Friday, January 19, 2007

Florida's West Coast

Mikey's First Christmas

After a relatively quiet Christmas with daughter Lyz and her family, we headed north along the West Coast from Fort Myers.

We found ourselves in Sarasota for New Year's weekend and spent some great time with Judy's cousin Jeanne, who works in real estate there. We took the boat up to Longboat Key where Jean treated us to lunch at a delightful dockside restaurant. We passed the Ringlings' modest winter home on the way.

We headed south at a leisurely pace, stopping at a couple of anchorages on the barrier islands. There are a number of state parks, accessible by water only, where you can anchor or dinghy to a dock or beach on the inside and walk to the beach on the Gulf side. Cayo Costa was paticularly nice.

We were on a mooring in Fort Myers Beach for a few days, waiting for some fair weather for the trip further south, which is "outside" in the Gulf for most of the way. It's a great place with all the conveniences, a beautiful beach and a 25-cent "trollee" which will take you anywhere. They have a huge fishing fleet and high speed ferries to Key West. We caught up with John and Diane Cummings there, who were in the process of selling his father's house in Bonita Beach before continuing their cruise on their PDQ powercat.

We stayed on the dock at the Everglades City Rod and Gun Club for a couple of days so that we could take an airboat through the Everglades. Actually, the airboat ride is about 90 per-cent thrill ride and 10 per-cent "educational", but we got to to see some of the backcountry we wouldn't have otherwise. We even got too see some alligators "in the wild", although we suspect that they are fed illegally so that they will stick their noses up when the tour boats come through!

After an overnight stop at Little Shark River, we headed down to Marathon and Boot Key Harbor, where we expect to stay at anchor for 2 - 3 weeks with maybe a side trip to Key West and a couple of other spots. Then north in late February or early March to the Miami area to "stage" for a fair weather crossing to the Abacos in the Bahamas.

Bernie, our mascot, continues to watch out for us. So far, we've had no major problems and think life is pretty darned good for a couple of old folks!

[In case you can't see it, the name on the side of this dinghy is "Row vs. Wade".]