CHAPTER 18    NOV 3, 2008 to end of FEB 2009  



11/3/08 – We’re now in SOUTH CAROLINA.  Stayed a couple of days at “Osprey Marina” in Myrtle Beach.  We love the goody bag (cheese, crackers, cookies, and little gifts) that Osprey Marina gives boaters, and we enjoy the marina coffee shop (serves a nice breakfast and lunch).  A three mile bike ride gets you to good shopping.
The next couple of nights are spent at anchor as we cruise through the winding and meandering low country of SC.  Didn’t stop in Charleston this time, but stayed in Beaufort SC at the town marina, where we borrowed the courtesy car to provision.  Also enjoyed a yummy shrimp and grits dinner in town.  We always admire Beaufort’s lovely West Indies style homes (high basement and spacious verandahs for maximum coolness).

11/8/08 – we enter GEORGIA and anchor the next couple of nights.  The ICW meanders, lots of barrier islands, inlets, and mud flats.  Lots of shrimp boats (see picture).
Next stop is Jekyll Island GA, a quaint and beautiful island purchased by the state in 1947.  We biked all over the island.  Stopped for lunch at “Jekyll Club Hotel” (see picture), and visited the “GA Sea Turtle Center” (rescue/rehab/release), “Faith Chapel” (with gorgeous Tiffany stained glass windows), and “Millionaire’s (see picture) Village” (Pulitzer, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, and others lived here).  This is all a National Historic Site now.  We also biked over to a beautiful white powder like sand beach.  Love this island!
Next day stopped at Cumberland Island GA, about 20 miles long and 85% owned by Federal Government.  We hiked about five miles and explored the “Ice House Museum”, ruins of “Carnegie Mansion”, and saw the wild horses and armadillos that live there (see pictures).  This was a really great stop!

Some interesting trivia about the south:  it's the land of white pickup trucks, many areas read obituaries on the radio, there are redneck Christmas parades on TV, and Nativity scenes are set up in restaurants and stores (we are in the Bible belt).  I’ve even seen calendars for sale featuring church bulletins, and a retirement center in FL that featured a decorated and lit Christmas tree on its front lawn made out of walkers!

11/12/08 – we entered FLORIDA.  We’re seeing lots of egrets, osprey, all kinds of herons, bald eagles, and flocks of white pelicans.  Stopped for the night at marina in Palm Coast.  There’s an interesting shopping and restaurant mall called “European Village”.
11/14/08 – we anchored for the night in “Mosquito Lagoon” 15 miles from Cape Canaveral, and saw the space shuttle ENDEAVOUR launch at 7:55pm.  Kennedy Space Center was clearly visible from the anchorage.  We could even see the spotlights shinning on the shuttle in the launch pad.  When it launched, the sky lit up like daylight, and the roar and vibration (the boat was shaking!) came about 10 seconds later.  We could see the flames on the rocket, and saw the first stage booster rocket detach.  It was an incredibly awesome experience!
Next few days were spent exploring Melbourne (nice little town, good shopping) while we waited for 25 knot winds to subside.
11/17/08 – spent a couple of days in Vero Beach.  They have a great free public bus system that takes you to all kinds of shopping (including the big box stores), and also to the beach.  We had a great time here.  Got our flu shots before we left.  

11/20/08 – began the Okeechobee Waterway (OWW) which crosses FL from east coast to west coast.  It’s a fascinating area, filled with all kinds of fish, turtles, manatees, alligators, birds, bald eagles (see picture), and otters.  Passing through the OWW, we pass cattle and horse ranches, citrus groves (see picture), sugarcane, and beehives.  We stopped in Indiantown and I had a lovely birthday dinner at the “Seminole Inn”, (see picture) which also boasted great Indian murals along the walls of the Inn upstairs.
Next stop on the OWW was Moore Haven at the city dock.  Our final stop was the Franklin Lock Campground and Marina.  When we were leaving, a manatee passed through the lock with us!  Another few miles and we’re on west coast of Florida.  We stopped at Ft Myers Beach to celebrate Thanksgiving.  Then on to Pelican Bay where we anchored before arriving in Punta Gorda, our home for the next three months.

Dec 2008/Jan/Feb 2009 – Fishermen’s Village Marina in Punta Gorda FL.
It’s nice to see old friends from last year, and get our van out from storage.  (It’s such a delight to be able to go shopping and not have to be back in an hour and a half with the courtesy car – I can shop for as long as I want!)  The Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte area has great shopping!  We found new doctors, got new glasses, and got hearing aids for Ray. 
We decided to drive back to CT for Christmas, but first took a big detour to visit Mt Airy NC aka “Mayberry (see picture).  Visited the “Andy Griffith Museum”, “Floyd’s Barber Shop”, “Opie’s Candy Shop”, the jail where Andy and Barney would put Otis when he was drunk, and had the best pork chop sandwich at the “Snappy Diner”!  What a hoot - we had a great time!
After that, we went on to the Radford NC area where we had a wonderful pre-Christmas visit with my Aunt Helen, and cousins Dorothy and Allen and their families (see picture).  

Arrived in CT a week before Christmas and spent a couple of days with good friends George and JoAnn at their house in Higganum (see picture), then on to my sister Carolyn’s house in Windsor for the remainder of our visit.  We spent time with my father (see picture) and my Aunt Victoria.  Celebrated a wonderful Christmas at Uncle George and Aunt Annemarie’s house in Enfield (see pictures). 

We drove back to FL in time for New Year’s Eve with friends, including Peter and Linda (see picture), at the “Captain’s Table” in Fishermen’s Village, then went on an evening cruise to see the holiday lights on the canal homes in Punta Gorda, and ended up back at the restaurant for music, dancing, and fireworks at midnight – a really fun evening!  In early January, an article was in the local newspaper about iguanas falling from the trees due to a cold snap!  We didn’t like the cool weather either, seems like we’ve become citrus sippin’ sissies!  

A group of us gals at the marina are into beading, and we made lots of pretty jewelry.  I also went to “Curves” 3 to 4 times a week and really enjoyed it.  Ray renewed interest in an old hobby, model radio controlled airplanes.  He bought a model radio control airplane flight simulator program, and can fly airplanes on the laptop!  He also enjoyed visiting air shows with the guys from the marina.  At 5pm most every night, chairs come out on the dock for Happy Hour (see picture).  It’s a great way to catch up on plans, arrange outings and parties, and relax!  

The rest of our winter was spent visiting flea markets, consignment shops, and arts and crafts shows.  We enjoyed the Holiday Home Tour sponsored by the “Punta Gorda Garden Club”.  Visited the “Edison and Ford Estates and Museum” in Fort Myers.  Drove up to St Petersburg to visit Ray’s sister Jane & Paul.  Drove to Stuart to visit friends Dave and Patty (see picture) from CT that just bought a condo in Stuart.  We drove to Green Cove Springs to visit friends John and Anita, who are about to start a 10 plus year cruise around the world in their 39 foot sailboat “Bright Eyes”.  We had a visit from Elaine (Skipper Bob’s widow).  They lived and traveled on a Krogen 36 Manatee just like ours, and wrote cruising guides.  Friends Steve and Connie from Chicago, and Rolf and Kathy from Wisconsin also came to visit us.
We also spent a lot of time looking at houses and manufactured homes this winter, but decided we’re still not ready to “live on the dirt” again.  We decided to keep on cruising for another year.  Two friends from the marina did decide to purchase manufactured homes in Punta Gorda.  We went to their open house parties, and were very impressed with the homes.

It’s time to leave Punta Gorda and cruise down to Marathon Key for the month of March.  We want to be able to really explore all the Keys this year, so at the end of February we drove our van down there, and came back in a rental car.   

We’ve traveled 7700 miles since 6/6/07, plus the previous 1000 miles when we brought SUMMERTIME up the Intracoastal Waterway from Charleston SC to Old Saybrook CT in 2005.  We look forward to hearing from friends and family – please keep the calls and emails coming!