We are back on the move. After being in one place for over a month, it feels good to be on our way again. With every mile farther south, it feels a little more tropical. We feel the islands beckoning for us, calling us with the promise of white sand beaches, swaying palm trees, and the spirit of island time and “no problem, Mon”. We are on our way, but we have miles to travel until we get there.
After our arrival in Fort Myers Beach on December 13th, we readied ourselves for the road trip to where we would split our Christmas time visits between Annapolis and Jacksonville. Our first stop was Annapolis. There we celebrated the season with Jeff, Sarah, Walter, Rush, and Ford. Our visit was wonderful; we had an early Christmas with the family and also were able to attend Ford’s Christening ceremony at their adorable little church.
The next stop was at the home of Kelly, Craig, Michaela, Carter, and Madison. We arrived on Christmas Eve and found the children very excited about the prospect of Santa’s upcoming visit. Of course, falling asleep that night was not easy, but finally everyone managed to get some rest and Santa was able to slip in and do his job. We had a great time watching all of the excitement on Christmas morning and we enjoyed a relaxing day while the kids played with all of their new toys. The following night, Rich (John’s brother), Kathy, and our niece, Jennifer, came to Kelly’s house and the whole group enjoyed a pizza dinner and a birthday cake to celebrate Jennifer’s Christmas birthday.
We left Kelly’s on December 27thand drove back to Fort Myers Beach. As we had the car for a few more days, we toured the area, visiting the Ford and Edison Winter Estates, checking out the beach town, and, before we turned it in, I was able to get some grocery shopping done. Soon it was New Year’s Eve. We spent a very nice evening at the Parrot Key Grill at the marina and then headed back to the boat just in time to watch the beautiful firework display that took place over the water.
It is hard to say where the time went for the next couple of weeks! One night we had a delightful visit from our friend Bob Freeman, who we hadn’t seen for about five years. John got some projects done around the boat, we visited a car show at the marina, and we spent a few days out exploring the area on the dinghy. We did have to wait for a Garmin person to come and find out why our depth sounder wasn’t working properly, and then we had to wait for a part to come in for it a few days later. I was beginning to get cabin fever, as there just really wasn’t much to left to do. I walked to the fish market one day and to the shrimp dock to buy shrimp another day, but we were both ready to leave when we finally pulled out on January 18th. Being back on the water was wonderful. It was a gorgeous day with calm seas on the Gulf of Mexico, and just enough breezes to keep the bright sun from becoming hot. The feeling of being free on the water returned, and all was well with the world.
We planned on anchoring in Naples that evening, but it turned out that none of the anchorages were deep enough for our 5-foot draft. This meant we had to quickly come up with another plan. John called a marina nearby and, thankfully, they could fit us in at the last minute. The good part of this change in plans was that we were near Bob Freeman again and he came to spend the evening with us aboard AfterMath when he left work. An evening with Bob is always full of fun and laughter and we both felt that the unexpected night at a dock in Naples worked out for the best.
Yesterday, January 19th, we left Naples and began our travels a few hours farther south to Marco Island. As always, the waters here are loaded with dolphins. Kirby maintained his watch as we left our dock, hanging over the bow, waiting for that tale-telling splash or the puff of water from a dolphin’s spout. He was greatly rewarded for his patience on our trip out of Naples. It’s not unusual for a dolphin or two to join us, following along next to us or in front of our bow. On the way out of Naples back to the Gulf, though, four big ones hopped in next to us and put on quite the show for at least ten minutes. They only left us when we picked up a little more speed and exited the channel.
The weather for today was predicted to be very windy and the morning was to bring thunderstorms, so, once again, we chose to be cautious and get a dock. Soon after we arrived at Marco Island Marina yesterday we put the dinghy, Tangent, into the water so we could explore the area. As if to add to Kirby’s best day ever in the dolphin viewing territory, there were dolphins swimming everywhere, some very close to Tangent. We held tight to him so he couldn’t jump overboard as, just a week or so before, he almost fell out of the dinghy with his excitement over seeing these beautiful animals. I have to say that someday I’m sure he will end up in the water with them. I just hope they like him as much as he loves them.
So, today is windy and cool. Not the kind of weather that I like, especially as there is a beautiful heated pool here at the marina, but soon we will be in the Keys and, hopefully, it will be warm enough to get in the water for some snorkeling and swimming. We look forward to a visit from Jason and Lisa in the Keys soon, and we hope they catch us a nice fish for dinner, as their fishing skills far surpass ours. We are looking forward to our upcoming Bahamas trip too. The islands are once again within our reach. After we return from the Bahamas in the summer, our dream trip will be ending. It’s hard to believe that we have been on AfterMath for almost four years now and it’s hard to believe that we will live in one place again before we know it. But, for now, we continue to live each day, one day at a time. I read someone’s comment that said her plans were written in sand at low tide. I guess that’s how we have been living too. It’s a freedom that many will never have and it’s one we will always be thankful we have experienced. I don’t think we will ever find value in owning a ton of possessions again. We have learned to live a simple life and we have learned to live each day to its fullest. So, for now, islands, here we come. We can’t wait.