Friday, March 8, 2019

Our First Visitors

After three weeks of scrubbing, polishing, buffing and just generally getting our new stix and brix in order we were finally ready to share our home with friends. We expect that living in warm, sunny Florida will make our new home a popular stop for our up north friends and the many people we have met during our nearly twelve years on the road who winter in Florida.
It is appropriate that our first visitor would be Georgie who made a personal mail delivery. Palm Beach International Airport is only 40 miles down I-95 from Stuart so it is an easy drive. It didn't take long for Georgie to figure out she did not need the coat and slacks down here. 
Of course, going out to dinner and listening to music is among our favorite things to do with Georgie. The first evening we went to the Fresh Catch which is just down the street form our condo for food and music. We had no sooner ordered our drinks and the lights went out. Unfortunately, the musician did not have an acoustic set and the lights never came back on, so this is the picture of Nanc and Georgie drinking in the dark.
Since the power never came back on we hopped in the CRV and went to Duffy's, a Florida sports bar chain that is another favorite of ours. Here are the ladies with those bright smiles to light the place up.
Nanc has been working me so hard that we had not been to the beach since we moved in. Having company made a visit to the Atlantic a priority. We did learn that we are only 20 minutes from the beach even during the very busy winter season.
We did a bit of the shelling stoop along the beach. We found some nice ones and I even found a couple sharks teeth, something I had never done before.
The birds were very willing to pose for a picture. Some of the beach looked like old coral.
We went to Jensen Beach so the ladies could do some shopping.  Sadly, or in my case gladly, we were too late and they were closed. Nanc did find this giant crawdad that wet our appetites for some of those Louisiana mudbugs.
Another day we went to Casa Giuseppis, a great little Italian restaurant just down the street from our place. The singer was doing old time Italian favorites. The bartender told us he had performed at Mar-a-Lago but we liked his music so we won't hold that against him.
On Saturday we hit the Stuart Arts Festival. These metal pipe sculptures were very neat.
The weather was perfect so we had a great time checking out the 200+ vendors. Downtown Stuart has a lot of great restaurants, shops and special events like this festival.
Saturday night we went to Shimpers in Port Solerno and you are not going to believe what happened, the power went off! Fortunately, we already had our meals that we enjoyed under the light of our cell phones placed on a glass. We sure hope this lights out thing is not a regular happening.
Sunday we did a pool day. The ladies soaked up the sun and I finally got to swim in the condo pool. Very nice!!
On Sunday we drove to Jupiter for the jazz society jam, but I had to check out the Robert Kraft crime scene that is being investigated by a special CSI - NFL unit:-)
As always the music was great. This week's special guest was once again Jerome Degey on guitar.
As usual the jam session was very lively. On violin is Eric Bindman, sax Phil DiRe, guitar George Lilly, and Rick Moore on the piano. 
We had a grand time listening to the jazz at the Double Roads Tavern in Jupiter.
Georgie had an afternoon flight back to Pittsburgh so we visited Palm Beach to see where the 1% shop. Worth Avenue is the Rodeo Drive of South Florida. There were actually models walking the streets modeling outfits that were available in the nearby shops. We passed, but Nanc did like a pair of $1450 high heels.
The trees were in full bloom. As you can see, there were not many people out shopping.
This store sold only kids stuff so the little ones will be properly prepared for the 1% lifestyle. I've seen a lot of men my age with that sweater on your back look and have been thinking dumping the t-shirts and adopting that style, NOT. 
Even the dogs are pampered here with this beautiful tile dog bar. We had a great visit with Georgie and had a chance to show her our new hometown. Having guests in the condo is much easier than having them in the RV.
More friends, George and Nan, stopped over to see our new place. We met them at Betty's a few years ago and the day we were out looking at condos back in December our paths crossed again. They bought a place about five minutes for ours so we already have friends living in Stuart.
I saw on Facebook that my cousin Missy and her husband Marty had arrived in Port St Lucie to visit Marty's sister Teresa and her husband Jay, so we invited them over. We had a great visit and dinner at the Dolphin Bar in Jensen Beach. It's great that we now know two couples who live in the area.

As I write, we are at Betty's RV Park in Abbeville, LA for a month. It was a little strange moving stuff back into Opus for the trip, but the RV still feels very much like home, even if it is now our second home.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Movin In

February sure has been a whirlwind time moving into our new home. Even though our place was furnished there was still a lot of stuff to buy. We also had several services that we needed to deal with including a couple repairs that had been pointed out during the home inspection. It is a big transition moving from a 360 square foot home on wheels to a 1250 square foot stix and brix. There are many services we did not want or need while on the road that we want now. Our intent is to become Floridians when we get back down here in November, so we will be doing a few things now that will provide proof that we are indeed residents. This will make it easier to get our driver's licences and get registered to vote. We sure don't want to miss the 2020 election.
One thing I failed to mention in the last post from the Elks was the January pasta dinner that was hosted by the campers at the Elks. Campground host Patty cooked the sauces. Yes, there was both meat and marinara and the campers provided the salad and desserts. We also worked as servers, cooks, waiters, dishwashers and busboys. Here are George, Linda, Beth, Nanc and Dennis working the line. We are happy to report we raised over $1,000 for the Children's Therapy Charity. 
On the first of February we left Tavernier under sunny skies, but they did not last. Nothing quite like driving Opus through Miami in a tropical downpour. The good thing was it slowed the rest of the traffic down. 
We arrived in Stuart and put Opus in long term storage for the first time since 2006, the year before we went on the road. Fortunately, the storage place is less than a half mile from our condo. We made three trips that afternoon. In addition to clothes, we wanted to make sure we removed any food that might invite unwanted bugs or critters. We have been back a couple more times to pick up more things as we settle into the new home. 
The first morning we went out to breakfast and then grocery shopping to fill our larder. How about this breakfast on the patio on a nice sunny February day in South Florida.
Our first dinner at home, one of Nanc's famous salads. For Valentine's Day we had one of our favorite home cooked meals, linguini with clam sauce. We also checked out local dining options. Two places, Hurricane Grill and Fresh Catch, are within walking distance of the condo. Giuseppe's, a great Italian restaurant, and Duffy's, a Florida Sports Bar chain, are also very close by. 

FLORIDA POWER AND LIGHT
The day after we closed on the condo we contacted FPL to have the service changed to our name. It was quick and easy setting up the account. This is a service that we have not needed since our house sold in November 2008. It was a surprise getting an electric bill before we even moved in. FPL advertises that they are some of the cheapest in the country, so we will see if that is true.

DISH NETWORK
One of the first things I wanted to do was discontinue our Dish Network service when we are in the condo, as cable is included in our HOA fees, but have it available when we travel. Simple right? No it is complex. In the end I did get what I wanted but only because our Dish equipment is so old. I was told since we rent the receiver I would have to return it and buy a new one. I asked if I could buy the one we already have and was told no. I then asked where I would turn in the old one and I was told it is so old that I could just throw it away. Really, you won't let me buy the equipment but you want me to throw it away? I need to talk to someone else. After talking to two more people, someone finally figured out how stupid that was and told me I could keep and use my old receiver and "pause" our service when we are at the condo at a cost of $5.00 a month. While it took some time on the phone, I will give a shout out to the Dish customer service person who finally figured it all out.

PNC Bank
As another step in establishing that we are Florida residents, we opened an account at the nearby, within walking distance, PNC Bank. We are in the process of having all our direct deposits changed from Washington Financial. Being a PNC customer will also give us free access to ATMs in a much larger area that we have now.

Nis Air
One of the issues found by the home inspector was the air handler needed annual maintenance to be cleaned. What the technician found was a slow leak of refrigerant. Fortunately, the A/C unit is newer as it was replaced in 2015. So the good news is the replacement part is still under warranty and we will only have to pay the labor. Also, since it appears to be a problem that happened since the home inspection, we turned in a claim with the warranty company that was included as part of the inspection. We are waiting to hear if they will pay the labor costs.  
High on our list of things we needed to have done was getting the couch, carpet and tile floors cleaned. ChemDry came two different days to get it all done. They did a through cleaning using only natural products, so now any dirt we find is ours.
Another biggie was pest control. While the HOA fees cover spraying the common areas we wanted to make sure no creepy crawly or flying critters get indoors. When the condos were built they put in a system of hoses in the walls so the insecticide can be easily pumped in. The old owner used the service and said they never saw a bug so we signed up for the same service. 
Our new place was also pre-wired for home security when it was built. The service was originally included in the HOA fees but so few people used it the condo association dropped it. In checking out our new community we found that several units use a security service. While this is something that we never had in any of our homes, we decided to sign up since our new place will be sitting empty for extended periods when we are traveling.
We don't have a view of any of the Lexington Lakes but we do see many different birds in the area. There is a resident hawk that we hear and/or see every day. Our neighbor told us her parrot had picked a hole in her screen and would stick its head out and one day the hawk swooped down and got it.
The sunsets sure aren't like those in the Keys but we do occasionally get a decent one from the patio. It sure has been great sitting outside and enjoying the warm Florida winter weather.  
Sure Nanc, I'll wash the windows, how hard can that be? Got the screens out and washed, wiped the frame down and washed the windows. Wait a minute, what is this sticky stuff all over the glass. I don't know what it was but I could only get it off using nail polish remover, one of the things the old owners had left behind. The little bit of window washing, four windows, turned into a three hour job! Oh well, happy spouse, happy house. 
We gave the futon and trundle bed in the extra bedrooms to Habitat Restore. The futon was shot and a trundle bed seemed to us to be something made for kids. Any guests we have will probably be more our age and we could not picture them dragging out the bottom bed and getting up out of it. 
With that in mind we went and bought a new guest bed and mattress. As they do, the salesman tried to steer us toward the most comfortable and most expensive mattress. I had to explain to him we did not want the guest bed to be "to comfortable" as that might encourage longer stays:-)
The guest bedroom with the new bedding. As I wrote earlier, we bought the place fully furnished. In my mind that meant we did not need to buy anything. Well, I was wrong again as Nanc insisted we get all new bedding and bath towels. Sure I knew WE would not be using that stuff except for rags, but did we really need all new stuff for the guests? Apparently we did, so we have done much more shopping than I like.  We are on a first name basis with the folks at Bed Bath Beyond.
Not everything came from local stores. Nanc also did some online shopping. That and the fact that she is learning her way around Stuart made me happy since I did not need to accompany her on every shopping adventure. 
Our time has not been all work and no play. In addition to the local restaurants we checked out, on Sunday we went to the Jupiter Jazz Society jam session at the Double Roads Tavern in Jupiter. This weeks featured artist was Guitarist Jerome Degey. 
We failed to get his name but the Jazz violinist was fantastic. Sunday jams that we have been to several times on our visits here are one of the great things about living in this area. You never know who will show up, but the music is always great.

Our new home is becoming more comfortable everyday. We have got a lot of things in order and it is starting to feel like our home. We still have a lot of stuff in Opus and a few boxes in WashPA that we need to make it look and feel like ours. This week we are looking forward to our first guest. More on that in the next post. 

Monday, February 4, 2019

Dive Museum and Good-Bye Keys

We wrapped up our longest stay, six weeks, in the Keys with many friends, great food and wonderful sunsets. It is always a fun time at the Elks with many of the same people being there every year.  
We have been driving passed the History of Diving Museum since our first visit in 2008, but have never stopped. Since we had a couple chilly, 60 degree, days we decided an indoor attraction was in order.
As soon as you walk through the door you have a chance to try on an old diving helmet. There was actually more room in there than I thought there would be.
The standard outfit used by many divers including the military. The air supply comes from a boat so the diver can stay down longer than someone using scuba gear.
An early diving bell. It only had the air held in the bell as it was lowered into the water. The diver would go to the bell to get fresh air that extended the time he could stay under. 
This display was about free diving, seeing how deep someone could go just by holding their breath. The current record holder, Herbert Nitsch, made it to a depth of 702 feet.
Some early diving helmets that had air pumped to them from the surface.
An exhibit on how the helmets have changed over the years.
Modern helmets have gotten smaller and less cumbersome.
A display of homemade helmets. Making your own became all the rage after an article in Popular Mechanics. Some were very sophisticated but most looked pretty shaky to me.
A display on underwater photography. Who remembers Sea Hunt starring Lloyd Bridges and the Jacque Cousteau underwater documentaries?
Another exhibit on treasure hunting with dives to old galleons that sank carrying gold and silver to Europe. This is a real silver bar.
Treasure diving using huge vacuums to suck up the gold and silver coins from the ocean floor.
Old hand pumps used to supply air to the divers. You sure had to trust the guy doing the pumping.
The Mark series of helmets were the standard for all military divers for many years.
Nanc checking out the fish on a coral reef. About as close to diving as she will ever get.
An art exhibit of the fish and animals seen on the reefs off the Keys. They were all done by local middle school students.
Atmospheric diving suits are designed for divers to go as deep as 2300 feet. To me they are like a one person submarine. I don't know why it took us so long to check out the diving museum in Islamorada. It is well worth a visit for an "in depth" look at the history of diving.
We took a drive to Marathon and while almost all the debris is gone from Hurricane Irma there are still many signs of the damage it did. This sailboat is in the same spot in someones yard that it was last year.
Love those Keys sunsets.
Our view from Opus changed our last week as Gary and Jean had to leave after she had a health scare. We sure wish her a speedy recovery.
The Elks is becoming more like a Keys resort with some new to them beach lounges. No, that is not snow piled up on the beach, just some sea foam.
The gang gathered in Gary and Jean's spot to send them a hello wave and tell them we missed them.
Still my favorite sunset view with the tiki hut.
Almost everyone was leaving on February 1 so we had one last happy hour gathering at the tiki hut. Top are Betty, Ron, Laurie, John, Linda, Judy (who was celebrating her birthday), Ray and Dennis. Bottom are George, Nanc, Sharon, Tim, Patty, Sue and John. Sorry I did not get pictures of everyone. It was a great stay with a bunch of fun people and we all paid our deposit for next January. Yes even us, we are not giving up this great spot in the Keys even though we have a stix and brix just up the road in Stuart.
Sam even stopped by to say good-bye until next year.
Out last Keys sunset until next time.

We are now at our new home in Stuart. It feels much more like home than the time we spent here after the closing. That was more like a working vacation. This time we stored Opus just down the road and made several trips moving our stuff. We sure have liked the weather so far. I am sitting on the patio to write this entry. If anyone is in the Stuart area give us a shout.