Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Pedal and Play in Paradise's Mystery Ride!

Richard volunteered to create the Mystery Ride for this year's Pedal & Play in Paradise Bike Event in Punta Gorda.   This event is very popular - most years more than 700 people ride the routes:

Joanne gets ready to check out the Mystery Ride
  • Casual Ride around town with the City Manager
  • 10 mile Mystery Ride
  • 15 mile Ride
  • 30 mile Ride
  • and 60 mile Ride!
For an entire year Richard developed the premise and videos were developed to entice people to participate in the exciting Mystery Ride.  Richard even collected prizes from local merchants.

On Saturday, March 25th, Richard rose at 5:30 am to put out the directional signs and supervise the fun.  He was not disappointed.  Over 100 riders enjoyed the adventure and he received lots of compliments about the event. 

Proceeds were donated to the Leukemia Foundation and to TEAM Punta Gorda, a wonderful grassroots organization that makes our town a better place to live!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Hiroshima Japanese Friendship Force Club Visit

It's been a busy couple of months here in beautiful Punta Gorgeous!

We belong to a great Travel Exchange club called Friendship Force of Southwest Florida.  Every year we welcome visitors from one of 360 world-wide clubs to our part of the world.  We show them the sights and get to know them over sharing of meals, conversations and the routines of our daily lives.  This connection helps makes the world a better place to live through friendships formed over barriers of nationality, language, religion or politics.  By connecting the world one friend at a time, we create a world of friends that becomes a world of peace!

Us with Kyoko and Takashi
This year we welcomed 17 ambassadors from Hiroshima, Japan.  Two of them, Kyoko and Takashi Shimasaki, stayed with us in our home from March 1 -6.  They are an energetic couple whose command of English was excellent.  We shared a whirlwind of activities with them - they were able to visit parks and great Florida destinations, e.g., Edison Historic Residence, Echo, sail on a catamaran on Charlotte Harbor, airboat ride and tour of the Everglades, and a Farewell Dinner overlooking the Peace River complete with Karoake, line dancing and clowning. 

You can also travel with Friendship Force (either with your club or with another) to many places in the world.  This June we will accompany our club to Stratford/St Mary's and Halburton, Ontario, Canada.  In the past, we have chronicled our journeys to Friendship Force clubs in Costa Rica, Belgium, north Germany, and Australia.   Want more info?   Check out our website or the international website at Friendship Force International.

Our two clubs pose for a picture of the 2017 Hiroshima Japan Journey here

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Happy New Year 2017

Indigo Star underway to Pelican Bay
We rang in the new year with our PGIslander Boat Club friends.  We took m/v, Indigo Star, to Pelican Bay near Cayo Costa.  Our friends rafted up their three catamarans for the "party platform."  The weather was perfect - unusually warm, for this time of year in the 70's.   People began arriving at the boats about 5:30 p.m., just before sunset.  Everyone provided wonderful appetizers and drinks. 

The New Year's Eve Party Platform - 3 catamarans

We surprised Richard for his 70th Birthday with a skit and songs about his life.  Here is the script for your reading enjoyment...

Richard looking good at age 70
On NEW YEAR'S EVE, Dec 31, 1946, Richard Christopher Collins was born in Dover, NJ, the first child of Arthur & Julia Jo Collins. As he lay in the hospital basinette, and the clock struck midnite, this is the first tune he heard:

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?

Richard was a good baby, but his world was uprooted when his only sibling, younger brother, Bart, was born when Richard was 3 years old. His song was then:

          WE ARE FAMILY....

Richard's Dad was in the Air Force and his childhood was a series of moves.. all throughout the US and Guam. He loved moving around and Richard was often overheard humming:

      On the Road Again by Willie Nelson

          On the road again
          Goin' places that I've never been
          Seein' things that I may never see again,
          And I can't wait to get on the road again

  • To Long Island, NY in Levittown age 1-5
  • To Guam ages 6-7
  • To Orlando, FL age 8
  • To Amarillo, TX age 9
  • To Rantoul, Illinois, age 10
  • To Jacksonville, Arkansas, age 11
  • To Smyrna, Tennessee, age 12-14
  • To Abilene, Texas, age 15-22
He figured he attended about 12 different schools by the time he got to college.

Blowing out the big 70 candles on favorite carrot cake


Even so, he received a scholarship to McMurray College and graduated in 1969 with a BS in Chemistry.

Richard inherited his Mom's love of animals. As a teenager, he had cowboy boots, bought 2 horses (named SHAWNEE AND LACKAWANA), worked in a stable and for a vet. His song then was:
      I`m back in the saddle again
      Out where a friend is a friend...
After college, he wanted to leave home and get out of Abilene... so he enlisted in the Air Force. His song was then...

Gene, Sue and John getting ready to party

        US Air Force Song
           Off we go into the wild blue yonder,
Climbing high into the sun  

Richard was stationed in the remote Azore Islands off the coast of Portugal. He enjoyed exploring the islands and here, he had his first opportunity to go sailing on a sailboat. It was love at first sight!

His song was then:

Sloop John B

So hoist up the John B's sail
See how the main sail sets
Call for the Captain ashore
Let me go home,

He wound up being transferred to Austin, TX where he finished his 4 years of service to Uncle Sam. He then attended Graduate school under the GI Bill. He received a Ph.D. From University of Texas ...and moved to Providence, RI for a 2 yr. postdoctoral fellowship at Brown University.

New Year's Day Brunch on the catamarans - YUM

While at UT, he learned the UT Football Fight Song:

Give 'em hell, give 'em hell! Make 'em eat shit.”

After 2 years in Rhode Island, he obtained his first professional position at Occidental Chemical Corporation. He relocated to Lake City, FL and was in the research lab there for many years and was awarded “Kiwanian of the Year.”

When he was 45, he took a transfer to the Houston, Texas area. It was here that he met Joanne, at a Methodist Church Singles Group. He called her for a date and soon it was

However, Joanne was not so sure about Richard since she was having a great time dating other guys. Time passed... Richard then decided to buy himself a 28 ft sailboat, named Sea Growth. After a few weeks, he asked her whether she would like to go on the sailboat with him. She canceled her date with another guy and went sailing with him and her girlfriends. During this time, she asked him if he would point the boat out of the sun. He piped up telling her “sure” that “if he could, he would move the sun and the moon for her!” It was that statement that turned her around and love bloomed. They were so happy together and their song was

What a Wonderful World

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

They were married on May 7, 1994 at St. Mary's Catholic Church. They bought a beautiful home in Dickinson, TX, a suburb of Houston. They were active in a wonderful group called New Life and a sailing clubs, expecially the Texas Mariners Cruising Association. During this period of Richard's life, Joanne's daughter, Michele, became a doctor and Richard was and continues to be a supportive step-dad. They owned 2 other sailboats – a 33 ft. Caliber and then a 35 ft. Catalina called Eagle's Wings. Every weekend, they were usually up at the marina going sailing or hanging out on the boat. 

Discovering a shell tree on Cayo Costa New Year's Day

Richard decided to retire in April 2007 at age 61. He persuaded Joanne to retire the year after. They could go sailing and have fun traveling! His song is summed up as....

Changes in Attitude, Changes in Latitudes

It's these changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes
Nothing remains quite the same
With all of our running and all of our cunning
If we couldn't laugh we would all go insane

Whoa ! Then, Richard's cousin, Connie had an exciting proposition. She arranged a house sitting gig in PG Isles, so Richard decided to sail Eagle's Wings here all the way from Houston. Before they knew it, they fell in love with Punta Gorgeous, sold their home in Texas, bought land and built a house in 2010 on Lido Drive. They joined the PGIslanders and other clubs, traveled extensively and have had a blast living here! One of the highlights of Richard's life was serving as Commodore of the PGIslander's.

Birthday FUN !

Richard's song for the PGIslanders is

Don't worry, be happy! - GET A FUN METER!!!

Just this summer, Richard & Joanne sold their sailboat, Eagle's Wings and bought a 40 ft trawler, INDIGO STAR! They are busy learning her operations, especially how to dock her!

Finally, we have come to this SPECIAL MOMENT IN TIME and you can hear him sing...NOW THAT I'M 70, IT IS A VERY GOOD YEAR!

Richard, we hope you can joyfully relate to the moments in your life and know that we have benefitted from knowing you through each experience for they have made you the wonderful husband, step-father, brother, cousin, uncle and friend that you are! So even though it is an oldie, it is appropriate that we end this with this song. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU....

Thursday, December 8, 2016

With Thanks at Christmas and for a Happy Year!

Christmas 2016

Hello, Friends & Family,

Merry Christmas from Joanne and Richard in Punta Gorda, Florida! We send you our best wishes for a love and peace-filled Christmas and a Happy Healthy New Year.

This year were are so grateful for family, friends and wonderful trips. We recently spent Thanksgiving in Connecticut. My sister, Mary and brother-in-law, Alan, retired to Beacon Falls, CT to live closer to their daughter, Holly's family. They sold their home in Indiana and bought a beautiful new home. It was a memorable Thanksgiving because we took my Mom and our cat, Bleu Kitty, on Jet Blue airlines to visit them. Both did very well! Mom was turning 96 and she was blessed to celebrate her birthday, November 27th, on Holly & Andrew's new baby, Luciana (Lucy)'s Christening Day.  Lucy was baptized in her great great grandfather's 126 year-old Christening Gown.

We traveled with our Friendship Force Club on an exchange to Costa Rica in February. We enjoyed meeting the Costa Ricans and actually living in their homes for a week. They were so friendly and hospitable to us. We'll remember exciting white water rafting and zip lining, beautiful scenery and delicious food.

In August we went on an African Safari with Overseas Adventure Tours to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia. It was a 3-week kaleidoscope of magnificent animals in the wild. Victoria Falls was awesome and we loved the view from Table Mountain in Cape Town.

After 5 months on the market, we sold our sailboat, Eagle's Wings, and bought a 40 ft trawler that we named Indigo Star. She is only 10 years old and in great shape. Her operation is quite different than a sailboat – we are busy learning how to successfully dock her.
You can keep up with us by clicking on our blog. We wish you “fair winds for the holidays and calm seas for the New Year.”

Bleu Kitty wishes you a Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

Joanne & Richard

Monday, December 5, 2016

New York City at Christmas Time - what a treat!

Radio City at Christmas - a Treat!
I have wonderful childhood memories to my Grandmother taking me to NYC to see the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall.  So, what a treat to be able to go again during the Holiday Season.

We hopped a train from Connecticut into the city - a senior ticket was only $10 each way.  It took approximately 2 hours, but it was a pleasant ride on a nice clean train.  We thoroughly enjoyed the Christmas Show at Radio City and were happy to see that the Rockettes are still doing their toy soldier routine.  It is always amazing to see them fall in a line so gracefully!  We had close-up seats to the stage and it was amazing!

Oculus designed by a Spanish architect recently opened

New World Trade Center
We then figured our way through the NYC Subway System to visit the newly opened Oculus along with the 911 Memorial.  We enjoyed a yummy pizza at the Stage Door Deli and just made our 1 PM (timed ticket) admission for the memorial.  It was very moving to see the stairways where people escaped and of course, the touching remembrances of pictures and artifacts to those who lost their lives.  It was done beautifully and we would recommend it to all those visiting the city.   The all white Oculus was a surprise - we had not heard about it.  It is a huge modern structure built to resemble a white bird (dove?).  You can see the towers through its wings.  It houses the Penn Station Train and an upscale shopping area.  It was very well done.

St Patrick's transformed
We were also impressed by the transformation of St Patrick's Cathedral.  All the grime of 138 years in NYC was removed and it looked like a new structure - it was a grey-white color and oh so pretty.  I lit a candle there in memory of my dear grandma.

The day flew by and before we knew it, we were on our way back to Connecticut.  We are so grateful we got to go!

The rest of our visit also flew by and we were delighted to visit with my nephew Brian and my great nephew, Leo.  It was a wonderful family time, one that we won't forget!
Inside 911 Memorial

Thanksgiving in Connecticut!

Great Grandma on her 96th birthday
Mary and Al (my sister and brother-in-law) recently retired to Beacon Falls, Connecticut to be close to their grandchildren.  We decided that Thanksgiving was the perfect time to check out their new home.  We also wanted to take my Mom along since she was celebrating her 96th birthday and also, our Persian cat, Bleu Kitty, for his first airplane ride.

Lucy in the 126 yr old Christening Gown
It all worked smoothly, well except for lots of traffic up to Tampa.  A frustrated Richard tried to negotiate backed up lines of traffic, but we ultimately made it just in time!

UK and USA grandparents attend the Baptism
My niece, Holly's inlaws came in from the UK for the occasion.  It was wonderful seeing my great niece, Francesca, who absolutely adored Blue Kitty!  The star of the show was little Luciana (Lucy) who is such a beautiful good baby.  Her Baptism was beautiful.  She wore her great great Grandfather's 126 year old Christening Gown (my Mom's father).  Check out some of the pictures below.
Proud parents - Holly and Andrew with little Lucy
Francesca loved Bleu Kitty!

My nephew, Brian, with little Leo

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Blessing of the Fleet

We took out our new boat, Indigo Star, for a Blessing of the Fleet Ceremony at our club, the Isles Yacht Club.  It was a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, just perfect.  The previous owners, Jake & Pat Dye, came aboard to help us learn to operate her and gave us some good tips.  Afterwards, we docked her and had a nice dinner.  We still have lots of practice to do, but are coming along!

At the IYC Blessing of the Fleet
Approaching Reviewing Officers on Dock

With Pat & Jake Dye, Original Owners, Aboard

Docked at IYC



Lower Helm Station

V Berth

Bleu's Quarters

Fly Bridge

Stern View from Fly Bridge