01 February 2013
Hard to believe that the last time I wrote was before Christmas. I won’t be detailing the three weeks ashore because I kept in touch with family and friends during that time, and I’m sure no one else cares to read about all the fun I had with my grandkids!
There is one thing I want to share that has nothing to do with sailing or our life on the water, but it made such an impression on me. While visiting friends in Alabama, I witnessed one of the best examples I have seen of genuine loving kindness. The brother of Johnny’s best friend is an adult with Down syndrome who lives with our friend and his wife and is an integral part of their family. On Saturday morning, he was up early and dressed in his favorite University of Alabama shirt. This, I might add, in a household of die-hard Auburn fans! As the morning passed, I noticed him frequently looking out the front windows, obviously waiting for someone. Soon that someone arrived, and they left together. What happens every Saturday is that this family friend takes our friend’s bother out for lunch and some “guy time.” I just think that is the coolest thing I’ve witnessed in a long time. No organization is involved, no fund raising necessary, no red tape to get through, just one man showing another man that someone likes him enough to spend time with him. This showed me again that the best gift we can give to anyone is our time and attention.
As I write today, (January 15) we are at Ft. Myers Beach. We came here mainly to see Katie and Jessie before heading farther south. Last night we went to the restaurant where Katie is working (one of her two jobs) and had a chance to catch up on what’s been going on with them since we parted ways at Tarpon Springs before Christmas. Both girls have jobs and are happily living aboard Louise with Rusty and Bird. Jessie’s dad is in town for a few days and she was spending time with him, so we didn’t get to see her. That was disappointing, but maybe we can squeeze in a visit before we leave here.
Leaving ‘Bout Time at Little Harbor Marina turned out to be a wise choice. The resort has great amenities, and our dock neighbors kept a close eye on her while we were gone. We will definitely put it on our list of good places to stop.
Since January 7, we have anchored in the Manatee River near Bradenton, in Sarasota Bay, at Higel Park in Venice, and at Boca Grande before reaching Ft. Myers beach yesterday, January 14.
Our hands-down favorite stop was Boca Grande. Such a quite place, but with interesting things to see and do. This was our first chance to try out the folding bikes that we got for Christmas. So much fun! They allow us to see and do much more than we ever did on foot. Thanks, Santa! We especially enjoyed our visit to the lighthouse museum where we learned a lot about the history of the area. Of course we had to check out the cool hardware store as well as the bakery next door. Then there was a lovely Sunday service at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, and afterwards we had lunch at a local Relay for Life fish fry. Spent most of a pleasant afternoon on the beach lounging, wading, and collecting shells. We strolled through the public rooms of the Gasparilla Inn, and I have to say it’s quite impressive. Wouldn’t mind spending a few days there sometime, but we just don’t leave the boat to do that. We had great food at the Pink Elephant, which is part of the Inn complex.
The first two months on the water we mostly covered areas that we were already familiar with, but since then we have headed to new places and enjoyed it immensely. And now that we’ve returned from the Christmas holidays, we feel more like true “live aboards.” Knowing that we won’t be back home for several months gives a different feel to our everyday activities and travels. Kind of hard to explain, but it represents really a big shift for us mentally.