Friday lunchtime we headed off across Florida and chose to go cross-country which was a more direct, albeit slower, route. The roads were empty and the speed limit went up and down – and we were conscious of the possibility of the local Sheriff hiding in side roads – so Richard had to curb his racing driver tendencies and stick to the limits. Unfortunately no-one told the locals who were constantly overtaking us – on both sides – and speeding LOL. Vast swathes of green countryside and lots of cows in the water-filled ditches keeping cool….and occasional swerve to avoid the tortoise crossing the road!
We got about three miles from Brad’s address and, of course, that is when we got lost. We’d done well up to then! We found a friendly local and got final directions and made it into their beautiful gated community. Got cleared in by the security guard and drove to their place – we had planned to drive past and then return later – but, of course, they knew we were here now! So we arrived an hour earlier than we had planned. Thankfully they were very pleased to see us – we finally met Sandy, Brad’s wife, and their daughter Kristen.
We then had a wonderful salmon dinner cooked by Brad – who it turns out is a bit of a chef! Didn’t know that about him…. Had a lovely time – met Cassie the dog and the three cats. Two of the cats kept themselves scarce but Cassie was all over Richard as always happens….. Lovely evening and so to bed – had been a long day.
Saturday morning it was nice so – after a fantastic fruit / omelette breakfast provided by Brad – we took Cassie for her walk around the estate. Their house backs onto a golf course and the estate is immaculately manicured and around lakes – all very pretty. Sadly I’ve just found out that the camera has thrown a wobbly and the card has corrupted – so I’ve got very few actual photos that I’ve taken over the weekend. So here are some photos of the estate – sadly not taken by me!
Saturday afternoon the storms came through and the rain persisted for a long time….. So we ended up learning a new card game and I won! Beginners luck! Was very pleased…..competitive or what?!? We also had a monster sandwich / salad lunch….. so ruined ourselves for dinner LOL. The rain finally cleared and we headed off to Siesta Key to meet Blaine and Maria. This is a real tourist area and there is a strip of bars and clubs…. First stop was the Oyster Bar where we enjoyed some snacks and a few drinks and met many of Blaine’s friends. This was the first reunion of the Morpheus delivery team in seven years – amazing how time flies – and evidences how long-lasting friendships can develop at sea! Again photos lost…. Sad…..
Brad, Sandy, Richard and I left Blaine and Maria to it and bailed out – but on the way back to the car we came across another of their favourite performers so we stopped for another beer and enjoyed Ben Hammond’s music for a little while before returning home quite late.
Sunday morning we had a fantastic fresh fruit breakfast – love the way that the whole family work together at meal times to prepare the food. And Brad is making his second batch of bread of the weekend! We were truly spoilt – they had even worked out our favourite tea – and had found a very good version in their local speciality shop! After Callie’s walk we ended up in the pool and then the Jacuzzi…. Lovely. And this is one photo that survived…. Yay….
Later on Blaine and Maria came by – and Brad, Blaine, Richard and I did our traditional bottle race in the pool to work out who got the next round in. A tradition we had started in St Thomas all those years ago – LOL – although the current in the pool wasn’t quite the same as being in the sea – but we managed! And of course Brad won – so remains the champion – until next time….. He did sink Blaine’s bottle though but I guess all is fair when your champion status remains at risk!!!
We had a fantastic steak dinner cooked by Brad and had a wonderful sour cherry pie cooked by Sandy. She was worried about this – and the seepage of the juice on the crust meant that it looked like a Halloween face….. So, now, this pie is known as the Scary Cherry Pie LOL. Was incredibly tasty and I realised – to my embarrassment – that is probably the first cherry pie I have ever tried!
We crashed and burned pretty early after that….so had an early night. Wonderful day.
Monday morning and we walked Callie again – and decided to continue with our staycation – so back in the pool / Jacuzzi / pool and that is where we stayed! Kristen came home from work – she is an intern biologist – and I cooked curry while Brad prepared the wonderful sticky rice. The bowls of food looked huge – but we managed to eat it all – and, of course, it was all topped off by Brad’s wonderful buttercream covered / layered chocolate cake. Phew – stuffed! Amazing food all weekend.
And then we realised it was our last night…..so we said a sad farewell to Sandy who would be leaving before we got up in the morning – and went to bed once we’d packed our bags again.
This morning – Tuesday – and we were up early. Did the final packing and said our sad farewells to Brad and Kristen – and even Cassie the dog looked sad that we were leaving…. We have had a wonderful time – thank you to the whole family for their incredibly generous hospitality.
We drove away and found the route to Tampa Airport – across a very impressive bridge to St Petersburg – and admired the views ahead. And yes, of course, the camera managed to capture these non-important photos! Sigh……
We arrived at Tampa – returned the car in the airport car park – and headed to the AA self-service kiosks. Surprisingly, as we are so early, they allowed us to drop our checked bags off. So we headed to the Marriott Hotel which is in the airport itself and have just had a very good breakfast. We are now sitting in their lobby making the most of the free wifi before we go through security to the gate.
We are flying to Chicago today – followed by a flight to Toronto (fingers crossed as the connections are tight thanks to American Airlines changing the schedule….) – and we are excited about our reunion with Jayne, Sam and Katie….
It is lovely to finish our sailing season by visiting good friends – we started the trend last year by going to Wisconsin – and we think the trend should continue! Although it seems forever since we left Morphie in Fort Pierce.
Bye for now