We got a wonderful text today from Pastor Ralph of Alva UMC. He had received an offer from a church member to pass on to the ‘retired Pennsylvania pastor’ who had helped him out Christmas Eve to join this afternoon’s Manatee Tour in Fort Worth Shores on the Caloosahatchee Waterway and Orange River. It just so happened the parishioner who called was none other than Captain Steve himself and it was his tour boat.
Ralph drove us to the marina about 8 miles west on the Caloosahatchee and assisted Captain Steve with the launch, then he went to his nearby ‘West side satellite office, Beef O’Brady’s, and did some church business from his office booth till our return two hours later.
There were several other families on the tour, including one from as far away as Naples, Florida. Of course others were FROM farther away but were staying closer to Fort Worth.
The day was dark and in the mid seventies instead of the predicted eighties and sunny, but we saw manatee, several kinds of birds, and an alligator.
It was a small alligator, about 6 feet maybe. But its our first wild gator since coming south at all, four months ago!
Captain Steve kept up a running commentary on the sights of nature we were observing, and did a pretty good job over the 30 minutes of screams of the three year old who wanted to go home pretty much as soon as she boarded the boat.
But the cute little sweetie settled down just fine once we began seeing manatee, and she loved taking over as driver of the boat as we were headed home.
I believe her parents and grandmother are still planning to take her to Disney World tomorrow, though she was threatened time and again with losing that trip if she didn’t behave. I think they already own their tickets.
Ralph took us home and we parted good friends as he prepares to fly north to see his kids in the Pittsburg, PA area tomorrow. In fact, he once more told us folk were asking him to find a way to get us to stay. And I must say, the river side homes we saw, where good fishing and manatee watching is off your front yard, and at a price we could afford, did look appealing as we floated by them. And there’s a park on the waterway just half a mile from the church!
Then, as Ralph was getting in his car he turned to me and said, “We’ve got to expand the worship space as soon as we get our mortgage for the other properties we’ve bought recently down a bit. And I’m going to need a good assistant pastor since we’ve grown now to over 200 attenders.” Wink, wink.
We closed up the coach and I drove it over to the UMC Riverside Retreat Camp to dump and fill while Mona drove around the Alva Oak Park Riverside modular home park to check out their pool (clean and heated to 85 degrees all year long), community building (getting ready for a community party), and the riverside homes.
I returned with the discouraging news that I had finally done what I hear all good RVers do. I had left the TV antenna up as I drove away and broke the ratchet on its drop mechanism. I crawled to the roof of the coach while the water tank was filling and dropped the antenna manually. But another repair is not something that encourages Mona to live forever in an RV.
We stay here through Sunday and into Monday, believing we are called to explore further south. But when we come back north in a few weeks, Ralph says, “Don’t even call ahead. Just come into YOUR spot on the golf course and settle in.
Who knows. We may just.
Facebook has all the pics from today!