Heart of Gold
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- 09/28/2016 - Wednesday - 10:30 p.m. - We started our new adventure today. Saying goodbye to our friends in Biloxi was tough. We have really enjoyed our time there and the people we got to know. I packed up the boat with 3 gallons of gumbo and 3 bags of royal reds shrimp. I think we will be OK for our trip. Greg and I decided to head straight for Venice, Florida instead of going the ICW route. I wanted to skip doing that and spend more time in Venice visiting with my friend Jean. She is a close friend and I have not seen her in a while. It will be good to see her again. On our way out to the gulf we were escorted by at least 30 dolphins. They are so beautiful every time they show up. It always seems like a good omen when they come around. The crossing to Venice will take about 46 hours and we expect to get there by Friday morning. The weather has been perfect and the gulf is nearly flat. We got to enjoy a beautiful sunset and the boat is running like a champ.
- 09/29/2016 - Thursday - 9:00 p.m. - Another beautiful day. We are in the middle of nowhere and it is wonderful. Greg spotted a waterspout but it never fully developed. It was fun to watch anyway. The water is great and we are having a smooth ride. Glorious end of the day sunset.
- 09/30/2016 - Friday - 10:30 p.m. - Fantastic sun rise and rain clouds seem to be all around us but not a drop on us. Even the small clouds are dropping rain. It is just amazing to be out of sight of land and see so many beautiful things. Got into Venice around 1:00 P.M. and got settled in. I called my dear friend Jeanne Stephens and we had a wonderful visit and supper at the Crows Nest. It was so good seeing her again. We have plans for tomorrow. I can't wait to spend time with her..
- October 1, 2016 - Saturday - 11:00 p.m. - I spent the day with Jean and it was so good to just hang out with her. I have missed her so much. We made plans again for Sunday. This evening we had dinner with Sara and Larry Myers. They took us to The Shore in Sarasota and it was wonderful. The company was even better. We had a great time and it was really good to see those two again. Greg and Larry have plans to golf in the morning. The weather has been wonderful. The only bad thing is the red tide. It causes coughing and all the dead fish tend to smell bad. They never know how long it will last.
- October 2. 2016 - Sunday - 10:30 p.m. - Slept well last night. Greg and Larry went golfing and by the sound of it they had a great time. Jean and I spent the day together and then came back to the boat and watched the Ryder Cup. Glad USA won. Larry and Greg came back and filled us in on their day of golf. They both were happy with themselves. Went to supper with Jean at the Crows Nest because we didn't feel like driving anywhere and my favorite place, Vilenti's was closed. While we were in the restaurant the wind picked up and it started to pour down rain. It lasted for about a half hour and the rain was sideways most of the time. If finally slowed down and Greg went to get the car. It was such a special night with Jean. I will miss her so much. Good day and good night.
- October 3, 2016 - Monday - 9:15 p.m. - It's always difficult leaving Venice. Passed Sharkey's on our way to Punta Gorda. That was a fun place we used to take the kids and friends. Good food and great beach. The water was flat and beautiful all the way to Charlotte Harbor. As we turned into the harbor we had several dolphins swimming along side the boat. It is always so neat to have them swimming with the boat. I don't know when you get tired of dolphins but it hasn't happened yet. Every time we spot some we have to go watch them until they get board with us and move on. I love when the dolphins come and visit us and I don't think I will ever get tired of seeing them. Got into Fisherman's Village around 4:00 p.m. and our good friends Don and Susan Hallman came down to the marina after we got docked and we spent the rest of the day and evening with them. It was so good to see them again. We got back right where we left off and we had a blast.
- October 4, 2016 - Tuesday - 10:00 p.m. - Don and Susan came over around 10:30 a.m. and invited us to join their group of friends for lunch at the new Scotty's Brew House. It was good to see a piece of Indiana down here. We had a great time meeting everyone. After lunch we took Phil and Margaret Sieck on a tour of the boat. They were so nice and good traveling buddies with Don and Susan. After lunch Don and Susan tried to help Greg figure out where to go in the keys. We have never been there and they know all the good places. In the afternoon Greg had been in contact with an old friend of ours Ken Burket. They used to work together at Sears, so you know it was a long time ago. It was great seeing him again and catching up. Ken and Greg had a golf day planned and Susan, Don, and I had a date with WalMart. I just needed some things for the boat and they were kind enough to take me there. Later that night we went to an nice little Italian place called Carmelo's and had some great conversation.
- October 5, 2016 - Wednesday - 10:00 p.m. - Greg and Ken were going to try to have another golf day but it had rained so much the night before all the courses were closed. We hung out with the Hallman's again and they drove us around showing us different things around Punta Gorda. We went to their house and Susan and I went swimming in their pool. It was great. We floated until we were both pruned up. Their daughter Jennifer and her two boys came over later in the afternoon and we all had a nice supper together. Don cooked chicken on the grill and we also had some pulled pork. We spend the rest of the evening watching the weather channel for information about hurricane Matthew and trying to figure out where it is going to hit. Luckily for us it is only going to be a tropical store in this area, but the east coast is going to get the brunt of it. The weather channel could not be more excited about Matthew. Don and Susan gave us the use of their other car for the remainder of our stay which will make it easier for them and us both. Really appreciate having the car. It was a wonderful day spent with the Hallman family.
- October 6, 2016 - Thursday - 10:30 p.m. - Our plans have changed as to the keys. Hurricane Matthew is starting to cause havoc in Florida. The keys have big waves and will probably be that way for a while. We are waiting for it to pass us which will be some time tonight or early morning. We have to make a new plan depending on what the hurricane does. If it causes flooding problems for the Okeechobee then we will have to make a fast run around the keys. If the Okeechobee isn't flooded then we will go that way. It will take a day or two for us to figure out the best plan. Greg and Ken had a golf day again but only got 9 holes in due to the incoming wind and rain. I spent the day working on the internet designing some knitting patterns for my project. We caught up with the Hallmans at Sandra's, a great little German restaurant, for Don's birthday. Jennifer and her boys were also there. The food was fantastic and the dessert was amazing. After supper they all came to the boat and we enjoyed the wind from Matthew. We were all hoping it wouldn't do too much damage to the other side. These things are so unpredictable. Right now it is a category 4. It was a wonderful night with the Hallman family.
- October 7, 2016 - Friday - 11:15 p.m. - Hurricane Matthew passed the south eastern part of Florida with minimal damage and was heading up to Georgia and South Carolina where it will do more damage because it is expected to make landfall in that area. I hope they don't suffer too much damage. The Hallmans picked us up for lunch and afterwards we headed to Sam's Club. We both needed a few things. It was a great lunch at the Ice House which is a British Pub. It was delicious. We did some shopping and Greg looked for some water filters with no luck. We unloaded our groceries and spent a little time on the boat. Believe it or not we went back to Sandra's for a second time. It was that good. We all love German food. Who am I kidding, we just love food. The wind has died down and so has the water. We may leave here Sunday. Not really sure when we will leave. Great day and great night!
- October 11, 2016 - Tuesday - 9:45 a.m. - We decided to stay in Punta Gorda till Monday and let Matthew pass and then let things settle down. Wish we could have gone to the keys but we will get down there one day. Staying put gave us a chance to spend more time with our friends. Saturday Greg and Ken got to golf again and then the three of us went out for sushi. Found a great place not too far from the boat. On Sunday we were invited to join the Hallman's to celebrate Susan's dad's 89th birthday. Susan's brother Tom and his wife Thelma were there and so were Jennifer and her boys. Don made his famous ribs and we had a great time just visiting. Susan and Tom were the only siblings that could attend but we were glad they included us as part of the family. It was a great party. We enjoyed our stay at Fisherman's Village and were happy to have such a great place to hole up for the hurricane. The bonus was we were able to spend so much time with great friends. On Monday we left Fisherman's Village and headed for Ft. Myers. Greg decided to take the ICW instead of going on the outside. We had a beautiful family of dolphins join us. They swam with us for a long time, jumping and racing along. We also had a large single dolphin join us later in the day. I just love when they come and visit. The ride was smooth and the boat ran great. We got to Legacy Marina round 4:00 p.m. and relaxed for a bit. Greg's friend, Jay Higgins, who he used to work with, moved with his family to Ft. Myers and they came down to visit us. Ken Burket also lives in Ft. Myers and he joined us. I took a picture of Ken taking a picture of all of us. We had a nice supper with everyone and it was a great visit. Greg and Ken have not seen each other in 30 years. He hasn't changed a bit! Except for the gray hair and he shaved his mustache. It was really good to catch up with old friends. We had another great sunset in Ft. Myers. I love Florida. We left Legacy Marina this morning and are heading to the Okeechobee. Last night we met Ed and Colleen Taulbee from Lafayette, LA on their boat "EZDUZIT". They are also owners of a Grand Alaskan and has a list of 8 others who do too. We talked about a rendezvous sometime will all the Grand Alaskans. I think that would be a blast. It will have to be somewhere great. On our way out they took some great pictures of our boat. I love when we can get a shot of it not tied up to a dock. I do look forward to seeing them again. I do enjoy the Okeechobee ride because there is a lot of birds to see and other wild life but I wish we could have gone to the keys. We will see how the day goes. - 9:30 p.m. - The rest of the day was good. It was cloudy most of the day and the wind picked up. We did come across some interesting things. There was a cow in the water and also saw a boat that was not in great shape. Other than those two things there wasn't much. We stopped for the night at Moore Haven and had a beautiful evening. I fixed a nice salad for supper and we relaxed. What am I saying, we are always relaxing.
- October 12, 2016 - Wednesday - 8:30 p.m. - We left Moore Haven around 8:00 a.m. this morning and got through the lock in no time. It was sunny today and warmer than yesterday. Uneventful ride. We did see an airboat, and they are so fascinating to watch. Finally got into Lake Ockeechobee and it was a little rough. We spotted an osprey and I got a fairly good picture of it. There were also a few bird landing places around too. Only came across one other boat all the way to the other side. Somewhere in the middle we picked up a bunch of seagulls. Those crazy birds followed us all the way to the Myakka Lock. When we were leaving the lock the lock master told us it was our lucky day because right after we came out of Moore Haven lock they broke down and were closed. No other boats were coming through for a while. We made it all the way to Stuart and got into the Sunset Marina. We have stayed here before and really like it. I think we are going to stay for two nights.
- October 14, 2016 - Friday -10:45 p.m. - Yesterday we stayed in Stuart. Greg worked on cleaning the outside and I did some housekeeping inside. That evening we walked over to our favorite little Italian place that is near the marina and had a great supper. We left early to head to Ft. Lauderdale. We took the ICW instead of going on the outside because it was too rough. The ICW is really not my favorite way to go. Especially between Stuart and Ft. Lauderdale. Did see an eagle's nest and a heron sitting in a dead tree. Went through Jupiter and boy those people know how to live. It was one beautiful home after another. They were all huge. also went through Palm Beach and West Palm Beach. Again, one huge house after another. I think these people are friends with Donald Trump. I could not believe how big the sign was. It was great seeing that. I had forgotten about the Port of Palm Beach and the huge Rybovich boat yard. The port isn't as big as Mobile but it is still a very active place. It is really slow going on this stretch of the ICW, just so many bridges and it is no wake most of the way. We stopped in Delray Harbor for the night. It is a small marina but it is within walking distance of a lot of good eating and shopping places. We walked over a mile to an Asian place called "Lemongrass Asian Bistro." It was really good and the service was spectacular. Delray is really a nice place. The walk back to the marina was much more pleasant than the walk there. It was a beautiful night with a light cool breeze.
- October 16, 2016 - Sunday - 3:30 p.m. - Saturday we continued on the ICW toward Ft. Myers. Went through Boca Raton and a bunch of other beautiful towns. I was really surprised at all the Trump signs we saw. A lot of little ones but there were lots of big ones too. I figured they way they talked on television Florida was in the bag for Hillary. When I started noticing all the Trump signs I also started looking for Hillary signs but did not see a one. Not even a little one. I also thought women were in the bag for Hillary but I guess not all of them. Even in Ft. Lauderdale when they don't have an actual sign where they work they make due with spray paint. Finally made it to the New River and started inbound. The last time we were here we followed Jimmy Buffet's yacht all the way to our marina, but not this time. We were on our own for this gut wrenching ride. It is so narrow and very twisty with lots of hair pin curves. Greg did a great job of getting us through the river and I kept track of the upcoming bridges we had to call so they would raise for us to get through. Greg and I were both exhausted by the time we made it to our marina. It really isn't a marina, it's more of a boat yard. Which is good for us because we are going to have some work done while we are here. It is also in the perfect area for us to finish provisioning the boat for our trip into the Caribbean. We walked over to the restaurant at the marina next door and had some burgers. They were good and so was the service. Got back to the boat, watched a movie and fell asleep. Today we had our first experience with Uber and it was fantastic. We loved our driver and will use him to pick us up to go to the airport. We did rent a car and they were supposed to pick us up but they didn't have anybody to do it so they suggested Uber to bring us and they would take it off the car rental. After we picked up the car we went to Grandpa's Bakery for breakfast. The guys at Enterprise suggested we try it. Grandpa's was great. We had not gone out for breakfast in a long time and it was fantastic. Of course we went to West Marine to pick up a few things. When we get back after the wedding I'm sure we will be spending more money there. I am looking forward to the wedding, it is going to be fun. I'm happy for my son and his new bride. I'm really excited because we are picking Mary up from the airport today. She is flying around 7:15 p.m. It will be good to see her again so soon. She will be flying with us tomorrow to Biloxi and then we will get our car and drive to Indiana. Pre wedding stuff is exciting!
- November 6, 2016 - Saturday - 2:18 p.m. - These last few weeks have been hectic. We got back to Biloxi on the 18th and were able to have a quick bite with Mick and Kristine. They were kind enough to watch our car and pick us up at the airport. Caught a great picture of a really wide rainbow on the way to supper. After supper we said our good byes and Greg, Mary, and I took off headed to Indiana. we stopped over night north of Birmingham, AL. Made it home by Wednesday and rushed to get stuff done to get ready for the wedding and our trip to the Caribbean. We went to Indianapolis on Friday and had a wonderful rehearsal dinner with the wedding party and our new in laws It was a great gathering of family and friends. It was a nice venue at the Duckpin bowling alley. It was so much fun everyone enjoyed the duckpin bowling. I even gave it a shot and Greg hurt his butt muscle trying his hand at it. It's different from regular bowling and a lot harder. The next day started early with us girls getting our make up and hair done. It was fun. Mary and Whitney helped the boys with ironing and hair also. I wish I would have been part of that also but I missed it. Phil and dad went on a little shopping trip together before Phil got ready. It was a beautiful wedding. Greg's sister Ellen and brother in law Charlie Moore came and so did a lot of our friends. Debbie and Fern along with Harry and his Debbie came from Hoppies Marina in Missouri. The bride and groom were lovely. The ceremony was in the ally between the hotel and every ones favorite place St. Elmo's. At first I thought it was a weird idea but it was absolutely beautiful. The reception was great fun with lots of dancing, food and cake. Of course lots of drinking. Phil and Meghan did a great job of planning the wedding. I was surprised at how good I felt for this wedding. I felt beautiful myself. So many of their friends and our friends and family came just to join them in witnessing this wonderful day. It was overwhelming for all of us. They even had their dog Dragon in the ceremony. Mary did a great job of walking and handling Dragon during the ceremony. They both wrote beautiful vows to each other. I could not stop smiling the whole day. I had tears of joy just running down my face. I was truly overwhelmed with joy. It was a very emotional day for me. My closest friend Helen was there and it meant so much to me that she came. Our friends Bob and Sally were also there. It was an honor that so many people came to celebrate with us. It was one of the happiest days of my life, and I know it was the same for Philip and Meghan. My wish for them is a lifetime of happy days.
- After the wedding we went home and rested for a bit. I had a dr.'s appointment in Indy on Wednesday and everything checked out great. I'm good to go for another 3 months. Greg, Mary and I got packed up and headed to the airport on Thursday back to Ft. Lauderdale. When we got back the boat was covered in boat yard dust and it was a mess. We did some housekeeping on the inside but it didn't do much good. It was dark and noisy. Mary and I did power shopping getting supplies and parts and stuff for the boat. Mary also wanted to stock up on stuff she can't get in STT or is too expensive there. Greg finally got the marina to move us to an outside area, which was just a place where we were tied up to a couple of barges. Mary's friend Bret from STT was in Virginia visiting her family and came down here to visit with us before she heads back to STT.
- We had a lot of exciting nature to watch on the barge we were tied up to. I love the iguanas, they are just beautiful. Greg even made a video of two male iguanas having a turf war. I think there were probably over 20 iguanas on the dock if not more. I fed them our old lettuce and some tomatoes and Mary fed the ducks. The ducks were really aggressive and I was afraid Greg was going to go after them with a bat. They kept jumping up on the back of the boat. I really wouldn't have minded them but they shit all over the place. Mary and I both loved feeding the animals. Big Daddy seemed to be in charge of who was allowed on the barge. I think he is the biggest iguana I have ever seen. When I would throw our old lettuce out he would make sure he got his share, then everyone else could have the rest. They would hang out most of the day and would watch us come and go. But Big Daddy was the king of the dock for sure but it was great seeing all of them come out for lunch. We also went to the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show. That was spectacular. We got to visit with our good friend Judy Waldman. It is always so good to see her, she is such a good person. Greg, Mary, and I all found something we couldn't live without there. I told Greg he isn't dragging my ass all over that boat show and not come home with something. Once I broke the ice and bought something then everyone followed suit. Our time in Ft. Lauderdale was spent power shopping and working on the boat. I think we are well provisioned and so far all is running well.
- November 10, 2016 - Thursday - 9:45 a.m. - Yesterday we left Ft. Lauderdale and it was uneventful. Went through the gut wrenching New River with no mishaps. Mary's friend Martin tried to catch us as we were crossing the Andrews Street Bridge but he just missed us. Mary knows people around here. On the way to the ICW we saw a boat load of boats, it was interesting. Today we are heading toward the Bahamas and as we were leaving Miami we got caught up in a fast boat parade. They were part of a poker run with lots of beautiful boats. They were so loud and the smell of jet fuel was in the air but they looked like they were going to have a blast and it's only Thursday! Somehow we ended up in the middle of a parade of them all heading out to the Atlantic. Boats behind us and boats in front of us. They even had a helicopter escort. If they were heading to the Bahamas they would be there in less than an hour where as we will take all day. We were escorted all the way out to the Atlantic It's the journey not the destination as far as I am concerned. But what they were doing still looked like a lot of fun.
- 4:00 p.m - Getting into Bimini. The boat ran smooth except the stabilizers quit working. Greg worked on them for a while but could not get them to work again. Luckily we didn't need them because it was flat on the water all day. He is going to look at them again when we get docked.
- 8:00 p.m.- Got the boat tied up and went up to check in with immigration and customs. While Greg was doing that Mary and me went up to the Big Game Bar and Grill and had a beer or two. I had two. We ended up having supper up there and of course it was delicious. Come to find out they are having a Wahoo fishing tournament here this weekend but a lot of people came early. We are at the end of a dock where the fishing boats are all lit up and ready to party. I don't think the big party starts until after they catch some fish. Greg and Mary are on the dock talking to the fishing guys. The sky is clear, the band is playing, people are laughing, and the moon is shining on us tonight.