Hey, Spike! recaps Summit life with good ol’ Capt. Joe | SummitDaily.com

Hey, Spike! recaps Summit life with good ol’ Capt. Joe

Miles F. Porter IV
Special to the Daily

"Never say never" … so goes the saying.

Former Summit County resident, restaurateur and Realtor Joe Carey thought that after moving here from Des Moines, Iowa, he would never leave.

He did — for the Florida life on a sailboat on the Gulf of Mexico, due west of Tampa Bay.

Now, he's using the "never" word again.

"Never thought I would leave the mountains but know now that I will never leave the water," says the 69-year-old who today calls the waters off Clearwater Beach home aboard his 45-foot Columbia sailboat he's named "Freya" — but friends call it "Run, Run, Run Aground."

"If you haven't been aground here, you haven't been on a boat," Joe says. "I never would have imagined that I would love living on a boat like I do, even though I have always dreamed about it; guess it's the pirate in me — kind of a Jimmy Buffet thing. The only people who live closer to the water than me have a smaller boat."

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Being a restaurant owner here — Antonia's and the Dillon Marina Tiki Bar — for many years, Joe capped his Summit career as a Realtor for Novak and Nelson Real Estate, from 1998-2009.

But, it was the skiing that yanked him out of those Midwest roots.

Joe explains he moved to Summit County in 1983 to ski A-Basin because the snow was better than over in Vail.

"I stopped in the Sporting House to buy my sister skis and met Dede Dighero (who later married John Tuso and served as mayor of Frisco), who showed me the old Gore Range Inn (where Christy Sports is now located). I was already in the restaurant business and loved to ski, so Antonia and I bought it and moved to Summit County. I owned restaurants in Des Moines. Needless to say, we moved because we loved to ski and thought it was a good business opportunity."

Their plan: "Open the restaurant, get it going and it would be worth far more than we paid for it. What I didn't count on were the summers. How could you leave after spending a summer in Colorado?

"The real thing that got me though were the people; they were just like my Midwestern upbringing. I used to say that I moved to Summit County for the skiing but stayed for the summer and lived there for the people. I have found the same kind of people here in Clearwater Beach."

And, as with all good planning, some things can go awry:

"I opened Antonia's in December 1983. Opening night, the dumb-waiter elevator fell, knocked out the chef and set the kitchen on fire with a full restaurant and bar; perfect start — fire engines, police and emergency crews, but everyone (outside of the chef) had a good time and left happy. I was quickly accepted by all of the locals because of that and the fact that I had an absolutely beautiful and intelligent wife."

Joe's story continues farther up the hill in Dillon.

In 1996, Dillon Marina manager Bob Evans asked him to start the Tiki Bar for the Dillon Yacht Club.

"I had operated the Crow's Nest before, so he knew I could do it. We had the most amazing time building what turned out to be the gem of Dillon. We had so much fun, and I met so many wonderful sailors. I had always loved sailing and started crewing on Cris Holmes' Merit 25 for the Dillon regattas. Never won, but always had a good time — no, make that a great time."

In 2004, Joe's brother, Don, was diagnosed with cancer.

"One of the things on his bucket list was to go sailing, so I bought a boat to take him sailing. I moored the boat in Del Ray Beach, right downtown. We had five wonderful years hanging out and sailing whenever we got the chance. I would come down for a week and then go home for three to work during the winter (I couldn't ski anymore due to knees). Pretty soon, I was down for the whole winter and in Summit for the summer. He passed away in 2009."

"I figured if I was going to be in Florida, I should be near my sister, Mary," he says. "She lives two miles from me."

Quite a few Summiteers, among others of note, have visited Joe in the Sunshine State: Dick and Paula Clark, Jason Clark, Cris Holmes, Bob Evans, Phil and Michelle Hofer, Tom Petters, John Goldstein, Brian and Denise York, Larry Moore, Christine Guinn, Andy and Caroline Hass, Melanie Parish, Doug and Quileen Smith, Lindy Cerrar, Tom and Dana Wallace, Jimmy Buffet, Mike Rombach, Jennifer Bourgeois, Jim-ski Milaski, Renee Apfelbeck, Tim Cron, Thomas Glick and, of course, my beautiful ex-wife Antonia — "that's all I can remember after a few beers."

Joe thinks he's "living the dream — sailing a lot and selling Medicare insurance" a few months a year.

That Medicare expertise is likely to come in handy since Joe's facing back surgery.

"I broke my neck a year and a half ago, and, now, I have major lower-back problems that will require surgery," he notes.

"I miss all of my friends in Summit County; please say hi for me. See your Hey, Spike! posts on Facebook, so I feel like I am somewhat in touch with the county. I don't post much but love seeing my friends and their adventures."

Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed "Spike," is a Coloradan since 1949, an Army veteran, former Climax miner, graduate of Adams State College and a local since 1982. An award-winning investigative reporter, he and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years.

Email your social info to milesfporteriv@aol.com