Bill and Cathy McArthur on the Road 2008: 8  

  Saturday, February 16, was another good day in paradise. Cathy did a load of wash and then we walked for 3.4 miles. Afterward, we loaded our beach stuff into Tom and Jean's rental car and went to Castaways for lunch. After lunch we headed for the beach at Broad Avenue, just north of the fishing pier. Bill walked barefoot on the beach to Doctor's Pass (inlet) and back, a total of about 6 miles. The other three relaxed on the beach. When we got back to the campground, everyone cleaned up and we headed out to dinner at the Riverwalk Restaurant in Tin City. We had great seafood at waterside. After dinner, Bill and Cathy went to Starbucks and Publix for some needed shopping.

  Sunday was a very warm, sunny day. After breakfast, our neighbors Tom and Joy called. They had arrived in Naples on Saturday night for 10 days. We drove to Shannon's home in Fort Myers so Cathy could attend a "sister-in-law's" retreat there with Joann and Joan. Bill hung around for just a few minutes before heading back to Naples. Bill ate a banana and some bread for lunch. After lunch he walked for 10 miles with 6.5 miles of speed-walking. Bill went to Publix to buy a couple of microwavable pizza slices for dinner and went back to the campground and cooked them in the microwave.

  Monday was supposed to be cloudy and rainy, but was sunny, hot, and humid instead. Bill picked up our neighbor Tom after a stop at 7-11 for ice for the cooler. They drove to Tin City and took the back bay party boat for a half day of fishing. There were about 12 people on the boat. Bill and Tom grabbed the stern and stood out there for the 3 different spots that we fished in. Bill only caught two small fish: a Mangrove Snapper and a Ladyfish. Tom caught a few more including a nice sized Pompano. He also hooked something big that he lost in the rocks. We got back around 12:30. Bill dropped Tom off and returned to the campground. He did some chores and then talked with Lanny Boothe, who Bill was to drive to Key Largo on Wednesday. Around 4:00 PM, most of the campground gathered for a wine and cheese party near our rig. It was quite a party. Late at night, there was some rain.

  Tuesday started with rain. Bill worked on the computer while he hoped that the rain would let up so he could do a run. About 9:20 AM, the rain stopped, so Bill got out for a 3.2 mile run. After cleaning up, he left to go to Fort Myers to setup a computer for Shannon, eat lunch, and bring Cathy back to Naples. We had a 4:00 PM appointment for a picture for the park directory. Then we went to Happy Hour and joined Tom and Jean Reilly for a grilled dinner. We supplied fish and a grill. After dinner, we went to Starbucks and Publix for some shopping.

  Wednesday morning, Cathy did a load of laundry while Bill did a speed walk. Bill packed his stuff and picked up Lanny Boothe for the fishing trip. With construction on route 41, the trip took about 3.5 hours. We checked into the Keys Motel in Tavernier and then went out to get Lanny a sandwich for Thursday. Here's Bill's description of the trip from his blog:

I only caught 3 fish in 12 hours of fishing, but it was a fun trip. I always love being on the water, so fishing for me is a secondary part of the experience. Twenty-four of us were on the boat, which seemed older than any of us. It rained occasionally on Wednesday night and Thursday, but I was equipped with a rain jacket, so it wasn't a problem. The temperature was in the high 70s and low 80s with a 15 mph wind. The seas were running 4 to 6 feet as predicted.

I found out that night fishing is like day fishing except that you can't see. I perched in the bow (like in "Titanic"), so I was sitting in compete darkness. We were about 12 miles off shore, outside the reef. The two young mates (helpers) were shanghaied from a local bar, I think. They were glum and taciturn and unhelpful. It was pretty funny watching them try not to do anything. I was able to catch some good looks at the eclipse of the moon through the scattered clouds. I ended up with a very heavy duty tuna pole with a huge reel, cable-like line, and a giant hook. I got a great arm workout working that equipment. I had a hard time feeling any fish action (it's like a mosquito crashing into a tractor), but managed to catch a keeper Yellow-Tail Snapper and a throwback Mutton Snapper. The boat came back at midnight. I got to bed in the motel at 1:30 AM.

For Thursday's fishing, I got up at 5:30 AM and caught a nice pancake breakfast at a typical Keys breakfast room, equipped with the standard tan 40-something blonde with short shorts and a cigarette voice. The coffee felt good going down. We checked out and boarded the boat around 8:30 AM for the day's fishing trip. Once the boat got outside the reef, we were in the dark blue water that I really love. Back home, we have to go out about 40 miles to get into the deep blue, but in the Keys you can be there in under an hour. The boat was doing a bit of rocking and rolling, which doesn't bother me. I spent some time on the "Yellow-Tail assembly line", but ended up on my perch on the bow, loving life. I saw some flying fish, a big sea turtle, and a Magnificent Frigate Bird while we were out. I caught a keeper Mutton Snapper for my day's effort.

The "Yellow-Tail assembly line" was this weird dance of 10 anglers shuffling along the back of the boat and returning to the baiting station after each traversal. At the baiting station, a small piece of bait was put on the hook which was then embedded in a softball sized mass of oatmeal and some fish oils. The mate threw the ball in the water to start the dance. The idea was that Yellow-Tail Snappers would swim into the chum cloud and get on the hook. That didn't happen for me, but a few people did catch fish this way. On one of my repetitions, the guy next to me hurled a chunky stream of vomit into the water. I cheerily remarked that it was nice of him to add some chunks to the chum. I don't know if he liked my comment, but the next time I saw him, he was lying on a bench in the cabin with a few other sufferers of mal de mer.

When I fish, I don't eat, drink, or take breaks. I simply keep baiting and rebaiting and fishing. At the end of the day, when the captain starts the engine for the last time, I'm the guy that thinks that the trip was too short. I love fishing from the shore, in my kayak, on a small boat, on a charter boat, or on a party boat.

The hard part of the trip was driving the 3 hours back to Naples through the Everglades. My wife made me watch the Democratic Debate after dinner and kept nudging me when I dozed off. To her credit, she let me go on the trip and was happy that I enjoyed it.

  Friday started warm and humid. Bill went for a 3.2 mile run. Cathy's hip hurt too much to even walk the route. After lunch we drove to Corkscrew Sanctuary to walk the boardwalk. We saw some interesting birds and a couple of gators, but the drought has made the swamp more of a field. We shopped at Starbucks and Publix on the way back. We enjoyed a fish dinner and viewed "Gone Baby Gone", which we enjoyed. We also watched about half of "Splash" with commentary by producer, director, and writers.

        Bill and Cathy