Wednesday, March 20, 2013


The saying that all good things must end is all too true.

Our flight left late, thanks to mass confusion (and crowding) in the security area.  Only 2 scanners were in operation until some bright light noticed that the crowd was spilling into the airport entrance and opened another scanner.  The delay was further compounded by no less than 22 wheelchair folks  needing pre-boarding.  I'll swear I saw some of these folks sprinting down to the gate just before plopping themselves into their wheelchairs.  Believe me when I say it took about 20 minutes to get these folks on board.  We were lined up in the jetway like cattle.

The flight was full, so more delays as the rest of us boarded and stowed our overflowing belongings.  When we finally left the gate, I emphatically told the captain there would be no more early afternoon flights home.  We would leave on the early evening flight and that was how it would be.  Smart man made no comment.

Thanks to tailwinds (opposite of the headwinds that tried to hold us up on the way down), we arrived just a few minutes late.  The great thing about MacArthur Airport is that within 10 minutes of deplaning, we were throwing our bags into the back of the Explorer and heading home.

After a dinner of pizza and wine, it was back to the grind.  Work tomorrow.........

Post Script:  for those of you who actually enjoy reading this blog, you know that not much gets posted between trips.  This time, I promise you some surprises, so stay tuned.  If you are dying to know what's coming, well, you'll just have to wait.  LOL

The Ride is Over for Now

Yesterday was no less hectic than the others before it.

While the captain sat out the dance, I traipsed off to the Krogen Tuesday breakfast at Key West Diner, and was the first to arrive at 8:20.  Soon after, the others trailed in until there were about 20 of us.  Attendance was a far cry from the breakfast we attended in January when 39 Krogenites gathered.  These hardy and lucky people are on their way to places we read about in guidebooks: the Keys, Bahamas, Exumas, Turks and Caicos, Cheaspeake, Maine, etc.  The migration north begins about now and reverses itself in late October - early November.

After breakfast, the captain and I took a drive, then headed back to Serenity where Debbie awaited me. We were heading to lunch with Laura, and shopping afterward.  I barely had time to change my clothes before Debbie was texting me that she was waiting at the top of the dock for me.  Off we sped to meet Laura for a fun BBQ lunch.  Yes I know, BBQ is not even on my radar, let alone lunch plate.  However, when in Stuart............

Lunch was followed by some errands not unique to Stuart: Pet Smart, Ulta, Starbucks.  After completing our errands, the sun was getting hotter, so we decided to head back to Serenity for an afternoon "refreshment".  Laura and Gary were joining us for cocktails aboard, then dinner, so we had to move quickly to get our initial cocktail hour in.  We managed to sit still for about 90 minutes (which was a record for this week).  Never mind that while we were sitting "still", I completed 4 loads of laundry that had been started in the late morning that day.

Laura and Gary arrived at 6:30 and the fun began.   We took in another glorious sunset (I won't bore you with anymore sunsets) with the girls really getting into the view on the flybridge.  Deb and Laura getting into the moment...

Laura and I getting into the moment.  Notice the summer clothes and the sunshine, even close to 7 pm!

Soon afterwards, we headed up the dock to the restaurant that has become either our "first or last day on the boat" stop, Sailors Return.  So convenient, especially when the cupboards are bare (not really, but who wants to root through cabinets at these times)?  I'm sure many of you recognized the place.  Nevertheless, it always looks magical to those of us from less warm climates.  Something about palm trees uplit with soft lighting and boats resting on water as still as glass while the sun meets the horizon.  I don't think I'll ever tire of that view.

It was back to the boat for dessert, then we called it a night.  We have an early day tomorrow with much to accomplish before our flight heads back to MacArthur Airport.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Marvelous Monday!

Though we were awakened by a huge clap of thunder and pouring rain around 7 am, the sun was shining by 8.  What are the plans for today? my active mind immediately thought.  Debbie and I were meeting to go walking.  We delayed our walk by an hour to let the docks dry.  We began our walk at 9 and ended a couple of hours later.  The walk, ostensibly for Debbie's dog Athena, morphed into coffee and a scone downtown, followed by some quick shopping.

We parted at our respective dock ramps at 11:30 with plans to meet at 1.   Another day of adventure was in the planning and executing stages.  Today's plans were to visit the Florida Oceanographic Society and if time permitted, the House of Refuge.  Well, you don't know how Debbie and I operate.  Once a plan is hatched, it happens!  We were in the car and enroute to our first stop by 1:30.  By this time, we were navigating the traffic circles like pros.   I didn't make one U-turn today!  Score!

First stop was the Florida Oceanographic Society.

We parked and just about jumped into the building!

We were in luck!  The turtle care and feeding presentation was just about to begin.  Our timing was spot on!  The presenter was quite informative and since there weren't too many other people around, we were able to ask all our questions.  The metal turtle casts below represent 3 of the 5 native turtle species found in Florida waters.

The largest turtle on the right is a leatherback.  They are endangered and rarely seen.  The size depicted here is an average size - some leatherbacks are even larger.  The middle turtle is a green turtle and also endangered.  The picture below shows one of the green turtles that the Oceanographic Society rescued. Note the 3 silver rings on the turtles back.  These rings are meant to help keep the turtle's back end submerged.  This turtle was hit by a boat, severing its spinal column.  The accident made it impossible for the turtle to move efficiently due to its back end rising up out of the water.

The smallest turtle on the left is a loggerhead, named for its thick, log-like neck.  This turtle is not yet endangered, but getting close.  Construction, run-off and increased boating activity in its native habitat is bringing the loggerhead close to the endangered list.  The plaque below lists the turtle types and their habitats.  The group we visited today rehabilitates small sea animals - they are maintained in carefully controlled water temperature, fed regularly and given the medication they need to live long, healthy lives.

Our next stop was to watch the lagoon fish feeding.  The water was so clear, we could easily see all the lagoon residents, helped even more by the feeding narrator.  She easily identified over 15 different species of fish.  We were fascinated by the feeding activity of all these fish, including several large nurse sharks who made a very loud sucking sound while feeding.  Over 50 lbs. of fish are fed to the lagoon residents in 2 daily feedings.

Fascinated by all the fish we saw, we took the time to read about them as we made our way to the next activity.

Next stop was to visit (and pet) the sting rays.  The stinger part had been removed from the tails, so they were harmless, lovely creatures.  You many remember this past summer I pushed kids out of the way at the Mystic Aquarium to pet these animals.  Luckily, kids were few and far between this time, so we could pet the rays for as long as we chose!

We stopped along the way to be silly...

Next stop were the sea creatures who lived in shells exhibit.  We saw all sorts of creatures - conch, sea urchins, anemones, hermit crabs, and a beautiful star fish - almost doesn't look real!

Though there were no manatees in this location, we were reminded of the many signs throughout Florida that help preserve the viability of these huge, slow moving sea creatures.

Took a pic of me in case I decide to change professions.   Sort of a drive through...

I had to stop in the gift shop to ransack it for appropriate toys for Tucker.  I left with a bulging shopping bag.   Did you actually think I would have passed the gift shop by????

By this time we were thirsty and decided to take the short drive to the beach for a soda.  We were amazed at close the Atlantic Ocean actually was to our current location.  We congratulated ourselves for making this "interim" stop.   We had no sooner parked the car, than we were treated to the sight of some sand cranes searching for a tasty morsel...

 Lured by sound of crashing waves, we made our way through beach scrub to the ocean and were greeted with a sight I will never tire of...

Since the NY forecast was predicting freezing rain and snow, I just had to bury my feet in the sand!  No one appreciates good weather in March more than us New Yorkers!

My partner and I in crime (now dubbing ourselves Thelma and Louise) realized there was still time to wring out of this precious day, so we decided to head for the House of Refuge.  By now, it was around 3:40, so we hedged our bets that this attraction would still be open.  We screeched to a halt (holding up traffic while we squeezed into a parking space), but got ourselves a spot right in front of a location sign...

We burst through the door of the museum (House of Refuge) just as the docent was reaching up to lock the door.  We talked ourselves into a private tour that turned out to be not only very enjoyable, but fun too (we provided the fun)!

We were told that 10 of these houses of refuge eventually sprouted up on the east coast of Florida to care for survivors of ship wrecks.  Aside from these homes, there was nothing for hundreds of miles to help these survivors.  So though they survived a ship wreck, they succumbed to the wilderness.  The caretakers of these houses of refuges often stayed on to raise their own families, who in turn stayed to raise future generations of house of refuge caretakers.  With today's real estate values, this piece of land straddling the ocean and bay would cost a king's ransom.

As we exited an hour later, I had to take this pic of a screen shot of the day's meterological statistics...

All I cared about is that there is no snow and the air temperature is 77 degrees!

What a fantastic day!  The fun still isn't over.  In an hour, we're meeting friends for a night on the town.  Tomorrow is our last day in Stuart, so you can be sure we will be on the move, starting with the Kadey Krogen Breakfast at Key West DIner at 8:30 am.  From there, it's off to the races!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Wearing o' the Green in Stuart

Though Stuart isn't New York City when it comes to a St. Patrick's Day parade, they didn't do such a shabby job.  This is my first St. Patty's Day outside of NY and it was first class all the way!  The streets were closed off to traffic (a huge pain earlier in the day), bands played everywhere - on the River Walk, in restaurants, on the streets and just about anywhere a power cord could be used.  My favorite was the music playing all day on the River Walk - they could be heard for miles!

People dressed in green, outlandish attire spilled out of restaurants, danced in the streets and were determined to enjoy every minute of this glorious day!

We started the day with a private tour of the newly opened Elliott Museum exclusively for the KKY folks.

 The day began with lunch in the beautiful museum restaurant (of course we had to eat first)!  The tour lasted about an hour and was very enjoyable.  The highlight of the tour was Leonardo DaVinci and his brilliance in crafting mechanical as well as artistic masterpieces.

We saw pulleys, wheels, and all sorts of things we take for granted today.  The flying "machines" were awesome!

There was a demonstration of the stacking technology for cars employed by many NYC parking lots.  There were over 50 cars on display.  By pressing the button for the car one wished to see up close, the car was delivered front and center and rotated so all its parts could be viewed.

We headed back to Stuart afterwards - thanks to the parade, we passed this sign several times.

Those who have driven with me are surprised if a trip doesn't include at least 3 wild U-turns.  This trip was no exception!  Once back in town we headed back to the boat and a relaxing afternoon in the (perpetual) sun.  Someone said it's supposed to be rainy Tuesday, but at a predicted high of 81, I don't care what it does!

Tonight we decided to go casual and headed to restaurant about a mile from the boat called The Deck.

What a great place!  We sat at a picnic table on the grass about 2 feet from the water and enjoyed green beer and Reuben sandwiches.  There was a band playing, people tossing frisbees and kids fishing from the dock.  This town is all about fun.  Some of Florida's best sunsets happen here, so we were primed with cameras for the big event.  We were a bit worried because some clouds had scuttled in while we were eating...

But we needn't have worried, Mother Nature didn't disappoint us!

We even got a grand finale!

I'm not sure if it's the people at this dock, marina, town, but everywhere we go, most people are incredibly friendly.  I can hardly get to where I'm going without stopping to chat with someone, pet a dog, comment on the weather or just say a passing hello.  I have to remember that when I get home, this kind of behavior can get me in big trouble!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Glorious Day in Stuart

Another magnificent day beckoned here in Stuart.  It's been getting warmer each day so that now we're up to shorts and tees with flip flops.  I should say "down" to .  I derived a perverse sense of pleasure when I watched the news tonight and saw that it was actually snowing at home.

Today we participated in the St. Patrick's Day festivities in Stuart.  We walked along the scenic River Walk until we were in the heart of the festival.  $3 and a shamrock hand stamp opened the door to an afternoon of shopping, eating, chatting and just being in the moment.

The Pelican Cafe (the site of our lunch later on) was the first photo op on our way into town.  At this point, we are about 5 minutes from our boat.  The marina is under the bridge to the right of the cafe.

One of our first stops was the Stuart Museum.  This museum is devoted entirely to the history of the town, complete with pictures and other memorabilia.  Everyone is so friendly - we found it difficult to tear ourselves away.

Even the benches have meaning....
The gift shop was so quaint and inspired a lot of chatting with perfect strangers who were very willing to chat with us.

While wandering around the museum, I peeked out the back door and was treated to the most beautiful vistas...

All the shopping and chatting made us hungry, so we stopped at the scenic Pelican Cafe (where our adventure began) for lunch.  I was delighted to discover that the tables overlooking the harbor were actually set in sand.  I had the best time wiggling my toes in the sand while enjoying a lunch of fish tacos (a house specialty) accompanied by a Blue Moon beer complete with orange wedge.  Yummy!

When we finally tore ourselves away from this view, we headed back to the boat to change in preparation for round 2 of fun.

Next stop was a ride to Hutchinson Island via Jensen Beach Blvd.  I needed to retrieve the sunglasses I left behind last night, so that gave us the perfect excuse for our afternoon excursion.  Even the town of Jensen Beach welcomed us as we drove through.

Little did we know that Jensen Beach was hosting its annual St. Patrick's Day parade.  That was soon evident as traffic came to a virtual standstill while police alternately let paraders and cars through.  It was such a beautiful day that we just opened the windows and enjoyed the parade.  Glasses retrieved, we took a last look at the ocean and headed back.  This time the town of Stuart welcomed us back...

It turns out there is a history to these arches.  We were so intrigued that we pulled into a parking lot and got out to explore.  Turns out there were several plaques around explaining the history of the arches.  There was even a plaque welcoming us to the actual neighborhood of Rio in which the arches "resided".

Further exploration revealed several other plaques placed in random locations on the arches...

We got back to the boat just in time to get ready for our cocktail guests arrival.  We have the nicest couple on our starboard side that we wanted to have over during our last visit, but it didn't work out.  This time we got our way!  We enjoyed the late afternoon sun that was surprisingly hot, great company, conversation, wine and snacks.

As if this day were not perfect enough, nature put the finishing touches on with another magnificent sunset enjoyed from Serenity's flybridge.

A minute later, the finale...

This is paradise unequalled!

Fun, Fun, Fun

My eyes popped open and saw a clear blue, sunny sky in the overhead hatches.  Time to play!  The captain was a bit off his game today, so I found a friend to romp with.  There's always a Krogen person looking for fun and adventure.  Debbie's husband was traveling, so we quickly made plans for the day. First I had to meet Athena, her Yorkie Poo.   Needless to say we created a commotion on the dock.  Dogs dragged their owners over to see what the fuss was all about - there we were in the center of the furry fracas, loving every minute of it.  After schmoozing with the marina manager (always a good thing to do), we headed to my rental car (a white Chevy Impala with Tennessee plates).  Those plates gave me every reason to act like a tourist and make wild U-turns when headed in the wrong direction.

We were soon on our way, heading to our lunch destination in Jensen Beach.

 Jensen Beach means ocean and bay front restaurants serving the freshest fish that can be found - and pretty great cocktails too.  I don't know why but a frozen margarita tastes like nectar of the gods when near the water.  We had lunch at one of the bay front restaurants that is favored by the locals, called Conchy Joe's.

Lunch consisted of my beloved Mrs. Peter's smoked fish (the legend of West Palm Beach airport during my last trip in January) and the house's specialty - conch chowder (with a touch of sherry).  Debbie had buffalo shrimp which I never had  wow those shrimp were fantastic!

We ate outside and enjoyed a beautiful view and a great lunch.  After eating without a need to be anywhere immediately, we decided to take a ride to Stuart's most famous fresh produce market.

The parking lot resembles a Long Island suburban parking lot where it's "me first".  The shoppers are so crazed to get their hands on the beautiful produce, that they have no idea where they're walking or parking their cars.  I almost fainted while backing out of my space.  An older woman was right at my right tail light, a minivan was heading for my parking space and the car next to me was backing out in the opposite direction.  Good thing the strawberries I bought looked so luscious and fresh, otherwise, it wouldn't have been worth the scares.

After that adventure, we were off to Stuart's version of Whole Foods, called Fresh Market.  What a place!  I had to get something to take to our friend's house for dinner and found a perfect fresh fruit tray.  After that we decided to head back.  We were anxious to bring the marina manager his treat - 4 huge cupcakes decorated for St. Patrick's Day.  That was a good move - he was absolutely thrilled.

I did manage to spend several quiet hours - texting, reading one of my boating magazines, getting in a few Words with Friends games and sipping a lovely cool drink.

Around 6 pm we headed up the dock for our dinner with friends.  The trip was no more than 20 minutes, the last 5 spent riding on a road that ran parallel to the ocean and bay, lined with palm trees.  Our friends just purchased an oceanfront condo that took our breath away.  They have an end unit with a balcony that wraps around the entire apartment.  Directly below them is the ocean in all its glory.  Another view from their 15th floor unit is over 2 pools, tennis courts and another view is of the bay.  Talking about living in paradise!

These are a couple of views right out of the sliding doors.

more beautiful views - could you just swoon?

As if the above views weren't enough, the late evening scenery was even more beautiful.  The lights in the distance look like a jewel necklace.

Lucky for us, the views were matched by a fabulous dinner of linguini with fresh clam sauce and a heavenly salad.

Like most things in life, you must be in the right place at the right time with the right people in the right frame of mind.   All this came together tonight.

Tomorrow will be another day of adventure as we head for the St. Patrick's Day festivities in downtown Stuart and along the River Walk.

It's a tough life, so I volunteered to live it.