April 18, 2014:
Did I say a margarita? Okay, it was probably more than one … maybe more than two. After we got the “car” (aka our dinghy) cranked and running, we scooted on up to the dinghy dock at Ft. Myers Beach to see what all the fuss was about. We checked in at the Matanzas Inn and, like many of the other mooring fields we had stopped at along the way, Ft. Myers did not disappoint. For a sum total of $15/night, we were secure on the ball with welcomed access to the dinghy dock, restrooms and showers, and (in our opinion), a pimped out laundry room:
I mean, more than one washer and dryer … and a book swap?!? This place was four star! We were thrilled with the amenities. We signed up for two nights and hit the town, puffing out our chests and cheering ourselves along with a mighty “They can’t handle us!” mantra.
We headed first to the beach to see the shore and what kind of salty, sandy folks we were dealing with in Ft. Myers. We stumbled upon a place called “Top O’ the Mast” and thought how fitting?
I’d been there a time or two already on this trip. Why not? Let’s give it a try. We ordered up a couple of their signature rum runners and headed out to the beach.
There we found a diverse bunch of beach bar bums and laz-abouts that felt just our speed. We kicked back with our drinks and watched several gals who looked like they were about three years out of middle school and three sheets to the wind crash their kayak repeatedly in some heavy surf, an older couple on wobbly legs attempt to dance to Eagles tunes and a steroid-infused jet ski rental dude hit on anything remotely resembling a tweenager. It was an easy, entertaining scene.
We then ventured out to find some late lunch beach grub and we came upon an open bar restaurant spilling over with folks called SOB – Smokin’ Oyster Brewery.
Whether it was the name or the atmosphere, I’m not sure, but that place fit us like a worn glove.
When we walked in, there was a band playing in the corner, an old Commodores song I believe, and the lead singer/saxist (or is it saxophonist?) was sauntering around barefoot, playing his heart out, making all the old biddies croon.
He was a big beast of a guy, with what appeared to be several drinks spilled down the front of his shirt, but he was an incredible musician with an obvious passion for his … work. We kicked right back and ordered up a cocktail, a margarita and some delicious sweet, crunchy coconut shrimp.
That was followed by another round of margaritas (I told you it was more than one!)
and another appetizer – the oysters Rockefeller – which I couldn’t manage to call anything but “Martaritas and Oysterfellers” by then.
Luckily the gal who was waiting on us spoke ‘Annie’ and she was able to pick up what I was putting down. For the most part … But, put it down we did. We followed the appetizers up with a slow braised pork shank. Put your fingers to your lips and spritz them out with a smack. Mphua! Whatever that is – that’s what our pork shank was. DE-lish. (And don’t ask me where the picture of it is … I took one I know, but lost it I’m sure!)
After filling our spirits and savoring our big, filling late-lunch, we sauntered back to the dinghy and cruised on back to the boat.
There she is! What a beaut!
We kicked back in the cockpit and took in, what I can now safely say, was the best sunset of the trip.
By cockpit that is …
After the horrendous storm we had encountered in the mooring field the night before, it was nice to see the view we had just seen the day before brewing with ominous clouds now serene and stained with shocking pinks and a burning yellow.
It was so beautiful it silenced us. We both sat in awe, enjoying the slow movement of our chests rising and falling in gratitude,
as the realization started to sink in. We had made it all the way down to Ft. Myers — by boat! Our next stop was Key West. We would be making the jump across the Gulf in just a couple of days. This was it! We were on it. The trip we had been planning for months, preparing and provisioning for for weeks, dreaming about for years. And, here we were. Truly living it. But, we both knew we were enjoying every stop, every step and every breathtaking sunset along the way.
It was the destination that had motivated us, initially, to set our sights on the sea, but it was now the journey that was capturing us, calling us onward, always, for more – to anywhere and nowhere – by boat.