Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Difference a Year Makes.....

Last St. Patrick's Day we spent in Key West where the party lasted about four days - we experienced (and participated in) a non-stop green, beer-drinking, pong-playing, corned beef eating, music loving binge. This year, despite planning to meet up with all our cruising buddies in Sarasota, we worked on St. Paddy's day and by the time we got out of work at 8:30 pm, it was all we could do to make some scrambled eggs for dinner and have a celebratory beer (which was even normal colored since I didn't have any green food coloring). During the day I did re-visit our blog from last year but not sure whether that made it better or worse!! How depressing!! But since this blog is all about fun and experiences we are having, I thought I'd share a picture of our buddies having fun without unbelievable as that is....and the experiences we could have had but for that work thing!! Thanks for the pics Bob - wish we'd been there!

We did finally get over to Sarasota late Friday afternoon to see everyone at the DeFever Rendezvous - once a year the DeFever Cruisers all get together for a weekend of fun, seminars, fun, good food and drinks, get the picture. Gypsies is a 49 foot DeFever raised pilothouse trawler - and many of our best cruising buddies also are DeFever owners although some of our bestest buddies are SOBs (no I'm not being naughty - it stands for "some other boat"). Since the DFC group is not a bunch of snobs, anyone interested in cruising can join up and come to the rendezvous - it was great to see everyone. (Almost everyone - we missed you Rick and Lynnie - it was too weird to meet the new owners of Rickshaw - we love you!) We got there and as we walked down the dock to September Song (our boat home away from home) and a cold beer, we were met with the sound of Mr. Buffett's anthem "Gypsies in the Palace" - when we cruised with SS and arrived in a harbor or anchorage, SS would play Gypsies over their loud speaker to the pleasure or chagrin of other boats!! You guys are the best!

What a great evening with good friends - Todd and Brenda from Lifes2Short, Joe and Julia on Sea Pearl and Norm and Vicki on TideHiker were there as well as Bob and Stephanie to begin the festivities!! The SS boat dogs Cassie and Godiva seemed pretty happy to see us too although when they realized we weren't there to play with just them, they gave us the cool nose. Cocktails on SS were quickly followed by a huge dock pot-luck party - one thing boaters do really, really well is pot luck so the food was great and the cocktails strong!
The Dock Party
Not only was it great to catch up with all our old friends, but rendezvous is a great place to meet new boaters. I thought I was seeing triple after I spoke with Steve Koch three times and he was wearing different clothes each time (who knew he had 2 brothers that look so much like him - glad I didn't pinch their butts - yeah it was me Steve even though I blamed it on Todd!) And what boating dock party is complete without boat critters - these three are one of Steve's brothers' boat dogs - way too cute
Three Boats Dogs...are these really dogs?
(although Cassie and Godiva at their Bahamas doggie seminar the next day in their Hawaiian shirts were the bomb!) Had we stopped after the dock party, it would have been a great night, but no, that wouldn't do - we had to hit the bar where the band played a mix of motown and reggae/steel drums - go figure.
The Gang on the Way to the Bar for Drinks and Dancing
Di and Todd were crowned dancing queen and king - how do they have that much energy at midnight on a Friday night - oh yeah, they don't work!! Gradually our numbers slimmed down but as the band was packing up their equipment and the bar was closing, the diehards headed back to SS for rum and cocktails on the cockpit!!! If we only have one night with these guys, we have to make the most of it!!
Cocktails on the Aft Deck of September Song

The next morning we hung around to help out Stephanie and Bob with something involving a bit of rule breaking - why do you think they asked us??? We dressed up Cassie and Godiva in Hawaiian shirts and smuggled them into the marina conference room to give a seminar on taking pets to the Bahamas - they were too cute although they looked quite embarrassed as we were walking them around waiting for Stephanie to jimmy open the back door!!
Cassie and Godiva at the Seminar
From there we left to head up to Tampa where we saw Kenny Chesney at Raymond James Stadium where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play. Doug and I have really gotten into going to concerts up here - we don't have the local bar/music scene up here that we enjoyed so much in KW, so we have been doing a bunch of concerts. Doug had gone on-line awhile back to see if the Zac Brown Band was playing around here anywhere and surprise, surprise - found out they were playing with Kenny!! Well we hit the parking lot around 2:00 complete with tailgating provisions (we perfected the art after many years of Buffett tailgates!!) although we have decided that we need a corn hole game for the next tailgate - for those of you who think I'm being naughty again, look it up - its a southern game that we first found in KW!
Tailgating Southern Style Complete with Cornhole
Tailgating Outside of Raymond James Stadium
The concert started at 4:30 but we didn't leave the concert until a little after 11:00 pm!!! Unbeknownst to us, Uncle Cracker, Bill Currington and the Zac Brown Band all played warm-up sets before Kenny even came on and then Kenny played for almost 2-1/2 hours before they all came back out and jammed for another 1/2 hour. Have to admit that this was one of the best concerts I've ever been to - Zac Brown playing Devil Went Down to Georgia made chills run down my spine and Kenny just lit up the place. WOW!!!

Although work seems to dominate our lives right now - both of us are crazy busy with lots going on - we still are really enjoying exploring our new hood and getting used to being able to go to the beach in the winter (love it - we hit Cocoa Beach the other day and all I could think of was our poor friends up in ME and MA - up there in March you still have another month of snow!) The Cocoa Pier for Friday afternoon/evening happy hours and afternoons spent in the sun over on the outside deck of FishLips or listening to a band at Milliken's Reef have become our staples! Another amazing part of where we live (and where I work over at KSC) are being able to watch the launches up close and in person!!
The Rocket Garden at KSC
I was at work at the Kennedy Space Center to see both the launch of the Shuttle Discovery and its return after it did a fly-by of KSC a la Top Gun's buzzing the tower that sent up a boom that made me nearly soil myself (they were early returning so I was still at my desk!) Being at the shuttle launch right on the KSC grounds was truly an unbelievable experience - not only did I have a front row view but they had a huge screen up for us to see the whole process out on the pad and we were able to hear the audio from mission control to the astronauts - they were actually within 2 seconds of having to scrub the launch due to the timing of their window when all of a sudden over the loud speaker came the words "IT'S A GO."
Countdown to Liftoff
The Shuttle
Now That's a Contrail!
I can't tell you the electricity in that crowd of people - it was unbelievable! Cross that one off my bucket list. And without getting too political - can someone explain to me why we, a country that has epitomized space exploration for the past 50 years, has cancelled this program - why when most kids grow up wanting at some point to be an astronaut are we taking that dream away??? OK sorry, but I guess working around here makes this seem really stupid!

The other night we were sitting having cocktails on the cockpit when a bunch of our dockmates all gathered around and we watched the launch of a rocket from somewhere at Canaveral/KSC.

It is so unbelievable to just sit on the boat and experience not only the sight of the rocket launching but to feel the noise as it permeates your body like someone had turned the bass up to FULL!!! Not only is it scenes like that, but the sunsets on the water in the marina are so spectacular I never question why we are still living on our boat. Despite the fact that the sun sets every night, I never grow tired of sitting quietly with a glass of wine and some good company watching the sun say farewell on another day as it lights up the sky in an array of colors that usually takes my breath away!

I feel sorry for the people who don't take the time or who don't appreciate such simple pleasures!

So what else have we been up to - its been so long since our last blog?? I promise I'll try to be better in the future - we have lots of fun concerts and stuff coming up (baseball game on Friday, Ron White on Saturday night, Mr. Jimmy Buffett mid-April, Disney with my cousin and her kids in April, James Taylor in May, maybe a quick trip to the Abacos to see SS in May/June??, Poison and Motley Crue in June (our music tastes really spans the gamut I know)) - tired yet? After a Fleetwood Mac Rumours concert on Friday night one weekend at the Hard Rock in Orlando, we spent the next day back at Universal hanging with Harry and riding Spiderman and shooting up aliens at the Men in Black ride - guess we are just kids at heart. We also hit Key West one more time - this time with our nephew Larkin and his girlfriend Nicole. Larkin is a helicopter pilot and was heading over to Iraq for a year and he wanted to meet us down in KW - how could we refuse? We had a ball showing those guys around, getting to know Nicole (how could we not love her when she smoked a cigar with us at the Wharf??)

and of course meeting up with Bob and Stephanie down in Key Weird. Think I'll let the pictures speak for themselves as you guys have heard so much from me about KW - good music, good drinks, good cigars, and great company never get old and they are always in abundance whenever we are down there!!
Doug and Nicole Cutting the Rug at Schooners
Doug, Nicole and Larkin Relax at Schooners
Doug, Larkin, Nicole, Stephanie and Bob at Schooners
Larkin Starts to Sweat at Peppers in Key West
Nicole Seems to Like Captain Morgan Outside a Liquor Store
No Trip to Key West is Complete without Oyster at the Raw Bar
Back in February we also met up with the SS gang in Miami to go to the boat show - Stephanie's nephew was wonderful enough to give us his condo overlooking the ICW, Government Cut and Biscayne Bay for the weekend. Thanks so much Sean!!
View from the Condo
We got in on Friday night and figured we'd have a mellow dinner and a fairly early night since we had a full day ahead of us. Check - mellow dinner; check - early night (well 1:30 in the morning is early!) I know what you 're thinking - we got caught up in the Miami Beach/South Beach nightlife - not so much!!! Since we couldn't find a cool bar around us, we went back to the condo building where we were staying - Bob and Stephanie wanted to show us the local VFW (?????) Yes - the local VFW Post was there before the building went up and refused to give up their space so the developer gave them the sixth floor of this high rise building - it has by far the best view of any VFW I've ever been in (and yes I've been in quite a few) overlooking the Bay. Well we wound up playing the jukebox (who knew they still existed?) and playing pool well into the early hours - just us and some local vets!! We had a ball - and with buckets of 6 beers for $10 we were in heaven!
An Interesting Mural on the Wall of the VFW
Bob, Stephanie and Doug at the Bar at the VFW
Bob Playing Pool

The boat show the next day was awesome - almost overwhelming but we managed! Even if you aren't in the market for a boat, it's always cool to see what is new since you always have a "to do/wish list of stuff you want to do" to your boat! And they always have the best gear at those shows! So after a Starbucks run to get us going, we hit the show and spent the whole day on our feet soaking up the best and the newest related to boats - nirvana! That night we figured we couldn't come to Miami Beach without hitting South Beach - yikes we're not in Kansas anymore Toto!! What a trip - the people (and vehicle) watching certainly made for an entertaining evening even if the food was less than inspired.
Dinner in South Beach
Stephanie and Bob have Lobster for Dinner - A Long Way from Maine
After almost being run over by a Bentley (while I was sitting eating dinner), mauled by a killer truck (again while sitting at dinner)
Monster Truck Parked on the Street in South Beach
and Bob getting a faceful of female anatomy (does anyone in South Beach still have their own in their original form and size?), it was time for us to find a mellower bar - little did we know they don't exist. After walking our way through a drag show (are we back in KW??),

the bar we finally found wanted $26 for a bucket of 5 beers (and was so loud we couldn't hear ourselves think let alone talk to each other - is this fun?) which made us long for - yup you guessed it - our VFW Post - so once again we wound up playing pool and drinking beer amongst the soldiers lifting the flag at Iwo Jima! I think we saw a whole different side of Miami Beach than most people - but then again, we're just not like most people!!

Well think you are just about caught up by now - at least as to the good parts - with our "new" life in Merritt Island. We're back to being weekend warriors but oh what a place to play - with a drink in your hand and your toes in the sand...stay happy everyone!