Swing Set

Dec 10, 201308:32 AM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

An Eventful Week

Here we are at Stock Island Marina Village. Swing Set is just about in the center of this picture. The marina is slowly filling up. A big rush will take place just after the holidays, so we're happy so far with our choice of slips. We are on the end, so we don't get much foot traffic, and the end "T" is extra wide, so there's a lot of room between our boat and the boat on the outside of the "T". Eventually, we'll have a boat right next to us, as these are doublewide slips, but we could get lucky and have a skinny boat in there.

The new laundry is just off of our dock, and there's a huge bathroom on the end of the laundry building that has a shower big enough for a party. We can only dream.

Our new bike is locked to a bike rack not too far away (we can see it from the boat), and we have a nice cover for it. We had to buy a motorcycle cover to find one to fit, and it took an extra large cover to do it, but it fits fine. We should be able to keep our bike looking nice.

Holly got a new haircut on Monday, in between various other chores. Grooming Holly ourselves saves us a lot of money, plus the groomer is just one more place we don't have to travel to. No telling what kind of riff raff Holly may have to associate with at a groomers anyway.

Late on Monday afternoon, we got a message that our friend Marco and his wife Deby, along with their daughter, Danita, were on their way to Key West for a couple of days. It was too late for us to consider going out once they got settled in, so we planned an outing on the boat for the next day.

The family showed up right on time. It was to be Danita's first boat ride, and it was her birthday, one year old. Holly wasn't used to Danita, and Danita hadn't been close to a dog before, so there were protests from each of them, but it worked out for the most part. We took a slow ride over to Key West Bight to show Marco and Deby the downtown area from the water. We came back late in the afternoon and then rode over to The Hogfish Grill for a late lunch.

The next day, we loaded up Holly on the bike for a ride downtown to the library. We wanted to get some new movies, because it will be a while before the cable TV is operating here at Stock Island Marina Village, and going to bed at 8 o'clock is getting ridiculous.

Holly has a pet carrier that we bought in case we need to fly back to St. Louis, or take a car somewhere, so we put her in it and strapped it to the bike, so the carrier wouldn't go flying out if we crashed. But I made a mistake. I left one of the zippers open on one end of the carrier, so Holly could stick her head out and enjoy the ride.

We were pedaling towards A1A on Cross Street when we came over a little bridge over a canal and I saw a guy on the side of the road next to a bike laying on its side. The guy was struggling to get up, and he was in pursuit of a dog, judging by the fact that he was calling it. As we got nearer, and we were going at a fair clip, I could see that he hadn't had an accident, but he had just laid the bike down in order to attach the dog to a leash, so in passing I asked him if he was OK. When he answered that he was, Holly spied the dog and went nuts, barking and trying to get at the dog. In doing so, she squirmed out of the opening on the carrier, and I didn't notice it.

The following sequence of events happened in just split seconds, but in retrospect, they seem like they were minutes apart.

I heard what sounded like a block of wood hitting the pavement. Rosie yelled that Holly had fallen out, I saw that Holly had fallen out, and we both heard Holly yelp in the most disturbing manner. It's the sound no pet owner wants to hear, either from their own pet or another's.

I quickly stopped the bike, and Rosie was off in a flash. I turned to see Holly on her feet with a car coming in her direction, but Rosie was waving for the car to stop, and it was indeed slowing down, but there was traffic coming from the other direction, too.

I put the bike on the kickstand, not believing now that I took the time to do so, but what I didn't do was panic. Think about it; would an ambulance driver arrive at an accident scene and jump out of the ambulance while it's moving and let it crash into a tree or go off of a cliff? No. The ambulance has to be in one piece in order to get the victim to the hospital.

Rosie was scaring Holly by yelling her name and telling her to "come here." Holly was shaken up and was dashing around on the street. The cars were stopped, but you never know when someone will get inpatient and try to dodge around the stopped cars.

One command that Holly understands, and will invariably listen to, is the command to "sit." I stayed as calm as I could, given the circumstances, and told Holly to "sit," so she sat and I picked her up. Rosie and Holly were both shaking as we searched Holly's body for an injury. and we didn't see anything. We then checked her teeth and didn't find any damage to them either. Once we got to a safe spot, we walked her around and decided that Holly survived her fall from the bike without a scratch!

Whether she likes it or not, Holly's rides in her pet carrier will be done with all of the zippers closed completely. We cannot believe our good fortune that Holly was not injured.

 

At mid-week, Rosie and I took the dinghy out to explore some more. In the photo above, we are anchored just off of Boca Chica Key. Some local boaters gather there on the weekends, but even on the weekdays, Jet Ski tours stop there to give the riders a breather, or maybe just to eat up time, as they promise a two-hour ride.

We found a nice, quiet spot to anchor in the mangroves just between Stock Island and Boca Chica, and we know there are many more neat places to explore on the "bayside" of both of these keys, and around the keys just to our east, or as most people think, to our north, because A1A is considered to run north to south, but isn't so on our end.

We've been in contact with our generator guy. The generator is in, but the marina where we need to go to get it installed is full with boats along the seawall, where we have to use a big forklift to install the 400-pound generator. We are in no hurry, but we'd like to get the installation behind us, and get our expenses for the matter put to rest, as we have other work to do on the boat that will affect our budget.

Meanwhile, we're getting used to our surroundings little by little, organizing our dock space, and waxing, waxing, waxing the boat. The little chores never end.

One of the chores is grocery shopping, and we made our first trip to the grocery store on the bike. We kept filling up the grocery cart, and I kept saying that we were getting too much stuff, and once we got everything bagged up at the checkout, I knew we were in trouble. I stuffed two big bags into the basket over the front tire. (This basket is attached to a better place on the frame, not the handlebars.) We had our one pannier full, and Rosie had our knapsack on her back, stuffed to the gills. We for sure had exceeded the total weight limit for our Yuba bike, and I could barely steer it home. Next time, we're going to fill our bags while they are in the grocery cart, so we know where we stand right off.

Last Friday night, we took the dinghy over to Hogfish for a few beers. We barely putted into the harbor over there and were tying up when some guy comes up to the dinghy and tells me to go a little slower next time coming into the harbor. I laughed, because I thought he was kidding, as we were going slow enough to not have a wake. He said there was people sleeping and we were keeping them awake. It was 6:30 in the evening! I finally said, "Are you serious?" He said he was, but had a crazed look on his face, so I just said, "OK, thanks pal," and he left.

I do know this: A lot of the local fishermen around here have an axe to grind with the owners of the new marina where we are docked now, and it doesn't take too much sense to figure out that anyone coming in at night in a dinghy is from the new marina, so I think this fella just wanted to take his displeasure out on us. We left like church mice, and we'll be in stealth mode in the future as well, but if he wants to make an issue of our presence some other time, it may get ugly.

The Hogfish has a reputation as being a bit "shady" and being a "rough and tumble" kind of place. We've been there enough times to realize that it's true, but I have news for them. We're from Fenton, Mo., and we've been in Joe Clarks on a Friday night. Enough said.

On Saturday, we took the bike downtown to Dante's to use the pool and just hang out. We had a nice afternoon. The place was crowded, and the weather was great. We spent four hours there, and were going to stay and watch the SEC football championship game, but there was no way that was going to happen and I was going to pedal our bike back to Stock Island. We made the sensible decision to leave before the game and got back to the boat before dark.

Some folks we met last year in the Dry Tortugas had their boat at A & B Marina while we were there for the last two months, and they moved it over to Key West Harbor Club last month. Neal and Cindy called and said they were coming down and wanted to have dinner.

We met them on Sunday night over at the Key West Harbor Club. It's a very nice place. The rent over there is similar to the rent here, but there's nothing nearby to go to in the dinghy if the weather is bad, or on foot for that matter. We may just be rationalizing, but we think the members may be a bit stuffy for us over there. But Neal and Cindy aren't stuffy. We had a little dinner and then joined them on their 58-foot Sea Ray Sedan Bridge for a nightcap. We don't get on many boats of this caliber, and this one is a beauty. At 10 o'clock, we went back to Swing Set and threw rocks at it.

On Monday, I did some more waxing and we took Holly to the dog park here at the marina. They have two fenced in areas, one for large dogs, and one for small dogs. We're pretty sure which area Holly would pick, but we took her to the small dog area anyway. It was funny seeing her walk in the grass, because she doesn't get to go on grass much. We tried to get her to run around, but she mainly wanted to be picked up and held. Our buddy.

While at Dante's last Saturday, I was talking to a restaurant owner, and we were discussing ways to cook on the boat. We both like to prepare our steaks in a cast iron skillet, and he told me about a method he uses to make a demi-glaze sauce for his steaks.

I grilled our steaks while Rosie baked some potatoes and steamed some corn on the cob. Once the steaks were done, I put them in a glass plate with a lid, and then threw a stick of butter in the skillet. On top of the melting butter I poured some red wine, about a cup, and let it cook down and thicken. Once it got thick enough, and before it could burn, I poured it over the steaks for a mouth-watering topping. I've been cooking with beer too long!

This morning, I perfected our bike mounting system. I used the Magma Grill mounting rods that we bought last week, after I had covered them with clear hose, and clamped them to the rails on the aft end of our flybridge. You can see the finished product in the picture above. The rods from this angle are invisible and as sturdy as can be. The bike slips straight on them, and one holds up the front wheel at the rim, and one is placed at the top of the triangle formed by the center post and rear frame, just behind the crank. We think it will work great if we ever travel on our boat again.

We had lunch today over at the new location of the Shrimp Road Grill. The grill trailer has been moved over to the Tiki Hut. The hut is huge, and there are about eight big picnic tables to eat on, and ceiling fans provide a nice breeze. There's going to be a bandstand built and most of the walking areas are paved with multi-colored bricks. Oh, and the food is moderately priced and delicious!

Rosie is posing next to the Christmas tree under the Tike Hut. It will be the closest thing to our own Christmas tree that we'll have this year, but as I write this, Rosie is decorating the boat with little Christmas-type crap that she has smuggled aboard. This is something she likes to do, and I don't discourage her. I may even look around the salon when I get done with this blog and tell her how nice it all looks. Yes, I lie when I have to.

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