"I was born lost, and take no
pleasure in being found"
"Your life is what has happened to you
while you were busy making other plans."
"The Sure Sign of Life is Death. Why Else Would humanity Thrive So Hard To Leave Its Mark on This World"
The journey of life is as much in ones self as the roads one travels
"To have faith is
to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don't grab hold of the
water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and
"I Have Learned Something About Creating Art. People Do Not Want to Hear What You Are Going To Do, People Want To Hear About What You Done Did."
"I like to think that one
of the best brews is the one handed to you by a new friend"
What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?
"You step into the road, and if you don't
keep your feet, there's no telling where you might be swept off to."
The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.
"....I travel not to go anywhere, but to
go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move."
"No matter where you go, there you are"
Pat's May 2010 Blog
If this is your first time here, you might want to start from the beginning of our fulltime Journey with our Past Blogs
A Birth Certificate shows that
we were born
Saturday May 29th 2010 - Getting Stuck in Low Tide
For over a month now, Luz has been trying to get Cindy out onto North Key. It's the farthest island in the chain of islands that makes up the greater Cedar Keys. This means its the hardest to get to and is always the most empty of the islands.
On numerous occasions we've tried to go out there, but something always comes up like the tide being too low, a storm on the horizon keeping us close to the marina or Cindy being away while I get to experience it without her.
This is where the photos were taken a few blog posts back when we went out for the sunset dinner on North Key with Luz, Walter, Jay and Connie. But that trip, Cindy was down in West Palm Beach getting her tooth fixed, so she missed out.
Today, Luz called and said "Ok, we have a high tide to get us out there, I have a cooler full of food packed and nothing is keeping us from enjoying North Key!"
So we did a quick once-over on the rooms, got them all set up and headed down to the marina to meet Luz and Walter on the boat.
Fate was telling us something, because as we were heading out from the marina, the boat motor kept stalling. There is a light that has come on the past few times out, but it's just the Water in Fuel light because the local gas station uses fuel that has ethanol in it.
Normally we just ignore this beeping sound, put in some fuel additive, and keep going, but today, the motor actually stalled. We were supposed to be meeting another couple out on North Key, and when they called to ask what was taking so long, Luz explained what was going on.
Boaters are a great bunch of people, much like RV'ers and Overlanders. Within a few minutes of the phone call, they were pulling up beside us and Chris, a local clam farmer was crawling from his boat onto ours to see if he could figure out what the problem was.
It only took a second before we realized the motor was a two stroke and had an oil injection reservoir that was low, which was causing the motor to stall. Luz jumped onto Chris and Diana's boat and they took her back to the marina where she could buy a few gallons of oil to add to the tank.
Once back with fresh oil, we fired up the motor and were on our way to North Key once and for all. Thanks Chris and Diana!!
We floated around the backside of the island and pulled up to the deserted white sand beach.
Coolers of food and drink were unloaded, beach chairs were set up and it wasn't long before we were kicking back enjoying a beautiful day on the water. Dolphins were jumping around chasing the schools of baitfish just offshore, the pelicans were skimming the surface looking for an afternoon meal and the local Osprey that nest on the island were soaring high above us.
Needless to say it was a beautiful afternoon.
As we were all sitting around talking and telling stories, a loud crack of thunder was heard off in the distance.
We turned to look behind us and back towards the rest of the islands and noticed a dark storm was racing down the edge of the coastline. For us, this far out into the Gulf, the storm never really posed a threat, but it put on an amazing show back over Cedar Key. Walter was able to check the Doppler Rader on his iPhone so we knew the storm front was a small one and was staying inland.
We would later find out that the storm blew in so hard and fast that the family staying at the motel had to secure the plastic lawn chairs as they were being blown around the yard like dried leaves. They told us the hammock was blowing sideways so hard the rope that holds it up cut loose and was flapping in the hurricane like winds.
For us out on North Key, we were enjoying the heck out of the show and laughing in the face of Mother Nature. We had two decisions to make.
1. Stay put and risk getting stuck with the low tide that was approaching
2. Leave the safety of North Key and risk the winds, rain and waves to get back to the marina while we had a high enough tide to float in on.
We chose option #1. I mean we had plenty of food, plenty of drinks and were enjoying the heck out of the clouds, the lightening and the show the storm was putting on for us.
Luz, Cindy and I wandered up and down the beach finding cool driftwood, funky shells and watching the birds, the raccoons and dolphins play in their natural habitat. We were just trespassers on a deserted island at this point.
By the time we got back around to the boat, Walter had decided that the tide was alarmingly low and we should try and float the boat out before we were stuck for good.
So we loaded everything up on the boat and tried to push off from shore. NOPE!! It wasn't going anywhere.
We tried with the girls in the front of the boat while Walter and I pushed from the back. We tried with the girls out back helping us push...Nope, It wasn't going anywhere.
With the 4 of us pushing like some Roman Chariot Slaves, we were able to get the boat about 100 yards off the beach, before we hit even shallower water and the boat was literally stuck to the bottom.
I'm amazed that Cindy was even in the water at this point. We were in shin deep grass beds and every step you'd sink in about 6 inches of muck. Stingrays were swimming all around us, the surface was being broken with swirls from fish jumping and moving around and we were being followed by about a dozen egrets that were picking through the food we were kicking up in our wake.
We thought we were only a few yards from deeper water, but Luz walked ahead and a few hundred feet from us and she was still only in shin deep grass.
Yep, it's official, we're stuck and waiting till high tide comes back around before we're moving anywhere.
This wasn't a big deal to Cindy and I at all. We were sitting in a beautiful location, sharing it with great company, we had food, drinks and a great lightening storm all around us for a show.
As we're sitting there just talking and listening to Mother Nature, Cindy is looking over the side of the boat. She's staring into the water very intently when she screams "OMG!! The top of the grass is covered with star fish!"
At first Luz is trying to fish them out with her cypress pole used for polling in shallow tides so she doesn't have to get back in the water. But this is Luz we're talking about. When she cant get one that way, she takes off her newly put on dry set of clothes and jumps in the water to catch them for Cindy.
Now remember, Luz was trying to baby her foot because she had earlier stepped on the barb of a Horseshoe Crab that had impaled the bottom of her foot which was now swollen.
This didn't stop her from jumping in and catching a bunch of the star fish to show Cindy, Walter and I.
Back on the boat, we were now watching big, and I mean BIG raccoons that were walking out onto the exposed sandbars to pick through the clams and oysters for their nightly dinners.
We talked about our past adventures, heard great stories from our younger years and huddled close together to keep warm.
Hours went by as we all sat laughing, talking and just listening to the sounds the ocean makes when you're surrounded by it.
Around midnight, exactly when Walter said we'd start floating again, we felt the nose of the boat spin in the current. It wasn't long before we were drifting out into deeper water, but we were in no hurry. By this point, we'd been sitting for almost 5 hours, so we figured we might as well make sure we had enough water below us to not risk damaging the prop and seriously stranding us for the night.
As we slowly moved through the grass beds, we watched a 4' shark swim right up to us, schools of needle fish race in every direction and big stingrays glide through the water as if they were flying like birds. Before long we were making way to the channel and the blinking channel markers that would guide us back into the Marina.
Neither Walter nor I had ever come in at night on our own, so this would be a lesson on how to read the channel markers in the dark. Something I should probably learn because I'm thinking this wont be the last time I'll be coming in off the water in the dark.
We made it in safely, docked the boat in the slip and unloaded all our gear. Luz had gotten her wish. There was nothing that was going to stop her from showing Cindy North Key. Even if it meant getting stranded in a low tide.
The saying around Cedar Key is "If you've never gotten stranded by a low tide, you obviously dont go out in the water enough."
I'm not sure if we should have been listening to all the signs, because looking back, it was an amazing night, and stays true to what we've said from day one...something we laughed about numerous times throughout the night...Sometimes bad decisions make for the BEST stories.
Thanks Luz and Walter for another great time in Cedar Key.
Thursday May 27th 2010 - Crazy Full Moon Airboat Ride
Building up to the Memorial Weekend, Cindy and I spent the past few days working out butts off to get the place ready.
Today was my last day of painting I had left to do, and as usual, I had waited until the last day to get the top section of the motel painted. The weather has been so hot lately, I kept putting off standing on the roof in 90° heat during the daytime. We've been too full for me to set some lights up and paint it at night, which is really when its nice and cool enough to be out painting.
So I spent about 5 hours today standing in a frying pan, but it's done, and I can put that past me.
We had one family rent the entire motel this holiday weekend, so after we got them checked in this afternoon, Luz called and asked if we wanted to go have some frozen drinks at the Wine Bar to help beat the heat.
I'm thinking that spending a day on the roof losing fluids at an alarming rate probably wasn't the best thing to follow with a heavy night of drinking. It only took a few drinks and I was loopy.
Then Luz had a great idea that since tonight was a big full moon, why not go out on an Airboat ride with her cousin Danny.
Now it was a full moon low tide, which means its the lowest of low tides you'll see here in Cedar Key, so an airboat is the only way to get around.
I've also come to the conclusion that EVERYONE hates airboats unless you're the person on them. I hate when the airboats are behind the motel because of how loud and obnoxious they are. But be floating above the water on one, and they're a blast.
So we packed a cooler with beers, grabbed our shooting ear protection out of the bag I keep in the truck, and we loaded ourselves onto Danny's boat.
There is something magical when you're floating above an inch of water and the light from the full moon is so bright, its like you have night vision goggles on.
Then there are the schools of Mullet.
As we're flying over the shallow tides, we're driving through big schools of baitfish that are jumping out of the water all around us. Two different times was I hit in the chest with a fish that would then start flapping on the floor of the boat.
Now you have to remember that Luz is more boy than she is girl, so when a fish hits her, or me, she grabs ahold of it and hands it to Cindy. Pay no attention that we're racing along at 30mph, she'll just stand up and walk across the boat like she's on solid ground.
By this time of the night, I'm thinking we've all had enough alcohol in our system that rather than just hand it to Cindy or show her what she's got, she puts it down Cindy's shirt and lets it flop around in there.
Of course this is downright hysterical for Danny, Luz and I to watch as Cindy is screaming at the top of her lungs trying to get the fish out of her shirt.
I'm having visions of her falling and knocking out a tooth, which is just wrong that everything we do now, I'm worried she's going to knock out a tooth!
Then I'm thinking of what it must sound like for other people around Cedar Key out enjoying a beautiful full moon Holiday weekend.
You're hearing the roar of a air boat somewhere around the island. Then Danny kills the motor because Luz has stood up, which no one else can see, they only hear the motor die. The next sound is a hysterical woman, which is Cindy screaming at the top of her lungs as the fish is thrown down her shirt followed by hoots, screams and laughter from the rest of us on the boat.
I'm sure anyone awake at 2am this Thursday night was both angry that an airboat was ruining their peaceful night, but the screams of excitement and laughter were probably confusing them even more.
We stopped on a beach to take a break and get off the boat and walk around. The heat of the night was thick and sticky and its official, summer is upon us.
By the time we got back to the dock, it was late, late, late. We made it home safe and sound and as I was helping Danny tie up the boat, I told him my theory about how everyone hates air boats unless they're the ones on them.
He laughed and said "That's a true statement!"
He went on to say "I own an airboat and I hate them. I've put a bullet through the hull of some idiot on an airboat that came way too close to me while I was fishing!"
We thanked Danny for the fun and called it a night heading home to shower the nights heat and smell of fish off of us before we'd climb into bed and Thanked the Air Conditioning Gods for cooling us off.
Saturday May 22nd 2010 - Having Things Pop-Up You've Never Thought Of Before
Thursday afternoon, Cindy rolled in with a truck so covered in Love Bugs I thought she had drove through the bug juice factory itself.
Her new tooth is perfect and a true testament of how knowing a good dentist can pay off in life. I know which tooth it was that was broken and looking at her new grill, I cant even tell there is a difference in any of her teeth. It's that perfect.
Thank you Jeff and Frankie for the work you both do in your dental lab. I owe you many drinks and photos in return.
So all was well here in our little world till we had a new couple check in on Thursday night.
We've had people call in the past who asked if we had rooms that were wheel chair accessible. Cindy usually lets them know that we have bathrooms outback that were recently refurbished and they're wheel chair accessible, but none of our rooms are ADA compliant due to how old the motel is.
Since January, we've had one phone call that asked of this and another couple who said the husband was using a walker, but by the time they showed up, he was in a wheel chair and we tried to accommodate him, but his chair wouldn't fit into the bathroom in their motel room. That couple ended up not staying with us.
When this new couple checked in on Thursday night, the husband was in a wheel chair. They had never said anything when they called to make the reservation. I showed them the room and put him in one of the newly renovated rooms that had ceramic tile, rather than carpet.
I felt really embarrassed that I was showing him a room that had been recently renovated, yet we never went through the extra work to bring it up to ADA standards.
He is a young guy in good shape and said he was used to finding old places that werent updated, so he'd be able to get around just fine.
But Cindy and I felt terrible. Why haven't we thought about this before now?
We both went in the house and called Freddy, the guy who has been doing all our work around the motel and helping us try and fix the place up.
Freddy came right out and we looked at the next room we're planning on refurbishing. I know it wont do the guest any good that is staying with us right now, but within the next few weeks, we've figured out a way to knock out a wall or two and re-arrange the next bathroom to make it wheel chair accessible.
It's things like this that I dont even think about till they slap me in the face. Hopefully after the Memorial Day weekend, when we start working on our next room remodel, well be the only motel in Cedar Key to have a wheel chair accessible room.
While talking to the guest, he told me that Cedar Key itself is not very wheel chair friendly, and most of the restaurants in town are in such old buildings, that service ramps have never been added.
While Freddy was here, we had him roll his chair around a few different areas of the motel and tiki bar to see what sort of measurements we'd need to keep in mind when it comes to ramps, doorways and pitches the ramps need to be at.
Our dock is a whole nother story. The ramp leading up to the dock is at a very steep angle. The dock itself is in much need of some TLC, much the way everything else here was before we took over.
The dock was one of those things I kept putting off saying "As soon as I get caught up on all this other stuff, I'll work on that."
Well I cant wait any longer. Monday morning I'm hooking up the cargo trailer to the love bug infested truck and heading to Home Depot for a load of wood and some stainless steel screws.
The railings need to be fixed! There are areas of the dock that dont even have railings and we get alot of families staying here at the motel. This probably should have been a priority on my list, and I'm now feeling bad that I waited so long to fix it up.
The ramp to the dock will have to wait a few more weeks till I can save up enough money to get it fixed, but it's moved up the list of things to do, that's for sure.
Another item we just had fixed that was new on the list of upgrades was having the A/C unit moved.
For some reason, the last people had the big A/C unit put in the back yard, right under the tin roof that protects the back porches of the motel rooms.
Air Conditioners here in Cedar Key have to be raised up off the ground incase of floods, so this meant that the unit was tucked right under the roof line.
We hadn't really noticed this or thought about it up till a few weeks ago when it started getting really hot around here.
When that compressor kicks on, the sound resonates off the tin roof, and anyone sitting on the back porch behind the motel got blasted with the sound. Forget trying to relax and enjoy the sunset on your own private porch! It was so loud you couldn't hear yourself think let alone enjoy anything around you.
Cindy and I had been trying not to run the A/C during the daytime to keep the noise down for the guests. We were only turning it on at night when we'd go to sleep hoping that everyone else would be in their rooms and not notice how loud and obnoxious the sound was.
But last week it got too much for me to handle. There was a nice couple that was staying with us for their anniversary and they were sitting outback trying to watch the sunset. The temps were in the low 90's and that meant inside the house was roasting hot.
Cindy kicked the A/C on and the people went scurrying into their room to get away from the sound. It was then I called the Air Conditioner man and made an appointment to have him move the unit up onto the roof.
They came out last week and moved it for us. It's amazing because now, it can be up there running and you cant even hear it at all. I think because of the wind that is always blowing off the water, it just carries the sound away and we dont hear a thing.
But this was another one of those things we never would have thought about till it slapped us in the face.
I'm sure over the course of the next year, this will probably happen time and time again, so I'll try and make note of them so others can learn from our mistakes.
I'll leave you with the sunset we watched last night as two dolphin swam past us out on the end of the dock. It was the first time I had seen a adult with a little baby dolphin swimming at its side.
Wednesday May 19th 2010 - North Key Sunset
Luz has been trying to get us to North Key since we met her. Its one of the farthest islands off the Cedar Keys and I guess on the backside of the island, it has a beautiful secluded, white sand beach that is covered in drift wood.
So after a long day of work today, she called and asked if I wanted to go out with her and Walter, and Jay and Connie. Even though Cindy was still down in West Palm Beach partying with Jeff and Jen, I couldn't pass this offer up.
It only took Walter and I a minute to get the big boat in the water and we were pulling up to Jay and Connie's dock in no time.
Jay and Connie have a big black Labradoodle which is what the Black Dog Wine Bar is named after. Of course the dog had to come with us, since we're all dog lovers, who would think of leaving the dog at home alone?
This would be a first for Otis. Apparently he's never been on a boat before, but considering he loves water so much, we all figured he'd get used to it in no time.
Once anchored off the private beach, we unloaded the coolers and Luz started unpacking the food.
I was thinking some finger sandwiches or maybe some chips and dip. But not when you're with Luz and Walter. These two really know how to entertain. Luz has a niece who works at one of the local restaurants and had asked her to come over with another friend and whip up some food for tonight.
So here we are on a beautiful white sand beach with a spread that would normally be laid out in a fine dinning restaurant.
Grilled Shish-Ka-Bob's with fresh vegetables from Luz's garden, Lettuce Wraps, Various meats to go with the crackers and humus. There was fresh Italian bread that was wrapped in aluminum foil that was still warm from being lightly toasted and for desert, there was warm corn bread muffins. 5 Star all the way.
While we all sat around eating, talking and just kicking back after a long hot day, Otis sprinted up and down the beach playing in the warm water and rolling in the sand.
We watched as Osprey dove for dinner right off the shore and brought the fish back to their giant nest that nestled in the pines right behind us on the shoreline.
After dinner, we took a stroll down the beach while the delicious food tried its hardest to put us all into a late afternoon coma.
Just as the sun was getting low on the horizon, we pushed the boat off the beach and headed back to the Marina. We didn't want to be stuck out on the water after dark, but once we got close enough we could see Dock Street, we shut the motor off and just sat watching those last few rays of light drop below the Gulf of Mexico.
It was a great night and the only way I could have thought to add to it would have been to have my Cindy along for the ride. But this will have to be one she hears about on our next trip out.
Thanks Luz and Walter for always making sure I have such awesome memories here in Cedar Key.
Sunday May 16th - Late Night Update
So after I made my original post this afternoon, I noticed there were some big clouds billowing up out over the Gulf. I haven't really had a chance to get some time behind the camera in the past few weeks, so I threw the 5D in the Trunk Bag on the Motorcycle and went for a ride to see what I could find.
I didn't make it past the #3 bridge before I pulled over to get this shot.
I sit watching the big clouds form just knowing that we're probably going to be in for a storm tonight.
I ride around town just watching the clouds take shape out over the calm Gulf waters. The air is as thick as a steam bath and my skin feels wet just from the humidity.
I stop to take it all in and get this next shot looking towards town.
After a nice leisurely ride, I come home so I can make a reservation with a woman who called while I was on the bike. Wouldn't you know it that the phone hasn't rung all day long, I leave for 20 minutes and get a reservation and have to tell her I'll call her back.
Once I'm home, I start working on the photos I just took when I hear a loud rumble off in the distance. I go out front to see lightening dancing across the sky with the big clouds as a back drop.
I put the 17mm lens on the 5D body and set it up on the tripod. I walk out to the end of the dock and dispite the mosquito's that are taking blood from me at an alarming rate, I sit out there for over an hour just watching the show.
I probably could have sat out on the dock with just the camera, the winds and the light show all night long, but the storm finally hit and sent me running for cover.
I did snag a few cool shots though.
What do you think? These images can be seen full size in Our Galleries. They look much better when viewed really big on your computer monitor.
Sunday May 16th - On my Own at The Low-Key Hideaway
I finally have some time to catch up on this blog of mine and I dont even know where to start.
Last week was a bit fun as Wednesday was spent in the dentist office while Cindy was getting her new Chic-Let made and Thursday was spent working around the motel.
The dentist office wasn't as bad as you would think. Even Cindy commented on the fact that its loaded with all women, and there must be some sort of requirement that all of them had to be model quality to work there.
It was some great eye candy that's for sure! They were all really nice and it went faster than I thought it would.
Thursday and Friday were spent going crazy on one of the motel rooms getting it ready to tile. They finished with the tile on Friday morning and the rest of the day was spent with Cindy and I running around like a couple of chickens with our heads chopped off.
You know when you watch any of those decorating shows and they're always rushing to meet a deadline, well that's what Friday was like for us. We had a family checking in and luckily she called to tell me they were running late and wouldn't be here till around 6pm.
I think I was still working on the water lines in the bathroom when Cindy yelled "They're here!" and I threw the last few wrenches in the tool bag and told her they wouldn't have Hot water in the bathroom sink for their stay because the line was leaking and I couldn't figure out how to get it to stop!?!?
As soon as we got them checked in, we showered, changed and headed to the boat ramp to meet Luz and Walter because we had made plans to go out on the boat and watch the sunset on one of the islands.
Luz had pizza and fried chicken, and we drove the boat up to the back of the Black Dog Wine Bar where they lowered a couple bottles of wine down to us in a bucket. How awesome is that!!
We were trying to get to North Key, which is one of the farthest out islands, but the tides were headed out, and with it being a new moon right now, we've been having some of the lowest tides I've ever seen here in Cedar Key.
So we played it safe and just went to Atsena Otie Key and plopped our butts down on the beach. It was fine by me. Give me a drink, some pizza and that salty tropical breeze and I dont care which island I'm on.
Once the sun had set and it was getting dark, we came back over to the docks and saddled up to the Wine Bar for some relaxation. You know you live in a laid back town when the girls can kick back with the boots on and a glass of wine and us boys can all swap lies up at the bar and we're still in our wet boots from the boat ride.
Saturday was a good day to just kick back and be lazy. We had to clean the rooms and do some stuff around here, but all the guests were just hanging out listening to music and drinking some beers on the dock the entire day. It was fun to just hang out and mingle with everyone and make sure you stayed in the shade to try and beat the heat.
We had a birthday party to go to Saturday night that pulled us away from our own dock. Jolie and Heath had invited us to Jolie's birthday party they were having at the Black Dog and it turned out to be an awesome night.
We got to meet a ton of people we've heard so many stories about and meet some new folks to add to the friends list.
When the Black Dog closed down and gave Last Call, the party moved across the street to the Big Deck Bar where there was a live band playing and a packed dance floor.
The girls all wanted to dance, and I'm not one to argue with a bunch of liquored up women who want to shake their booties.
Once the Big Deck gave last call, Cindy and I headed home and went to bed exhausted as one would expect.
This morning Cindy decided that she was going to drive down to West Palm Beach by herself and I needed to stay here to watch the motel.
We had originally planned on going together, but we had a bunch of reservations made this past week so rather than wait a few weeks when we'd both be able to go, she said "Nope, I want my tooth fixed" and she drove herself down there.
So I was left to a sold out motel with all 5 rooms checking out, two of the rooms needing to be cleaned so guests could check in this afternoon and the rest of the chores left up to me and the dogs.
This should be a fun week for me! Did I mention that rather than go shopping for groceries like we did for Cindy before I left for Arizona, she left me with an empty fridge and no beer and said "Oh, you'll be fine!" I see how I rate compared to her.
I've been kicking around an idea now for some time and Heath and I think we might have it figured out.
Back in December there was a nice sailboat that broke its mooring lines during a big storm that blew through here. It's been sitting on it's side on one of the islands just offshore.
Heath thinks his big boat will pull it off the shore during high tide, and we can pull it right around behind the motel.
Cindy and I are talking about pulling it up into one of the RV slots and building a deck around it. We'd then spend our time repairing it and getting it ready to be sailable. In the mean time, we'd rent the boat out as a room for guests to stay in.
So they could be camped up in a sailboat with an amazing view of the water all around them, and when the next hurricane comes through, Cindy and I will just get in the boat and sail it out of here :)
I'll let you know more on that as it unfolds. I'm going to try and paddle out to it one day this week and get the make, model, VIN number off of it so I can start doing some research on it to see if it's even worth it to fix it up. I also want to see what sort of shape it's in and see if it's even do-able.
If it is, it'll be a fun project for sure.
Tuesday May 11th - Just when you think everything's fine
Yesterday was going great. We spent the day cleaning out one of the rooms so the guys could come in first thing this morning and start putting down new ceramic tile.
Luz came over to help us move the stuff out, and we had the room cleared in no time. Thanks LUZ!!
Cindy and I went about doing things around the motel like any normal day and with the cool winds keeping the humidity down, it was a beautiful day.
Luz had invited us over for dinner and Connie and Jay were going to be there from the Black Dog Wine & Cigar bar. Monday's are their day off and its been becoming our day to just take it easy and get some little things done around Cedar Key.
Luz had another friend Susan, or Crazy Susan, as she's always referred to who was going to be there so it was going to be a lot of fun.
Cindy and I cleaned up, showered and decided we'd ride the bikes since it was such a beautiful afternoon. Luz only lives 1 mile from us, so it would be a good way to get some exercise and since I'm sure there would be plenty of wine to go with the dinner, it would keep us safe from getting a DUI on the drive home.
The night went great. Luz has a huge garden where she grows all her own vegetables and the plants are humongous! Freakishly big...Like Jack & The Bean Stalk big. But it's Florida and we have beautiful weather to grow things in.
There is nothing like a fresh salad when you go outside with a drink in your hand, pick the Romaine Lettuce, crunchy beans, the juicy tomatoes and then go back in to eat them only seconds after they've been picked from the vine. That's good food right there!
We all went for a stroll around the town to see a few different homes Luz wanted to show us. We met more locals who were out enjoying the warm spring evening and we came back to laugh and goof off around the kitchen table.
These are good times with great friends and what life is all about. The night was awesome and everyone there was having a blast. We moved from inside the house to the cozy back yard so the guys could light up some fine Cuban Cigars to end the evening.
Luz asked if we wanted a ride home, but that was the whole purpose of riding the bikes, so no one had to drive after they had been drinking.
We thanked Luz and Walter for their hospitality, said good night to everyone else and headed for home.
Cindy was riding down the street and if you've ever visited Cedar Key, then you know it's DARK here. There are only a few street lights scattered every few blocks, and there is no such thing as traffic on the streets at night.
So we were riding down the middle of the road just goofing off talking about how much fun we had with our friends.
Acting like the big kid that I am, I was jumping off curbs and trying to ride wheelies while Cindy was just pedaling home. She went to bounce over a curb and the bike came to a stop, only she went off of it to the side.
This resulted in her landing with her face flat on the asphalt and her lying in the middle of the road face down screaming "Oh No, THIS IS NOT GOOD!" at the top of her lungs.
I'm thinking she's joking, because who wipes out on a beach cruiser type of bike?
I come riding up yelling for her to get up (She is in the middle of the road) and stop screaming because it's after midnight.
She just keeps holding her face and screaming "This is not good!"
Finally I stand her up and she looks at me with pieces of her teeth splintered all over her lips. HOLY SHIT!!! This is NOT GOOD!!
If you know Cindy or have ever seen her in person, you know she has one of the most beautiful set of teeth in the world. They're pearly white and perfect in every way. She's a tooth fanatic and flosses twice, sometimes three times a day.
She wears out a tooth brush every couple of weeks and her teeth are complimented by almost everyone who talks to her. So to see her with a big hole where one of her front teeth should be is gut wrenching.
Her lips, nose and chin were dripping with blood and her lips were already starting to swell as I just sat staring. Then we both started laughing. At first just giggling, then almost uncontrollably laughing and hugging one another. I think Cindy was more crying than she was laughing, but I know I was laughing more than I was crying.
Of course this was all my fault and as we stood there in the middle of the road, Cindy with a pool of teeth and blood at her feet, she started thumping my chest her fists saying "Why did you make me ride my bike home!?!"
I got her out of the middle of the road, not that it really mattered, in the time it would take us to walk the rest of the way home, we never saw another car, and got her to calm down a bit.
I made sure she was ok, I mean I knew she was mentally not ok because she knew her teeth were missing, but I wanted to make sure that her nose or chin werent broken.
Once we figured out it was just the teeth, we started walking home. That was when we both started seeing the dollar signs add up in our head.
What I mean is, Cindy has had this happen before, one time while we owned the bar.
We were at a Jimmy Buffet concert and as she was drinking out of a bottle of Corona, the guy standing in front of her was talking with his hands and hit the bottom of her bottle with his hand on accident.
That ordeal cost us about $5000 in dentist bills, missed work and driving all around Michigan to get her a new tooth. She then proceeded to loose that tooth on numerous occasions when she'd be eating something.
The whole walk home she kept saying "We cant afford this right now!"
"Yeah, well I'll get a second or third job if it means I dont have to look at your mouth the way it looks right now!" was my reply to that.
So we went to bed not being able to kiss one another good night because by this point, Cindy's lips were twice their normal size and the scrape on the upper lip looked very painful to be kissing.
This morning I called my good buddy Jeff who lives down in West Palm Beach. Jeff works at a dental lab that makes Veneers, Crowns and False Teeth and is an expert at what he does.
After we got over laughing so hard about the fact that she wiped out on a beach cruiser, Jeff said "You need to come down here and let me make Cindy some new teeth. She has way too pretty of a smile to not have it done right.
Cindy's sister-in-law who lives in North Palm Beach works at a dentist office, and a phone call to her had her telling us she can work out a family plan and have the dentist fee's cut in half. Things were starting to look a little better, as long as you didn't have to see Cindy smile...LOL
We have an appointment tomorrow morning with a dentist in Gainesville so she can at least have a temporary tooth put in and make sure there isn't more damage than what we can see right now. I think on Monday, we're going to go down to West Palm for a few days to get mama a new grill.
Wish us luck!!
Friday May 7th - Fun Times in Cedar Key
The past few days have been like a little vacation for Cindy and I.
With the motel not having a constant turn-over every night now with season slowing down, we're actually getting a chance to take some time away from the Chamber Made Title and have some fun.
While I was in Arizona, I camped beside a guy that I've spoken back and forth with online for some time now. We hit it off during the EXPO weekend and talked about having them come visit so the wives could meet.
Jim lives down in Ft. Myers Florida and had called to ask if we had any openings for this week because him and his wife Pamela wanted to come up for a visit with their Jeep and little Off-Road Teardrop trailer that Jim custom built....More on this later.
It just so happened that while they were here, since it would be mid-week, we'd have enough time to go out and fool around on the water in our kayaks and actually hang out with them without working non-stop.
I was able to use one of the Kayaks Tom Liebert offers from Kayak Cedar Keys which is in downtown right on Dock Street so we could all have our own boats.
This meant we only had to rent one kayak and the rest of us could get by with using the 3 Cindy and I already have.
We picked a perfect day because the Gulf of Mexico looked like a pane of glass with how calm it was. The past few days have thrown the summer humidity at us with a vengeance, so being on the water with a slight breeze was heavenly.
Once we had everything unloaded, we paddled out to Atsena Otie Key which was a easy little paddle from the beach on Cedar Key. We followed the islands shoreline talking amongst ourselves and watching the Egrets and Great Blue Herons fish along the shallow ocean shelf.
We found a secluded white sand beach and pulled the boats up on the glaring sand so we could walk the shoreline looking for shells.
After awhile of watching the fish jump, the sting rays slither across the sandy bottom and basically just wasting away the afternoon enjoying ourselves immensely, we got back in the boats and continued to circle the island.
As we got into the main channel between the islands and Cedar Key, we noticed some dolphins break the surface a few hundred yards in front of us.
We all start paddling towards them hoping we'd get a chance to have them come close enough for a good photo.
There was 4 of them, and we were all pointing in different directions to where we could see the surface of the water breaking around us. At one point, I was looking back to tell the others I had just seen one right in front of me when I got the shit scared out of me.
As I was turned to look back, one of the dolphins surfaced and blew out its air with a loud mist of water hitting me. It then swam right under me brushing against the bottom of my kayak.
We spent the next hour just paddling in circles while Cindy splashed the water with her hands yelling "Here Dolphin, Dolphin, Dolphin" in a super high pitched voice....Yes, she's insane!
Jim was joking with her saying "I'm gonna laugh when that dolphin comes over and bites your hand thinking its some kind of food."
As he's telling her that, a dolphin surfaced right between them and scared the Holy Bejebus out of them both.
It was good fun with lots of laughs and screams because as much as we all wanted to see the dolphins, the water is murky and you dont see them coming till they're right beside you.
By the time we paddled back up to the beach on Cedar Key, we had all had an amazing time on the water and it had been a great afternoon with new friends.
Now back to Jim's Jeep and Off-Road Teardrop Trailer. We all know my love and lust of Jeeps. So you can imagine how bad I'm drooling over Jim and Pamela's Ride. It's been stopping traffic all week with people locking up their brakes as they pass by to take a second look.
The Jeep itself could win any show he'd enter it in. But the custom built teardrop trailer is a work of art. It's built rugged enough to follow the Jeep anywhere he's willing to drive it, and once there, you have a full kitchen, soft bed to sleep on and if it's too hot, he even has a little A/C Unit built right in.
We had a blast with Jim and Pamela staying here and it was really cool to get a chance to hang out and enjoy their company. Make sure you check out Jim's Web Page, Here Be Dragons Adventures, where you can see build threads for his vehicles and learn more about what he does.
Oh, and another funny thing that happened. We had all gone into town for dinner one night and as we came home, we were planning on having a night cap out at the tiki bar.
I was saying that I thought I was out of beers, because we had been sampling the New Belgium Quarts I had gotten while out West and hadn't run into town to get more.
I walked out to the Tiki Bar to tell Jim and Pamela that we were inside and lets move in there to stay away from the mosquito's, when we saw a 6 pack of Corona sitting on the top of the bar. Neither of us had any idea why this was there, but it was just sitting there like someone had left it for us.
I asked the nice couple who was staying in the campground if they knew why it was there and they said that some guy had stopped by, said he was from Michigan and wanted to say "Hello" to Cindy and I, and had left it there for us.
They didn't know his name and we have no idea who he was? So if you were the one who left the 6 pack, it was perfect timing, we accept your offering and you can now come back and introduce yourself...LOL Thank You Very Much!!
Tuesday May 5th 2010 - Happy Cinco de Mayo
Rain, Rain and more rain. But rain is a good thing with everything we've planted in the last month, so I'm not complaining.
The past few days have been completely different around here. We had a few days to just chill out and catch up on emails, photos and everything we've been putting off for the past few months while we were so busy.
I spent the day on Monday searching around on the internet to find a company that makes something to tie our wind turbine into the power grid. Southwest Wind Power says it cant be done, but every company will tell you their product is only made for one purpose, and it's up to American ingenuity to design something to make it multi-task-able.
I had first called Joy from Mikes Windmill Shop in Arizona because this woman is more knowledgeable than any other person I've spoken with when it comes to Turbines.
Plus, she goes out of her way to speak in understandable words that a laymen like me can understand. Joy told me they didn't offer anything that I was looking for, but she pointed me in the right direction because she knew exactly what I was trying to accomplish.
How cool is that when one company will point you to a direct competitor because they dont carry what you're looking for. I had called one other company before calling Joy (Name of the company will be with held), but the guy who answered the phone was so rude, and talked to me like I was such an idiot, that even though he had what I was looking for, I refused to buy anything he was selling.
I found the Solar Panel Store and spoke to Loren. We sat talking for awhile on the phone while I explained my situation and why I was trying to do what I was trying to do.
Loren had everything that I was looking for and said he'd be happy to put together a package and get an estimate emailed to me right away.
This is something I've been looking into since we got here because here in Florida, if we dont have the sun shining, we have the wind blowing. Many days we have them both going at the same time! It's stupid to not be using these renewable energy sources to our advantage.
I think its funny that so many people will try to talk you out of doing this because of the Government Tax Credits and how installing it in stages like I plan to do it will cost more in the long run.
Not that Loren said this, but I have also been talking with a local installer of Solar Panels and Solar Hot Water systems who basically told me he wouldn't do it right now because the State of Florida has put a hold on the rebates.
He also looked at our property and told me I dont have enough south facing roofline to justify solar panels. WTF?? I tried to explain to the installer that I dont even need to install them on the roof, I could simply put the panels on a rack mount that would be mounted on a pole anchored in the yard. He looked at me like I was crazy, and said this couldn't be done. I'm thinking he needs to do some research before he goes telling people what can and cant be done.
Does that make any sense? I'm not worried about the rebates at this point. If my electric bill is $500 per month and my water bill is another $500 each month, it wont take long to realize how fast I'll recoup my expenses and start saving money if I was using Solar and Wind to help offset my utilities.
I'll try and do my best with keeping you up to date on what we're using and how its working once we start the whole process. Right now, I'm still trying to do as much research as possible to make sure I have exactly what I want. Loren told me about a computer program they offer that you hook up to the electrical panel that ties it into to your computer.
It records the amount of energy generated from the panels and the turbine so you know when the peak times are and how much energy you've generated. I thought this would be cool to see how much we're using compared to how much we're generating and would be fun to keep track of.
I've also started planning for our August trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This will be a great little adventure, and be a great way to take a break from the motel and get back on the road.
If you're interested in going, and have a vehicle that will allow you to come along, make sure you check out the U.P. Overland website for more info.
Here is what the week will consist of from a thread posted on Expedition Portal.
Going into its 3rd year, the annual Upper Peninsula Overland trip is continuing to grow and evolve. This year's trip will take us through more new terrain with a focus on the western UP. We have run through many new ideas of how to structure and organize the event, and feel we have come up with a great way to balance the continued growth of the event with the smaller, grassroots feel that past attendees have valued.
Again, the trip will be family
friendly with a good mix of adventure, sightseeing, teamwork, fireside
storytelling, as well as some new activities and challenges.
There will be more challenging
sections along the way. Typically the tougher sections are optional or
there is a bypass that allows the stock vehicles passage but yields some
challenge for the more capable vehicles. In the past we've had
everything from the
Eco Roamer to a mostly stock AMC Eagle covering the full spectrum of
4wd vehicles in between.
We will be crossing through an area rich in mining history, skiing history, and natural wonders such as abundant waterfalls and the rugged terrain of the Porcupine Mountains. Our campsites will vary in settings but plan on one great beach campsite.
Due to the nature of rustic/dispersed camping on public lands it will be important for attendees to have adequate fresh water and waste containment. Plan on being self contained and supported for several days at a time. The route will take us through towns and places for supplies and fuel but not necessarily daily. More specific details will emerge in the updates prior to the trip.
We are deliberately leaving
the description of the route vague this year in an effort to build a bit
more suspense and not let the surprises we have in store for you out of
the bag. I will state this- one of the views/vantage points on the route
will FAR surpass any vista you have ever experienced in the Midwest.
As was the case last year,
there will be no fee for the trip. However, we have a paypal account
setup if attendees wish to contribute funds that will be used to offset
our personal expenses for organizing and scouting the trip. Any amount
is greatly appreciated.
What to Bring:
I am looking forward again to
seeing old faces and meeting some new ones around the bonfire! It's
going to be a great trip!
After reading through the overview, can you see why I'm so excited to be attending this event! One of the reasons I think Cindy and I are both so excited, is this is a different way than we normally travel.
We're so used to traveling fulltime with the Trailer behind us, it will be completely different to go for an extended length of time just living out of the truck.
Granted, we have the Camping Lab Roof Top Tent, but we're going to need a few new items to go for a few nights at a time.
We dont have a Water Purifier, a Solar Shower or a CB in the truck. These are all items we've been talking about and wanting to add to our list of gear for years now, and this will be the perfect opportunity to get some new stuff and actually test it out.
Hopefully we'll be able to meet up with a bunch of new people and get a chance to explore some sections of Michigan we've yet to discover.
I'm really excited about this. Ok, gotta go, Cindy's yelling that she just found a new leak.
Sunday May 2nd 2010 - Recovering After a Long Week of Partying
The past week has been a whirlwind of parties, almost non-stop it's seemed.
I never had time to update the blog while they were going on, so I'll try to give a quick re-cap here.
My last update in the April blog mentioned that the upcoming weekend was Cindy's birthday. Well for her birthday, we had special guests coming in as a surprise which was why I couldn't really talk about it on the blogs.
Our best friends Derrick and Tish, who now live in Minnesota, were going to be coming in to surprise Cindy for her birthday. Derrick's birthday is only two days after Cindy's, so when we all lived in Michigan, we would try and plan a vacation around their birthdays that was somewhere tropical.
Cindy had just spent an afternoon cussing these two out because they had yet to come visit us down here in Cedar Key. We've had their surprise visit planned for a few months now, so it was really hard to keep it a secret for that long.
There were a few times I'd say "We need to get this finished before Derrick and Tish get here!" Cindy would look up and ask "When are they coming to visit?"
And I'd have to recover really quickly saying "You know they're going to visit at some point, I'm just saying we need to get it finished before they get here."
A few nights before Cindy's birthday, we had spent the day working in the yard and I had asked if she wanted to go into town to get some dinner so she wouldn't have to cook. She showered up and got ready, and I was doing my best to stall before Derrick and Tish got here.
Of course Cindy was yelling and screaming and asking what in the hell was taking so long for me to get ready, something that normally only takes a few minutes since I dont have hair to brush and I'm not one to fancy myself up when going out. I am what I am, and what you see is what you get.
She told me in a loud huff, "I'm going outside to sit at the tiki bar by myself because you're taking so long!"
It was while she was outside sitting on the swing watching the sunset when Derrick and Tish pulled up, both wearing long Mullet wigs and dark sunglasses.
They yelled "Hey lady, what do we have to do to get a room around here!"
Once Cindy realized who they were, the tears started flowing and the partying began.
The next few days was a blur. Yes, I mean that literally. It seemed like we'd wake up late from a wild night of partying, only to crack open some more beers and start it all over again.
Our good friend Luz had bought Cindy a big Cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory over in Gainesville and we all went into town for Cindy's birthday. Luz had hats and candles and was so good at making sure everything went smoothly, something that I'm not that good at. Thanks Luz, you're a great friend!
Derrick fell in love with the Black Dog Cigar Bar in downtown Cedar Key, and he and Jay, the owner hit it off huge. Both of them being Cigar aficionados, they talked wraps, Cuban Cigars and their favorite varieties of smokes.
Jay was kind enough to find the Red Wing Playoff Game on the satellite for us and it was awesome to be sitting in a bar with the doors open and the humid tropical breezes blowing in off the Gulf of Mexico while we watched our favorite hockey team blow the doors off of Phoenix.
Having Derrick and Tish in town also made me realize another thing about opening up the tiki bar behind the motel. I'm now second guessing how fast I want to open this thing up to the public.
Let me explain this a little.
One day we were all sitting out at the tiki bar sipping on some beers and just catching up on the past few years away from one another. The motel was full and so was the RV Campground. So a few different people would come and go throughout the day and it was almost like the tiki bar itself was open.
It wasn't, so everyone had to bring their own drinks, but all the bar stools were filled at a few different times throughout the day. But what I noticed was when cars would be passing by, and see people all hanging out around the tiki bar, they'd pull over and just come back to see if the bar was open.
Remember there was no sign out front, and these people would just see what looked like a party and stop so they could join in. Yeah, it's like that here in Cedar Key.
This made me realize that once the tiki bar opens, and there is a sign out front, I'm thinking I'm going to be a bit busier than I originally planned on. I liked the fact that it was just the motel guests and we were having our own little quiet party.
No one had to drive anywhere and I didn't have to worry about anyone becoming over-served. But when people are leaving town, and they might have already had a few pop's at another bar, it worries me that they're now walking into our little party and they now become my problem.
Either way, it was an eye opener because over the course of one day with just us sitting out there partying, we probably had 5 different groups of people that would stop in just to see if the bar was open and if they could party with us. One group in particular was hammered and we did our best to just get them out of there without any hassles or complaints from our true guests.
It was great to see our Best Friends and the week was a blast to say the least. Thanks Derrick and Tish for making the trip down to Cedar Key, and sharing in the birthday celebrations with us.
The last few days have ushered in summer with a vengeance. We're talking sticky humidity and hot weather that takes your breath away as soon as you step outside.
We learned that the A/C unit on our apartment sounds like a dying cow and will probably need to be replaced soon, which is an added expense we never saw coming, but we know there will be no way we'll be able to survive the summer without it working 100%.
I've also been working with a few guys here in town who want to start something called the Cedar Key Kayak Club. They want to use our Tiki Bar as the headquarters for the club and want to have weekly meets where everyone goes out fishing in their kayaks in the back bayou behind the motel, and comes back to the tiki bar to cook up some fish tacos.
We went out paddling yesterday to scout out some routes around the area, and while they were fishing, I decided to try and paddle out to one of the neighboring islands where a sailboat is washed ashore.
To get to the island, I had to paddle across a big stretch of open water and the winds were blowing pretty hard. Of course, while I'm paddling, with my camera in my lap, I'm having flash backs of being in Baja and tipping over in my kayak and losing the camera in the salt water.
About half way across the open water, the waves were getting too big and the winds were getting too strong, so I turned around and headed back to the safety of the sheltered coves where Greg and John were still fishing.
No matter how hard you try and prepare yourself for it, as you're paddling along and a dark gray dorsal fin comes up beside you, you're never quite ready for it.
Even though I know it was only a dolphin, it still makes my heart race and my pulse quicken when the big shadow appears beside you and the dorsal fin breaks the surface of the water. I tried to stop paddling and snap a picture, but with the waves splashing up and over the front of the kayak, I almost tipped over and dropped the camera because of my nervousness. This will just have to be one of those times you take my word for it.
It's crazy how the dolphins will approach you like they're interested in what your doing, or want to come check you out to see what you are. They'll swim right up beside you and look at you out of the water. Its a great feeling to see them that close.
Then this morning, we had most of the hotel check out after the busy weekend. We also had Bruce and Lindsey pack up and leave for Texas and for the first time in over a few months time, we're almost completely empty.
I'm not sure if we'll know what to do with ourselves?
There is still so much to do around here, but with summer approaching, I'm thinking we're going to have some free time to sweat it out and get the stuff done we've been putting off all season.
We have a few more rooms to put tile down in, and now that the RV Slots are empty, I can work on running cable out to each slot and leveling each pad. Hopefully by the end of summer, each RV Pad will be paved and landscaped to really make them unique.
Bruce and Lindsey helped out so much over the last month, they probably knocked out a few months worth of work for Cindy and I and the time they were here flew past. Thank You So Much Guys! I hope you know how much you're going to be missed!!
Camper Check List - A list of things we do before leaving camp. Again, this isn't gospel, but its a good start for those who might not already have a list made up.