Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bon Voyage

I am parked at the Harbour Isle Marina, on the causeway to Hutchinson Island in the city of Fort Pierce (map). I had expected to be at the Flying-J last night, a dozen or so miles from here back at I-95, however a brief consultation with the on-site marina watchman as well as the administrative office yielded a one-night grace for the bus.

That was great because it allowed me to do several things I otherwise could not, including having a final glass of wine aboard Sandy Hook with Louise, Stephanie, and Captains Chris and Alyse Caldwell. I left the boat around 7ish just as they were about to serve dinner, and walked across the street to Chuck's, a local landmark, where I had a nice dinner sitting in the bar. It also allowed me to watch them shove off this morning from the comfort of my easy chair, courtesy of my binoculars, and then hike up to the top of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) bridge to snap a couple of photos as they passed beneath me.

I then walked over to the guest docks on the north side of the island and caught them again as they returned from a navigation exercise over near the inlet.

This morning Captain Chris had an errand to run and drove me around through town, just so I could see it, while the ladies did chart work before casting off. I had planned to maybe scoot around town today, and this saved me the trouble of pulling a scooter out. Before the afternoon is out I will be en route to the aforementioned Flying-J, with a possible stop at the commercial tire place I spotted on the way here, to see if they can remount and balance our steer tires.

We had an uneventful stay at the Blue lot at Orlando International (map) on Sunday night. We arrived at the lot around 3ish and I rode the shuttle over to the terminal to check out the dining options, browse the mall, and take advantage of the free WiFi to download several software updates without eating up our satellite allocation. I was disappointed to learn that the award-winning Hemisphere steak and seafood restaurant atop the in-terminal Hyatt, with sweeping views out over the runways, was closed for the weekend. Louise joined me when Steph arrived, and we settled for having a glass of wine at the lobby bar overlooking the terminal atrium, then marched down to Romano's at the other end of the terminal for a nice Italian dinner.

At some point during the evening the heavens opened and we got a good drenching overnight. Then in the morning the real trouble started, with an enormous storm system moving through the region. As it happened, our route out of the airport and over to Fort Pierce meant that after the storm had mostly passed us in Orlando, we drove right through it again on our way to Holopaw, where we stopped for lunch before turning south on 441. While we were at lunch the storm passed us again, then we again drove through it on our way south. We got drenched by the same storm cell four times; in hindsight, we should have stayed at the airport until after lunch. Oh well.

Now that Sandy Hook is out of sight I am truly on my own for a couple of days, until Martin arrives Thursday. I have lots of computer work to catch up on and I might even get to some bus projects, although I won't tackle anything major without Louise around as my safety person. After tonight's stay at Flying-J I have my choice of three more truck stops and a Wal-Mart, all just one exit south, so I won't have to go very far before the ladies return. Thursday night we are all scheduled to have dinner aboard the boat, and Friday the four of us will head down to the Miccosukee Resort just west of Miami for a few days, with a possible stop at Nordhavn in Stuart en route.

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