April 30, 2021
- We met our first grandson, Wesley Brooks Nelson Hollenberg, already 14 months now, who charms with a sweet sense of humor and verbal commentary on everything.
- We watched waaaay too much TV—both news and pablum for entertainment during lockdown.
- We gardened with Steve’s father in his weakened condition during treatment for Lymphoma. When he passed in October, our final goodbyes were necessarily strangely distanced; the family gathering, masked and void of hugs and shared meals. We postponed the languorous sharing of memories for a safer time.
- We moved!
- Steve and I both had hips replaced; I had the distinct displeasure of hipx2, requiring revision because of two dislocations.
- Steve’s mom fell and broke her hip the night we left Goshen to return to Red Pearl, and Steve and his sisters continue to partner with her in figuring out how best to meet her physical and social needs, as she navigates this new life without her life’s companion.
But I digress—this blog is about our Loop experience.
Away for over a year, we returned to Red Pearl on April 4, finding her looking fit, thanks to the care of Captain Eric Ravenschlag at Legacy Harbour Marina in Fort Myers. Freshly waxed, and contents thoroughly sorted, cleaned, replaced—and a valiant attempt made at reclaiming her from the spiders—we are cruising again. Cutting through Florida from west to east again on the Caloosahatchee River and Lake Okeechobee, we enjoyed mostly serene and bucolic scenery, a few locks, some cows and alligators, and revisiting the small towns of Clewiston and Stuart. Lingering in quaint Stuart for boat maintenance, we enjoyed some great restaurants, walked the boardwalk, and lived among some truly beautiful yachts for a few days.
Heading north on the Intracoastal Waterway, we returned to Indian River Harbor, a good spot for reconnecting with Steve’s cousins, Song and Judy Koh and their daughter Michaela, and had a delightful dinner together on the flybridge. High winds convinced us to stay an extra day. Further north, we lingered in New Smyrna Beach, welcomed exuberantly by harbor host Rick Swanson, who rescheduled his daily kite boarding to show us the artsy town, the scenic Ponce de Leon Inlet
and lighthouse, the drivable beach, and the wild, protected area of Turtle Mound at Canaveral National Seashore in his unapologetically sandy Avalon. Steve and I then explored town via bike—and, Steve thinks, every last boutique on Flagler Ave.—and walked the beach, people watching and dodging big jelly fish which had washed ashore. Dinner with Rick and his wife Dianne at Riverwalk Terrace was delightful, despite an attack of no-see-ums. Five weeks into his volunteer post as harbor host, Dianne says they have dinner with Loopers about twice a week. (Think, “Dinner with strangers twice a week!”) This was the first time we felt the urge to stay an extra day “just because” and had the expansiveness to heed that urge—a skill which true Loopers hone.
Despite Red Pearl’s natty red hull which attracts long gazes from passers by, the constant generation of urgent and not-so-urgent repairs continues. Most pressing is the flybridge enclosure, the “second story” of the boat and our preferred helm from which to cruise. Having recovered from our initial delight at finding a hippy canvas craftsman in Fort Myers who quickly replaced a rotting zipper in one of the curtains (the flexible vinyl windows, also called “isinglass”), we realize now that the entire enclosure has adopted a schedule of abdication. Steve and I are determined to negotiate a way to address this on our terms without sitting for weeks for yet another repair. Despite a new zipper, the determination of the enclosure pressed further as we crossed Lake Okeechobee, requiring us to find a second canvas craftsman in Stuart to replace two more windows. But, alas! Just a few days later, abdication morphed into outright insurrection, with two more zippers ripping out with a third seriously threatening action. We do have options, however, so stay tuned!… Another taunting issue has been the generator, whose control board coding saga was finally resolved in Fort Myers. Nevertheless, its refusal to start at our first anchorage resulted in a cold supper and a lack of morning Joe. A new battery was just the ticket.
I envision blooming redbuds and crabapples back home, and I miss the satisfaction of potting up planters of flowers and spreading aromatic cedar mulch; but we also relish spring in Florida, which makes living outdoors so delightful. Things feel different than a year ago in Florida. Despite what lawmakers decree, masks are required to enter nearly any establishment, and people comply. After sitting at home, absorbing the stream of media reports of how politicized and divided we are, it feels good to be out and about, experiencing the voluntary shared concern for one another that a simple mask exhibits.