30 November 1,2 December
After the overnight ride from Apalachicola we were tired but a little keyed up. The boats in our mini-group, Pier Pressure, Prime Interest and Errante met in the salon of Pier Pressure for Bloody Mary’s. We all had our secret mix like Sting Ray and Zing-Zang. By 11AM all the crews were ready for some nap time.
We went back to the Quo Vadimus and slept for 2.5 hours. Up at 1:30 PM we felt refreshed and feeling human again. As I walked over to the dock I saw the next group lead byMara Beel, and others head into their slips. (The last group didn’t land until 4:30 PM!!)
The crew of Errante had figured out the trolly schedule and grabbed us to run to Tarpon Springs. We made the 4PM trolly with moments to spare. The ride was nice and inexpensive, $4.50 for the day pass. We got to Tarpon just as the Arts Fair was winding down. So we opted to go to the main docks, look at sponge and shrimp boats and then head for food.
There was no activity on any of the boats (duh it’s Sunday) so we headed to “Hellas Restaurant” We had Greek Beer and the famous flaming cheese (shouting “OPA!!!”) to start. Followed by more food and more beer and some great conversation. Nice thing about the Loopers, we have wide and varied backgrounds, so there is always something new to talk about.
We then cruised up and down the street getting pastries, spices, sauces, sponges and Christmas ornaments and of course I got Greek beer to try later.
We were back at the dock just as the other Loopers were getting done with dinner. The crew of had a bottle of Templeton Rye, which was Al Capone’s whiskey of choice, to toast the successful crossing. We all had a glass and toasted the Loopers. The Rye was very good, very smooth.
The next morning we got up and I power washed the boat to get the salt off of it. I was going to scrape it off and sell it to the Northern states for winter, but there was too much. While I was power washing, Susan had the bike off and was downtown with Linda.
One of the cool things about my 4588 is that it has Hino engines. The US expert on these engines is Earl Summerville and he came over to check me out. I thought the turbo was about to go, he checked it out, it was fine. Yay!! We set up some minor maintenance to be done in January (new belts, new impellers and a new hot water heater).
Earl had brought his wife Jolene, the four of us went to Frenchies about 2 blocks away. We gorged ourselves on Grouper, shrimp, oysters and cheeseburgers. Plus they had three kinds of beer that were not on my list. We got some great pictures of the Hino Guru and I with the fish, and then Susan and I with the fish.
We walked back to Earl’s RV. It’s the same size as the 4588, it tows a jeep instead of a dink. There is a slide on the drivers side almost the entire length of the RV. A cool setup, maybe something to do when I can’t boat any longer.
A short nap and then it was time for Docktails with our Duniden Looper Harbor Hosts Ron and Jan. We had met them on 23 September in Peoria (over 2 months ago!) Docktails were fun, there was quite a crowd of Loopers. We went into town for Mexican food at one of Jan’s favorite places, “Casa Tina”. We were with the crews of Errante and Ta Ta. Lots of food, lots of good conversation.
Our original plan was to leave on Tuesday the second to do the mad dash down the Florida coast line. Instead we went to Clearwater, about 15 minutes away. Ron pitched in and gave us a ride over from the boat.
First up was Thai food for lunch. This is something both of us have missed on the trip. Good Asian food is very hard to find.
We then walked around the corner to “Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure”. “Dolphin Tale” is the story about Winter the dolphin. She is caught in a crab trap line and badly injured. Infection sets in and the tail fins are removed to save her life. A prosthetic vendor comes up with an artificial tail so she can get some rehabilitation and not end up fully crippled.
“Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure” gives the behind the scenes look at both the real life activities and how they made the movie. It also talks about how the creation of a fabric (WintersGel) that wouldn’t chafe the sensitive dolphin skin has been a huge relief to 100′s of other prosthetic users.
From there they take you across the bay in a tour boat to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Since we hadn’t been on a boat ride in 48 hours we were up for that!
Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a combination of an aquarium and a sea life (dolphins, sea turtles and otters) rescue center. The star attraction is Winter the dolphins. We got to see her, but she wasn’t swimming with her tail. It’s weird how she does swim, more of a side to side wiggle than up and down.
Winter has also been a great motivation to humans with prosthetics. The idea that a replacement tail could be built has pulled lots of people back into trying to get one. The WintersGel product has helped lots of people.
What I found interesting was how they were training the sea turtles. There are three turtles and the trainers have three paddles. They have a triangle, circle and plus shape and are different colors. They teach the turtle that when they come to the right paddle they get food.
From the Aquarium we got a trolly to the Clearwater beach. (I really love how these places have tourist friendly transportation. ) Clearwater beach is a white sand beach that is very, very pretty. While walking up to the Pier 60 fishing pier, I said to Susan “Hey, you should text Pier Pressure and see what they are up to”. A few moments later I turned and there were the crews of Pier Pressure and Prime Interest!! There may be something to this texting stuff. We hung out with them on the fishing pier admiring the views and talking about their day with the Florida Government getting temporary registrations.
From there it was “Wine O’Clock” and we adjourned to “Crabby Bills” for drinks. About 6:30 PM my friend Wendy showed up.
Wendy and I go way back to my Vanguard days (mid 90′s). To get more IT oriented kids into Vanguard I started a graduate program to do a 2 week indoctrination into Vanguard and the IT departments. Wendy was my first hire into that program. She holds the “shortest hire process” I talked to her at 9, walked all of her papers through the HR labyrinth and she had an offer by 2 PM. Which she accepted!
Since then we have worked together at a credit card bank and at Kaloke. I had last seen her in 2008 when my daughters and I were down here for a trip.
It was great catching up with her, talking about her family (how fast the children on both sides grow up way too fast) and jobs. Dinner was good too with oysters and crab cakes.
After dinner she took us back to the marina with a short stop at the Dunedin Brewery so I could get a shirt. Sadly no beer to go less that a growler size. But the band was cool, it was 7 drummers and two maraca players. Had I joined the group, I would have reduced the overall average age by 15 years. Pretty wild.
We gave Wendy a quick tour of the Quo Vadimus before she headed home. Glad that we stayed the extra day to catch up with Wendy!
There were some Loopers out having one last drink and I joined them. From here, we all will split up and go different ways for the winter. Not sure if I’ll see any more Loopers on the water until we start heading north again in the spring.