Sunday, March 29, 2020

Betty's RV Park Friends in Stuart - Corona

We were very busy at the beginning of the month getting together with friends. Mike and Sherri left on Friday to head to the west coast to finish up their escape from winter. Several people from Betty's RV Park were coming to Stuart the following week to explore the area. We have also been busy with condo projects that I will blog about later. Of course, like everyone else in the country, we are dealing with the issues related to the coronavirus. 
On Tuesday, our Aussie friends Brian and Karen, who we met at Betty's last year, stopped by for a visit. We went to our go to visitors lunch spot on Hutchinson Island, Shuckers. We had a great time catching up with all our goings on during the last year. 
It was a beautiful, sunny Treasure Coast day. The wind was making some pretty big Atlantic waves so we decided to drive to Jupiter Island and show them how the 1% lives.
We went to Blowing Rock Preserve but, unfortunately, the tide had gone out so the waves were not blowing through the rocks. It was a great day for a walk on the beach.
Look at the size of this Portuguese man-of war we found on the beach. I sure would not want to tangle with that thing in the water. Brian and Karen stopped over for a toddy before heading north to explore a few of our Southern states. They have decided to stay in the USA rather than, as Karen said, take an 18 hour trip in a flying petri dish to get home.
On Wednesday we got together with more Betty's friends George and Nan, former RVers who now have a place in Stuart, along with Dave and Kathy who are still full-timing. Dave and Kathy started taking big red chair pictures when they discovered that every Canadian national park has them. So, they wanted all of us in this BIG chair.
The band at Terra Fermata was the Nouveaux Honkies, a local mother lovin, country folkin, blues band that has quite a following. Terra Fermata is an outdoor wine and beer only venue so we went to Emann Asian Gourmet for take-out and had dinner as we waited for the music to start 
Seated are Nan, Alica, Kathy, Jim and Nanc; standing are George, Dave and Jim. They have all been to Betty's. Jim and Alica, who we have never met, were at Betty's in the fall and learned that we had a place in Stuart. They had our number but never gave us a call. They said they looked for us everywhere they went hoping to run into us and recognized Nanc.  So they came over and introduced themselves. Another example of Betty's web. The lady photo bombing us in the back turned out to be from Meadville, PA.  Much of the discussion that evening was about the worsening coronavirus. 
On Thursday we decided we needed to vote early, something Pennsylvania never had, so we would not have to stand in line on election day. Turns out that was a good decision. We also went shopping to stock up since everything was quickly changing. That also turned out to be a good idea.
Thursday afternoon we went to lunch downtown at the Stuart Boathouse on the St. Lucie River. After lunch we went to the House of Refuge where George is a docent and he gave us a tour. (A future post.) 
We enjoy the Florida sunshine and beach before heading back to town. 
We did the Riverwalk along the water and, as always. we saw a few birds. The tide was out so you can see the oyster beds they have started to help clean the water.
After the walk we needed a drink so we checked out the Vine and Barley. As the name implies, it is a wine and beer bar. For wine you buy a card and then can select from several different wine taps. You insert your card and pick a two ounce, four ounce or full glass pour, very neat.
They also had a great beer selection. I decided to have a flight of beer and had a Kolsch, like I had in Germany, a hefeweizen a wheat bear, a local IPA and a Yeungling Hershey's Chocolate Porter. They were all very interesting and we are looking forward to going back once things open up again. After the wine and beer we needed something to eat so we ordered pizza from Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza and went back to our place for dinner. That was our last close contact with people and on the next day we began the recommended social distancing. 
 
Unlike the pictures you may have seen of the crowded beaches in Fort Lauderdale and Miami, here in Martin County it was very easy to stay away from people and still enjoy the beach.
I even caught my first fish as a Florida resident, a beautiful pompano. Unfortunately, as the beaches further south were closed our beaches became more crowded and are now closed unless you have a house on the water. 
One advantage to staying home is sitting on the patio and watching the birds. We were rewarded with this pair of painted buntings, a bird we have been trying to add to our list since we went on the road nearly thirteen years ago.
They have been back a couple times. This is the first time we have seen a new bird and the picture I took was better than the picture in the bird book. This is another thing we love about our new home.


CORONAVIRUS

We have taken advantage of having to be home all the time. I have been making sure I get my morning walk in so I'm logging a lot more miles than I was before when it was easier to find an excuse for not exercising. Of course, as always, Nanc does much more than I do. I have been working on building a bike rack and shelf in the garage and Nanc has been spring cleaning. 

The only shopping we have done are trips for groceries and going to Home Depot for materials for my projects. It is interesting how different stores are handling people. At Home Depot I had to wait on a taped mark and they were only letting in a few people at a time. One morning we went for the senior only shopping at Publix and will not do that again. Everyone there was in the high risk category and social distancing is not really possible in the aisles. Also, even though we were near the front of the line, there were no paper products on the shelves and many other items had not been stocked. We went back to the same store later in the day and it seemed they had more items out. One day we got "dressed up" and drove to Trader Joe's in Palm Beach Gardens. They were limiting the number of people so social distancing was easier and the shelves were full, but still no TP. 

During this time we have found a great new eatery, the Shelter Inn Place. Nanc has outdone herself with tasty, healthy meals. We have had seafood pasta, Cajun shrimp salad, linguini puttanesca, shrimp etouffee and pizza along with some great salads just to name a few. Even after two weeks there has been very few repeats. 

You know we always love live music and were happy to find Dan Baker, a former student for Washington, is doing a live jazz and blues guitar show on Facebook every evening around 7:00. Dan is one of those people who lost his income as a musician when the restaurants had to close, so he has a Paypal account for donations. Join our Facebook watch party a help Dan and his family get through this crisis.

Lastly, stay healthy and WASH YOUR HANDS!!!!!!

Sunday, March 15, 2020

More Visitors from Up North

We continue to enjoy our new home and sharing it with friends. While we have a few things that need to be done around the house, it really does feel like home. It is only 1200 square feet but after 12 years of living in a 300 square foot motorhome it is like living in a giant mansion. 
Our latest visitors were Mike and Sherri. They have visited us at different places around the country as we've traveled and we've stayed at their cottage many times so we were looking forward to showing them around our new hometown. We seem to have developed a list of go to places when we have guests. Here they are on the St. Lucie River Riverwalk in downtown Stuart.
Another place we knew they would enjoy is the Heathcote Botanical Garden's display of bonsai trees. We have been there before and love going back. This tree, a Dwarf Jade Elephant Tree, has been in training since 1957, making it the oldest in the collection. They call it the "Mother Tree". 
This gecko was in full mating mode. I did not see him attracting any females, but he attracted us.
We saw this flowering bougainvillea a month ago when we were here with Georgie. Check it out a couple posts ago and see how much more it has bloomed. 
Once again people were in the garden working on the bonsai. The curator (left) was preparing to transport this tree to Epcot to be displayed.
They were picking all the brown or damaged leaves off the tree before sending it to Epcot and asked us to help find any and pinch them off.
There were different flowers in bloom from when we were here a month ago. Spring is well on its way here in South Florida.
The Japanese Garden at Heathcote is very neat.
Here we are with Mike and Sherri at Shuckers. This is one of the few places in the area where you can dine right on the Atlantic. The prices are reasonable, so it has become a go to place for our visitors.
Another day Mike and I surf fished on Jupiter Island. It was a very windy day. The fishing was fine, but not so the catching. The ladies stayed up near the dune out of the wind.
I think they were online playing Words with Friends with each other:). After a great visit, on Friday we had breakfast after which Mike and Sherri headed to the west coast to go to a Pirate spring training game. The Buccos were able to clutch defeat from the jaws of victory.
One of the resident herons at Lexington Lakes. 
Just an update on how we are handling the corona scare. We posted this sign in the guest bathroom as a reminder to our guests. Mary Lou who was scheduled to come down this month has cancelled her trip. Since this pandemic is nothing to sneeze at, we will be rescheduling our April trip to Mexico to December. Because we usually dine out so often we had to fill our larder with non-perishables. 

On another stix and brix note, we took advantage of lower interest rates and refinanced our condo loan. It will save us around a $100 a month, but now we have to move the date of the mortgage burning party from February 2049 to May 2050. Please adjust your calendars accordingly.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Friends, Family. and a Pirate

I can't believe we have been home for a month. Our friend Georgie was here for a week at the beginning of the month, our last post. Since then we have been super busy doing things in the condo installing a new light in the guest bathroom, repairing a damaged closet door and hanging more pictures than I think are in the Louvre. We also got together with friends and family and Nanc had cataract surgery. 
On the eleventh we drove to Ocala for a celebration of life for our friend Beth who passed away at the Florida Keys Elks in December. Several other friends from the the Elks were also there. It was a great tribute to a wonderful lady. Here are Jim, Nanc, Sue, Dennis, Dick (Beth's husband), Lance Shawna, Kathy and Joe.  
On Valentine's Day Rick and Denise flew south for a long week end of checking out our new hometown.
On Saturday my cousin Missy and her husband Marty, who are enjoying their first year of being retired snowbirds in Florida, came over to join us. They are spending the winter in Okeechobee and loving it.
We all went to Shrimpers in Port Salerno for lunch and then checked out a few shops and the many boats in the harbor. One was a huge yacht that had to be over 60 feet long.
If it's Sunday in Stuart it is time for the Green Market and Rock' N Riverwalk. As always there was a great band to entertain the crowd. We love downtown Stuart but this sign sure describes the two roundabouts we drive through to get there. Both intersections have five roads and a railroad track to navigate to get to the action part of town. Another thing we like about Stuart, there are hundreds of FREE parking spots.
That evening we went to Sailor's Return for a sunset dinner and more boat watching. Unfortunately, the clouds covered most of the setting sun so it was not very good.
We did had a great meal right on the harbor and the place was rockin with many people and a great band. 
The riverwalk on the St Lucie River is very neat even at night with the lights on the Roosevelt Bridge.
On Monday Rick and Denise had a late afternoon flight so we had time to check out Worth Avenue with all its very high end shops. I'm not much for the shopping but I do love seeing all the expensive cars. While Rick and Denise's visit was a short one, we did a lot including a trip to the beach where I failed to take any pictures.
And here is the pirate. On Thursday Nanc had cataract surgery. I was disappointed with the clear eye patch because it took away from the pirate look I was expecting. The prep and follow up required several doctor's visits. She has one more and hopes to be totally released.
After one day the patch was gone and she was allowed a glass of wine. She has been very happy with the results, but not happy that she can't wear any eye makeup for a few weeks. A small price to pay for much better vision.
We love seeing the birds here in Florida. This fellow has been roaming around Lexington Lakes. One day Nanc and Denise saw him eat a little gecko.
Another weekend and another festival in downtown Stuart. Only a couple weeks after the ArtsFest in Memorial Park. This one was the 30th Annual Downtown Stuart Art Festival and was much larger with nearly 200 artisans. I like the pipe sculptures, a big variety of whimsical pieces. 
This picture was near the end of the day and does not show the crowd. During the last weekend of March there is another event, the Downtown Stuart Craft Fair. We were not here for that one last year and are looking forward to checking it out. 
More neighborhood birds. These ibises are the most common birds we see right outside our doors. March has arrived and we are looking forward to more visitors from up north this month.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Good Times in Stuart with Friends

On Friday, January 31st we returned home to Stuart. On Sunday our friend Georgie flew in from WashPA for a week of sunshine and warm weather. We had a few things we wanted to share with her in our part of Florida, the Treasure Coast. 
Georgie and Nanc at Heathcote Botanical Gardens in Ft. Pierce. We had been there for the evening Christmas display with Richard and Valerie in 2018 and wanted to return to see the bonsai gallery during the day. Notice Nanc is wearing glasses as she is getting ready for cataract surgery on the 20th. 
The James J. Smith Bonsai Gallery at Heathcote was a gift from Jim in 2009. It is the largest collection of bonsai in the country. The day we were there the volunteer caretakers were working on the trees and they were very happy to stop and answer any questions and explain the whole process.
The bonsai come in many different shapes and sizes. This one, a dwarf jade, is called the logo tree as it is the symbol of the garden. 
A flowering bougainvillea is a great example of a cascading tree. Each plant has a watering system. On the right is a smaller tree with a big trunk. The features of each tree are made by wrapping the branches with wire to guide how it grows. 
This is a forest tree with multiple trunks from one plant making it look like a small forest. You can see the small cabin in the woods.
Another forest tree, but this one is in a shallow bowl tree. There is very little soil to hold the tree in place.
All the plants are displayed on pedestals for easy viewing. They are left outdoors year round and the only precaution they take is to put them on the ground if a hurricane is heading their way.
This tree had broken out of its pot,  which rarely happens. Usually every five years the tree is removed from the pot and most of the roots are cut off and then it goes back into the same pot.
The slanted trunk is another common way they are developed. This one also had a very unique pot. Another unique feature of this gallery is that many of the plants are native to the area. This is a wonderful collection of beautiful bonsai and well worth a visit to Ft. Pierce.
For me the bonsai gallery was the main reason to visit the botanical garden but the grounds do have a great collection of regular sized native plants. Several were blooming as it is already spring here on the Treasure Coast.
A bit of whimsical garden art made out of old rakes, hoes and shovels.
This is a different looking sable palm with its triple crown. Heathcote is well worth a visit and the drive north along the Indian River is beautiful.
Another day we went to the Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge on the north end of Jupiter Island. Georgie and Nanc walking on the beach looking for shells. I did find a couple more small sharks teeth.
One reason I did not venture in to the water. I sure would not want to get stung by one of these. It is also shark season in Florida with many right near the shore. I read that a local fisherman caught 12 in one day surf fishing and a 20 foot Great White was seen by divers just off shore in Palm Beach. 
While walking on the beach we witnessed one of the most phenomenal things we have ever seen, a fish feeding frenzy right on the shore. There were thousands of croakers being chased and eaten by hundreds of blue fish with a couple sharks in very shallow water just beyond the first breaker.
Surprisingly, there were very few birds picking at the remains even though there were many croakers with one bite taken out of them in the water.
We watched for a half hour and the frenzy was still going on when we got tired and left. A local guy who was standing with us said he had never seen anything like it and asked me to send him a picture. He later contacted me for more pictures to give to the local bait shop.
Here are a few more pictures and a link to a short You Tube video 
Look closely and you can see a blue fish on the left side of this picture. In all the years of being on the beach we have never seen anything like this. 
Another day we drove to Hutchinson Island to check out the beach there. It was a bit windy so there were very few people on the beach, but the water was beautiful.
Look who showed up in Stuart, John and Patrice. They were escaping the cold up north with a visit to South Florida and came by to see our new place. We all went to Shucker's for lunch overlooking the Atlantic. It was a fun afternoon showing them around our new hometown and getting caught up with what we have all been doing.
On Saturday, Georgie, Nanc and I went to ArtsFest in Memorial Park near downtown Stuart. It was a very good show with nearly 100 artisans selling many different kinds of work. See, you can have a rainbow without any rain.(-:
A local group had several raptures on display. I felt like this owl was staring right through me.
On Georgie's last evening she picked the Fresh Catch for dinner. We had a great meal and the music with Dave Goodman was wonderful. It sure was a fun week showing our friends around the area. It seems like people up north like coming south in the winter and we are already looking forward to more visitors.
On our way back home after dropping Georgie at the airport we got stopped on the draw bridge in Jupiter. At least we had a great view of the Jupiter Lighthouse.
Sunday evening was a full moon party at the Pelican Cafe downtown on the St. Lucie River. We met George and Nan for dinner to watch the moon rise and listen to some music. Hate to complain but it was way to windy and chilly to sit outdoors, but it was great seeing them for the first time in 2020.  

Since that week we did an overnight road trip and have more visitors to write about in the next post. We are getting more comfortable and loving our new home.