The Motor Vessel "Once Around"

The Motor Vessel "Once Around"
The Motor Vessel "Once Around" in the Florida Keys

Monday, January 16, 2012

Hiking, Grandparents and Headin' South

Between sore throats, travel days and golf carts, it had been awhile since we had had much exercise.  My Admiral is adamant about the subject, so I knew she would be ordering a “forced march” for the two of us soon.  My dad used to say, “If you’re being run out of town, get right out in front of the crowd and make it look like a parade!”  Following that logic, I beat the Admiral to the punch when we woke up in our anchorage Friday morning by announcing, “I have a great idea, why don’t we pack up a picnic lunch and dinghy over to the State Park and do some hiking?”  This was met with the same excitement from her as we get from Zeus, our chocolate Labrador, when we ask him, “Wanna’ go for a walk?”  She darn near broke her neck running around in circles chasing her tail…no wait, that’s what Zeus does…
The Costa Cay State Park is on the island between our anchorage in Pelican Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.  Our dinghy ride to the dock was less than a quarter of a mile long.  Once there, we checked in at the Ranger Station there to get some info on the area.  We knew we were in trouble when we asked the guy behind the desk (not a Ranger, a docent perhaps?) where the best hiking was, and he had trouble finding the “you are here” location on the map on his wall!  With a little help with the map from the Park Ranger in the adjacent office, we soon were off and running…well, walking anyway.
My smiling First Mate
We travelled to the north end of the island, where we could see across the Boca Grande Inlet to the lighthouse we had seen (via golf cart) a day or two before, then around the gulf side of the island to a secluded beach.  The foliage on some of the hike was quite dense, and during most of our three to four mile stroll we did not encounter anyone.   At one point however the quiet was suddenly pierced by a snorting and rustling sound, as a feral pig (my guess is about 200 pounds of pig) came squealing, grunting and charging out of the underbrush running right across the path about twenty feet in front of us.  At this point my First Mate blurts out, “Was that an ROUS?”  (For those of you not familiar with the movie Princess Bride, that is what the hero called the “Rodents of Unusual Size” that attacked them in the fire swamp!).  Thankfully, the pig was more scared of us than we were of him.  Well, that might not be exactly true, but the pig didn’t know that.  We saw two or three more of these fellows further on in our hike, but they were well off our path.  Maybe pig number one had put the word out that we were stalking him.  No actual ROUS’s were sighted.
It was out of this brush the pig attacked...well, ran past

The foilage on the west side of the island was not so dense
Anyway, we had a great hike and stopped along the way for a light lunch that my First Mate had prepared before leaving Once Around.  We then strolled along the white sand beach and found a few shells to take back with us.  The beach, as always, reminded us of our two grandkids who love the beach in California.  My daughter had just posted some photos of them sledding down some big sand dunes at Bodega Bay.  The look on their faces is one of pure delight.  Boy do we miss those rascals.
Found a few shells here...but no grandkids...
Back on Once Around by late afternoon, we were again reminded that although the weather is nice in Florida, it is still winter time.  Another cold front from up north was beginning to flow through as predicted.  We put out a little more anchor rode, as winds up to 25 knots were expected over night.  Before you feel too sorry for us, this cold front is expected to take the high temperatures down to about 65 degrees for a day or two.  I spoke last night to Doug from Moonstruck, who is in the Twin Cities, where the temperature at the time was 14 degrees, and they had a 20 mph adding a wind chill to that!  Somehow, we think we would rather be here!
Saturday we had reservations at Sanibel Island Marina, but due to the lousy weather, lots of boats just stayed put so they had to call us to tell us there was no room.  That was a first on the entire loop, but we made the best we could of it and ended up at the Sanibel Marriot on the other side of the harbor.  That night Garth and Kathy from Algonquin picked us up in their rental car and took us over to Sanibel to “Grandma Dot’s Seaside Saloon” for some good seafood and even better company.  Algonquin will be leaving Port Charlotte in a few days and we will probably cross paths again soon.
Once Around at the Marriot Sanibel room in the house!
Sunday we were happy to meet up again with Kymble and Judy, who live nearby and drove down for a visit as well.  We met them a year ago during our search for a loop boat.  They are our future son-in-law Evan’s grandparents.  As former boaters they wanted to hear everything about our loop adventure.  We talked for hours with them and enjoyed lunch there at the marina.  We hope to see them next in Sacramento on Evan and Carla’s big day in September!
Is there such a thing as grandparents in law once removed??? 
Monday we were up and off the dock by 7:00 AM.  We had a thirty mile run or so outside from Fort Meyers to Naples, Florida.  It was a beautiful morning and we had one foot seas.  The only hassle was dodging the crab pots which are thick and hard to see in the morning sunlight.
My photo assistant is getting better at this!
Entering the long run past the inlet and up to Naples, we saw some of the most spectacular homes yet.  There were too many to count or to pick a winner for the house of the day.  You pick:
We pulled up to the gas dock to top off Once Around before heading for our slip.  On the dock to help the dockmaster tend the lines were Fred and Julaine from Boreas.  We had crossed the Gulf with them and were glad to hook up again with them and Brandy IV for our next crossing.  Tomorrow we head for Marco Island, a short run, then we south to Key West or Marathon…our JELLO plans are still being formed…

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