Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Just In Time!

 Scott has been trying to get an appointment for the COVID 19 vaccine since we took off from Vermont. Florida had a wide-open policy for over 65 with no need for residency. But each of the 67 counties had their own system (or lack of system) so it's been difficult and involved lots of hours online. On Tuesday morning early he suddenly got a hit - the first chance was 2 PM on Wednesday, Woops missed it. Then a second opportunity for 8:45 AM on Thursday and he got it! In all the excitement I thought to ask, "Where?" I guess the answer could have been worse - it was Melbourne in Brevard County. We were currently in St. Petersberg and had planned to head north on Thursday morning. So lots of work to be done rescheduling our lunch with friends in Homosassa and all our reservations for the next week. 

We were staying with my first cousin Joanie and her husband Kent in their beautiful historic home in St. Petersberg. They were happy to have us stay another night and it was easy to change our luncheon with Richard and Debra to Friday. Our Thursday night stay at a Harvest Host farm couldn't be rescheduled so we booked a KOA in Perry but the Southern Grace Lavender farm had no problem. As did the French Quarter RV Park in New Orleans. So it just meant getting up at 5 AM on Thursday to drive across the state. We arrived at 8:15 and got in the line of cars stretching 4 blocks long. In a half-hour, we entered the big parking lot behind the Health Center and stopped at several check-in locations that took our paperwork and looked us up on their computers. Now we were a little nervous because the day before, on Wednesday, the Governor had announced that the vaccines would be for residents only. But that was not true when we got our appointment. When questioned though I said we were "winter residents" and after a hesitation, she let us continue. We never got out of our car - the vaccines (Moderna) were administered at our windows and we were monitored at parking spots for 15 minutes before getting our next appointment papers - February 17 at 9:45 AM. If we can't get our second shots where we end up then, we'll fly back to Orlando, rent a car, and go to our appointments. The Governor has said that all 2nd shot appointments will be honored. 

So let's go back to our cruising narrative. From Duck Key we drove over to Bonita Springs to visit our long time cruiser friend Barbara Craig (formerly Barbara Gilmour from Enkidu and Bonaire). Bonita Terra was the RV park where we spent 3 nights. We left the trailer there and stayed with Barbara for 2 nights and then returned for the last evening. The weather was good so we walked on the beach, around her huge very attractive gated community, and enjoyed the pool & hot tub. And of course, some great meals. 

Next, we had 3 nights with my cousin in St. Petersberg. We were very impressed with this beautiful city and the historic area where they live near the Bay. Their home was featured in "Fear of Rain", a new movie with Katherine Heigel & Harry Connick, Jr. coming out in February. As usual, we had long walks with them around the city and great meals. It was quite exciting driving into their narrow driveway and even more so, backing out. Luckily one of the neighbors helped out by moving his car. We had to stop traffic!

On Friday we drove north to Homosassa, the home of Richard & Debra Boileau, cruiser friends from Tango. They are on a creek leading to the Homosassa River and have a Grady White motorboat at their dock and a lovely view of undeveloped forest beyond.  We caught up on our lives since we last saw them in Cartegna, Columbia over a long lunch of Cuban sandwiches and salad. Then it was off to a KOA RV park in Perry - long stretches of nothing in between the two locations. We went 40 miles without seeing a house!

We were really looking forward to our next stop - the Southern Grace Lavender Farm in Southport, FL, a Harvest Host location. Jason & Kari Leabo and their two children have a small farm and shop where they sell a large variety of lavender products, many of which they make themselves. We shared the location with 3 other RVs and struck up a friendship with Eli, Kelly, Dakota, and Isabelle Pyke. They are living in their big motorhome and have made two documentary films about their adventures available on Vimeo - The Far Green Company and The Far Green Company - In the Twilight. You can watch the promo on either Vimeo or Utube.

On our way there we stopped for a lovely walk in the Ecofina River State Park and the next day we had lunch mid-way to New Orleans at the famous BBQ place, The Shed. It's been on a number of food TV shows and the food was great (and huge portions, we ate the leftovers that night for dinner). Our home in New Orleans is right in the city - the French Quarter RV Park. After settling in, we walked through the French Quarter down to the River. Of course, we had to pay respects to the Old Man. Parts of the city were crowded, like Bourbon Street, and other parts felt deserted. We did a lot of dodging non-masked people and kept our's on. It was fun to sit at an outside table and have a drink watching the action from a distant enough location. We're getting good at spotting these places. Nervous at walking back in the dark (there is a deserted empty area to go through to get back), we called Uber (the driver was masked and we opened our windows).  

Today we'll explore the city some more and tonight we're going out with New Orleans locals and cruiser friends from our Marina in Guatemala - Roy & Dale Ross of Wahoo. More to come in another post!

Scott and Barbara at her condo in Bonita Springs

Scott and I try out the spiffy new rocking chairs
James & Morgen gave us for Christmas

Barbara grows orchids on the trees around her

Cousins Heather, Joanie & Mary - our
mothers were sisters.

Just blocks from Joanie & Kent's home are miles
of parks along the Bay. They are right in the
 middle of the historic district and within walking
 distance of everything.

This is their home and over on the left, you can see our trailer. The truck is in front and the end of
the trailer just cleared the sidewalk. 

Richard and Debra's home was beautifully 
decorated with items from their travels all over
the world.

Richard & Debra Boileau

A view from the Blue Trail at Ecofina River
State Park where we stopped to hike.

Another view, this time of the marshes

The Shed BBQ in Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Our great lunches of BBQ and various sides.

The Bayou at The Shed

Our new friends we met at the Southern Grace
Lavender Farm - Eli, Kelly, Dakota, and Isabelle

Monday, January 18, 2021

Cruising Down to the Keys

The long driveway up to Harpal's in Winter Park.

 Yes, I think of it as cruising. There are a lot of similarities to our life on Scott Free. The long passages and the grateful feeling once we're settled into our "berth". We anchor our trailer to the ground directly instead of through the water. Now it's former cruisers and good friends at the end of our day's journey. 

From Savannah, we had a 5-hour drive to Winter Park, FL Our friends Harpal & Jeannie had volunteered their home for a night on our way south. They are with their sons on the West Coast now. We spent the night of January 6th glued to CNN horrified at the invasion of our Capital while our lawmakers were carrying out their Constitutional duty.  After a tasty dinner and a good start on our laundry, we locked up for the night and slept in our trailer. The next morning we were unable to reenter the house. Harpal had given us the combination to the garage, which worked very well the day before. But not this morning. Our laundry was inside and we wanted to get an early start - no chance. We didn't have Harpal's cell number so had to wait until the sun was up in California before calling David Wood in San Diego to get it. Finally, we got a hold of Harpal, but he had no clue why it didn't work. He sent a friend over but to no avail. And then we realized that we didn't have any power in the trailer. The electrical connection was dead. Somehow, we had tripped the circuit and the garage door was on it. Well, at least we knew what was wrong. It was lucky that our first call to a locksmith was successful and he showed up an hour later. It only took him 2 minutes to pick the front door lock!

At this point, it was too late to keep our date with our Shrewsbury friend Weezie for lunch, so we had to cancel. We had reservations at Bedner's Farm in Boynton Beach, FL for that evening and needed to arrive before their closing at 6 PM. This was our first stay at a Harvest Host property. They are a national organization of wineries, farms, breweries, etc. where members can stay for one night at no charge. They hope you will make a purchase while you are there, but it isn't required. Their produce stand was gorgeous and had not only vegetables & fruits but cheese, meat, and dairy. We filled up our refrigerator and cooler!  Up to 4 RVs can park for the night behind the store and we joined two others overlooking the farm. One couple came over and we chatted for some time. 

The next morning, we were off for a long day's drive down to Duck Key, Florida to join our friends Russ & Marty Wolf for 8 nights. They have a big parking lot in front of their home overlooking the water and the bridge to Grassy Key and parts further south. What a wonderful week we had with lots of long walks, talks, and meals. One day we traveled down to Key West and toured the city, enjoying a good lunch overlooking the harbor. Another night, we had a great meal at Burdines in Marathon - outside on the deck overlooking the entrance to Marathon Harbor, where we spent many weeks several times on Scott Free. It was sad to say good-bye, but we were off next for a 3-day visit with Barbara Craig, our former fellow cruiser on Enkidu in Bonita Springs. That's where we are now, but we'll save that story for my next post.

Harpal & Jeannie's house in Winter Park, FL

I have no idea why but blogspot uploaded my
photos in mixed up order. So here's the Conch
"train" we took in Key West with a rooster
passenger on top.

Marty, Scott, Russ and I at Burdines's in Marathon

The view from the balcony at the Wolf's house on Duck Key at sunset

And now we're back in Key West walking around
the residential neighborhood

I love the Victorian cottages everywhere.

We stayed masked until the food & drink came.
You can see the Marina behind - this is again in
Key West. It was pretty cool as you can see from
our jackets

Looking down on our trailer from the Wolf's
balcony on the street side.

The Wolf's dock and motorboat. Scott and Russ
 took it over for it's yearly maintenance and we
 had a fun cruise around the canals of Duck Key.

Walking the beach in Marathon

And now a tour of our trailer. Here's the kitchen
area with stove and oven, microwave, frig, and
separate freezer. We brought our bread maker,
toaster, and Instapot!

The dinette and entrance. I've hung a number of
my paintings and one by Christine Holtzshuh
above our bed of radishes.

We added our own mattress, lots of pillows. The bed is very comfortable. There is a 
bathroom in the rear with a separate shower with plexiglass sides. We were very impressed with 
the amount of storage and of course, we have our truck too!

This was our RV site the night of January 7th at the Bedner's Farm in Boynton Beach, FL

Sunday, January 03, 2021

Charleston & Savannah

Charleston and Savannah were some of our favorite stops along the Intracoastal Waterway. We visited them many times both by water and sometimes by car.  Savannah is our favorite of the two - one of our fun memories of cruising the coast was tying up at the town dock there over the Halloween holiday - what a blast.  But Charleston also contains some great moments, Scott's brother Brent got married there to our wonderful sister-in-law Wilma.

We woke up this morning to sunshine and 63 degrees. It was an easy drive into the city and after parking in the city garage we checked in at the Tourist office for maps (and a spacious spotless bathroom - with COVID this is a treat).  It is 1.3 miles down to the tip of the peninsula, which was our goal, but we wandered around admiring the waterfront, parks, and gorgeous homes so we got lots of exercise. Most people were wearing masks but there was a nice breeze and everyone stayed a respectful distance. I had a list of good restaurants that had outside dining. When we came to the first of them, the Oyster House Seafood Restaurant near the Marketplace, we were ready for lunch. And the outside deck was almost empty. Perfect. As were the fried shrimp plate with grits/grilled asparagus for me and fried seafood with crispy Brussel sprouts/roasted potatoes for Scott. This wasn't the end of our pampering. After 2 hours of walking after lunch, we sat in the elegant outside "living room" at a huge hotel and had coffee and shared a dish of profiteroles.  

Now we're back in our cozy RV enjoying a glass of wine after a delightful Zoom chat with our sons James & Sean (and their families), daughter Zoe and Brent & Wilma. A fresh salad I made earlier is waiting for dinner. We certainly feel lucky and hope it stays that way.

The next day we had an easy trip down to the Red Gate RV Park near Savannah. After getting hooked up, we drove into the city and walked up and down several series of squares that define this beautiful city, ending up in the City Market. Belford's Restaurant caught Scott's eye with a sign for Happy Hour. He can't resist a bargain. The drinks were wonderful and we had the place to ourselves. Our waitress Camille spent quite a bit of time chatting with us. She brought free garlic bread, winning Scott's heart. The next day we made an earlier start and explored another section of the city. We have learned to eat early to get an empty outdoor spot so were at Vic's on the River at 11:30 and again were alone. Our waiter Brian was equally free to talk and the food, sublime. Everything was so good, we had to top it off with dessert and coffee - two of them! The peach trio and the pecan pie were worth the calories. We'll have a salad tonight for dinner. Tomorrow we're off early for Harpal Dhama's house in Winter Park, FL.

We came back to this "outdoor living room" to have coffee and dessert at the end of our day.

Here's the start of the Market area - like Quincy
Market in Boston. We don't go into any stores or
restaurants so we just walked along the side to the
 Oyster House where we had lunch on the deck.

Loved this pineapple-shaped fountain on the 

I'm a sucker for shaded walks along the ocean - who isn't?

We saw a cruise ship leave the dock and head out
to sea and a freighter at anchor. This white heron
seems to be enjoying the view.

A Biden/Harris sign was a sight for sore eyes on 
this house - the only political sign we saw during 
our walk.

Not the traditional house designs here but I love
the colors and feeling of the Bahamas.

Here's the famous design and a beautiful example.

And finally our comfortable spot for dessert!

The last time we were in Savannah we had a
wonderful dinner here at the Pink House.
As you can see, it was rather cool sitting around.
We were the only people sitting outside but it 
was pretty early. 
I had the Honey Bee and Scott the Soutern Dew,
but the second (and last) round, Scott joined me
with a Honey Bee - it was great!
As you can see, we had lovely sunny weather for
our stay here, probably mid 60's.

We passed this polling site and Scott peeked in to
thank everyone - no one was voting at that time.
This was the big 2 Senate seat election day!
There are tons of squares in the city, all beautiful and each with a distinctive look.
There is a great deal of ornamental wrought 
iron work.
Scott admired this piece showing the Zodiak
signs all balanced on turtle backs.
And I oohed and aahed over the flowers, here
Vic's Restaurant on the River, all to ourselves.
Shrimp & Grits with Bacon & BBQ Sauce
Scott tucks into the amazing desserts.
The Wiley House at the Red Gate RV Park was
once the plantation house and now is an event
location. It's now also an equestrian center with
lots of horses.