Where we at

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Back in Baltimore (End of Winter)

Lake Eola, and downtown Orlando behind it
We left Key West on the first of March. From there we went back to Orlando for a week and a half.

This time we stayed in the area of Lake Eola, which was sooooooo much different than our last location in December, Kissimmee. That area was very car-centric. You had to drive to go anywhere, be it groceries, eating, or shopping. All the roads are near freeway speed and size, and packed with cars all in a hurry to get somewhere. Nothing was in walking distance. Somethings were in biking distance but you had to be near or share the road with aforementioned speedy cars.

I dubbed the place Swan Lake. LOTS of swans.
Lake Eola was a neighborhood. While full of single family homes (there were some condos around) everything near a small urban center with groceries, boutique stores, and lots of restaurants which made for a more pleasant and relaxing stay. If we ever needed to go back to Orlando, that is the place we'll seek out first, and so should you.

The biggest reason we wanted to go back to Orland was, of course, Disney World. We'd bought unlimited passes and, while we think we broke even on that deal, thought we'd get a couple more days of use out of 'em. First we did Epcot, because we do like a bit of walking and that's a great place to do it. After Covid, injured shoulders, and nose-Mohs we needed to get back into 10,000 step goals. Epcot always delivers.

You can see Olaf and Sven, and, with the lights on,
the catwalks above. While there was no music or motion,
the animatronics did continue to blink.
I thought that was weird!
Side story: We thought we'd ride Frozen Ever After (or whatever it's called) which was the Frozen water ride in Norway. We didn't buy the lightning lane since we weren't interested in rides -- recall the walking thing -- but it was early. The wait was already 55 minutes, and it was over an hour before we stepped into the ride and were sent on our way. Took that first turn, spying a singing snowman and reindeer, when the car completely stopped. The interior stage lights came up followed by an announcement, "Please stay seated until a cast member escorts you from your car." Before they can help you out of the car the water needs to stop moving and the power needs to be shut off. This took about 20 - 25 minutes to do, then Alp-garbed folks helped us up and out of the boat.
Same scene. This is how it should look.
They did give us a "lightning lane" pass to ride it again, should it be fixed later in the day. We took that opportunity to get some walking in, making our way to Morocco where we had a wonderful lunch. Looking at the Disney app, the ride was up and running. So we completed the world tour, going round a 2nd time back to Norway where we indeed got to ride the ride.

We wanted to go back to Animal Kingdom because there was a ride we never, ever have ridden because it's a big water (read that "wet") ride. Not awesome in the winter. Now that it was warmer we put it on the list. We made the park reservation, and that morning, checked the ride times. However, the ride wasn't showing up. Turned out, it was closed for remodeling. (They couldn't close it during the winter when no one wanted to ride it... I'm just a bit disappointed about that). So. We didn't go.

From Orlando we made a quick stop back at The Villages to drop the "when we rent" stuff off in our storage unit, then headed north. We didn't need to get to our Baltimore rental until March 15, so we took a long saunter via highway 301, both more beautiful and less stressing than the interstate. We stayed the nights in Augusta, Georgia (not great), Greensboro, North Carolina (really cute), and Fredericksburg, Virginia (also really cute).

Downtown Greensboro, taken from an amazing taco place, Crafted.

Perhaps Greensboro is most famed from the Civil Rights "sit in" 
that happened at the local Woolworth in 1960. Now a museum,
they've kept the storefront just as it was.

First thing Russ did was take up the bubbler from 
under the boat. It was a total mess. We had secured
it with 2 lines, but one broke so the unit spun in
the water, twisting the power cord out of the 
socket and catching a bunch of trash. good thing
we didn't need it cuz it wasn't working!
Why a monthly rental? While we own a slip in Anchorage Marina they have a very weird rule about how many nights we can sleep on the boat (be live-aboards) for the first 2 years of ownership. After that, we can live aboard all year long. Combining that with the fact that Russ wants to do a bunch of work resulting in the boat becoming a garage, AND that it's still a bit chilly here in Baltimore, we decided to rent a townhouse for a month, from Mar 15 to April 15, close to the boat. Then we'll go back to trawler life.

With any luck we'll be underway mid-May or so.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Life in Key West

Been nearly a month since a post, so some catching up is necessary. We can't believe our winter is almost over. Russ has been putting together plans for boat upgrades and repairs before we get underway in May. We need to be back in Baltimore March 15 to return the car rental.

Firstly, my Mohs surgery was done Jan 30, just 2 days before we were going to Key West. It went fine, but the first week here I wasn't allowed to do much. No strenuous activity, no bending over. So Russ had to pack the car all by himself. Also, we cancelled our trip to the Dry Tortugas, which we booked nearly 6 months ago. But no going with a sore nose that needed to be kept out of the sun,

We headed to Key West from my folks house in The Villages on Feb 1st. With traffic it took over 9 hours.

The place here was adorable. 2 beds, 2 baths, with a loft, and our own private balcony over Caroline Street. Most every morning we are outside, enjoying the sounds of wandering tourists, crowing roosters, and balmy breezes.

We had some rain, some storms, and some high-wind days. But overall the weather has been lovely.

Home on Caroline Street. This large house was divvied into 6
condos, of which we rented 1 for the month of February.

Since I couldn't do much the first week we did a wood puzzle,
a Xmas gift from a friend,

My folks came out to visit.

Enjoying the deck

We did a lot while here; dinner with Hannah's family, dinner with David's family, dinner with my family, lots of walking, some shopping, an escape room, visited the Farmers Market (it's decent!) and some touristy stuff. Mostly eating, I confess. I found exceptional almond croissants here!

Tennessee Williams and his friends would go to Mallory Park and watch the sunset, drinks in hand of course. Once done they'd stand, applaud, and call for an encore! This tradition goes on to this day.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Back to FLA

Having checked the weather a huge "polar vortex" was going to happen later in the week, smashing Texas and moving east. That should fit in well with our plans to travel back as we'd be behind it all the way, staying relatively warm. It was in the 70s in San Diego when we left. 

Rocco's Pizza. A damn fine pizza, too.
We went from San Diego to Tucson. There we spent 2 night, so we could 1) catch up a bit with Jesse, Russ's son, and 2) eat at Rocco's. With Zachary's fresh in our minds it would be an easier comparison. Both pizzas, mind you, are amazing, so both are worth trying. But I like Zachary's just a bit more (I like their crust better).

From Tuscon we headed east back to Van Horn. And that's where the weather, being the morass of chaos it is, took a turn. Big winds came up, snatching that freezing air east of us that we were trying to travel behind, and sending it into our faces. We went to bed in temps in the upper 60s, we woke to 20s.

So we headed south-er! Skimming along the bottom of the country we went to Del Rio. While cold the skies were clear and the sun was out the whole way. 

Keeping south to stay as warm as we can.

From Del Rio it was back to Katy, Texas then onto Gulfport, Mississippi.

Del Rio to Katy

Katy to Gulfport

You might notice a stop at Dong Fuongs near New Orleans. This is an awesome Vietnamese place that makes the world's best bahn mi sandwiches. Vegetarian ones, too. It was a favorite of ours when we lived in NOLA. We stopped, got in line, and picked out 3 we wanted to have. We were the next to order, watching the ladies behind the counter making up about 10 sandwiches for some customer ahead, when a man came out from the back and said, "No more sandwiches! We're out of bread." I was so bummed! It wasn't like we were that late (it was after 3 pm by this time) but I was SO looking forward to them!

The temps remained cool and blustery as we drove from Gulfport to Panama City. 

Gulfport to Panama City... there's a tunnel under
Mobile Bay.
On the way Russ asked if I wanted anything special to eat. Being back in Florida I thought a grouper Rueben would be nice (if you haven't had one, they're great sammiches). He did some research and found one right off the beach in Panama City. We go there (still cold, and windy), park, and walk up to the place where we're greeted with a sign that read, "Closed today and tomorrow for maintenance." We were beginning to feel a bit cursed.

From there we headed more south to The Villages, to see my folks before heading to Tampa.

To the villages...

Then onto Tampa

We have some time to kill before we need to go to Key West, so we thought we'd stay a few days in Tampa. During our loop in 2019 we stopped here for a couple of nights and remember being pretty impressed. We had a great Indian meal at Rasoi in Ybor. We thought we'd see how it all faired through Covid.

While small the kitchen has a
fridge, an induction cooktop,
and a dishwasher.
Gotta tell ya, it's awesome. We're currently in a residence/hotel in a studio with a small kitchen. 5 years ago this place didn't exist. The area around the Amalie Arena (where "the Bolts" play) has boomed and bloomed. Lots of eateries, lots of gyms, lots of students (we think medical), and convenient stores all nearby. And the free street car is 1 block away to take you to Ybor, and the still amazing Indian restaurant, Rasoi.

Eating outside at Rasoi

...with the chickens of Ybor.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Cruisin' California

The trailer...
With the trailer and the cargo carrier delt with, we started heading southward. Ideally we wanted to stop in San Francisco for a few days -- do a lot of walking, eat at some of our favorite places -- but we really didn't have the energy. Russ was mostly recovered, but I was still hacking and sneezing.

... and the cargo carrier we no longer own.

Not wanting to rush things on Tuesday we traveled just an hour south to Pleasant Hill, where we stayed at a hotel near Zachary's Pizza. This is one of my favorite pizza places, and it did NOT disappoint. 

The following day we went to San Jose, staying at a hotel in Sunnyvale, also one of the towns we lived in while in the bay area.

From Antioch to Pleasant Hill, and awesome pizza.

Then south to San Jose.

The next three days we took slow trips following the coast. The clouds had moved along, so the Pacific views were wonderful. Certainly living up to its name. 

Just south of Santa Barbara is Carpinteria, 
a quaint little town.

The hotel here was a lovely Spanish place.
The pic does no justice, but the hills in the back are stunning.

Skittering along the coast we headed for San Clemente.

Lovely sunset from our hotel room at Volare.
You can see the ocean.

South, taking slow roads through lots of beach towns,
we made our way to San Diego.

With a heat lamp we sat outside a nearby 
pub and had fish and chips. The stadium
(which you can see in the distance) was hosting
a rodeo this weekend.
Eventually we got to San Diego, where we stayed a couple of nights. Again, we wanted to walk a bit, or take the transit into old town. Still not up to either. At least we got some pretty views.

From San Diego we head east, starting our way back to Florida. Once we got to Gila Bend we'd completed the "west coast" loop. We won't take 10 all the way back, but from here on out it's all east.

You can't see it clearly, but that's the Costco gas station in the distance. The cars in front of me are
in line for it. That line started waaaaaay behind me.
At $4.19 a gallon, this is the cheapest fuel in all of 
San Diego.
Back in Tucson. Now that we're feeling better we're going
to see Russ's son, and eat at Rocco's, another awesome pizza place.
With Zachary's fresh in our minds, we're decide who is better!

Monday, January 8, 2024

Starting off the new year with a road trip

December 31m 2023. I arrived with a fever.
Sad way to end what was an amazing year.
Also starting of "not well". As in we're sick. Feeling better now, though.

Despite our ailment we were committed to taking this long driving trip back to the west coast to tie up a few things. Many years ago we RVed instead of boating. We've been boating for the last 5 years now, and all this time a trailer has been sitting in a storage lot in Antioch, of which we diligently paid monthly. This had to stop, and this seemed a perfect time to do that.

Barring getting sick, however.

Traveling west, after a Teladoc call and some drugs.
Feeling better.

Taking care to mask and social distance ourselves from the rest of humanity, we toodled across the country in 7 hours-or-less increments. Even sick this wasn't too bad. We stopped often to stretch our legs, eat a bit, and bunk down early for the night, getting into hotels by 3 pm, when we just could check-in.

We stayed at a Best Western in Antioch for the last 4 nights. Russ sold the trailer and we gave away a cargo carrier in that time. Now we're free to head back. We're hoping to dawdle a bit in this direction, but neither of us feel awesome yet. 

We traveled for days in Texas.

Stayed in the El Capitan in Van Horn. It's a historic place,
and was once a "destination" to the rich and famous. 

Next stop, Tucson, of just passed it.

Then onto California. This route had us miss Phoenix and its
traffic, and stay north of LA and the Grapevine.
We've done both enough to know to skip 'em.

Then NORTH! To the great city of Antioch.
We wanted so spend some time in San Francisco, 
but neither of us are well enough to. Walking was something
we loved to do there. Just not up for it this week.

Not a lot of pics since I haven't had the wherewithal to take them. As we head back, I will.

We spent a lot of time exploring the high deserts in this area.
This area being "California, Nevada, Arizona"... they all look a little like this.

Sunday, December 3, 2023

What we've been up do thus far...

We arrived at our Orlando rental Nov 15. We have the condo for 6 weeks, departing on New Year's Eve. That will give us time to do a number of fun and unfun tasks.

Fun tasks include Thanksgiving:

(L to R) Gary, Tammy, me, Russ, David, Hannah, Dad, Mom, and Tess.

9 of us gathered around a single table at the Lakehouse buffet at the Lakehouse Resort. My brother (Gary's) youngest, Tess, joined us from Seattle. 

And Disney World... lots and lots of Disney World. They have 4 parks, and between family and friends over the holiday, we saw and did as much as we could, considering of course this was some of the busiest days for Disney.

Hollywood Studios, Batoo. You know, somewhere on Tatooine...

Animal Kingdom. Somewhere in Africa...

It was really cold one of the days. Bundled, we ate some waffles
in the Magic Kingdom

Animal Kingdom: Pandora. Home of the Na'vi. The detail they put into
some of these areas is just jaw-dropping.

Disney always had the parks filled with photographers. Back in the day, once taken,
you had to seek them out at some booth at some later time. No one liked that, so the
photographers were avoided. Nowadays, with Disney magic, you scan in your park
pass and all photos just show up. Now there are lines for photographs.

Epcot: Frozen ever after ride. A bit splashy but fun.

Epcot: Guardians of the Galaxy. Nope, not on this ride. Once I heard
the launch was backwards I hesitated. I'll screw up my courage
one of these days.

Everyone knows this one...

Magic Kingdom, the mining ride. One of my favorite
roller coaster rides. Russ and us and just ahead of 
Hannah and David.

Unfun task include medical stuff, like Russ getting his final dental implant finished and me getting some unwanted spots on my skin removed. Also, we're consolidating our 2 storage units into one. Like moving, and just as much fun.

Oo, wait... more Disney!

Bengal Tiger

A bat... a really, really big bat

Kimono Dragon