Monday, May 25, 2015

Doing great in St Pete

Still at the marina in St. Petersburg – life is busy and exciting things are happening.

I've been loom knitting up a storm.

Sanibel has her own hat, which covers the compass to protect it from the sun.

I made Jimi's sock monkey a black top hat.

Jimi finished his first set of classes on May 7th, the OUPV (6-PAK) Captains class and the 100 ton Masters Upgrade and he’s received his certificates in the mail. Those were big hurdles for him. He’s since passed his background check and drug test.

Last  week Jimi spent every day in STCW (Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping) class. It included First Aide, CPR, Fire Fighting, Water Rescue and Social skills. He passed every class with flying colors…yes, even the social skills class. So proud!

Jimi dressed in fire gear for his class.

He has two classes left: The Auxiliary Sail endorsement attached to the Masters and the Marine Radio Operator Permit (MROP). After all this, he’ll put everything in a package to be sent to the Coast Guard for final approval and ultimately the license.

The park continues to offer lots of things to do. During the month of May, they have live music and a movie in the park. We missed the first movie, which was To Kill a Mockingbird. The second week we listened to a Nashville singer named Kevin So  and watched the movie Shine, a true story about a pianist. There’s just something about watching a movie on a big screen in the park with a few hundred people around. It was  fun. This past Thursday they showed Blindside. We’d planned to go, but changed our minds at the last minute. We wouldn’t have gotten home until close to 11pm and Jimi had to leave extra early Friday morning for class. This coming Thursday they are showing Saturday Night Fever and we are planning to go.

Movie in the park.

As residents of the city marina, we had free access to an annual showing of a play production in Demen’s landing, an area by the marina. American Stage theatre company has presented an outside showing on a play in the park for an entire month once a year for the past 30 years. Tickets range from $30 a person and up. This year’s production was “In The Heights”; a musical about the Washington Heights neighborhood in New York. The audience loaded up their chairs and coolers with food and drink to watch the play. The story line was great and the singing and acting was fabulous. We enjoyed it so much that we’d planned to go again, but mother nature had other plans.

We’ve taken plenty of walks around the area. One of my most favorite things to do wherever we are is to photograph the animals. We did just that when we walked eight blocks or so to a well known lake. The area was filled with numerous kinds of birds, turtles, squirrels, ducks and more.  Here are some of my photos.

Deep in conversation.

Our female duck that comes by for snacks has begun bringing friends. One day she showed up with her fella. A few days after that she had her fella and a younger duck. Last Thursday I had five ducks stopping by for snacks. The word is out.

A couple of weekends ago Jimi added to his existing compass rose tattoo and I finally got my compass rose tattoo. My son, Daniel got one a couple of years ago in admiration of Jimi, and that prompted me to get one too. Jimi added points and the letters, N,W, E, & S to his tattoo. He designed mine, which is the compass rose is black and pink with the big dipper, Cassiopeia, and other constellations and stars. Daniel’s compass rose is surrounded by the North star, the big dipper and other stars. We’re hoping  Jenn will follow suit. Then our family of four will have a compass rose tattoo, each individualized to the person

Jimi''s tattoo centered on his upper back.

My tattoo located on my left hip.

Daniel's tattoo on his right arm.

A big purchase for us and big plans ahead. We purchased a 2002 Astro Van. Our plan is to cruise the United States during this year’s hurricane season. We’re calling it the R.A.T. (Rediscover America Tour). We’ll  take about three months to hit all 48 U.S. states.  We’ll eat and sleep in the van as much as possible. We’re planning to stop at as many family and friend’s places as possible; hoping to grab a bed and shower on occasion. So, look for us…we hope to see you.

Exactly like the van I had before he began sailing, except this one is some type of gold color.

I’m still working for Cencorp, however, effective June 1st, I’m moving from full time to part time. That’s going to be so much nicer for me.

We paid for another month on the mooring ball, so we’re sticking around a while longer. There’s talk that we may have some guests aboard Sanibel next month.  Remember that if you want to come visit, we love company.

My favorite kind of bird. They swim under water like a fish and then dry their wings. They hang out on the mooring balls often.

This is what's for dinner. I love these mini chalk boards and they fit in our galley perfectly.

For the past few weeks mother nature has presented evening thunderstorms like clockwork. The rain cools things down and washes the deck nicely; however, the wind stirs up the basin and Sanibel dances on the water, while we are below deck hanging on.

The growth on Sanibel and dinghy is among the worst we've experienced. Jimi has to pull the outboard motor up when not in use because things attach themselves to the prop. He’s cleaned Sanibel's bottom once since we've been here and when he emerged from the water hundreds, even thousands, of miniature shrimp covered his wet suit. Comical – this… I wish I had snapped a picture of.

May 24th we celebrated my birthday. Jimi made me a plate of pancakes topped with banana and strawberry slices for breakfast. We had a usual afternoon followed by a birthday party with cake and presents. My daughter sent me a box full of treats, a mother’s day  outfit, cookies and candy and a birthday raft and Jimi gave me an classy fountain pen set. For dinner we once again visited Chief’s Creole Café, enjoying a tribute to B.B. King with live music by the Home Cookin’ Band. Jimi ordered the Gumbo, his favorite, and I ordered the Sunday Soulful Supper. My plate was full with baked chicken, baked ham, macaroni and cheese, collard greens and candied yams. We both ate entirely too much! The Café does not serve alcohol, but they encourage guest to bring their own. My drink of  choice was Cabernet Sauvignon and Jimi's was rum. For dessert,  the waitress brought me a piece of bread pudding with a candle and she so sweetly sang the first line of Happy Birthday. I’ve received tons of happy birthday wishes, as I truly have the best friends. I’m so blessed – thank you to all!

Birthday breakfast.

My cake flipped upside down during transport. Some of the frosting stuck to the lid of the container. But it was still yummy!

No candles - there would have been too many this year. :-) 

Present time.

An outfit from my daughter and cards from Jenn & Joel and my grandpuppys.

Pen set from Jimi with refillable ink.

Raft from Jenn, Joel and my grandpuppys.

The Home Cookin' Band at Chief's Creaole Cafe. We were among the first to arrive.

Jimi and his rum at dinner.

Blowing out my candle!

Happy Memorial Day - remember those who are no longer with us!

Friday, May 1, 2015

St Petersburg, Florida

Sanibel floats nearly smack dab in the middle of St Petersburg downtown area; for now, this is home. We arrived on Saturday, April 18th.

Our first night here we sampled the night life with Ray. We found a happening little place with a live band, expensive drinks served in plastic cups and plenty of people to watch on the dance floor. After a couple of drink we left and walked about for a while…the streets were alive. During our stroll we poked our noses in a few places. Probably the neatest was a bar atop a ten to twelve story building. Blue lights lit up its surroundings. We looked over the wall  with the sea breeze in our faces and saw the basin where Sanibel slept. We had a nice time, however, Jimi and I were ready to call it a night by 11pm. I’m not sure what time we got back to Sanibel, but I don’t think it was late. Jimi and Ray stayed up for a while in the cockpit; I went to sleep.

The band

The St Petersburg  Municipal Marina is the largest in the state of Florida. They have only a handful of mooring balls, which is where we’re at, but they have about  600 slips. The cost of a slip would double the price we pay for a mooring, so we’ll remain where we are. We are right downtown. To the east of us is Tampa Bay, the marina is on our south, downtown St Petersburg, which includes sky scrapers, a large park and tons of shopping is west of us and to our north is the Vinoy Marina, park and Renaissance hotel. We have it all. The area is beautiful, well cared for and there seem to be activities every weekend with plenty to do and without breaking the bank. We have access to a dinghy dock, washers and dryers, showers with hot running water and internet in the marina lobby. The grocery store is only a few blocks away, as is Starbucks and many other long time missed conveniences.

This view of Sanibel is taken from the sidewalk.

This newspaper boy and his stack of papers are located outside one of the many museums. 

This little bird pulling a worm from the earth is the smallest bronze statue we've seen. 

A large sundial 

Two of these interesting trees are homesteaded in the park across from Sanibel.

The weekend we arrived we attended an arts festival. Hundreds of artists of all types filled the park with their specialty. We thoroughly enjoyed strolling through each booth. On the big stage were vocal artists signing their tunes and playing their instruments for all the hear. On the water were boat races, which we really couldn’t see, but it was nice ogling over the expensive race boats as they entered the basin. Loud music played and people danced throughout the Vinoy Marina. It was clear everyone was having a great time. We were relieved that the partying didn’t go late in to the night. It ended by 7pm.

I took this picture of Jimi as he was taking his own pictures.

Jimi started his classes at Sea school on Friday the 24th. He spent three 10 hour days in class. I remained on Sanibel. He’s getting good use out of his bicycle as he rides nearly seven miles, one way, each day to and from class. We’ll have more for you about his classes later.

I snapped the shot after Jimi left on his bicycle. He's on his way to somewhere.

Our second weekend here there was some sort of triathlon event in the park. We weren’t able to attend because Jimi was in class the entire weekend, but I could hear people cheering others on and the announcers doing their service. The park was filled with large white tents. The streets were covered in bicyclists, runners, swimmers and of course supporters and spectators.

Needing to go to Tampa for some paperwork required for class, he decided to ride his bike rather than take the bus. Is was only 26.2 miles one way. Yes, he is a bit over ambitious or crazy. After the total round trip of 52 miles, he decided 40 miles was his limit.

Since that day, he’s told me his legs are feeling the pain.

Wednesday, April 22 we were honored with an afternoon visit from a long time co-worker and his wife. Doug and Candy Kemp were passing through the area and stopped to see us. We jumped in their car and went to a fantastic restaurant for lunch. Chief’s Creol Café. I can’t decide what was better, the staff’s hospitality or the food. Jimi ate the Gumbo, Doug and I had the Jambalaya and Candy ate the red beans and rice. It was the best Creol food we’ve ever eaten. The owners are from Louisiana and it showed. We look forward to going back there again. After lunch, Doug and candy took us to a unique winery. The wine is made from tropical fruit rather than grapes. . We had a tour and yummy taste tests.. Finally we brought our friends aboard Sanibel for a tour and an afternoon and evening of visiting with friends.

 Doug, Candy, Jimi and Lorie at lunch.

Tasty snacks

This little fella was part of Jimi's Gumbo.

Jimi continues moving forward with his classes and my work with Cencorp is going well.

Fireworks from Sanibel  last night.