Monday, February 23, 2009

A Day in Caya Costa

While in Southwest Florida we planned a trip to Caya Costa, a National Park Island about a 30 minute drive from Ft Myers Beach. You have to travel through Sanibel and Captiva to get to a marina where you catch a launch to Caya Costa. The old bridge from Ft Myers to Sanibel was replaced a few years ago. The big money in Sanibel wanted to keep the "riff raff" of Ft Myers from easy access to Sanibel so they instituted a $6.00 toll across the bridge.

Anyway, we arrived at the marina at 8:30 a.m. to catch the launch. We passed the most ostentatious homes imaginable on the way. Two of the homes (one looked like the White House and the other looked like the White House Junior) were being built by the Kohler Family, plumbing Czars.

The crew invited us on the boat and we scrambled for seats for our 9:00 a.m. departure. At 9:00 a.m. the captain indicated that we were going to wait a few minutes for a couple who were on their way. 10 minutes later the young folks showed up to a round of applause. We had a good laugh.

Captain Nemo (I forgot his name) took us into the channel and pointed us toward Caya Costa. Everyone on the boat had a high degree of excitement based on the knowledge that this beach was suppose to be the 3rd best shelling beach in the world!

Just before we arrived the 1st Mate (there was no 2nd or 3rd mate) asked for our attention and used a microphone to make sure we paid attention. He established a time for return. We had to be at the boat at 11:25 a.m. sharp. He asked all of us to synchronize our watches and cell phones to make sure we were on time.

We walked around to the Gulf side of the island and Lo and Behold... I never saw so many sea shells in my life! The landing party was salivating. They sell this stuff for good money in dinky little shell shops (say that three times fast). I was enthralled for about 20 minutes. Then I pulled up my trusty beach chair, my book, and watched the others fight over any shells that looked a little different.

At 11:10 I called my wife Geri and told her we needed to get back to the boat. At 11:25 Captain Courageous (I forgot his name) and his Assistant Captain (the guy was promoted while we were anchored) started counting the people on board. There were supposed to be 29 but they counted twice and only came up with 27. We looked around and guess who was missing ?? You guessed it, Mr. and Ms. Johnnie C. Lately. We voted to leave them but Captain Gulliver told us by law he could not do that . So he left the boat and walked around to the other side of the island. He returned to announce that they were no where to be found. So Captain Jack had this idea to ride around the island and blow his substantially loud horn until we could find them.

About a mile or so up the beach we spotted them. They were casually walking along the beach while several of us (including yours truly) were screaming words of encouragement and offering coded signals with our middle fingers. Captain Video pulled the boat up to the edge of the beach but couldn't get close enough for them to reach the boat ladder without wading in the water. The lady perpetrator yelled to us, "I can't do this because I can't swim!". I yelled back, "You obviously can't tell time either!"

Everyone on the boat was really pissed. They decided not to applaud this time when they entered the boat. No one said anything (except your truly). When Lady Dracula passed by me I looked her in the eye and said "The first time it was funny, the second time it wasn't". She looked away to avoid the expression on my face.

We arrived back 45 minutes late but they didn't charge us for the extra time.

It was a lovely day!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Get On the GPS Bandwagon

I'd have to guess that most of us are 10 miles behind the technology Bandwagon, at least I am. I have to hear from just about all of my friends and family, as well as read all the blogs on the Internet before I'm willing to try something new. So Lo and Behold, we wind up with a Garmin Nuvi 200 as a present from my sons for Christmas/Hanukkah (we give them presents for both holidays, they get us presents for one).

It was a cute little thing and I really didn't think we'd get much use out of it. It stayed in the box until we were embarrassed to open it and try it. Funny thing about these hard plastic cases, when you cut them to get them open you always wonder if the store will accept a return when you decide you don't want it. What do you say when they tell you it has to be returned in the original packaging?

Anyway, the directions said to take it out to an area with direct access to the sky so the satellites can activate it. They cautioned not to set it up near trees, so I had to drive it to a local soccer field to get it started. Temperamental little thing isn't it? So I turned it on and it started blinking and making electronic noises. I waited for a while until it finally told me that the satellites had been located. I hoped it wouldn't take that long to get me out of somewhere after taking the wrong turn off the expressway (Bonfire of the Vanities??).

So now our Garmin was activated and I placed it in the glove compartment of my car. There it sat until I remembered two weeks later that it was in there. I ran out to my car after I read somewhere that you shouldn't leave it in an environment below 32 degrees. It had been below 32 degrees for 3 days! I cuddled it, brought it into the house, and covered it with warm towels to bring it back to life. I pressed the "ON" button and Eureka, it started to beep!

So now we're on our way to Florida, snow-birding for the month of February, driving in the car. The lady on the Garmin from the Midwest (I think she was a truck stop waitress or something) gives us turn by turn directions. My wife doesn't believe this thing works and has her trusty maps in her lap following each and every directional instruction given by Maude (I named her in order to keep this personal).

About 100 miles into the trip she got us lost. I quickly changed the voice to a British flight attendant who seemed more knowledgeable. She got us back on track.

After reaching South Carolina we programmed it to take the shortest route. It was supposed to take us 4.5 hours to reach St Augustine and it took us 6 hours. Well I guess with that kind of technology give or take an hour and a half ain't bad.

The only part of this that worried me was when we were in a particular tough part of the course and the British lady said "Satellite signal lost". That scared us a little.

After regaining satellite signal we continued on our journey using the maps in my wife's lap.

Ah what a wonderful thing technology is!!