About to Fall

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I hadn’t put two and two together until a friend posted this photo of Imogene Trail in Ouray, CO yesterday evening. This morning I noticed the Google doodle honoring the Autumnal Equinox today at 3:02 pm Central time. As of this moment, it is fall.

Fall???
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Holding Pattern

Hello there! I know it’s been a while since I’ve checked in, but since last time a lot has happened:
1. We’ve moved into our motorhome full-time. The possessions we chose to keep, and our cold-weather clothes and blankets, are in a smallish-ish climate-controlled storage unit. We promised ourselves a review and edit in the spring.
2. We have been staying in a nice RV park near Lake Travis in Austin (at a local park we like for this past month. It’s been a great location as we completed obligations with family and dear friends. But…I’ve learned that one month in one place may be too long. There’s a bit of a “Peyton Place” vibe I’ve detected….
3. I got to go to both Wisconsin and Michigan to see my sisters for our second reunion. We were in a sweet condo, on a nice sand beach on Lake Michigan. The water was warm, surprisingly calm, and great swimming – like an ocean, minus the salt! Cool weather, sweet harbor towns to explore with my sisters, and early morning solitary walks where I saw all kinds of guest cottages. It was a treat!

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4. When I returned home, the weather went from Texas HOT… to HADES HOT. Just like Stevie Wonder’s 1980 album, August was Hotter Than July!
5. We’ve bought ourselves bicycles, kind of a sport-cruiser blend… but it’s too dang hot to ride them except early, early, early in the morning! Like a kid at Christmas, I can’t wait to get up each morning to have coffee and then go ride! Well – not that I was drinking coffee when I was a kid… you know what I mean!
6. This coming Wednesday we finally head north to cooler weather! First stop, Madrid, an old mining town outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico. There is a Gypsy Festival on Saturday, and you know I don’t want to miss out on that! There will also be dear friends, great meals together, much cooler weather, a Nia Technique class or two, and concocting cocktails in the high-desert. I promise you some great photos.

Till next time!
XO Donna

The Disney Miscalculation

From the quiet beaches of the Gulf Coast we headed inland to meet our friends Mike and Laura at Disney in Orlando.

IMG_0928When I tell you that it was easy to find our way to Disney, and to the Camp Wilderness Campground, it’s an understatement… Disney’s roads and signage are the best anywhere.

We were greeted enthusiastically, checked in quickly, and there was even a place to unhitch our tow-car. Disney also thinks of everything.  In just minutes we were backed into our cozy spot among the tall pines. When I looked around, I was a little surprised it was so crowded.

The next morning we walked two blocks to the shuttle-bus stop, and in minutes we were at the docks to catch a ferry across the lake to Magic Kingdom – Mike had planned an easy day of wandering around. He has been a vacation-club member forever, and he really enjoys off-season times. We were excited to have him as our tour guide, and I was excited to spend time with Laura.

Disclaimer: If you can think of nothing you enjoy more than taking your kiddos, or your grands, to Disney for a few days… bless you. And, skip the next three paragraphs.
If, however, you’re of the other school of thought, read on
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Disembarking the ferry and heading toward the security gate into Magic Kingdom, I noticed there were lots of families, with lots of little ones, and all with strollers. LOTS and LOTS of them. Maybe it wouldn’t be as crowded as this was looking… Spring Break was over, after all. Right?

IMG_0837But when we got through security and turned the corner onto Main Street, USA, there were thousands of people already inside! I was hit with a wave of claustrophobia, and I needed a  minute to regain my composure. We’d obviously miscalculated.

I took a photo, and texted my sister, Andee: “I WAS WRONG. THERE IS A HELL.”
With her usual sarcasm (a trait we share) she replied: “What the hell are YOU doing there when the WHOLE WORLD is on Spring Break?”  That was a darn good question.

In an attempt to get out of the fray – strollers can be lethal weapons – we looked for an upscale restaurant where we could have a calm lunch and a cocktail. The meal was disappointing, to say the least, and made even more so because the restaurant didn’t serve wine or beer.
Texting my sister again, “Andee, they don’t seem to serve cocktails here… ”
“Of course not!” she replied. “And probably a good thing… parents would all get drunk!”  I could see why.

We’d just finished lunch when Mike and Laura arrived, and we set off to do more adult-oriented things. We had dinner reservations at the Hollywood Brown Derby Restaurant inspired by the one built in CA in 1928.  We took a shuttle from Magic Kingdom to Hollywood Studios and then strolled around taking it all in.  There was so much to see, including a farmers market!

IMG_5471We arrived at Brown Derby early, and decided to sit on their outdoor patio, have a drink, and people-watch. The service, the ambiance, and the quality of the classic cocktails were all perfection.  When we went in for dinner, I saw that the walls are covered in B&W caricatures of old Hollywood stars. Laura and I stood there trying to name as many as we could.  We were shown to a very comfy booth, which was quieter, enabling us to carry on a conversation. And the food. I owed it to my sister to take a photo and tell her, “I am in HEAVEN!”

IMG_5469I will say that starting off thrown into Disney’s Magic Kingdom made us appreciate the other parks even more.  And I learned a valuable lesson: find out when Spring Break or Christmas Break ends for all of the eastern states before scheduling a trip here.

Unless, of course, you can think of nothing you’d enjoy more.
XO Donna

Paradise Found

We’ve been home for a month now, and it has rained 90% of the time.  Every day I check my weather app  (I am becoming a glutton for punishment)  and see that it is lovely in Key West, sunny and 80. I could be strolling with the gypsy chickens and sipping a Cuban coffee… Continue reading

Just Us Chickens

Ain’t nobody here but us chickens
Ain’t nobody here at all
So calm yourself and stop that fuss
There ain’t nobody here but us…
1947 Louis Jordan

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I met my first gypsy chicken, that’s what they call them down there, when we pulled into the RV park in Key West. Well, actually, the park is on Stock Island…  just a kiss away.  I thought the greeting committee – three hens and a rooster – were someone’s wandering  pets.It wasn’t until we went to dinner at Blue Heaven the next evening and there were hens and chicks loitering under tables hoping for treats, and roosters crowing from the tree-tops, that I realized the chickens ‘were a thing!’

I noticed more and more of them at the RV park, where they’d emerge from under the shade of the RVs, curious to see what you were doing and if you had food to share. They are brave, I’ll give them that. A large, gleaming rooster walked right up to me as we strolled down a street with Cuban coffees and a bag of plantain chips. He knew what that crinkling and crunching sound were. Of course I shared, and in return, he posed for me.

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Not everyone loves the gypsy chickens, as you can imagine. They are messy, and the roosters crow at all hours of the day and night – nope, they don’t only crow at sunrise. And since they have no natural predators, they strut around like, well… Mick Jagger.  The residents are prohibited from shooting them because of laws dating back to voodoo practices among the Haitian settlers. Nor would they make good eating, since they are wild, feral chickens.

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It seems that every few years there is a push to get rid of the chickens, but there is always a push-back from the people who like them and the pest control they provide,  keeping scorpions and cockroaches at bay. AND the fact that the tourists really enjoy them doesn’t go unnoticed. They do lend an exotic Caribbean feel to the island.
I can’t imagine the island with all of the chickens gone… it wouldn’t be the same at all.

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The chickens were a part of what made our stay there so enjoyable. That, and Blue Heaven Restaurant (the outdoor courtyard was pictured above the pie) with it’s colorful history, our amiable waiter, Rocky, and their divinely inspired Key Lime Pie.

XO Donna

 

72 Hours Out

As I’ve run into both friends, and acquaintances, over this past month, when they ask what I’m doing, I tell them about our upcoming trip. Their reactions vary greatly… from excitement, to being envious, to being flat-out frightened by the whole idea. I ask them why they feel that way, and they tell me that they dislike the idea of giving up all of their possessions,  and of having to be in new places, meeting new people all of the time.

I can understand that… it is stepping off the ledge of all that is familiar, and comfortable. But the trade-off is worth it for those of us with gypsy hearts. Like a turtle, I carry the comfortable and familiar with me everywhere I travel .

I believe that, except for a few psychopaths, people the world over all want the same things. The scenery may change, but you can look for those commonalities in everyone you meet. Just this week I met an ex-Marine, and of all things, we ended up talking about how much we both love the sound of birdsong early in the morning.

We will be in Destin, at Disney, then onto Tampa/St. Pete  before heading to Key Largo and Key West for a week.  I’ve got the Beach Boys song “Kokomo” playing in my mind. We have 2 stops planned so far for our return trip, but don’t really have details or reservations yet. Our schedule is… well, very tightly scheduled, and that makes me a teensy bit nervous, but this is more than a vacation,  it’s a test-run. If we make it through this 3,000+ mile, almost 30-day journey  in under 300 sq.ft. of living space,  it will be a miracle! Joking. Maybe. Yeah, joking, I have no doubts we will make it.

While we aren’t pioneers by any stretch of the imagination,  it will still be a learning experience for us.  If it’s as much fun as we hope, when we return we are selling our furniture, putting a few special things in storage, and when our lease is up in June we are going full-time.  If we are in your neighborhood, leave a comment and if possible, we’d love to meet you. Preferably for a cool drink with an umbrella in it!

XO Donna

19 Days Out

As we plan our trip to Florida, all sorts of stumbling blocks have shown up, followed immediately by (depending on how you look at it) serendipitous solutions… or just plain dumb luck.  I’d like to think there are guardian spirits out there who favor the adventurous and the flexible. Continue reading