Thursday, November 29, 2012

It's hard to believe Christmas is just around the corner when we're wearing shorts and flip flops.  Tomorrow Ralph flies to New Jersey to pick up his car and drive it back to Florida.   Finally everything we own will be in one place.  He'll be home Sunday evening. 

Meanwhile, Striper and I will be off our leashes for a couple days. I have plans to paint an old  ratty dresser I've wanted to paint for years and I also want to finish baking and getting packages ready to ship to  the kids and grandkids.  

The past few weeks I have been lobbying for a live Christmas tree and Ralph has opposed it.  However, we heard on the local news earlier this week that SW FL is being cautioned about infestation of spider mites and aphids on Christmas trees coming into this area.  So, now I am opposed, as well.  I didn't even use live greens in my wreaths. 


Here are a few pictures of today's projects:


Our front door

The only Christmas tree we're going to have

Today I was baking and Striper placed herself strategically

Butterballs

Swedish pecans

Pizzelles -- Striper's personal favorite

Friday, November 23, 2012

This is a special post for Mike and Melissa T. -- photos of how Say Good-Bye fits in our canal beside  the little Mako:

When we arrived home November 12.
Ralph took the isinglass down and is working on the teak
Turning crosswise in the canal
Turned around and heading out the canal
The boats fit nicely
This morning, a boat ride with Neil and Ron





Thursday, November 22, 2012

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, EVERYONE!! 

We spent the day with our friends, Neil and Becky Hoch, celebrating Thanksgiving with good food, good friends, and lots of lively conversation and laughs.  It was a perfect day.   We had a wonderful time.  

We are so blessed to live in America and have so much to be thankful for -- especially for Baby Ashton soon to be born.  Thank you, Neil and Becky, for your gracious hospitality in your beautiful new home.

Here are a few photos from today:

Julie and Ron Hoch -- and Baby Ashton to be born in April 2013

Becky and little Pom Pom

Eveything was soooo delicious!!

Hmmm...what's for dessert?

Pumpkin, apple and coconut cream pies...have a slice of each!!

L-R:  Julie, Ron, Becky, Neil holding Pom Pom, Celeste, Ralph and Striper

After dinner a rousing game of Pit -- we haven't played this game in years.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

We've been home a week and a half and are beginning to get back into the groove of living on terra firma.  Feels good!  We're once again walking 2-1/2 miles every morning in our neighborhood. Several new houses have been built since we've been gone.  Nice to be home and greeting our neighbors again.

Ralph has been busy with boat maintenance working on the teak and I've been busy getting our house back in order and finishing my Christmas shopping.  Living away now, we've got to get our packages in the mail soon.  Our Publix has had a makeover in our absence -- it was a nice store before, but is brighter and the bakery has been expanded.  That's good news.

My gym, on the other hand, has had a major change -- most of the classes I took are no longer offered and have been replaced with additional zumba classes, a boot camp, kickboxing, and a class called butts and guts. This change meant three of my former instructors are no longer there. That's bad news.   When my contract is up next month, I'm not renewing and will go to the gym up the street where my instructors are now employed. 

Our friends Neil and Becky Hoch just bought a home a block from us and they're here for the Thanksgiving holiday with their son and daughter-in-law, Ron and Julie -- and Baby Ashton who is due to be born in April 2013.   We've spent a lot of time with them this week and it's been a lot of fun.

We all went to the 26h American Sand Sculpting Championship in Ft. Myers Beach yesterday.  Here are a few photos from that amazing event:


Welcome

Snow Dragons

Aurora Borealis

Piata sculpted by John Gowdy, a former Atlantic City Firefighter, now living in Italy

Another view of Piata -- Mary holding Jesus following the crucifixion

Julie (expecting Baby Asher in April) and Becky

Texas Ice Palace

Slide and Go With The Flow -- this piece won first place.  It was quite unique with wave-like structures and figures on the waves in different positions, a hand stand, several yoga positions, a fetal position, a relaxing pose -- very clever.

The Night Before Christmas -- Santa and the Grinch Arm Wrestling

Waiting for the shuttle L-R:  Ralph, Julie, Ron, me, Neil and Becky

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It was so nice to sleep in our own beddie in our own house last night.  But I still have this question:  When your bed is as big as a football field, why does the Captain still take his half out of the middle?  That is probably one of those unanswerable questions that many wives ask.

We had a very busy day today.  Ralph worked on taking down the hurricane shutters and getting things put back in order in the yard and the garage.  I worked on bringing in all the clothes and foodstuffs from the boat.  We were both quite tired and decided to go out to dinner to one of our favorite eating haunts in Cape Coral, Mel's Diner.  Mel's is a great place where everything is homemade and delicious -- we had turkey dinners and Ralph had rice pudding and I had key lime pie for dessert.  I nice way to end the day.

We are sharing a car now until Ralph flies to NJ the end of the month to get his car which has been at his parents' house since we began living aboard.  Tomorrow morning he is going to his fishing club meeting and I am going to yoga at the gym....and I have the car because afterward I have major grocery shopping to do.

So here are our final statistics for this leg of The Great Loop:  We have traveled 4,681 miles, 768 engine hours, 174 days, 119 of those days were traveling days, and 1 night at sea.  We locked through 151 locks, we stayed at 46 free docks, 78 paid docks, and anchored out 49 nights.  We consumed 1,315 gallons of diesel fuel, visited 128 cities, 11 states and 2 countries.  We also traveled 2,200 miles by car from MS to NJ and back.

Here are some of the things we learned:

*  We have a lot of "stuff" -- and we could easily have taken 1/3 of the clothing we packed and I hope to remember this when we do the final leg of the Loop in the spring of 2013.

*  I lost 3 pounds and Ralph lost 2 pounds -- so bakeries and ice cream spots are good!!  

*  America is a beautiful country and to see it by water has been exceptionally wonderful.

*  We've been blessed to meet a lot of fun and happy fellow boaters, gracious hosts and hostesses, and friendly folks in every town who were welcoming and helpful.

*   And this is for Charles Culotta:  We learned that you must always take a spare Morse cable, because you will break one -- and we did.  And now we carry a spare. :)

*   We learned that it was fun having Striper the Wonder Dog as a traveling companion. She is great on the boat -- hates the car.  There's nothing quite like a warm puppy. 

*   Every sunrise and sunset is different and we are blessed to enjoy God's handiwork. I will never forget the spectacular sky the night we made the Gulf crossing -- totally awesome.

Here are some of today's photos:


Striper is such a sweet little dog -- she just bobs and weaves!
Clothes with the exception of the hanging things -- we took way too much!

One-third of the food still on the boat

Ralph opening the house, removing the hurricane shutters

Washing the windows and adjusting the hurricane shutters

Stripping the boat bed

All the hanging clothes -- way too many!!

More food to be packed up and brought inside

Our Red Ty plant looks better than ever!



Monday, November 12, 2012

 As Dorothy says, "There's no place like home.  There's no place like home."  And we agree.
Ralph weighed anchor this morning at 7:00 AM -- and let me sleep, bless him!  I awoke two hours later and we were crossing Lemon Bay.  We had passed Venice and some other towns along the west coast.  We crossed Gasparilla Bay and Charlotte Harbor, leaving Punta Gorda to our port as we continued to Pine Island Sound.  The Captain thought we might make it Pine Island Sound late afternoon and anchor there, but we were in the Sound in the early afternoon and kept on going. 
It was a perfect traveling day.  The skies were blue, it was warm and sunny and the dolphin were plentiful and so enjoyable.  We thought we saw one manatee nose -- we never quite get to see a whole manatee face -- just a little nose that pokes up through the water and goes right back under.
When we got to Ft. Myers and the bridge to Sanibel, it was cloudy and gray, but we were psyched and wanted to go as far as we could -- and thought about anchoring in Bimini Basin since the wind was up.  It had rained a bit and we saw a beautiful rainbow and by the time we got to "The Miserable Mile" the water was much calmer and the sky was clearing.  Ralph phoned Dave, our next door neighbor, who said he'd be ready to grab a line when we came in.
We arrived home at 4:30 PM this afternoon.  Striper was so excited she ran around and around the yard and once inside the house, she ran from room to room.  I prepared dinner on the boat and we enjoyed our last meal aboard Say Good-Bye as Loopers until next spring.   We plan to leave Cape Coral in May and finish the Loop where we started -- in Atlantic City.  There's been some talk about continuing on to Waterford and cruising the Erie Canal next summer.  

Here are a few of today's photos:

Homes along the ICW

Homes along the ICW in Charlotte County

The Captain in deep thought -- we might be able to actually make it home today!

Rainbow over Ft. Myers

Tarpon Pointe near our house

The Tom Adams Bridge

Palm Island Ferry

Palm Island Ferry from the other direction

Royal palms leading into a housing development

This dolphin swam in the starboard side wake and kept rolling to look at us -- we talk to them

The dolphin are magnificent

These power lines run from Pine Island to Sanibel

Ralph likes to throw his casting net and fish in the mangroves near this little shack


Turning into Penguin Canal -- that's us!

Our neighbor Dave came over to grab our lines

Home, Sweet Home!

A view of Penguin Canal from the stern of Say Good-Bye now at home!