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On the Rodes Again

Travelogue - February 6, 2013

Greetings boat-folk, friends and family.

We're all a-sea, again swishing some water around under Sea Gator's keel.

I was going to just omit the 'logues this year, instead immersing myself in the virtual swamp of vampire romance offerings available for FREE! download on my NOOK.

However, Certain Persons have been persistent about travelogues so I'll do my best.

A Disconcerting Start to the Summer 2012

We began last spring with a crisis (which is why I left Sea Gator stranded in the Shark River last spring): We returned home in May and Rick immediately resuscitated my car, which had been quietly filling with mice all winter, and I piloted my HabiTrail to Salt Lake City. From there I flew to Portland (via San Francisco - don't ask), and a mere two-hour shuttle ride later arrived at Lincoln City's famed House of Donuts. Which, by that time of a drizzly day, was closed.

Fortunately, my sister Julie had indeed remembered to pick me up.

Julie had arrived in Oregon several weeks previous to assist our folks, and now I was there to help sort and pack. Surrounded by boxes in the 'rent's garage I sorted and loaded all kinds of memories - some of them mine, some not. Upstairs, my dad and I went through each and every volume in his library as he determined whether he wanted to keep each book ("Yes". "Yes". "Yes". "Yes". "Yes".) Our brother Paul-Bob arrived a week later to schlep a dozen enormous heavy boxes of books, plus 15 years of carefully sorted belongings, into the moving van. And we were off.

We eventually arrived at Sparks, Nevada, in fine shape. And within a week, mom and dad were moved permanently into their winter apartment, Julie had returned to her home nearby, Paul-Bob flew home to Becky, and I drifted along to Wyoming trailing a shimmering funk of vintage mouse fumes.

In Memorium

After a summer of ups and downs, our dad, Carl Ehrman, passed away on October 30. I'll be ever grateful that I was there to spend his last few days with him, and hopefully to be of some service to my mom and sister.

We've heard from many of his friends in the past couple of months, and each and every kindness and shared memory is a treasured gift. Thanks to my posse including the musketeers and Jazz-girls; to Sylvia, Peggy and Wanda; and a shout-out to Rob and the Quill cadre.

But BEFORE that...

Some good stuff DID happen between June and October, challenging as it is to recall:

Angie Pat Rick In July, mom and I went to Dubois for her family reunion. On the drive over Togwotee Pass we watched a mother grizzly and her two cubs. The cubs were playing with a plastic bottle they'd found, and they were just the cuddliest-looking things - from the remote distance and safety of our car.

Mom's brothers Don and Buck both attended the reunion with their wives, many cousins attended, and we all had an excellent time. Among other activities we learned to play Ladderball, which is truly a ton of fun.

Best. Niece. Ever.

In August, Rick and I were ecstatic when Angie came to visit!

First thing we did was load a ton of stuff into an extra pack and lob it onto her back. Then we headed for the hills, right.

Pat and Smiley, Angie and Ed Rick led us to Water Dog Lakes, then up to the Sawtooth of the Gros Ventre range. We saw a moose, several juvenile antelope, a large group of cow and juvenile elk, and two black bears - all on the first day.

We followed the contour of cliffs beneath a string of summits for several days, camping by little lakes and streams, and once taking a sidetrip up to a saddle between two peaks where we overlooked the rugged and mythically beautiful Tosi Basin, far below.

Our third night out we lost our campsite. Being in grizzly country, we did all of our cooking and caching far away and downwind from the tents - which was fine until we attempted to find our way back in the moonless black of the night. As we blundered through bogs and bumped our heads on branches, Angie put a cheerful spin on it: "Well, if we can't find our tents, then the bears can't either, right?" Right!

Bull's eye Angie braved my Jazzercise class, we went horseback riding with our neighbor Alex (left) and Angie practiced her archery a-la Katniss Everdeen (right). She visited Arlene's art studio and admired Bondurant's restored log Library.

Given her choice of activities for her last week Angie opted for another wilderness experience. So she and I loaded up the canoe and bumped and bashed our way to Green River Lakes - headwaters of the mighty Green River - where we camped and paddled and hiked and swam in glacier melt, and Angie jogged the mountain trails, and we had a wonderful time.

Driving her back to the airport in Idaho Falls was the lowest point of the summer to that time; the only worse experience was coming home to an "empty" house and the desolate week that followed.

Fortunately, we had more visitors to look forward to.

City Girl in the High Lonesome

Claudia and her peeps Betty R., captain of M/V LILI, came to see us in September. Betty had never before visited the Wild West (California doesn't count) but she cowgirled up and we had a great time showing her our part of the world.

Despite the low visibility caused by nearby forest fires, Betty was impressed with the scenery. So I took a chance and hauled her 320 miles across the barrens to Casper, Wyoming, to laud our friend Claudia M. as she accepted the Governor's 2012 Wyoming Arts Council creative writing fellowship. Woo hoo!

Here we have Betty, Pat, Tracy, Brian Turner, and Claudia.

Hell's Half Acre BTW, this was the first time Claudia and Brian met face-to-face. Celebrated for his writings as a soldier in the Iraq War, his now-famous poem Here, Bullet was first published by Claudia in Whit Press' compelling Voices in Wartime. It's a small world, literarily speaking.

After the festivities Tracy and Claudia returned to Jackson while Betty and I motored northwest. Between Casper and Shoshone we stopped at this roadside attraction, right. No, it is not the inside of our sinuses after standing out in the Wyoming wind (although your confusion is understandable); it is a geologic phenomenon called Hell's Half Acre. Indeed. Some scenes from the movie Starship Troopers were filmed there. It does look like a different world.

Just after dark we trundled in to Cody where we berthed at the historic Irma Hotel - built by Wild Bill Cody in 1902 and named for his daughter. The next morning Janet zipped over from Worland and she and I shopped and talked while Betty toured the Buffalo Bill Historical Center - one of the largest and (despite its cheesy name) best museums for all things western.

Yellowstone FallsWe finished our road trip with several fun-packed days in Yellowstone, left.

Back home in Bondurant Betty charmed my friends, went horseback riding with Alex, visited Grand Teton National Park, and generally enjoyed herself.

Betty and friend Betty proved to be an engaging traveling companion, fearless adventurer and gracious houseguest. She promised to return for a more extended visit in summers to come, and we look forward to that.

Wyoming Library Association

In September, Margy and I journeyed back to Casper to attend the Wyoming Library Association annual meeting. It felt SO good to be welcomed and encouraged by folks from all over the state, who heartily supported Libraries - including OUR tiny library! We were inspired by the people we met.

We actually met someone with a Library smaller than ours (hard to believe, since for several years our "library" has been but a gleam in Margy's eye) and we met many folks who faced similar challenges and had come to brilliant solutions, and all offered their support and encouragement.

Thanks to our County Library Director Sid Stanfill, for bringing us along and for his unending support throughout.

Speaking of which, we were thrilled this summer when neighbors stepped up to form the Friends of the Bondurant Library & Museum. Yay! The experience, enthusiasm and knowledge that these folks have already brought to the task is a godsend. Margy and Dennis and I are very quickly learning the joys of delegating. Hallelujia.

Grizzlies to the left, grizzlies to the right

Returning from Casper, Margy and I took the scenic route and eventually arrived at our moonlight rendezvous with Bob and Rick at Moran Junction. Bob and Margy turned south toward home, and Rick and I headed north for our annual post-tourist season visit to Yellowstone.

Pelican Valley The very next day, all of Rick's hopes and dreams were realized. Here he tells it for the 100th time:

A highlight of my summer was our trek into Pelican Valley in Yellowstone, a destination that has been on my list for some time. Pelican Valley is prime grizzly bear habitat - the best the lower 48 has to offer.

We had been stymied in recent years by Park Rangers adamantly enforcing the "recommended" parties of four or more. But this year I found a sympathetic ranger, a grizzly specialist, who did not object to our party of two.

Lest you think we are reckless, consider that we live in grizzly habitat and do know the ropes.

Three miles into Pelican Valley, at the noted washed out creek bridge which marks the boundary of terrain closed to human travel, we sat and waited.

Grizzley sow and cub I scanned the distant treeline with binoculars (the dark treeline shown in the photo, right, behind the meadow - and why oh why didn't I schlep the spotting scope?) until I spotted them: two grizzlies, at a distance of nearly a half mile. We could discern their activities: rooting around behind logs, lumbering through the grass, fading in and out among the bushes.

On our return hike I kept my eyes peeled, and sure enough spotted a grizzly sow and her yearling cub only 200 - 300 yards away (the two little black dots in the photo, left).

Directly downwind, scentless and soundless, we observed the pair foraging in vivid detail through the binoculars. When the sow lifted her head and looked in our direction through magnification, it seemed she was staring right at us. When she then took a step in our direction my heart rate sped up. While the scene may have induced abject fear for many, we reveled in the experience. But we didn't linger.

We left Pelican Valley knowing we were privileged for the encounter.

Rick later sent in a written report to the Bear Ranger, as requested.

Summer Comes to a Close

The Girls All in all Rick had a busy summer Working hard for appreciative clients all week, dreaming about grizzlies, scaling peaks afoot and exploring new terrain on his mountain bike on the weekends.

Rick Pat Jake Julie Megan I worked on several enjoyable (and ongoing) landscape architecture projects, and took on a part-time "regular" job for fun and interest - my first job at retail, which I thought would be a wonderful opportunity to be of service to eager shoppers. I quickly learned that it's much better to be in the warehouse hidden from pesky customers if you want to get any work done. Still, my coworkers made it fun. On my last evening at work the manager put his iPod next to the intercom and played "Blue Christmas" for me, how sweet!

And I taught three to five Jazzercise classes per week which is just about the most fun a person can have. I love it and I love "my girls", all of whom are up for a good workout and/or a hearty laugh. Here are the energetic souls who came to my last noon class of the summer, right. What good sports: Martha, Bev, Nicole, Darlene, Leslie, June, Arlene, Linda, Patty. Hello, my darlings!

We rendezvoused in Idaho Falls with Julie and her terrific teens Jake and Megan, left. It was a crisp autumn weekend, and we all enjoyed the King Tut exhibit at Museum of Idaho; Rick and Jake went for a run along the scenic riverwalk while Julie, Megan and I got stuck in traffic.

Pat and JulieIt's always a treat to spend time with them. Jake had come to spend a week with us last summer, which was a highlight, but we don't get to see any of them as often as we would like.

With that in mind, Julie and Janice and Ann and I decided to rustle up a reunion of our college friends next autumn. Wouldn't that be a hoot? We'd prefer to hold it at Janice's apartment overlooking the Sydney Opera House and harbour, but it will probably be closer to Denver. It will still be fun.

Then like a wrecking ball October rolled around, which brings us back to where we started this 'logue.


On the Water, Again...(sigh)

Jay Pat Rick My best and only idea for the coming winter was to crawl under the bed and stay there for at least six months.

But nyoo, Rick had to herd me and Goldie onto a plane and then onto this boat. And now here we are in Florida. Shee-it.

Friday, November 30, 2012. Flights were uneventful, the Gator had summered well, and we did our best getting ready to head out. Rick ingeniously repaired our autopilot and replaced the water pump for the nth time. On a day off from boat work I zipped downtown to Lisa's early Jazzercise class where I immediately rolled my ankle on a chassee and hobbled around in an ACE bandage for the next month.

GoldieGoldie has fared no better. She was sickly all summer, and multiple trips to the vet in Jackson and Punta Gorda finally brought a diagnosis of Eeosinophilic enteritis. Which explains the ongoing stomach upset and consequent barfing. Much fuss later, we hoped she'd feel better. She had her up- and down-days; we gave her lots of cuddles and plenty of food and water, and medicine. Here she is, eagerly anticipating the upcoming dose. Poor Goldie. It's NOT funny. It's not. Stop it.

Once again, we all had to travel across the entire country to see Jay, who lives right next door in Idaho. Jay visits his folks for Christmas so we rendezvoused with him in Ft. Myers for an afternoon. The newly-restored downtown was a fun place to explore. Here is a cool fountain in a pedestrian alley.

With Lu we journeyed to Tampa to celebrate Rick's cousin, Marc, who just completed his PhD in Applied Anthropology and was immediately bound to San Francisco to fulfill a fellowship with Code for America: ‘A Peace Corps for Geeks’. And we spent a quiet Christmas with Lucille and her brother's family: Arthur, Roshni and Marc.

Before the New Year rolled around, the Gator sailed off to sea.

Shake Down Cruise

Double Pleasure Friday, December 28, 2012. Our favorite place in any weather: Pelican Bay. Where nothing much happened.

The first week into the New Year we were happy to see Barbara and Paul dinghy over from their lovely Mainship Quittin' Time. Later they re-anchored near us in the sheltered pocket where we were all safe and sound.

And one sunny afternoon we were tickled when Moe and Pat suddenly appeared and rafted their catamaran up to Sea Gator for an impromptu reunion. A few hours later, when Pat stepped aboard Double Pleasure to get their lunch, she was surprised to discover a brown and white cat inspecting the premises. Just as I started to wonder where Goldie was, she sauntered along the catamaran's deck and leapt lightly back aboard Sea Gator. My, aren't we adventuresome?

As Moe, Pat, Barbara, Paul and I mingled on our sundeck, we realized we had all been anchored in Pelican Bay for New Year's, but none of us had seen the others. Huh, small world!

Groceries...

When we ran low on apples it was time to move on.

Sunset over Ft. Myers Beach Mickey Gary Tuesday, January 8, 2013. We motored down to Ft. Myers Beach where we easily grabbed a mooring ball in Matanzas Bay. There we witnessed a most beautiful sunset, and we decided to stay for a couple weeks to provision and make plans to travel north along Florida's east coast.

I spent a lovely day with Pam from Blackfoot, running errands and enjoying her company. We went to a native plant nursery where I got some ideas to share with Rick about Lu's house, and Pam gave me a list of her favorite anchorages along the east coast so that would help us with our planning for this season.

Meanwhile my phone had been dead for a week. When I called Apple support and told them that my new iPhone was "dead in the water" the guy said, "Well, ma'am, if it's gone in water we can't help you..."

Thankfully, Veronica tightened her jaw and drove us all the way to friggin' Estero, where the geniuses at the "Genius Bar" salvaged my phone. I wouldn't say "genius" is apt, but they sure knew more than I did about my own phone. So I am back in the 21st century, technology-wise.

Rick worked and Worked. I rented a car, dinghyed Goldie to shore and drove her to her vet for another round of worried assessment. Poor Goldie. I just don't know.

Suits Us Veronica and I went for some beach walks; one time we found a dead turtle washed up - woo! And Little Mick was docked nearby at Bonita Bills, so it was awfully nice to see Gary and Mickey (above right) whenever we wanted to - which was quite a lot.

Tattoo Parlors of the Ol' West Brenda and Gil brought Suits Us onto their mooring with aplomb, right. It was great to see them, although our visit was brief as always. They soon continued on to explore Pelican Bay and points north. So we're exchanging texts with them about where to find the best pizza and haircuts.

Although I couldn't help with the haircut question. For the first time ever, I followed the lead of many women boater friends and just took my hair to a barber. Ack!! Actually, it was kind of liberating to just stroll in behind Rick, read a few fictional articles in Fisherman's Illustrated then step up to the next available chair and say "Geek me." Don't tell Leslie. I know it will grow out, and it only cost twelve bucks.

Spotted on San Carlos Blvd: tattoo parlors of the Ol' West.


Following the River

Wednesday, January 23, 2013. I love getting up for the sunrise - but why does it have to happen at such an ungodly hour? Taking a page from Sally's book (we encountered them at dawn in the middle of San Carlos Bay, where she was stowing lines in her PJs) I did my chores only half awake and wearing sweatpants and slippers, and we departed the moorings bright and early.

Franklin Lock dolphins Rick piloted us flawlessly through the lower section of the Caloosahatchee, past downtown Ft. Myers, and upriver. If you want to know more, you can read Beaches to Barns and Crossing the State on the Inland Waterway.

We transitted Franklin Lock smoothly and tied up in our slip at the nearby park.

The new campground hosts are just as friendly and chatty as their predecessors. We stayed two nights so we could do Work and laundry. The laundry was great luxury - I had it all (one washer, one dryer) to myself so I spent my time on the phone with friends.

The showers are pretty nice, too, for being at a campground. But let's talk: in any shared shower situation one always wears sandals if not platform shoes, right? And one never actually touches anything, gracious no, and any item which accidentally does touch something or (cringe) fall to the floor is unredeemable, regardless of replacement cost. Yet it is somewhat less stressful to shower in a place where one may safely assume that one's fellow-showerers are capable, financially speaking, of treating any contagious skin condition which may arise. Such a place as, for example, an RV campground.

As opposed to, well, some other places we've been - where even 2" high platform shoes, rubber gloves and a full hazmat suit could not induce me to shower there, and you actually stay cleaner not showering.

But this place is reasonably nice, I thought complacently, as I toweled what little remains of my hair.

I was verging on self-congratulation when I reached for my clothes and there was a big spider on the hook! Ack!! I flicked him and he disappeared! So - which is worse: the spider near your clothes that you can see, or the spider near your clothes that you can't see??

Anyway. Spider dance executed. Clothes safe. Laundry accomplished. Smug complacency averted. Onward.

Rookery near Franklin Lock Friday, January 25, 2013. Another lovely day on the river. One bridge, one lock and we slid neatly to berth at the Moorehaven City docks. We had the entire long dock to ourselves, too. Where is everybody?

Confession: I was unimpressed with Moorehaven on our previous stop in 2011, as I found the pedestrian experience along the highway to be completely vile: bleak, hot, dry, dusty, noisy, dangerous.

Well, this time Rick and I followed the peaceful sidestreets to the post office, and along the way I said, "Hey, look at that cool Courthouse. That's amazing; there's one just like it on the highway side..." Ahem. It seems that the nice inviting walk is just a block west of the nasty bleak highway, and there's no reason not to take it. Oh. Live and learn.

So, Moorehaven isn't so bad. You can walk to the post office and grocery store from the dock on the sidestreets. Of course, everybody else probably already knew that.

Saturday, January 26, 2013. What the hey? At 5:00 a.m. an entire fleet of airboats roared to life. I snapped awake wondering if I hadn't noticed an airport nearby. No, Rick recognized the sound and knew the racket was coming from Lake Okeechobee.

We rustled ourselves together and cast off at first light. We cleared the Moorehaven Lock, continued on for a nice journey around the southwestern edge of the lake basin and entered the open Lake at Clewiston. Rick spotted the airboats, and the fishermen's heads bobbing over the reeds like a pride of meerkats. The wind kicked up a light chop and Goldie and I went below for a little nap. Rick didn't need our help, he and Sea Gator traversed the southeast corner of the lake in three and a half hours with no worries.

We all cleared the Myakka Lock just after lunch and began the downriver journey toward the east coast.

Indian Town Marina Indian Town

I know. But it's really called that.

We slid to our designated place at Indiantown Marina's long dock mid-afternoon and tied up safely. What a nice place! Lots of vegetation near the river, nice people, quiet (right).

Rick settled in to a nap, Goldie threw up, and I cleaned up.

Later we walked the mile to dinner at Dee Stefano's. We had fresh-from-the-oven "garlic knots" (bread dough twisted into buns and covered in butter, garlic, and parmesean) and big salads. Everything on the menu looked good, and the place was packed with locals - notably, working-age people outnumbered retirees, which is something you do not see on the coast.

After dinner we stepped over to Rines IGA next door. Brenda and Gil had told us about the spice wall and we found it behind the tiny produce section. In the photo (below left) the right hand wall is entirely dried peppers including Chile Guajillo (Guajillo Chili Pods), Chile Arbol (Arbol Chili Pods) and Chile Cascabe (Cascabel Chili Pods). Rick is studying the selection of rare ingredients including Rosa de Castilla (Rosebuds), Barba de Elote (Corn Silk), Hierbabuena (Spearmint Leaves) and Eucalipto (Eucalyptus). Around the corner to his left the display continues with sweets and candies. It's definitely worth the stop.

Upon our return to the dock I witnessed a pressurized stream emerging from the thru-hull of an older boat. I thought, newly launched, dry wood hull, must be leaking, bilge pump functioning, all well... To the lady standing nearby I called, "What a pretty boat..."

Spice corner But then I saw that the ejected stream was bright blue. I pointed, "What is that?"

She waved a hand, "Oh, it's just the blue stuff."

"What blue stuff?"

"You know, the blue stuff you put in your boat's..." ladylike, she lowered her voice,"...head."

Holy cow!, I thought, you mean the toxic noxious highly hazardous horrid stuff that comes out from the septic holding tank with your BLACK water?! Being dumped in inland waters? In a marina HARBOR?!? Are you people INSANE?!

Just then her husband came out and replied cheerfully to my first remark, "Yep, she'll be even prettier when we get her fixed up..." Carefree and totally clueless.

This was beyond my ability to respond in a productive manner. I waved to him, and to his wife I stammered, "Oh dear, oh my goodness gracious, that's highly toxic. No, no, you mustn't let that go in the water, good heavens, no..."

Caloosahatchee cows The wife hurried to consult her husband and I scampered the other way, hoping to defuse the manly-ego-don't-tell-me-what-to-do-woman bullshit sure to follow.

As soon as the dockmaster's office opened next morning I hustled in there and squealed like a stuck pig. Yep, I ratted those folks out like nobody's business, hoping an educational lecture from the authorities would go much further than shock and horror from me.

When the dockmaster lamented "Oh the poor fish! The manatees, the dolphins..." I added fuel to her fire with "oh the plants, the pelicans..." and I pounded my fist on the counter: "They must be stopped!"

As Sea Gator edged away from the dock, the dockmaster was standing dockside observing the now-silent "blue-water" outfall; hopefully she would still be standing there with her The-Water-is-Our-Friend brochures (or a state official) when the clueless pair arrive to resume work on their new boat.


Stuart

Sunday, January 27, 2013. The weather has been so very nice. We had an easy cruise along the upper stretch of the river. Rick got a kick out of these cows coming to the river to drink their fill, above right.

St. Lucie Lock We motored to the St. Lucie Lock and were immediately directed to come on inside. Rick piloted us in behind one other small trawler.

We were eye-to-eye with the camera lenses of tourists lining the lock's fence (right) and I asked them, "Are you waiting to see us smash into that boat?"

One man pointed to Goldie, lounging in the sun on Sea Gator's helm station, saying "I'm waiting to see that cat drive!" His kids hopped up and down - they wanted to see it, too.

San Lucie Lock, gate cracked "She would if she had thumbs," I assured them.

We came to a halt without smashing the other boat, grabbed the land-based lines the lockmaster handed over to us, and waited for the magic to happen as the lockmaster cracked the downstream gates. Left, see the gap in the downstream gates as the water is slowly released.

We slid slowly down the wall, 15' to the lower river level, letting go the line foot by foot as we went (aside: everyone on the river has heard the story about the folks who cleated their lock lines to their boat and wandered below; the water level fell, the boat tipped over; and all would have been lost but for the lockmaster running to hack the lines free with an ax. Please, let that not be us). It's like being in a big bathtub when somebody pulls the plug. It was cool and shady down in there, below right, and everything went smoothly.

St. Lucie Lock, 15' lower We shipped our fenders, said goodbye to the lockmaster who was a heck of a nice guy, and resumed our journey downriver.

We waved at Aurora as we went past her berth, but she was napping and didn't wave back.

We'd been told there were no mooring balls available at Sunset Bay, but I gave it one last shot as we neared the marina. Our tenaciousness was rewarded with the one available mooring that had just been vacated. Yay!

Rick brought us in smoothly, I snagged the tether aboard and zipped a line through it, and we were golden. A man watching from the cockpit of his sailboat just ahead gave a thumb's-up, which was nice 'cause you never know how it's going to go.

But the trawler just behind us was less enthused. The owner of Snark hailing out of New York (I am not making this up) challenged with no preamble "Did you get assigned that ball?". We assured him that indeed we had.

Hand signals He hollered, "Well, you're too big for that mooring! You'll hit us when the wind dies down." Huh? How's that gonna happen?

"Are you staying aboard? You need to stay aboard and keep watch."

His wife screeched from inside their boat, "Tell 'em they're responsible if anything happens!" He stood on the bow of his boat and glared at us.

Okay, that's nice. We lowered Bump Head and motored in to the office to sign in (and to tattle indignantly on our neighbor, under the guise of deferentially asking assurances). "Oh, everyone's got their own ideas," the dockmaster shrugged. "You're fine."

Nyah nyah nyah.

We signed out two of the marina's really cool bikes - the kind you back-peddle to stop, with the wide padded seats - and cruised into town to find lunch for Rick (Wendy's), an Office Depot for me (a 500 godzillabytes backup drive), and the pet store for Goldie (Nature's Miracle Stain & Odor Remover, "removes cat urine, vomit, hairballs, feces & more". More? MORE?! Christ on a cracker, what more can there be? Awww, man.)

We returned via the scenic ride through the historic section of town. Although we rode without helmets (tsk tsk) Rick was very conscientious about the hand signals. Here, he crisply executes the boy scout-approved signal for an upcoming right turn.

A trip down a side street revealed this fun little dentist's office, right.

Deco dentist We returned our bikes with time to spare, took cool refreshing showers at the marina facilities (where I dropped my razer in the forbidden zone, sayonara Gillette), enjoyed an engaging conversation with two younger-than-we (!) sailboaters from Nova Scotia, and returned to Sea Gator in time to watch the sun set over the harbor - always a lovely sight.

Leaving Stuart

7:30 a.m. and ready to cast off. Rick had fired up the diesel and manned the wheel at the upper helm station, when Mr. Snark appeared on his bow. I braced myself but Mr. S simply called, "Which way are you going?" I pointed to what I thought was probably northeast-ish.

The simple explanation Rick was spoiling for a fight that didn't look like it was going to happen. He barked, "What's it to you?"

Mr. Snark said, "How was it coming downriver?"

Rick snorted and huffed and I quickly said, "It was really pretty nice" and we motored away.

This illustrates the difference between chromosomes. Allow me:

As a female, my reasoning went: "He's wrong, we're right. No harm, no foul. Everyone had a nice night, and now he's even trying to be civil. We bought some Girl Scout cookies ashore, so it's all good."

Whereas Rick (heavy on the "Y" chromosomes) was thinking, "See, see, see? He knew he was being an asshole..."

Yes, well, don't we all?

We motored out to the very end (or, beginning) of the Caloosahatchee Waterway, and with the Atlantic in sight we turned up the Indian River on the northbound ICW channel.

Vero Beach

Sunset, Vero Beach City Marina mooring field Monday, January 28, 2013. The dockmaster at Vero Beach City Marina had already signed us up so we made quick radio contact and then easily slid to our assigned mooring. Pretty nice with a 38' long 12-ton boat. As Pete had famously observed, "Rick can thread a needle with this thing."

The bad news had been getting worse, as Goldie was getting sicker and sicker. We couldn't do anything for her. So Rick found a cat specialist online and we made an emergency appointment.

We lured poor Goldie into her travel hutch, dinghyed her to shore in Bump Head, then climbed aboard the city bus for a ride. The last 1/4 mile walk to the vet was nice enough, and Dr. Michael Herman proved to be capable. He engaged Goldie in a battery of tests - Goldie's bloodwork revealed that she'd suddenly gone into renal failure.

Dr. Herman put an IV into Goldie's little foreleg and tucked her into kitty hospital, where she stayed from Tuesday through the following Monday. By Monday afternoon she was pronounced ready to go home and we hurried to pick her up. It was a relief to see her looking relatively spry. Just moments after Dr. Herman bragged that Goldie hadn't vomited the entire week she'd been there, she let out a howl and projectile barfed her lunch all over the examining table. How depressing.

But - we brought her home and she seemed quite like her normal self Monday evening, going to far as to ransack the place for food.

We've been given some serious tasks to perform in order to keep her feeling as good as possible for as long as possible, including administering subcutaneous fluids.

Rick's wallet is anemic, so we've decided to lie low in Vero for awhile longer.

Stay safe, everyone. Ingest plenty of fluids, and don't drop the soap.

Pat, Rick and Goldie

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