After a relaxing night at the Hollander Hotel in St. Pete and a wonderful dinner and breakast there on Tuesday morning, we picked up John’s friend, Bob Hodge, and headed back to Bradenton for Bob to board the 18′ Boston Whaler that he purchased. I have to be honest and say that watching our last physical tie to The Inlets leave the canal for its final time brought a tear to my eye. We had ten and one-half wonderful years living there, enjoying being near our kids, the weather, our home, the pool, the friends we made, the incredible beaches, and the gorgeous scenery. But, to achieve our dream we had to move on, so we picked up the dogs, stopped at a self-service dog wash to bathe them and then headed to the hangar for the last time. We attached the UHaul trailer to the Honda Pilot before starting out on the road to Kelly and Craig’s house in Jacksonville.
It was wonderful spending time with the kids and grandkids. We were able to assist with homework, read, play, and go to a science museum with Craig, Michaela, Carter and Madison. With the addition of Kirby and Jake, there were six dogs in the house (also two cats, a bird and a fish). As you can see in the picture above, Jake is a typical golden retiriever and nothing ever bothers him. Madison was in love! Both Kirby and Jake got their checkups while we were there along with some supplies and medications needed for a year away, and Jake had his first dental cleaning ever thanks to Kelly! Kelly is now Kirby’s and Jake’s official veterinarian as she will see them again next year when we head back through Jacksonville on our way to the Caribbean.
We were also happy to be able to meet with John’s brother, Rich, and his girlfriend, Kathy, for lunch and a tour of their incredible new house on Amelia Island, which is very close to Kelly and Craig’s home. Another stop that was important to us was at St. Brendan’s Isle, our mail forwarding service. We wanted to see the facility and to ask a few questions. We were very impressed and now feel even more comfortable with the process.
Three nights after arriving in Jacksonville, we left Florida and headed on to Bolivia, North Carolina where our friends Vera and Rolf Redin and Jan and Don Kirk live. Unfortunately, Vera and Rolf were away, but we stayed at Jan and Don’s beautiful new home there. The Kirk’s have an 18 month old Old English Bulldog, Jones. To say that Jones and Kirby had a great time would be an understatement. Kirby finally met his match in the playing territory! Poor old Jake was happy just finding a quiet place to lay down while the young whipersnappers played wildly.
Next stop was Annapolis, Maryland, to visit with Jeff, Sarah, Walter and Rush. We hadn’t seen them since November, so we were anxious to visit with everyone. We had a wonderful time taking Walt dinghy shopping with us and going for ice cream as well as just spending lots of quality time with both boys. Walt and I made play dough from scratch as I used to make when my kids were little. It was a huge hit! Rush is just on the verge of walking. It’s always amazing to me to see a one year old learn to walk. Rush looks so tiny to be able to stand up and take those steps. After four nights in Annapolis, it was time to move on.
Leaving all five of my grandchildren was so hard for me. Each tiny little hug and kiss brought me to tears. I know we will see them all sooner rather than later, but the physical act of leaving them was so very hard. We love each one of them so much!
The drive from Maryland to Connecticut was an easy one and we arrived in Mystic in the early afternoon. We went past the marina to make sure the boat was in good shape after a long hard New England winter. The yard did such an wonderful job shrink wrapping her! Right now, it still says Outback on the transom, but that will change soon. The marina said there should be no trouble launching her by April 15th, but in the meantime we are staying at a little cottage on a lake that is still frozen. There is snow in the front yard here, too. We are heating the living room of the cabin with a wood burning stove! All so very different from our Florida home of just over a week ago.
A final thought before I end this post. So many people have told us that we are living their dream, or that they admire our nerve to sell everything and take this plunge. To that I say, John and I know we are lucky that we share this goal. We also know that anything worth doing takes drive and hard work, that it won’t always be easy, but that the pay off will be more than we can even imagine. We are ready to get this adventure started!!!