Travel Plans are afoot in the D’Elia Household

Later this month, Susie and I will be hitting the road again. Well, that’s not totally honest, what we will be doing is hitting the road, the air, and the seas, as we journey from Ocean City to the Philadelphia International Airport (the road portion), and from there fly via American Airlines to Houston, Texas (the air portion), then take an Uber or Lyft from George Bush International Airport to Galveston, Texas (another road portion), where we will meet up with Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas (obviously, the sea portion). Sorry you asked?

As you will recall, youngest son Kenny and his husband Chris are Entertainers on the Liberty of the Seas, and we sign on towards the end of this month for another 2 week back-to-back visit with Our Boys. By the time we leave the ship, they will have less than a month left on their contract, and not knowing if they will do another contract on a ship, this may be our last time to sail with them. We are, of course, looking forward to seeing the boys, watching them perform, and experiencing the various ports they’ve been traveling to since they signed on early this year, but this trip will be different than any other of the many cruises we’ve been on with them. That’s because this time, we won’t be alone!

While we will spend 2 weeks on the ship, for week one we will be joined by my cousin Jeanne Pratt and her husband Walt! Jeanne is the daughter of my Mom’s 2 year younger brother Bill, and grew up in Chicago. We didn’t spend a lot of time together as kids, but she has to be the person in the world that has known me longer than anyone else in my life. There were trips to Chicago for me, and visits from her family to New York, and a couple of memorable Family Vacations in Florida. As often happens, as we all got older, and life picked up pace, we drifted apart. 40 years ago, Jeanne and Walt were at our wedding, but after that, our connections were very sporadic. The sad part was that Walt spent 25 years in the Navy, and they lived for most of that time in Connecticut as Walt was in the Submarine Service. After he retired from the Navy, that’s where their home stayed, so for the better part of our married lives, the 4 of us were less than 100 miles apart!

After years of not being in each other’s lives, about 5 or 6 years ago, we met mid way between Long Island and their Connecticut home for lunch. We had a great lunch but mostly we talked…so much so that the restaurant folks looked like they were going to throw us out so they could begin setting up for dinner! Since that rekindling, we have visited them in their Florida home in Barefoot Bay, they’ve stayed with us in Ocean City, we’ve had dinner with them while in Disney World with the boys, they’ve visited us in Indian Rocks Beach, and every time the result is the same..we talk, and talk, and talk and talk!

Last year, Jeanne wondered if there might be some place we could vacation together. Shortly after we booked our back-to-back cruise for this month (a back-to-back is taking the same room for two different cruise itineraries, making the two one week cruises in essence a two week cruise), she called and wondered if we’d like some company for the first week. Sounded like a great idea to us, so we are now adding cruising as yet another way we are spending time together. We’re not going to be tied at the hip, but we will be eating and drinking together a lot (food and drink packages ordered), seeing the boys in the shows (by the way, they will get to meet each other for the first time), and just hanging out and talking! Imagine that!

Stay tuned as we continue with more pre-travel arrangements!

Snowbirds

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Wikipedia defines Snowbirds as, “”a North American term for a person who migrates from the higher latitudes and colder climates of the northern United States and Canada in the southward direction in winter to warmer locales such as Florida, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, or elsewhere along the Sun Belt of the southern United States, Mexico, and areas of the Caribbean. Many “snowbirds” are from either the Northeast, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, or Canada.”

So, basically it’s somebody who runs away from winter and desires to have an early preview of Spring or Summer. Is that us????

Well, right after I retired in 2016, we headed to Florida to partake in some Spring Training Baseball, and to use my Disney Retiree benefits at Walt Disney World.  Were we Snowbirds???  Unknown.

Then in 2017 we were part of the Kenny and Chris journey to the West Coast.  We started in Atlantic City, had a stop off in Walt Disney World, and continued to New Orleans and Boser City, Louisiana.   Were we Snowbirds???  Not quite.

Then last year, in February of 2018, we traveled down the Gulf Coast of Florida, journeyed down to Key West, spent time with my cousins in Barefoot Bay, and then spent 5 days in Walt Disney World.  Snowbirds??  Who knows.

But, this year, we had a plan.  We started with our children and grandchildren in Raleigh, North Carolina, they journeyed south through Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia, before we entered the Sunshine State, and what we hoped was a preview of Spring/Summer of 2019.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature was not on our side, and although we were heading south, we woke up to temps in the teens, 30s, and then the 40s.  It was not till we were in Florida that the thermometer hit the 50s, but it still wasn’t WARM!  

img_1150-1Our plan this year was 3 weeks in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, which we’d fallen in love with last year.  We rented a condo right on the Gulf of Mexico, and were expecting gorgeous weather and warm temps.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature was laughing her ass off at us! The first week we were here, it was cold and the foggy!  Come on now….we’re in Florida!!!  WTF!!!!  But not to be dismayed, we did other stuff.  We went to Walmart, Publix, and got the stuff we needed for the condo.  We visited Total Wines and More, so at least we could drown our sorrows!  

Then the sun came out and life was good!!  Temps in the 70s, sunny blue skies, and wonderful views of the Gulf of Mexico!!

So, as I write this, we have been in our condo for a week and a half, about halfway through our stay.  Susie’s cousin Debbie and her friend Janice have already visited us, and we had a great afternoon by the pool, and then a wonderful night at Crabby Bills!

Tomorrow, we’re expecting our cousins Jeanne and Walt.  We’ve got lots of plans for things to do with them, and we are looking forward to hours of talking and just having fun together!  

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We went in the pool last night after dinner.

Next week, our daughter Krissi and her fiancé Mike will join us.  Again, lots of fun things planned, as well as enjoying the beach, sun, and warm temperatures!  

So, are we Snowbirds??  Well, we’ve already rented a place a couple of blocks down the beach for ALL of February next year.  I’d say, yes, we are Snowbirds!!  What do you think???

Next year’s condo!!

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!!

Barefoot Bay, Florida

Isn’t that a wonderful name, for a town in Florida? Well, in case you’ve wondered where we’ve been for the past couple of days, we have been in the aforementioned town, visiting with our cousins Jeanne and Walt. My Mom was the oldest of three kids, and grew up with 2 younger brothers. Jeanne’s Dad was middle brother Bill, and she’s slightly older than me, and the person who has known me longer than anybody else in the world.

Susie and I got here Wednesday afternoon, and have been having a great time with our family. We’ve sat around the dining room table, or on the screen porch, talking, and talking, and talking the night away. In fact, that first night were were here, we all looked at our watches and discovered it was almost 3 AM! That’s just the kind of relationship we have, and we love that too!! Oh, and by the way, it’s not just what we do in Florida, we did exactly the same thing when they came to spend time with us in Ocean City last year!

Today, Jeanne made plans to get us off our asses and out of the house, and thanks to her, it was a wonderful day! We started this morning with an Air Boat ride. These were always things that fascinated me when I was a kid and we’d visit Florida, or when watching old TV shows like Flipper or The Everglades. The last time we’d been on one, was way back when the kids were little, and we took a ride on a big one out of Homestead. This was a great sized one, piloted by Bob, who was a snowbird from point Pleasant, New Jersey. We each had wireless headphones, and Bob gave us a great tour and narration.

We saw lots of Florida wildlife, beautiful plants, and trees, and even some alligators!! I was enamored of the beautiful colors, especially the blues of the sky and water! Ah, Florida in February!!

After saying goodbye to Bob, we headed out of the Blue Cypress Conservation Area, and Jeanne and Walt said they had the perfect place for us to go for lunch! Yee Haw Junction was where we were going, and since Jeanne was driving, and Susie and I were in the back seat, off we went! As we traveled, Walt started to explain to us that Yee Haw Junction was not it’s original name. That was Jackass Junction. But as Florida’s population started to grow, and the Florida Turnpike was being built, the powers that be decided that Jackass Junction wouldn’t look great on an Exit Sign, so the name was changed to Yee Haw Junction!

And where did we have lunch? Well, it was called Desert Inn Bar and Restaurant and let’s just say that had Jeanne and Walt not been our hosts, we would have driven right by. Had we driven right by, we would have missed an incredible experience! It was fun, the drinks were cold, the food was good, and the atmosphere was…..well, look at the pictures below, and you decide!

So we’re back at the house now, sitting around the dining room table, looking at the pictures we took today, laughing about the folks we saw in the restaurant, and enjoying just being together.

Neither Susie nor I are lucky enough to come from families with hundreds of cousins, and relatives everywhere. It’s something I kind of imagine is missing from our life, but I’m sure that some folks who do have huge families, may be telling me to be careful what I wish for. We’re lucky enough to have Jeanne and Walt as our cousins, and I know that because of that, we’re lucky enough!

See you soon!

PS…You’re intrepid reporter, hard at work!

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