"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 March 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
Thursday March 18th 2010
When we bought the dining room table from the woman here in Cedar Key who was moving out of the country, she asked if I wanted the giant china cabinet which has all glass and mirrors accented with overhead lighting that went with it.
At the time, I told her I would think about it and I would try and save the money she was asking for it. After I spoke to my mom about it she agreed that this would be a great purchase and also add to the amount of storage that we have discovered that we need now that we're out of the camper and sitting still in a stick built home.
When we went back to pick up the bedroom furniture, I asked her if she had sold it yet. She said no one wanted it because the table had been sold and it was a matching set. We talked more about it while the boys loaded up the bedroom set and the mattresses.
I wish I would have had a video for the removal of the bedding out the second story balcony with a long rope and a ladder. Thank goodness that Barry was here as well as Pat's dad since they did all the grunt work and Judy and I carried the small pieces. Pat always acts like I am She-Ra the Wonder Woman or something and that my 43 year old back should still carry the load that my 30 year old back did.
In reality, I will be sore for days after moving the stuff we do around the rooms and also making the beds and climbing in and out of the showers on my hands and knees to get the stuff really clean.
When it came down to the last days of Arja, the Finnish lady, leaving for her homeland, I decided to buy the china cabinet. Pat and I drove over to get it, coming to the conclusion that we couldn't do it, or should I say I couldn't lift the monster cabinet. This is where we again relied on Barry to help with the moving of the stuff.
So THANK YOU Barry for all of your help in the past few weeks, I dont know how we would have done it without you.
Moving the china cabinet was a piece of cake compared to getting Pat to agree to move his computer desk out of the kitchen and allow me to bring in this big glass cabinet.
Pat went ballistic saying things like "I've now become my parents with a big china cabinet in our kitchen!" and "Why on earth do I need to move my desk out of the kitchen and hide it back in our bedroom?" If anyone would ever see Pat's desk, they would know why I hated it in the kitchen.
It is so covered with crap that he doesn't organize or put away that it is a total eye sore. Granted we are still trying to get organized and find places for everything, but until we do I would rather not have it all in the kitchen.
The entire time he was moving his desk he continued to rant about how this was becoming only my house and he hated the furniture in the living room and how I purposefully broke his big mounted fish nose so we couldn't hang the blue sailfish with orange airbrushed flames down the side of it in the kitchen and that he never gets his way about anything any more and I rule the roost.
So in order to shut him up and keep him from whining, I told him we could Man-Up the china cabinet and put a bunch of his skulls in there like he used to have it when we lived in Michigan. This put a smile on his pouting face and actually got him to show some interest in adding to our china collection.
For now our china cabinet includes turtle skulls, coyote jaw bones, beaver heads and a lovely skunk pelt which is draped across the bottom. Add to this my Waterford crystal and my Tiffany ice bucket as well as a few things my family has passed down over the years and Darrel's and Gene's wooden bowls they made for me while staying out in Arizona and this china cabinet has ended up like the rest of our lives - very eclectic to say the least.
Barry and Pat invited us over to their coach for St. Patrick's Day dinner and Barry's wife Pat made some amazing corned beef and cabbage. We had a great night of sitting around sharing stories and watching some American Idol, something I'm totally addicted to now that we have television.
Pat is so nice and quite the seamstress. She made me some hand towels that she embroidered with her sewing machine. She actually went out and bought hand towels and stitched Low-Key Hideaway right on them! They're so cool and I totally love them. She added to my collection with a knitted cotton hand towel that she gave me last night, how thoughtful.
I am really going to miss these two and will be very sad to see them leave. I keep telling them that the weather is starting to turn and we should all start having a much better time since we won't have to wear parkas when we hang outside.
I was watching the news this morning and about croaked when the forecast was 73° in New York and here in Cedar Key, our high was only going to be 63°. What is up with that? I'm so sick of winter.
I need to get out of these jeans and sweatshirts since they have really allowed me to get fat again! Out of sight, out of mind I guess.
After mentioning that we were looking for Work Campers, we found a couple to work camp with us and they're going to be here on April 1st and work through the entire month. That will be such a huge help for us because we're already almost sold out for the entire month. With Pat needing to leave for the Overland EXPO, which we just learned is almost completely sold out, and me going to Destin with my sister in the end of April, this next month is going to be crazy.
I told Pat today that I'm already booking reservations all the way into July. Who would have thought we'd be this busy in only our first year? I surely didn't, but I'm very grateful for our business.
Monday March 15th 2010
Family, family and more family! What a whirlwind the past few weeks have been. My sister and her family as well as my Mom have come and gone in the past few days. While they were here, we all went out to dinner together at one of Pat and I's favorite places and it was awful. We ended up waiting for a half an hour to even give a drink order followed by bad food which ended up taking 2 hours to get.
Needless to say we won't go back there again unless we are only having a burger and some drinks, but how disappointing to bring our entire family to a place we normally love and have it turn out to be a total flop.
My family's stay was only one night but it was very nice for us to all be together. The last time my sister, my self and my mom were together, we were at my wedding over 13 years ago.
Pat's mom and dad have stayed on with us for a little over a week now and it is hard to get them to take a day off. They are up early either cleaning a room, helping us paint or trying to organize and build something. I feel guilty because they are supposed to be on vacation, but I guess Pat got his work ethics from them and it shows by how busy they stay.
I'm not sure if they get the feel of Cedar Key, because they continually ask me what people do here. When I reply that they are doing it, they don't really understand. Judy said last night "If they would build a golf course here, I bet they we would really be able to bring in some big business."
I think I might have snapped at her at first because the lack of golf courses and fast food chains is what brought us here in the first place. Pat and I tried to explain that the people who love this little island are trying their hardest not to let it become another Key West.
This sleepy little island is a place where people who come to visit, talk about how it used to be as a long gone era. Cedar key is stuck in time, idling at around 1960 before McDonalds became the dinner of choice for millions of Americans. An area where your neighbor knows about your kids, the truck you drive and the furniture you have on your back deck.
This brings me to another side of the small town, one which I was unaware of until this week. I had gotten a phone call from a woman on Thursday night and asked if we had any openings. I told her I had one room left and she said the guest would be here in an hour or so.
The next time that I walked into the office a police car was unloading an elderly gentleman with some of his belongings packed into a box. I walked out to ask if I could help them and the officer explained to me that this was my guest.
Apparently the old man, around 80 or 90, had gotten into a domestic dispute with his daughter and refused to stay with her. Now in most cases, a domestic dispute means that someone goes to jail, not here in Cedar Key. The police officer helped the man to his room by way of his walker and got him settled in. I heard the officer inform the fellow of the peanut butter and jelly as well as some chips that he made for him were on the table.
He then brought a personal check into the office and assured me that the check was good and the gentleman would be here for only one night. He explained that they didn't have the heart to put him in jail and the argument was not violent, they just didn't feel it was a good situation to leave him at home.
Try that one on for size in any other town in America and I bet the old guy would have been put in the slammer. This whole scene pretty much threw me for a loop and when no one came to pick the poor guy up the following day, I really wasn't sure what to do with him.
It ended up back in the hands of the police department when they came to pick him up around 5pm to wait with him until Social Services could bring him to a home. I think the description of a police officer is a bit different around here. You know how most Police Cars say "To Protect and SERVE", well the Serve part of the saying is meant around here in Cedar Key.
It's funny how many people come here and just see the surface of the town, the old homes, the messy yards and unkept flower gardens which have been neglected for 6 months due to our nasty winter. The lack of strip malls and movie theatres are seen as a negative aspect on what is available to do here.
Pat and I on the other hand enjoy the deep textures and the rich character of the old weathered wood which holds these homes in a place in time which is long gone. The untied dogs which greet people on the side walk as they walk by are not seen as a threat, but as a welcome curiosity to new comers.
The abandoned boats that clutter the waterways become pieces of weathered art to photograph and enjoy rather than eye sores that need to be removed. I think this place has special people living on it that tend to this little island that is perched 3 miles into the Gulf. I've also found it takes a different sort of person to see it for the hard working community that keeps it safe from urban sprawl and growth that has infected so much of our countryside.
The longer we are here, the more I understand the quiet island and its sleepy mentality. Maybe people have to weather here a while with the old homes and sunken boats to get the peaceful feeling that fills me here on this forgotten island, but if you take the time and forget the face paced world you're used to, I think you'll like it as much as I do.
Saturday March 6th
Who is Craig and why in the hell did he put this huge list of things together that my husband feels like he can't live without. I woke up at around 2 in the morning and went to snuggle up to Pat, only to grope around the bed and grab onto my 2 dogs.
I walked into the kitchen and found Pat on the computer, not surfing porn like normal men but surfing Craig's List! Who the heck does this? Thank God I confiscated the Credit Card or he would have been driving around Gainesville and Ocala picking up his finds.
Not that we haven't found stuff on there that we actually need, but Pat is looking up recycled wood that is hundreds of years old and pulled from the oceans salt water. This stuff is no longer even growing in the US and is hard, seasoned EXPENSIVE stuff.
Now I could show you Pats receipts from Home Depot and you would know that the last things we need is more wood. I will add this to his sickness for searching out 800mm camera lenses for 10-20 thousand dollars as yet another crazy thing for Pat to want.
I'm going to put him in that sidecar that he so wants to buy and drive him to the bottom of the sea to find some of his own driftwood if he doesn't wise up soon. Thank goodness we have plenty of work to do around here to keep most of his time occupied.
We are currently painting the outside of the motel with this bright, vivacious beast of a color pallet. The same bright, eye catching colors, just making them fresh and new. I have to say that this week has to be the best time we have had here so far. I have really enjoyed having company from Pat and Barry as well as a few other campers that we have managed to strike up conversations with.
Ron and Cheryl are traveling in a cute Dodge Sprinter and are just coming off of a trip to Alaska and the Artic Circle last season. Now that we have room to fit people, we pretty much have a funhouse in our kitchen every chance we get. People bring some eats, drinks and good stories and we laugh until wee hours of the morning.
This is totally like traveling except we get to hear about where everyone else goes while we stay here and fill our passion for running this little diamond in the rough. Yesterday while we were painting, I had so many people that live in the area stop and tell me that they love what we are doing to the place!
WOW! That is the best compliment we could possibly have from not only the customers but locals who drive by this place every day. Pat and I are working really hard from pretty much 7am to 7pm, after that we might do some work in the house or entertain if we have the energy.
For the locals to give us the two thumbs up means so much to me. This is a tight knit community and from what I can tell either you're in or you're out. For them to see a change in our place and give us their approval is the most rewarding thing for me which makes those 12-14 hour days seem like a piece of cake.
Our daughter Donielle was supposed to be here this weekend but with a few life crisis's, including changing jobs, she stayed home for her birthday instead. We are only a 10 hour drive from her but it seems like a world away. That was one thing about traveling, we got to see her much more frequently since we were able to make the drive to her.
We are expecting more family in the next coming weeks, including my sister and her family, my Mother and Father in-law, my brother and his family, my sister-in-law and her family of 5 crazy kids and also my Mom wants to come back to see us again. She is cracking me up, she knew that the last time she was here, we were in desperate need if lamps.
She now has seven of them sitting in her living room which she has collected since the last time she visited. I can't believe the change in my Mom in the last 3 months. She has really tried to turn her life around and is making forward steps to bring more joy into her world.
What a relief, I know that God has played a big role in this turn-about so I would like to give a Big shout out to the Lord and say "Thank You!". To go from not speaking to my Mom for years due to constant problems with her ability to have a relationship to actually calling each other pretty much every day to have a cup of coffee together over the phone, what a drastic change and a wonderful blessing.
I love my life right now, thanks friends, family and neighbors for adding to the joy of our lifestyle change and living here in Cedar Key. Ok, off to work I go, I just wanted to try and do my best to keep everyone up to date on our progress.
March 2nd 2010 - Moving into our 3rd Month
I'm so excited about our new recycle, reuse finds that we found the other day. One of our neighbors here, who will actually be spending 2 months in our motel next year, always stops by to see what improvements we have done so far. Karen told me of a woman who was selling everything in her house because her and her husband were moving out of the country. I got Pat into the truck and we went and found her place on the island.
She has a beautiful home and excellent taste which was a bonus for us. It was a shame we found out about her estate sale so late, because there was only a few things left, and I ended up buying almost everything there was.
She had a 2 year old King size bed outfit that included the mattresses, headboard and footboard, two night stands, a 6 drawer dresser with a large mirror on the back and all the bedding. When I asked her how much she wanted, she looked guilty when she said $500 for everything. This is quality wood furniture that must have cost 2-3 thousand when it was new. Of course on the outside I looked shocked at the high price, but on the inside I was ecstatic.
I tried to keep my best poker face to not let her realize I had just scored the deal of the century and then started asking about everything else she had available. Before we left we had purchased an all wood kitchen table with 4 high back, upholstered chairs and 2 more with arms on them. We found two hand made, teak outdoor chairs that are made with rope and are also rockers and come with foot stools.
Pat and I both saw an exquisite piece that I am sure Pat would have paid a few hundred dollars for if that's what she had asked for, but he practically stole it with the low price he gave her and she was more than happy to get that for it. I will let him share his excitement with you about that. We also got some really sweet coral fans that were hung on the wall which are about 2 feet in diameter.
She threw in a small outside table to go with the chairs and also a cute little fish mirror, all of which are going into the rooms. The only thing we are using is the $175 awesome kitchen table and chairs which will allow us to get rid of some of the mis-matched stuff that we had before.
Once we carried in the table and chairs I had the bright idea of inviting over some friends that we have made in the last couple months. Pat and Barry, who we first met in Yellowstone, are staying with us for a month and we all have tons of laughs together.
Scott and Karen also started out staying with us when we first took over the place and they have been good friends ever since. We all enjoyed some appetizers followed by dinner, swallowed down with some homemade Margaritas. Just a note to all who make their own, don't try it with out real limes, the bottled lime juice is awful.
I love having friends over and during our past 4 years of travel, it's one of the only things I hated about our camper. The cute little thing was just too small to have more than one person over. Not that that ever stopped us, but it's much nicer to sit at a table with others rather than sit on the floor while we are swapping stories.
Pat and I both love to have friends over either hanging out in the back yard or sitting around the kitchen table sharing good times. A warm cozy house that is open to guests is one of the things in life that puts a smile on my face. I told Pat that this place is finally starting to feel like a home instead of an office. I just have to keep the laundry door closed so I don't feel guilty about not working 24-7.
In one of Pats many trips to Home Depot with a credit card in hand yelling 'CHARGE' all the way through the place, he picked up a tube skylight. Much to my dismay, since I didn't want to spend the extra Dough to put the thing in. His thoughts were 'since we already had to fix the roof and the dry wall due to a continuous leak that the previous so called "carpenter" manager didn't fix, we might as well add the skylight.'
I have to say that this is one of his best ideas yet. I keep walking into the bathroom to turn the light out only to realize that it is the dome above me. This thing is so darn bright I could actually do surgery in there and I might have to if Pat doesn't stop spending so much.
Freddy, the contractor who has been doing all our work for us, worked out a deal with Pat and they went ahead with the skylight. The bathroom has no natural light at all and it is a galley bath which makes for a long dark walk to the toilet in the middle of the night.
Now that the skylight is in, I say a few times a day "I still cant believe how bright this thing is." Pat is constantly telling me to turn out the light when I leave the room and we both crack up, even though it really isn't that funny. Pat and I laugh so much together about the dumbest things that it's a wonder people don't think we are crazy.
I used to love to walk into a room where Pat and Donielle were sitting and I would just laugh so hard that it sounded like I was loosing my breath. Neither of them knew what I was laughing at but they would both start laughing also. We literally would laugh until we cried.
When we were all finished they would ask what made me laugh so hard and I would say "Nothing, I just wanted to hear you two laugh." We would then start laughing all over again. Yep we are nuts.
So Pat was right, and the extra cost was so worth the finished product. But dont tell him I said that.
The rooms are coming along nicely, if not slowly. I try my hardest to keep cracking the whip to keep the boys working at a fast pace, but between the weather and the hiccups we always run into as we peel back the layers of fixing it on the cheap, something always comes up to slow it down even further.
Pat told me we have to take a few days break and wait till after season is over before we start tearing into another room. That is hard for me because once you see how nice the finished rooms look, I want them all to be updated ASAP.
Trying to keep Pat focused on the task at hand is my hardest problem right now. I wanted the Tiki Bar up and running by this point, yet that has turned into a paperwork nightmare I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. Pat is the 'think it up person' in our relationship and I am the one who makes it happen. This usually leaves me to make all the phone calls, do the research on how to get things done legally and also make sure everything is on schedule.
This time Pat and I agreed that the Tiki Bar is his responsibility and the motel is mine. Pat has tried to get all of this stuff done by himself, but sometimes I can just feel his frustration and I will take over the helm to get him through the rough spots.
He tries to be so patient on the phone and then hangs up and curses at the thing. I simply curse at the person on the phone and explain my situation so that people understand that I am at the end of my rope and could go postal on them at any moment. This usually ends up in problem solving attitude from whoever I'm talking to.
I will get Pat over the hump and then he continues with the next step of his process to get someone to approve the license for the bar. It's all about jumping through hoops and having the right signature on each line and since we don't know anyone here, we are learning the hard way how to make this thing happen.
I walk in the room the other night and Pat is showing me some motorcycle with a sidecar on it that he has found for sale. Yeah, remember the entire sidecar idea, well Pat has never forgotten that and is always looking for one we can afford.
This one was everything he's been looking for and he had it all figured out how to buy it, but it was all I could do do keep this crazy lunatic from hitting the Buy It Now Button. I swear if it wasn't for my gorilla grip on his spending, he'd buy everything he looks at.
I have no idea how we're going to escape the motel to drive to Arizona for the Overland EXPO show and after asking Pat's parents if they could come cover the workings of the motel while we were gone, they politely declined saying it would be too much for them to handle.
At this point, it's too late to decline the offer for us to talk there, so I'm totally stressing out about that whole ordeal. I think our only option is to have Pat fly and have me stay here and run the place for 3 days while he is gone. We should have the bar open by then and we are also completely full both in both the RV slots and the rooms.
Pat keeps telling me to hire someone to help with the rooms but I'm way too cheap to pay someone right now on our limited budget. Any money we're making is going right back into fixing up of the rooms and I'd rather work a little harder and get this place fixed up a little faster. But dang do the days go by fast when you're working a full load like this.
I'm thinking a work camper position is what we should be looking for. Ron and Alice talked about it but we never took them seriously. Then we find out that they were serious and we missed our opportunity with them leaving to go find open roads to explore.
I think I might have Pat put an ad online asking if any RV'ers are interested in filling a work camping position in exchange for a free spot to stay. At least during the next few months while we're so full and have such a turn over.
I'm afraid that once the Tiki Bar does open, Pat will be way too busy out there to help me with the rooms. He loves to vacuum, if you can imagine that, so when I'm cleaning the rooms, I have him come behind me and vacuum each room for me. So that helps tremendously.
Another funny thing I thought I'd mention happened last night. Pat and I were outside when a woman came up and introduced herself. She said she was staying down the street and had just got to Cedar Key. She was going to be staying here for a month and didn't realize that the place she was staying at had satellite television which doesn't have local channels in this area.
She explained that she's been watching The Bachelor all season long and tonight was the season finally. She asked if there was anyway she could rent a room for a few hours so her and her husband could watch the television.
We laughed telling her that we had just cancelled our satellite provider for the same reason and told her it would be no problem that they could hang out in one of the rooms for a few hours and we even gave her the room with the largest television.
Each day is a new adventure here at the Low-Key Hideaway and so far I've yet to miss the travel life we left behind so recently. I'm sure if I had a chance to just kick back and settle down, that lure of the open road might come sneaking back up, but for right now I'm too busy hiding behind the washing machine and a stack of cleaning supplies.
Besides, we're young, we can go back out on the next leg soon enough and hopefully the next time we wont be so worried about what we spend. Wait, they dont call me Cindy Steinberg for nothing.