As we prepare to rejoin Sojourner on a permanent basis, we depart Orlando with many great memories of a Florida winter that wasn’t at all what we anticipated. We thought keeping Sojourner on the east coast would facilitate more time on her, and we had visions of sharing weekend cruises and overnight anchoring-out adventures with visiting friends and family. That simply was not to be. Without exception, whenever our Northern visitors left their homes to enjoy “sunny and warm” Florida, we welcomed them with frigid temperatures, strong winds, torrential rains, and/or all three. The coldest winter on record in central Florida, the past several months took “making company feel at home“ to a whole new and ridiculous level! And so, we spent less time on Sojourner than last year, but we had great visits and we did things we probably would not have, had the weather cooperated!
As described earlier, what became the clear pattern of wonderful visits despite less-than-great weather began when Bev and Karen visited in January. Then, in mid-February, Maurie and Dominique flew south from Syracuse, and we welcomed them with sun, but strong winds and virtually freezing temperatures. The sun encouraged us to drive to the coast and we did go to the beach, but it was so cold, even the birds were staying clear of the water!! Because of high winds M&D didn’t get to cruise on Sojourner, but with Susan, they did take a nature cruise on the St. Johns River and, given the conditions, saw a tremendous variety of wildlife, including the now, seemingly obligatory gators, but also turtles, great blue heron, ibis, egrets, osprey, and wild turkeys as well as hundreds, truly hundreds, of manatees huddling in the constant 72 degrees of the nearby Blue Springs State Park. We also visited the famous Leu Gardens, a 50-acre, marvelously diverse, set of gardens only a mile or so from our winter home in the Baldwin Park area of Orlando. Despite the weather, the roses and camellias were gorgeous. But without a doubt, for us, a real highlight of M&D’s visit was a dinner of entrée and dessert crepes they made for us on their last evening in Orlando!
Surely we said, but the time Patty C. visits in mid-March, this unusual weather will have passed and she will be able to escape the cold of winter in Kentucky…. Not so one would notice! We were able to get her a very short ride on Sojourner, however! The boat had been at Eau Gallie Boat Works for some work, and Patty got to ride along on the sea trial before we returned with Sojourner to Cocoa Village Marina. She served as our Roadie so she didn’t even get to enjoy the ride back to the Marina, and by the time we reunited there, the weather had so deteriorated there was no hope of cruising for the remainder of her visit! Patty and Susan did brave serious threats of rain and the cold for a fun ride on the little cruise boat that travels through the canals and among the several lakes in Winter Park, a delightful community of about 25,000 just adjacent to Orlando. With hope for the future, actually great weather graced the day we all joined several of Carolyn’s Law School faculty colleagues for an afternoon of Grapefruit League, spring training baseball, featuring the Houston Astros and the Toronto Blue Jays at the county stadium in Kissimmee! And we are most grateful for Patty’s willingness to help us unravel the mysteries of our new iPhones before returning to Lexington!!
In hindsight, the weather for the baseball game must have been a sign of change for a week or so later when we drove to Vero Beach for lunch with Cousin Evie, we had another truly beautiful day: sunshine, slight breeze and warm temperatures. We dined at the Ocean Grill right on the water and the Atlantic could not have been prettier!! One of our regrets this year is that we just couldn’t get our schedules coordinated better to make more time with Cousin Evie! She lives in Port St. Lucie, about 3 hours south of Orlando and on the coast…when she could, we couldn’t and when we could, she couldn’t…
Not until grandson Isaac’s visit in early April did we begin to experience “typical” Florida weather and even then, we did not have it on the days we all could be on the boat! The best we could do on the weekend was to get him out in the dinghy (more his size anyway) and a quick run to the beach when it was cold and threatened rain. Back in Orlando, we spent one, not-so-good weather day inside at the Orlando Science Museum, and then, later in his visit, we all shared a
great day at the Kennedy Space Center. Near the end of his Spring Break week, he and Susan finally had a perfect day the beach. And for the last adventure of Isaac’s visit, we had both sunshine and warmth as he and Susan humored Carolyn by accompanying her to Gatorland, an old timey, family-oriented “amusement” park that had both a Splash Park and an incredible bird sanctuary as part of its attractions. Obviously, Isaac loved the former and all three of us enjoyed the latter. [Isaac's Spring Break].
So the last set of friends to visit, Susan and Sue, arrived from Syracuse in mid-April. Surely by now the cold would be gone- true enough, but after a week of great sun and mild temperatures just prior to their arrival, the rains returned and S&S were drenched on their first outing, an afternoon visit to Winter Park and the Charles Hoser Morse Tiffany Museum! The weather improved as the week progressed, and we all were able to enjoy a cruise and a couple nights on Sojourner. The Syracuse Susans had a perfect day for their triple amusement park marathon (Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom and Epcot all in one day!!) and a trip to Lakeland to visit Mom Leila. All “the Susans” had sun, warmth and no wind for the nature cruise on the St. Johns, quite a different experience from that of Maurie, Dominique and Susan’s earlier cruise with many more gators to be seen but far fewer birds and other wildlife… and not a manatee to be found! The improving weather provided for a couple glorious days at the beach as well. We spent their last night on the boat and celebrated our friendship with dinner at Café Margaux in Cocoa Village, one of the best meals any of us has had!!
We loved having friends and family join us, and we thoroughly enjoyed sharing this portion of our grand adventure with those came either last winter, this winter or both!