Wednesday December 19, 2012
Sitting inside the cabin in the early afternoon, just like we’ve been spending most of our days lately, there was a knock on the side of the hull and I sprung up to the cockpit. Peeking over the side a loud yell of “Friends!!” escaped by mouth, because standing on the ground were Brian, Stephanie, Scott, and Kim. This was not unexpected as we had been planning on their visit for some time now, but it didn’t make seeing them any less exciting. Not even bothering to put on shoes I bound down the ladder landing on the rocks in my bare feet and attacking my friends with bear hugs, one by one. After nearly four weeks we were reunited with our boat buddies, although just for the day since they were visiting in a rental car before Brian and Stephanie drove it up to Pennsylvania for the holidays. By the time I was done squeezing the air out of everyone Matt had made his way down the ladder as well and began showing off the damage while Stephanie and I, both worn out on boat issues, sat back and caught up on every day life and how we were dealing with sitting in one place. While everyone was checking out the hull they must have thought everything was being held on by a piece of thread because seeing it in person they kept commenting “Oh, that doesn’t look as bad as I thought it would be”.
Inviting them on the boat we showed some of the damage to the woodwork and where the tabbing had cracked. Then it was time to hear what was holding them back as well, and each couple told the horror stories they were having with their engines and all the work that was going into getting them fixed. All the trials, errors, and lessons learned from taking on the projects themselves. Sitting in the salon with a drink in our hands and enjoying some incredible mint and chocolate chip cookies Kim had made we went through every detail of what we had been up to for the past few weeks until it was like we had never left each other’s sides. Everyone was also able to fawn over Georgie (or Peaches as Brain likes to call her), and Kim, who was very jealous of Tasha’s photo op with Georgie sprawled on her lap, was able to get her own. While the night was still young though and our stomachs were starting to growl we packed all six of us into the compact car in search of a good yet reasonably priced meal. Since Kim and Scott had been here before they recommended a Bohemian type cafe offering things from pizza to gyros to tacos. I tried my hardest to talk the guy behind the counter into giving me the Thursday night happy hour special of a taco plate and a beer but was unfortunately turned down, although very politely, since it was neither Thursday nor happy hour.
When we finished eating we decided to leave the car in the parking lot and walk into town since there is rarely a place to park unless you’re visiting a certain establishment, and only while you’re there. It was weird being swept back to a life where you even had to think of such things as parking since now we tend to forget that things like that are even necessary. Having been just outside of the ‘Nights of Lights’ I waited for Stephanie’s face to light up as soon as she saw them coming up to the Lightner Museum, and boy did they. The way the lights are set up here really is like something out of a fairy tale. There’s not too many to make it gaudy or overdone, but just placed perfectly on every arch or wrapped around each palm tree. It’s easy to see why they’ve made National Geographic’s Top 10 Places to See Holiday Lights, in the world!
Wanting to share the beauty of the courtyard inside the Lightner Museum I began to lead the pack up the pathway where we became blocked by one of the trolley tours that had stopped right in front of us, blocking our path forward. Everyone on the trolley was in good spirits, yelling out ‘Merry Christmas!’ to anyone passing by, and they were also wearing what looked to be 3-D glasses. Stephanie, being a pro on anything fun, explained they enhance things like Christmas lights, changing the bulbs into shapes of things like stars and snowflakes. Overhearing us, a guy on the trolley pulled of his pair to hand around to the group of us as we each held them up to our eyes and went ‘ooh and aah’ as all the lights turned to snowflakes. Why weren’t we going on this tour?! It looked amazing, plus everyone riding was in such good spirits that it didn’t take us long to start yelling ‘Merry Christmas!’ back to anyone that smiled at us. Once the trolley left and we had given the glasses back I was really excited to go show the courtyard now, only to find the gates locked. Peering behind the cast iron bars, Kim and I did our best to describe the beauty to Stephanie, the coy pond in the center with the stone bridge that crossed. Luckily this will not be their only visit down though and the next time they come we might find the gates open, or at least a way to scale them.
Continuing down the street we were shown a statue down an alley way by Kim that has an interesting back story from the last time they were here, and pressed our faces up against the shop windows on cobblestone roads. Carrying on we did more window shopping, looking at stain glassed masterpieces and popped into an art gallery with some beautiful pieces of work that could regrettably not be photographed. (And regrettably they got that message to me too late) Next door at A1A Aleworks I pointed out the microbrews to Brian and we agreed that we’d have to stop in for a round the next time around. Across the street, Stephanie and I lost everyone else as we wandered around a soap shop, picking up scented candles and soaps while admiring all the displays. Back on the street we ambled down historic St. George Street while moving about aimlessly through other shops including a chocolate shop and a magic store where we were treated to a ten minute magic show demonstrating all the tricks available for purchase. There were a few that we were almost tempted to buy, the flaming wallet at the top of the list. I mean, who wouldn’t love to be standing at the Starbucks counter and when you open your wallet to pay the bill it bursts into flames? With a candid camera type show the wallet would pay for itself…and keep itself stuffed.
Progressing on we stopped for a quick disco party under some strobing green and red lights on an open patio. We found French Fry Heaven and perused happy hours and daily specials at restaurants. Showing them the $4.99 beer and hand rolled cigar combo that was popular at a few shops we were unable to convince them of it at this point, but maybe ‘next time’. At one point Stephanie exclaimed, “This town is amazing!! I’m having the best time ever, and I haven’t even been drinking!!”. So we’re pretty sure it won’t be hard to lure them back for maybe even a full week once Rode Trip is up and running again.
By the time we were ready to head back to Serendipity we were so high on the presence of each other, the beauty of the town, and the cheer of everyone around us that we could not contain our own excitement or Christmas spirit. There were not as many trolleys running now, but each time one did we would yell out at the top of our lungs, a chorus of mismatched “Merry Christmas’” between the six of us. By the time we got back to the side street that housed the rental car I think a few of the drivers began to recognize us and probably thought we were drunk or just harassing customers. As one trolly pulled on to King Street we belted our normal chorus, but no one on board responded or even looked at us. It’s like their conductor got on the speaker just as he spotted us and told everyone to ignore the group of crazies off to their left. Treating us like a group of Tyrannosaurus Rex’s he must have advised, “If you don’t move…they won’t see you”. We weren’t going to let the tourists dropping energy levels ruin the rest of our night though as we hung out in the parking lot testing out Brian’s new pole spear before climbing back up Serendipity for a night cap.
Being the amazing friends that they are, Kim brought rum for us to drink, and Brain and Stephanie had made their own ginger beer. With Dark & Stormies in hand we spent the next few hours relishing in each other’s company for as long as it could last. For a short period we weren’t three boats that weren’t stalled from traveling, we were our old gang, laughing and socializing, and looking up more crazy videos on Youtube. (Really Scott and Kim, you hadn’t heard about Double Rainbow?) When it was time for everyone to leave I had the instinct to stow away in the trunk, following them along and letting the good times continue. But all good things must come to and end and the high we’d all been feeling through the day suddenly plummeted as we realized the fun was over. But in the morning that low will be replaced by the excitement and anticipation that we’ll get to do it all over again someday soon.