and Cathy McArthur on
the Road 2007: 6
On Tuesday afternoon, February 6, we arrived to a sunny, warm Belleair, Florida. We parked the RV at Bob and Marianne's house and walked in the warmth to Albertsons to get Bill a cappuccino and to do some shopping. It was great to feel warm. By the time that we returned, Marianne was back home, so we enjoyed a small family reunion as the sun shone on the water. Did we say that it was warm? Bob came home in time for us all to enjoy a grilled salmon dinner. It was good to take a shower in a real bathroom and sleep on a real bed for the first time in over a month. On Wednesday morning, we were greeted with the sun in a clear sky. Bill called our RV insurance company for the second time to report a windshield problem caused by a stone hitting us on Monday. We were not getting much help from our insurance company. Marianne, Cathy, and Bill rode bicycles on the Pinellas Trail, a linear park for bike riding, walking, and jogging that runs for 40 miles in the county. We rode to Dunedin and ate a nice lunch at Kelleys Chicaboom Room. We explored some of the very interesting shops before riding back for a round trip of around 20 miles. The sun felt great! Cathy and Bill walked to Albertsons to get a couple of items. Marianne made "Sweet Orange Shrimp" for dinner - excellent. On Thursday morning, after we completed the crossword puzzle, Bill spent a couple of hours talking to insurance company representatives in order to figure out what to do with our windshield. It turned out the the replacement windshield cost $463 and that we have $500 deductible, so we arranged with a local company to come out on Friday and do the job. Marianne, Cathy, and Bill drove to the nearby boat ramp and walked to the foot of the Sand Key Bridge. We ate a very nice lunch at Columbia's, sitting at an almost too hot table in the sun. These are the kinds of problems that we've been looking for. After a long lunch with a great water view, we walked back to the car. The round trip was about 7 miles. Bill washed the filthy RV after our walk. The three went out for a sushi dinner at a Japanese Restaurant in Clearwater Beach. Bob had a dinner meeting and couldn't join us. We three went to TCBY for frozen yogurt afterward. On Friday morning, Bill had to wait for the Glass Doctor to arrive, so he fished with live shrimp for a couple of hours off of the Bialas' dock. Bill caught 12 fish from a variety of species with sizes going from small to tiny. There were a multitude of small Pinfish that were trying to steal the bait, so Bill felt good about catching 12 fish with 24 shrimp. The Glass Doctor successfully installed a new windshield, and noticed that he had to transfer our inspection sticker to it. Bill spent a good part of the afternoon talking to the insurance company to try to lower our deductible (locking the barn door after the horse got away), but didn't get it done. The parents and paternal grandparents of Matt Lesesky, Erin Bialas' husband, came over for dinner. We enjoyed good food and lively conversation for several hours. On Saturday, after breakfast, Bob and Marianne and Cathy and Bill rode our bikes south on the Pinellas Trail. We had lunch in a Greek Restaurant near the Seminole Mall. When we returned, we all worked on the dreaded Saturday Times crossword puzzle and finished it. We went out to dinner at the Island Way Grill, where we enjoyed great meals and watched a large party of men get drunker and louder as the evening wore on. We played patsies for the Bialases in a game of Scrabble, where the home court advantage was insurmountable. On Sunday morning, Bill took a 3 mile run and 2 mile walk while the others went to church. We all enjoyed homemade brunch afterward. During the afternoon, Bob and Marianne played golf while Cathy and Bill did some work readying the RV for Monday's departure. Then, Cathy and Bill took a 3 mile walk around the local waterfront roads. After a mighty unfinished struggle with the Sunday puzzle, we all went for another great dinner at the Bonefish Grill. We put together a kind of tapas meal with several appetizers and two desserts. Aftger breakfast on Monday morning, February 12, we reluctantly ended our stay with Marianne and Bob. We drove to Albertsons to load up on supplies for the RV and then headed south. We ate at a Subway in North Point. We arrived at the Rock Creek RV Resort in Naples at around 2:00 PM. As soon as we had settled in, we walked to a nearby Enterprise Rental agency and rented a Ford Focus for the week. We drove around Naples and found a barrier island covered with mansions and upscale condos. The neighborhoods within a mile of the Gulf were very clean, immaculately manicured, and included walking and biking paths on the roads. We stopped at the town dock and walked around a bit. We also took a look at the white sanded beach. We returned to the RV for a pasta dinner and 2 hours of "24" on TV. We slept without heater or furnace for the first time in this trip. On Tuesday morning, after breakfast, we lifted weights in the RV and then took a 6 mile walk on the paths on 3.5 sides of the airport across the road from the campground. The temperature was near 80; it felt great to sweat again. We ate dinner at the Pier 41 in Tintown; very touristy, overpriced with so-so food. Definitely a non-returner. On Wednesday, we did a walk/run, covering 4 miles, of which Bill ran 2. We continued to get a feel for Naples by driving around and tasting the coffee. We ate dinner in the RV. It started to rain on Wednesday night and continued off and on all day on Thursday. We drove to Coastland Mall and walked indoors for an hour. Then we drove to the 5th Avenue shopping district and walked around there for a while. We ate lunch in the Mangrove Cafe on 5th Avenue. The food was very good and the price reasonable. This is a very popular lunch spot and definitely is worth return trips. We drove to the Barnes and Noble bookstore to buy a couple of books. Then we walked around the upscale Waterside Shops, which is a good place to visit and window shop. We found a Blockbuster and rented a couple of DVDs. We ate in the RV again while we watched "Little Miss Sunshine", which we both liked. It was cold enough overnight to run the electric heater. After breakfast on Friday morning, Cathy called around campgrounds in the Keys and landed a two-week reservation in the Key RV Resort in Marathon. Also, we extended our stay in Naples and our rental car for an additional week. We took a 3 mile walk with hats and gloves on. After lunch, we drove to the Corkscrew Wildlife Refuge, about 17 miles from our campground, to walk the 2.25 miles of boardwalks over the swamp. Most of the animals were hiding from the cold (it was about 54 degrees), but we managed to see a baby Water Moccasin, several species of Heron, an Alligator pretending to be a log, and we heard a Barred Owl. It was a very interesting area. During and after dinner we viewed "Flags of Our Fathers" which we both found informative and interesting. The temperature plummeted overnight, so both the electric heater and furnace worked most of the night. On Saturday morning, after breakfast, we drove to Jensen Beach, with a lunch stop in Stuart, to see Carol and Jim Matthews at their second home. We liked their little house, especially the lanai and pool in the back. They have done a beautiful job redecorating it to their taste. We met Dick and Sandy Mallot who were also freeloading off of the Matthews. Cathy sunned herself in the back with Carol while Bill took a 7 mile walk over the causeway bridge. We all cavorted in the heated swimming pool for a couple of hours during the late afternoon. We all went to the Prawnbroker Restaurant for an excellent dinner. Bill asked for a list of the non-alcoholic whiskeys from a confused waitress. We had a late night of conversation before heading to bed. On Sunday morning, February 18, Dick and Sandy got ready to leave. The other 4 of us went to Jan's in Jensen Beach for a wonderful breakfast with Cathy and Bill treating as a thank you to Carol and Jim. We left after breakfast and went to the beach for a minute to take a look at the brown sand of the Atlantic-side beaches. Then we drove toward Lake Okechobee to see a new area of Florida. We saw field of sugar cane and sugar refineries belching smoke. We worked our way southwest back to Naples. We stopped to rent a few DVDs and to do some shopping. It was a sunny and beautiful day, but very windy and a bit cool; we're not complaining! We viewed "Lady in the Water" and sort of liked it. It was cold overnight, so we ran the furnace and heater. Monday morning started out with ice on our windshield! That was completely unexpected. We waited long enough before going outside so that it wasn't too cold for a walk/run. We drove to Old Naples and walked around among the Presidents Day crowd. We also walked out on the Naples Fishing Pier and briefly on the beach. We viewed the bad-enough-to-be-funny "Snakes on a Plane" during and after dinner. On Mardi Gras, February 20, after breakfast, we took a 2 hour walk on the beach from Gordon's Pass to the Fishing Pier. We parked at 32nd Avenue. We returned to the RV for lunch and then drove to the Rookery Bay Estuarine Research Center in South Naples for a tour of their extensive facility. Then, we drove to the Nature Conservancy building on Shell Island Road just south of Rookery Bay, where we walked the boardwalk. On the way back we ate a wonderful dinner at Carabas, which featured a 55 minute wait. We read the NY Times in the car while we waited. On Wednesday, we lifted weights after breakfast and then drove to Chokoloskie in the Everglades. This little fishing town is right in the 10,000 Islands area. We toured the historic Smallwood Store and Bill enjoyed a cappuccino at a cute little coffee shop. We stopped at the Everglades National Park center in Everglades City and enjoyed an outdoor lunch at the Depot Restaurant. Next, we walked the boardwalk at the Fakahatchee Preserve on Route 41. We took a 3 hour boat ride among the 10,000 Islands which was less interesting than it could have been, but it's always good to be on the water. We stopped at a Publix on the way back to the RV. We viewed "The Illusionist" and found it to be a very good film. We topped off the day with "Lost". Thursday was laundry day. After breakfast and after laundry and after lunch, we drove to the Clam Pass Park which has a long boardwalk to the beach. We walked the 0.75 mile boardwalk while being passed with oversized golf cart shuttles running most of the other people to the beach. We walked south down the beach until we had to walk into an upscale neighborhood and use a Banyon tree as a toilet. When we returned to the park buildings on the beach, Bill continued north on the beach to Clam Pass and took a panorama, making twins out of a young girl. After we returned to the car, we drove north up Route 41 to see what the northern end of Collier County looked like. We both felt too grubby to go out to dinner, so we returned to the RV. We viewed "Cars" and one of us liked it. The weather continued to be beautiful on Friday, February 23. We did a run/walk after breakfast. After lunch, we drove to Tintown and took a boat tour on the "Double Sunshine". We sailed down the Gordon River and Naples Bay passed some amazing waterfront mansions. Toward the Gulf, we turned into a large canal in the Port Royal section and looked at more mansions and yachts. Finally, we exited Gordon Pass into the Gulf. It was over 80 degrees and a great day to be on the water. When we returned to the dock, we walked to Starbucks and drank Frappucinnos while we read the NY Times. To top off the day, we went to the Dock Restaurant for a good seafood dinner on the water. When we got back to the RV, we viewed "Babel", which we thought was artificially confusing and not a high quality film. On Saturday morning, we did some shopping after breakfast. Then we walked less than 2 miles into downtown Naples to the art show. We were impressed with the quality and quantity of the exhibits in the park. We ate lunch at Bice Restaurant on 5th Avenue. We walked back to the RV. Cathy claimed to have been walking for 5 hours. While Bill was catching up on the Internet, he accidentally watched the RV park's Mardi Gras Parade, making up a little for missing Carnival in Mazatlan. On Sunday, after breakfast, we drove to Fort Myers to visit Shannon and Charlie. We enjoyed a refreshing lunch of a pasta salad and then attended a two-woman play called "Parallel Lives." Although there was a bit of male bashing, the play was very enjoyable. Afterward, we went to Joe's Crab Shack and had some appetizers. We headed back to the RV and had a burger dinner and watched the first part of the Academy Awards. On Monday, February 26, we broke camp, returned the rental car, and headed toward Marathon. We stopped at a Wal-Mart after a couple of miles for some shopping. We ate lunch at the Fish House in Key Largo, where we enjoyed some Yellow Snapper. We shopped at Publix in Marathon and then took site 106 in the Keys RV Resort at MM50. It was hot an humid, just what we wanted. We set up camp and then ate a pasta dinner. We watched "24" before heading to bed with the windows wide open; Bill didn't use a blanket! On Tuesday, we rode our bikes to the old Seven Mile Bridge and walked to Pidgeon Key. We saw Spotted Eagle Rays, a Manta Ray, a Nurse Shark, an Osprey so close we didn't recognize it, a large Sea Turtle, and several Tarpon. We stopped at a bike shop on the way back to buy a pump and then Bill had the opportunity to pump up the tires for a lady from St. Louis. When we returned for lunch, we put on the air conditioner; how things have changed. Bill spent the remainder of the afternoon at the public library on the Internet.