"When I get to a place
for the first time and know it like home, this is when I know my journey
will be over"
'True religion is real living; living with
all one's soul, with all one's goodness and righteousness'
Cindy's February 2010 Blog
Feel Free to browse past blogs for plenty of travel ideas and many of the places we've been in our first 12 months on the road - Past Blog's
Solar Tips, Fact's and Trick's we've learned while on the road
Well-behaved women seldom make history
February 6th 2010 - My 1st Post of 2010...What is Wrong with Me?
Where has my time gone? Who knew this idea of managing a small motel would be this demanding? I want my little camper back, the comfort of not knowing what tomorrow will bring, those two lane roads and the amazing views out the windshield. I miss our old lifestyle and I can tell my doggies do too.
Dont get me wrong, I'm not complaining and I'm definitely not ready to throw in the towel, but wow, this is more than I expected.
I had dreams of kicking back with guests at the Tiki Bar. Paddling around the islands off our back deck. Enjoying warm sunsets and tropical sunrises, yet here I am working beside Pat from sun-up to sun-down and barely being able to stay awake during those beautiful sunsets.
Then for some reason, I'm sure it has to do with my menopausal system, I'm wide awake around 3am either freezing or sweating like mad with my mind racing due to the things I've yet to complete. Then I'm usually ready for a nap around 6am when Pat's waking up to start his day.
I know I've talked about it time and time again...the fact that I'm the money person in the relationship and Pat is the spender in our marriage. But I'm amazed at his ability to rack up debt faster than we can even think about making it.
I had him on such a short leash for so many years while traveling on our adventure, that I honestly thought I had broke him of his bad spending habits. Then yesterday I got our credit card statement and almost threw up. I honestly screamed outloud when I opened the online statement.
This man has racked up every bit of money we could possibly make this year, and that's only if we're sold out for the next 4 months straight. When I questioned him about it this morning at 3am, yep, I made sure he was up with me for this one, he just shrugged it off like it was nothing and said something like "Dont worry, I'll figure out a way to make it back within the next few months time."
Like he's going to pull $20,000 out of his pocket in a few months time! What the hell is he thinking? I've now went into his wallet and revoked his Credit Card from him.
Granted, we need the things he's buying. It's not like he's out adding accessories to our truck or buying useless items, but I had planned on fixing the place up as we went. Not just go out and buy it all at once and just hope some how we find a way to pay for it.
I mean what if this first season is a total bust? We walk away from this endeavor with a huge loss and a ton of exhausting work wasted. I'm freaking out and Mr. Laidback is just plugging away thinking "Build It and They Will Come!"
I'm about to dress him up in some sort of suit and have him start twirling a sign out on I-75 to attract guests our way.
Ok, sorry that this is my first post of the New Year and I'm ranting about like some crazy woman, but now you know what I've been losing sleep over and why I've yet to sit down in front of this Blog.
We did have a great visit from Pat's Sister Monica and our Brother-In-Law Sean who both came down to help us with the place. Sean is amazing with his carpentry skills and helped Pat out so tremendously I dont know how we'll ever repay him.
Monica and I decorated and redecorated the rooms and it was great to have another woman around to bounce ideas off of. We had a blast and ate like Queens each night after the boys would put in a full day of work around the Tiki Bar.
Then while Pat made his marathon trip up to Michigan to get a bunch of our junk we had in storage, I had one of the best visits with my mother that I've had in decades.
My family is a bit crazy and visits can be very stressful. This one was different. Maybe because it was just her and I, but it was great to have some alone time with her and we reconnected like a Mother and Daughter are supposed to when they visit. Normally we'd see one another during the Holidays or some special event when the entire family would be around and trying to share time with all of them makes for a uncomfortable visit.
This time there was no arguing over stressful situations, something that neither of us have time for in our lives right now, just good talks, long walks with the dogs and serious one on one time which is something I haven't had with her in I cant remember when.
In the mean time, we've had some awesome guests here at the Low-Key Hideaway. People who've followed us on our blogs stopping by to visit, new guests who are just visiting Cedar Key, and tons of other new friends we've made in the past month.
Last week I was working on a Valentine's Day Weekend Package that already has us sold out for that holiday....YEAH!!! Maybe it will help pay for some of Pat's crazy spending sprees. Guests will get a package deal which includes food from one of our two favorite restaurants in Cedar Key, a day of paddling or sight seeing via boat or a plane ride around the island.
In order to see what the plane ride was like, Pat and I enjoyed an amazing flight above the Cedar Key's that got Pat's photos on the front page of the local newspaper (Cedar Key Beacon) and gave me a new found love for our little island home. It's pretty from the ground, but to see it from the air was just jaw dropping.
I wrote up a little story for one of the other Cedar Key Newspapers (Cedar Key News) that wanted to do a story on their newest residents and in the same week, we were in both of the towns newspapers. Pat wrote another article for the Cedar Key Beacon about the Tin Can Tourists that visited a few weeks back and they printed a bunch of his photos with the article. Sort of fun, and we all know he really enjoys his writing.
Pat is almost finished with his rebuilding of the Tiki Bar and he's almost rebuilt the entire thing from salvaged materials found around the motel or so I thought till I noticed the stack of bills from Home Depot on his Desk this morning.
Who knew that stainless steel screws and hardware was so expensive? I about blew my lid when I saw these prices, but apparently he has to use these because of the salt water since its right on the water.
Just to add to my never ending stress pile-up, we just received confirmation that we're going to be guest speakers at the Overland EXPO convention in Tucson Arizona in April. We had been talking about this months and months ago before we knew anything was finalized with The Hideaway.
I had totally forgotten about it, but I guess Pat's been talking back and forth about the dates with them this entire time. So yesterday he asks me "What do you want to talk about during our presentation?" like I know what he's even talking about!
I question what he's even asking me when he says that it's official, we're going to be giving a 50 minute presentation on our travels in front of a sold out audience. Holy Butterflies Batman! I'm not one to speak in public, so I'm guessing this is going to be Pat's gig, and I'll just be his support backup.
He tells me that we're both doing it together, but I'll have to work on this one a bit before I feel comfortable speaking in front of fellow travelers from all over the world who come in for this EXPO.
I'm sure Pat will be talking a ton more about this on his blog since he's the one working on it and I just sort of proof read his work and add/subtract things that I think are important to talk about. So stay tuned on this
Remember our good friends Fonda and Juergen who we stayed with in Georgia last March? Well they're coming to visit us this week on their way down to visit family in South Florida. I love having friends visit, and cant wait to see them.
Ok, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I've been stressing out about not updating my blog for weeks now, not to mention the fact that Pat is on me like a school teacher after my lost homework. Its not that I dont want to talk on here, its more about finding the time to do it when I'm not so crazy busy.
Oh, by the way, did I mention that we got new software to keep track of our bookings and reservations on the computer and I'm teaching myself how to use it with the help of Pat's grunts and huffs because I cant seem to figure it out on my own? Ahh the joys of business and doing it with a spouse. Thank Goodness we get along so well, or I should say, thank goodness we know how to fight so well or we'd probably kill one another.
Thursday February 11th - Gearing Up For the Weekend
Busy little beavers we've been these past few days. It's been a non-stop hustle and bustle around the Low-Key Hideaway with the place looking like a job site from sunup to sundown with me being the main foreman.
The workers have stopped being polite with calling me 'Miss Cindy' and watching their language and by this point, I'm one of the boys and they curse right in front of me like I'm a co-worker. Not that it bothers me a bit, I tend to use a few four letter words in my vocabulary on a daily basis, so I feel more comfortable with them being comfortable enough to use such language in my presence.
Fonda and Juergen's visit was great. It was so awesome to see good friends and be able to hang out and laugh about old stories of our younger, wilder days.
We all used to live in South Florida together and Fonda and I worked at the same bar for years. We've had some awesome times partying in the Key's, 4th of July party's at their house and dancing the night away at the local clubs.
I remember that at the time we lived in a double wide trailer that wasn't too comfortable for throwing large gatherings. I wanted to throw a huge party for Pat's 21st birthday so I had asked Fonda and Juergen if I could host it at their house.
They had a big back yard and their house was beautiful. It turned out to be one wild shindig where the police showed up because of how big it got. Pat's little sister Amy who shared the same birthday date as he did drove into town from Michigan with Pat's little brother who at the time was only 11 years old. Oh my gosh are we old!
To show you how crazy Pat's family is, during the party, Pat and his older brother Robb get into a big fight because his brother hands Pat a shoe box in front of the whole party while Pat is opening presents. It was right about that time that the police had showed up to calm the party down, and Pat not knowing what sort of present his crazy older brother had bought him this year opens up the shoe box to see a pound of marijuana in it.
I mean isn't that something everyone gets for their birthday? Pat slams the box shut and the whole party is just sitting there staring at the box. His brother then lights up a joint the size of a big Cuban cigar and the whole place is high just from the second hand smoke.
We ended up giving him the shoe box back and told him to take it somewhere else. Later in the party, we had a piñata filled with goodies and one of the girls was swinging away at it and swung the bat so wildly she put it through a big window in the house. Yes, it was a wild party and those were much younger days but man are they fun to look back on.
Fonda and Juergen were able to enjoy some nice weather despite our crazy storms we've been having. One day they got a break in the winds and clouds and it actually was nice enough that they put in our kayaks and paddled around the back bayou scouting out the birds and paddling through the mangroves for a few hours.
When they said they were leaving, they werent sure which way they were headed, but they had talked about heading further south to West Palm Beach to try and catch some warm weather.
I called Fonda the next day to see which way they had decided to go and she said "We woke up this morning in West Palm Beach and it was 50°! We thought we were going to find warmth, but this is the same dang weather we had in Cedar Key!"
The last night they were here was the eve of Juergen's 50th birthday. We had a big dinner of fresh Florida Lobster Tails, plump Shrimp and nice wine. Then they broke out the Rum. We were up till late in the evening toasting good times and laughing our way through the entire bottle of the Captain's Private Stock.
The next morning I was talking with the group of guys who have the entire motel rented out. They're doing work here in town and come in during the week and go home on the weekends.
They're such a great group of good ol' boys and gosh do they know how to cook. For the past few days, they've made Pat and I dinner on the BBQ grill out back and it's some of the best food I've had in my life.
Well I was talking with the boys and they were saying "The strangest thing happened last night? Around 2am, we could hear someone running around yelling 'Hey Ricky, Hey Ricky' but Rick was sound asleep?"
Rick is the foreman in the group, and none of them could figure out who would be outside yelling his name.
Then Fonda tells me that after the bottle of Captain Morgan dried up and they had went back to their room, Juergen decided after his second shower to go streaking around the grounds of the motel yelling at the top of his lungs "I'm 50, I'm 50!"
So the "Hey Ricky" they were hearing was actually Juergen announcing to the stars that he had turned 50. Too Funny.
Friday February 12th - I'm So Upset & I Dont Know What To Do!!
I'm so upset right now and I am trying to work my way through these awful feelings I'm having.
I worked my butt off for this Valentine's weekend to put together a package where guests could come into Cedar Key, stay with us at the motel and have fun things to do during the daytime to really make them fall in love with the area and all it has to offer.
I went to 6 different business owners in town, set up appointments with them to discuss my plans for the visitors to get discounts on an island plane ride, scenic island boat tours or discounts on kayaks for private island trips. I got some great discounts for dinner places and also supplied champagne for the guests in their rooms.
We booked up right away and everything looked like it was a huge success. Great! Yeah!! My first big promotion and it's going great. Then this crazy weather pattern hits the East Coast and we have two rooms cancel because they cant fly out.
This didn't really discourage me because I had taken so many phone calls in the last few days about the special that I pretty much knew we would fill up again. Pat and I have been working on completely re-doing a room with new tile floor, painting the dark wood to a brighter, more cheery color, adding new fixtures in the bathroom as well as painting in there and basically just completely overhauling the room. It looks awesome and even though we're both exhausted, I cant wait till all the rooms are finished with the new tile because of how easy it will make the clean-up.
We also just had 11 new doors installed, which were supposed to be painted the bright colors of the motel but we've never got to it due to the non-stop rain, so they're still just painted with the first coat of primer which took a few days of me staying up late with our living room looking like some sort of Fiberglass Door Sweatshop. All of these projects were done in 4 days!!
My head is in a whirlwind of tasks I'm trying to organize. Between cleaning and make things nice for the guests which was proving to be very challenging with the storm blowing in, and keeping Pat focused on just finishing what he is supposed to be doing. With his A.D.D., I can send him out to do one task only to find him weeding a flower bed.
When I'll ask him what he's doing because I just asked him to go get something for me out of the camper, he'll say "Oh yeah, that's what I was supposed to be doing, I just saw this flower bed and thought it needed to be cleaned up." Sometimes he's like a little kid and needs to be followed around to keep on the task at hand.
With our first few hundred dollar mistake of buying all sorts of plants for the yard and then having them all freezing and dieing, we haven't replaced the foliage due to the strange weather patterns. Everyone tells us that the dead things in the yard will come back if we are patient, but in the mean time, having a bunch of wilted or dieing plants around looks awful.
In the mean time what ever was not killed I have to cover with sheets because it is freezing at night and the flowers that we have left can't take another frost. Our Tiki Bar is coming along but right now it looks unfinished and almost like a forgotten project, not like the work in progress that it really is.
So if I am looking at the place from an outsiders view, I don't see all the changes that we have worked so hard on. I see sheets sprawled across the back yard, a broken down Tiki Bar, dark skies, wind blown terrain and dead shrubs lining the front and the back of the motel.
I didn't realize that until this afternoon when we had a couple check into one of our king rooms which is the next one to be updated. I showed them the room and brought them their bottle of champagne. They had vouchers for the local restaurants to get their discounts and vouchers for the local captains to take them out on the water, not they would be able to use these vouchers due to the tropical storm like winds and freezing temperatures blowing across Cedar Key.
A half hour later, the husband of the couple comes back into the office and says the wife doesn't like the place and wants to leave.
I tried to get them to tell me why she didn't like it, and he simply said "It's not her style." He said she is used to going first class all the way.
This was devastating for me because the room they are staying in has had the first investment of 600 thread count sheets, extra fluffy towels, down pillows and a new Posture Pedic king bed we just bought. I scrubbed their shower and their bathroom floor with a tooth brush today and made sure that they could basically eat off the floors.
I was so excited to have couples coming to enjoy their Valentine's weekend here in Cedar Key, hoping that they could see the flocks of birds that share their world with us and the sunsets that just won't let me walk away from them for fear that I might miss the climax. I want to share the beauty of the sunrises that continually urge me to rise in the morning to sit in the cold office with my fluffy pink robe and warm slippers while sipping coffee by myself just to see the dawn greet me.
I truly wanted new people to enjoy what this sleepy little fishing town has to offer to anyone who is willing to sit back and let the magic happen for them. I don't ever have to leave this little track of land because I can see so much from my back deck if only I take the time to look.
This would be our first and I'm truly hoping our only guest that ever wants to leave because they dont like the place.
Pat is of no help because he simply says "Cedar Key isn't for everyone, I think alot of people come here expecting fancy shops, high end hotels and tropical blue water views, not the sleepy little fishing town it really is." He made sure to tell me that "Dont take it so personal, we wont be able to please everyone with this endeavor."
But that's what is killing me. I want to please everyone and I NEVER want anyone to leave here because they dont like the place. I cant stop thinking about it and it's really stressing me out. If only we would have dug up those dead looking hibiscus that are taking way too long to come back.
If only I would have let those last surviving flowers endure the cold instead of covering them so our guests could have seen the streaming, soothing fountain that they surround. I could have replenished those decorative flowers, it was only a few hundred dollars and if we would have worked longer than 14 hours everyday, maybe the doors would have been painted and I could have had another room done.
Pat has continually reminded me that its not the best of weather outside right now. I mean we are breaking records with the cold temperatures we're experiencing right now, and the winds are non-stop blowing off the water which makes everything damp and just miserable to touch. Only storm chasers would like this kind of weather because it looks like a hurricane out there at all times.
I can't keep beating myself up over this, I am sure that I was much more disappointed with the reaction from our departing couple than they were disappointed with Cedar Key. Lord give me strength to handle rejection cause this feeling is killing me.
Ok, we're leaving to head into town to go have a drink with a nice couple who has just moved into Cedar Key. Scott and Karen just bought a little house here on the island and are in the process of fixing it up.
Scott stayed with us when he came to town to sign the paperwork and has stopped by a few times just to talk or see if we needed anything when he was headed out to the neighboring towns to go get supplies.
I'm looking forward to kicking back and talking with a like minded couple who are also new to the area. One that we might be able to build a relationship with rather than only visiting with guests who will be leaving in the next few days.
Saturday February 20th
Well our valentines day has come and gone and our life at the our little Hideaway is moving forward. We had our first sunny day yesterday with no wind and close to 70 degree temperatures. There is something about a warm sunny day that rejuvenates the soul and lifts the spirits.
We had to put off updating another room because we have been full for a week, Yeah! We have had a great group of guys that have a job here on the island and have needed a place to stay where they can cook their meals and also be comfortable.
They have been such nice guys and even fed us with some of their delicious dinners as we all huddled in the back yard to keep warm during our high winds and record low temps last week. They have been here for 3 weeks in a row from Monday thru Thursday so that gave us all some time to get to know one another.
Sitting around the BBQ Grill sampling mouth watering food while swapping hilarious stories, and believe me, listening to these boys with their heavy southern accents and funny
They all have wives and families that they leave at home each week so Pat and I really wanted to make them feel at home so their week wasn't soo long. They ended up making us feel like part of their family instead of the other way around, which is a nice feeling.
After my heartbreaking loss of a customer last week we had a couple that checked in on the very same night who left me a note when I cleaned their room in the morning. In the note, written on the back of a card board box, this lady explained to me that she has been having some rocky times in her marriage and her and her spouse needed to get away.
The couple enjoyed the room and the view so much and liked everything about our little place which gave them both a new outlook on their 19 year marriage. I think her exact words were "Your hideaway was just the ticket" It almost brought a tear to my eye when I read it and I realized that Cedar key isn't for everyone and all I can do is open the door to the room that I have prepared and hope for the best.
I got a phone call from a couple last week who said that they want to get married on our dock out back. WOW! They must really like it here. I asked her if she had anyone to take pictures and since she didn't, I volunteered Pat and I to do it for them.
What is a marriage without a few visual memories? Heck, I look back at our photos all the time and they bring a smile to my face. I really like it that Pat and I can make a difference in some peoples life. Even though it is just little stuff, I really enjoy giving a little piece of us to people that might need it.
I'm starting to get the hang of cleaning the rooms, taking reservations and keeping the house in some what of an order, ok that's not really true about the house. I currently have 3 kitchen tables covered with all sorts of stuff that I "Need to go through." One of them is Pats desk, one is my desk and the third table is becoming a 'collect all' for everything else that we dont have a spot for yet.
As soon as we get this place painted, tiled, new plants and greenery planted, oh yeah and have the driveway redone, I will get to my piles of stuff. So I figure some time in August we should be able to eat on a kitchen table instead of over our computers, at separate tables.
We did break down and drive into Gainesville to buy some furniture. Pat and I have always found treasures to decorate with either in antique stores, family hand-me-downs or by garbage picking. This has always made for some interesting decor that leaves our places homey and definitely different.
This time we didn't have the time or the energy to pick favorite pieces, so we went to a Rooms to Go and bought an entire living room, and the package came with a 40" flat screen TV included. It is real soft leather and something that I think with last a long time and for the 100 bucks a month with no interest, we couldn't say no.
So rather than looking at a living room that was empty and listening to our echoes bounce off the walls when we talked, we now have a very comfortable setting to come home to after a long day of work.
If our dogs could talk, they would tell you that they hate it! They have gone from sleeping on my lap pretty much all the time in the camper to not being able to get on the new furniture at all. I think this is harder on me than anyone since Luca, the pit bull, will just sit and stare at me while he wines and whimpers to sit and cuddle with me.
He has the saddest face ever and I feel like such a bad Mom. Pat will finally get him to go lay down at which point he gives him the '#uc* You' look and climbs into our bed. I can hear him lay down and grumble, then let out an exhausting breath of angry air.
Just when I thought he was getting used to not sitting on the furniture, I came out at 3:30 this morning when I couldn't sleep and he is curled up in a ball on the soft leather couch. I hate yelling at him and making him get down but this furniture has to last us at least until we pay it off in a few years.
I scolded him and told him to go sleep with his dad and he got down, ran into our bedroom and I soon heard the two of them snoring in unison.
Life is good here in Cedar Key, we are meeting new friends and some great local people who are proving to be very genuine and kind people. We have joined the Chamber of Commerce and went to a city meeting. I told Pat that I feel like a grown up now since we are actually participating in the community here.
Our guests that come to visit are some of the best people with such great stories, and watching them come and go keeps me satisfied with Pat and I not traveling for right now. In some weird way, it's comforting to know others are out there exploring and having fun rather than plugging away at work and the boring 9 to 5 lifestyle.
Hearing their stories and sharing our experiences with visitors is a wonderful feeling and something I truly enjoy.
Pat's love of writing has not been lost in this sleepy little town, he has had numerous articles printed in the last few Cedar Key Beacon papers. I am so proud of him, this week, unlike last week when I wanted to chop his hands off so he couldn't reach his wallet.
He is so passionate about everything he loves, including me which really makes our marriage a great place to be in. Until next time, thanks for stopping in and keeping our Every Miles A Memory alive.