We left Peace River in Wauchula at 10:45 on Monday March 8, 2021 with Acey’s mileage at 70,573.3 and Thor’s 80,445. We arrived at Harbor Lakes (an Encore resort) at 12:30. We have full hookups again – always a good thing!
We crossed the bridge over the Peace River at Charlotte Harbor as we drove Route 41 out of Punta Gorda. Another beautiful clear day to make a move, and traffic was light.
Its been windy here and will be thru Thursday; we won’t be out riding bikes with winds gusting up to 30MPH! The roads in this resort are very wide – 3-4 lanes wide! The Park models are somewhat separated from the “transient” lots which is kind of nice, and the space is very generous.
On Tuesday we went thru papers, bills and etc. Chris had sent some mail to us a couple of weeks ago, and there were some income tax papers and other stuff that got put aside. We are still missing some tax info and hope it will be in our mailbox when we get to Dickson in two weeks.
On Wednesday, we drove up to Tampa Bay to see the American Victory Ship.
The ship is one of only 4 fully-operational WWII ships in the country. Presently, its boilers need some work to make it operational again, but they plan to have special cruises scheduled later this year.
We were very surprised to see that the ship was built in only 55 days!!
The ship was launched on May 24, 1945, from the California Shipyards, Los Angeles, CA, at 1:30 P.M. This is a map of the maiden voyage of this 455’x109′ cargo vessel…
Regarding the U.S. Merchant Marines; the below display states …”NO They were not a Fighting Force. But because of their Supply Lines… They were like the THUMB that held the fist together to drive that MIGHTY BLOW to ULTIMATE VICTORY. They too adorn the bottom of the Sea, alongside of those FIGHTING SHIPS.”
We were able to see pretty much the entire ship and most of its nine decks! It has three-level cargo holds; we saw the engine room, the bridge, radio room, crew cabins and the Captain’s quarters including a private bathroom, the galley and more. The refrigerator room had some cans of water on display! Would you drink one?
They were flying Tampa Bay Buccaneer flags – recent Super Bowl LV champs! Hmmm pirate flags??
The museum-ship describes itself as follows: “We are a world-class, shipboard, maritime museum dedicated to honoring the men and women who built, sailed, protected and provided service, worldwide, through the American Merchant Fleet since 1775 during times of peace and war. The American Victory Ship and Museum is a mighty beacon to veterans, active military and its community. It transports you back nearly seven decades to when brave sailors fought the harsh seas to reach their comrades around the world servicing in the United States Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard, carrying ammunition, goods, cargo, equipment, materials and troops necessary to defend our county. As the “unsung heroes” of numerous conflicts and the military, the merchant marines experienced the highest percentage rate of casualties of any service.”
Well worth a visit if you get to Tampa! See more at http://www.americanvictory.org/
Thursday we played around practicing Pickleball for only our second time. Not all of the parks seem to have courts. We are getting better, but still need some work! After that, we went out for some craft beer. Peace River Beer Company took over a space that was Bury Me Brewing – which apparently went under in 2019. They had quite a variety of craft beers and ciders on tap.
On Friday, we found a bike trail really close to our home base at Harbor Lakes; the Cape Haze Pioneer Trail.
It became obvious that this was a Rails-to-Trail path!
A gradual bend in the route; typical of a train route – and lots of sun today.
There was a nice wide bridge over Coral Creek.
This colorful and appropriate memorial was at the trail head
The trail connected to a concrete trail beside the road (Route 775) – and we rode out another 3 miles to Don Pedro State Park where we found picnic tables to eat our packed lunch. We rode just over 21 miles today.
Saturday we did some cleaning and cooked corned beef and cabbage on slow cook mode in the Instant Pot. We have found meats do better in slow cook mode. Dennis and Liz were coming to visit in the afternoon. While exchanging emails about the evening, we decided we would all to go out for dinner and catch the sunset over the harbor. The corned beef and cabbage can be enjoyed another day! We caught a beautiful sunset at Charlotte Harbor.
Dennis and Liz brought their adorable ten year old granddaughter Mia. She is learning aerial silks and is quite an acrobat!
We had dinner at Luigi’s but took no photos… Jim had a vegetable Stromboli and Linda had a spinach, ham, ricotta and mozzarella calzone. Neither of us had tried either of these dishes and were surprised how much alike they looked on the outside. They both looked like a turnover with slits in the crust – Jim’s had some sauce in it; Linda’s did not. Both of us enjoyed the meal – and the company!
Sunday morning, we were able to Zoom with our Sunday School class and also joined the worship service at Stephens Valley Church in Nashville by YouTube.
Being that it was “Pi Day” – 3/14 – we were reminded that it was 2 years ago in 2019 that Linda’s father passed on to glory. Since he owned the Bays English Muffin bakery in Detroit for several decades, it seems an appropriate day for a baker… and we thought about the trip we took to Australia and New Zealand with Dad in 2014. We landed in Sydney on St Patrick’s Day and it was a gorgeous but very long day!
If you were unable to attend the celebration of life that we had for Linda’s Dad, you can see it here with several photos of his life – thanks Chris for putting this together and putting it on YouTube!
In the evening, we enjoyed the corned beef and cabbage that we cooked yesterday.
We also Zoomed with the family and caught up on the latest news. Our nephew Tom became engaged yesterday!
Monday we drove down to Gasparilla Island to ride our bikes on the Gasparilla Island – Boca Grande Trail. This was Florida’s FIRST rail-trail. There were lots of golf carts on this trail. We found free parking by the fishing pier. A gravel path ran alongside for joggers and walkers. Another beautiful but very warm day to ride!
We stopped for a water break and enjoyed the scenery.
The bike trail was in good condition and had a couple of “medians” along the way.
We rode to the south end of the island to Gasparilla Island State Park. There are 2 lighthouses on the island; this one at the south end is the Port Boca Grande Lighthouse which was built in 1890 and restored in 1986. It is the oldest structure on the island.
The water was so clear — a beautiful turquoise hue.
Phosphate was discovered in the early 1880’s several miles up the Peace River, which empties into Charlotte Harbor before flowing west through the Boca Grande Channel and to the Gulf of Mexico. Initially, barges transported the phosphate, then a railroad was built in 1907. In 1969, Port Boca Grande was Florida’s fourth busiest port, and Florida provided well over half of the nation’s supply of phosphate, which was used primarily in fertilizer. But, by 1979, the phosphate industry moved to Tampa and the rail line was abandoned. The 2 photos below were borrowed from the internet – showing the area in its heyday (no year noted) and the lighthouse with its companion, the assistant lighthouse keeper’s dwelling, in 2006. (Note the wooden tank that was used for freshwater storage)
Near the lighthouse was this wooden cleat from the old phosphate dock. (You can see a freighter at the dock on the top part of the top left photo.)
Unfortunately, the museum there was only open Tuesday – Saturday and today is Monday. But, the internet was a nice resource to learn more! There were several picnic tables nearby, so we enjoyed our packed lunch there.
We made a few stops on the way back to the car. The Boca Grande Rangelight came into operation in 1932. Originally built 1885, it was decommissioned and shipped to the island in 1927 from Delaware.
It recently underwent a nearly $2 million renovation to restore her to original glory. A photo of the keeper with his daughters showed what the door looked like in 1932.
The keeper was responsible for this range light as well as the light at the point.
Liz suggested we check out Banyan Street when we go to Boca Grande – so we did! The massive trees created an arbor over the street!
Very unusual trees! Aerial roots descend from the branches to take root in the soil and become new trunks.
In the “downtown” Boca Grande, behind the shops, was a small section of railroad tracks next to the bike trail.
After our ride, we walked over to the fishing pier. This pelican was watching one of the fishing lines… the water was such a pretty color of blue!
The end of the pier seemed to connect to a small island.
As we walked back down the pier, the pelican had found a place to perch and dry off.
We rode a total of 13.3 miles on this very warm day.
Tuesday we stayed close to home – Linda worked on the blog and did some laundry; Jim rearranged some things, did some planning for a job at the papermill where he will work on a shutdown in July and finished replacing the firewall insulation on the front of Acey – between the generator and the living space.
We did not make pizza over the weekend, so we made it for dinner tonight!
Wednesday, March 17 – St Patrick’s Day! It was more windy than we liked to go for a bike ride, so we visited some nearby parks for a walk on another bright sunny day in Florida. Ollies’s Pond Park had a trail that circled the pond. No alligators in sight.
Not sure what this hiding bird was – maybe a heron?
Lots of wildlife to see at the pond!
The highlight of our walk was seeing this bird catch a fish and fly off with it!
Is this a cypress tree with all the “knees” coming up around the trunk?
Ollie’s Pond was a nice place to visit!
Our next stop was Spring Lake Park which was not as interesting. But, we found a bench to enjoy our packed lunch and look at the lake.
Friday we drove to Brandon to meet up with Mark & Patti and Russ & Adele. On the way, we drove past Woody’s where we had lunch with Dennis & Liz.
We met when we all cruised in 2018 on the Viking Magni from Amsterdam to Budapest.
Mark fixed a Maurice Salad – which was served at JL Hudson’s in the Detroit area way back when – Patti, Mark. Jim and Linda all grew up in Michigan but we didn’t remember having that salad – it was tasty! It looked something like this (no one got a photo!)
Saturday we drove up to Venice and rode our bikes on the Venice Waterway trail.
We rode down the east side of the intracoastal and back,
crossed over the drawbridge and rode down the west side and back up
We stopped to walk on a short boardwalk at Caspersen Beach.
It was a bit cool for a beach day, but lots of folks out, many looking for shark’s teeth.
We rode on and saw this interesting home across the waterway with a lighthouse motif.
We stopped at the Old Salty Dog and met Mia, Liz and Liz’s mother for lunch (just a reminder, Liz is married to Dennis who worked with Jim a few years back) – again no photos; we seem to forget to take many photos when we get together! As we rode back to the trailhead, there was a second drawbridge to cross.
We rode just over 17 miles today. Since we started riding last June, we have gone 913 miles on our bicycles. Since May when we left Nashville, Acey has gone 8,697 miles, so we have ridden about 1/10 as many miles. On the other hand, we have driven Thor 14,180 miles touring the areas where we stopped.
Later in the evening, we zoomed with the family – Chuck is in Asheville and did a half marathon and is doing some hiking; a beautiful area for sure!
Sunday morning, we Zoomed with our Sunday School class and also joined the worship service at Stephens Valley Church in Nashville by YouTube. We are looking forward to being there next Sunday!
After we fixed lunch, we got on the website for Tennessee vaccinations and found we could make appointments – so we scheduled our COVID vaccinations for Thursday morning!
We made preparations for our departure tomorrow – we will have 2 overnights on our way to the Nashville area, arriving on Wednesday.