Monday, March 05, 2007

Just Hangin' in Fort Myers Beach

After updating the blog on February 20th, Todd and I walked over to the beach in search of some Mardi Gras entertainment. Based on an ad we saw in a local newspaper, a place called Junkanoo's was supposedly "the place to be," so we decided to go there even though it was much further south on Estero Island than we'd been before. Along the way we noticed that the Surf Club was packed with people; come to find out they were serving free jambalaya, so we stopped in to have a bowl (or two) and continued on down the road to Junkanoo's.

We finally arrived at the "place to be" only to find out that nothing much was going on and the service was terrible, so we made our way back to the Surf Club, walking along the beach this time rather than the road - a much more pleasant journey!

This funky bike was parked outside the Surf Club.

The Captain confiscated this Mardi Gras mask for me from Junkanoo's.

Todd got up Wednesday morning and ran a few errands before Mike & Mary arrived from the downtown marina. We all had lunch at Bonita Bill's and then came back to the boat to check out some computer navigation discs Mike brought for us. Unfortunately, Mike & Mary had to leave by late afternoon so we didn't make it over to the beach; however, Mike said they might stop by here for a few days after they leave the downtown marina, on their way south to Marco Island, so hopefully we'll have a little more time together then.

I baked some banana nut bread Thursday morning and gave part of it to Captain Bruce (the dock manager) and then prepared dinner for Ken, a local shrimp boat captain who keeps his boat on the dock next to ours and sells shrimp from it when he's here. Ken's wife died a few months ago and we thought it would be nice to invite him over for a home-cooked meal. The balance of the day was spent reading and relaxing on the sundeck.

This is Ken's shrimp boat, "Miss Cher" named after his wife.

Captain Ken poses outside the pilothouse of his boat.

Friday was a beautiful, calm day so we got in the dinghy and took a ride around what they call the back bay (essentially the back side of San Carlos Island). We stopped at the Channel Mark for a nice lunch, explored some side passages and canals along the way and then stopped at Snook Bight ("Bight" is Gaelic for "Bay") Marina where we got the scoop on their extensive remodeling plans. We also visited the Publix grocery store that is on the back side of the marina - a nice bonus for the boaters who stay there!  After we got back to the boat, I made a banana cream pie for Ken who was heading out into the Gulf the next morning.

This is a sampling of the gorgeous colossal shrimp Ken gave us when we delivered his banana cream pie - definitely worth another home-cooked meal and some baked goodies!

By Saturday it was windy again and we spent a quiet day on the boat reading and listening to Peppermint Patty who was playing at Bonita Bill's. Sunday was much the same - more wind, although the Captain spent some time waxing the boat. By Monday it was damp and cloudy. Todd and I were out waxing the boat and the stainless steel rails mid- to late morning when a thick fog rolled in, basically obscuring all visibility and making the air thick with moisture. Around noon, we gave up and spent the rest of the day reading and hanging out on the boat.

Tuesday was more fog and some rain, but it cleared up somewhat by noon and the Captain got in the water to scrape the accumulated barnacles and crustacean growth off the props and shafts. Because of the swift current in this area, there is a lot of "food" in the water for these creatures to feed on so there is an abundance of them and they rapidly attach themselves in large quantities to anything that sits in the water. Since we were planning to take the boat out to fuel up the next day, the props and shafts needed to be cleaned so they would rotate properly. At any rate, the Captain managed to get the job done, even though the water was a very cool 73 degrees.

After taking the boat to the fuel dock Wednesday afternoon, we walked across the bridge to the Dockside Pub for an order of their wonderful breadsticks and ran into Captain Bruce and another guy who works at Bonita Bill's. We then did a little souvenir shopping at the Shipwreck and stopped in at the Surf Club before treating ourselves to an ice cream on the way back to the boat.  By Thursday it was windy again, but we rode the trolley to Summerlin Square to do some grocery shopping and run a few other errands and then spent the rest of the day hanging out on the boat.

The Captain poses for a pirate photo near the Shipwreck souvenir shop.

I spent Friday morning baking cookies and banana nut bread to share with our dock friends and some of the employees at Bonita Bill's while Todd took the dinghy over to the Farmer's Market to pick up a few items. Mark arrived from Orlando Friday evening and we went to Bonita Bill's to grab a sandwich for him before retiring for the evening. Mark's daughter Jessie had been sick all week so he came into town to see how she was doing and spend some time with her and his older daughter, Rachel.

Mark took me to Wal-Mart Saturday morning before heading over to see Jessie and I spent most of the rest of the afternoon preparing dinner while Todd read and listened to Peppermint Patty perform at Bonita Bill's. Mark called to say that he was going to eat dinner with his kids, so we invited Ken to join us even though we already had plans to have him over for dinner again Sunday evening.

Mark left late Sunday morning and Todd and I walked over to check out the "Blessing of the Fleet," an annual event held on the first full moon in March featuring food and drinks, shrimp boat tours, live entertainment, craft and novelty booths, a shrimp-eating contest and, of course, the actual "blessing" of the shrimp fleet by a monsignor. It was pretty low-key when we were there, though, so we didn't stay long. I spent the rest of the afternoon preparing dinner while Todd waxed more of the boat - a never-ending project!

Mike & Mary are leaving the Fort Myers Yacht Basin this morning (Monday) and will dock here a couple of nights before heading further south. Todd and I will be leaving Saturday, March 10th, for the Port of Miami (via charter bus) where we will embark on a 7-day cruise of the eastern Caribbean including ports of call in San Juan, Puerto Rico; and St. Thomas and St. Maarten in the Virgin Islands. The cruise was planned months ago as a surprise for Todd's mom's 75th birthday so we weren't able to mention it in the blog until after she found out about it on February 24th.

We plan to leave Fort Myers Beach shortly after returning from the cruise and have decided to go back up into the Midwest river system for the summer to revisit the many wonderful people we met last summer in Demopolis, AL and on Pickwick Lake. We may initially go south to Marco Island and the Ten Thousand Islands area for a week or so before heading north to St. Petersburg but that depends, in part, on how soon we leave Fort Myers Beach and whether Mike & Mary are still in that area.

Once we reach St. Petersburg, we will leave the boat and return to Missouri for a visit sometime in April before continuing north along the coast, but we will try to update the blog again before we leave Fort Myers Beach and should be able to be a little more specific about our plans at that time.