Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh My!

Well I have got to tell you all it has been some cold down here in the sunshine state. This morning we awoke to a brisk wind and temperatures in the low thirties. I think I can see a line of Floridians forming a cue on the top of the Tampa Bay Bridge, jumping seems to be the only option for this warm blooded breed. I myself feel quite happy with this brisk morning, it finally feels like Christmas is upon us. In a few days Anna and I will journey home to see the families, it should be a great trip. For the past two weeks Anna and I have been bouncing around in the St. Petersburg and Sarasota area. Our first stop was at the Treasure Island Yacht Club about 30 miles south of Clearwater. We had read a review of the club on the Great Loop Cruisers Forum and decided to stop in and check out how the Jones's live.  Upon our arrival we knew we had found cruisers gold. The Treasure Island Yacht Club has just reopened under new ownership, and is offering unbelievable discounts in an attempt to drum up business. Les the dock master gave us a tour of the grounds and let us know that while we stay at the club, we are given access to all the clubs amenities, this included a heated Olympic size swimming pool, steam room, full state of the art fitness center, health spa, pool bar, free arcade, dinning room, jet skies, tennis, and evening entertainment such as the lead singer from Foreigner, Joe Piscapo, KC and The Sunshine Band and other acts.  They should rename this place Fantasy Island and have a short Hawaiian Man in white suit yell, "the plane the plane" as you pull in. With a few days of luxury under our belts Anna and I put together a travel plan that would take us down to our departure home for Christmas. Leaving Treasure Island we made way for the St. Petersburg Municipal Marina in downtown St. Pete's. We had heard of an art museum there that features the artwork of Salvador Dali, a famous Spanish painter who's works found fame in the mid 20th century. I enjoyed the museum but am now fully confident that Salvador Dali was clinically insane. His works of art ranging from paintings, sculpture, and performing arts were truly amazing and completely not my thing. I guess that is the best part of doing the loop, I now know I have no interest in owning a priceless piece of art from this unbelievably gifted and wacky artist. Our evenings in St. Petersburg were enjoyed on Blue looking out from the salon at the backdrop of downtown, it is always an exhilarating feeling. Next stop for us was the beautiful area of Sarasota. Our main objective for this stop was to visit the Ringling Museum. When I was a kid I remember my Mother taking my brother and I to see, "The Greatest Show On Earth" the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. Just writing the words brings back a wave of senses as I can smell the cotton candy, popcorn and candy apples. I remember looking in awe as a man drove a motorcycle upside down in a steal cage and the famous Gunter cracked a whip in his lion cage. Our visit to the museum was not what I expected. Yes, the exhibits of the old circus cars and clown outfits where amazing, but the true show was found in the history of the founding circus families and their personal art collections. In the golden era of the American circus, it would have employed over 2000 people all of whom traveled daily from city to city, setting up, performing and breaking down all in one day. The Circus resembled a traveling army. In a time without tv and video games it must have been truly amazing to see this circus pull into town and transform an open field into a city filled with mystical animals and seemingly inhuman feets of acrobatics. Having thoroughly enjoyed our time in Sarasota, Anna and I made way back to Treasure Island. Our Friends Craig and Danielle Parrent along with their three children Morgan, Ryann and Jaxon had made it across the gulf and were planning to stay at Treasure Island for the month of December. At $9.50 a foot for the month, with access to all the clubs amenities this is the deal of deals. We had a wonderful time biking and exploring the area, Morgan Ryann and Jaxon are great kids and tons of fun. Taking part in family drawing night where we were given a blank piece of paper and five minutes to draw a dream boat and what we would look like as a super hero is now a highlight of our trip. We also met a wonderful Family the Metro's whom are also cruising with her kids in a custom 56' Matthews named Lady Enna. They invited us over for a great dinner and fun conversation at their home on land. We are always surprised by the openness and willingness of fellow cruisers to open their doors and welcome others to their communities and waters. When you travel far from home there is nothing better than getting off the boat and having a home cooked meal at a real table filled with new friends. I think anyone that has cruised for an extended period of time truly understands this and is all to willing to give back some of the great hospitality they may have received during their travels. From Treasure Island we have pushed on to Englewood Florida just north of Captiva Island and met up with Jim, Gloria, Bill and Laura. Bill and Laura whom we have traveled with on and off since Canada are about 60 miles from crossing their wake and completing their loop. It has been a true pleasure to have enjoyed so much of our trip with them, Bill has said many times how great it is to have so many people weave in and out of their lives as they make way through their trip. I truly hope that we continue to weave in and out of theirs. Hearing Bill's humorous comments broad casted across the airways on a long days run and our evening filled with laughter on the top deck of Monkey Girl will be truly missed. Now with Christmas right around the corner, Anna and I have pushed south, we plan to leave Blue at a small Marina on the Lake Okeechobee Waterway. Tampa Bay here we come!

Hello Paradise!

Pinch me I may be dreaming.

Good old Blue sure likes her new digs.

You have got to love the city at night.

At dock in downtown St. Pete's

I have always wanted to see one of these ships.  It sinks and they float other boats onto it.  When it is loaded, it rises back up and brings the yachts to ports like the Caribbean and Europe. Think they would notice Blue?

This organ wagon would be pulled by a team of horses through the town in front of a procession of Animals and performers as they made their way from the train area to the circus tent.

We learned that all the woodwork on the circus cars was hand carved by a traveling army of carpenters that traveled with the circus.

This Pullman train car was home to the Ringling Family while they traveled with the circus.  If you look carefully you can see the gold plated ceiling tiles lining the roof of the train car.  I have never seen that on MTV's Cribs.

Remember the crazy guy that would get shot out of the cannon?  I would really like to borrow this for our next beach party.

This miniature Circus has 40 thousand hand carved pieces all made by one man.  He started it when he was seven, he is now in his early seventies.  The detail was just unbelievable.

The miniature Circus takes up almost the whole building it is displayed in.  It is truly something you have to see to believe.

Anna loved the rose gardens on the Ringling estate grounds.

Do you think they will miss one or two?

The detail in the construction of the Ringling mansion shows the unbelievable wealth of the family.

Their are hundreds of pieces of art just like this in the Ringling collection.  This one was about 15 feet tall.

Every day I see something that tells me Florida is truly screwed up.  Why is the fine $112.50?  Than 50 cents makes or brakes the budget I guess.

We passed this floating chapel on our way down the ICW.  Believe it or not they were holding mass inside.

I don't know, this could be better than Vegas.

You have got to love Florida.

We have to pay homage to the Captain.

This shirt cracked me up.

I don't care what your politics are, this is just funny stuff.



Morgan, Ryann and Jaxon

We all got a chance to hold a live Alligator.

How can you pass that up.

What is better than sitting on the beach?

Things kids do that Adults can't.

You have got to love looking for shells on the beach.

It might be cold, but the sunsets are still unbelievable.

Back on the water, we were shown the way by the USCG.  It sure is nice to know these guys are out here ready to help.


  1. That's cheating when they tape the gators mouth shut!

  2. No way I would grab that thing without tape, he started to shake back and forth when I was holding him, man is he strong. Have a Merry Christmas Martie and stay warm!

  3. Merry Christmas to you and yours. Nice and mild here. Typical Nantucket winter.