These are a couple of river crawfish which Jimmy, the owner of the Seafood Seller & Café, keeps as “pets.”  Just don’t try petting one of these critters or you will find out exactly what those claws are capable of.

Departing Crystal River, we meandered along the Gulf coast to Apalachicola, spending a night in the
Coombs House B&B before high tailing it back to Sweet Home Alabama the next morning.

Y’all would probably think that a couple of olde farts like us would be pretty well played out after an adventure such as this…HAH!!!  Not even close!!  We were home less than a week when we remembered that it was Cherry Blossom time in Washington, DC.  My Bride, being the family elder, decided that she was just not ready to drive another thousand miles to see a bunch of trees in bloom but was willing to drive about 400 miles to see a similar event in
Macon, Georgia. Sooo…we threw a few things in a bag, jumped in the Camaro, and found ourselves in Macon that same evening.  This was quite the feat considering we still hadn’t completely unpacked from our previous trip.

The cherry trees in Macon are a different variety than those you will see in DC but they are nevertheless absolutely gorgeous.

March came in like a lion and, from our perspective, roared constantly from the first day through the last.  In many parts of the country, March is viewed as a time of transition from the cold temperatures and snows of winter to warmer days with spring showers and the re-emergence of trees and flowers budding and blossoming in every imaginable color.

February and early March of this year also marked the annual celebration of Mardi Gras which, as we have mentioned in prior Updates, began in Mobil, Alabama, but has reached new heights of spectacular pageantry in New Orleans…

I don’t know how cold it was the night we arrived but we were mighty glad we brought jackets with us and only wished we still had our tundra wear that we used in Antarctica a few years ago.  In fact, Antarctica was actually warmer than NOLA when we were there in December of 1999.

Arriving in the Big Easy Sunday evening, we disembarked our seagoing digs and made a beeline to St Charles Avenue to catch the final parade of the day, the Krewe of Bacchus. 

There are some folks out there who just don’t pay attention to signs…

We rounded out an afternoon of arts and crafts and blossoms and flowers with some time well spent at Macon Smiles Dueling Piano Bar.  I believe we shocked more than a few of the bar’s patrons after requesting Kenny Rogers’ "Lucille" and singing the usual piano bar refrain (“You bitch, you slut, you whore”) at the end of each chorus.  The crowd may have been scandalized but the piano players loved having a couple of piano bar veterans in the building.  We also requested "Pussycat" but even the piano players weren’t up for that one in the middle of a Sunday afternoon.

Within 30 minutes we found ourselves in a small cove, our persistence having been rewarded well beyond anything we had hoped for.

And with that touch of bawdiness we will bid you all farewell until next time.

Hugs, CC and me

We arrived in Everglades City late that afternoon, checked into our hotel and beat a path to the Rod and Gun Club to watch the dolphins while enjoying afternoon cocktails…

Once again, we made what has become our traditional trek to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to board the Celebrity Reflection to NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) for the last 3 days of Mardi Gras…

We did, however, spot a sign which set the stage for our next stop in Crystal River, Florida.

The next morning, we boarded a National Park tour boat and spent the next few hours being chauffeured through the Ten Thousand Islands in search of wildlife but came up empty; except for some beautiful scenery…

March Madness                                                                 April 21, 2019

Lundi Gras and Mardi Gras were even colder so we skipped the parades on both days this year and headed off to Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse in the French Quarter instead.  Chateaubriand for two paired with a tasty Cabernet was infinitely more enjoyable than freezing our toot-toots off begging for parade throws in the great frozen wasteland that NOLA had suddenly become.  And Mardi Gras, like love bugs, happens every year so maybe next year we’ll venture out in warmer weather to mingle with the bead-crazed horde of party animals screaming, “THROW ME SUMTHIN’ MISTA!”

Our next stop was Georgetown, Grand Cayman, where we whiled away an afternoon at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville with a “cheeseburger in paradise” washed down with a couple of Margaritas.

We headed to dinner that night with huge smiles on both of our cherubic faces and a song of the sea in out hearts.  What more could we possibly expect to squeeze into such a great day?  How about a couple of pounds of crawfish washed down with a cold Abita Amber…

Cozumel was our next port and another chance to re-stock our bar with cheap Kahlua.  Last year we paid $15 for 2 liters and this year the price had gone up to $20 which is still a bargain when compared to what it costs here in Alabama.  Having accomplished all we set out to do on this cruise, we bid Mexico a fond farewell, smuggled all our contraband aboard the Celebrity Reflection and caught a great sunset on our way back to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

About 4 hours west of Fort Lauderdale via Alligator Alley (Hwy 41), you will find yourself in Everglades City, BUT… be sure you detour onto the Loop Road in the Big Cypress Swamp if you want to get a real taste of what the Everglades is all about.

Having spent the past few years running into signs warning us about manatees in a variety of places we have been, we were determined to actually see one of these critters in the wild.

River Ventures in Crystal River operates a “swim with the manatees tour” which sounded exactly like something we would love to do.  And so, casting caution and sound judgement aside, we booked a tour, squeezed into a couple of wet suits designed for those starving kids in China that I was constantly reminded of when I refused to eat veggies as a child, boarded our pontoon boat and headed out in search of manatees…

Before long we found ourselves swimming in a group of about a dozen manatees.  IT WAS FANTASTIC!!!!

And there is where the real fun began…

Great food and drink call for great entertainment and what could possibly be better than a mixed martial arts crawfish showdown…