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This last week at Marlin Bay in Marathon was lovely. It's a new, beautiful little resort/marina and we enjoyed our time there. It is definitely the nicest marina we've stayed in so far. It has some great amenties; pool, workout room, club room, etc. and a great staff. The down side was our air conditioning system was STILL not working. Tom has been working on it for the last month. We had techs working on it for three days this last week. Tom knew we had a blockage somewhere in the pump. He was right and they finally found it day 3. We are now chill'in in the salon and it couldn't have come at a better time as we head up the Keys.
Marlin Bay is right beside the Key Fisheries so the complex is surrounded by towers of what else....crab pots!
There are lots and lots of midwesterners in the Keys and many are from Minnesota. Our next door slip neighbors, Dave and LIsa were from Michigan and also doing the Loop. They were great. They have already done the East coast and they shared valuable travel info with us.
We also met a lovely couple, Mike and Beth and her daughters staying at the resort from Medina/Minneapolis. We enjoyed our time visiting with them and eventually figured out they live in the same neighborhood as my nephew Paul and his wife Dani. How crazy is that?
It gets better. I was working out in the sunset tower at Marlin Bay and a couple of families staying at the resort wandered to the marina and climbed the tower. The moms (sisters) in the group and I started to chat and they commented on the boat in the marina from Wabasha. They said they were from Minnesota and never expected to see a boat from Wabasha in Marathon. I told them it was our boat. They said they'd both grown up in Byron. I then realized that I'd worked with one of the sisters, Brenda, way back when at Donaldsons. Never expected that one! It was great to see her again, over 30 years later and meet her sister, Gretchen and family.
After almost two months, we fondly said good bye to Marathon this morning. It was a winter in the Keys we'll never forget! More later~
Remember the song that Bon Jovi and Jennifer Nettles sang? “Who says you can’t go home………” While we were planning the Loop, I really thought we probably wouldn’t go home other than for Christmas. I guess I didn’t think we would really want/need to but, boy was I wrong. After being on the Loop you realize that it’s good to get off the boat. I know now that a lot of Loopers take breaks especially when they are trying to do the Loop in a year. Some head back to their dirt house every six weeks. Some take years to do the Loop. One couple we met did it in eight years. Everyone is on their own schedule and for us it worked perfectly to head home for a couple of weeks. It was great being home. We had the opportunity to re-group and get a few things done and experience a tiny slice of the epic winter Minnesota was having.
So the big snow turned into the big thaw! We had five days of winter and then warm temps turned everything to slush. My snowshoeing was cut way short and the frozen river that we were snowmobiling on turn into a torrent! Parking lots turned into lakes and the culvert at Jimmy’s backed up and we had loading docks full of water! It was perfect timing for us to be back so we could help Sam with all the water issues!
In the midst of all this, back in Marathon, BELLA got moved to a new marina a mile up the island. We need to send out a special thanks to Keith Mackey for moving BELLA to Marlin Bay. After we decided to head back to MN, we found out from the dock master at Faro Blanco that we wouldn’t be able to keep the boat there until we got back. Keith graciously agreed to move her to Marlin Bay for us and for that we are so appreciative.
Thanks also to family and friends that reached out to get together with us while we were home. It was wonderful getting together with all of you. We had dinner with the Moes, Tom attended the annual Lutteke/Amos Fish Fry, I got to go to Disney on Ice with my sister, Jane and her granddaughters and daughter in law, coffee with one of my bestie’s, Joan, a puppy visit with Kenai, lunch with the Brandrups, lunch with the Schneiders and lunch with baby Jack Vesel and his parents and Nicky J, girls night-in with Marny, Fun Day Monday with Ryder and Amber, Spaghetti dinner with the Weinholds and Barbers, beers at the Bowling Alley with Westers and Unverzagts, a visit to Air Insanity (I didn’t hurt myself, thankfully), almost got to watch the boys play hockey at the Return of the Robin tournament (Sam didn’t think he needed his parents there ☹, time with Wanda and Megan, birthday dinner with the boys, TAXES and time with both Sam and Griff. Below are a few photos (when I remembered to bring my phone) of our time at home.
It was a busy couple of weeks, but now we are ready to get back to the boat and start our way up the East coast. We arrived back in Marathon, Marlin Bay on Monday, March 25. Our hope is to get on the water sometime this week after we have the air conditioner repaired and the bottom of the boat scraped. We’ll provision up and wait for the weather, waves and wind to cooperate.
Call us crazy but both of us are so happy to be home in the snow and cold! We've gotten more snow this winter than we have in a very long time and it was killing us not to be a part of it! We got home Wednesday evening to massive amounts of snow. We had our first fire since Christmas and my favorite pizza!
Thursday was a double cartwheel day (yup, I still do one everyday)! I was able to get out snowshoeing, we went for a snowmobile ride and then got together with friends and caught up on the local Hooterville happenings!
I decided that while I'm home, I'm going to try to get out snowshoeing everyday. The trail across the river is broken (thanks Brad Amos!) and temperatures have been in the 20's the last few days, so I have I've been enjoying the great outdoors!
Tom thought it would be fun to try and get one of the snowmobiles to the top of the snow pile in front of our house......he only got it so far before it got buried and he had to dig it out ;). He and Sam have been riding like crazy! They went out Friday with Dave Weinhold and Alex Kurth to Fountain. The conditions were perfect and they had a terrific time together!
Saturday they headed out with another group on their sleds to Minneiska. The morning ride was great, but by the afternoon it started to rain and they were soaked by the time they got home.
After two full days of snowmobiling, he's a little sore! So today we're enjoying the day inside by the fire!
We are going to enjoy the snow, our family and friends while on this break from the Loop. Being home just reinforces what every Minnesotan knows.....we live in a beautiful part of the world.
More from MinneSNOWta later~
The Baggers took off Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon a couple of my crazy sisters, Kris Ann and Jane showed up! I was so happy to see them! The only thing missing was Marny. She had used up her PTO in January on a trip to Aruba and wasn't able to join us. Missed her, but I hope at some point while we are Looping she'll be able to join us.
I'm not exactly sure how we do it, but there is NEVER a lull in the conversation. I've always loved spending time with my sisters and it was so much fun showing then around Marathon and catching up. They met all our neighbors on the dock and got a feel for what it's like to live on a boat. Saturday night they stayed on the boat and right on que Saturday morning the front air conditioning unit that we'd been working on during the week decided that it wasn't going to work after all! We were a bit worried that they would roast in the front state room, but hoped that the fan we set up in the main salon would push enough cool air to the front to keep them comfortable. Sunday morning they had no complaints, so all was well and we moved them to the hotel for the rest of their stay. We started with coffee in the back of the boat and planned out our day.
We decided to have a dinghy day, Sunday and I took them up to Marlin Bay, Keys Fisheries, Boot Key, Sister Creek and then to Sombrero Beach. Just like all our Minnesota visitors, they were pretty happy to be out in the sunshine and away from the snow and cold.
After a leisurely (mostly no wake) ride through the Boot Key Mooring field, we beached the dinghy and strolled Sombrero Beach. It was Sunday, so the beach for busy. We considered taking a dip, but Kris is not a fan of sharks and after seeing them swimming around in the marina, she wasn't too hip to take a dip!
We have several charter fishing boats in the marina and when they come in after a charter and clean their catch, the sharks are hanging around to nab the scraps. We've been seeing five or six sharks all vying for a snack. The largest is about five feet long.
Sunday afternoon after we tied the dinghy up, a manatee floated passed the back of BELLA. It was so fun to see one up close and I was happy that Jane and Kris were able to see a manatee. Unfortunately, they never saw any dolphins up close. I was hoping that either in the dinghy or the big boat they would get to see some. No such luck ;(
Monday the weather held out for us so we were able to take the boat out and cruised up to Moser Channel. When we hit the channel the chop was pretty aggressive so we headed back in. It was a good thing we did, shortly after tying up, up we saw a water spout form in the gulf.
After the water spout dissipatted we were treated to a rainbow. Our sign that Jill was there in spirit with us.
In between dinghy and boat rides, we hit the pickleball court and taught Jane and Kris how to play, spent a little time at the pool, walked and talked. Both Kris and Jane (and Marny) are Grandma's now. I love hearing all about their 'littles'! And of course there was no shortage of food. They tried conch fritters, lobster ruebens, hog fish, grouper and key lime pie!
After a day of roaming around Key West we headed to Burdines for dinner. I couldn't let them leave without having a basket of fries! It was a wonderful few days with my sisters! Thank you so much for taking the time to come down and see us. Love you both!
After numerous phone calls from Sam and all the talk of the fabulous snow back in Minnesota we decided to change up our plan to come home in April and packed up and flew back on Wednesday with my sisters. Griff plans on coming home next week for spring break, so we'll all be together for a few days. We plan to enjoy the snow, the boys, do our taxes and see friends and family for a couple of weeks before we head back to Marathon and start up the East coast of Florida.
More later....from Minnesota!
Last summer at a gathering, a group of our friends, known as the Baggers, decided to schedule a get away to Marathon during our stay. They arrived Saturday and called a lovely VRBO on the canal near Sombrero Beach home for the week. The Baggers, aka, Kevin & Pam Wester, Corey & Shelly Unverzagt, Kris & Carol Speltz and friends of the Speltz', Ron & Judy Theis, were gracious and included us in their weeks activities. We took them to a few of our favorite haunts in Marathon, made the trek to Key West and Duval Street, were treated to some great meals at the vrbo, had some laughs and soaked up the sun around their pool.
The rental was great! In addition to the pool, it had bean bags, a hammock, tiki hut and bikes that were used every day....Carol was trying to ride 100 miles in a week and I think Judy was trying to walk 100 miles that week :). Need less to say these Minnesotans enjoyed the warm weather and spent most of the time outdoors.
We headed to Key West with the Baggers for a day and checked out the shops and sites on Duval. One of the local establishments advertised the weather forecast incase any of us were unaware.....
We made our way to the Southern Most Point in the USA and had a photo op and then headed down to Sunset Pier passed Mallory Square. They got to see Sloppy Joe's and we gals did a little shopping.
This group of guys is known for liking to have a project to work on while they are suppose to be relaxing. For example, they'll build a deck during a weekend of camping. So when they found out that our dinghy wasn't steering quite right, they set out to fix it.....and they did. Tom and I brought the dinghy over to the vrbo so they could all take it out exploring and by the time we got it back it the steering was fixed. Thanks to their ability and ingenuity the dinghy now turns a whole lot better!
Thanks Baggers for the visit! Great people, great time!
Tom & Sue Slightam
Read along as we circumnavigate the eastern half of the United States and southern Canada on the Great Loop on our boat BELLA, a Cruiser 460 Express.