Friday, December 7, 2012

Five Days In Marco Island

  Smokehouse Bay is in the heart of Marco Island. If you are coming up the river from the Gulf of Mexico, there is a small channel on the south side of the river that leads into Collier Bay. Smokehouse is past Collier Bay as you weave your way through the well marked channel in this no wake zone. The Esplanade, shown in the picture, is a resort and condominium complex on the East side of Smokehouse Bay and sitting right out front is the Esplanade Marina. They don't have services or fuel, but they do have some transient dockage. We anchored just a bit away from it, right in front of a small city park.
  After our fun day spent with Bert and Renee on Sunday, we wanted to just take a breather all day Monday, so we did. On Monday night we decided to watch some T.V. and in spite of being right in the heart of Marco Island, we couldn't get any reception, so we made plans to move the next day, out into the bay a little further.
  Rosie had decided on Monday that she didn't really want to do a "spa day" on Tuesday, that she would rather spend the whole day with me. You'd think she would be over that by now.
  Instead, on Tuesday, we took the dinghy over to the small dock right behind the nearby Winn Dixie and we walked to West Marine and I bought an "oil extractor", a device that creates suction by pumping a handle, and with a hose inserted into a dipstick, will suck the oil out of an engine. I wanted to use it to change the transmission oil in each of our transmissions. (The device worked as advertised, but I couldn't get the plugs out that house the oil filters on the transmissions, so I had to install new oil without cleaning the filters. Next time.)
  We also bought some new swimwear for me, and a couple of warm up suits for Rosie. We got back to the boat and Rosie went to unzip the top for one of the warm up suits and the zipper pull just broke off of the zipper, practically disintegrating in her hand. So now we had to walk back to that store to make a return. Stores in tourist areas don't mind selling you junk because they know you won't be around to return it when it breaks.

  We moved on Tuesday afternoon and got a better view of the sunset, plus better T.V. reception in the bargain. There are two other boats anchored over where we moved to and during one of our dinghy trips, we stopped by to say "Hi" to one couple in a trawler.
  They just retired a few months ago and have traveled from Houston, TX, and are heading in the same direction as we are, but first they have to keep their boat at a marina here in Marco Island and go home for a month or so. They also have plans to ship their boat overseas and cruise around Turkey, an ambitious plan for sure. They are very nice and we'll make it a point to keep up with them.

  Holly got a much needed haircut on Wednesday. I would say that she is 100% housebroken now, and uses the swim platform to do her "business", the majority of the time, only using her potty pad occasionally, but she goes into her room to use it as needed when we let her run around on her own in the boat. This method sure beats taking her to land in the dinghy twice a day, in all kinds of weather, but having a small dog is the key here.
  Let's see, what else happened? We cruised over to the Esplanade in the dinghy to check out if we wanted to visit a restaurant there with Bert and Renee before they go back home and the harbormaster there said that, "He was told" by his boss about us picking up Bert and Renee at the dock on Sunday. He personally didn't have a problem with it, but the board of directors didn't want their marina to become a place for people to be picking up and dropping off passengers. I said that I thought the fact that we visited a restaurant there later and spent a few bucks would offset any opposition to using the marina as a pick up spot. He agreed, but, that's not the way his boss sees it.
  This policy put a hitch in any plans to pick up Bert and Renee again in the boat, but I wasn't feeling too good this week anyway, and we did have plans for them to join us on Thursday night for dinner before they left. Our plan was to take the dinghy over to the marina and park it there while we were having dinner. This seems to be acceptable to the management at their stuffy marina.
  On Thursday morning we went back to the store where Rosie bought the cheap clothing. We also went to West Marine again, and we found an Ace Hardware within walking distance. I went to the Ace Hardware to get some gasket material for our sump box, plus I wanted a bigger Crescent wrench to fit the nut on the oil filter housing on our transmissions.
  I already have what is called a "10 inch" Crescent wrench. It doesn't open wide enough for the nut that I intend to use it on. In my world, and maybe yours, a larger wrench, say a "12 inch Crescent wrench, would logically open wider, right? The guy at the Ace Hardware store that waited on me didn't see it that way.
  I was looking at their selection of Crescent wrenches, housed behind a locked sliding glass case, (Marco Island didn't seem to be the place where tool pilfering would be a problem.) when a German fellow that worked there asked if I needed some help. I say "German fellow" because judging by his thick German accent, I only assumed he was German. I know this because not only am I "good friends with several Germans", as they say, but I am largely German myself and I know my way around a German accent. I, however, am a blog writer, not Kurt Vonnegut, so I am not so good at writing a German accent.
  As he was unlocking the glass cabinet, I explained to him that I had a 10 inch wrench, but wanted the larger one, but the package in was encased in did not provide the information as to how wide the jaws on this particular wrench would open. Using some calculation that I am unfamiliar with, he takes out a tape ruler and does some measuring on the wrench with the jaws closed and tells me that they will open about "one inch". I told him that wouldn't be the case because my 10 inch wrench opens over 2 inches, so the 12 inch wrench would open more. He disagreed, saying that they had much smaller wrenches that in fact would open wider than their larger wrenches. Now, I don't know what qualified this bird to be working at a hardware store, but I know my way around a Craftsman Tool box. I chose not to argue with this guy, but instead told him that if this was the case, I wouldn't be buying this $18 wrench then.
  As I was picking out my gasket material, another fella asked me if I was finding everything I needed. He turned out to be the owner of the store. I explained that I wanted a Crescent wrench that would open wider than the 10 inch wrench I had. "The 12 inch one will do that", he said.
  "That's what I think, but the fella that was helping me didn't see it that way, and I didn't want to argue with him", I replied.
  The owner unlocked the case and gave me a knowing look along with the 12 inch wrench. I would guess that he has had disagreements with this particular employee in the past himself. I was at the cash register when the German fellow noticed that I was buying the wrench and he commented on it. I jokingly offered to pay him ten dollars if the wrench didn't open over one inch, if he would pay me the ten dollars if it did. He declined, saying that if he had told me the wrong thing when I wondered if how far the wrench would open, that I would "come back to the store and throw the wrench in his face". They seem to have a rigid return policy at this particular Ace Hardware in Marco Island. He went on to say that he really didn't care how far the jaws on the wrench opened anyway. I wondered then, why he would say anything about the wrench at all if he didn't know, or care. I think this guy needs to find another line of work, say in a brewery somewhere. I'll never look at a BMW the same way again.
  We went on to Beall's outlet mall where Rosie bought two warm up suits of better quality, we hope. We also made another stop at Winn Dixie for a couple of items we missed earlier in the week. Then it was back to the boat for lunch and to rest up to meet Bert and Renee one more time before they left on Friday morning.
  Renee called later and said Bert wasn't feeling too well and they had to scratch dinner plans. We understood because I hadn't been feeling too well all week. They come to Marco Island every year, so we are sure to see them again, but after this revelation, we wished we had sucked it up and met them on either Tuesday or Wednesday. We just can't party like we used to.

  We went over to the Tiki Bar at the Esplanade any way. The octagonal bar was full of patrons, but I asked one bartender who he thought might be leaving and he motioned over to a couple of young guys finishing up a couple of cocktails. We moved over behind them and waited like vultures until they left.  We later asked a fellow patron to take the above photo. It would appear that we were having a pretty good time, and we were, but the pizza we ate was the worst pizza we ever had. They advertised it as a "14 inch pizza", but it was shaped like a football and the measurement was made along the longest side I guess.
  One thing I noticed about this ritzy bar; there was a lot of grown men wearing sweaters draped over their shoulders with the arms of the sweaters tied around their necks. This is not a good look, fellas. I even saw one guy wearing an ascot. An ascot! No wonder this town can serve bad food and employ idiots to work in their stores; the citizens seem to have more money than sense. We need to get to where more down to earth people live. When I go to a bar, I want the guy next to me to be wearing a Harley shirt, and his girlfriend to be wearing less.
  To end this entry on a high note: We just got through with an interview with a writer from Heartland Boating for an article that should appear in their January issue. We actually enjoyed the process, the writer was very personable. I hope she leaves out the part about the illegal aliens we keep in the engine room though.

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