We finally arrived back at Punta Gorda and boarded Wrinkles on September 19th. We had a great three month trip visiting 12 states and so many friends. After flying from Punta Gorda to Wisconsin we visited family and friends while staying at Mike's mom's home. We drove down to Columbus, Ohio (along with Matt and Kelley) to visit our oldest son John and his girlfriend Brittnie. After returning to Wisconsin we watched our youngest son marry an amazing young lady. Welcome to the family Kelley.
While in Wisconsin we purchased a used Toyota Corolla to zip around and visit friends. Our trusty little Toyota was going to get quite a workout over the next few weeks. We roughed out a plan to visit friends and family as we slowly made our way back to Wrinkles. The plan included St. Louis to visit our sailing friends Bret and Theresa. From there we would head over to Illinois to see our good friends Steve and Sarah. From Illinois we planned to follow Route 66 all the way to Oklahoma City to visit our daughter Tina. After that we would head eastward to Calico Rock, Arkansas where Kim and Roy (Mike's sister and brother-in-law) live. Next some more miles eastward to stay with Karen and Peter (Brenda's sister and brother-in-law) in Huntsville, Alabama. Finally we planned on spending two days driving down to Punta Gorda. As you all know, plans do change.
We loved visiting each of our family and friends along the way. We shared great times and experienced some really awesome events. We were sad to leave our last stop and head out toward Florida, but it was time to move along. We were keeping a close eye on Hurricane Irma as the forecast was showing she could be passing within a few hundred miles of Punta Gorda. After driving 550 miles we stopped at a motel in Ocala, Florida for the night. The weather reports were consistently showing that Irma was turning ever westward with a potential direct landfall near Punta Gorda. We stayed a couple nights in Ocala to watch Irma's path before deciding whether or not to proceed.
We received a call from our marina telling us we would not be allowed to stay aboard Wrinkles during the hurricane. We made the hard decision to turn back north to stay away from Irma's path. We headed up to Huntsville, Alabama to wait and worry. Thank you so much to Karen and Peter for housing us sailing freeloaders.
Once Irma had finished pounding Florida we allowed a few days for the cleanup crews to do their work and for the fuel supply to be restored. It was hard not to rush out to see Wrinkles, but the crews don't need all of us evacuees getting in their way. Finally we headed south again and made our way to Wrinkles. She had taken the storm without getting even a scratch. We were very lucky!
So after nearly 5500 miles of driving we boarded Wrinkles. It was a funny feeling for us though. We were glad to see Wrinkles, but the sense of excitement we thought we should be experiencing wasn't there. We are not sure how to describe or explain how we did feel. Maybe it was because we knew our plan to spend the winter sailing down to the Keys was probably not going to be possible with the Keys being smashed by Irma. Maybe we are winding down in our desire to continue cruising. Maybe.....we just need to relax here in beautiful Punta Gorda and see what everything looks like in a month or two. We'll see.