Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Rediscover America Tour (R.A.T.) -The first seven days.

Taking advantage of this year's hurricane season to rediscover America. We're calling it the R.A.T. (Rediscover America Tour). While Sanibel sits on dry dock at Safe Cove boatyard in Port Charlotte, Florida, Jimi and I will be traveling 49 of the 50 U.S. States. Along the way we're going to recapture what America's made of, visiting out-of-the-way and well -known places, reconnecting with friends and family and  much more.

Day 1 - July 21st. We stopped in St. Petersburg, where we had lunch at Chief's Creole Cafe with our friend Bob. That evening Bob invited us to Ruby's Elixir, a cigar bar, where we listened to a very talented young man sing and play numerous musical instruments and  watched couples tear up the tiny dance floor with their advanced moves.

Total Miles driven - 112

Day 2 - July 22nd. Cape Canaveral, Fl where we'd staged to watch the Delta 4 rocket launch; however, it was postponed due to weather. Jimi captured this beautiful sunset in it's place.

Total Miles driven - 280

Day 3 - July 23rd. We stayed around to watch the rocket launch and it went off at the precise scheduled moment. We were't close enough to actually see the rocket itself, but we felt the blast in our chests even at it flew through the clouds. The burst of flames was more than apparent and the smoke trail left plenty of evidence.

Total Miles driven - 558

Day 4 - July 24th. Finally feeling like we were heading North, we drove a good portion of the day until we reached a Florida National Forrest where we camped for the night. It was somewhat less than a pleasant experience as it was hot, the mosquitoes were thick and it rained.

Total Miles driven - 728

Day 5 - July 25th. This was a busy day for us. We first drove up the the Okefenokee Swamp on the Florida Georgia line.We rented a canoe and traveled the river surrounded by alligators who seemed more scared of us than we were of them. We then drove to the Golden Isles Speedway in Waynesville, GA to watch some southern style racing on a dirt track made of Georgia clay. After the races (at 11:30pm) we drove an hour to Jesup, GA where we spent the night at friend, Rick's house.

Total Miles driven - 928

Day 6 - July 26th. After coffee with Rick and Kim, we headed for Savannah, GA. We spent the day and night there. There's an overwhelming amount of history and a day seemed hardly worthy.

Total Miles driven - 1014

Day 7 - July 27th. We drove to Bluffton, SC to visit my cousin Angee, her husband Rich and their children, Brandon, Cora and Liam. My Aunt Lil and Uncle Carl, from Topeka, KS, were also visiting. We toured a 163 year old church (all original), reminisced over the past and ate a hardy supper.

Total Miles Driven - 1083

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sanibel's Haul Out 7-2015

Here's a short, 3 minute, video of Sanibel's haul out on July 20, 2015.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Life on the Sea

We wanted to share a poem with you that our dear friend Bob wrote for us the morning we left St. Petersburg.

"Life On The Sea
I woke up this morning and you were there. Just made coffee and you were gone. 
From the foredeck I watched Sanibel round the pier; disappear into the early morning sun: 
Life on the sea.
We cast our lines with our lives into the hands of friends we’ve never met. 
Then, part with friends we’ll never more forget. Such sweet sorrow: 
Life on the sea.
I bid you fair winds and many friends, as you have been to me. 

Till we meet again my friends, in this Life upon the sea…


We thank Bob for such a special gift! We'll see you again, my friend.

Jimi & Lorie

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Pros, cons and everything in between

It’s been twelve days since we left St Petersburg. We sailed, motor sailed and sometimes just motored to get to Englewood, Fl.  We anchored each night relishing in what it was like to be at anchor in the ocean with a cool sea breeze and no neighbors. There’s pros and cons to nearly every situation and where Sanibel parks is no different. We love being out in the wide open spaces – free to do whatever we want without the worry of anyone else around. The cool breeze was a welcome relief from the basin at the marina. We spent three days to get to our destination, but took another day just hanging out  to enjoy what we missed.

Monday morning we motored through the lock, which separates the salt water from the fresh water, to get to the boat yard. The process went well, maybe better than ever before, although it can be tricky. As we approached the channel we were escorted by a dozen (or more) dolphins: from a baby sticking close to its mama to a large protecting papa and many more of all sizes.  

In order to reach the fresh water canal we motored Sanibel up to a gate with a concrete dock on our starboard side. After securing ourselves to the pylons, we activated the sequence by pulling down on and holding the triangle shaped ring. A recorded voice told us to stand by for the gate to open. Then we let loose of the dock and very slowly motored 40 feet or so into a fish bowl, we pulled on another lever and the recorded voice let us know the gate was closing. Once the gate closed another gate on the opposite end of the fish bowl opened. Water rushed in and out swirling around Sanibel’s exterior making is somewhat hard to hold her in place. Once the gates were open the recorded voice told us it was safe to proceed. On the other side of the gate again we had to tie off and finish the sequence by pulling the final triangle ring, which closed the last gate. We specifically remember our first time coming through this lock four years ago. It was nerve racking and didn’t go nearly so smooth. Now we can say we are a bit more seasoned…what a feeling.

We arrived at the marina and rather than pulling Sanibel out right away, we opted to stay on the dock while we packed the van for our road trip and prepared Sanibel for her haul out. As always there are pros and cons, but all those were over taken when we quickly learned of one major con…no-see-ums. We were overtaken and night after night we’d close the boat up around 5pm and hunker down inside. Even then we learned that they were living at the sole and would come out at all hours of the day and night. We found ourselves bundling up in long pants and socks in 90 degree weather. One upside was we had shore power and ran a large room fan 24/7.

Six years ago we downsized from two homes in Colorado to one, then in 2011 we downsized  from one home to fitting all of our worldly possessions into a car, a Toyota pickup and a trailer. Finally in 2013 we began living in close proximity of 312 square feet. I never thought it could get any smaller than that until now.  The van is FULL – much more so than we had visualized. We tried to bring only what we had to have and still it’s tight with not a spare free corner. Jimi says “if it was easy, everyone would do it”. This is a challenge we both gladly accept.

During our week stay at the boat yard, good friend Ray invited us to steak at his beach resort time share and the following afternoon we met up with our previous neighbors for ice cream, Mike, Wendy and young Kaden. 

We enjoyed everyone’s company.  We also made friends with some turtles who followed us along the dock begging for food. They were fun.

We were glad to get off the dock and Sanibel on dry storage at 2pm on Monday. Our plan was to hang out in the boat yard’s lanai that evening. We pulled out our propane cook stove to make dinner, took showers and right about sundown were viciously attacked by yet more no-see-ums. We scurried as fast as  we could to get us and all our stuff closed up in the van for a safe haven. Now what? We had a plan and this was not it. Without thinking about it or even talking about it we left the boat yard. Anywhere would have to be better. On our drive through North Port not even five miles away we began hearing strange noises coming from the engine. Jimi pulled over to check it out, however he couldn’t get the hood open…frustrated we drove further to only hear yet another disconcerting sound. Finally finding a gas station we pulled in and the hood opened right away. Everything seemed in good working order and later we discovered that the noise was probably coming from the air-conditioning unit.

We drove to the Sam’s club parking lot in Sarasota. We’d planned to sleep there for the night, settling about 10pm. We had a miserable time trying to sleep. It was H.O.T., we were crammed in close proximity to one another and the parking lot was well lit with street lights; all of these thing made it nearly unbearable to sleep. I think we both dozed for a few hours. At 1:30, I woke needing to use the bathroom, so Jimi drove me to a nearby 7-11. We then decided to move on to find a different place to sleep. We ended up at a rest area overlooking the water just outside of St Petersburg. There we slept among many semi trucks and some other passenger cars. It was nearly 3am.

When we woke at 7am the evidence of our boat yard attack was evident. My legs were covered in bites and I was beyond discomfort. Jimi insisted I take a Benadryl immediately and then we went in to the rest area bathrooms to get ready for our day.

The RAT (rediscover America tour) has started…not as well as we’d planned, but it’s not enough to discourage us. We’re confident as we get further North and adjust to the even smaller living space, all this misery will be behind us.

Stay tuned for our many adventures to come: 49 states in 4 months (that’s 12 states a month or 4 states a week).

Monday, July 6, 2015

Up to this point - Happy 4th!

A gift from our guests: a bottle of rum and wine.

The last of our scheduled guests have come and gone. My long time friend, Melody and her oldest daughter, Tiffany came from Colorado to sample our lifestyle. They arrived late afternoon on Thursday June 25th.

After giving the Sanibel and marina tours, we walked over to the Salvador Dali Art Museum. We just couldn’t pass up the Thursday night special price of $10 admission versus the normal rate of $24.00.  The art was something to be studied and much of it we barely understood. Jimi quite enjoyed it the most, but our friend, Bob, said it best “I’m standing there staring at one of his pieces and trying to get in his head.” We laughed.  

Jimi posing with Dali...did he get the eyes right?

Tiffany and Melody at the Dali.

Lorie and Melody next to one of Dali's famous melting clocks.

Friday we did the usual morning rituals of coffee, showers and people watching. We took a walk or two around downtown St Pete and sprung for a coffee at the high class Vinoy Renaissance Hotel. Friday evening we took the girls and Bob to our favorite Chief’s Creole CafĂ©. After dinner we met up with Eric & Sandrine and Jenn & Nate for our debut shuffleboard experience. Alternating teams, we played for several hours, but the final game was epic. Jimi and Eric on a team against Sandrine and myself. The boys were winning throughout most of the game, but we girls held our own. Just as the court attendant told us to wrap things up for the night, the boys lost ten points putting  the girls in the lead. After holding our spot for several rounds, we were on the come back and again we scored . The score now boys 73 and girls 74, and we were the last team on our section of the court. Cheering from our fellow boaters and guests soared without cease and everyone was rooting for the girls. Yes, we can do this…or so we had hoped. We were in the lead by one point…then the boys team scored.  Arghhhh – they reached 75 points first, which made them the champions. However, the girls played a mean game. Sandrine and I consider ourselves the real winners here.

The girls claiming championship.

The shuffleboard gang.

Saturday was relaxing as we sailed around Tampa Bay. We didn’t have much wind, but there was just enough to push us along.

Jingle invited us over for dinner Saturday evening. Sandrine made her first ever American hamburgers. We spent hours talking and laughing. And actually stayed out a little later than we’d expected, as we had an early morning ahead. We left Sanibel at 4:30am to get Tiffany to the Tampa airport on time. She was flying home to Denver. After melody and I dropped her off at the airport, we found a Denny’s for coffee, breakfast and girl time.

Melody left just before lunch. We sure enjoyed having both of them visit and hope they will come back again someday.

Jimi and I had planned to attend shuffleboard again on Friday, but mother nature put her foot down and said “No”. We did nothing.

We’re very pleased with the outcome of our Independence Day celebrations. We invited Eric & Sandrine, Nate & Jenn and Bob on Sanibel for a celebratory traditional BBQ with hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, chips, beer and country music. All seven of us squeezed in the cockpit and ate, ate, ate. We toasted one tequila shot in our mini red solo cups and played Toby Keith’s song, Red Solo Cup.

Around  8pm we relocated to Jingle to watch the fireworks, which were set off on East of the basin. We were literally under the amazing colorful sparkles of light in the sky, so much so that Jingle was covered with fallout of debris and ash.
Happy fourth of July celebrating our independence and freedom to all.

Jimi's rendition of an American flag made form a hamburger and hot dogs on the grill.

A toast!

Cupcakes provided by Sandrine and Eric.

Flags hanging at Sanibel's door.

Our time in St Pete is quickly coming to an end. Jimi and I will leave the area within the next few days. We’ll go South to the Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte areas; the place we started out with Sanibel. As soon as we get her settled on dry dock, we’ll hit the road for our rediscover America tour.