Sunny Sunday in Punta Gorda


Sunday was “another crappy day in Paradise”, as Jim likes to say. tongue in cheek.

It was another beautiful day in Punta Gorda.  We started the day by accompanying Marilyn to her church — Faith Lutheran Church. We’ve been there with her before and always found it very welcoming. This day the pastor proudly announced that the outside murals had been completed. Apparently a parishioner had made a generous donation with the stipulation that the walls of the church tower be adorned with murals. A local artist, who has done many other mural around Punta Gorda, was commissioned to do the work. The pastor and his committee spent many hours designing and deliberating over the proper messages to be included.

Mural, Faith Lutheran Church, Punta Gorda

Mural, Faith Lutheran Church, Punta Gorda

The result turned out beautifully.

Mural, Faith Lutheran Church, Punta Gorda

The other view

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After church, we went to the local Farmer’s Market for some lovely fresh produce.

Pepper Varieties

Pepper Varieties

 

 

One stall sold a variety of plants. It was so busy, I was unable to get close enough to ask what this interesting plant was. Does anyone recognize it?

Interesting Pllant

Does anyone know what this is?

Punta Gorda From a Different Point of View


Yesterday we were out running some errands and returned just as the people who use my sister Marilyn’s boat lift arrived. They were going out for a boat ride and asked if we’d like to join them. Of course Jim and I said “We’d love to!” Marilyn was tired so bowed out in favour of a nap.

We puttered out through the canals, viewing the vast estates on either side, until we were out in the open waters of Charlotte Harbour. We’ve been to Fishermen’s Village many times, but this time we saw it from a different point of view. Once past there and the very shallow waters near shore, Bob opened the engine up and we were off. It was another very hot day so the wind in our hair felt wonderful. For nearly an hour we traversed the waterway, watching pelicans dive for fish and hoping for a glimpse of dolphins.  Although one young woman aboard said she saw a few in the distance, they disappeared too quickly for the rest of us to catch a glance.

Light House Home, Punta Gorda Isles

Light House Home, Punta Gorda Isles

 

Fishermen's Village, Punta Gorda, Florida

Fishermen’s Village, Punta Gorda, Florida

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bob pointed out the red roofs of downtown Punta Gorda as we made our way back. Back at the dock it was interesting to see just how much more work it is to go for a boat ride in salt water. Once we were all off board except Captain Bob, the hoist was turned on to lift the boat out of the water.  While he waited for this to be done, Bob refastened all of the curtains into place to enclose the back of the boat. When the boat was in place, the engine had to be turned on and fresh water from an on-shore hose was run through it to wash out the salt water. We then all held our breath as Bob stepped cautiously onto the little aluminum later and then down onto the dock.

Our Ride, back on hoist

Our Ride, back on hoist

 

 

Later in the evening, after our usual swim in the pool followed by a great dinner prepared by Marilyn, we enjoyed a spectacular light show provided by Mother Nature. We did jump a few times when the thunder clapped loudly and the lightning seemed to hit very, very close to us!

Ominous Sky

Ominous Sky

Thunder Clouds Moving In

Thunder Clouds Moving In

Punta Gorda


Punta Gorda Florida is a beautiful place, even after the  vast devastation during Hurricane Charley in 2004. There are still empty lots where houses once stood, but those have been cleaned up and now appear as just green space.

The area where my sister lives is called Punta Gorda Isles. It features a number of canals running through the “back yards” of the lovely homes, and converging to run into the Peace River at Charlotte Harbour. Most homes have boat lifts and some impressive boats hoisted on them,  out of the destruction of the salt water when they aren’t in use.

The scene from my sister’s sun room

Another View

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a photographer’s paradise, with the various types of Palms and other trees showing off their blooms, sparkling calm water ways and pink sunsets. Although I’ve yet to experience it, I’m told that dolphins can sometimes be seen playing in the canals too.

Flowering Palm

This time of year the temperatures climb a little higher than is really comfortable for us non-residents, but there is always the pool to cool us off, and every home, store and restaurant is well air-conditioned. Speaking of stores and restaurants, there are enough here to meet everyone’s needs.

The Pool

One thing to remember though, if you happen to be visiting someone here and are coming by motor home or pulling a trailer, you can’t park either one in the driveway or on an empty lot. We moved the motor home on Wednesday; when we got back we found a ticket on the door saying that we could not leave the little motorcycle trailer where it was, pulled up close to the house, nearly hidden by the bike!  My sister had to remove her car from the garage so we could put the trailer in there.  Just to be safe, we put the bike in too. 🙂 That turned out just as well; we had a thunder storm last night.

If the weather stays clear tonight, we will probably go to listen to the music in the park.

An Uneventful Day in Paradise (Monday, May 21)


The sun was bright and hot already when we left Savannah. We pushed on through, stopping only for gas and to make lunch at a rest area, and a quick stop at a little shop that sold freshly made jams, jellies and other condiments. Jim was hoping for ice cream, but they had none, so we settled for bottles of Peach Cider.

We were ready to jump into the pool when we arrived at my sister’s in Punta Gorda Florida at 6:00 pm.

We had to park the RV a few blocks away, where my sister still owns a modular home, but it wouldn’t fit in her driveway so we left it in an empty lot.  Don’t know if that’s allowed or not!

 

Tuesday:  We found out this morning that it’s not! We had to look for a storage site, which we found for $35, and have to have it moved before the end of the day.

Mini-Pity Party (Sunday, May 20)


Sunday dawned sunny and bright. However, we were not to get through the day without a few more challenges and these didn’t involve golf.

When I opened the fridge to get out food for breakfast, I noticed that things just didn’t seem to be very cold.  I checked the freezer; everything was thawed! Great! For some reason the electricity to the fridge wasn’t working, and we still had no propane so couldn’t even switch it over.  Jim flicked some switches and miraculously got it going, but we had only a couple of hours for things to cool down again before we’d have to unplug it. Should I throw everything out? I decided to leave it for then and deal with the food as we needed it.

So we unhooked everything else, locked everything down and hooked the bike trailer up. Some neighbours came running to help with the loading of the bike, which was appreciated, but unnecessary. Finally, we were off. The plan was to go back to Costco to fill up the RV gas tank, since they had the best price around, and grab a hotdog there (it was already nearing lunch time). Then we would look for the nearest Camping World to get the propane tank filled.  Jim thought that he’d read on the website that they did that. It sounded like a good plan, but we hadn’t gotten very far down the highway when we began to smell something hot. Soon Jim noticed that the brakes weren’t working as well as they should! He pumped them and we crept along to Costco, filled up with gas and then pulled over to check things out.  The brake fluid drum was full, so that wasn’t the problem.  After sitting awhile, and pumping the brakes many more time, and creeping around the parking lot, Jim figured it was safe enough to get us to Camping World which was only five minutes away. I was still feeling calm and positive. But when we got to Camping World and found out that they neither fill propane tanks, nor do brake repairs, I was suddenly overcome and had to give in to a pity party, that took away my interest in looking through the store. I allowed it only ten minutes, though.  We got back into the RV and started down Hwy 17 south, keeping an eye out for somewhere to fill the propane tank. The brakes seemed to be alright again. We came across a small machinery rental shop that had a propane tank outside.  The sign said “closed” but there were a couple of men outside so we took a chance.  They were closed, but took pity on us and filled the tank for us. The day turned around after that. Jim concluded that as long as he didn’t do any hard braking, the brakes worked fine, so he just had to keep an eye open so he wouldn’t have to make any sudden stops. I had probably caused the problem by pushing down too hard on the brake pedal when Jim was checking the lights before we left the campsite. The sun was shining hot. We made one more stop, to eat lunch at a Bob Evans’, and then didn’t look back. We crossed into Georgia at about 7:30. We parked at a Walmart in Savannah at 8:30.

Making the Most of our Last Day in Myrtle Beach (Sat. May 19)


The day started out cool and cloudy, but we had no rain. We took the bike back to Barefoot Landing one more time, this time to the Kite Store to sort out a problem with the payment for a pin wheel that we’d bought the day before. From there we searched out the local Costco to sample some of the different items that aren’t available in Canadian stores.  We had lunch, but bought only one item – a new GPS; yes the old one bit the dust. ): Walmart was in the same area, so we went in there too, to pick up an electric skillet, before we headed back towards the campground. It was three o’clock by then, and we had tickets for the Carolina Oprey at 7:00 pm, but we had time to stop at Mt. Atlanticus to play a round of miniature golf. It was a close game, but Jim crept past me on the last hole to win. By the time we were done, we had time to only rush back to the RV, unload the bike, brush our teeth and head off again to the Oprey.

Atlanticus Mini-Golf

Must have made the shot!

Atlanticus Mini-Golf

Yes, we played to the top!

Atlanticus Mini-Golf

Beautiful Course

 

 

 

 

 

Atlanticus Mini-Golf

Now who’s smiling?

 

 

The Carolina Oprey isn’t quite what I’d expected it to be – all country type of music.  It was, however, another excellent music and comedy variety show, featuring many former American Idol top contenders. A nice end to our visit.

Lessons Learned


Friday, May 18, 2012

Today we were reminded of two things that we’d forgotten – conserve propane gas, and conserve internet data!

Yesterday we were also reminded that in older vehicles, things wear out, when, after we had our showers I wondered why the water pump didn’t seem to come on as often as usual, and Jim noticed that the lights seemed rather dimmed. Jim checked the battery levels and found that every one of the three new batteries we’d just installed before we left were dead! It seemed that for some reason they had not been recharging as they should when we are hooked up to hydro.  The problem was, Jim concluded, with the inverter, but he couldn’t figure out exactly what. We were given the number for Coast RV and they were here by 1:00 pm. Half an hour later the problem was solved (a broken ground wire) and we were able to get on with our day.

We had lunch at the restaurant on the Pier before taking another brisk walk up the beach for a mile or so and back, splashing through the waves as the tide rolled in. Another trip to the post office (why are they so hard to find?) and a wander around the Harley Store pretty much completed that day. The bikers have arrived at last; even our campground is nearly full with more very large motor homes and bike trailers.

Today’s Lesson #1:  This morning I prepared eggs and cheese to make an omelet for breakfast. Then I attempted to light the propane stove.  Nothing. Check the gauge – tank is empty!  The only way to get it filled is to unhook the hydro and sewer pipe, hoist up the leveling jacks and take the RV up to the store. I think we can get along without the stove and hot water until we’re ready to leave on Sunday. Our site is just across the road from the bath house, and the microwave works.  Perhaps the purchase of a small electric frying pan might be a good idea. Off to the restaurant on the pier again, for breakfast.

Lesson #2: Back home, we both logged onto the internet to take care of business.  I had one graphic to download. I sent one email in response to that and replied.  But when I tried to send another email, nothing happened. Jim got a message that he was disconnected because we had used up our monthly allotment of one giga-byte of data on our Verizon internet card. Lesson number two–from now on I will not be adding pictures to the blog until we are using someone else’s WiFi.:)

This afternoon and evening were spent cruising up and down Hwy 17 in search of another Post Office located in the direction that we wanted to go, and a Verizon store where we could make a payment that would allow us back on the internet.  It took a good half hour to find the Post Office; it took five hours to find a Verizon store, and many miles in the opposite direction from the Post Office. Mind you, we did take care of a few other things while we were looking. We went back to Barefoot Landing to check once more at the Lost and Found for my missing Tilley, to no avail. We did learn that if I contact Tilley directly, they will send me a new one for half price. We had to tour the Harbor Freight store, and stop into a couple more motorcycle equipment tents; and we enjoyed an exquisite meal at The Olive Garden.

At The Olive Garden we had an interesting conversation with the waiter about health care and wages, that made us realize again how lucky we are to live in Canada, despite sometimes getting frustrated with taxes and wait-times.

Tomorrow is our last day here, before we leave for Florida.

If Anyone finds a Tilley Hat at Barefoot Landing, It’s Mine


The storm missed us last night, but apparently a tornado touched down in Conway, just 30 miles north of here.  The air remained heavy and humid until the sun came out this morning.  After taking care of online business we went back to Barefoot Landing to look for some LED signal lights for a friend back home. The sun was hot and we both wore our Tilley hats. After looking over the biker booths we went into the River City Cafe for lunch.  The burgers there are huge and delicious. We noticed on the TV that there was a storm warning, and sure enough when we went back outside the dark clouds were moving in. Rather that go anywhere else on the bike, we thought we might as well continue the tour of the shops at the Landing that we’d missed when we had to leave for the Condo Tour on Friday.

We looked around only two stores before the rain began to come down. It didn’t seem like it was going to stop any time soon, so we bought one of the five dollar umbrellas that were conveniently by the door and dodged in and out of the boutiques along the street. Two hours later, when the rain had finally let up and we’d seen all there was to see, we started towards the bike. Suddenly I realized that I didn’t have my Tilley! Thinking back, the last time I could remember having it was when, I’m sure, I set it down on the counter in the store where I bought the umbrella to free my hands to get out my money. We trotted back there, but they hadn’t seen it. I left them my name and phone number. We checked at several stores that we’d been in; no luck.  We even went back to the hat shop where I’d bought it, hoping someone may have found it, but again no luck.  The store owner made a call to the security office to ask them to keep a look out for it.  The girl at the Wyndham booth alerted all the staff there to be on the look out for it.  Sigh.  Perhaps it will show up yet.

The sky was still dark off in the distance; it was time to get on the bike and back to camp before more rain. The helmets were hanging on the bike and Jim’s was turned up to the rain like a bowl.  Needless to say, he rode home with a wet head.

We actually had time to make and eat dinner and get the laundry done before the rain started again.  It’s been raining now since 9:00. Again, we’ve been lucky. Had we’d headed back towards Murrells Inlet today, we might have been in trouble.  According to the news there was major flooding in the area this afternoon.

It hasn’t been an ideal week for the Bike Week organizers, and all of the merchants that we talked to  apologized for that! 🙂

Sex on the Beach


That was the highlight of my day today. 🙂

Stayed up too late last night, catching up on blogs. The night was raining and hot and humid; neither of us slept well. We didn’t get up very early this morning, even though the sun was shining, so it was nearly noon before we got out anywhere. We’d already decided to stick closer to “home” today.

We walked through the park and up the street in search of some groceries, but got only milk at the corner store and some sweet local strawberries at the nearby fruit and vegetable stand, before coming back for lunch. After lunch we took the bike to the Post Office, since Jim had a package he needed to mail. The sky was already beginning to turn black in the distance so we made a quick stop at the nearest grocery store and scooted back to the campground. We tried to read, but fell asleep. When we woke up the sun was shining again. We lathered on the sunscreen and headed to the beach. The tide was rolling in and we strolled along the edge of it, taking some pictures, including this one of a “cabbage” jelly fish that had washed ashore.

"Cabbage" Jelly Fish
The sun was hot. We decided to take some refreshment at the Queen Annie, a hotel bar along the beach. That’s where I enjoyed “Sex on the Beach”. I’d hoped it would relieve the tension pains that were beginning in my shoulder and neck, but it only made it worse.

For the first time since we’ve been here, we ate all of our meals in the motor home today. Having a quiet evening and will no doubt hit the sheets early tonight. Another storm was in the forecast, but nothing has happened yet.

Avoided the Rain Again


Monday, May 14th, 2012

The sun was up when we were today, so we got ready to leave early, before the predicted rain could ruin the day. We’d seen an ad on TV about the Weave Shops out on Pawleys Island, further south of Murrells Inlet, so that was our destination goal.

We detoured off the highway to go into the town of Murrells Inlet and did the “Marsh Walk”, a couple of very long piers that traverse the marsh lands in the inlet. We had a lunch of chicken salad melts at one of the several restaurants along the shoreline pier before getting back onto the highway and on to our destination. The fair weather stayed with us and we soon found the Weave Shops. Actually, the only weave shop there was the one in which hammocks are hand crafted. That was interesting to watch. There was also a woman weaving beautiful baskets from sweet grass and pine needles, while sitting on the porch in front of a clothing boutique. We investigated the candle shop and the outdoors shop and I peaked into a couple of the clothing shops while Jim waited on the porch. No sexy pants today, just a $20 pair of white capris.  We found a couple of unique toys that the younger grandchildren will have fun with when they come to visit us. You might have noticed that we aren’t big-time shoppers.

Hammock in Progress

Hammock in Progress

Smelling the Magnolia Blossoms

Smelling the Magnolia Blossoms

From the Weave Shops we turned off the highway and onto Pawleys Island, an original area of large clapboard “cottages” backing onto a long stretch of beach. We went out to the beach to take pictures and I couldn’t help but think “what a great writers’ retreat one of these places would be!”

Cottages on the Beach

Cottages on the Beach

As we finally turned back towards “home” we turned off the highway once again at Murrells Inlet, further south of where we’d been earlier, and there we found a large contingent of motorcycles, vendors and music. Of course we had to stop to take in the sights and sounds and share a cooler – not big drinkers either.  There was lots of partying going on. I wondered how some of these partiers were going to get home safely.

We were back in Myrtle Beach, on Hwy 17 again, when we stopped for dinner and stuffed ourselves once more, this time at the Seafood Buffet. The sky was dark with clouds when we left there, but we made it home before the rain struck.

Another awesome day.