It is now March 8, 2021, and I have had some great times since I last saw your blank, but filling, page. For the first time since departing Jacksonville, I was able to do cut loose and have some fun. My friend and his family invited me to join them on their boat, and we were able to enjoy a couple hours on the water. It was incredible. As the sea splashed over the bow and came down on my UV protected shirt, I felt alive, and my smile was stretched from ear to ear.
In the last week I have been able to ref some more games at Hertz Arena, and it has been pretty cool. I had three different three-game sets, and each one was on a different sheet of ice. I got to ref “Premiere League” one set each on the Blue and Green rink, and I reffed the 4v4 league for beginners on the main sheet. They played in front of at least 10-15 people. I will say, reffing on the main rink was pretty cool. The sounds of the game changed. When the puck strikes the boards there, it almost sounds dead, but I think more than anything, the sound is escaping the rink in a freer path. It was a very different experience for all my senses, and I had an absolute blast.
Naples has proven to be somewhat of an oddity. I came in to weather in the mid-80’s. and expected that would continue, but nights have since been cooler, and I finally had to unzip the sleeping bag and warm up. Oh, and did I mention I broke in the truck?? Night one was not the best. I ended up posting up at a local Marina (note the boat story from earlier? Same marina, funny enough). I was unsure of whether or not I was supposed to stay there overnight, and there were people pulling boats out until 3:30 AM, then folks came to put in at 6:30, so the night was a restless one for me. I slipped out the back of the truck, and was on the road within 30 seconds of waking fully. I made my way to Hertz, and found better parking for my next few nights.
To Bobby and his family, all I can say is wow. They have been so inviting, and so willing to help on my endeavor. It has been nice to have that sense of normalcy on the trip, as nights can be the loneliest times for me. They did invite me to the house for a couple nights on a couch, which actually allowed me to stretch to full length, a small thing that was big for me, following those first few truck nights.
I am both excited, and nervous, to leave on Thursday. There is the obvious, I get to meet more people, and so far, that has been one of my favorite aspects. Then there is the unknown. So often, when faced with comfort vs. something unknown, our nature as humans is to stay put. For me, the unknown happens to be a near-weekly experience, so I must push on. And with that, I must push on to my day.
I will return soon.