Monday, January 28, 2008

Catching Up

I know it's been a while since our last update, but I didn't get around to posting an update before we left for Missouri and time has just gotten away from me. On Friday, January 4th, we met Todd's sister, Jennifer, on the road between Orlando and St. Petersburg to pick up Todd's nieces, Shannon and Sarah, and come back to St. Petersburg where they dropped us off at Cathy's house and then went to spend the weekend with their father who lives in the Tampa area.

Todd's niece Shannon (left) with younger sister Sarah (right).

That evening we went to the V.I.P, a Mexican restaurant in Treasure Island, with Cathy and Mike & Mary where we shared a few pitchers of margaritas and sampled the local fare at one of Cathy's favorite restaurants. Mike & Mary left for Punta Gorda late Saturday morning to visit friends before continuing south to Isle of Capri where they plan to spend several weeks at another friend's dock.

Saturday afternoon Todd & I met Steve & Lisa at Tampa Bay Downs to watch the horse races. We had met Steve & Lisa at Cathy's New Year's Eve party and made plans to go to the horse races the following weekend. We tried several different strategies when placing bets, but in the end I made my choices based on the color of the jockey's clothing and, oddly enough, that seemed to work as well as anything! We ended up going over to Steve & Lisa's after the races to spend the night and stayed up late playing hearts and Catch Phrase and we even tried out Wii bowling, which neither of us had ever heard of! We had a really good time, though, and hope to see them again while we are in the area.

The four of us pose at Tampa Bay Downs as the horses roam around in the background.

Lisa and I display our winnings!

The Wii bowling experience - very interesting!

The Captain looks like a pro, doesn't he?

Isn't this special?!!!

We returned to Cathy's Sunday morning and enjoyed a beautiful, sunny day poolside before tackling various boat chores on Monday. Todd worked on more boat projects Tuesday while I spent several hours messing with our navigation software which has started locking up when we zoom in on certain charts, an issue that will have to be resolved before we venture too far south. Unfortunately, I didn't make any headway so a call to technical support may be in order.

On Wednesday we took "Life's2Short" to Gulfport Marina to pump out the holding tanks and then we went out into Boca Ciega Bay to test the autopilot and oil pressure gauge, both of which were out of commission during the Gulf crossing. For some reason the autopilot seems to be working fine now (go figure!) and we determined that the issue with the oil pressure gauge is a bad sending unit which should be an easy fix. We were back at Cathy's dock before noon and Warren & Robin arrived aboard "Pepi" about 1:30 that afternoon. We all met on Cathy's patio at 5:00 p.m. for a drink and then Warren & Robin joined us for dinner aboard "Life's2Short."

Thursday was a relatively lazy day with some time spent poolside before enjoying a wonderful meal of shrimp and angel hair pasta, courtesy of Cathy. Mo & Joe had driven down to St. Petersburg from Crystal River where "MOTU" is currently docked and were planning to spend several days on a friend's boat at a local marina, so we asked them if they would mind taking us to the airport Friday afternoon. They came over to Cathy's early Friday afternoon and we all visited for a while before heading to the airport to catch the flight to Missouri.

Lounging poolside at Cathy's. What a life!

Cooking with Cathy - always an experience!

We arrived in Springfield about 6:00 p.m. January 11th and were met at the airport by Nila & Everett Hayes. Everett is the one who came to our rescue last May when Todd needed someone to crew with him while I went back to Missouri to be with my mom. He and Nila also drove to Clarksville, TN this past August to spend a long weekend with us on the boat. We then drove to Shelly's house where she was having a get-together for the Dining Services management team. As you may recall, Todd was the General Manager of Dining Services at Missouri State University and Shelly took over as General Manager when Todd resigned.  We spent the next several hours enjoying a first-class meal prepared by Shelly and catching up with the management team before going back to Nila & Everett's to spend the night.

We had made arrangements to meet my parents in Lebanon, MO the next morning to go to their lake house at Lake of the Ozarks, so Nila & Everett drove us to Lebanon and we spent the next week at the lake house with mom and dad. Unfortunately, the weather was very cold and the fish were not biting so we spent most of our time there cooped up in the house. My brother, Dewayne, and his wife Pennie came up the following weekend and took Todd back to Lebanon Sunday afternoon where Shelly picked him up and took him back to Springfield.

I went back to Houston, MO with my parents Monday morning and stayed there until Wednesday when Todd picked me up and took me back to Springfield. Wednesday evening we got together with several former co-workers and friends and then Todd left with one of the University's vice president to go to the Missouri State men's basketball game while I stayed and visited with everyone. By Thursday I had developed a pretty nasty cold so I stayed at Shelly's house while Todd made his rounds on campus, touching base with various friends, former co-workers, employees, University administrators, etc.

That evening we went to Bob & Linda Eckels' house for dinner only to find that Linda was bed-ridden as a result of a foot operation the previous day. They purposely didn't tell us about the operation because they were afraid we wouldn't have come (and they were right!). Nonetheless, we spent a nice evening visiting with Bob and looking at dates for them to come see us in Fort Myers again this spring.

This is Molly, Shelly's little girl.

The Captain gives Dakota (Shelly's main man) some much-needed attention!

Todd went up to campus again on Friday while I stayed at Shelly's and got things packed for the return flight to St. Petersburg. That afternoon we picked Shelly up from work and went to the Springfield Brewing Company where we met a former co-worker, Tim Kilpatrick, and had a few drinks before heading to the airport. The flight appeared to be on schedule but after we boarded we were held up for 3-1/2 hours waiting for the plane to be de-iced! They finally got a de-icing truck that would work and we took off about 10:00 p.m., arriving in St. Petersburg at 12:45 a.m. where Cathy graciously picked us up.

I spent most of Saturday unpacking and putting things away while Todd tried to catch up on e-mail. Robin fixed lasagna Saturday evening and we all sat around chatting and playing Catch Phrase after Todd made a trip to Wal-Mart to purchase it. Sunday afternoon was spent enjoying the sun poolside while "Mr. Todd" put some low-lights in Cathy's hair. We told Cathy that Todd used to highlight my hair and she wanted to darken hers some, so Todd volunteered. Fortunately, it turned out well and Cathy was very happy with "Mr. Todd's" work!

"Mr. Todd" at his finest! Poor Cathy looks like she's being tortured!!!

Warren & Robin left this morning and plan to spend the next several days seeing the sights of Sarasota before continuing further south toward the Fort Myers area. After spending two very cold weeks in Missouri, we are grateful to be back in Florida, even though I am still trying to get over my cold and Todd has now come down with one. Hopefully, the Florida sunshine will expedite his recovery process.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Final Weeks of 2007 and Ringing in the New Year!

We spent our final day (Tuesday, December 18th) in Crystal River doing odd jobs around the boat and then returned the rental car that we used to take John to Waycross, GA the previous day. Todd and Warren went over to Bob & Phillis' that afternoon to help Bob with some dock repairs and then Todd & I went back over that evening for a wonderful meal of Phillis' famous curry and a game of Mexican trash train.

After saying good-bye to Warren & Robin at the dock, we pulled out of the marina about 8:30 Wednesday morning. The trip to Anclote Key, our anchorage for the evening, was uneventful for the most part, but about half way there we managed to snag a crab pot so the Captain had to don his mask, snorkel and fins and dive under the boat in 66-degree water to cut the crab pot line off the shaft. Fortunately, he was able to remedy the problem quickly and didn't have to spend very much time in the chilly water! We had a photo of the Captain posing on the swim deck in his mask, snorkel and fins holding the crab floats and line that he cut off the shaft to post on the blog but somehow all of the pictures on the chip in his digital camera were erased so you'll just have to use your imagination!

We arrived at our friend Cathy's house in St. Petersburg about 1:00 Thursday afternoon and spent the rest of the day catching up and watching movies. Mike & Mary aboard "WhatDazeIt?" arrived about 2:00 the following afternoon and we spent another evening chatting and hanging out around the "campfire" we built in the fire pit in the center of Cathy's patio table. Cathy's friend Ed came over Saturday afternoon and we all played Ghettopoly (a "ghetto" version of Monopoly) that evening after dinner, although the majority of the game was between Cathy and Ed, with Cathy being crowned ghetto queen in the end!

Sunday was spent lounging around the pool and getting ready to leave for Todd's sister's (Jennifer's) house in Orlando the next day. Jennifer's daughter, Shannon, and Mark's son, Chris, drove over from Orlando to pick us up Monday afternoon. We arrived back in Orlando about 4:30, had a nice dinner and waited up for Mark's daughters, Rachel and Jessica, to arrive from Fort Myers. Christmas Day was relatively quiet once the gifts were all opened and some people napped while others watched movies or read. We had an early dinner that evening and Jessica and Chris headed back to Fort Myers to see their mother. The rest of us went to bed relatively early since we had all been up late the previous evening.

Jennifer & Mark and Shannon and Sarah all left for the airport about 3:30 a.m. on the 26th to catch an early flight to Denver, CO to visit Jennifer's (and Todd's) parents in Boulder while we house- and dog-sat for them. We took Mark's other daughter, Rachel, and her boyfriend, Mark, to the airport later that morning to catch a flight to Boston where Mark's sister lives and brought Jennifer's other vehicle back home. The rest of Wednesday was spent catching up on laundry while the Captain watched several hours of Texas Hold 'em.

Since we hadn't been to a movie theater in ages, we decided to go see a matinee Thursday afternoon. The movie tickets were $15 and the popcorn and sodas were another $16 so our little movie adventure turned into a $31 expense! Oh well, at least the movie was good ("The Great Debaters") and chances are we won't be going to see another movie any time soon - at least not at those prices!

We took a road trip to Crystal River on Friday to see Bob & Phillis and Mo & Joe. Mo & Joe got stuck up the Suwanee River and didn't make it to Crystal River until after we left so we wanted to try to see them while we were still relatively close. At any rate, we all went to lunch, along with Pat & Bill, another boating couple that Bob & Phillis and Mo have known for many years, and then visited on the patio a few hours before returning to Orlando. It looks like we may also see Mo & Joe in St. Petersburg within the next week as they are planning to spend a few days on a friend's boat in the St. Pete area.

On Saturday we went to Flea World in Sanford and spent a few hours browsing through the many booths that were selling everything from fresh produce to all the latest "As Seen On TV" gadgetry. It was quite an interesting place! We then went to Macaroni Grill to use a gift card we had been carrying around for several months and had a most excellent meal of mushroom ravioli (mine) and shrimp portofino (Todd's). We even had enough left over for dinner on Sunday evening!

Since we are thinking about wintering on the St. John's River next year, we took a road trip Sunday afternoon to a rather remote campground and marina on the St. John's where Todd's parents are planning to spend a few months in early 2008. Their boat is currently on the Cumberland River at Prizer Point and is being hauled to Florida later this month. The marina was pretty basic and didn't really offer any services for full-time cruisers, but I'm sure we will find something suitable between now and next winter. It isn't that we need much, but we do need access to laundry facilities and a grocery store and/or transportation of some sort and none of these appeared to be available at this location.

Jennifer, Mark and the girls were returning from Denver Monday afternoon so we dropped Jennifer's vehicle off at the airport and drove Shannon's vehicle back to St. Petersburg to attend Cathy's New Year's Eve party. It was a relatively small party with about ten "regulars" and a variety of other neighbors and friends drifting in and out all evening. We played poker for a while and then switched to Catch Phrase which was a lot of fun. As evidenced by the photos below, I think it's safe to say we all had a good time. Several of us even stayed up until 5:00 a.m. New Year's Day!

This is what happens when you look through the wrong side of the viewfinder while taking a picture!

Todd is playing poker with H.I.D., one of Mike & Mary's Jack Russell Terriers.

Cathy and Taz were smarter than most of us and went to bed before 5:00 a.m!

Cathy and Mary on the couch late morning New Year's Day fighting over a blanket.

The weather turned cold Tuesday with overnight temperatures below freezing in many areas, and today's high is supposed to be in the low- to mid-50's so we have been hibernating in the boat for the most part. Mike & Mary had planned to continue their journey south by today but are going to sit tight until the weather improves. As for us, we are planning to make a trip back to Missouri on the 11th and will be gone for a couple of weeks visiting family and friends. In the meantime, we will just be hanging in St. Pete doing more never-ending boat projects and hopefully enjoying some of that nice Florida weather (as soon as it returns!).