Monday, 4 January 2016

Christmas/New Years/our kids visit!!

Today is Dec. 24th and we are expecting Sarah and Louie to arrive today.  We all decided no presents so I decided to do stockings for the kids.  Including one for our first Grandchild due in June!!

Sarah and Louie arrived around 3pm.  We had a steak dinner and then sat on the back deck until 11pm.  They were very tired and had intended to go to bed earlier but time flies when you're having fun.
The next morning Sarah and Louie were surprised to see their stockings.  There is a Santa Claus!!
Sarah and Louie have 3 dogs.  Annie, Indie and Ollie.  They brought Ollie with them because he doesn't do well with out his Mom and Dad.  You can see he doesn't like to be far from them as he looks over their shoulders as they eat their breakfast. 
One of the items on Steve's bucket list is Christmas on the beach.  After breakfast, we packed up our chairs and head to the beach.  It was packed!!  The weather was beautiful and the water temperature was around 80 degrees.  Cross that one off the bucket list.  

         ICE CREAM TRUCK!!
Christmas dinner on the boat.  Turkey with stuffing cooked onboard...a first!
On boxing day we took the boat to an Island called Cabbage Key..  It was about 25 miles from the Marina so it took us about 3 hours to get there.  We saw many dolphins on our way there so Sarah and Louie went up to the bow on dolphin watch. 
 We had the best dolphin show so far on this trip.  So glad Louie and Sarah were there to share it with us.  The dolphins were actually following us, keeping up to our speed and jumping in our wake.  They were coming so close that one dolphin jumped then did a turn in mid air so he didn't hit the dinghy.  We never get tired of seeing these fascinating animals play around the boat. 
It was a really hot day so Sarah thought it would be a great idea if we pulled out of the channel and had a swim with the dolphins.  Well the dolphins were in the same water so I guess we were swimming with them but we didn't see any while swimming.

We arrived at Cabbage Key.  It's just a small island that was purchased for $14,500 in 1936.  The owners invested $125,000 on the amenities which exist today as a resort, bar and restaurant.
This building has a solar energy system, six working fireplaces, five porches, a storm shelter and a rain water system with 12,000 gallons of storage built in to a concrete foundation. 
The water tower, which is still in use today, has a capacity of 6,000 gallons and has survived many storms since being built in the late 1930's. 
 The view from the water tower.
We took a walk around the grounds and spotted a sting ray right beside the docks. 
There was also a pen full of little baby chicks.....don't order the chicken or duck for dinner.

  There was a nature trail that was full of Mangrove trees. 
Sarah and Louie decided to go for a walk on the nature trail until they saw this sign and then decided to head back to the boat.
Years ago fisherman would come to this restaurant.  If they had a good day fishing they would take a dollar bill, write their name on it and tape it to the wall so when they had a bad day fishing they would have money at the restaurant to buy a beer.  This practice became very popular so people started taping dollar bills to the restaurant when they came in to eat.  We asked our server the approximate value and she said there were over 100,000, one dollar bills taped to the walls.  Their were some framed dollar bills as well.  One from Jimmy Buffet and even JFK.

 Approximately 12,000 dollar bills fall off of these walls every year.  When they fall off they are donated to charity. 
We also wrote on a dollar bill and Louie asked if we could also do a Canadian five dollar bill and of course they said sure!
We started back to the Marina the next day.  We marked the spot on the chart plotter where the dolphins played with us so we could watch very closely when we hit the same spot on the way back.  Sure enough, as soon as we hit the spot the dolphins were playing in our wake.  This time they didn't jump as much but you could see them swim right along side our boat, same speed, just under the water.   

The next day APRIL AND KEN ARRIVED!!  They came in an RV so they had their own home.  The park where they stayed was only 2 miles from our Marina so we went there for dinner the day they arrived.  So good to have everyone together! 
 April and Ken surprised Sarah and Louie with a onesie and a chocolate cigar for our new addition expected in June!.....It looks pretty good on Ollie.
 The weather has been so amazing!  We decided to take a boat trip the next day up to the City of Fort Myers.
 We spotted this bait shop along the way.  The girl on the surf board is not real.  It took me 2 drive byes to realize that. 
 It was such a hot day.  We stopped for a swim but only Louie, April and Dexter ventured in the brackish water.  We were heading toward Fort Myers where the river flows in to the ocean.  Brackish water is a mixture of fresh water and salt water and looks kind of like coffee.

 Bellies were grumbling so we cooked some burgers along the way.
 Dexter with two of his favourite ladies!
 Sarah and Louie on dolphin watch!
 Ollie.....feeling quite at home in Dexter's spot!
 We got back to the bay where our Marina is located at dusk.  Santa brought Sarah and Louie a lantern that they wanted to send up to the sky.  Tonight is their last night with us at Fort Myers Beach.
 We watched as the lantern disappeared in to the sky.
 Shot of the whole family........last night together.  Dexter was tired out and went to bed.  You don't wake a sleeping Dexter.
 The next morning we said goodbye to Sarah and Louie.  There may have been a tear or two shed.  Great I see a baby bump?

 Today is Dec 31st, 2015.  New Years Eve.  After we said goodbye to Sarah and Louie we road our bikes to April and Kens RV park.  There is a mini put right across the street so we road over for a game of mini put.  Stakes were high.  Loser buys first round of drinks New Years Eve.

 New Years Eve we went to the beach where people were sending off lanterns like Sarah sent off our boat the day before.  There were hundreds in the sky.  Our Marina is very close to the beach so many of these lanterns were losing their steam right over our Marina.  We were a little concerned for our boat as they still had a bit of an ember burning when they landed.  One even landed on the gas dock at our Marina.  There were fire works like we have never seen before that started at midnight and went for 20 minutes.  It was a fantastic show.
Kenny told me my flash was too bright.
New Years Day!  Ken and April were only at the park where they arrived until today.  They are moving to the beach side of the bridge.  We can see the bridge from our Marina so I caught Ken and April crossing the bridge to their new RV park, much closer to us and the beach. 

All settled at the new park on the beach!
They are much closer to the Marina so I took a bike ride.  We met the biggest dog.  This dog weighs 170 pounds and the owner has 2 and is living in an RV!   He only walks them one at a time.  This one is named Thorn. 
Look at the size of these paws....and I don' mean the paws on the left. 
Jan 2nd today.  There were a bunch of boats anchored just outside our Marina.  It is tough to get a slip this time of year as it's a very popular area.  The sail boat in this picture didn't check the tides when they anchored.  You can tell by the way it's listing that it is on bottom.  We left the boat at 10:30 today and when we arrived back at 5pm the tide had come back up and the sailboat was gone.  Glad to be gone I'm sure.
 We were off to Everglade City for an airboat ride and a gator tour.  We also took a boardwalk tour through the mangroves.
 Steve and April holding a baby gator.

 This gator was in the wild just as we entered the park.  We were on a bridge so no fear.
On the air boat now going through the mangroves. 
 We made a stop when we spotted this gator.  Our tour guide, Greg, threw marshmallows at the gator while we were stopped on the boat watching.  The gator loved the go back up 2 pictures....looks like I have a giant marshmallow on my head right?  OK let's go now.

 Carried on a little further to find a baby gator. Greg tried to pick him up but just couldn't get him close enough.
Greg our tour guide.
 On our way back to the boat.  The road is protected with high fencing with barbed wire at the top to prevent the panthers from crossing.  We didn't see any.
Today is a very rainy day.  It rained buckets from about 2pm until we went to bed.  Sarah and Louie told us about this great restaurant, Charlie's Boat House so we decided to take the Trolley there.  We met April and Ken at their RV and left from there.  After dinner we stood at the Trolley stop where we got splashed by passing cars.  Ken stood on the bench in order to stay somewhat dry and Steve, April and I huddled under the umbrella.

Today was our last day with Ken and April.  They took the dinghy for a ride and then head back to the RV to pack up.  
Steve and I met them at the RV and had dinner together before they prepared to head back home.

 We are so fortunate to have such wonderful kids with great partners.  They are not just our children but some of our best friends.  We had many laughs and will miss them as we travel further South.  We have been in Fort Myers Beach Florida since Dec 12th and will now watch for a weather window to travel to Marco Island, our next destination.  Time to get back in the Loop, "One Bay at a Time."

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