Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Florida 2023 Sunday January 22 - Sunday January 29: Miramar Beach-Birmingham-Nashville-St. Louis-Cedar Rapids-Home

Sunday January 22

The Italian place last night was great. Fat Clamenza’s. The food was good and waiter was friendly and knowledgeable. We split an arugula salad, then Lee got a mushroom pizza and I got linguini with baby clams. I took a bread pudding home for later. 

Around 4 am it started to rain. Hard, very hard! Thunder and lightening too. We had a small leak but it’s not surprising considering how hard it rained. Eventually it stopped. It was actually warm outside. I was able to go for a run in shorts and a T-shirt, the way you’re supposed to in Florida!

Then I did laundry. It was a decent laundromat, relatively cheap, and I had it all to myself. As I was drying things it started POURING! Lee came and got me in the truck but I still got soaked. The laundry stayed dry though because I had it in trash bags. Now we should be set until we get home.

It’s been raining all afternoon. It paused just long enough to take the dogs out to go potty, then it started up again. So we’re just lazing around again. 

Monday January 23

In the evening we went to Acme, a New Orleans style restaurant. It was fine but not incredible. We split the charbroiled oysters. I never like oysters much that have stuff done to them. I like them fresh and raw. Then Lee got the New Orleans medley. He said the rice and beans and the gumbo were good but the jambalaya was mediocre. He makes great jambalaya, it’s something I would never order in a restaurant for that very reason. I got the seafood etouffee with crawfish tails and it was good. Then I got the pecan crumble which came in a martini glass with ice cream and caramel sauce. He brought me a to go container for it but it never made it that far. Decadent!

This morning it was sunny, cold and beautiful. We took it easy until after lunch when it had warmed up a little and then got out our bikes and rode along the coast to Destin and back. We rode to the end of the road and then turned around. Destin is fancier than Miramar, more grandiose resorts. On the way back I sped up a little and my bike was flying. Lee texted me that he had stopped for coffee so I rode back and had some too, at a place called Bad Ass Coffee. I had on my sweatshirt and windbreaker on the bike but as soon as I stopped and sat in the sun I was HOT! I had to get back on the bike to cool off.

Back at the RV I set up the dog fence and sat outside with the dogs for awhile, until the sun started to set and it got cold again.

This RV park is near an Air Force base and all day fighter jets have been flying overhead. I tried to get a picture but could never get my phone up quickly enough. The sound trailed behind them so by the time you heard them they were already gone. Also some guy in the park is traveling with a falcon. Strange! 

Tuesday January 24

First driving day in awhile. Lee fixed dinner last night. Pasta with pine nuts and parmesan, garlic bread and a salad. Delicious! 

We took our time in the morning but we were on the road by 10. Google routed us through the wilds of southern Alabama to get us to I-65 by the most direct route. MAGA signs and Confederate flags. Creepy! I just didn’t feel comfortable at all. We only stopped once though, for lunch and gas. Lee had made his famous tuna sandwiches. We let the dogs have some of the tuna and they were beside themselves. 

While I drove after lunch we started listening to songs that reminded us of this area of the country. Angel from Mongmery, John Prine and Bonnie Raitt. Rednecks, Birmingham, Randy Newman. Texas Trilogy, Lyle Lovett.

Now here we are in Pelham, Alabama, outside Birmingham. Thursday night in Nashville the low will be 26. That’s right on the edge, but we should be ok. We’ll winterize when we get to St. Louis and stay in hotels the last two nights.

Wednesday January 25

Cold and windy today. It rained all night but stopped before we got up. We slept later too. It was after six! I ran this morning so we don’t have to wait until I’m finished running before we go see Gail and Michael tomorrow.

The drive was uneventful. It was windy but we just drove a little slower and it wasn’t too bad.  We stopped for lunch at a place called Buc-ee’s, which is apparently an Alabama institution. A crazy huge roadside gas station, convenience store, tourist attraction. They are famous for their bbq brisket sandwiches, and they were pretty good. It was the biggest gas station I’ve ever seen in my life, at LEAST 60 pumps, maybe more. Insane.

The weather for today was for scattered showers and they did scatter, all day long. It’s nice to be settled for the day. It’s cold though. We’re going to need the down quilt tomorrow night.

Friday January 27

We spent yesterday visiting with Gail and Michael. It was a very pleasant day. We mostly sat around and talked, with a little eating thrown in for good measure. We had a lot of catching up to do! We hadn’t seen each other since before Covid, January of 2020.

It was cold last night. It dropped into the 20’s, so we turned off our water. I was cold during the night, should have used our down quilt. In the morning we tried to turn our water back on but the hose was frozen. We should know better; we used to bring our hose in at night when it was this cold; I don’t know why we didn’t last night. The RV campground said to leave our water dripping but Lee thought that was risky. But we’ve got the hose inside now in the shower with the electric heater aimed at it so it should thaw up pretty soon.

We’re heading for St. Louis today, and Cedar Rapids the day after, then home. No more nights in the RV, it will just be too cold. We’re staying in motels the last two nights. Lee will winterize the RV today and that will be that for RVing until summer. It will be 0 tomorrow night in Cedar Rapids. Yikes!

Friday January 27

Well as it turned out the water pipe stand was frozen as well so no amount of hose thawing was going to do us any good. So we packed up and left. It was super windy today, and the roads in Kentucky were terrible! All that bouncing is just not good for an RV so it makes you very conscious of them. Plus it’s hard to crochet!

It warmed up quickly and was in the 50's all day. We stopped for gas and lunch and Lee wanted to go ahead and winterize the RV, but he couldn’t get the water pump to work so he could get the RV antifreeze into the system. So we had to stop at a Camper World and buy a little hand held water pump. That worked great and we were able to winterize the RV with it no problem. And it’s a good thing too. It’s going to get really cold tomorrow. We are so not ready!

We pulled into this Fairfield Inn around 4:30. It wasn’t as bad as i thought it would be, figuring out what I needed to bring inside the motel from the RV. We nuked a Rao lasagna for dinner and spread out on the big bed. Ahhhh!

Saturday January 28

It was in the 40’s when we left Wentzville, but as we drove north the temperature started to drop. By the time we hit the Iowa border it was 30, and by the time we arrived at our hotel it was 20, and still dropping. 

It had already snowed a little in Cedar Rapids. We unloaded our stuff and I took the dogs for a short walk. What is this stuff?? They were a little preplexed. After all 3 days ago it was in the 50’s! And it’s going to be much much colder tomorrow. Zero here, and -15 by the time we get home. 

Sunday January 29

Brrrr it was cold this morning! We didn’t get more snow, which is good. The dogs scampered outside, did their business, and scampered right back in. The snow and salt hurt their feet poor things. I just wasn’t prepared for the extreme cold since when we left it was relatively warm.

We were all set to go, but guess what? The truck wouldn’t start! The battery was very very dead. We had the heat on in the RV and it drained the truck battery. It took awhile to find someone that could give us a jump on a cold Sunday morning in Cedqr Rapids, but we finally did. It really only delayed us about an hour. Then off we went. 

We needed gas though. We definitely did NOT want to turn off the truck yet, so we did something you’re not supposed to do (after googling to see just how dangerous it really is). We filled it up with the engine running. In fact we left the engine running all day, until we got home.

We were home before 3. I went inside, turned up the heat, turned on the fireplace, and shoveled a path in the backyard for the dogs. Then I let them inside and let them go outside. Yippee! They were very excited!

Then I helped Lee unload the RV. Usually we do it in an orderly fashion but it was so cold we just got everything out of it as quickly as we could and dumped it all in the middle of the great room! Then we took our time putting things away. It’s always such a big job, it just wears us out.

I put it off as long as I could but I finally went upstairs to see how bad off the plants were. Two of them were dead, but the succulents, the palm, and the dracenas survived the drought! I was astonished. I gave them all nice big drinks.

Tuesday January 31

We’ve been home now for a day. Yeah it’s very cold, but it’s great to be home. We both think this may have been our last really long RV trip. It’s hard, and it exhausts us. We’ll still do shorter trips for sure, but it’s doubtful that we’ll go cross country again.

Some parts of this trip were disappointing. The weather in Florida was colder than we would have liked. I struggled in the marathon and didn’t think it was as much fun as it had been in 2017. St. Augustine was more of a tourist trap than we expected. And the traffic around Tampa Bay was awful.

But you know what the best part was? People! Seeing Amy, and Rich, at Disney. Spending time with Nicole and Tom and Harrison and August. Meeting our puppy and spending a day with Diane and Dennis. And finally, FINALLY spending a wonderful day with Gail and Michael after 3 years. The people made it all worthwhile.

That’s it for Florida 2023. I’m ready to hang around our house for awhile before we head to California and another break from cold weather.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Florida 2023 January 15-21: Apopka-Clearwater-Miramar Beach

Sunday January 15

Saturday night we went over to Nicole and Tom’s apartment for dinner. It’s just nice catching up, seeing how their kids have grown. Nicole made vegetarian lasagna and a salad. We brought wine. The lasagna was very good, and they gave us some to take back to the RV too.

In the middle of the night Harper had to pee. And then again at 5. And again an hour later. Uh-oh. Each time she’d squat for longer and longer. Looks like a uti. She’s actually never had one before but Heather has had plenty so we knew exactly what to do. We found an emergency vet 25 minutes away and Harper and I hopped in the truck and off we went. 

They were very busy. They put us in a room at 8:15 AM. By then Harper was peeing blood on the floor. This was good, in a way, because we were able to get a urine sample and get a definitive diagnosis. We had to wait almost 2 hours to see the doctor though. When we finally saw her she prescribed an antibiotic shot and then pills to take for the next 14 days. It was after 10:30 AM before we finally got out of there. I was feeling shaky cause I hadn’t eaten anything since 5:30. The vet had Dum Dums on their counter and I had one of them and it immediately made me feel better. Pre-diabetic woes!

When we got back to the RV Harper ate her lunch and so did I. Lee went to the grocery store. Then the campground called. “You’re supposed to be leaving and I have someone here that wants your spot.” “I AM??? Oh rats! I’m sorry, but my husband isn’t here and I can’t move our rig, not to mention it doesn’t go anywhere without the truck!”

They had another space, but first I had to call Clearwater. Clearwater was fine with us coming in a day late. Lee came back and we moved everything as soon as we could. Alls well but I feel pretty stupid! I have the itinerary all typed up but it doesn’t do anyone any good if I don’t look at it. 

Monday January 16

After we moved the camper we drove to Winter Garden to meet Tom and Nicole and the boys for a late lunch/early dinner. Winter Garden is a cute little town, on the south shore of Lake Apopka. It’s been nicely restored and is very walkable. We sat outside at a french cafe and had sandwiches and salads. The boys had French toast and it looked great. I wanted some!

Then we drove to Newton Park on the lake. We walked along the shore, watched the sunset. As we were walking back to the truck we saw the Spacex rocket launch! Wow!!’we saw the booster detach, and then the rockets falling back to earth. So amazing!!

We bought some pill pockets to give Harper her antibiotics. She loves them! I don’t know why I never tried them before. By lunch she had been on the drugs for 24 hours and was doing much better. She’s still peeing fairly frequently but not squatting endlessly and the blood is gone.

In the morning I went for a short run, the first time since the marathon. Running felt just fine, but I still have a slight cough and my chest hurt a little. Not too bad though. I was happy to be out running.

Before too long we were out on the road, headed to Clearwater. The traffic was TERRIBLE! Lee drove and I was glad. Nice to be here, finally. And it’s warming up too. Highs in the 70’s the next few days.

Tuesday January 17.

I decided to get laundry over with this morning. 4 washers, 4 dryers, but 2 of the dryers were broken so it ended up taking all morning. Oh well. I sat in the sun next to the pool and crocheted and talked to other people trying to do laundry so it wasn’t too bad. Lee got us burgers and hoagies at a nearby place for lunch. It was very good!

Then we drove over to Safety Harbor. Not much has changed. We walked down Main Street to the Harbor, through the park on the bay behind the resort, and along the boardwalk.  Mid afternoon so no birds. Warmish (75]. It felt nice but Heather was trashed.

On the way back we stopped at the place where we used to get our afternoon coffees. We like them because they make their lattes with coffee ice cubes. I got a mixed berry oat bar too.

Now we’re back at the RV. Everyone is tired!

Wednesday January 17

Today we went to visit Diane and Dennis, and pick out our new puppy. It was great! We spent a fun day together, playing with the dogs, watching the puppies. I thought my dogs would be overjoyed to see them. They were happy, but not beside themselves like they were when we went to New England last year. They were mostly just happy to be hanging out in a big backyard in the sunshine. 

The puppies are just so cute. It was hard to decide which girl we wanted but orange collar edged out pink collar by a hair. And we’ve got a name now too. Sophie!

We went to lunch at a seafood restaurant on the Gulf. Casters. The food was good. We just got a bunch of apps and shared. Even gator! And we shared a bunch of desserts too. It was all delicious!

Sophie won’t be coming home until March because we are going to California in February and we don’t want to have to board her so soon. It’s hard to wait!

Thursday January 19

It was warm this morning so I wore shorts and a short sleeved shirt on our drive to Tallahassee. We’re actually in a KOA in Perry FL, a little town in the middle of nowhere. It was only about 3 hours to get here. We were able to set up camp and take the dogs for a walk before a little rain storm blew through. Now it’s cooler and we’re just lazing around. Tomorrow we drive to Destin. 

Friday January 20

It was about a 4 hour drive to Destin. We are back on Central Time so we regained the hour we lost. This is a very small RV park only a couple blocks from the beach, actually south of Destin in Miramar Beach. They have a lot of pet rules; where you can walk your dog; you must close the windows to your RV if you leave your pets inside, etc etc. We’re going out for seafood tonight and will check out the beach and ride our bikes if it doesn’t rain tomorrow.

Saturday January 21

We went to Surfhut for dinner last night, a short walk from the RV park and right on the beach. The food was good. Lee got peel and eat shrimp, very fresh so hard to peel and gumbo. I got grouper with little blackened shrimp. The drinks were fine. We both got margaritas, Lee got a frozen one I got a tropical. His had salt on the rim. Mine didn't but mine had pineapple  in it.

In the morning we took the dogs and walked along the boardwalk in Miramar Beach. The rain held off, but it was chilly. We walked about a mile and then went back to the RV for lunch. 

Then I felt the need for more exercise so I took a walk along the beach. I started out with a lot of layers. It was very windy, and the clouds looked threatening. It rained a tiny bit, but I was fine. I walked about 3 miles total.

We’ve been mostly lazing around. There’s a nice bike trail but it’s too windy, rainy and chilly. Oh well! We’re going to try Italian tonight.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Florida 2023 January 8-14: WDW marathon-St. Augustine-Apopka

Sunday Jan 8 WDW Marathon 

Up at 2 and ready before 3. Nerves. I feel ok, but truth be told, I’m sick,again, with a runny nose and a cough. 

Lee drives me to the Fort Wilderness buses, even though it’s not a long walk. He’s worried about me, although he doesn’t want to say it. Probably doesn’t want me wandering around in the dark either. It’s awfully nice of him to get up at 3 am.

I’m to the start by 3:30. A lot of time to kill. I go over to the stage to try to find Paula and her group of friends but it’s hopeless. The music is very loud and there are so many people, many decked out in Dopey green and purple. Oh well! I grab some water, visit a portapotty, and slowly make my way to my corral.

It’s cold but I have on an extra shirt and a heat blanket. The race starts at 5 but it’s 5:30 before my corral finally starts. That’s not that bad for a race with 20,000 people!

It’s fun that they set off fireworks for each wave. It’s not so fun that’s it’s very very congested. It’s always crowded throughout the entire race. And because I’m not trying for a time I decide I don’t need to bother to put my watch on manual laps. Dumb mistake! 

It takes me a long time to warm up. My arms sleeves stay on until way after the sun comes up. And my hands stay cold even after people around me are starting to sweat. Maybe because I’m sick? I don’t know but it was strange.

I’m using a run/walk interval of 45/30 seconds. I haven’t used this particular interval for a marathon in several years, but I’m so undertrained that I know attempting 1 min/30 sec wasn’t going to fly. 

I do stop for a couple character stops. One with this green thing from A Nightmare Before Christmas, Oogie Boogie. 

One with Mickey and Goofy. 

And of course I stopped at the castle! 

I wasn’t pushing it at all, and maybe started to get a little too relaxed, because at one point someone said that the balloon ladies were only 10 minutes behind us. The balloon ladies are these women that run at the very end of a Disney race, because Disney is very strict about time. They don't let you finish if you run too slowly. Fall behind the balloon ladies and you get swept off the course! That scared me, so I decided to focus and not stop anymore.

I really felt pretty good until around mile 20. Classic marathon woes. At that point my lack of training caught up with me. I could no longer speed up and I wasn’t running much faster than I was walking. It was here that my experience got me through the rest of the race. I changed to 30/30 run/walk intervals to conserve energy. I kept running when I was supposed to run because even though it was really slow it used different muscles, another way to conserve energy. And I used my mental training too. I would not let myself think about how far I had left to go, except to think “less than a 10k!” And eventually “less than a 5k!” I concentrated on the mile I was in, running from one landmark to the next. 

I was so tired though. I didn’t stop for a beverage in Epcot because by then I just wanted to be done. Running around Epcot was truly endless. Right before the end Amy and her friend Laura saw me and yelled as loud as they could. But did I see them? No. Classic Lynn!

I have never been so glad to see a finish line in my life! I walked very very slowly to get my darling medal, then water, a Powerade, a cooling towel, and finally the famous Disney post race snack box. And a good thing too because almost immediately after I crossed the finish line I was ravenously hungry. I actually sat down on the ground and tore open the snack box, ate part of a honey stinger waffle and some pretzels. Then I staggered to my feet and headed to the Fort Wilderness bus.

When I got back to the RV I took a shower, ate a sandwich, and laid down on the bed. Before too long I was asleep. I slept most of the afternoon, until it was time to get ready to go to our dinner reservation At Flying Fish on the Disney Boardwalk. This was great because I was awake and could enjoy myself.

It was so nice to see Amy one more time, meet her friend Laura, and see Rich! No Paula, alas. She had other obligations.

Flying Fish was yummy. I had the shrimp cocktail and then the filet. Amy had the pork belly appetizer and shared bites with us, and it was great too. And Rich shared his dessert, a molten lava chocolate cake. We talked talked talked, so much catching up to do! I would have loved to stay longer but it was all catching up with me. Time to go back the RV and go to bed.

Monday January 9

I slept until almost 7. Boy I needed that! I ate some oatmeal to tide me over until our breakfast at the Fort Wilderness Lodge Whispering Pines restaurant. Google couldn’t figure out how to get there so we ended up being a little late but it worked out. The usual Fort Wilderness vibe, with a little interval where they invited all the kids in the restaurant to ride a stick horse around in a circle. Pretty funny!

Lee got the avocado toast with Jackfruit. It was interesting….. I got a Belgian Waffle with bacon and strawberries. It wasn’t shaped like Mickey but it was really delicious!

After breakfast we packed up and headed to St. Augustine. Only a 2 hour drive to a nice KOA. We’re just hanging out today but in the next few days we’ll explore St Augustine and the surrounding area.

Tuesday January 10

Around 10 am we drove to St Augustine and parked at the Visitor's Center. We downloaded an app called Florida Stories and took the walking tour but it was way too talky for our tastes. We did get to see a nice slice of the historic old town. 

We ate lunch at the Roosevelt Room. Lee got a brisket thing. I got the fried chicken and biscuit which was massive and delicious. I could barely eat half of it and took the rest of it in a box.

We went to look at the Fort but by then we were too tired and it was getting close to 1 pm. We might come back and tour it on Thursday. Tomorrow we’re going to ride our bikes to the State Park, go see the lighthouse and the beach. 

We’re spending the the afternoon relaxing. It’s pretty cool today. We’re sitting outside and it was warm in the sun so I put on shorts and a short sleeved shirt but now the sun is getting lower and pretty soon I’m going to have to change back into jeans.

Wednesday January 11

Last night Lee fixed the red snapper he bought at a nearby fish market. It was awesome, fresh and tender. I miss good seafood! 

It was very chilly last night, the low was 47, cold by Florida standards. Harper has an upset stomach and threw up in bed last night. UGH! So I decided to go ahead and do laundry this morning, since it was too cold to ride our bikes comfortably anyway. It wasn’t as fancy as the Disney laundromat but it was perfectly acceptable and cost half as much.

Lee went over to a nearby French bakery and bought pastries and croissants, which I devoured as a mid morning snack. They were soooo good!

After lunch we hopped on our bikes and rode to the nearby state park. It was kind of disappointing. Just a single straight road that led to the beach. It might be a good place to hike, or hang out on the beach. But I was hoping for a nice place to ride bikes. And although supposedly you could ride your bikes on the beach, it was anything but flat and not solid enough for the our tires. You needed a mountain bike or a fat bike. It was very pretty though.

So we decided to go see the lighthouse. In New England there are so many lighthouses up and down the coast. You can visit them and climb them if you want, no big deal. But the St. Augustine lighthouse was part of a museum and charged admission. Humph! It’s very distinctive, with its black and white spiral, so maybe that’s why. 

So we decided to go get coffee. Starbucks it is! We had to ride several miles on Hwy A1A to get there. It has a bike lane, but it’s not protected and that really makes me nervous.

Thursday January 12

Last night we went to a Japanese restaurant, Ginger Spice. It was very good. I got the small omokase. The fish was very fresh, thinly sliced, with potent wasabi and perfect rice. Tuna, yellowtail, salmon, shrimp. Nothing fancy but delicious. Lee got their ramen which was pretty wonderful. I had a taste, wow.

We took it easy this morning, but after lunch we went into town and toured the Castillo. We got in for free with our senior National park passes. It was very interesting, lots of exhibits and explanations about how the fort was used over the hundreds of years of its existence. Then an afternoon coffee on the porch of City Perks. 

St. Augustine has been a little disappointing. I was hoping it was more like Savannah where the historic places are historic and the touristy stuff is separate. The buildings are very well preserved but are as likely to hold a tourist shop as a museum. And doing a walking tour, of architecture, or history, was hard to find. The Florida stories app I downloaded didn’t cover much and was way too talky for my taste. Maybe I should have looked for a Rick Steves tour. Maybe I should have planned ahead more. Maybe we’re just getting old!

Saturday January 14

Thursday night we went to a Peruvian restaurant in St Augustine named Llama. It was wonderful. We decided it’s probably one of the best places we have eaten in years, maybe since Bo Innovations in Hong Kong. We got the grilled beef hearts and the octopus as apps and then we shared the hangar steak entree. The beef hearts were supposed to be reminiscent of Peruvian street food. They were served in a glass dome that was raised at the table to let the snoke out just like it was fresh from a food truck! It was served with potatoes and an aioli sauce. The octopus was tender and served with a sauce made from a special olive that was wonderful. Lee said he wanted to lick the plate, but he restrained himself. The entree was very flavorful, served with tagliatelle and a mushroom sauce. So good! I got a dessert too, chocolate mousse.

Friday morning we got more pastries and then made our way to Apopka, FL, near where Tom and Nicole live. We met them at the Crooked Thumb brewery in Winter Garden. We sat outside near a heater but it was really cold for Florida, 50's and dropping and windy. We talked a bunch, caught up on things, on their plans. Nicole graduates in May and then they will be on to their next adventure. Their kids are growing up too, August is almost three, and Harrison is 5 1/2!

It dropped into the 30’s last night and it’s going to do it again tonight. We run a little electric space heater to save on propane, but the RV heater kicked on too.

After lunch we drove along the Lake Apopka Wildlife reserve drive. We saw lots and lots and lots of birds, and alligators too. Egrets, heron, eagles, hawks and ducks. Lee’s friend Dan recommended it to us and I’m very glad he did!


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