Jan 1

Happy New Year! Got an early start and jumped down to Ft Myers this morning. Ft Myers is the last of the ICW (Intra Coastal Waterway) on the west coast of Florida. Our choice here is to cut through Fla on Lake Okeechobee Waterway and continue on the ICW to the east coast or go into the Gulf from here down to Marathon Key by coastal cruising & cruising Florida Bay. We choose the latter, by way of Naples, Marco Island, Everglade City and Shark River. But for today, the dolphins put on a New Year’s Show for free!!!(See pictures) It is always such a thrill. Susan Luth picked us up at the marina & took us on a tour of Ft Myers Beach, Sanibel Island and we had a beach picnic with champagne on Captiva. What a great beginning to 2009! She and Ron are also going to drive down and meet us in Naples on Saturday where we will go to their favorite Italian restaurant.

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Jan 2

Ft Myers Beach reminds us much of Panama City, 20 years ago. The traffic crawls along the beach road, but no one seems to care that much. There is no big city on the beach (and we didn’t bother going into the city) and there are no high rise condos. It’s nostalgic and fun, a family place and lots of youngsters.(Also oldsters, we felt right at home!) A fun day. Outside (in the Gulf tomorrow unless weather is prohibitive) and Naples by noon!

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Jan 3

Oh, the sweet smell of diesel fumes in the morning—early departure. The Gulf was friendly today with 1-2 ft swells, just enough to make you remember the rule: “Always leave one hand free for the boat.” Baked biscuits for breakfast on the way down and sneaked in at Gordon Pass to arrive Naples Yacht Club before lunch. Lovely facility and a very “upscale” community. We heard Olivia Newton John is here at the Yacht Club but we have not had a “Let’s Get Physical” Girl sighting yet! There are some really nice boats here. Naples is one of the top 5 richest communities in the country although it’s population is highly seasonal. The shopping area looks like Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. We explored it with Ron & Susan Luth and had dinner at a wonderful Italian Restaurant.

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Jan 4

I would once again like to issue my open invitation for Dr Estes, my chiropractor, to enjoy the amenities of our mid cabin for the duration of our trip. I missed a step going down to the aft-cabin and pulled a muscle this morning. Not serious, but I sure do miss Dr E!! Regardless, a lovely ride to the City Dock in Naples Bay, the Naples Pier on the Gulf side, downtown for a little shopping and a sidewalk lunch of Tuna Nicoise, and then a Big Band concert in the park. If it hadn’t been for my back, we would have been one of the couples doing the jitterbug on the sidewalk. We grilled out on the bow for dinner. Today Olivia Newton John was as elusive as the manatee.

 

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Jan 5 & 6

Left Naples around 9:30 AM. No rush, Marco Island was just 16 miles away. Pulled into the Marco Island Yacht Club and spent some time doing boat chores, etc before starting our island tour. Marco Island is 6 miles long and 4 miles wide. We saw much of it on Monday and the rest on Tuesday.  There is a lot of residential and it seems like every house backs up to a canal. Many exclusive resorts also. We ate at the famous Snook Inn and enjoyed meeting the folks around the Yacht Club & Marina. My broadband would not work for some reason, so I will be posting this when I get service. Tomorrow (Wed) we will leave around 9:30-10:00AM to take advantage of the high tide to move on through the Marco River channel and out by Coon Key. We consulted with the Dockmaster, a local boat owner, and TowBoats U S about the route we need to take to Everglade City and on to the Keys. That’s because we no longer have the advantage of the well traveled and reported on Intra Coastal Waterway.  We are also watching the weather rather closely at this point because we will be “out of area” for cell phone and broadband if we spend the night Friday in Shark River.  That’s the last “jumping off” point before a 40mile crossing to Marathon Key. 

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Jan 7

Traveled out Marco River by way of Coon Key and through “Ten Thousand Islands” (figuratively and literally). When we turned into the channel for the Barron River , we had to travel 7 miles through tiny uninhabited islands. We are in the Everglades now. Everglade City is famous for BIG Mosquitoes (they can’t spray in the Everglades National Park, it would not be eco-friendly), BIG Stone Crabs (can’t wait till dinner), and The Gun& Rod Club where we are staying. Built in the 1860’s it is a step back in time. Cypress floors & walls, mounted trophy animals & fish, five presidents have stayed here (many celebrities from Bob Hope to Kate Moss). We bicycled up the river and bought Stone Crabs for $5 lb and smoked mullet and conch fritters. We will eat in tonight!

Booked an airboat tour for tomorrow! Goin’ Gator huntin’!

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