"I was born lost, and take no
pleasure in being found"
"The Sure Sign of Life is Death. Why Else Would humanity Thrive So Hard To Leave Its Mark on This World"
"I Have Learned Something About Creating Art. People Do Not Want to Hear What You Are Going To Do, People Want To Hear About What You Done Did."
The Only Normal People Are the Ones You Dont Know Very Well
"Any man who thinks he is going to be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him should take a close look at the American Indian"
This is Your World. Shape it or Someone Else Will
Life is Too Important to be Taken Seriously
We Make a
Living by What we Got, but we Make a Life by What we Give
"I have never
been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks"
"You can spend life any way you wish but you can only spend it once"
After Monday and
Make Peace With
There's nothing worse than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong
I take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger
"The two most important rules in a gunfight
are: always cheat and always win."
Was learning cursive really necessary??
Map Quest really needs to
start their directions on #5.
Bad decisions make Good stories
Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.
"Do something. It may be wrong, but do
If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck.
"You don't stop laughing because you grow
Pat's December 2009 Blog
If this is your first time here, you might want to start from the beginning of our fulltime RV Journey with our Past Blogs
Camper Check List - A list of things we do before leaving camp. Again, this isn't gospel, but its a good start for those who might not already have a list made up.
Tuesday December 1st - Waterlogged and Road Weary
We pulled out of Phoenix on Sunday afternoon and drove the entire day in the pouring rain. As we drove East, the rain turned to big, wet snowflakes and soon to hard sleet pellets bouncing off the windshield.
We found some random truck stop to sleep in and listened to the sleet hit the roof of the camper the entire night.
We awoke early on Monday morning and spent the next 13 hours driving East through white out conditions. Cindy kept asking "When are we going to pull over?" to which I'd reply "When it stops raining or gets warmer!"
Neither ever happened!
We spent last night in another rest area listening to the rain pound the roof of the coach wondering if we shouldn't stop at a boat showroom to finish the trek to Florida.
Today was amazing. The entire state of Texas, and DAMN, Texas is a big state to drive through, and it NEVER stopped raining.
Numerous accidents due to slippery road conditions, visibility of maybe 100' most of the day and the smell of wet dogs in our vehicle have made this one day I'd like to forget.
We're now pulled over on the Texas/Louisiana border in guess what? The pouring rain!! Yep, it's still raining cats and dogs. I'm wondering if we shouldn't start collecting pairs of animals to load the ARK.
You know it's bad when you have satellite radio and get sick of the 100+ channels because you've heard everything on them at least once during the day.
Ok, enough of my ranting, I just had to get that off my chest. Cindy just checked the forecast for Louisiana, and it looks like tomorrow will be another waterlogged day. If you happen to meet us along the road, please know I usually dont smell of wet dog, but these past few days, I'm starting to get used to it. I'm really looking forward to Florida and some sunshine.
And one other thing. I always read on RV Blogs about people saying that your truck will charge your batteries on the Coach while driving. We've now driven for 3 days of over 10 hours at a time and our battery gauge has never moved over the 12amp mark. So who ever thinks they will charge their batteries while driving is mistaken.
Wednesday December 2nd - Is That Smoke Supposed to come out of the Dashboard?
What an interesting day we had today.
We woke up in some rest stop right on the Texas/Louisiana border to howling wind and freezing temperatures. I never knew it got this cold in Texas or Louisiana, I mean we are almost right on the Gulf of Mexico.
While Cindy was warming us up with fresh coffee and a filling breakfast, we had a knock on the door from two young ladies on their way home from an all night party. They had run out of fuel and were able to coast into the rest area on fumes.
When they coasted up to the back of our camper, they noticed that we had a gas can on the back of our rack that I keep as a back-up for the motorcycle and generators. They knocked on the door asking if they could have the fuel so they could make it to the next exit where there was a gas station.
I dumped the one gallon of gas into their tank and wished them well. They told me they would "Hook us up on Facebook because they have like 4,000 friends on there!"
I just know we've run out of fuel a half dozen times in our travels and who knows how many times I was stranded when I was that age. So one gallon of fuel wasn't going to hurt me any, and hopefully it would get them to the next gas station. Thanks for the Facebook Hook-up girls, if there is such a thing?
Once we were finished with breakfast, loaded up and on the road, we both commenting on how damn cold we are. I mean this is ridiculous! I guess we shouldn't be complaining because at least it wasn't raining, but man, its in the low 40's with a really strong wind that made it feel like it was below freezing.
Just as we we're crossing the border between Texas and Louisiana, Cindy looked at me asking "Do you smell something burning?"
At the time we were driving in a construction zone and one of the machines was milling up the asphalt in the lane we were driving beside. I could smell the noxious smell she was talking about, but just assumed that it was the big machine eating the pavement at an amazing rate.
So I sort of shrugged her comment off pointing to the construction and said "Its probably just that thing that smells like that."
We both went back to listening to the radio and watching the bayou pass by at a slow pace.
A few miles down the road, I noticed that smoke had started to come out from the dashboard and pointed to it asking Cindy "Did you just see that puff of smoke?"
Just then, another puff came out from the radio and we both looked at one another thinking "Oh great, why does this have to happen while we're in route?" Not that it would ever be a good time for smoke to be pouring out from the dashboard, but especially not while we're trying to make it to Florida as fast as we can.
We turned off the radio, the heater and unplugged the GPS and our cell phone charger that were both plugged into the 12volt outlets.
The smoke stopped coming out from the dash, but we still got off at the next exit and asked where we could find the nearest Ford Dealer.
They pointed us back into Texas, so we turned around and headed back across the border.
We found the dealer in Orange City Texas, and I sat talking with the Shop Forman. I explained what was happening and he said they were completely full right now and the first chance he'd get to look at it would be tomorrow morning.
I told him that we were just passing through and all I really wanted was to make sure my truck wasn't going to catch on fire. He said he'd pull off his lead diesel mechanic and have him come look at it.
They both walked out to the truck and asked me a bunch of questions, talked back and forth to one another while the mechanic said "Remember when that lady kept coming in saying the same thing and we could never duplicate it, then found it was just her fan motor harness shorting out? Its probably just that."
They told me that they were 99% sure my problem wouldn't catch the truck on fire, and more than likely the worst that was going to happen was we would lose the blower fan, but that would be awhile before it would actually happen.
I thanked them profusely and we got back on I-10 East. We drove down the road and slowly started to plug things back in and turn things back on to see if we could diagnose which item might be causing the smell.
We never smelled it again, so we basically forgot about it and just kept barreling down the road with way too much on our minds. We normally drive so little each day and have so much to talk about the entire time. The last few days have been really weird for us because we both have so much on our minds that we're not even talking to one another.
If you know Cindy and I, then you know we both tend to rattle on non-stop, so to go for hours on end without talking is strange for us.
Cindy broke the silence when we saw a billboard for Prejean's. Two years ago we stopped at this authentic Cajun restaurant and since that night, I dont think we've ever stopped talking about it.
When we saw the sign, we both lit up and Cindy said "I know how broke we are, but to pass up this food when we're right here would be a sin! Let's stop even if we have to take a loan out to pay for the meal."
She didn't have to twist my arm as I was already changing lanes to take the next exit.
We both had an amazing meal and I was glad the food was as good as we remembered it being. Sometimes you have a good meal at a restaurant and come back thinking its always going to be that way only to be disappointed on the second attempt.
Not the case with Prejean's! The food was amazing. Everything that came to the table was delicious. I had a Crab Bisque soup for an appetizer that left me scraping the bottom of the bowl. Cindy has some mushrooms that were stuffed with shrimp and crab that we were both fighting over.
My entree of an Alligator filet wrapped with crab and shrimp was mouth watering and Cindy's plate was a medley of Pasta, Seafood and Green's only an award winning Cajun Chef could come up with.
We both left with full bellies, big smiles on our faces and a feeling of accomplishment, even though the only thing we had accomplished was stuffing ourselves with the best food we've ever found in all our travels.
Prejean's is only an hour or so from Cindy's sisters house where our nights destination was, so it wasn't long before we pulled into the drive we've come to know so well on our adventures. It was almost like coming home.
The dogs were excited to see their long lost cousins and as soon as we let them out of the truck, they took off running around the big yard chasing and barking with one another like kids.
Teresa and Don were at the Condo tonight, so we had the big house all to ourselves. We took advantage of a shower that is the size of our bedroom in the camper with unlimited hot water.
After scrubbing the four days of non-stop driving off of us, we spent the rest of the night thumbing through decorating magazines jotting down various ideas we'd see and liked. This stage of the new adventure is so exciting. I'm sure this will all change next week when we're elbow deep in cleaning and painting the place to get ready for the upcoming spring season.
Thursday December 3rd - Spending the Day with our Daughter!!
Cindy and I woke up early this morning despite the jet-lag we're feeling from suddenly being a few different time zones East, even though our bodies are still acclimated to the West Coast times.
Even though we didn't fall asleep till after 4am last night, we were both up by 7am this morning getting ready to drive across the long Causeway into the city and meet our daughter. Not having the ability to visit with her on a regular basis is probably the one thing I dislike the most about this adventure of ours.
Cindy and her still have the typical Mother/Daughter relationship and talk a dozen times each week. They are always on the phone telling each other the day to day things they're doing and keep in touch like normal.
For Donielle and I, I guess I've followed in my fathers footsteps and we tend to talk when it comes to major decisions or big events in our life times, but other than that, we do 90% of our conversation through Cindy, just like my father and I do through my mother.
Its amazing to me how families follow their roots whether they want to or not, its just too engrained in us to do anything different, even if I try my hardest to change it.
When we lived near one another, we tended to see each other more and it just felt good to be able to share a hug, see her face and keep up on her day to day life. Now it seems each time we see her, usually a few times each year, things have changed drastically from our last visit.
So I was excited to be able to see her and her boyfriend Allan this morning and get to share some time with them.
Lately the conversations between Cindy and Donielle have been about the purchase of her new puppy. She's always wanted a dog of her own, probably because Cindy and I were always such animal lovers and she grew up with dogs in our household.
She's finally moved into an apartment that allows dogs, so it was one of the first things she got when she moved into her new place.
Lilly is the dogs name, and we're not sure what it is going to be when its fully grown as it was a rescue from the Humane Society, probably something big because of how large its paws are, but right now its just a little ball of soft fur and sharp puppy teeth. Lilly was filled with energy and she was non-stop chasing our ankles tugging on my jeans or just being a puppy chasing anything that moved.
After breakfast and time spent just hanging out together, Allan had to leave to go to work, so Donielle, Cindy, our nephew Ryan and I all went out to the local Goodwill store so Cindy and Donielle could do their favorite things in life....shopping for recycled furniture and clothes.
I'm not sure what I have to do to get it through Cindy's head that we cant start shopping for antiques, collectables and decorations to fill the little Motel while we're still pulling the camper, but it was all I could do to keep her from buying big ticket items.
The bed of the truck is loaded full with our usual stuff and the inside of the camper has no space to hold extra furniture. Granted, we both want to start collecting eclectic items that we're known for decorating our places of business with, but we'll have to wait till we actually have the place and know what we need.
If you've ever stepped foot into one of our houses or visited the Red Dog Saloon when we owned it, then you'll know what I'm talking about. Walls filled with a mix of things that normally shouldn't go together, but surprisingly seem to mix well when we both blend our strange likes and collections together.
When we owned our house, Cindy had rescued an old china cabinet that my Grandmother had given to her. Really my Grandma was just getting rid of it and was surprised that Cindy would even want the old thing. It wasn't in that great of shape and was just old twisted wood with wavy glass in the doors.
But she turned it into a centerpiece for our living room and displayed her collection of antique Perfume Bottles in it proudly.
Now most of you know by this point that I collect bones....this is a shot of what our dashboard looks like now with the most recent collection of coyote teeth I've glued to it. Skulls are my favorite thing to collect and I have quite the collection of animals we've found along our travels and adventures.
One day I was bored and decided to rearrange Cindy's Perfume bottle collection with my collection of Skulls as a backdrop.
I lined the shelves with rabbit pelts I had the skulls wrapped in and thought the beautiful shiny bottles looked perfect with the unique skulls situated around them. I know this is not the normal thing to have displayed in a living room, but it was a great conversation piece.
Everyone who walked in our house stopped in their tracks and asked about the two collections. Cindy used to think I was the stupidest person around for mixing the two until a local jewelers in town opened up their showcase windows with a collection of custom made jewelry accented with the owners own collection of rare skulls.
Suddenly everyone in town was talking about how cool this was and now I had to change our display cabinet so people didn't think I had copied off the jeweler.
Our Saloon was decorated in much the same fashion. One wall held a custom pained Sailfish that is one of my prized pieces of art I've collected over the years.
This sailfish was painted in a metallic blue with bright orange flames airbrushed down the sides of its body. The wall it was mounted on held a collection of license plates I've spent half my life collecting.
Another wall was lined with antique photos of our small town we grew up in. Cindy and I had spent hours in the small towns historical museum looking through file cabinets of old photos to find the right ones to have framed and mounted in our bar.
Mixed in with these antique photos were a blend of new photos of wild nights capturing the times we had in the historic saloon.
What you might be starting to understand with all this rambling is we're both pretty excited to be settling down again. I know that sounds crazy coming from two people who have spent the last 3 years roaming the back roads of North America.
But the first time we stopped in this little motel, we both sat looking at it and said to one another, "This is the perfect sized town, the perfect weather and just an all around good location to settle down once we're ready."
Since that first time we sat sharing a beer with the then caretaker, we've talked back and forth about what we would do to make it ours and how we would blend in our unique style of decorating to make people want to come visit.
At the time we first saw it, our adventure had only just started and both of us were not ready to settle down. Even at that time we talked and said that we hoped one day it would be available when we're ready to settle down. Who knew everything would fall into place like a fine tuned Swiss watch?
Back to the Goodwill store and me arguing with Cindy that she cant start buying things yet.
We skated out with only two bags of junk...err, prizes, and dropped Donielle off at her house.
She had to start getting ready for work, and both of us were ready for a nap. The few hours of sleep we had last night was starting to catch up on us.
Cindy kept saying she felt like she was coming down with a cold, and my body was starting to ache and hurt, and the same headache she was complaining off had now found its way into my thick skull.
By the time we made it across the Causeway and back to Teresa's, I felt like I had been run over and Cindy wasn't too far behind me.
The rest of the night was spent lying in bed. She had the cold sweats and I was hugging the toilet. Amazing how a few days of non-stop travel in cold rain and snow will wipe out your immune system.
I'm sure the fast food we've been ingesting, the long periods of sitting dormant and the lack of exercise has thrown our bodies into shock. I need some sunshine, something that will make me sweat due to the amount of work I'm doing, some of Cindy's amazing food she makes that is so healthy for us and something other than cold weather and rain on my feet.
I'll let you know when I find it and what becomes of it.
Friday December 4th What Inspiration!!
While working on the computer today, I was browsing a Photography Forum I frequent and found a thread about a guy who took some photos.
He said he had gotten a call from his editor about a 5 person bike a few miles out of town and his editor wanted him to go out to see what it was about.
Turns out the bike was one family...Husband and wife and their 3 daughters who are riding around North America on their custom made bike. They camp on the side of the road and have pedaled over 2700 miles already!!
WOW!! That's something those little girls will never forget for the rest of their lives! I mean what do they do for an encore after this adventure?
I'm amazed and in awe of this and would like to suggest everyone that reads this click on this link to read about this wonderful adventure. How amazing and inspiring. Makes our journey seem so luxury and only shows you how little you need to actually go out there and do it.
Tuesday December 8th 2009 - Getting Settled In
We spent the weekend in Louisiana visiting with family and trying to get ourselves feeling better. We've both come down with the wave of flu crossing the nation, and spent the better part of the weekend in bed doubling up on our vitamins.
Cindy's sister Teresa sent us off with hundreds of dollars worth of plants that she let us split or take from her yard. Teresa and Don have the yard decorated like a tropical paradise, so splitting a few of the palms, tall ornamental grasses and hanging plants isn't going to put a dent in the way it looks, but it sure does help Cindy and I. Thanks you Guys! You dont realize how much that helps us out!
We drove all day long across Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and into Florida in one long drive which was pretty uneventful. Nothing but Bayou, lush forests of tall pine, gnarly cypress and dark swamps to look at.
The roads are nice and flat, so the mileage was easy and smooth. But I finally had to pull over at a Wal-Mart late in the night to buy a new Air Filter for the Diesel.
The Change Filter Light had come on a few days ago, but I've been waiting till we could stop at a Ford Dealer and have everything looked at all in one swoop. We need the oil changed, the smoke coming out from the dashboard looked at and a new air filter installed, but the motor was starting to chug, so I thought I might as well put the air filter in myself.
If you've ever seen an air filter in a Ford Diesel, they're about the size of a small child. The thing costs $75 and takes about a half hour to swap out. Not like a normal vehicle's $15 filter and 5 minute change time.
True to my Redneck gene's I swapped it out in the Wal-Mart parking lot while Cindy grabbed some groceries. I was amazed at how much heavier the old filter was compared to the new one. I mean it must have been double its weight due to all the dirt and junk packed in the paper! That's a picture of the old one (on the Right) and the new one (on the left) sitting in the parking lot.
An hour later we were back on the road dodging deer at an alarming rate? Who knew Northern Florida had some many deer along the road sides?
We pulled into Cedar Key after 1am and backed into one of the RV slips. There was a cool breeze blowing off the ocean and other than the sounds of the palms swaying, there wasn't a sound to be heard for miles around.
The skies were a bit overcast, but we could still make out the dazzling array of stars. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it up to this point that Cedar Key is one of the darkest places in the United States when it comes to the Night Sky. Star Watchers from all around the country come here when there is a meteor shower because of how dark the skies are.
We were both pretty whipped by this point, so we called it a night and crawled into bed.
Monday morning came around soon enough and I was up before the sun. I had barely slept a wink last night, so lying there in bed was useless and I had a truck load of plants to put in the ground.
First things First...Clean-up. I'm a stickler for cleanliness and this place is trashed. I grabbed a garbage bag and started cleaning the waterline of rubbish that has floated up along the shoreline.
This area has a huge change of tides and the tide happened to be out, so I could walk pretty far out into the water to collect plastic bottles, plastic bags and just basic trash that had floated up along the banks.
Things that should be kept up on daily, but I'm guessing the current managers dont pay too much attention to that?
3 construction trash bags later, I was ready for breakfast. The rest of the day was spent cleaning and putting the various plants, trees and bushes we had brought from Teresa's and getting them in the ground.
While we worked around the yard, we were both amazed with the amount of birds we had to gaze at. Big Osprey sitting right on the end of our dock eating a fresh catch. Dozens of various shore birds that we haven't even learned the names of yet sifting through the low tide grasses. Beautiful egrets and herons gliding over the calm waters and big fat pelican's waiting for a handout from one of the local fisherman working in the bay.
I was torn between dropping the shovel and running for the camera, but Cindy kept reminding me this was our first day, and once we had our work caught up, we'd have plenty of time to go take photos. It was hard to be digging in the dirt when I really wanted to be practicing my Birds in Flight photography.
Once the plants were all in the ground, we headed into town despite the incoming rain so we could put in a change of address at the Post Office and introduce ourselves at the City Hall.
One thing Cedar Key is known for is their Sunsets. I was a little disappointed that our first night in the sleepy little town and it would be too overcast to even see the sun go down. Oh Well, the Margarita's still tasted great and we toasted the night away and the start of our new lives in Cedar Key!
This morning was another bright an early day and Jim and Charlotte, the owners of the property were coming out early to meet up with us and sign the paperwork on our management contract.
The four of us walked the grounds, toured the rooms making an inventory of what's here and what needs to be done to get it up to par. We went over goals and ideas we all had and sorted through the mundane task of paperwork. The stuff that sort of makes my brain go numb because its usually too busy thinking about what could be done right now.
Charlotte and Jim are alot like Cindy and I when they said "How about we go into town and have some lunch while we talk about all this stuff?" We all agreed that we'd probably work better with food on our stomachs.
We found a seat at Annie's, a local cafe that has been serving the Cedar Key area for over 50 years, and proceeded to stuff ourselves with fresh fish and cold Sweet Tea. The thermometer was pushing the mercury into the high 70's today, so it was a perfect day to sit out on the porch and watch the birds circle above us.
We were even treated by a visit from one of the local bald eagles that flew over a few times scoping the water for his lunch.
After Annie's, we headed into town to get more paperwork signed at the bank, then City Hall where we met the Chief of Police and talked with some of the Town Clerks that we bombarded with questions about what we can and cant do.
The more people we meet in town, the more I think we're really gonna like it here in Cedar Key. Everyone seems nice and friendly and very down to earth...Just the way we like it.
Once back at the Motel, Jim and Cindy worked on the computer things (Bookwork) while I put up a mailbox out in front of the place.
When we finished up, we all grabbed a seat and cracked open a bottle of wine to toast the sunset. Well Jim and Cindy did anyway, I sipped on a cold beer while Charlotte made herself a cocktail.
We sat in one of the rooms telling stories and getting to know one another better till it was time to head into town for dinner.
They wanted to bring us to one of Cedar Key's finest restaurants, The Island Room. It must be great because they had been talking about it all day long, and while we were in City Hall, the woman behind the counter had asked "Have you all eaten at The Island Room yet? If not, you have to treat yourself!"
It's safe to say that they were all telling the truth. The food was amazing, the service was outstanding and the company was even better. Jim and Charlotte are a hoot to sit and talk with and their stories are non-stop laughter.
By the time we got back to the motel, I was beat tired and ready for bed. Tomorrow starts another day of getting the place cleaned up and I'm thinking that by the 1st of the year when we will be 100% ready to take over, everything should be running smooth.
Saturday December 12th 2009 - What an Interesting Few Days It's Been
Our past few days have been non-stop work around the motel. Sun-up to well past sun-down. Cleaning, Cleaning and did I mention Cleaning?
Cindy is on some sort of frenzy and is going to bed around 11pm and waking up around 4am saying that she cant sleep, she then goes out and starts cleaning or organizing the rooms.
Luckily this time of year is the slowest time of the year in Cedar Key, which works out perfect because it gives us time to get the place ready before any guests would show up.
Quite frankly, I'd be embarrassed if anyone was to rent out one of the rooms right now because of how bad they look. Not that they're that bad, they're just not up to the standards that Cindy and I want them to be at.
We're in the process of having some estimates done to get them tiled because carpet in Florida just doesn't make sense. There is way too much humidity and sand down here, and the carpet tends to hold the odors...one thing neither of us can stand.
The entire place needs alot of T.L.C., and its going to take months to get it where we want it to be, but the tile is probably the first thing we're going to invest in. That and replacing all of the doors. The old managers put on steel doors, and steel doors dont make sense in a salt water, high humidity type of climate. The bottoms of the doors are rusted and falling apart and it just doesn't look good at all...quite embarrassing to tell you the truth.
A few days ago, we had our first guest check in to the RV Campground. Billy, a retired Teamster from Michigan of all places.
We sat talking about our favorite places back in Michigan and shared some stories of the world of RVing. Billy has spent this past summer refurbishing an old Class C Camper he got from his brother-in-law and decided he wanted to get away from the nasty Michigan winters. This is his first adventure in an RV, although he's not new to the gypsy lifestyle by any means, just new to doing it in an RV.
Awhile after he checked in, while I was out working in the yard, I heard music come from one of the benches by the water and looked up over the sea-wall where I was picking up trash and trimming bushes to see Billy strumming a beautiful guitar.
I've heard some amazing guitar players in my lifetime, but the sounds coming off of Billy's guitar told me he knew what he was doing...a master at his craft if you know what I mean.
Think Santana mixed with a little B.B. King. I sat listening to him play like I was a rat drawn to the Pied Piper's flute. When he finally finished, Cindy had been drawn out of one of the rooms she was working in and we both sat talking with Billy while the 3 of us sat watching the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico.
We found that Billy has been a life long musician who has traveled all over the country playing with various bands and different musical companies. He's recorded multiple hits and is quite the performer. It was a great night of getting to know one another while we all sat listening to the sounds of the birds finishing up with their dinner and the wind blowing through the palm trees. We called it a night as darkness set in and the night cool air moved in off the Gulf.
Today was a rainy day and the weather has turned quite chilly. Cindy and I spent the day rearranging rooms and hanging pictures, mirrors and finally finishing up with the room cleaning. From here on out, its time to move into the yard and getting the website up and running.
When we finally called it a night, Cindy was totally whipped and went to bed early for the first time since we've pulled into Cedar Key.
I was sitting up working on the Computer making some new Logo's when I heard a knock on the door.
I opened it to find Billy standing outside. He said he didn't feel good and was wondering if I knew if there was a local Clinic in town?
This is something I hadn't even thought of up to this point, so I said "We can go into the office and look in the phone book."
While I was thumbing through the pages, we talked about what was wrong with him and he said he thought he might have some food poisoning because of how bad he felt.
We couldn't find anything listed in the phone book, so I just thought I'd call the police department and see where they could send me.
They told me that Cedar Key itself wouldn't have anything available this late in the evening, and the nearest place that would be open would be an Emergency Room an hour away in Williston.
I told him I'd drive him there even though he was adamant about not letting me do this. There was just no way I'd be able to just sit back at the motel wondering if he had made it safely.
So we loaded up in my truck and drove the hours drive into Williston. The whole way we carried on a conversation even though he was short of breath and having trouble completing his sentences.
Once at the hospital, which was really just a very small clinic, they took him in right away and started running tests. They told me it would be a few hours for the results to come back, so I just grabbed a stack of magazines from the lobby and went out to the truck where I sat reading through them.
A few hours later, one of the doctors knocked on my window telling me they were going to transport Billy to Gainesville which was a bigger hospital with better resources because he was having a heart attack and they were going to have to put a stint in his chest. HOLY SHIT!!
Here we both thought he just had a bad case of food poisoning, and the poor guy was sitting beside me dying!
I went in and talked with Billy while the ambulance drivers were prepping the stretcher to transport him. I got some information from him of family members to call in the morning so I could let them know where he was and what was going on and wrote down mine and Cindy's cell phone numbers for him.
The entire time he was trying to give me money for driving him and saying that he'd settle up with me for leaving his RV back at the campground. WTF?! I was trying to tell him that was the last thing he needed to be worrying about right now and that money was the last thing on my mind. Let's make sure you get healed up before we think about anything else.
I guess people worry about different things at times like this, but I could care less if his camper sits at the campground, I'm more worried for his well being. I wanted to hear some more of his guitar playing and listen to his stories about traveling the country performing in small clubs and sold out shows.
I wished him well and drove home saying some prayers that I'd be picking him up in Gainesville in a few days when everything is better.
I realized tonight that living in a small community this far out into the boondocks has its ups and downs. Its great for the solitude and beauty, but in a time of emergency, you need to know that you're far away from help if the need might arise. I made sure to save the location of the hospital in my GPS and put the telephone number in my phone too.
Hopefully this is one of those things I wont need to use again anytime soon.
Monday December 14th 2009 - What a Surprise!
The weekend was good. A little rainy, but good and we got alot accomplished. I guess since rest of the country is getting blasted with a blizzard and frigid temperatures, I shouldn't be complaining about the rain and the humidity.
Cindy spent the weekend working on the rooms and now has them looking 100% better than a week ago when we arrived in Cedar Key.
I've spent the last few days weeding flower beds and grooming the bushes. This is a task that I'm thinking will be never ending for me because of the past few years of neglect.
When we lived in a stick house, our yard was something that was always worked on, but weeding and pruning was only a monthly thing and only needed for a short amount of time to keep up the tidy appearance. Now go for months without even touching a flower bed, especially in Florida, and you've got a lot of work to do.
Sunday while I was weeding one of the front beds, Cindy came and got me and said "Let's play hooky and go into town and have some late lunch/early dinner!"
I was starving and all for that suggestion, so we washed up, hopped in the truck and headed into downtown Cedar Key. Now remember, the town doesn't even have a stop light, so the downtown is really only a few blocks of restaurants, antique shops and a few galleries, but its still very cool none-the-less.
We wanted to check out one of the areas all the locals have been talking about, the Island Hotel. This structure has been here since the mid-1850's and you can tell by the levelness of the place.
I'm not really sure what you'd do if you had to replace a broken window because of how out of level they all are and how you'd ever replace that cool, wavy glass, but the building oozes character.
We saddled up to the Neptune Bar, right smack in front of a hand painted mural of King Neptune himself. We later heard the story from some of the locals that this painting was done back in the late 40's by a divorced woman who was traveling around the United States with her children and was paying for her travels by stopping and commissioning paintings in the towns she'd visit.
We talked about how risqué this painting would have been back in those times, especially for a divorced woman traveling alone with children. It has King Neptune sitting on a piece of coral with two beautiful, topless mermaids feeding him drinks and food.
If you ever visit the town, make sure you stop in the Island Hotel and check out the painting, even if you dont drink, it's worth a look.
We had planned on coming home and sitting on the dock to watch the Geminid meteor shower that was supposed to be peaking tonight. Being as Cedar Key is one of the darkest places in the country, we figured this would be a perfect spot to watch the heavens hurl stars our way.
But as luck would have it, we left the restaurant to a fog so thick we could barely see past the hood of the truck.
Oh well, I guess we'll have to wait for the next heavenly show.
This morning we woke up early and ran into Chiefland, the nearest big town, its so big it has a Wal-Mart and a Tractor Trailer Supply!! WHOA!!
We needed some groceries and a few things for the lawn that the local hardware didn't have.
By the time we were coming back into Cedar Key, the humidity was peaking and the temperature was soaring. Who would think that last week it was in the 50's here in Central Florida, and today we had to kick on our A/C.
The humidity was around 80% and the walls of the camper just felt wet. We thought the A/C would suck out some of the moisture and dry it up a little.
While we were putting away the groceries, we had a knock on the door. I stepped outside to find Bob and Ginny, co-workers and friends of ours from Yellowstone.
What a surprise! I guess they have been following along with the blogs and are staying an hour or so away at an Escapee's RV Park. They said they thought they'd take a little road trip today and come find out what Cedar Key was all about.
We sat around talking about our summer in Yellowstone while we walked around showing them the place. It was too bad the fog was so thick today, because they had about 100' visibility, so they couldn't see much past the dock.
We kept joking that if the fog would lift, there really is pretty scenery all around them, but today all they got to see was a blanket of white. At least in our blanket of white, we were all in shorts and t-shirts and not in snow gear.
Bob and Ginny wished us well, promised to stop back by before they left Florida and went into town to do some sight seeing and grab some lunch. Cindy and I went back to work putting up all the stuff we had bought today in town.
When I was coming out of the Motel walking towards the RV's, I heard Cindy talking to someone and was amazed when I got near Billy's coach to see him standing there talking to Cindy.
This is the same guy I took to the hospital on Friday night with 100% blockage in his main artery. He said they put in a stint on Saturday and by that same afternoon he felt 100% better. They kept him in on Sunday for observation and he was released today! Isn't modern medicine just amazing!
He kept thanking me over and over, but come on, all I did was drive him to the hospital. There was no way I was going to let him try and drive himself in his Class C, so I dont think I did anything that anyone else would have done. I'm just really glad that he's back and feeling great.
So we got two huge surprises today with a visit from old friends and our first guest not dying on us. We joked with Billy that as soon as we get our logo squared away, we're going to have him a shirt made that says something like "I survived as the 1st Guest at the Low-Key Hideaway"
We figure it will be a great conversation starter for him...LOL They'll ask what it means and he can tell them the story about having a heart attack while on vacation.
Hopefully this week the weather will clear up because I think my shutter finger is going into withdrawal. It's been too long without that camera pressed up against my face! Too much work makes for dull pictures!
Saturday December 19th
The last few days have been a great time here at the Low-Key Hideaway. We've had a good time with new visitors from our site and have gotten a bunch of stuff done to make the place feel more comfortable and homely.
If you remember our friend John, the one we asked for prayers for who had been in a car accident a few months back, well he's now recovered, out of his casts and came down for a visit. Thanks everyone who kept him in their prayers which helped him recover in record time.
John and Billy have become good friends and our Happy Hours have become a great time to sit around and have everyone share great stories while getting to know each other better.
We all went into town one morning where John treated us to Breakfast at Kona Joe's, a great little cafe right on the water. The food was outstanding and the owners were really cool. One of the things I like best about this little town is most of the businesses we've been in seem to be owned by couples, and almost all of them work their own shops.
It makes it feel much more personal and for me, I feel more comfortable and actually enjoy spending my money at a place when I see the owner behind the counter and know I'm NOT making Corporate America richer.
One day I had ran into town to drop off a load of Recyclables when I was coming down the bridge and pulled over just in front of the motel to get a picture of the beautiful sunset.
As I got out of the truck, I heard a splashing sound on the motel side of the road and looked over to see a dolphin jumping out of the water chasing a school of mullet (The fish, not the people with bar haircuts...LOL)
I instantly forgot about the sunset and ran across the road to try and get some photos of the dolphin. I sat watching for a minute as it jumped out of the water multiple times with fish scurrying in all directions away from the predator. Who thinks of a dolphin as a predator??
After a few acrobatic leaps, the dolphin swam out into the bay and I drove back to the camper. I was ecstatic asking Cindy, Billy or John if they had seen the dolphin? They all just looked at me like I was crazy until I showed them the photos.
Since then, we now know to look for them when the tides coming in, and have seen them every day. Sometimes we only see one, other times we see a group of them working together herding fish and working as a team.
John was at Kona Joe's for breakfast the other morning and mentioned seeing the dolphin when Joe, the owner, commented that they see hundreds of them as they swim in and out of the bay each day.
I guess it will be something we'll get used to as we live here longer, but for now, it's still a great feeling to see such a playful creature playing right off your back yard.
Another funny story that happened a few days ago. John, Billy and I had run down to Crystal River to pick up some paint at the Home Depot so we can start repainting the place as soon as the weather cooperates. We came home and noticed that John's back door was open on his motel room.
I asked if he had left the door open, but he said he thought he had pulled it closed. We both looked around the room and found nothing missing. We later learned that if the back doors aren't pulled all the way clasping the striker tight, when you open or close the front doors, the room creates a air pillow and will push the back door open.
No big deal, we laughed it off and sat around together eating some dinner Cindy had cooked up for us.
The next morning at breakfast, John had the wildest story to tell us all.
He said he woke up in the middle of the night to a scratching sound. He thought it sounded strange, so he got out of bed to see if something was outside his door.
He looked around, but didn't find anything outside his door. As he was coming back inside, he noticed something moving in his trash bin and looked inside it. He said he about crapped his pants when he saw a cat in his trash bin!!
I guess when his door was left open during the late afternoon, one of the islands wild cats had come inside his room and crawled in his garbage can to feast off his left-overs.
Honestly, when he was telling me this story, I was in shock. I mean I would have either boot kicked the cat out into the ocean, or died of a heart attack if I would have seen that thing in my trash bin in the middle of the night.
I guess Luca has a new job of keeping the wild cats away from our yard. But damn was that a funny story.
The last few days the winds have about blown us off the small Key we are parked on. They're not blowing in gusts, but rather a non-stop wind that just bites at you.
Last night I had to get up in the middle of the night to crawl up on the roof in 50mph winds to put down one of our solar panels. A few days ago I had propped the panels up to get a better angle at the low, winter sun, but with these fierce winds, one of the panels was loose and was banging around like Michael Flatly was tap-dancing on our roof.
As I stepped out into the wind, I noticed white caps across the entire bay. I sat looking at the normal peaceful bay just in awe of Mother Natures raw power. Just then a wave hit the sea wall and came splashing up into the air which of course soaked me head to toe with salt water...Just what I wanted at 1am!
By the time I crawled back into bed, I felt like I had the top layer of skin sandblasted off my face and bald head. The rest of the night felt like we were sleeping on a sailboat. The coach was rocking back and forth like we were actually out on the water...But it makes for a great night of sleep...Almost like being rocked in a cradle.
Another thing I wanted to mention that I dont think I've spoken too much about.
I might have said that while we were back in San Diego, I met with the owner of Aluminess Products about a custom Turbine Mount I've been wanting for the coach.
Well I had bought a Air-X Turbine and had it shipped to Dave at Aluminess so he could make the mount fit perfectly.
Cindy thought this was a total waste of money because she didn't think we'd have a consistent enough wind here in Cedar Key to make the Turbine worth while.
Since we've been here, she's now a firm believer that we should just skip the small Air-X 400watt model and move up to the much larger Skystream 2.4kw model. I mean the wind is always blowing here because of the fact that we have water on both sides of us.
It might not always be blowing like it was the last few days, but we've never visited when its not blowing at least a little bit. Enough to spin the turbine and create clean power. Something that we're both really interested in.
We've been doing our research finding out ways to be as green as possible here at the motel. We've come up with a bunch of good ideas, and it'll just take a little time to implement them and make them day to day rituals for guests.
I know some people think that stuff is non-sense, but after living with net to nothing while on the road for 3 years, its easy to see how comfortable, how luxurious and how cost effective it can be to live green and renewable.
A few things that might cost a bit more upfront will pay for themselves again and again and draw less power the entire time you use them.
For instance, we needed a lawn mower. The old managers were paying a lawn service $75 a month to maintain the lawn and quite frankly it looked like crap. The actual amount of grass to mow here is very little and most of the maintenance will just be basic trimming of the lawn and bushes.
I started looking at mowers and was amazed that a simple push lawn mower was a few hundred dollars. Then I started looking at the rechargeable electric models.
I read a ton of negative reviews on a bunch of different models, but read a bunch of good things on the Neutron Battery Powered Mower. I was amazed that they have a model for $299 right now that includes free shipping! That's a great deal.
Sure this mower probably wouldn't work for most people with their big yards. But for us, it will probably take me a half hour to mow the entire yard here at the Resort. So in the long run, not having to buy gas, oil, filters and the maintenance should pay for itself over and over.
I'm going to be testing it to see if I will be able to recharge the mower by plugging it into the camper so the solar panels will recharge the battery. This way, it's 100% clean power and in the long run, it should pay for itself over and over.
We should be getting it before Christmas, I hope, so I'll keep you up to date on how it works, and if it lives up to all the positive reviews I read about it.
Until then, I hope everyone is having a Safe and enjoyable Christmas Holiday with all their family and work parties. Be safe, have fun and remember that its a time of the year to enjoy yourself, be close to family and friends and not stress out too bad. It's not about the money or the presents, its about the time spent together.
Monday December 21st - Landscaping and Decorating
Christmas is almost upon us, and for Cindy and I, we're not even in the least of Christmas spirit this year.
Not that we dislike the season, or dont want to have that Christmas spirit, but without being around family, without having the tree decorated and all the snow to go with it, it's hard to get into that groove.
Besides, we're both so busy with The Low-Key Resort, that these next few days could really be any day of the year, and it wouldn't be any different for us.
Our Christmas presents to one another are just going to be our work we're putting into the place. No need for gifts to show how much we love each other, I mean we spend 365 days together, usually in a very small space, so we know each others thoughts and know our hearts are in a good place.
The decorating and landscaping is now becoming fun. At first, there was so much to do, I felt a bit overwhelmed. But now we've started to get into a rhythm. I'm not sure if a grown man should get this excited about plants and flowers, but I find myself looking through a few plant catalogs I have like a kid would look through the Sears Christmas Catalog.
I try and spend a few hours each day outside weeding and getting the beds ready for planting, and Cindy spends her entire day rearranging rooms and figuring out new ways to decorate on a shoe-string budget.
She's also been busy finding new Air Conditioners, getting quotes for the steel doors that need to be replaced with Fiberglass models and a ton of other items that most people just wouldn't notice...that is once they're fixed, because those are things you just expect to work.
Right now, we have a few rooms that have A/C units that wouldn't allow you to sleep at night. Not really noticed when the temperatures are this cold, but in a month or two once the spring heat rolls around and those units will be running non-stop, it will be top priority. So we want to have them ready while the place is empty and we're not inconveniencing any guests.
Ever since we left California, we've been having some trouble with our trucks batteries. The vehicle must has a short, or a slow drain somewhere in it because if I let it sit for a few days without starting it, the batteries die.
Luckily John and Billy were around today and were able to give us a jump start so we could bring it into White's Ford in Chiefland.
The service manager was nice enough to do a battery check on the truck while we waited, but it told us our batteries were fine. He asked if we could bring it back tomorrow when he could have a technician really dive into it and see if he could find the drain.
While in Chiefland, we stopped at a Antique/Re-Sale store and Cindy went hog wild snatching up odds and ends that she is going to decorate with.
Truth be told, I was right beside her saying things like "OH, I want that picture, and get that end table." There is nothing worse than walking into a motel room and there is nothing on any of the walls. So we've been looking for little odds and ends, pictures and just any old wall hangings to take up dead space till we can make some money and start to get some of our own photographs blown up and framed to hang on the walls.
Luckily I had emptied out the bed of the truck so we could load up the piles of stuff we bought.
I'm sure our Credit Card company is scratching their head wondering where we crawled out from under. We go years without using the card at all and strictly paying cash for everything, then in a few days time we've practically maxed it out...LOL
Hopefully we'll get some customers in the place before we get the bill so we can pay it.
And wouldn't you know it that the first time we're away from the Low-Key and the secluded little bay the sun sets behind, we miss one of the most spectacular sunsets since we've been here.
I mean the sky was just on fire with the coolest looking cloud formations. But being in Chiefland, there was no way to get any good shots of it. When we got home, the first thing John said was "Man you missed a beautiful sunset!"
We emptied out the truck, took the dogs for a walk and Cindy went straight to bed. I'm thinking these long days are starting to catch up with her, and there is no need in catching a cold right before the holidays.
I'm hoping everyone is safe after that last Snow Storm that blanket much of the Mid-West and East Coast. Be safe, and give your family some hugs during this holiday season.
Thursday December 24th - Christmas Eve, Merry Christmas Everyone
The past few days have been amazing. Lets start back two days ago. It was Tuesday and I had spent most of the day planting flowers, ornamental grasses and weeding the various beds around the grounds that are out of control when it comes to weeds and grass growing in them.
The Low-Key Hideaway is now starting to look very nice from the outside and I'm liking the place more and more with each hour spent working on it.
One of my days chores was painting over the old sign, the one that still says the old name so I could re-paint it with our new name on it. We want to start with a clean slate, so this is why we've decided to change the name and everything else that would relate to the OLD place.
As I was painting, I saw a truck pull into the RV area where Cindy was working. It was a Toyota Tacoma pulling what looked like a small white cargo trailer.
Cindy yelled for me to come down and help guide the couple in because this is my job when it comes to guests, so I put down my paint brush and went to meet our new campers.
I was in for such a surprise! Ron and Shae are a great couple who recently moved from the great white north of Maine down to the Florida Panhandle area.
What they were towing wasn't a Cargo Trailer at all, but a custom made Travel Trailer that Ron built from scrap wood and aluminum stock he had lying around his workshop.
At one point in his life, Ron was a home builder and knows his way around a woodshop. He is quite proud of his little trailer...as he should be. The travel trailer oozes of quality craftsmanship in every way.
As soon as we had him backed into his spot, he had me, Cindy and John all asking him a million questions while he showed us around the little camper.
He told us he built it from a Utility Trailer he bought for a dirt cheap price. The wood was all stuff he had lying around his workshop, and the aluminum was left over stock a friend of his had.
The entire trailer has $1300 in materials rolled up into it including the Utility Trailer itself!! Just amazing and a true piece of American Craftsmanship at its finest.
After our little tour, we let them get settled in and Cindy and I went back to work. The Ford dealer called to tell me my truck was ready to come pick up, but it was late in the afternoon and we were fast approaching Happy Hour, so I asked if I could just come pick it up tomorrow morning.
Billy had rode his bike up to the fruit stand and picked up a bag of fresh limes, and Cindy had a bag of Tangerines from our visit to the market a few days back. Tonight was Margarita Night with fresh squeezed fruit and strong Tequila as the main ingredients....my mouth is watering right now just thinking about them.
I heard Cindy whistle to let me know Happy Hour had started, and I got to cleaning my painting tools as quick as possible.
I grabbed some chairs and slid up to the back of Ron's camper where the gang had already gathered. Cindy brought out a big pitcher of Margarita's and for one of our first nights since we've landed in Cedar Key, we had a warm evening with no wind to keep us huddled inside.
This worked out perfect because our little makeshift group of Gypsies sat around the campers talking, listening to Billy play us some tunes on his guitar and getting to know one another late into the evening.
We learned that Ron was a retired Police Officer out of Maine and had a never ending supply of stories from his days enforcing the law. I haven't laughed this hard in a long time, and the stories just came one right after the next.
It was funny how well we all got along, and Ron reminded Cindy of what to expect from me in my more mature years. Ron would say something and Cindy would almost fall out of her chair laughing. When she would finally recover, she'd say "Oh My God, that is exactly what Pat would do, and I can totally see him doing that in the same situation."
When the night air started to creep in on us, Shae asked if we could start a fire. They carry a small Stainless Steel tub with them and said they'd get it out if we had any wood.
I had found a bunch of washed up logs while cleaning the shoreline and had piled them to the edge of the property. They werent any good pieces of drift wood that you'd want to save, but just big pieces of Oak that looked as if someone had cut out of the back bayou.
Everyone got up and went on a scavenger hunt to grab small pieces of wood to use as kindling, and within a few minutes we were sitting beside our first campfire at the Low-Key Hideaway.
It wasn't much, because of the waterlogged wood, but it was enough to keep the chill out of the air and kept us all out for a few more hours of good stories followed by plenty more laughs.
As it grew late into the evening, Ron said "I'm hungry, anyone interested in some Baked Beans?"
I guess he had been brewing up a big pot of his secret recipe and Cindy jumped to attention (Beans will do that to her) and said "I'll go throw on a batch of Corn Bread."
A little while later, we were all sitting around the camp fire soaking up the tasty beans with fresh, crumbly corn bread and talking about our poor friends and family who were sitting somewhere North of us battling Snow and Winter while we all enjoyed a nice bonfire. Life is good sometimes!
When we all fighting off the sand man, we said our goodnights and climbed into our campers. Good Times and new Friends is what its all about!
Wednesday morning came around bright and early and a cool breeze was blowing off the water.
I had to get into Chiefland to get my truck from White's Ford because they were only open a half day today for the Christmas Holiday, so I said my goodbyes to Ron and Shae before leaving.
John also let us know he would have to be pulling out early due to a family emergency, so we thanked him for coming down to see us and said our goodbyes to yet another new friend who came for a visit.
I jumped on the motorcycle and rode into Chiefland. The back roads into town are fun and empty and just right for a motorcycle ride. I think the entire way I only passed one or two cars and except for an animal running in front of me, traffic is something you dont worry too much about in these parts of Florida. This is soo unlike when we lived in South Florida and a stop light might take 10 minutes to get through.
Once I got the truck, which needed a new battery, I drove into Crystal River to pick up some more plants and some supplies from Home Depot. On the way, I stopped at a place called Seaforest Gifts that is the largest shell display in all of Florida.
You know when you're visiting Florida and you see all those tourist stops called things like 'Sea Shell City' (say that ten times fast)? Well this is where they get all their shells and supplies from.
Cindy and I have been on the lookout for unique and unusual items to decorate with, and once I got to talking with Jeremy and Samantha, the owners of Seaforest Gifts, I knew I had found our outlet for uniqueness. This place is loaded with off the wall items and cool wall hangings.
Pottery that is bright and unusual, hand carved tiki's that will give us the tropical look we're after and sea life murals that will make the Florida feeling seem more real. As crazy as it sounds, I actually talked with them about becoming a dealer because I think the stuff looks cool enough that I'll bet our guests would buy it if they knew it was for sale.
After an hour or two of talking with them, I'm a talker if you haven't figured this out by now, I thanked them, wished them a Merry Christmas and went back on my route to Crystal River.
Home Depot was a lesson in Self Control when I have a list of items I need as long as my leg. Everything needs to be purchased in a timeline, and its hard to not just max out the credit card and hope we have a prosperous season to make the payments.
I stuck to what I knew I needed and loaded up the bed of the truck with Tropical foliage. Tons of grasses I'll use as borders, palms to be planted around the yard, flowers to add color to my new pottery I had just found, and shrubs to fill in some dead spots in the yard.
I missed an amazing sunset...again...but luckily Cindy was back in Cedar Key and caught this one all on her camera. Amazing shots and if I wasn't the one who download them myself, I wouldn't have believed they weren't manipulated, they're just that amazing.
Friday December 25th - Merry Christmas Everyone!!
Christmas isn't the same without family. With no tree to put presents under, no family to be snuggled up with and no snow on the ground, I've always had a hard time celebrating Christmas in a warm climate.
When we lived in Florida, it never felt real around the Christmas Season. Granted, it was different then because we had my older brother, our daughter and a bunch of friends to fill the house on Christmas day, but being raised in Michigan, I've never felt that same feeling without the snow, the bad weather that makes you want to be inside and that same feeling of being wrapped up in Christmas.
Once again, Cindy promised that this would be a one time thing and that next year we'd have the entire family come down and celebrate Christmas with us so it would feel authentic.
The morning was spent on the phone talking with family and friends scattered all across the country. We both commented on how nice it is to be able to use email, Facebook, forums and text-messaging to send Christmas Wishes to long lost friends and people that might not normally be contacted.
Once our rounds were finished, we headed into town to go for a walk and just enjoy the salty air. The past few weeks we haven't really spent any together time and have yet to spend any time walking around the downtown area.
Today was a perfect day to do it. The place was a ghost town and it was as if we had the entire place to ourselves.
After a few hours of just wandering around, we landed in the Island Hotel where we've really grown to like. We always seem to meet interesting people there and it just feels cozy.
Tonight was no different. Cindy and I sat in our usual corner table and started to try and have a conversation with one another. That was till we overheard the two couples talking beside us.
One of the couples was talking about outfitting their RV with a hitch to carry a motorcycle, which grabbed our attention. Then we heard them talking about bringing dogs with them so this also peaked our attention. I kept telling Cindy not to but in, but when she heard them say that they were from Redford Michigan, she couldn't hold her tongue anymore and butted in.
The Redford area is where Cindy was born and raised and only a half hour or so from our home town of Milford.
We introduced ourselves and started talking amongst them and before you knew it, all of us were sharing stories and laughing the night away.
It was a great way to spend Christmas, and since we all agreed that we were away from families on this Holiday, we might as well make the best of it toasting to new friends and good times.
Saturday December 26th - More Friends Stop for a Visit
For anyone who has been following along for the past year, you'll remember back in February when we stopped in Virginia and visited with Marc and Cathy.
They had sent us an email commenting on something on the site and offered a place to park the rig if we were ever passing through their area.
We were on the road and Cindy said "Isn't this right where Marc and Cathy live?"
We gave them a shout, they invited us over for real and we ended up spending a few days partying and visiting with them and a bunch of their friends.
Marc and Cindy have been talking back and forth via email because they make an annual trip to Key West for New Years each year.
Cindy had contacted him saying that if they wanted to stop by for a visit, we'd love to have them.
10:30am this morning they pulled in to the Low-Key Hideaway. We backed in their Travel Trailer, got them settled in, exchanged hugs and introductions with the other couple they were traveling with and cracked open our first beers of the visit.
Marc and Cathy had brought along Dave and Deb, another couple that lives near them and wanted to have some fun in the Keys for the Holidays.
Just so there is no confusion, Cedar Key is about 500 miles north of the True Florida Keys. They just figured that this would be a nice stop to break up their two day drive from Virginia to the Southern Most Point of the East Coast. Marc told us they had driven for about 13 hours to get to Cedar Key from Virginia, with a few stops for food and breaks along the route.
Our day was spent with plenty of laughter, tons of good stories and good food prepared by Cindy.
By dinner time, the cold air had moved in off the water, which had us all bundling up and moving into one of the empty rooms where Cindy had been cooking and making us some hot food.
Dave was commandeered to grill the burgers on the Weber, and before long, we were all quiet, for a few minutes that is.
You know what happens after a long day of partying and laughing when one is filled to the gills with food, the sleep starts to set in.
It didn't take long before everyone was starting to show signs of heavy eyes, and the gang was planning on pulling out really early to cover the 500 some odd miles they still had to drive to reach their next campground.
So we gave hugs all around, thanked them for stopping by and went off to bed.
Its great to now be sitting still yet still meeting people and seeing fellow travelers pass by. Safe Travels Marc and Cathy, and we hope to see you all again soon.
Thursday December 31st 2009 - Last Day of the Decade
What an amazing decade the past ten years have been. Talking with some people about it makes me realize how lucky and blessed Cindy and I really are. People talk about all the negative things that have happened in the past ten years, but I like to think back about all the positive things.
Things like buying our first bar in Milford, spending the first 6 years having a wild time running that to a profitable business, then selling it and hitting the open road for the rest of the decade. Our daughter graduating from High School and showing us how grown up she is by moving out on her own and becoming a responsible adult. Something I thought wasn't possible many times during her teenage years....LOL I'm sure my parents thought the same thing.
The amazing times we've had on our adventures. Looking back at some of our photos brings tears to my eyes. We've done and seen things in the past 3 years that would add up to multiple lifetimes for the average person.
Then just before the first decade of the new millennia ends, we settle down to get our next business started and in a short ten year span, we now our moving on to our second bar. This one is only a small tiki bar right on the ocean, but I'll bet it is going to be much less stressful than our last one was.
Life is good and the smile on my face is from ear to ear
The past couple of days have been a lot of fun here at the Low-Key Hideaway. That photo is one of the guests Air-Boat tied up at our dock out back. The best way to travel around the Cedar Keys, but a bit loud for my tastes.
I finally finished painting the sign, we filed all the paperwork to change the business name and it became official. We've had some new characters check in and the party just keeps getting better.
We've ordered all new A/C units, ordered beautiful ceramic tile so we can have the carpet tore out of all the rooms (Carpet doesn't work in this climate with all the humidity and sand) and soon the place will be like new.
Sitting out back watching the sunsets while enjoying the company of fellow travelers and meeting new friends is just a great way to end each evening.
We also met a cool couple that I'd love to have you check out. Eli and Jen checked in with their little 19' Airstream Bambi in tow. In all our travels around North America, it was very rare to meet RV'ers that were our age.
But Eli and Jen are younger than us and doing much the same thing. 7 months ago they threw everything into storage and hit the open road to enjoy the countryside while they're still young enough to hike, bike and be active enough to see everything they want to see.
Jen is a very talented photographer who has some great work on her site, and Eli works from their little camper on his Graphic Design business. In the modern day of have connection, will travel, there really is no need to stay grounded and pay the exaggerated costs of owning a home.
You'll have to check out their blogs and see where their travels take them.
We have one gentleman from Idaho staying with us who is as nice and polite as can be. He is so funny, that it's hard to have him around without cracking up in tears from the goofy things he says.
Like the story he told me today about recovering from Rotator Cuff Surgery and learning to wipe his butt with his opposite hand. Here is a 54 year old man telling me things that I dont want to know, but I was laughing so hard I was crying.
Bob is in town doing some tree work and noticed we had an old stump in the back yard. He told Cindy that he was going to bring his stump grinder over after he got off work and take care of the stump as a house warming present. How nice is that!! He goes out of his way just to do nice things for people around him.
Another interesting character who is staying with us is Doug Copp. Doug is a retired Disaster Rescue Technician and has some crazy stories about his life of crawling into collapsed buildings around the world.
While we were all sitting around listening to some of Doug's stories, he and his wife Paullina pulled out a huge bag of Crawdad's and we had Cindy boil them up.
So our New Year's Eve celebration consisted of Doug and Paullina, Bob and Cindy and I sitting around telling lies, laughing till our sides hurt and eating like kings and queens.
I was worried Cindy wasn't going to make it till Midnight, but she was a trooper and stuck it out with us. Around 11:30pm, we were all sitting out on the back porch when the fireworks started.
Across the bay there was a private party going on and we could hear the music and laughter even though it was at least a 1/4 mile away. When the fireworks started going off, I thought they were setting them off way too early. I mean you'd think they'd wait till right around midnight for the show.
But who ever was hosting this party had spent a fortune on explosives because the show went from 11:30 till midnight when the Grand Finale went off. These werent just some simple bottle rockets. This was a full array of mortars that put on a show to rival any major 4th of July show.
At midnight, Doug brought out a bottle of champagne as popped the cork. We all toasted to the start of a new decade and said goodbye to the last one. Under the light of the Blue Moon, we hugged, drank and toasted to past memories and the making of new ones.
Thanks for making the last ten years of our lives such an amazing time and here's to making the next ten even better.
Happy New Year everyone!!