2024 June 13 – 20 Homosassa, Cortez and our Bayliner Element

June 13:  Drive to Homosassa with a Birthday Dinner on the way

Our trip was delayed because of torrential rains on June 12 – with trucks turning over on the highway. June 13 was a fine day to travel. We stopped along the way to celebrate Stu’s 79th birthday at the Fish City Grill in Lakeland where Stu’s catfish dinner was much enjoyed (as well as Joan’s Grilled Norwegian Salmon).

photos of dinner

We arrived late in the day at Camp ‘N’ Water Resort campground in Homosassa and had a lovely visit there.

Photos of campground

No visit to Homosassa is complete without a meal at Wild Sassa Food Trailer in Old Homosassa. It did not disappoint. Joan’s Wild Shrimp Boat and Stu’s Mahi Mahi Boat, both with sauce on the side, were delicious.

June 14:  Pontoon Boat adventures exploring the Homosassa Spring area.

We rented a pontoon boat for the day from MacRae’s and motored west to Monkey Island and beyond, and then east to the waters next to the Homosassa Wildlife Refuge, which we had visited by land on our last trip.

photos from pontoon boat – Monkey Island etc.

Dinner found us near the Marguerita Grill, a place we enjoyed before. After a bit of a struggle docking, we got to the dining porch just as the band and the tobacco smoking started. We quickly left on what became an adventure to find the perfect place to eat.

Our second try was The Freezer where the tobacco smoke was even worse.

Discouraged, we ventured to Seagrass Waterfront. It turned out to be quiet, uncrowded and surprisingly fair priced for a place attached to a resort. There were two outdoor seating areas. We first entered a smoking-permitted bar area with a fairly quiet band playing. We were hungry by that point and almost selected a smoke-free corner when we noticed a porch with no one at all eating. We asked and were told it had the same menu.

We enjoyed a quiet dinner of a Reuben Sandwich for Stu and a garden salad with delicious grilled shrimp for Joan. The only less than perfect part was the dinner servings were so generous that Stu declined to sample the wonderful desserts.

We returned to the campground and tied up at a slip we rented for the night. Next morning, Joan took some more Monkey photographs and we returned the Pontoon rental.

monkey photos here?

Amazing, for a long afternoon and evening, we used only 4 gallons of gas. The pontoon was comfortable and quiet but really not a boating experience for Stu.

June 15-16: So we purchased a new-to-us 2918 Bayliner Element E16 in excellent condition.

We headed for our next campground in Cortez, FL, stopping in Tarpon Springs to see and sea trial a Bayliner Element. The boat was just what Stu wanted and he arranged to drive back from Cortez the next day (when the banks were open) to purchase the boat. The boat fit perfectly in our great campsite at Holiday Cove.

We joined Stu’s family at the house they had rented in Bradenton for a day of swimming in the pool  and listening to the music as Erica sang and danced beautifully to the tunes using a microphone at the swimming pool. Chuck and Maggie, with lots of helpers, steamed crab legs, shrimp, sausage, corn on cob, and onions in lots of Bay Seasoning for a spicy and delicious dinner spread out all the way across the picnic table. We all stood around the table and pigged out.

The day ended with news from home that our air conditioner had frozen up and was not working. We arranged for our AC maintenance company to meet Joanne, our house sitter, at the house the next day.

The problem turned out to be very minor; Stu found a loose connector interrupting power to the fan motor. Unfortunately, since we were out of town, the service company estimated the repair between $1500 and $2000, adding that it wasn’t worth it for such an old AC.

This is South Florida so I understand the extreme estimate. What I am struggling to understand is why the air conditioning company declined to quote on a replacement unit.

June 17: Day with the family

We explored the waters near Cortez in our new boat and met up with the Romans’ extended family for a day at the beach at the northern tip of Longboat Key next to the bridge. The rest of the group had come there in Rick’s boat, plus one jet ski for more seating. We had a great time there, until one family member went missing with the jet ski.

As the day progressed, Jayuan went off for a thrill ride on the jet ski and did not return when expected. It urned out to be more of a thrill than he wanted, as the jet ski overheated. Jay shut down the engine, flagged down a rescue boat, and called the family for help.

David, Miguel and Stu took off in Stu’s brand new Element and found Jay. Miguel repaired the jet sky and drove it back. Jay, David and Stu followed in the Element. No damage, but some tense moments.

It is a good omen when the first trip on a new boat is a successful rescue.

June 18: Waffles and Key Lime Pie

Stu drove to the house Miguel’s family had rented nearby to make brunch for the group. His waffles came with sprinkles and syrup as desired, as well as blueberries and bacon. When Stu started to sing “Sprinkle Sprinkle Little Waffle,” his 3-year-old grandson Dylan protested, and proceeded to sing the song correctly to Stu: “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” He said he had learned it at school and encouraged Stu to go back to school to learn it correctly.

The adult hit of the breakfast was sunny side up waffles and bacon. Stu cracked an egg into Sierra and Dylon’s heart mold waffle maker, covered it with 3 small strips of bacon and closed the lid. A few minutes later, the waffle maker buzzed and out came a heart shaped golden brown bacon and egg meal. We placed this on top of a fresh waffle, but on some syrup and pepper to taste, and most of the adults enjoyed the treat.

For dinner the family returned to the Sandbar restaurant where Miguel and Rebecca were married. Terrific dinner, ceviche, stuffed shrimp, shrimp salad and terrific key lime pie.

Our day ended with news that the motor in the air conditioner in our home was dead, and not worth replacing in an older AC. We had to quickly arrange for a new AC to be installed in our house. Not good news.

June 19: Finding a new AC

We spent the day making phone calls, hired a company to install an AC, and as evening fell, we hooked up Winnie and headed home, arriving in Ivan’s driveway where Winnie lives, and slept there in their driveway for the night. In the morning we headed home to meet the installed, and by 7pm, the AC was humming away.

photos of new AC?

The house was not yet inhabitable, after 4 days of no AC and very high temperatures, so we spent a second night in Winnie in our rented driveway. Bu the end of the next day, the house was in good shape and we went home.

Unfortunately, the air conditioning saga continues. The AC company installed a unit that is to powerful for our downsized home.. As a result, the rooms are drafty and the humidity frequently tops 60%