Like many of our best made plans, the two weeks in Oregon turned into two months. We ended up leaving not at the end of August, but in October. It took a week to drive cross country to Shell Point, Florida, a quaint little marina on the Gulf of Mexico, just south of Tallahassee, near Crawfordsville, downwind of…never mind.
Our trip was relatively uneventful considering we had three boys under five and Tukes our dog. We had our tv/vcr player strapped in over the folded down second row of seats. The boys were seatbelted and carseated on the back row and for once in their lives could watch as many videos as they wanted. I still know every word to “If you’re hungry for a hunk of fat and juicy meat, eat my buddy Pumba here, he’s a tasty treat…” (Lion King for those born in the 21st century).
If you don’t count the time we backed out of a parking spot and the side door, which somehow wasn’t closed tightly (at all?) opened and Truman in his carseat -- apparently not buckled in -- fell out, it was your basic road trip. The carseat lived up to its reputation and Truman was fine -- but we have suspected that his life-long search for adrenaline-pumping moments began at age one, in a Winn-Dixie parking lot with a frosted croissant in his chubby fist.
It was in Shell Point that we were introduced to the flying bugs called no-see-ums. If you haven’t had the pleasure, imagine miniscule mosquitos that can fit through any screen and whose bite leaves an itch that cannot be scratched off. Wind seemed to hamper them, so the closer we were to a sea breeze, the better.
Another perk was the humidity. And I thought Oregon was damp. Despite global warming/cooling/climate change, It was sweaty in 1995 as well. Marty relished the blanket-like heat. I felt like I was breathing through a wet blanket. Fortunately we only had to deal with the heat briefly because a few days after our arrival the weather did a 180 and the panhandle we now called home was plunged into unheard of sub-freezing temperatures.
So why not just head south to warmer beaches? Well, we were in Shell Point because that was where the boat of our dreams was berthed (boat lingo for parked). In other words, this lovely 1985 Gemni 32 catamaran was one we could afford because the owner was so desperate to get rid of it that he would owner finance.
And it needed work and we needed to learn how to sail.