Pensacola - St. Petersburg 20 December 2014 - 21 February 2015
Better Nate Than Lever!
It's very challenging to blog when we're giving 1000% of ourselves and time to actually living it. There's very little time or energy to recount it other than our quick Facebook posts. I'd much rather be outside playing than inside blogging. Since we haven't blogged in 4 months, I'll try to not recapitulate. That would be pedantic and quoting history so how 'bout just a skim over?
Thanksgiving, my birthday, and Christmas were spent with children, grandchildren, and friends, making them special occasions for us.
We spent 10 weeks in Pensacola having our fly bridge total enclosure totally redone--strata-glass and all. If you're in that area and need canvas work, call Tony at Pensacola Canvas, who sets the gold standard for attention to detail and perfection. My husband is a difficult task-master when it comes to detail. I overheard Tony begging Bill's pardon for being anal. Bill replied that that was indeed a compliment so they are two birds of a feather and were a perfect team. Tony has so much imagination, creativity, and was very collaborative. We are tickled pink! He even fabricated a storage area for our bikes so they no longer press against the canvas.
Tony's Finished Artistry
January 25th, a glorious day for cruising, was our Pensacola departure date. "Parting is such sweet sorrow." Farewell to Pensacola, son and family, and friends, fave haunts. We hated to leave but we really must go. Feeling and hearing water moving beneath our keels was sweet music to our souls.
On our way south, we had the opportunity to have dinner with my college suite-mate and school teaching roomie, Joann, and her husband, Ron, in Shalimar/Fort Walton Beach/Destin----our old stomping grounds.
Our evening anchorage in Ingram Creek, FL. with no light pollution and the stars are magnificent!!!
Isn't this a placid scene! This is what our eyes beheld the morning of 27 January as we awakened, anchored in Parker Bayou, about 3 miles east of Panama City. This vision of the early morning mist hovering just above the water's surface makes me want to heave a big sigh, kick back and inhale this new day's freshness.
Tonight we'll anchor in the "suburbs" of Apalachiacola. I'm "all puckered up", as the Southerners say", for some big ol' succulent oysters tomorrow.
Apalachiacola is a quaint and charming little village, crying out, "old Florida" and punctuated with beautifully well-maintained vintage homes. We drove a golf cart, marina courtesy, around the area to get the lay of the land, then took off on foot. Neither of us had been there before. We passed it by as we cruised north in the spring because the month didn't have an "R" in it and not an Old Wives' Tale either as I did a bit of research. My delicacy craving was quite satisfied at Boss's Oyster House.
Our crossing going north from Clearwater to Carabelle was long and boring but not awful--just not fun. Going south we left from Appalachiacola because Carabelle was such a poverty-stricken and depressed area to which we hoped never to return. The trade-off made our Gulf crossing a 24 hour trip almost exactly to the minute from our departure to our arrival in Dunedin. That trip kicked our fannies and we were totally fried! Soon's our lines were secured we went right to sleep, didn't resurrect for almost 2 days and felt like zombies when we did. Sailing friends make overnight crossings often and think nothing of it. That was only our 2nd and hopefully our last although that's the only way to get to Pensacola and the Panhandle by boat.
In St. Petersburg, we were in the hub of activity. We had a fabulous docent, Janice Embrey Brown, with 22 years experience in this museum/gallery. She works only on Thursdays at 5 PM (incase you go there). She knows Dali (pronounced Daaa'-Lee) inside and out; wears a medium height shoe (heel) upside down on her head, covering her bun and has 6---all different colors. The shoe has the Dali "eye" on the back of it. She pointed out aspects of his art that were amazing (and how I hate that word) and to the untrained eye, would never had seen had she not called our attention to them with her pointer.
This was in the Vinoy Hotel Parking Lot
Chihuly has a magnificent gallery there and our docent was very knowledgeable. Of course our photos didn't begin to do justice to his pieces. The Museum of Fine Art is just across the street and there are museums and galleries galore. The Pinellas Trail has an access point right down town for cycling, running, walking, or skating. Saturday mornings there are crafts, food vendors, fresh veggies---an all day event. We went to a couple of concerts at The Palladium and on Sunday afternoons, one of the downtown churches offers spectacular performances. The Duke Energy Center for the Arts, just a stone's throw away, has performances/events almost nightly.
We LOVED St. Pete. Probably my favorite thing was having a place to really swim.
The city has a gorgeous facility with a 50 meter and a 25 yard pool. Tampa Bay laps at the seawall just beyond the pool deck. It's been so long since I've had access to an outdoor pool with lane lines and a black line with T's at each end. I was in heaven.
Sadly, we left St. Pete noonish 21 February, despite digging in my heels, kicking, screaming and hanging onto the piling as we left our slip. We've lived aboard 6+years and are never any place too long but 18 days in SP was far too short. Of all the places we've been, this was probably the most difficult one to leave. Love the North Shore Pool, Pinellas Trail, galleries, museums, marvelous restaurants, etc.---and Publix so close and convenient. — at St Petersburg Municipal Marina.
Hopefully will continuing to catch up till I'm caught up! Bill and Laura Bender
Seeing Odessa in our rear view mirror was not a sad sight, although we were pleased with the Cummins mechanic who made headway on our engine issue. We rank Odessa right up there with Carrabelle, FL, and not one of our favorite towns.
The Guadalupe Mountains National Park in New Mexico protects one of the world’s best examples of a fossil reef and is home to Carlsbad Caverns. Both of these are found in the Chihauhauan Desert.
Carlsbad was better than our memories served us from our visits there as children. It has no equal that we've experienced and is a domain of gigantic subterranean chambers with fantastic cave formations. Every step we took elicited gasps of wonder and amazement at these exquisite formations that God has given us to enjoy.
We were over 750 feet below the desert’s surface where the year-round temp is 56 so our jackets felt comfy. Rangers and exhibits were available to provide in-depth information about the ecology, history, and cave format…
Our 2nd day in The Villages provided an opportunity to "rest up" so we took our bikes to a local shop to have their periodic checkups. Should be ready Friday which’ll give our ‘sit-upons’ a much needed rest. Also, day 2 of a technician searching for an electrical connect which seems to be elusive. The hourly rate isn’t peanuts, either, so hope it reveals itself soon because it’s gotta be identified.
We discussed our take on The Villages, population 157,000 of those 55 and older. It is TOO homogenous for me. Of all the people we saw, they were every one white caucasians. Every conversation we heard was only English. There wasn’t a single child or young adult visible. Don’t think I could ever settle in a community where everybody looked the same, spoke the same, acted the same, were the same age and all living in little cookie cutter houses. The property is very well maintained—lawn maintenance folks are working all the time and everywhere we looked was pristine. Desp…
New Year’s Day we said our goodbyes to son, Matt, our grand daughters and great grandson, and drove to Austin where we stayed in McKinney Falls State Park. The location was about 5 miles outside of Austin but we had easy access to the city. The park is beautiful with different kinds of birds and other wild life—but we saw only deer. A little wren became our friend and each morning, would come and perch on top of our coach’s side mirror where he would peck, then fly down to the mirror’s base and he’d fly “in place” admiring himself. He was there every single morning except for the morning that we were leaving.
We enjoyed quite a few of the hiking trails in the park, leading to 2 water falls. Looks like nothing’s been moved for decades—lots of fallen trees and old limestone walls that look ancient.
Love the firemen's creativity!
Youngest son, Stephen, lives in Austin and we spent almost every evening with him. Cycling there is great and the very first day we rode the 11 …