Taking Stock – Part Two

Welcome back to our Taking Stock Blog – Looking back at six years of retirement. Today we return to Florida and complete the saga of two refugees from the winter, finding fun and warmth in the Sunshine state!! Enjoy!

2018 – On February 9th, 2018, we left from our new hometown, Ocean City, New Jersey (more on that later in this blog) and once again headed south! Two days later, we crossed from Georgia into Florida and headed west. Our purpose this trip was to explore much of the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts of the state, and even head down to Key West! The highlight of this trip for us, was that we discovered what we now consider our Florida home…Indian Rocks Beach, thanks to a wonderful stay at the Holiday Inn there, and a great bartender, now friend, named Lindsey! After 4 wonderful nights there, we headed south, then east over the Tamiami Trail, to the very end of Florida. Next stop…Key West. Two wonderful days (and incredible nights) in Key West, and then headed north again. This was our trip for discovery, because next we discovered a wonderful place called the Double Tree Resort by Hilton in Hollywood Beach, Florida! We were there only two nights but vowed we’d be back! We spent 4 great nights with my cousin Jeanne and her husband Walt in their Florida home in Barefoot Bay, and had a wonderful time. Then 5 nights using my Disney Retiree benefits at Walt Disney World. This time we splurged and spent 5 nights at the Boardwalk Hotel in a garden room, with Club Level access, at a 50% Cast Member discount! This year we were really spoiled with our private villa across from the Quiet Pool and access to the Innkeepers Club, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, and snacks, plus access to the concierge staff for anything we might need. Even with the discount it was $500 a night, but oh so enjoyable! We went briefly to the parks, took in a baseball game and watched the Braves play the Mets, but mostly enjoyed the pool and all the other things that the hotel offered! On the morning of day 6, we headed back towards I-95 and home…it was time to trade in our flip flops for a couple of months! On March 4th, day 24 of our trip, we pulled the Sonata into our garage, and were home! For our Florida trip 2018: 24 days on the road and a total of 3,241 miles driven, and just the best time visiting the Summer of 2018 early!

2019 – On Saturday, January 19th, we headed south to our son and family in North Carolina. It was time for an old fashioned (late, but old fashioned) Christmas celebration with our Southern Family! We had a great weekend with Bill, Lori and Layla and Henry and a great way to start our preview of the Summer of 2019. After leaving NC, we explored Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia. Great sites, nice hotels, and wonderful Southern Food, but we discovered that January may not be the optimum time to visit because it was cold! Then it was time to head to our Florida home, Indian Rocks Beach on the Gulf Coast, and the two bedroom condo we’d rented on the Gulf for 3 weeks! That first week was cold, but we sat in the living room under a blanket and watched the beach, and explored “our” town. In week two, the weather was perfect and we spent lots of time on the beach or at the pool. We had family visits from my cousins Jeanne and Walt, Susie’s cousin Debbie, and even our daughter and Mike, who was no longer her boyfriend, but rather her fiancé! We loved being a part of IRB for the three weeks, exploring great restaurants and touristy things, and just spending time in the warmth! Can you say Snowbirds!! After 3 weeks in our condo, we headed to the Double Tree by Hilton Resort in Hollywood Beach, this time for four glorious nights! The only time we left was to drive to Palm Beach one night to have dinner with an old friend! From there, we went over to Barefoot Bay to return the visit to Jeanne and Walt. Three nights there before we returned to I-95 North and winter! On February 27th, 5 1/2 weeks after we’d left, we returned to Ocean City, and once again, no flip flops for a couple of months!

2020 – On Thursday, January 30th, we left Ocean City and headed to our son Bill and his family’s new house in Wake Forest, North Carolina! New house (they moved in just after New Years), and bigger family as baby Annabelle had joined the group the previous April! After spending the night with them, the next morning we were off to Darien, Georgia and the best fried shrimp in the world at B&J’s Steak and Seafood, a twice yearly stop! On Saturday, the 1st of February, we completed the drive to Indian Rocks Beach, and our month long stay in a beautiful 3 bedroom condo on the Gulf of Mexico at the Hamilton House. Now we were really Snowbirds!! We were joined during the month by my cousin Jeanne and her husband Walt for 4 nights, and for a week by Kenny and his husband Chris…Our Boys! We loved the feeling of being a part of IRB for the month, and cemented that feeling by every Tuesday night. Rather than being at the back bar of Charlie’s with our friend Sue as was our Tuesday routine, we spent 4 Tuesdays at the bar at Guppy’s with our new friends Taylor and Ellen. Unfortunately, in our last week there, Susie got the call that her 95 year old Mom had passed away. We left the condo a day early, drove across the state to the Ft. Lauderdale airport, and flew back to Long Island for 3 days. After the funeral, we flew back, and returned to the Double Tree Resort in Hollywood Beach, this time for six nights! Our best stay yet! Dropped the car at the valet day one, and never drove it again till we left! After 6 wonderful days of summertime temperatures spent at the pool, with daily drinks on our balcony overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway and the food and fun at the Tiki Bar, we headed up to Barefoot Bay and what we’d planned to be an extended stay. Jeanne and Walt were heading out a couple of days after we arrived for a month in Hawaii, and had offered us the use of their house while they were gone. Seemed like a great way to extend our preview of the summer of 2020 a few more weeks. Unfortunately, the day Jeanne and Walt left, Covid exploded on the scene, and when Major League Baseball, Disney World, and so much else closed down, we decided it was time to run home to Ocean City! We made the trip with just one night’s stop, missed out on our return visit for shrimp in Darien, Georgia, and bypassed another visit with our North Carolina Family! So we left Ocean City on Thursday, January 30th and returned home on Sunday, March 15th, having traveled 3,302 miles in between. Not what we expected at all, having missed out on pool time, a couple of Spring Training ball games, and my first ever visit to Cape Canaveral!

2021 – Having been fully vaccinated with both of our Covid shots, in the middle of March we started venturing out. We missed our Grandkids and their Mom and Dad in North Carolina, and on Friday, April 16th, we left for North Carolina for the second time in a couple of weeks. This time for a joint birthday party for our two favorite Granddaughters! Layla’s 7th and Annabelle’s 2nd! After having a great couple of days there, we headed back to I-95, but this time southbound…we were going to Florida!!! Our Boys now lived in Downtown St. Petersburg, Florida and we were going to visit with them for a couple of days. We used Hilton Honors points for our whole trip and only paid for one hotel. We spent 3 nights at a brand new Hilton Tru Hotel literally just down the block from the boys’ apartment. They showed us the sights of St. Pete, and frankly, it seemed like the perfect spot for them. The one hotel we paid for? Since we were just down the road from Indian Rocks Beach, we had to say Hi to our Florida home, so we paid for one night at the Holiday Inn, the place where it all started for us! The boys came and joined us and we had a great time drinking and eating at Jimmy Guana’s, and listening to live music outside in April!! Then we headed home, but this year we did stop in Darien, Georgia for our shrimp at B&J’s Steak and Seafood! Back home on Sunday, April 25th. A brief visit, but our Florida record is still intact!

2022 – No extensive visits to the Sunshine State this year, as we decided that this winter would be given over to getting Susie a new hip. That’s scheduled for March 1st, and like with my new knee, there will be travel restrictions, so who knows what will come after that!

Tomorrow in Part Three, we offer you a back seat in our 9 week trip around the United States that we call Our Big Adventure, and usher you into a balcony cabin on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in the Caribbean! See you then!

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