Far more bittersweet than I imagined. I feel as if I’ve been waiting for the day to pull away from that dock ever since we arrived – December 16. I never would have imaged our departure would bring tears to peoples eyes, let alone my own. There are certainly people who will be missed, and a handful who will forever be in our lives. I can’t describe how quickly 4 months has passed… and I also can’t describe how right it feels to be aboard a boat which travels again, and does not sit at a marina to be a tease.
I smiled for several hours as Fort Myers Beach skyline became smaller and smaller on the horizon. I smiled for the friends made, relationships created, laughs shared, drunk spring breakers who topped off our savings account. I smiled for marina life, and most importantly for the people we impacted. A loooong stop along the way. We worked hard. We played hard. Time to move on.
Since we are great motor boaters and amateur sailors, we went right ahead and motor-boated north towards the Caloosahatchee River. This is an intra-coastal water way that takes you east, directly through the center of Florida with the focal point being Lake Okeechobee. It spits you out on Florida’s East coast near Port St Lucie. Let me share with you some descriptive words thus far…. Heat. Humidity. Stagnant air. Heat. Soggy. Dolphins that later turn into alligators. Heat. Moist. Locks. Bridges. Tropical foliage. Old men working at railroad bridges who just look at you when you call them on the radio and stall on opening the bridge just so they can look longer. Heat. Alligator eyes. Calm. Safe. Comfortable. Wild pigs. Swampy. Black water. Dripping sweat even when you do not move an inch. A kind of beautiful I have yet to experience? Disturbing descriptors, I know.
We bathed with buckets of black river water all day, dried off, drank water, sweat it all out, bathed, repeat. I don’t know how Floridians deal with this “heat” thing. Clearly we are yankees. Gonna have to suck it up I know, but I will tell you one thing; when I choose to settle somewhere…sometime in my life, it will not be anywhere in the South. Dropping the anchor again, we were the only boat in a tucked away anchorage. Pure bliss. Immediately I fell back into my routine with the guitar and a beer while the sun goes to sleep. I fell asleep myself in the cockpit and woke up in the middle of the night to rain on my face. I let it sprinkle on me for a while, but it eventually forced me back inside. No more than 200 miles of this already memorable Okeechobee Waterway. My trip advisor, Katie Smith has prepared us an itinerary designating our nightly stopovers. All of which include our new best friends who fall under the reptile category – alligators.