Monday, April 02, 2018

January, February and March of 2018

Here it is the first day of April, and the last post was all about Christmas and New Years! What happened? Well, you can bet that the interim has been filled with lots of activities and we lost track of how the time was passing.

January 1- February 10, 2018
Life at the City of Fort Myers Yacht Basin is amazingly like village life anywhere. We interact with each other on a daily basis. When we learn that there is a need amongst us, we reach out to answer that need. The early risers get in a brisk walk around Historic Downtown before breakfast or shortly after. Projects are worked on throughout the day. When you have a boat, it’s always something. By late afternoon, it’s time to put the tools away and join the gang sitting along the dock or on the aft deck of someone’s boat. With a little liquid refreshment and nibbles, the stories begin to unfold. Before we know it, it’s time to head “home” for supper/dinner preparation. Some folks opt for dining out in one of the many eateries within walking distance. Tomorrow is another day. We can be sure that the upcoming February festivals will be entertaining and new arrivals in the marina will join the throng. That’s pretty much the rhythm of life here as the New Year gets underway.
Lunch in town with Michelle and Dominic, cousins visiting from Maryland

Always a festival in downtown Ft Myers

Helping Rob install a new refrigerator

Dan and Natalie with their matching Galaxy 500's at the annual Ford car show at the Edison Ford Winter Estates

John and Wilma our neighboring slipmates 
Dinner on Jack and Patty's aft deck with Rob and Tricia

Another beautiful sunset

Superbowl docktails before the big game

February 10- 24, 2018
When Wally and I learned that our granddaughters Emily,10, and Bailey, 8, would like to spend their week of Winter Break on the boat with us, we realized that the “village life” that satisfied the oldsters like us was probably not going to meet the needs of our youngsters. After much thought, we decided that Clearwater Beach, near Tampa, would fit the bill. We bid farewell to our life at Fort Myers. It took us three cruising days to move the boat to Clearwater Beach. The first draw was the beach’s sugar-fine white sand; the second draw was that it was within easy walking distance from the marina slip. Beaches invite swimming, sand-castle building, shell-gathering and strolling up and down. Ice creams are always a possibility. What we didn’t realize was that Clearwater Beach was a mecca of tourist options: The Pirate Ship and the Calypso Queen with their party-hearty attitudes, Little Toot for dolphin-watching, fishing opportunities of all kinds, ships outfitted for afternoon and evening fine dining, para-sailing and wave-running. “Summertime” was surrounded by a circus atmosphere that continued well into the night. By the time we picked the girls up from their non-stop flight from Bangor, ME to Orlando, FL on February 16th, we knew that they were going to love it and they did. We did leave the beach once for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and one overnight at Caladesi Island State Park Marina. Emily and Bailey did well on our two-hour cruise. We wrapped up their vacation at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando on February 23rd. The tropical paradise that Florida offers in the winter gave them a pleasant change from the chilly, snowy conditions of a long Maine winter. Erin and Brett could not join the girls because the University of Maine vacation schedule does not match the Orono Public School System schedule. Instead, the girls were accompanied on both Allegiant Air flights by a teacher from their school who joined her fiance in Orlando for the week. We were all very grateful for her willingness to travel with the girls.

By February 28th, Wally and I were on our own non-stop Allegiant Air flight from the St. Pete/Clearwater Airport to Mesa-Phoenix, Arizona. After a 3-hour drive in a rental car, we arrived at the Saguaro Escapee (SKP) RV Park in Benson, Arizona. Perhaps a little background information would be helpful about now.  At the end of 2013, as we were preparing to move onto “Summertime”, we sold our two RV’s; we also sold our lot with its cozy casita. By selling our lot, we gave up our leaseholder status at the SKP Saguaro Coop that we had established with another lot, an unimproved one, in 2004.  As Lifetime Escapee Members, we thought it prudent to put our name on the park’s “Hot List” thinking that some day we would want to return to the Escapee RV lifestyle. In November 2017, our name had moved far enough up the list to allow us to buy one of the few remaining unimproved lots in the park... leaseholders once again!  End of history lesson.

After cruising on “Summertime” for four years, it seemed like it was time to go back to visit our SKP “family” in Benson. Friends offered to put their travel RV on our new lot for us to live in during our 10-day reunion. We gratefully accepted their offer. It couldn’t have been more perfect. It was as if we had never been away. Day after day we enjoyed many special moments with a number of special people. Most afternoons we joined the park’s “happy hour” gathering and continued to re-connect. Many in our RV family had been following Wally’s Facebook posts as he dropped 45 lbs, so we were invited to dinners that were prepared especially to meet our plant-based preference for food. Now that’s friendship in the truest sense!

The SKP Park continues to be the flurry of activity that we knew and loved. Because it’s a Coop Park, the organization, upkeep and entertainment are all carried out by volunteers within the park. Imagine 300 lot leaseholders trying to agree on all kinds of subject areas?  The decision-making can get quite energetic some days!  But this park has been operating under its own SKP Coop Rules since 1990 and it just works out fine... over time. Our 10-day stay at our “home park” was a time of great delight. Now Wally and I have got to figure out how we can fit RVing back into our cruising life.

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that just before we got back on the Allegiant Air flight in Mesa to return to “Summertime”, we had dinner with a gal whose friendship goes back nearly 50 years. Her dad worked with Wally in Hamilton, Ohio in the early 70’s. Both her mom and dad welcomed us like family. Every weekend we cheered their kids through many a 4-H Project! We caught up on her news over a dinner of delicious Middle Eastern fare. So reminiscent of days gone by!

March 12-March 30, 2018
We’ve got about a month to get to the MTOA (Marine Trawler Owners Association) Rendezvous in Ft. Pierce on Florida’s East Coast. To simplify our life, we moved our car to the Safe Cove Boat Yard in Port Charlotte where “Summertime” will be stored once again throughout hurricane season... May through November 1. We said good-bye to Clearwater Beach and moved south to the St. Pete Municipal Marina for two weeks.  We were gifted with tickets to “The Kingston Trio” performing at the Mahaffey Theater by Canadian friends who had to unexpectedly return home to Halifax. It was a very special night for us. Cruising friends Tricia and Rob True on “Linda Jean” joined us the following day.  For the next week, we walked all over downtown St. Pete, enjoying The Dali Museum and The Chihuly Glass Exhibition. Before the True’s moved on up the coast, we shared an hour-long bus ride to Pass-A-Grille together where we experienced an old-time smoked fish dinner. At the end of another week we met again in Venice, Florida. Long-time Maine/Florida friends joined the four of us on “Summertime” for “dock”tails; then we moved to the restaurant at our Crow’s Nest Marina and enjoyed a fun evening together.

 March 31-April 2, 2018
We are now on anchor in Cayo Costa State Park for this Easter Weekend. We sang our granddaughter Emily a phoned-in Birthday Song accompanied by two ukuleles for her 11th Birthday on March 31st. It’s become a family tradition since we took up ukulele playing! This morning the Easter sunrise peeked out from behind a veil of low clouds; by mid-morning, however, it was a beautiful day with lots of sun against a bright blue sky and a light breeze keeping it cool. Wally created a delightful Easter Brunch. Then we made a dinghy-run to the dock and walked 10,000 steps on the beach as we added to our shell collection. It’s been quite a blessed day for us.