Snowbirds

img_1745

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!  

img_1327-1

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!!

Where are we?

 

img_1150

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.

img_1299

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!

img_1685

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.  

img_1684

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.

img_1288

                                                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.

fullsizeoutput_42e3

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!!!

Those People

5d6e7088-f979-4248-bb04-8c53e3cb688a

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!

7f1f1824-9607-489f-918d-ec37648d17b6

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!  

0bf25120-f163-4568-8aa6-c23d09bd313d

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!

ecd4ddab-326a-46a8-be2e-29fe49333cac

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!!

Do-Over

Hello! Hope you had a great Valentine’s Day…we did! First of all, we encountered the Zamboni Man, doing his daily clean of our hotel. Who would have thought???

748FFAD9-75E4-48A8-B558-44A280549E47

Yesterday, I bitched about our trip to Tarpon Springs, and how we did not enjoy the trip, or what we found when we got there. Well guess what…we did a “do-over” today, and had a great time. First of all, I realized that I was a little hungover yesterday morning (thanks Lindsey), and hated the road we used to get there. We can blame that on our wonderful GPS, which took us the “fastest” way. We loved the trip home, along the water, through Clearwater, Clearwater Beach, and Sand Key. So, what did we do this morning?? We headed back that way, driving along the barrier beaches, and almost never losing sight of the water! When we left Indian Rocks Beach, it was overcast, and temps were in the high 60s, but soon the sun and blue skies appeared, and the temp went up to around 80! Perfect weather to drive with the windows down, and the sunroof open!

F05EE9D8-23D2-45F6-952D-9E721F73FA18For some reason (probably because I was in a better mood), Tarpon Springs seemed a lot nicer today. We parked in a lot for $5, went across the street to Yianni’s, and had a perfect Greek lunch. Oh, did I mention we started lunch with 2 for 1 Bloody Marys? Then we shared a hummus appetizer, and we both had a great Gyro Platter. How the hell do your pronounce that word??? I want to say “year ro”, but after years of calling it a “Gi-Ro” platter, it’s really hard to change. So what usually happens, is that you do half the old way, (Gi-Ro) and half the correct way (“Year-Ro”), and sound like an ass. However you pronounce it, it was very good!

Then Susie did a little shopping, but the highlight of the trip for me, was this great hat that Susie bought me at one of the stores she went into (I stood outside watching the people!) in Tarpon Springs. I will continue to wear it proudly…well maybe not in Disney World….during the remainder of our Florida Trip!

2C73200A-B4DA-4B9E-B6AE-CF2BE2F49D44

 

Then we headed back to our hotel in Indian Rocks Beach, and recuperated for a bit in our room, after which we decided to go down to Jimmy Guana’s, and there was our favorite bartender, Lindsey, at the inside bar. We sat with her for a couple of hours, till she went off duty, and she transferred us to Brian. The restaurant had a big Valentine’s Day Buffet Dinner tonight, but we were happy eating at the bar and having a fish sandwich and a burger. Great discussions first with Lindsey, and then with Brian. Then we entered into discussion with Patrick, a patron at the bar, who lives in New York City, and is a former FBI agent! We finally called it quits, and headed to our room.

We are looking at a relaxing day tomorrow. Breakfast at the hotel, a couple of hours sitting by the pool reading or sleeping, and then a night with our favorite bartender Lindsey! Life is really good, and we are contemplating coming back to this area next winter, and renting a place for 2-3 weeks, because we love this part of Florida, specifically Indian Rocks Beach! No big philosophical thoughts beyond the fact that it’s summer (which we love), and we are in a place we are really enjoying, and we are together!!! A perfect Valentine’s Day for us!

Hope you had a good Valentine’s Day, and are as lucky as we are!!

9AFE85C1-4F27-4BF0-90CF-EC5C34719200

Well, we did it!

D30E56FD-0E9F-4427-80F7-F1ECF982D635

I commented yesterday how much we loved this Holiday Inn in Indian Rocks Beach, and what a good time we had last night at the on-site restaurant, Jimmy Guanas. We loved what we’d seen of the town of Indian Rocks Beach, the style of the hotel, and did I mention the bar at Jimmy Guanas? This morning, on the way to breakfast, we stopped in at the office, and we were able to extend our stay two nights. So rather than staying in a Comfort Suites in the middle of nowhere in Fort Myers, we are staying here till the morning of Friday February 16th. The primary reason that we were staying at Fort Myers, is because Susie wants to see Sanibel Island, but we figure we may do a day trip from here one day, and would much rather come back to this place. Mission accomplished.

Today, we wanted again to venture to the past a bit. I know, didn’t yesterday teach us anything? I guess not, because after breakfast, we ventured up the road to a place we visited 20+ years ago with the kids, Tarpon Springs. We let the GPS guide us there, and that was our first mistake. She took us on 19, which was 8 lanes of traffic, with scenery straight out of the American Business Playbook! CVS, Walgreens, Publix, McDonalds, Buffalo Wild Wings, and many more that I’ve already forgotten! In a word, the drive was boring, and half way there, I was already falling asleep!

Was Tarpon Springs like we remembered? Absolutely not! We seemed to have in our mind a sleepy fishing village set against the Gulf of Mexico, but what we got was a very crowded 6 or 7 block stretch with stores on one side, and docks on the other. It reminded me of Cozemel, Mexico, with people hawking you to shop, eat, or go on a boat ride. We were very sorry we ate breakfast at the hotel this morning, because had we not, we would have loved to stop for lunch in one of the many Greek Restaurants we passed. We decided to pass on it today, and thought that perhaps we might head back there on another day this week for a nice lunch.

FAF2D7B3-B65E-4533-A836-977C9D8885A7Our trip back, however really hit it out of the park! We discovered Alternate 19 South, which was a lovely ride back to Indian Rocks Beach, staying on the water for the majority of the ride. We went through Clearwater and Clearwater Beach, and Sand Key, back to Indian Rocks. It may have taken a bit longer, but we loved the sights. Oh, did I mention that the temperature was in the upper 70s, and we had the windows and the sunroof of the Sonata open? It was wonderful for February 13th!

CC46658E-DDA3-43F3-AF1A-77B27CCD1E9C

For all our OC Family!

Since we were enjoying the ride so much, we thought we’d continue down the beach road to Treasure Island, a place where we stayed with the kids on that same trip. Back in the day, we stayed in a 2 bedroom apartment, right on the beach, at the Buccaneer Motel. It was a small place, surrounded by other small places, and we were surprised to find that many of those small places are still in Treasure Island, but not the Buccaneer. Susie found it’s former address on a web site, and there is now a big condo building at that address. Oh well, we did enjoy the ride!

We came back to the room, had a Rum and Coke, and got ourselves ready for a 6:30 dinner reservation I made at an Italian Restaurant just down the road, You see, the day before Ash Wednesday in my Dad’s family was always celebrated as Carnaval, or, Fat Tuesday! The last day before Lent started, was always an occasion to eat a big Italian meal, of all your favorite things you’d miss during Lent. Years ago, we started carrying on the tradition that I remembered as a kid, and we’d have family and friends over, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday for a full Italian celebration. Well, it happens that for the last several years, we’ve been on the road traveling, so be it in Las Vegas, or Disney World, or Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, we try and celebrate this day by eating out Italian, and remembering the years we put on the party!

B5CB2B5C-9609-4D5E-A71E-77381BD6C287

We never remember to take before pictures of food!

So now we are back from having a wonderful meal at Villa Gallace, right here in Indian Rocks Beach. First, great mussels, then Susie had Rigatoni Bolognese, and I had Lasagna. A restaurant that has it’s roots in an immigrant from Italy who settled in NYC, before moving to the Sunshine State! Excellent food, great service, and a perfect Carnaval celebration! Oh, and guess where we ended the night? At the Tiki Bar at Jimmy Guana’s! A perfect end to a nice day!

4DCDCC57-E0A3-4030-8ECB-198B70329499

So, that’s it for today! It was a good day, that Susie and I enjoyed, and as we’ve often said, it’s our vacation, and we do what we enjoy. Good, bad, or indifferent. We may not do what other people would do here, but it’s what WE like to do. No, we are not into sports or hiking, and spending hours on our feet sightseeing is no longer our desire. We question ourselves sometimes, but then remember IT’S OUR VACATION! We pace ourselves, and do what we want. How boring the world would be if we were all the same with the same tastes and desires. That’s why cars come in different colors!

The weatherman says that there’s a 60% chance of snow in Ocean City on Saturday, with a high of 37 degrees! The rest of the week in Indian Rocks Beach is forecasted to be warm, with highs in the 80s! That’s what we came south for!!

See you tomorrow!

PS…did you see what somebody in the graphics department at the ABC TV station in Chicago did? OMG!

97743806-BF11-4E96-841A-DE32F23B4A5C

Kinda makes me want Chinese food!