Sunday, June 21, 2020

100 Days at Shelter Inn Place

It sure has been a long time since I've done a post, but we have not been doing much to write about. Like everyone else our life has become like the movie Groundhog's Day. On March 13 we started our stay at Shelter Inn Place in response to Covid-19. On that day Florida had recorded 51 cases and two deaths while the US had 1,666 cases and 41 deaths. The information we had told us that worse times were ahead and that sure proved to be true. June 20 was day 100 at Shelter Inn Place and the numbers are unbelievable. Here in Florida we are in a surge and they are now reporting 85,854 cases and 3,061 deaths, meaning we are in the middle of a Covid-19 hot spot.  In the US totals are 2,226,282 cases with 119,244 deaths. It is so sad that we have done such a terrible job of controlling this compared to the rest of the world. While the US has about 4% of the world's population, these numbers represent 25% of the cases and deaths in the World. After a couple trips to the beach early on we have been pretty much limiting our outings to grocery shopping. Last week we thought we might try an outdoor restaurant, but then the Florida cases began to soar and this week three restaurants in the area have closed because employees have tested positive. Unfortunately, we have to rely on word of mouth and the media to learn if a place has infected employees as the Florida UN-health department does not report information on businesses with positive cases. 

So much for the sad news. On the bright side, the CRV is getting about three weeks to a gallon. We continue to have our weekly driveway social distancing happy hour with our neighbors. We have stayed in touch with friends and family on the phone and video chats. I have been walking (Nanc runs) five or six days a week and I'm up to over four miles a day. That and eating healthy has helped me lose some weight. That said, the first time we do go out to eat I'm getting a huge greasy burger and fried onion ring, things I never eat at home. We do enjoy seeing many different birds and other animals right in our backyard. We took advantage of so much free time and have been going through thousands of picture slides from years ago. There are a few posted below and more are on the way. I gave Nanc another haircut and she was happy with it. VERY important!!!!

At this point we are planning to remain in Stuart and not travel. It is strange, staying home most of the time is very different after being in tourist mode for twelve years. Of course, based on how 2020 has gone to this point, we are pretty sure we will have to evacuate for a hurricane some time this year. Opus is in storage and available if we do need to get out of town. 

We sure hope all our friends and family are staying safe and healthy during these crazy times. You don't hear it as much anymore, but you need to keep washing your hands, maintain social distancing and WEAR YOUR MASK!!!!!  
Check out the personalized masks we bought from Tidball's Sounds and Spirits in Bowling Green, KY.
We are still able to do some birding in our neighborhood. Here is a great blue heron taking flight.
Here is something you don't see very often, a anhinga standing on a goose's back to dry its wings.  The truth about this is at the end of the post.
Caught this osprey catching and carrying a fish from the lake. He flew to the top of a light pole to eat his lunch.
Muscovy ducks and ibises.
Look closely and see if you can find five different birds: heron, wood stork, ibis, spoonbill and anhinga. Saw them all together one morning.
The only visitors who come to the door are the local wildlife. I got a picture of this rabbit and we have also had lizards, frogs and a black snake.
We enjoyed the full moon raising over Lex Lakes.
For several weeks we watched Venus in the evening sky. It was by far the brightest thing in the sky after the moon.
This is our first time being in Florida at this time of year. We have always been here during the dry season so it was interesting to see what they mean by "the rainy season." We had a river in the back yard and water everywhere. Just south of here in Hobe Sound they had 30 inches of rain in ten days and in some places there is still water on the road a month later.
This is one of lakes after the rain. During the dry season those trees are several feet from the water. The water is still higher than normal.
When you get rain you also get rainbows. The worst part of the weather is the lightning. Florida is number one in the country for lightning strikes. Sure don't want to be out in that kind of weather.
A few of our old pictures. Our dog Petey enjoying a PBR.
When he was a little older. He was the only dog we ever had and after we had to put him down we decided we could never have a dog as great as Petey.
A couple old pictures of Nanc with different hair cuts. The shag look.
She finally found one she liked but it has gotten shorter and shorter.
My hair was often long but not always gray.

Well the goose the anhinga is standing on is a plastic decoy to scare birds away. Looks like it does not work very well.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

COVID 19 and a Staycation at Shelter Inn Place

We, like all the sane people in the world, are on an extended staycation at Shelter Inn Place. We have friends in the United States, Europe, Canada and Australia and they are all doing the same thing to try and stop the spread of the virus. Our Aussie friends Brian and Karen (last post) where contacted by their embassy and told there would be a mercy flight out of Los Angeles on April 17 and if they wanted to head home they needed to be there. They left the RV in Tennessee and high tailed it to LA. After an 18 hour flight, they are safely back in Brisbane where the government has quarantined them in a hotel for two weeks. In many cases, Canadian snowbirds had to head home early as their supplemental insurance did not cover pandemics. Once they made it home they had to self quarantine for fourteen days. Most of our RV friends are hunkered down where ever they can find an open RV park. With all this happening we are very happy we are in a stix and brix. It is so strange because unlike natural disasters, terrorist attacks and other human tragedies that tend to be localized, Covid-19 has touched the whole world.

We started our stay at home on Friday, March 13th. Who knows if that day was an omen, as we had no idea what we were in for. That morning we had an appointment at home to sign the final papers to refinance the condo at a lower rate, saving us over $100 a month. The notary was the last person we welcomed into our home. During the first week we did go to the beach a couple times and had no problem social distancing. One advantage to being in Florida is that the weather has been great allowing us to get outside in our little community everyday for our morning walks. Since I now do not have any excuses to skip exercising, I have gone from three or four days a week to six or seven. I have also increased my daily mileage from a couple miles a day to 3.5. As a result I have actually lost a few pounds the last six weeks. As always, Nanc does more than I do. I have taken advantage of all the free time to develop new skills and master some new technology. We have been enjoying our new home and getting some projects checked off the honey do list.
A few sights around Lexington Lakes. We love seeing the birds in our yard.
This guy was moving along the sidewalk fast enough that he would have had no problem beating the hare.
A Great Egret on the shore while an anhinga dries its wings. 
A Little Blue Heron waiting to leave his mark on our car. 
My biggest project was making a place to store our bikes and to put in a shelf for storage. This is what it looked like when we bought the place. The garage is very narrow put almost ten feet high.
I wasn't sure what was above the drywall so I started with two 2 x 4's attached to brackets attached to the concrete block. Unfortunately, I had an accident doing this part and hit my assistant, Nanc, in the head with a 2 x 4. Good thing she has a hard head and we aren't going out so no one saw her black eye.
The next step was attaching 2 x 4's to the first two boards and putting in hooks to hang the bikes.
That side was done and the bikes are now out of the way while still being easy to get down. Both bikes needed some work so I replaced all four tires and gave them a real good cleaning. We still have not ridden them, but have talked to our neighbor about the best places to ride in the area.
On the other side of the garage I attached a shelf to boards hanging from the ceiling. It is well over six feet high so even our tallest friends can walk under it without hitting their heads. I also plan to hang things on the walls, but that job can wait until I can browse Home Depot without a mask.
It doesn't show very well but the CRV fits easily under the bike rack and shelf.
Publix, our go to Florida grocery store, started early morning senior citizen hours so we figured we would give it a try. We did and while we appreciate them doing it, we won't be doing it again realizing that all the shoppers were people in the highest risk category for catching Covid-19. It also seemed like some things like fresh meats and fish were not yet out to sell. We have since found that afternoons during the week seem to be the best time to shop.
As things got worse, they began to recommend masks. Nanc found a piece of material in her mother's old sewing basket that Keith had sent. The sewing machine came with the condo when we bought the furnishings. Nanc got the manual out and in no time had it figured out so we are now protected when we shop.
Those who have known us a long time know Nanc is a great cook, but she rarely did.The story was, I would hide her Christmas presents in the oven knowing she would never find them. I must say she has outdone herself while passing our time at Shelter Inn Place. In six weeks we have only gotten take out a couple times because we have been eating healthy at home. Here she is serving up a wonderful (not so healthy) shrimp etouffee.
One thing we love that we thought we would be missing is live music. Soon after the Shelter In Place started, Dan Baker, a local Washington musician, who is out of work because the local restaurants where he  normally plays have closed, began Dinner with Dan. He has a live show on Facebook Monday thru Saturday at 7:00 and at 11:00 on Sunday for a Jazz Brunch. When we first started listening we put the phone in a cup to amplify the sound.
That was not working so well so I ordered a Blue Tooth speaker and now we get great live music with dinner. Dan is trying to survive the loss of work, so tune in at 7:00 for Dinner with Dan. Here is the link to his PayPal account if you would like to contribute. Also, the Sunday Brunch Bloody Mary's were great.
Our Sunday brunch. It tasted as great as it looks and is a healthy meal.
We may change the name from Shelter Inn Place to Tidball's. Shirts are from a music venue and bar we found in Bowling Green, Kentucky. If you are in the area stop by and say hi to John.
Another fantastic meal, fresh baked Mediterranean salmon salad. While the cook has been doing a great job, I buss the table and wash the pots and pans.
Another project was replacing our outdoor entry light. As you can see the plastic on the old one literally fell apart when I touched it.
I ordered a new one from Home Depot and with only a small bit of jury rigging I successfully got it up. This one is glass so I'm hoping I will never have to do it again.
Well, one successful light fixture job was followed by a complete failure. When I was pounding on the bike rack in the garage the globe on this hall light fell to the floor smashing into a million pieces. Turns out it is cheaper to buy a whole new light kit rather than just a globe. When the new one arrived I did not change the fixture I just replaced the globe. I tightened all three screws (or so I thought) but in less than ten minutes it came crashing to the floor. I'm back to square one on this job ordering another whole new light.
Tough times call for tough decisions so I got to do something else I had never done before.  I gave Nanc a haircut!!!!  It was slow and easy with both clippers and scissors. I could not believe how much hair I was cutting off. 
Well, here is the final result. Not bad for the first time.  No cuts to the skull, no nicked ears, a smooth transition form top to sides and most importantly a happy smile. 
Dealing with more new technology. We Zoomed for the first time on March 30th when we got together virtually with several other people to sing Happy Birthday to our sister-in-law Denise. Since then we had a couple zoom meet-ups with my cousin Chuckie and his wife Deb.
Denise and Rick joined us on the latest one. It is neat to see the people you are talking with. The only down side is you have to make sure you have your pants on. 
It has not been all long boring days around here, on Tuesday my phone gave a loud, shrill buzz with a tornado warning. This was followed by texts from our neighbors, a very loud alarm from our security system and a path on the TV showing the storm coming right over our place. Fortunately, it moved a bit south and spared us. There was not much damage and no injuries in our area, but at our friends George and Nan's complex a neighbor did have windows blow out. "They" claim tornadoes are rare in Florida. We sure hope so.
Like everyone else we are missing social interaction so the neighbors decided to have a social distancing happy hour in our driveways. It was a great time relaxing, having a toddy and getting caught up with everyone's Shelter Inn Place stories. Here are Nanc, Claudia, Diane, Mark, Cookie, Nick and Morgan. I think this is going to be a Hump Day tradition. 
Check out the pot of gold we found at the end of the rainbow. Actually, it was at our front door. We got a mystery care package in the mail with some much needed supplies: paper towels, toilet paper, kleenex, disposable gloves and disinfectant spray.  We thank the "anonymous" donor very much!! Life is Good!!!

Stay Safe, Stay Home, Stay Healthy and WASH YOUR HANDS!!!!!!

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.


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!!!!!!