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Monday, December 31, 2018

Cedar Key vibe.......

7:51 am - Monday - December 31st - Cedar Key, FL - 66º F, 88% humidity, wind 5 mph out of the east by southeast......partly cloudy, but that means mostly sunny today!  Forecast high is 70º F.

We slept in Sunday, and deservedly so.  After 3 hard days of driving, and then a very full schedule our first day in Cedar Key we were exhausted.....I guess we're not 19 anymore.  We lazed around until well after 11 am when we finally got our act together to make the 1.5 mile walk into downtown Cedar Key for some coffee and pastry at the 1842 Daily Grind & Mercantile.  The walk into town revealed how much had changed in 6 years.  Our favorite coffee place then was Kona Joe's (sold 4-5 years ago, but the new owners never really got it going again), as well as our favorite dinner place, Blue Desert Cafe (owner retired after 21 years), were no longer in business, and another favorite breakfast place, Pat's, was also out of business.  The 1842 Daily Grind has come along in that intervening time, and has filled in the coffee/breakfast place hole.  On the other hand most of our other hangouts are still there.....Big Deck Raw Bar, Tony's Seafood, and Steamers.  Cedar Key looks a little the worse for wear after two direct hits by hurricanes, and another near miss this past fall.  Nonetheless, the spirit of Cedar Key still survives, and it is still a magical place that is near and dear to our hearts.

 An interesting combo....


It was still heavily overcast, and quite foggy at times as we walked slowly along the sidewalk into town.  As we passed by the Marathon gas station we noted the wonderful farmers market was no longer there, either....

 There used to be a farmer's market there in the left corner of the Marathon parking lot

......within 30 minutes we had arrived at the 1842 Daily Grind (where we enjoyed our gourmet meal the night before).  This is a very funky place, and we have already fallen in love with it, as well as the owners, Martin and Terry......






.....TLE ordered a cup of their 'Red Eye' coffee (one expresso shot) and a folded egg and cheese croissant sandwich, and I a large 'Red Eye' accompanied by a bagel with cream cheese.  We found our friends Krash and Karen had been there since 10:30 am.  We lingered and talked for about 40 minutes before continuing our walk down 2nd Street....

 Bonish Studio......owned by Pat Bonish who used to own Low Key Hideaway/Tiki Bar.  

......a couple of doors down from the 1842 is the home of Bonish Studio/Bar.  Pat has been a professional photographer for many years, but had little time for his passion while he and his wife Cindy owned and operated Low Key Hideway Motel and RV Resort (a couple of 'doors' down from Sunset Isle).  It is composed of a 5, or 6 unit motel, about 10 RV sites, and a wonderful Tiki Bar where we enjoyed dozens of wonderful sunsets, and made many friends.  It took all of their time, so they sold it about 3 years ago (it is still flourishing under the new owners) and bought a building in town to open a new business, which is really kind of three businesses in one......a very cool bar, a thrift shop section, and a studio to display Pat's photography.  In the past few weeks they have moved the 'Thrift/Gift Store' down the street a few more doors to a new location where it has room to expand


A very eclectic place

....after stopping in to talk to Pat at the 'studio', we walked down to say 'HI' to Cindy before making the 1.5 mile walk home.  We spent the afternoon relaxing, but around 5 pm we made our walk over to Low Key Hideaway/Tiki bar to watch the sunset, and have a couple of drinks....

 Out on the dock sipping a couple of vanilla porters....

 The famous Low Key Hideaway Tiki Bar


.....and there it is, the famous Cedar Key sunset....when we were here 6 years ago we spent 5 weeks and never saw a bad sunset......even with very few clouds you still get that amazingly long, beautiful sunset every night.....


.....so our first full day in Cedar Key is now in the books.  We are beginning to settle into the Cedar Key vibe once again.....life is good!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Sunday, December 30, 2018

At last........

8:43 am - Sunday - December 30th - Cedar Key, FL - 66º F, 93% humidity, wind 2 mph out of the east by southeast......foggy right now with a forecast high of 70º F.

As it turned out our driving distance to Cedar Key on Saturday was 176 miles.  We were moving out of our site at Cain Creekside RV Parke about 9 am, but first we had to ford some water.....apparently the pond had overflowed during the night covering the entrance road to our section, but it ended up only being about 12" deep, and we crossed without incident.....



.....initially I-75 was free flowing, but you just know something is going to happen to slow you down eventually....this is the nature of I-75.....


.....within 20 miles we were leaving Georgia in our rear view mirror and entering Florida for the first time in 6 years......


.....and, of course, Florida not to be outdone by Georgia, gave us some good old 'slow and go' at about the 85 mile mark into our day.....


....then it completely stopped, and when it began to move again it took us a good 30 minutes to cover just 3 miles......


.....we're imagining a large, multi car accident, but the actual issue was a motorist who was off the freeway, actually parked on the grass, who was trying to cool off the disc brakes on their SUV, and the attendant steam (smoke) resulted in what we call RPS.....Residual Pinhead Slowing.  Everyone had to slow way down, stopping in some cases, to see what was happening....oh the humanity!

Eventually we exited I-75 just southwest of Gainsville to SR-121 leaving us with 60+ miles to Cedar Key.  In Bronson, FL we transitioned from the 121 to the 24 which took us directly to Cedar Key.  As we approached the bridge taking us on to the island we suddenly saw our friends, Krash and Karen, standing on the side of the road waiving and welcoming us to Cedar Key....what a cool surprise!


As you can see from the picture above it was quite foggy around 1:07 pm as we crossed the bridge......


....eventually we saw the sign welcoming us to Cedar Key, and within another few hundred feet that very familiar, funky sign for Sunset Isle RV Park & Motel.....


.....this is our 3rd time at Sunset Isle RV Park, and for us it is the only place to stay in Cedar Key if your home is an RV.  From Sunset Isle it is a quick 1.5 mile walk to the center of town, and many fabulous restaurants, as well as the beach.  We are only a couple hundred feet from the water in our site (#60), which is a long pull through site....one of only 4 that will fit our coach and trailer without us having to drop the trailer.....perfect!




Within 40 minutes we were mostly set up, and made plans with Krash and Karen to meet them at '83 West', a restaurant on Dock Street on the waterfront, for a late lunch.  By the time we got there it was after 3 pm, and we were famished......


 Our favorite corner table!

....within minutes we had a couple of Yuengling drafts at our finger tips, and were waiting for our entrees.  Krash and Karen arrived about 20 minutes after us, and settled down to talk non-stop for about 90 minutes.  We first met Krash and Karen back in April of 2012 while visiting my sister who lived near Ann Arbor, Michigan at the time.  Karen had begun reading my fledgling blog, and asked if they could meet us.  We agreed and it was the beginning of a wonderful nomadic friendship.  We met again when we returned to Cedar Key in late December of 2012 when we spent over 5 weeks in this lovely, funky, quaint, sleepy, Gulf Coast fishing village.  We have hooked up with them twice more over the intervening years, but the last time we saw them was in Cape Blanco back in 2014.  They sort of made Cedar Key their winter home away from home each of the last 6 years, and it has been our dream to return to Cedar Key again and spend time with them and enjoying the quirkiness that is Cedar Key.

They had arranged an aggressive first day schedule for us....a late lunch at '83 West', a girls basketball tournament basketball final at the local Cedar Key School (K-HS) at 6 pm, and then a gourmet dinner at the 1842 Daily Grind and Mercantile on 2nd Street in downtown Cedar Key at 8 pm....

 From right to left: TLE, moi, Karen, Debbie (friend of Krash and Karen's), and Krash

 The girl's team finished in second place to a much larger school...it was a great game!



The game was over by 7:40 pm, so we drove home to pick up a bottle of wine for our gourmet dinner at the 1842 Daily Grind & Mercantile.  This place is normally a high end coffee shop during the day, but a few times a year they host a two seating (6 pm and 8 pm) gourmet dinner in the evening prepared by one of the co-owners, Martin.  He is a wonderful chef, and the food was exceptional.  There were three choices, and TLE and I chose the Shrimp & Crab Crepe topped with seared Sea Scollops and covered with Lobster Infused Bernaise sauce....



....by the time we finished dessert it was after 10:30 pm, and we were ready to head home and get some much needed rest.  We bid adieu to Krash, Karen and Debby and were home within 3 minutes.  What a great first day in Cedar Key.....what is in store for Sunday?

Thanks for stopping by!

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Saturday, December 29, 2018

The deluge......

7:37 am - Saturday - December 29th - Hahira, GA (just north of Valdosta) - 62º F, 96% humidity, wind  - CALM......cloudy today with a forecast high in Hahira of 71º F.....WOW!

I think many of you know how we avoid driving in the rain, or in the wind to the point we have paid for extra days at RV parks to get beyond rain and/or wind.  Sometimes there is nothing one can do about the weather and it is necessary to drive in it, and this trip south from Nashville is one of those times.  We needed to be in Cedar Key by the 29th, which is when one of our very rare reservations begins.  We don't make reservations as a rule, and where we are this morning (December 29th) is a great example.....we just drove in last night and managed to snag their last site, which alsoha ppened to be a 100' pull through site.  It always works out for us, but if you want to stay in Cedar Key, FL reservations are a must.  Even in this case we waited until the last minute to make the reservation and, once again, got the last site.  Anyway, in order to get to Cedar Key without pounding out two 350 days we had to leave Nashville a few hours after arriving home from SoCal.  By driving 150 miles Thursday we only had 500 miles to go to Cedar Key......two 250 mile days give, or take a few.

It rained all night Thursday, and was still raining Friday morning when we departed Chattanooga, TN at 9 am.  Within minutes of merging on to I-75 we entered the lovely state of Georgia.....



.....which also boasts some of the worst Interstate traffic in the nation.  This is our thrid time traversing the I-75 corridor through Georgia on our way to Florida, and each time the traffic has been worse......no matter what time of day we pass through.  It rained all day long with the exception of a few 15 minute segments where it was not raining........

 In between squalls....entering the Altanta traffic corridor

 See all the red?  Stoppage due to dozens of accidents on I-75, I-675 and I-475

....within 2 hours we were entering the Atlanta Traffic Hell......traffic in and around Atlanta is always bad, and then add in heavy rainfall most of the day and you get dozens of accidents on the various Interstates in and around Atlanta.  It took us 2 hours to traverse about 30 miles of heavily congested roads.  At one point our Garmin Trucker GPS re-routed us off the Interstates and on to surface streets to get us past most of the accidents......  


.....at last we came to a much needed Rest Area south of Atlanta and exited with scores of other vehicles to take a break from the rain and traffic.....


......as we moved south along the I-75 corridor we were smack dab in the middle of the storm front which stretched from far north all the way to the Florida panhandle.....


.....near the end of our 356 mile driving day (I know, right?) the rainfall intensified.....


.....at times visibility was reduced significantly.....



.....at last we arrived at Cain Creekside RV Park in the lovely, welcoming town of Hahira, GA, just 15 miles north of Valdosta.  When we were getting ready to leave Chattanooga TLE and I had discussed the need to be plugged in that night, so I had checked ahead to see if there was a Passport American park (50% off) near Valdosta.  Cain Creekside came up, so we made that our destination hoping we would get a site.....no reservations....and it worked out.  We arrived just before sundown, got our site paid for ($20), parked, hooked up to the 50 amp electrical pedestal, and began to relax.  TLE was amazing all day long checking out alternate routes, checking ahead for traffic accidents, and getting water, and snacks as needed.  In all we stopped at 3 Rest Areas for 15 minute breaks,  and our travel time was about 7.5 hours to cover 356 miles.  That's one of the longest driving days we have had in years, but now we only have 145 miles to Sunset Isle in Cedar Key where we will spend time with our very good friends Krash and Karen.

TLE was in bed by 9 pm, and I followed short time later....it continued raining throughout the night, but as I sit here this morning composing the skies are clearing and it promises to be a rain free drive to Cedar Key....fingers and toes crossed.

Thanks for stopping by!


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Friday, December 28, 2018

Home Sweet Home.....

7:02 am - Friday - December 28th - Chattanooga, TN - 52º F, humidity 92%, wind - CALM.......heavy cloud cover with continuous rain all night long and this morning. Forecast high for today in Chattanooga is 65º F, but we will not be here to see it.  We are continuing our drive southward to Cedar Key today.  We will probably get as far at Valdosta, GA today where the high will be 72º F, but we'll see how far we get with all the rain along our route.

In yesterday's 'Homecoming' blog I really covered Wednesday and Thursday in a 'Reader's Digest' kind of way......I'm pretty sure most of my readers know about, or have read Reader's Digest, but in case you have not I have provided a link.  Anyway, I took a 55 second video of Christmas morning at our son Chris' home which I just rediscovered this morning.  This video really gives you a flavor of what Hockwald gatherings are like......


.....there are typically '19' conversations in progress at all times!  Being home for Christmas this year was very special since we missed Christmas last year while working at the Grand Canyon.  So funny that we missed Christmas last year when we were only 300+ miles from home, but managed to get home when were over 2,000 miles from home this year!  

As TLE and I age being around family for these special times of year becomes more and more important.  Our children's families are expanding, and their children are growing so quickly.  The last time we were home two of our youngest grand children (Brayden and Jolene) did not even speak, and now they talk in complete sentences.....lol!

I really do not like to drive in the rain, but it appears that for the second consecutive day it will be so.  We could just sit still for another day, but sunny skies and warmer, drier weather await us in Cedar Key, so we will press steadily onward to arrive there by Saturday the 29th.  

It began raining about 15 minutes after we arrived in Chattanooga, and never stopped all night long.  TLE had left me setting up the DirecTV to go shopping in Walmart, and she did not know it was raining.  I sent her a text message while she was in the store to ask if she had worn a coat, and she replied she had not.  I advised her it was raining hard, and did she want me to bring her hooded rain jacket to her to which she replied "YES!', so I trundled into the store to find her just passing through the checkout line....perfect timing.  As we walked across the puddle covered parking lot with rain pelting us all the way to the Newell I put my arm around TLE and told her how much it means to me to have her with me on this journey.  Here we are walking in the rain in a strange parking lot to our home on wheels.......and, as strange as it may seem, it does feel like home no matter where it may be parked at the time.  Here we are in a place we have never been before, and yet it all seems so familiar.  The view may be different, but it still feels like home.  We go inside, close the curtains and we are home.....it's as simple as that.

We watched a recorded English Premier Soccer game, then a recorded Fraser (they make me laugh out loud) and were in bed by 8:30 pm.  We both woke up 10 hours later at 6:30 pm feeling refreshed and ready for a 300+ mile drive down to Valdosta today.  We are presently just over the border from Georgia and within minutes of leaving this Walmart parking we will be in that state for the rest of the day.

Thanks for stopping by!

When you shop Amazon, please use our link (below) to access their website.......we will appreciate every purchase you make using our Amazon Affiliate link, and  remember, using our link will not add one penny to your purchase, plus we will receive a small commission which helps defray our travel expenses to a small degree.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Homeward bound.....

7:22 am - Thursday - December 27th - Atlanta, GA - 46º , humidity 64%, wind 5 mph out of the east.....rain today with a forecast high pig 51º F.

We are in the Atlanta airport waiting for our 1 hour flight back to Nashville. No time to write more now,  but I will update later today!

6:20 pm - Thursday - December 27th - Chattanooga, TN - 53º F, 83% humidity, wind 6 mph out of the south.....raining as I write, but was not raining when we arrived at the Walmart, but it began raining within 10 minutes after we parked and leveled, but I get ahead of myself.

Our flight did not depart until 9:30 pm from John Wayne International, so we hung out at Tim and Laila's all day.  Sharon, Rod and Brayden came over for about 2 hours, and Kate with her three kids (Elijah, Charlise, and Jolene Rose) also came by.  We spent time sitting outside in the wonderful sun talking and laughing.  It was good to just spend time with them asking about their future plans.  Kate and Nick have bought their first RV....a 26' Travel Trailer (bumper pull), so another child has entered the RV world.  

Around 5:30 pm my oldest daughter, Meredith, stopped by to pick TLE and I up and ferry us to the airport.  We found a Rubio's near the airport and sat eating wonderful fish tacos and talking before she ran us the rest of the way to the airport about 7:45 pm.  We walked quickly through security as we had the coveted 'TSA Precheck' designation imprinted on our tickets.  By 9 pm they were boarding passengers on the SNA to ATL, and we were in the air by 9:26 pm.....

 Ready for takeoff...

.....it was a clear night, and I caught a picture of Mr. Moon off the port wing just after we were airborne........


....the Irvine city lights were amazing!


Of course we were flying to the Eastern Time Zone, and we lost 3 hours in time, added to the 4 hour flight time had us in Atlanta (ATL) by 4:20 am EDT.  We had a long hike from gate A-16, where we disembarked from the first leg of our trip, over to gate B-29 where we would catch a jet to Nashville at 8:26 am (a 3 hour layover).....after finding a place to sit until some of the food service places opened up for the day I took a short nap, and then about 5:25 am I walked around to see what was open.......

 Still 3 hours until our one hour flight to Nashville departs!

I found a little place to have some breakfast, which we ordered about 6:30 am.  By 7:56 am we were boarding our last flight of the day, and of our whirlwind trip home for Christmas.  The flight left on time and we were exiting the Delta Airlines jet in Nashville (SNA) about 8:30 am Central Time.  The drive back to the Elks Lodge took about 15 minutes, and within 10 minutes of arriving home I was in bed sleeping for about 2.5 hours.  I was up by 12 noon, and we were on the road by 12:18 pm to Chattanooga, TN where we planned to spend the night at a local Walmart Supercenter.  It rained on and off for the first hour, and then the wind took over.  The final blow was stop and go traffic for the last 20 miles to the Walmart....we arrived safe and sound at the Walmart about 5:30 pm.....what a long, long, long day!  Within 15 minutes of our arrival it began raining.....once again....and it rains as I write.  We left SNA on Wednesday night and arrived home Thursday morning, and are now in Chattanooga, TN for the night.


Stop and go traffic for the last 20 miles into Chattanooga

In two more days of driving we will arrive at Cedar Key, FL....one of our favorite places on earth where we will spend an abbreviated time of 6 days.....we had originally planned to spend a month, or more, but things change....I'll write more about that later.

Thanks for stopping by!

When you shop Amazon, please use our link (below) to access their website.......we will appreciate every purchase you make using our Amazon Affiliate link, and  remember, using our link will not add one penny to your purchase, plus we will receive a small commission which helps defray our travel expenses to a small degree.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Christmas Day.....

6:47 am - Wednesday - December 26th - Ontario, CA - 46 F, 71% humidity, wind 4 mph out of the north by northwest........sunny today with a forecast high of 66 F!  It is the day after Christmas and we are enjoying the early morning views of the local San Bernardino Mountains as I compose today's missive.  We will taking the 'red eye' back to Nashville at 9:30 pm.



Ahhhhh, Christmas morning, and our annual Christmas Brunch at Chris' home in Rancho Cucamonga, CA.  This has been our Christmas morning tradition for many years now.  Chris is an excellent home chef, and he makes one of the best Posole (Mexican Chicken Soup) I have ever eaten, and this year's batch was the best ever.  I am not, as a habit, a breakfast soup kind of person, but I am on Christmas morning.....oh yeah!

We were awake after only 5 hours of sleep, and getting ready to drive from Tim's home up to Chris'.....about a 15-20 minute drive....for brunch.  We arrived just before 9 am, and the rest of our family shortly thereafter.....


 Mimosas for everyone....



 Our oldest grand daughter, Cynthia and her family -  left to right: Cynthia, Jameson, Daniel Jr. and Daniel (husband)

 Our youngest daughter, Sharon, and her family - left to right: Rod, Brayden James, and Sharon

 Our middle daughter, Kate, and her family - left to right: Elijah, Kate, Nick (husband), Jolene, and Charlise

 Our youngest son, Tim and his wife, Laila who will give birth in about 4 weeks to our newest grandson, and 20th member of our family

 Our oldest son Chris (left) and his family -  left to right: Cynthia, Rochelle (wife), and Christopher


19 strong, and in about 4 weeks 20 strong

......we ate, laughed......there are always 14 conversations if progress when our family gets together, and I love it.....we opened presents and were especially attentive to the reactions of our young grand children and great grand children as they opened their Christmas treasures.  Soon it was time for our annual Christmas pictures.  Our growing family  is now 19 strong, with a new grandson (Crosby) to arrive in the next few weeks making us 20 strong.  As I look at the group picture above I cannot help but realize that for TLE and I joining forces 47+ years ago this picture would not exisit.....these relationships and families would not exist.  I cannot imagine it being otherwise.  It is both humbling and gratifying to see our children prospering and raising such wonderful families.

From Chris' home we hitched a ride with Kate and Nick back to their new home in the Jurupa Hills overlooking the Jurupa Valley.  This is the home they purchased after they sold the home we sold to them a few years ago....




.....I neglected to take any pictures, but here are a couple Kate posted on her Facebook page a while back......the house has a small footprint, but it three stories tall with a two car garage.  They have a wonderful west looking view of the Jurupa Valley, which will enable them to enjoy many wonderful sunsets for years to come.  The first picture is of the exterior of the home, and the second (a dinner party a while back) shows the view of the valley.

We hung out with Kate and her family until 1:30 pm when we made the drive back to Ontario for Christmas Dinner with Nick's family.  We had a lot of face time with our kids, grand kids, great grand kids, and inlaws.  By the time we reached Tim's home around 4:30 pm we had eaten way to much food, and were just ready to relax.  Tim turned on their Jacuzzi for TLE and I to enjoy and that is just what we did.  By 8:30 pm we were in bed trying catch up on a little 'shut eye' before our return flight Wednesday evening.  I'm sure there will be a few more naps Wednesday before we leave for the airport.

Our trip home has been everything for which I had hoped, and more.  Time is going by way too quickly, but life is good, and my heart is spilling over with happiness and satisfaction.

Thanks for stopping by!

When you shop Amazon, please use our link (below) to access their website.......we will appreciate every purchase you make using our Amazon Affiliate link, and  remember, using our link will not add one penny to your purchase, plus we will receive a small commission which helps defray our travel expenses to a small degree.