Condo bliss – Squid Lips

My brother Bill came to Florida for a few days to work on his condo in Sebastian which is the next town north of Vero Beach. He had some heavy lifting to do and invited me to visit. We carried a giant tube TV down two flights of stairs and donated it to Goodwill. Goodwill will still take tube TV’s if they have a coaxial plug. On the way back to his condo we had to pass by several tiki bars on the Indian River. This is part of the ICW that I had traveled just a year before on my Looper trip. He suggested we stop at Squid Lips because they have an open microphone night for local musicians. We cocktailed, had dinner and listened to the music. The locals were all professionals that worked gigs on the weekends. The majority of the music was the blues. They were spectacular. It was a great evening. The biggest challenge was to keep our beer from blowing off the table with the strong breeze.

Brother Bill, a beer and a half eaten Jell-O shot

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The open mic night band was spectacular.

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Foredeck Dan and I had the pleasure of taking Iris’s cousin John Talaber on his first sailboat ride. John is 36 years old and has worked as a guide for Outward Bound and has taught English in Cambodia and Vietnam. It was a very breezy day to take someone out for their first sail. The Sailing Center staff (Charlie) warned us that he was putting up the red flag over black. That meant if we damage the boat we have to pay to repair it and if we capsize he is not coming our in the inflatable to rescue us. No worries, off we go for a sprinted ride across the Indian River and back. Foredeck Dan once again did a yeoman’s job of keeping me dry. We were on a screaming reach as we crossed back and forth across the river. The Flying Scot has a planing hull. The breeze continued to build. We were under control but there are lots of shallow spots and today would not be a good day to get hung up. We returned to the dock having baptized John with his first sailboat ride. It was still early in the afternoon so we went to Mulligan’s in Jensen Beach for a beer and to regale in our exploits. For the second time this month we have been out in a big blow in a small boat and returned safely.

CFJ and John Talaber safely back at the dock.

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We are exceeding our goal of visiting one new restaurant each week. Iris’s cousin asked us to check out an Italian restaurant called Eighteen. It is near downtown Stuart behind the Hotel Colorado. It is a converted house with nice seating on the patio and indoors. We chose to sit indoors because it was a hot and steamy evening. The service was fine and the meals were fine. After dinner they served complimentary homemade limoncello. We would go there again. The Hotel Colorado is buying all the houses on the street and turning them into guest cottages. You can stay in the hotel or rent an entire house.

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On Thursday night the Lantern South contingent went to the restaurant Fresh Catch. It is inland with no view of the water. Thursday night is a sacred event that Beachcomber Dan and Captain Father John gather at a Stuart watering hole and carry on the 35 plus year tradition of the crew of Sleeping Bear that meets at the Lantern restaurant in Lake Forest, Illinois. The service was eh. The food was eh. No return plans for the Fresh Catch.

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We were visited by Dick and Candy Smith from Mount Dora, Florida which is north of Orlando.   Candy recently had knee replacement surgery. This was her first trip since the surgery in January. She is in good company while visiting Stuart because both Pricilla and Iris have had double knee replacement surgery.  Candy will catch up on May 9 when she will have her second knee replacement surgery.

Dick and Candy Smith at Bathtub Reef Beach

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Dick owns and races a Flying Scot sailboat that he keeps in Mount Dora.  He enjoyed a day on sailing on a Flying Scot with Foredeck Dan and CFJ.

CFJ and Dick at the US Sailing Center at Jensen Beach.

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Priscilla and Candy transformed a brown cabinet to a work of art that will be our TV stand.

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No Thursday is complete without a beer to toast the lads at the Lantern north from the lads at the Lantern south. Thursday’s event with Beachcomber Dan, Dick and CFJ was at Conkey Joe’s.

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Jeff Hess is a former Rust-Oleum salesman from South Florida. He is struggling with cancer and has lost signicant weight.  He has always wanted to go sailing but never had the opportunity.  Foredeck Dan I took Jeff and his wife Isabel out on the Indian River for their first sailboat ride. We will take them out for another sail when we return next year.

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We continue to make improvements to our condo and are rehabing our guest bathroom.  The pedestal sink provides more open space in our guest bathroom.  We are still awaiting the arrival of mystery man Steve from Glass Plus to install the glass door on the shower and remove several plate glass mirrors.  I dropped a condo key off at his office.  Now he has until October to start and complete the remodel.

Brother Bill and his wife Joanne spent the night with us on their way from the West Palm Beach airport to their condo in Sebastian.

Bill and Joanne Fishing on the Pierpoint dock.

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Fort Pierce is halfway between Stuart and Sebastian.  Priscilla and I met Bill and Joanne for dinner at the Original Tiki.

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After a delightful four months of condo bliss it is time to close up the condo and head north.  The view from our lanai.

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Our tenant has moved out of our house in Lake Bluff and we arranged to have the floors refinished.  It was good timing because there is no furniture in the house and we are not there to deal with the dust and solvent odor.

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On our drive from Florida to Illinois we stopped in Gainsville and had lunch with Bill and Nancy Robinson at their house.  We continued on and spent the night in Chatanooga, TN.  On Monday we drove to Louisville to visit Tony and Susan Forns.  They invited us to join them for Dawn at the Downs at Churchill Downs.

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Dawn at the Downs is a popular tradition for both Louisvillians and visitors, giving Kentucky Derby fans the opportunity to see the contenders train for the big race, while listening to expert commentary. Narrated by resident expert handicapper, Joe Kristufek. Listen as Kristufek announces the horses on the track, evaluates their workouts, discusses their past performances, and provides insight to the Kentucky Derby & Oaks races.

Friends Pam and Ellen Sholtes joined us in our box seats to enjoy betting on the ponies in the afternoon. It’s all about the horses and the hats.

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Churchill Downs famous twin spires.  Our Kentucky Derby pick is #5 Always Dreaming.

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It will be a while until we see this Florida temperature in the Midwest.

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We arrived in Lake Bluff at 3:30 pm on May 3.  We were back in our home for the first time in 19 months. The refinished floors look terrific.  Thursday will be a busy day with the movers coming to move our furniture from the attic and basement back into our rooms.  AT&T   And DirectTV will also come on Thursday to set up the Internet and satellite TV.  The only thing missing is a bed so we will stay with JP, Rachel and Eleanor for a few days.

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So ends the condo bliss until next year.

Condo bliss – The weather is here

It is so gawd awful hot in Stuart today. It is 83°f and the forecast is for temperatures to reach 86°f later this week. I really miss that cold, damp weather in the mid-west. APRIL FOOLS! If it gets hot, we just jump in the pool.

After returning to Stuart from our three week sailing adventure to Cuba and Jamaica we settled back into condo living. Dan and Iris helped get us back into the swing of things by making a dinner reservation at Sauder’s Landing.  This restaurant is located in a gated community of several thousand motor homes. They are packed into a one square mile island like stacked cord wood. The restaurant is in a marina with a nice water view.

On Nettles Island you can buy a 2,300 square foot lot for your motor home for $250,000.

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Condo living consists of sleeping until 7:00 or 8:00 am and then going for an hour walk over the bridge and back. Next is breakfast on the lanai with the sliding doors wide open to get sound of the waves lapping the shore. There are always boats passing by. From time to time there is a young fellow fishing from the shore in waders. He walks out into the river and casts under the pier. We watched him catch 3 snook one morning. Occassionally we see dolphins swimming just a few hundred feet offshore.

Afternoons are reserved for shopping and other activities. We went to see the NY Mets play the Washington Nationals at First Data Field in Port St Lucie. It is about a 30 minute drive. We arrived at the spring training game at 1:10 pm and bought front row seats behind home plate. A highlight was watching the former football quarterback Tim Tebow play for the Mets. He needs to learn patience and wait for the right pitch. In fact, Tebow only saw 10 pitches through four at-bats and nine innings, going 0-for-4 with three swinging strikeouts, each on three pitches. The 29-year-old’s other out was a first-pitch groundout against Nats reliever Enny Romero. The Nationals won 6-0. None of the Mets were having a good outing that day.

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We also try to visit a new restaurant each week. There are so many restaurants around the Stuart area that it will take years to make a dent. This week’s new restaurant was the Blue Door. It is more of a coffee shop than a restaurant but has a few entree items on an eclectic menu. We arrived around 5:30 pm and sat on their patio. All service is at the counter so I placed my order and carried the drinks out. While standing at the counter, a young man was lamenting that he did not know what would be the best approach to gain the attention of his love interest. I later saw him sitting alone in an alcove in the restaurant. I commented that he had a nice spot to hang out. He replied “a wolf needs a lair. Can you see my yellow eyes.” At that moment I started to regret making contact. Stephan ( he introduced himself ) was soon standing at out table in an over served condition talking about his friends restaurant that we must try. I couldn’t follow most of his blather and eventually he walked up to the counter and then departed. When I went to the counter the server said Stephan had paid our beverage tab. A random act of kindness. For dinner we started with a lovely baked brie and had a nice chutney chicken salad followed by key lime pie. We will go there again.

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Another activity that I thought we might do more often is sailing at the US Sailing Center in Jensen Beach. The sailing center is only a 10 minute drive. I have gone sailing four times so far. It is open five days a week, Wednesday thru Sunday, from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Just show up and take out the boat of your choice. Since I go with a crew the boat of choice is the 19′ Flying Scot. Foredeck Dan (aka Beachcomber Dan) and I went sailing on March 30. The winds were light in the morning but forecast to build in the afternoon. When we arrived at the sailing center we were told that given the forecast we would have to talk to Charlie. Charlie was in charge that day and told us we had to reef the mainsail. We agreed and had a lovely afternoon sailing on the Indian River. The waves where just the right height to splash Danny every few seconds. He did a yeoman’s job of keeping me dry at the helm. We finally worked our way to windward enough to crack off the mainsheet and reach back and forth across the river. That put an end to the splashing. When we returned to the dock Charlie was waiting to take our bow line (aka painter). It was a picture perfect landing under sail in a stiff breeze. Charlie gave a nod of approval and wandered off.

Foredeck Dan getting our pink boat ready to sail.

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I only have to walk a few feet to go fishing. In fact, I could cast my line from my lawn and sit in my lanai with the fishing pole. I went fishing on March 31 and I think I caught the same horn belly snapper my son-in-law Oscar caught when he was visiting in January. I caught it on the left side of the pier about 1/3 of the way out. My line was hit only a few feet from the dock. After I landed it, the fish was kind enough to spit the hook out itself. I should have pushed it back into the water with my foot but I reached down to toss it back in. That is when I was rudely reminded it was the horn belly.

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The fishing rod and reel I have, thanks to Jeff and Stacy (they gave me the spinning reel (2 of them) and helped me choose the Ugly Stick rod and surf casting rod) I can cast a half mile. I will know I am really “hooked” on fishing locally when I buy waders so I can cast under the pier.

The maintenance projects keep getting done.  We painted the guest bedroom this past week.

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That only leaves the kitchen and living room to be painted.  We are having a 6′ X 8′ mirror removed from the living room wall. Once the mirror is removed and I repair the wall, the painting can begin.  Up until now we have had great success working with contractors  Steve from Glass Plus is proving to be a bit of a challenge.  Although he did arrive about the time he said he would to look at the job so he could give us a quote, we still do not have a quote after several days.  We did ask him to install a glass wall door in the shower.  We will chase him until it is easier to give us an answer than it is to avoid us.  Perhaps that is his business model.

We are starting to count down the last few weeks of our time in Stuart.  We have been here for over three months.  We will probably start driving north around April 25 and visit a few friends along the way.  We are not in a hurry.  We will still have some more visitors before we depart.  My brother and his wife Joanne will be at their condo in Sebastian and we will get together.  Bill will be at his condo this weekend and asked if I am available for some heavy lifting (furniture) and pickle ball.  Dick and Candy Smith will visit the week of April 10.  Candy recently had knee replacement surgery. This will be her first outing.  Perhaps some of our Looper freinds will be cruising past Stuart and give us a shout.

Bonus photo – Erwin Brouwer (aka Bloke) caught a nice fish in Sydney Harbor (Australia) on a popper. It is a yellowtail kingfish.  I had the pleasure of fishing with Erwin several times in Sydney. His daughter Annalise would bake us banana bread.

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Condo Bliss – Sunset Celebration

On Sunday, after brunch at Pietro’s on the ocean, Beachcomber Dan and Iris’s daughter Krista arrived from Minneapolis to spend the week in Stuart. Dan rented her a bicycle for the week. Only $60. That is a good deal. Krista grew up visiting Stuart so she has many of her own favorite places such as Bathtub Reef Beach.

CFJ, Krista and Beachcomber Dan carrying on the Lantern tradition at Gettin’ Crabby.  The best crab bisque on the planet.

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That is not Bud Light in my Bud light glass.

Sunday night was the last hurrah for Jeff and Stacy before they departed paradise to fly back to the mid-west. Fritz and Holly joined us for a farewell dinner of stone crab claws and Mahi tacos. Fritz and Holly had been racing sunfish sailboats all day. There were seven races. I asked Fritz if he won all seven. He said he only won six races. He sat one out.

Sunrise photo by Stacy from our dock.  I have never seen the sunrise before.

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Jeff and Stacy departed on Monday morning and within in few hours Jim from Panorama Windows came to install the new hurricane proof window in our master bedroom. The former owners had installed hurricane shutters that prevented the existing louvered window from opening outward more than an inch or so. The new window is a slider and we no longer need the hurricane shutters. Bob from Shutters Plus came later in the week to install the plantation shutters. The work is all completed and we have a panoramic view of the wide water.

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On Tuesday, Mary hosted a condo warming dinner party at her newly renovated condo. Her lanai furniture arrived that day. We picked up the furniture at the store so she would have enough chairs for everyone. It was a fun evening. The highlight of the appetizer assortment was “gludge”, a dip made from an old family recipe.

Mary at the Twisted Tuna

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Each morning I get a little exercise with 3.4 mile walk over the bridge at Sewall’s point.  Today even a big boat needed a tow.

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On Friday evening a friend from college days Bill Robinson and his wife Nancy stopped by our condo for a visit and dinner at the Pelican Cafe. Bill and I were on the sailing team at Northeastern University. He moved to Gainesville, Florida and also has a condo on the beach in St Augustine. His son will have a destination wedding in Jamaica. He will arrive in Jamaica a week after Priscilla and I depart from Jamaica after our Cuba cruise.  Small world.

CFJ, Bill, Priscilla and Nancy at the Pelican Cafe.

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On Sunday Priscilla and I drove 4.5 hours to Marathon, Florida in the Florida Keys.  Our Looper pals George and Pat Hospodar hosted an event and all AGLCA members were invited to attend the 8th Annual “Sunset Celebration”  on Sunday, February 26, at Banana Bay Resort and Marina. The event was attended by 144 current (in progress) and gold/platinum loopers (completed the loop 1 or more times).

The weather for the Looper Sunset Celebration was perfect and the sunset was beautiful.

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To our delight the Looper class of 2016 was well represented. Almost all of our close looper friends were in attendance. Their boats were either in Marathon or Key West. Robert and Brenda on Over Ice, Laura and Artie on Leap of Faith, Kevin and Steve on Lone Star, Larry and Ingrid on Bucket List and of course our hosts George and Pat Hospodar on Reflections. We had a great time catching up on their recent adventures and future cruise plans.  Since it was a long drive we spent the night at Banana Bay.

Steve, Kevin, Robert, Brenda, Laura, Priscilla, CFJ – we could not round up all the spouses.

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We had a wonderful lunch with George and Pat at Burdine’s in Marathon.

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On our drive back to Stuart on Monday we stopped in Miami to visit my good friend the party animal ” fiestero juerguista ” Oscar Rubio and his wife Sylvia.  Oscar and I worked together at Rust-Oleum for many, many years.  We traveled to almost every South American country plus Russia.  That is a story for another day.  Oscar and Sylvia have a two bedroom condo in Miami.  He converted his second bedroom into a world class bar with dark wood paneling, lots of glass and mirrors and plush seating. We enjoyed a glass of Blue Label before heading out to dinner at a fine dining Peruvian restaurant.

At CEV.CHI 105 in Miami.  CFJ, Priscilla, Sylvia, Oscar

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On Tuesday my bother Bill and his wife Joanne stopped by to visit.  They had spent four days in Key West and were on there way to their condo in Sebastian.

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Bonus photo – Coddiwomple:

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The next adventure will be the cruise to Cuba.  The weather is not cooperating for a weekend passage.  The next weather window in next Wednesday.  The boat we will be on will not return to the US until the owner Gabe and first mate Angela sail around the world.  Needless to say there are many preparations to compete.