestaurant did not disappoint.  We ate in almost silence other than commenting about “rocking” in our chairs. So we went straight back to the boat for a hot shower & nap (him).  I knew I needed to get this post completed before I forgot everything!!

As seen in a river channel - GULP!!
Our route to Carrabelle was an uneventful path across several bays, river channels & fishing communities but it certainly required our attention…water depths outside the narrow channel  was SHALLOW, like wading pool shallow – gulp!
The Moorings in Carrabelle - yep, that's a "slip"!

We reached The Moorings Marina in Carrabelle and were informed we had to BACK INTO THE SLIPS!! This was a first for Captain Charlie and while it wasn't easy and the wind picked up during the process...he did it!!  I was so proud of him & and relieved.  So we started the prep work on the boat – securing anything that could move.  I didn’t do a lot of food prep – it was ONE NIGHT of travel and honestly, I had no plans to eat heavy.  The weather report was favorable but I knew 2-3 foot swells was someone’s opinion and my interpretation of that after dark might differ.  So I started a small crock pot of white chili for our 10:00 dinner. 

I tried to eat a small bowl but tripped going up the steps to the back deck…SPLAT!!  White chili face plant!!  It was EVERYWHERE…power cords, dock steps, hatch cover, carpet…and of course, my face, hair, sweatshirt, life jacket…UGH!! And it didn’t look like chili after that…gross!!  So I did what any great boater would do, I took a bubble bath, put on my pj’s and a clean life jacket and left the mess for daylight hours.  FYI: it looked worse after sunrise.  No are welcome!

I drove a LOT in the early hours during the roughest seas and Charlie was a trooper taking the bulk of the after-midnight-before-sunrise shift but after 21 hours of constant travel we were ready to stop.  Our “looper group” was fantastic with top-of-the-hour radio checks and roll call – keeping drivers alert while the partner rested.  We talked about all kinds of stuff and learned a little more about each other.  Memories forever!!

While we spend this week in Tarpon Springs and all of you are planning time with family, friends or hunting camp I will keep you briefly updated.  Most importantly, treasure this time you have together, embrace each opportunity to create something special out of the ordinary…most of all be thankful to the Lord for every breath and every day.  Where would we be without His grace and mercy?  Pay it forward.

God Bless!

PS: Kids young and old - Tarpon Springs is a VERY unique & historic town...I know you're out of school BUT it's always fun to learn about "cool" stuff...get your thinking caps ready!!!