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

It’s pronounced Way-co

I am a fan of HGTV’s show “Fixer-Upper” with Chip and Joanna Gaines. I love their on-screen chemistry; it’s almost as good as Hepburn and Tracy… I love her style; very chic and comfortable (although a little over-wrought on the tchotchkes for me). I really admire the way she took a dream and manifested THIS… what an inspiration!

img_5231Waco is a three-hour drive from Austin, but since we are camping Not to far away, we decided to do a field trip/reconnaissance mission yesterday and check out two campgrounds AND the Gaines establishment, Magnolia.

It was easy to find – just look for the silos –  and as well put together as any of her homes. It was also very, very crowded. I hear it’s even more so on weekends. There was a short line at each gourmet food truck lining two sides of the “park,”  and there was a line to get in the door of the bakery. While there was no line to get into the beautiful market, it was a beehive once you walked through the doorway… it was BUZZING!

img_5233This compound is the only thing like it in Waco. It may be the only thing like it in the country, actually. We were starving, so we headed to the gourmet food trucks and began by ordering sandwiches, the Mr. trying out a barbeque sandwich and chips at one, while I ordered from an Airstream specializing in organic grilled cheese: Gouda, bacon, and basil on gluten-free bread, from another.

The young woman at the counter asked each customer where they were from, and was genuinely interested in their answer. I enjoyed listening to her conversations as I waited my turn. My food was delicious, heavenly, in fact! We shared a picnic table in a sunny spot as we ate, and enjoyed the blooming flowers and some world-class people watching.

img_5232This 1940’s-50’s Willis parked beside the silos intrigued the Mr. since his father had one when he was young, with wood panels. We’d love to have it now!

Both campgrounds turned out to be a bust, but the drive around Waco lifted our spirits and reminded us of Austin in the 1980’s. Great old architecture, lots of open space, no snarled traffic. The Brazil’s river and it’s bridges were a bridge to our past. We always wonder at each place we visit, could we live here? We’d need another visit, earlier in the week and earlier in the day (say 10:00 am) but Magnolia Market has definitely raised the bar here, and Waco is capable of rising to the occasion!

XO Donna

 

 

 

 

Frozen

Date: January 8

Location: West of Austin, TX

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As I write this, we are prepping for another 16 degree night at a park, “glamping” again. Why? Well, I’ll tell ya – we chose not to winterize our RV because here in Texas it can be in the high 70’s and then tumble down to the 30’s or 20’s in one day.

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