Where are we?

 

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In case you’ve been wondering where we are, for the last week, we have been in Indian Rocks Beach on the Gulf Coast of the Sunshine State, in a condo on the beach we’ve rented for 3 weeks.  I know that many of you folks in the north are suffering through some incredible cold, but those of us who ran away from the cold north to Sunny Florida have been suffering too!  I know it’s 19 in Ocean City as I write this and 70 here in Florida, but it’s been a hard week…trust me!

So we arrived last Saturday afternoon at our condo, and even though the temps were not where we’d have liked them to be, it was sunny, and we liked what we saw.

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This is the complex at 1904 Gulf Blvd and we are in the front building on the left as you look at this picture from the street.  Here are some condo pics.

So, what exactly have we been doing here?  Too cold for the beach or pool, although there were some hearty souls trying to enjoy both this week wherever the sun was shining.  The sun was nice, the blue skies were nice, the view was nice, the temps in the 50s (as a high) and the 20 mph winds were anything but.  No, we stayed inside, and when we were out, we were in the car with the windows up and sometimes with the seat heaters on!  So, where did those car rides take us?

Well, one day they took us to Costco and we bought a couple of things, and we coupled that with a stop at a Total Wines and More!  Another day, the ride took us in search of martini glasses (none in the condo), and we finally found them in a local Bed Bath and Beyond.  We combined those 3 stops most effectively for one of our evening cocktail hours!

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Some of the rides have taken us nowhere…just exploring!

Another day the ride took us to a local movie theater, where we saw Mary Poppins Returns.  Seems like a lot of theaters here also make you pick your seat when you buy your tickets, and when we bought the tickets on line a couple of hours before we went to the movies, every seat in the place was open!  Easy to choose.  

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When we got to the theater, we discovered these very comfy chairs…in fact, they were motorized recliners that you activated by touching a button.  A little odd, and we wondered if we’d (all right…Susie wondered if I’d) stay awake during the movie.  Actually we found them very comfortable, and a nice way to watch a movie.  Oh by the way, we loved the movie and how it struck it’s own ground, but really paid homage to the original!  Good job.

So, what else have we been doing??  Well, we’ve seen some wonderful sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico from our balcony windows.  See what you think…

Oh, and we’ve gone out and eaten several times too.  We had a great dinner at Keegan’s Seafood Grill, just a couple of blocks down Gulf Blvd last weekend.  We also had a great breakfast at JD’s Restaurant, along with two Bloody Marys!  

Then last night, we returned to the place we fell in love with last year, Jimmy Guana’s in the Indian Rocks Holiday Inn.  That’s where we stayed last year, and Jimmy’s had been our go-to place, probably because the first night we went there, we sat at one of it’s many bars, and met our friend Lindsey Sterry, who was bartending.  Have you ever met anyone, and minutes after your relationship starts, you feel like they’ve been your friend for years?  Well, that’s the way we were with Lindsey.  Would love to be able to say that we had a wonderful time last night with Lindsey, but the last night she worked was the night before we got into town.  Unfortunately, Lindsey is at home recovering from the first of two surgeries she’s got to have for Stage 4 Sinus Cancer.  She’s already survived brain cancer, and now this!  She’s a sweet, wonderful girl, and it really makes you wonder why something like this happens to people like this, and not the many true SOBs in this world!  The poor girl’s got a long road ahead of her, but she’s a fighter, with many folks who love her pulling for her…including the two of us!  If you want to read the whole story, follow this link!      https://www.gofundme.com/hope-for-lindsey-part-2

 

We had a fun night, with some great food, good drinks, and entertainment.  Our waiter Mark was a good guy, and we will see him again before we leave…just not Lindsey…unfortunately.

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                                                The bar we first met Lindsey at!

Then today, we got to the beach!!  Sunny skies, temperatures in the 70s, the Florida we’d been looking for!!

Oh by the way, this is our condo’s balcony.

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So the temps are up, and we are going to enjoy every minute of the Florida weather, and our preview of the Spring of 2019, till the end of February when we return to the winter of 2019!  Stay tuned!!!

Road Food

No, I said Road Food, not Road Kill!

So, if you’ve read any of our travel blogs before, you know that our eating MO is to seek out interesting local places, rather than go with national chains or fast food places.  Our two exceptions are Cracker Barrel and Arbys, which are our two travel dining guilty pleasures.  So, let me give you an idea of our last two meals on the road!

Last night was our second and last night in Savannah, and like we often do in bigger areas, we turned to Open Table for help choosing a place to eat.  After going through the listings, and checking out menus, I presented Susie with 4 places I thought sounded like we’d enjoy.  We both picked the same restaurant as our #1 choice, and so we went ahead and made a reservation at Tondee’s Tavern over by the river.

Now, how to get there?  We could have taken the car out of the garage, but then there would be the hassle of finding the place and parking and being concerned about drinking, so for the second night in a row, we used Lyft to get us from our hotel to the restaurant.  We could have used Uber too, but for some reason I have a Lyft deal for the next couple of weeks, where rides are 50% off if the original fare is under $10, so Lyft it was.  Miss Shirley picked us up at the hotel, and took us to dinner.  Along the way we had some delightful conversation about both of our daughters getting married, and before we knew it, we were there.  The fare was $6.10 minus 50% so $3.05 and I added a $3 tip.

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It was a casual place, just the kind we were looking for, with a great menu.  We each had a beer (Susie Blue Moon, me a Miller Light) and ordered a couple of great dishes.  Susie had fall off the bone ribs and I had a pan grilled flounder stuffed with crab.  You’ll notice, no starch on either of our plates, and they had some great choices!  We continue to be semi-good.

We Lyfted (is that a word) with Timothy back to the Courtyard Hotel (same fare deal) and had a lovely night’s sleep!

This morning we got up after 8:00 and had a leisurely morning, then both showered, and were downstairs waiting at the valet for the car a little before 11 AM.  Our first destination of the day was just an hour away, Darien, Georgia.  We’ve stopped in Darien for at least the last 3 years for one reason and one reason only, a visit to B&J’s Steak and Seafood for a plate of their delectable fried shrimp!!!

Two firsts this year at B&J’s.  #1..this would be our first lunch visit, because we usually stay in Darien and have dinner at B&J’s.  #2…in 5 visits to B&J’s, this is the first time we got to park the car in front of the restaurant and not in some far corner of their lot out back!

As is usual for us, we both started out with a visit to the salad bar, and then each got a shrimp basket.  B&J’s Shrimp Baskets contain 1/2 a pound of the freshest, most delicious fried shrimp we have ever in our lives eaten.  Makes it kind of hard to order fried shrimp anywhere else! Again, we passed on fries, and had cole slaw instead! 

As usual, they were out of this world, and again as usual, we will also be stopping in 5 weeks or so, on our way back north, for another helping!  Tipped by a former work colleague years ago (thanks Abe), we have stopped every year since, and I’ve also got my Cousins Jeanne and Walt stopping there too.  If you head south or north on I-95, I suggest you make it a stop!

So tonight we are in Gainesville, Florida and tomorrow we will check into our condo on the beach for the next 3 weeks.  We only hope it’s as nice as the pictures and descriptions made it out to be.  Stay tuned!

Savannah

Separated by the Savannah River from the state of South Carolina, Savannah is a city steeped in history, and tradition, having been founded by James Oglethorpe in 1733.  It was Oglethorpe’s plan for the city, with 24 park like squares, that is largely what is now Downtown Savannah, which includes the Savannah Historic District, and the Savannah Victorian Historic District.  Although 2 of those squares are gone, the 22 squares and the surrounding tree lined streets and magnificent homes truly represent his vision for the city of Savannah.  

Of course, having recently seen the movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and since I’m in the middle of reading the source book of the same name, written by John Berendt, and have started to listen to some of native son Johnny Mercer’s music, we were as prepared for our visit as we thought possible.

We started this morning at the Savannah Visitor’s Center  and History Museum just across from our hotel.  Inhabiting a historic Central of Georgia Train Shed and surrounded by the Georgia Rail Road Museum and Battlefield Memorial Park, there is a lot of history to be absorbed there, as Savannah was an important city during both the Revolutionary and the Civil War.  

As we always like to do in a new city, we next took an Old Town Trolley tour, and got to see lots of incredible buildings and hear much about the history of this beautiful city.  Our guide Paul provided a lively tour hitting both the highlights and the low lights of the city, and referencing lots that we remembered from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Would love to be able to share with you beautiful pictures, but unfortunately, the weather is a bit brisk in Savannah, and because of that the plastic windows were rolled down on the trolley, making picture taking impossible.  (Do hope you enjoy the picture of the back of our tour guide Paul’s head above) Oh well, perhaps next time.

After the tour, we thought it time for a bit of libation, so it was off to the Savannah Distillery and Ale House for a couple of their Pickled/Spicy Bloody Mary’s and a southern staple, some Fried Green Tomatoes!

Then it was back to our hotel to write this blog, and to spend a little down time figuring out what we’re gonna do next!

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Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the temperature has improved, and after a night of rain, the sun and blue skies have again made an appearance.  It’s windy, and in the 60s, but still better than what it is at the beach in New Jersey!

Tomorrow Florida, but first a visit to B&J’s Steak and Seafood in Darien, Georgia and SHRIMP!!!  See you there!

Touring Charleston

Welcome to Charleston, South Carolina, which according to the AAA maps we have with us, is in the South.  Then why oh why did we wake up this morning to a temperature of 37 degrees???  Even now, as we approach the dinner hour, it’s only 48 degrees!  What the heck is going on with Mother Nature!!

Today, after breakfast at the hotel, we started our day at the Charleston Museum, America’s First Museum!

Then we headed across the street to the Charleston Visitor’s Center.  This is housed in what was Charleston’s first train station.   After looking at some of the exhibits, we caught our City Tour from Adventure Sightseeing!

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Our tour guide was very knowledgable about Charleston and it’s history, and provided us with a very good tour of many of the high points of the city.  Among the highlights was the Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina…..

Commercial areas of the city….

A lot of the beautiful homes that are a part of Charleston…

We also passed the Embassy Suites Hotel which he told us was the site of the original Citadel College until they moved to their new location in 1922.

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Along the way, we passed a horse drawn carriage tour, which would have been a great way to see the city, but frankly they looked a bit cold!  Glad for our bus!

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We returned to the Visitor’s Center, saw some Sea Grass Baskets being made, and watched a movie about Charleston’s past.  

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Having been fully submerged in the history of the city, we decided to cross the street and head back to our hotel and a late afternoon libation and to put our feet up!

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And that’s how we spent our day in the frozen South!

Dinner in Charleston

On our first night in Charleston, South Carolina, the question was where to eat.  Well, we answered it very easily by practically walking next door to the Coast Bar and Grill in Hudson Alley.  Literally one building away from the hotel, it seemed like a no brainer to us!

The restaurant inhabits an old warehouse, and between the art work and the ambiance, it was a very pleasant place to have dinner.

Oh and by the way, any dinner that starts with bubbly (Prosecco), and a Shrimp Cocktail, is our idea of how to travel!!

Dinner was wonderful with, for me, a Strip Steak with Creamed Spinach and Blue Cheese Butter and Sautéed Vegetables rather than potatoes, and for Susie, Grilled Monterey Chicken (Cheddar, Crumbled Jalapeno Bacon and Scallions), with Blue Cheese Slaw, also subbing veggies for the potatoes!

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We look happy, no?

After a delightful meal with a delightful waitress, we walked the few steps back to our hotel.  Oh, and here’s our next door neighbor, or the building between our hotel and Coast Bar!

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And we’re home!  

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Time to plan tomorrow and have a little nightcap!

See ya!

On The Road Again, Again!!!

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Yes, we are indeed on the road again!!  It started with our spending a very enjoyable weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina with our oldest Bill, his wife Lori, our two adorable Grandkids Layla and Henry, and assorted members of Lori’s family.  It was time for our 3rd Christmas, and this time, per Bill’s request, it included Susie’s traditional Christmas Eve dinner, shrimp sauce over linguine, and baked lobsters stuffed with baked clam stuffing!  North Carolina Bar-B-Que is a fitting Christmas Eve feast, but the kid from Long Island missed this traditional dinner he’s had since he was old enough to like lobster!

We had a great time with our little kids, who were anxious for Grandma and Grandpa to arrive, and who had an entire agenda laid out for us to be involved in.  It was good being with our older kids, and as usual, Susie and I had a great time talking extensively with Lori’s mom Kathy!  All around, a great weekend!

So, this morning, rather than head North as we usually do, we headed South!  We traveled down Interstate 95, and of course, what’s I-95 through North Carolina without South of the Border!  Nowhere near it’s former glory, but Pedro still has great presence along the highway!

You definitely know you’re in the south…all you need to do is open your eyes!

Our route took us through Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (eh), and as I write this, we are in the Hampton Inn in Historic Downtown Charleston, South Carolina.  This is a place we’ve never been before, so we decided to spend a couple of days here and see what it’s all about. The sad thing is that although it’s not as cold as it was back home (It was 9 degrees in Ocean City), it was just in the low 40s when we pulled into the hotel, so the cold seems to be following us!  Let’s hope for a warm up, because we’re tired of sweatshirts and fleeces!! 

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Stay tuned for more.

In closing, before Susie and I left OC we’d spent about 10 days doing the Keto Diet (well, more like a Lazy Keto…mostly low carb).  I lost 9 pounds and Susie 7.5 pounds, and it’s something we really wanted to try and keep going with.  If you’ve read these travel blogs before, you know that one of our guilty pleasures on the road is eating at Arbys.  Well, here is our lunch on Saturday…totally Keto Friendly!

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Those People

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FYI…we’ve become “those people” who lunch at Costco (come on..two huge hot dogs with sauerkraut and all the toppings, plus 2 sodas for $3.20 including tax…why not?) and who run off to Florida in the winter!

Susie retired in 2013, and in just a couple of weeks, it will be three years since I left WABC on January 29, 2016.  In February of 2016, we headed down to Florida for a few days at Disney World, and to catch a couple of the Mets Spring training games.  It was a real treat to experience a bit of a preview of the Summer of 2016, and I guess we got bitten by the bug!  In February of 2017, Susie and I participated in the  southern swing of the “Kenny and Chris Relocating to LA Tour”, and spent some time in Disney World with the boys, and then New Orleans with the boys and Krissi and Mike, before they headed off to California and we headed back to winter.  Last year we toured a large part of Florida, heading down in February and starting at Indian Rocks Beach on the Gulf Coast, traveling down the Gulf Coast, then across the state, down the Keys to Key West, up to Hollywood, then to my cousins in Barefoot Bay, and we ended up with 5 nights at the Boardwalk Hotel in Disney World!  All told, a little over 3 weeks away from the winter!

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23d34fcc-bfe6-455b-98e7-d47076bcdfa0So, this year, we are being pigs!  We leave this Saturday with our first stop being Raleigh, North Carolina, the home of our oldest and his wife, and our 2 grandchildren!  It will be Christmas #3 for Susie and I, this time complete with Christmas Eve traditions of Shrimp Sauce over Linguine, and Lobsters stuffed with Baked Clam Stuffing!  After a couple of days there, we start slowly making our way to the Sunshine State, with stops in Charleston, South Carolina, Savannah, Georgia, and Darien, Georgia and our favorite shrimp place, B&J’s Steak and Seafood!  

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Last year we fell in love with Indian Rocks Beach, Florida and we’ve decided to return to the scene of the crime.  We’ve rented a condo right on the Gulf Coast for 3 weeks, and we look forward to a lot of warmth, sun, surf, pool, and fun!  During the course of our time there, our cousins Jeanne and Walt will come to visit, as will Krissi and Mike for a long weekend!  We only hope our favorite Florida bartender Lindsey, who we met at our hotel bar last year, is back on her feet and we can spend some quality time with her!

After that, it’s off to the East Coast and a 3 day stay at the lovely Doubletree Resort we really didn’t take advantage of during our stay there last year in Hollywood, Florida.  More pool, sun, warmth, and Tiki Bar time we hope!  Then we are off for 5 nights with our cousins Jeanne and Walt at their place a little further up the coast in Barefoot Bay, Florida!

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Although a stay at Disney World has been a part of our last 3 escapes from winter, we decided to pass on it this year.  Even with my Disney  Retiree benefits and discounts, it’s still an expensive stay, and that 3 week condo rental is costing us enough.  Plus, we were so disillusioned by all the crowds there last year, and the attractions that broke down, that we think we’ll take a year off, and decide again next year.

So that’s it.  If you did the math, you’ll have come up with five plus weeks away this year.  We hope to be in warm weather for the better part of 5 weeks, only dipping out of shirts and flip flop weather on the way down and back up.  I told you we were being real pigs, but there is nothing like that Summer Preview you get from spending some time in warmer climates, when it’s snowing at home!

Ahhhh…RETIREMENT!!