sidewalk ends

Where the Sidewalk Ends

Monday March 17, 2014

sidewalk ends

Let me tell you a little story of a boy and a girl who went out for a walk one day and found out where the sidewalk ends. Could this ‘story’ be about Matt and Jessica you might ask? Ha, of course not. We would never be as stupid as to do these following things.

 

Once upon a time there were a boy and a girl who lived and traveled in their sailboat. After dropping their anchor in a pretty little lake in a place called Fort Lauderdale, the boy received a call from his mother telling him that she and her husband would like to come visit. The boy and girl were very excited about this. So excited, that they decided to meet their family right at the airport when they arrived.

Having walked back from a few marine stores they had just visited a few days prior, the boy realized that the airport was less than a mile from there and thought the walk would be very doable. Was there a bus? Of course there was. But who can’t do with a little extra exercise every now and then. The girl didn’t mind walking too much, but was excited at the prospect of arriving at the airport quite early and using their fast internet connection. There were a few photos and a video she wanted to post online.

Leaving two hours before their families flight was due in, they figured it wouldn’t take them more than an hour to get there, the extra time, the girl willed, could be spent on her computer. The first part of the walk went very well. Following the main streets they had used before they continued forward into new territory and hopefully where the airport was. A few blocks later the girl noticed their four lane road with a median in the center appeared to be turning into an expressway. Based on the signs, it looked as if they would have to walk a half mile of that expressway to get to the airport. The boy could not believe there would not be a back way into the airport where a pedestrian could walk in. Turning down a side street they wandered on through the mass of car rental facilities.

The day was hot and both the boy and girl were beginning to sweat from the heat of the midday sun. The girl was starting to get blisters on her feet as she was only expecting a two mile walk and wore her sandals. Normally a two mile walk in them is not an issue, but she had a feeling they must be clocking mile three by now. As each street turned into a dead end she pleaded with the boy that they could jump on one of the airport shuttle buses and have a comfortable and safe ride the rest of the way. It did not look like the back roads were getting them any closer. The boy scoffed at this offer stating that it wouldn’t be proper for them to accept these services if they were not giving the car rental center their business. Fed up now, she explained that these back roads were getting them nowhere and they would have to walk on the shoulder of the expressway to reach their intended destination.

Tracking back over the asphalt they had just covered, they were now faced with an area where the sidewalk ended. Keeping as far away from traffic as possible, they trudged through the dirt and grass off the side of the expressway until they reached a bridge. With an entrance ramp at the top. Luckily it was mid afternoon on a Monday and traffic was light. Before they knew it they had crossed over the bridge and were back in grass shoulders. Just ahead was the exit for the airport, and although it looked almost a mile long in itself, they were happy to see it.

Kicking up dust with each step, they had finally reached an area where they could see the parking lot to the airport. There was only one problem. They couldn’t find a way into it. Looking further up the road, the expressway exit did not lead them directly to a tree lined entrance with a sidewalk or even soft grass to trample on. What laid ahead was the road curving into another expressway loop with more bridges. There were lots of cars up in that area, and they were all going quite fast. The boy and girl did not feel as comfortable taking on the expressway again.

Searching from left to right, they looked for any other way in. A fence had been running along the side of them for quite some time, and they hoped that further ahead, where a group of bushes were clustered, would be a break in the fence where they could walk into the parking lot. Hiking up the path a little further they saw the fence encircled the entire area. Talking about their options, the girl suggested a taxi to take them the rest of the way. Waiting for five minutes they did not see a single one pass by. They thought about backtracking and trying to catch a bus, but now they had eaten up all their extra time and they could not afford to be late. They were right there, the only thing keeping them out was a fence.

Hot, tired, sweaty, dirty, and after lots of contemplation, they decided to take the easiest option. Tucking behind a tall tree, the boy scaled the fence and beckoned for the girl to join him on the other side. Sticking her toes through the links, she managed to get to the top where sharp metal edges were meeting her. The plastic bottoms of her flip flops balanced  precariously on these pointy spikes while her arms held her steady on a tree branch. Taking a deep breath, she prepared herself for a terrible fall and jumped. Landing almost softly on the ground she took check of any damage to herself. There were a few scrapes on her hands and cuts on her ankles, but otherwise she was fine.

With the parking lot just in front of them, they had only one more obstacle to cross. Just ahead of them was a set of train tracks with low lying cars for items to be placed upon. Once again glancing left and right, the couple hopped over these cars. Free and clear on the other side, they ran into the parking lot to do their best job of blending in with all the other patrons that had arrived by car. They made it all the way inside and to the baggage claim to meet their family without a second glance from anyone.

Running to the restrooms, they took a few minutes to clean themselves up. Twigs were pulled from hair, dirt smudges wiped off of faces, and dust cleaned off of legs and feet. Getting back to the baggage claim just in time to meet up with the boy’s mother and stepfather, they asked how the boy and girl had gotten there that day. Smiling at each other the boy and girl replied, “You don’t even want to know”.

 

Let me repeat again, this story is not about us. I mean, who would be dumb enough to do that? Right?

 

 

Jessica with cheeseburger cake

Cheeseburger in Paradise

Friday March 14, 2014

Jessica with cheeseburger cake

You know those group messages you can do on Facebook?  Where you can add however many people you’d like but still keep the conversation private?  Well after our girls night out, the three of us started one to talk about how much fun we had, and that it needed to be done again….soon.  The only problem was that I would only catch parts of the conversation because, even though we get to sit by a gorgeous pool while we do it, Matt only has the patience to sit around while I get my internet fix for about 90 minutes every other day.  I know I can go back and read more of the conversation that I missed, but it’s easier just to read the last two posts and make assumptions.  Which is why when we were planning another get together, I caught the date/time, that I was to bring guacamole, and there would be a cheeseburger cake.  Um..ok?

Getting picked up by G again at the marina, he told us the cake was actually a birthday surprise for their friend Sandy that was joining our cookout that night.  She’s really into Jimmy Buffet and loves ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’. Ok, it all makes sense now.  Only I had to keep in mind, it was all a surprise.  Getting to the house and pouring myself a tall Fosters, I had to force myself to remember not to say anything about a cheeseburger cake as I was introduced to Sandy.  Not an easy feat.  I mean, it’s a cheeseburger cake, who can keep that to themselves for a few hours or not go off on a tangent about Jimmy Buffet, Key West, or ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’ without raising suspicion?  Luckily before I could ruin the surprise, Jessica took me for another tour of Felicity and showed off their most recent work to her.

m/v Felicity side

m/v Felicity front

Jessica G. & cat

Jessica's patio

Not too long after that, Melody arrived and we were able to grill up the actual hamburgers for dinner.  A little tip..add some guacamole for one of the best burgers you’ve ever had.  When we were all sufficiently stuffed and could not even think about putting another bite of food in our mouths, cue the cake.  But that wasn’t all.  We also had ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise all cued up on the stereo, and Adam has his guitar out and strumming while the candles were lit and we went the whole nine yards with the theme.  I think Sandy was quite surprised.

cheeseburger cake

You know what comes after cake right?  Shots of tequila.  The two are quite synonyms with each other, don’t you think?  No?  Ok, maybe not.  But the bottle was placed in front of us girls by G and we couldn’t turn down the challenge.  In fact, we turned the tables on the guys and made such a big ordeal of it, with different photos and poses, that I’m sure all they were thinking was ‘Why did we even think this was a good idea? Take the damn shots already!’.

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See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil.  See what happens when you put girls and cameras together?

(I was secretly loving every minute of it.)

see no evil

There’s only one logical thing for girls to do after they take a shot of tequila.  Hula hoop.  I guess you could say we were the after dinner entertainment?

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Jessica & Jessica hula hooping

Exhausting ourselves with the great exercise that provided, and then pigging out on cheeseburger cake, we moved on to an activity that everyone could participate in.  Passing the guitar over to Chris, we requested songs and had him play as we all sang along.  Watch out Johnny Cash, us girls are creeping up on your heels with our version of Folsom Prison Blues.

Jessica & Chris

 Although it was starting to get late, we couldn’t let Melody leave without showing her the awesome moves that Jessica and I had picked up from her Wii dance game.  Although secretly, I just wanted to break out the moves to Will Smith’s ‘Wild Wild West’ again.  Consider it the cowgirl in me.  I am a born Texan after all.

dancing at Jessica's

Being able to spend another night with this great group of people?  I’m pretty sure that’s paradise.  Don’t discount the cheeseburgers though.

Vacilando and Felicity

laundry 1

Hanging our Clean Laundry to Dry

Monday March 10, 2014

laundry 1

We’ve actually cleaned our clothes for the first time in a washer and dryer ever since…Grand Cayman back in June.  It seems like every place we’ve been to since, you hand someone all your dirty clothes, they tell you to come back tomorrow, and they hand them back to you all clean and freshly pressed.  It’s a pretty good system and I have not minded the folding that has to be done after just coming out of the dryer.  I’d say that we’d actually gotten spoiled in that little system, but I won’t lie, once we landed here in Fort Lauderdale, I was looking forward to taking the laundry in myself.  At least three hours of uninterrupted internet time.  I haven’t had a good connection since Isla, and I’m starting to think my friends and family believe I’m ignoring them when I don’t respond to their emails right away.  Nope.  Just don’t have much access or time anymore.

All was going well with the wash.  I stuffed everything we had into a few of the washers and went out to hang around on the docks where I could pick up a better internet signal.  40 minutes later I went back to switch the clothes over to the dryer and repeated the process with my computer.  Waiting an hour this time, I went back to pull out the clothes and found they were still a little damp.  Jessica had warned me about this, that the dryer might take two goes to get everything fully dry, and I was prepared for this.  Starting the cycle over once more, I went about other errands such as taking full advantage of the facilities and using the showers.  When that 40 minutes had lapsed I went back to find our clothes no drier than when I had left them.  The machines were just not working.

Taking out the damp heaps of clothes and shoving them back in the laundry bag, I brought them back to Serendipity where they would need at least a few hours hanging out on the lines.  Every single clothes pin was used and every inch of available lifeline was taken over as we had dozens of items of clothes blowing in the wind.  There was still so much left over that we took to hanging them in any space we could below deck as well.  I had to laugh at this situation, but Matt was so worried about our clean laundry blocking the pristine view of all these McMansions that surrounded us.  He was sure the police were going to be called and we’d be asked to leave.  That they wouldn’t take kindly to our type.  A few hours later the clothes dried, and the police never came.  We were safe for another day.

A quick update on our fast food diet.  If you’ll remember, I reported that we got so sick after eating Wendy’s once we arrived in Key West, after going months without fast food, that we vowed never to eat it again.  A new leaf had been turned.  It would only be fresh(er) food for us.  Well, I am now reporting that we are back to our old habits.  It turns out that when your only internet connection is coming from a McDonald’s or a Taco Bell, you force yourself to eat the food while you’re there, and each time it gets a little easier.  I wouldn’t say we’re quite addicted again, but it has become part of our diet a few times a week again, or when we’re out running errands and just need something to eat.

Now I get to the part your really going to hate us for.  Not only have we started eating it again, but we’ve started to hunt down certain establishments so we can get in almost every fast food chain while we’re still here in the states.  We’d already checked off: Wendy’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, and Pollo Tropical ( a new one for us actually).  So when we were taking the bus out to Walmart today to do some provisioning I said to Matt, “You know what we haven’t had yet?  Long John Silver’s.  Doesn’t a hush puppy sound good?”  And I’ll be damned, not five minutes after I said that the bus passed by the iconic blue roof.  We ran inside and gobbled down fried fish and hush puppies with delight.  I know, we are sick, sick people

laundry 2

Hyatt Regency pool

Ladies Night at the Hyatt Regency

Saturday March 8, 2014

Hyatt Regency pool

“Hi. You don’t know me, but my name is Jessica. I’m trying to get in touch with Jessica G., I think you know her? Could you send me her phone number, because I need to get in touch with her asap. Thanks, I hope we get the chance to meet someday.” That was my introduction to Melody P. of s/v Vacilando, as I sat at the Ft. Lauderdale airport back in September, realizing I needed to get my package from Jessica G. but had never bothered to get her phone number. Everyone is always on Facebook nowadays, right? Needless to say, at the time, Melody thought I might be some kind of crazy stalker and was not ready to give out personal information for one of her best friends. Of course she is a sweet girl that’s always willing to help out though, so instead she put through a message herself to Jessica G., informing her that I was trying to get in touch with her. Long story short, everything worked out with the package and I now had one more friend that I now talked to online and had the chance to meet up with in person. It’s a good thing my neurotic brain memorizes other people’s blog posts the same way it does other mostly useless information such as tv shows or movies, and I was able to pick out other members of Brittany’s crew from when she was here.

Getting picked up from Jessica at the marina (I’m going to start dropping the G now, you’ll have to manage on your own to keep us apart) we drove the few miles down the crowded beach side of A1A before making a few turns and getting just a little bit lost on the way to Melody’s boat. When we did find her, she was instant hugs and southern pleasure as she guided back from the road to her boat where I was given the full tour, as well as a chance to meet Chris and Jet, the other crew of Vacilando. We all enjoyed a few minutes out enjoying the late afternoon sun until we realized our stomachs were grumbling too loud to ignore any longer. Upon having overheard a conversation between the two about a really good sushi restaurant that opened up, but don’t let it’s strip mall exterior fool you, I began tossing out hints that I’d love to go there. Do you know how much I love sushi? A lot. Do you know how often I go to sushi restaurants. Never. Even more than his distaste for freshly caught, cooked but not deep fried fish, Matt won’t even look at sushi in any form. Back on land I was left to treating myself to California rolls from the deli counter at Meijer every couple of months as a little treat to myself.

Melody & Jet

Jet s/v Vacilando

Jet, the super dog.

Jessica on Vacilando

As we walked into the restaurant and stood in front of walls and walls with photos and prices, I tried to pretend I was a pro at this, when in reality, I didn’t even know what went in a California roll. Some cream cheese, avocado..fish? All I knew was that it was on the wall and I was ready to order it. Getting closer to the register there was a menu laid out with actual descriptions and the fish in this California roll was eel. Um, no thanks. It’s not that I would never be so daring as to try this at some point, it’s just that tonight I wanted a meal I knew I would enjoy. Rainbow roll it was, I have no problem with imitation crab.

Learning a few other things from these sushi pros in front of me as we sat at our table with enough food to feed an army, was the proper way to enjoy wasabi. Left to my own devices I had always taken just a small smear of it directly onto my roll. As I watched on with wonder, and soon imitated, I saw that it was a mixture of wasabi and soy sauce that the roll gets dunked into before eating. Very smart. I’m still learning the ratios though, and was surprised a few times as I took bites of my food and a tingling and burning sensation would run all the way up to my nose. The carbonated Coca-Cola I was drinking? Didn’t really help out a whole lot. I think I missed out on a lot of conversation because I was too busy pinching my nose and making bizarre faces. The rolls though, were in fact delicious. I don’t know the difference between a strip mall restaurant and a decadent $25/roll one, but it tasted like perfection to me.

sushi dinner

Pushing off for our main destination of the evening, we were going to be hanging poolside, or hut tub side I should say, at the Hyatt Regency, a hotel just off the marina where Jessica’s boyfriend works. I’d kept hearing about the pool and hot tub ever since we had arrived, but assuming it was at the marina and not the hotel, had never bothered to go in search for it. In the parking lot we actually did get a chance to run into G, Jessica’s boyfriend, and forced him into taking a few shots of us girls with my camera before we’d let him get back to work. Unbeknownst to us at the time, he had set us up in what we can only refer to as the ‘Tommy Hilfiger Prom Pose’, all of us girls lined up in red, white, and blue, the only thing missing was corsages from our wrists.

Jessica & Melody

Tommy Hilfiger prom pose

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Do you know how many times I’ve been dreaming about hot tubs lately? Too many to comprehend since I don’t even live in that polar ice cap they refer to as Michigan anymore. But right next to our wishes of being able to stroll the streets of Manhattan again, soaking in a warm hot tub comes just after.

When Jessica led us out through the well manicured grounds and up to the hotel’s outdoor hot tub, I almost fell in it from shock. This wasn’t a hot tub, this was a mini pool! It took me all of .5 seconds to change into my suit and hop in. It was pure bliss. As Jessica said, we had the perfect trifecta going on. Hot water, working jets, and, hmmm, can’t remember that last one.

A little while later one of Jessica’s work friends joined us, and the four of us girls got lost in the hours of the evening as we sat under clear dark skies hidden by palm trees, warm water lapping against our legs, and the ability, for me at least, to get a little superficial girly talk in. Not getting an eye roll when I talk about the perfect layers for hair, or the best skin cream out there at the moment. These conversations are necessary for me every once in awhile.

We also talked about travel and my thoughts on a few of the places Matt and I had been to. I’m pretty sure that Melody is ready to throw off the lines on her boat and head off to Isla Mujeres after seeing my photos of the pristine beaches and seeing how low our cost of living was there. It seemed like all too soon that the beer had run dry and responsibilities were dragging everyone back to their homes. It was just a short walk back for me to the dinghy and then back to the ‘Dip where I had Matt waiting for me. The perfect man to come home to, but, it was kind of nice to ditch him for the girls for a few hours.

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Jessica & Jessica

Six Degrees of Friends in Fort Lauderdale

Tuesday March 4, 2014

Jessica & Jessica

 Jessica power!

 

Tonight Matt and I met up with some friends in Fort Lauderdale that we hadn’t really ever met before. We didn’t find each other directly, through finding each other’s blogs, we were somewhat guided towards each other by a mutual cruising friend. You may vaguely remember a panicked Facebook post last summer where I needed someone in the Fort Lauderdale area that could hold on to a package for us for a few weeks. This was because while on a trip back to the States and subsequently a few weeks after that backpacking through South America, we realized we could not lug all our boat purchases with us through the southern hemisphere but did want to grab them on a layover in Ft. Lauderdale before heading back to Central America and the boat since we found out a 40 lb package would be $900 to ship! In stepped my friend Brittany who’d spent a good portion of time in Ft. Lauderdale, and hooked me up with her friend Jessica G. of m/v Felicity, who readily agreed to store our package for us until we could retrieve it.

 

I had only been able to spend about 5 minutes with Jessica while grabbing our stuff before our flight left that night, but I always said, if we get back this way, we will be getting together to share those drinks we never had a chance to before. Plus, being as sweet as she is, Jessica let us use her as a mailbox once more while we had a few things shipped to her address in FL while we were stuck in Mexico with no idea of when we’d get out. As soon as we got in last night I sent her a message to let her know we had arrived, and in between a few more Facebook conversations she not only set us up with a killer spot to be able to land our dinghy while we’re in town, but set us up with her boyfriend Gordon who ran us on errands of filling up our propane and stocking up on drinks before we got together that night at their house to hang out and celebrate Mardi Gras.

 

The four of us (me, Matt, Gordon, and G’s friend/co-worker Adam) spent 45 minutes in traffic to go the five miles to their house and surprisingly beat Jessica there, who only works a few miles further away herself. We took a few minutes to wander the grounds, admire their pool and 50 ft. Hatteras, and of course, crack open a cold beer. When Jessica walked through the door a few minutes later we greeted each other like long lost friends that hadn’t seen each other in months, which, I guess, we were? Even though we had literally spent less than five minutes talking to each other the first time we met, we dove into a conversation that didn’t let up until a few hours later when the guys said they were leaving to go get hot wings for dinner. I think they just wanted to escape overhearing bits of our girly chatter, but we were so into it that we barely noticed they were gone.

 

To add to the fun for the night, Jessica took me for a spin on her Dance Revolution game on her Wii where we spun around to Selena Gomez and rocked some smooth moves to Will Smith. We stuffed ourselves on the above mentioned hot wings, specialty Mardi Gras cake, and tried to get a decent photo of the two of us. Between our selfies and handing over the camera to Adam who was trying to get it to work in low light settings…we might have to wait for another occasion for that perfect shot.

 

For a group of people that we might never have had the chance of knowing, I’m so happy the way the world of cruising and blogging works, that we were put in each others paths and had the chance to get to know each other. Jessica and Gordon have already been a huge help to us here in Fort Lauderdale, and we can’t wait for the chance to spend more time with them.

 

Matt at Pier 66

Pier 66 Fort Lauderdale

cat drinking pool water

I guess when you’re thirsty…you’re thirsty.

Jessica & Gordon

Our wonderful hosts for the night, Jessica & Gordon

Jessica & Jessica

Trying to get a decent photo of us while handing the camera over to one of the guys.

Jessica & Jessica WWS

Representing Women Who Sail!  …. Or at least, trying to.

Jessica & Jessica, kisses

Jessica doesn’t seem to want my kisses.

Mardi Gras mask

palm trees lit up at night

Hard Rock Cafe Miami

From Bays to Lakes

Monday March 3, 2014

Miami proper

The sun was up, the engine was on, and we were ready to move ourselves from Dinner Key harbor, just south of Miami, up to Ft. Lauderdale, our last intended stop in the states. God I hope it’s the last stop. If we go any further north we’ll be backtracking on places we’ve already been last year. The Bahamas I can handle backtracking to, Last time I remember I studied everything before and even learned about law pointers to be careful, so  i thought about this and looked for more info for the future. The rest of Florida…meh, not so much. Though I would love a few nights in St. Augustine if it happened to be the next port north. With an easy inlet to enter this time.

Once again I was behind the wheel for the few miles of ICW which would lead us back out to the cut an into the Atlantic. Between the two of us we’ve worked out a little system where I’m on watch or behind the wheel for situations that requires acute observation, since Matt is a little more easily distracted than I, and then I’m still on watch unless I’m sleeping. No really, it took me until our Mexico-Florida crossing to realize this. If I am awake, it is assumed I am keeping a watch out for boats. Add that to all the navigating, the cooking, and the cleaning, and I think I might have to come up with some more blue jobs for Matt to earn his keep on this boat. It’s a good thing he knows how to trim the sails a hell of a lot better than I do, or else this operation could be a one woman show. Did I also mention I’m the one to check us into all the countries and deal with the officials? Ohhhh, right. Now I remember the reasons I tend to get almost anything I ask for, including forcing my better half to places he doesn’t want to go, like Miami.

Where was this story leading? Oh, yeah. So I was behind the wheel trying to get us out of the inlet at Miami when I came to a fork in the road. By turning right it gave me a short cut, taking me by all the unloading docks for the tankers. If I went straight a little bit further, I’d be able to go down the main part of the inlet and past all the pretty cruise ships. Maybe it was because I had already seen the boring tankers on my way in, but I wanted to see the pretty cruise ships. Passing the Miami proper skyline and the Hard Rock Cafe, I cut the wheel to join into the inlet and was greeted by pretty blue flashing lights. I had no reason to believe they were for me and assumed it might be a police escort for one of the five cruise ships getting ready to depart. I kept on my path, happily trotting along and taking in the view of the cruise ships, closer than we’d ever been to them before. The police officers waived at me, and I waved back.

Wait a second, they weren’t waiving at me, they were waiving at me. But what had I done? Was this just a routine check?, because we were about ready to pull out our Coast Guard boarding document and call them on harassment if they tried, well, harassing us. Pulling up along side me I could just make out the words ‘Turn around’. Ummm, ok? Is there construction? Nope, it was me. I was breaking all the rules, the dirty little rebel that I am. Turns out there’s a law against passing through an area like that if there was more than one cruise ship in port. For security reasons. I picked a day when they had five. Even more embarrassing is that I’m sure they were trying to hail us on the radio, but one of us hadn’t turned the radio on along with all of the other instruments.

Along with instructions of how to exit via the ‘shortcut’ that I had taken in, I received lots of slow talking and a few pitiful looks. I’m sure as they saw this wide eyed girl behind the wheel (out of embarrassment and nothing else) and thought to themselves, ‘Poor little lass, she wanted to see what it felt like to be behind the wheel of ship, but has no idea what she’s doing. Let’s hope they get that boat back to dock where it belongs and she can spend her afternoon on it sipping margaritas instead of trying to drive it.’   Ok, maybe that’s not what they were thinking.  But it is what their faces said.

It was fine.  Soon enough we were out of the cut and on our way up the 20 miles to the Port Everglades inlet, which Matt had promised me was only 10.  Maybe he had been glancing at Hannover?  No biggie, it just allowed me more time of seclusion on the water, laying out on deck and reading a book while ridding myself of tan lines at the same time.  It was another extremely calm day where the sails couldn’t even hold wind and we were reduced to motoring instead.  Before I had even realized that a few hours had passed by, we were quickly surrounded by masses of fishing boats just outside of Fort Lauderdale and I once more took position behind the wheel to dodge them and their erratic patterns as they cut back and forth in front of us.

Holding the wheel until it was time to wait for our first lift bridge in about a year, I passed it over to Matt and let him do the dance of trying to maintain no forward motion as the currents moved along beneath us.  He kept on the helm as I guided us just a little further up the ICW and to our new home of Lake Slyvia until we leave for the Bahamas.  Lake would be a generous term for this spot, it’s more like and extravagant pond, but the multi-million dollar mansions surrounding us along with the glass calm waters to rest in for a few days definitely made up for the small size.  It was anchors down at 4:00, and dinghy down at 4:30.  Next stop was finding internet to alert friends we had arrived, and I think a cold beer is on the list too.

Miami proper

Sailing by Miami Proper.

Hard Rock Cafe Miami

 Hard Rock Cafe Miami.

Bimini Super Fast

 Tell me again, how fast can I get to Bimini?

South Beach, Miami

3.1.14

Visiting that Place We Said We’d Never Go a.k.a. Miami

Saturday March 1, 2013

3.1.14

“I can’t wait to get to Miami. Such a big city, all the lights, right on the water. I think it’s going to be really cool.”

“We’re not going to Miami”

“Why not? We’re going to have to pass right by it anyway. Oh! Maybe we can go to a nightclub there! Hmmmm, what will I have packed that’s kind of night-clubby? See, I told you there are times I will need heels.”

“First of all, we’re not going to Miami. Second, even if we did, we’re not going out to a night club there.”

“Why can’t we going to Miami?”

“Because it’s Miami. If there is one place in the world I do not want to hit on this trip, it’s Miami.”

 

That’s a conversation that took place two years ago between Matt and I while we were still sitting back in Michigan and planning this whole adventure out. Could you have guessed because of my nightclub comment? Ha, like I even think about those things now.

 

He was serious about it. If there was one place he never wanted to go…. I’m not sure if it was the idea of the crowds combined with the non-Manhattan like culture that he didn’t want to deal with? Or maybe a preconceived notion that everyone there would be fake and pretentious? I’m not sure, he never really went into his reasons. Just that it was never ever going to happen. And guess where we are now? That’s because I always get my way. (No, honestly, I just brought it up again as a stop along the way and he never said boo. Until we got here.)

So this morning we found ourselves at the Metro station in Coconut Grove, trying to figure out how to buy a day pass on the transit system and read the timetables and routes. We were getting ourselves to South Beach, but we were doing it poor man style. Which was probably apparent to anyone watching as I sat on the bench at the metrorail station, covering my feet in about sixteen bandages to ease the pain of the blisters I’d received the day before from walking miles in non broken in shoes. Classy were were..not. But at least you couldn’t tell that from far away.

As we stepped off our second bus that had brought us past the causeways and to the beach front, we had no idea to start or even what we were looking for. Of course I had wanted to do the Art Deco tour while we were there, a style of architectural style of the 20’s and 30’s featuring bold geometric shapes and bright colors, but the only information I had on me was a snapshot on my camera taken from a PDF on my computer screen. A now very small and hard to read photograph. Throwing away the plan of actually following a plan, we wandered until we found a beach walk and water. There didn’t seem to be any art deco buildings here, just mammoth hotels and waiters catering drinks between the pool and the beach.

Strolling the boardwalk on this absolutely gorgeous Saturday morning, we wound our way around until finally hitting Ocean Drive..and a Starbucks. Those gift cards my mom had just sent me back in Key West were still burning a hole in my pocket, and I dragged Matt through the door to get us a few iced coffees. Another establishment that Matt can’t stand. Now, according to him, we matched all the pretentious a-holes out on South Beach that day. (I still loved the gift cards mom, thank you!) I paid him no mind and just kept thinking ‘Oooh, free iced coffee!’

Stepping out on to Ocean Drive we were instantly greeted with the art deco buildings we had come to see, starting with the Betsy Ross hotel. From there we slowly looked at each passing building, not knowing the history of any of them because I forgot to print out all of the information I had just researched, but appreciating them nonetheless. Or at least one of us was.

“I hate the stucco. They’re not even built well.”

“They may not be built well, but at least they’re different.”

“But look at it. It doesn’t even look good.”

“It doesn’t have to look good, it just has to be different from what we see every day to make it special. I’m not saying these are the most beautiful buildings we’ve ever seen, I’m just pointing out that they’re something new and different for us to look at.”

 

Our tour down Ocean Drive didn’t last much longer. And don’t worry, if you’re thinking that Matt was being a jerk or ruining my day by complaining, I was just happy that he took me out there period. Again, this was one place he did not.want.to.go. So the fact that he still went, willingly, and just because I wanted to, well that’s love right there. And every time he gave something a repulsive look or made a loathsome comment, I just laughed instead and thought ‘Aaww, he really cares about me for being here’.

After a delicious lunch of ropa vieja at a Cuban restaurant we hit the sand to check out the gaggle of girls in small swimsuits that South Beach is supposed to be known for. Maybe it’s just not spring break yet, but there weren’t as many of the perfectly molded plastic women as we thought there would be out here. Isn’t this one of the plastic surgery capitals of the US? Maybe all those women had more procedures booked for today? We didn’t see them out on the beach. Just a bunch of natural all American girls. Ok, with some noticeable plastic surgery here and there.

Loitering on the beach until we returned to the spot we started out in the morning, we picked a spot on the boardwalk to relax in the shade and watch the people go by. It was, I have to admit, some of the best people watching we’ve been able to do in a long time. By the time a few more hours had gone by, we were both having a great time and I think Matt even forgot that he didn’t want to be here. I think some sun, sand, and waves (ok, and maybe a cold can of Mt. Dew) can have that effect on anyone. In fact, I may have just talked him into coming back tomorrow to lay out on the beach. I must have some pretty awesome powers of persuasion.

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2.27.14

24 Hours to Coconut Grove

Thursday February 27, 2014

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Monday June 10, 2013, Grand Cayman Island. That’s the last good snorkeling Matt and I have had on this trip. We’ve been to many other so called diver’s havens: the Bay Islands, Belize, Mexico; but each time we dropped ourselves below the surface we saw murky water and little or no coral. We’re going through a little bit of snorkler’s withdrawal at the moment. So when it was mentioned to us by a few people that there is a great place for snorkeling and diving in the Keys called John Pennecamp State Park, I was just a little excited to go. I’d been researching the area since Key West, but had yet to come up with an anchorage in or near the area, or even find out exactly where this good diving was if not buying tickets on a tour boat for them to take you there. I was all set with plans to have Matt just drop the hook anywhere in that area while we spent all day searching for this coral if necessary, but then I started to read a few accounts on how only boats with drafts of just 4’6” and under are allowed in there. We’re a little over that, and taking chances of bottoming out on coral is not on my list of things to do, so it looks like we won’t get our diving in until we’re back in the Bahamas. I am really starting to look forward to those gin clear waters again.

Since we now no longer had any reason to stop midway, we set our sights on heading straight from Marathon to Miami, about a 118 mile trip. Getting the anchor up with the sun at 7:00 we motored out into glass calm seas. Finally a passage where I can actually do things! Clean the galley, do work on my computer, read a book. But first, I had to get out of all these crab pots and out to deep water. Matt was quickly back to bed since there was nothing for him to do in the cockpit, and I guided us out of the banks and angled us toward the Gulf Stream. There were quite a few fishing boats to look out for, an obstacle that we’re not used to encountering, so my attention unfortunately had to be focused on the water instead of any other projects.

I took to watching the water and all the garbage that would gather in the seaweed patches we’d pass through. I’m beginning to realize there are way too many plastic bottles floating out at sea. One thing that was much more abundant than discarded oil jugs though, were man-o-war jellyfish. Although we’d been seeing them constantly since Belize, my new goal was to get a good shot of one on my camera. Sliding open the wooden panel in the salon as quietly as possible as not to wake Matt, I lifted my camera bag out and tiptoed back up the steps into the companionway. The game was now on. Time after time I’d watch one pass by our hull only to realize too late that I didn’t have enough time to grab my camera and capture it. Preparing myself the next time with camera in my hand I was like a Planet Earth videographer in the jungles of the Amazon, statue still with camera at my eye, waiting for any kind of movement.

When Matt roused himself out of bed just before noon he found me scampering from one side of the cockpit to the other, full of excitement each time I saw something that looked like a plastic water bottle floating out in the water. Finally I saw my shot coming. There was quite a large one just up ahead of us, and it looked like it would pass within only a few feet of our hull. Running up on deck I positioned myself with my camera and waited for it to come on our starboard side. This was going to be a close one. Too close in fact. Just as it was coming in view for me to get a good photo it disappeared under our hull. We ran the damn thing over. Sigh. Giving up on this little project for the moment I grabbed my last can of Monster out of the fridge, a gift I actually received from a friend back in the Cayman Islands, and resigned myself to the shade with a good book. Since I’ve been reading nothing but trash lately Matt suggested I try 1984. We’ll see how it turns out.

It wasn’t hard to tell when we’d found the Gulf Stream, our speed jumped up to 7 knots, and since I had been monitoring water temperature as well, the rise of 2 degrees was also a dead giveaway. With the sails now up and trimmed, we sat back as the waves rose to 2-3 feet, but still comfortable enough for me to enjoy the book. The rest of the afternoon flew by as we kept these positions, only momentarily moving to grab food or use the head.  As night fell and Matt was down taking a nap before his first watch began (how much can that boy sleep in a day?) I was busy dodging all the large ship traffic out in the Gulf Stream.  I swear, none of them decided to come out until it was night.  Trying to keep a position between three different ships passing up and down, I eventually passed only 1/3rd of a mile from one of them, something Matt woke up just in time to see and scold me for.  It was that or lose my sail trim.  I still say I chose wisely.

We pulled in to the Government Cut of Miami just as the sun was coming up, but with still a long way to go before reaching our destination at Dinner Key Marina.  Or more accurately, the channel outside of it.  We like to anchor, what can I say.  After having just come off a 9 hour watch to get there, I was exhausted by the time we finally dropped anchor.  Letting Matt put the boat back together since I told him to sleep while I had stayed on longer (he had NO idea where we were going, I didn’t trust him alone up there), I passed out in bed, not to get out of it for the rest of the day.

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 First jellyfish spotted!

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The jellyfish that was soon under our hull.

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This ship was 1 mile away, imagine it 2/3rds closer, at night!

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Marathon, 7 Mile Bridge

Passing on Marathon

Tuesday February 25, 2014

Marathon, 7 Mile Bridge

I’m sorry, but I just can’t write a post about our time here in Marathon/Boot Key Harbor. You know the old saying, ‘If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all’?. That’s kind of the case that I’m dealing with here. Trust me, I could go on about the many reasons we did not like this stop, but I won’t do it. Not even necessarily because of the above adage, but because we are probably the 1% of cruisers that aren’t completely in love with this harbor, and I’m not ready to start getting that kind of hate mail just yet. So for now I’m just going to leave it alone. In fact, just to show a little bit of gratitude and keep you from dumping your garbage on me the next time you see me walking down the street (or in your daydreams since chances are, we may not meet), I do have one nice thing to say about this place. If you find yourself anchored outside of the chaos they like to label as a harbor, you can catch some amazing sunsets overlooking 7 Mile Bridge.

graffiti, Key West Florida

Random Images of Key West

Monday February 24, 2014

graffiti, Key West Florida

Sorry there hasn’t been much to update you on here in Key West, but unless you’d like to hear more stories of how we’re constantly getting waked from all the fishing boats and tour boats that whiz by us, there really isn’t much to report on.  Seriously though, it could almost be a post.  These guys don’t even go on the outside of us, as the furthest out boat, to cut down their distance by 100 meters.  No, they cut between boats in the anchorage because it must be such a time saver to them.  Ugh.  I can’t even get started on it.

So, instead of my whining and bitching about power boaters and their manners, I instead leave you with random images of Key West.  Which would have been the better post in the end, I’m still deciding.  But at least this one leaves you with a pretty sunset.

marinas in Key West

Blue Heaven, Key West

house in Key West

Tropic Theater, Key West

riding scooter in Key West

Kermit's Key Lime Pie, Key West

Matt in butterfly cut out

Cayo Hueso Hotel, Key West

Jessica at southernmost point

Hemingway House, Key West

lighthouse, Key West

Red Trouser Show, Key West

A&B Lobster House, Key West

sunset, Key West