Friday, August 28, 2020

Beach, Hurricane and Voting

It is really hard to believe we have been at Shelter Inn Place for 169 days. We have the routine down pat getting up early before it is too hot and humid and doing our morning walk and run (Nanc). Next is breakfast and then two or three hours of reading the news on line. During this time we listen to music and avoid listening to any news. We have taken a couple day drives to explore the area. Heading ten miles west and we are in ranch and prairie country. Of course, heading east we are quickly on the Atlantic coast. Nanc continues to make sure that we have been eating healthy. 
It is the rainy season in Florida so almost every day we see huge clouds. The pattern seems to be if the wind is from the east the rain threat is in the morning and if it is from the west we get thundershowers and rain in the afternoon. Almost every evening when we are watching the local news the buzzer warning of severe weather in the viewing area goes off. These storm are usually smaller and localized somewhere in the viewing area that stretches 100 miles along the coast and inland to Lake Okeechobee. We have had a couple storms with what I call flash-bang thunder and lightning, very scary!
We did hit the beach again just to escape the boredom of staying home.
As you can see we had no trouble social distancing.
The day was full of sunshine but we watched as this big cloud got closer and closer. We decided to pack up just in time and the sky opened up with a heavy downpour. By the time we got home the sun was shining once again..
As I said in the last post, seeing the way things have been going in 2020 we would probably get a hurricane. Sure enough, at the beginning of the month we were in the "cone of uncertainty" for Hurricane Isaias. Since it was only a Cat 1 storm we decided to stay put. Here is what I learned about waiting for storms from a friend in Louisiana. "Waiting for a hurricane is like being stalked by a turtle." You get an early warning days before the storm, but you never know for sure how bad it will be until a few hours before landfall. In the above picture Isaias was raining and blowing just south of us.
The good news, we had accordion shutters installed last year so it only took about five minutes to shut each one. On Saturday I closed the three window shutters to have it done before it started to get windy and raining. As you can see it was still sunny.
The storm was expected to arrive Sunday night so I did not clear the patio or close that shutter until Sunday afternoon. The good news, Isaias stayed off shore about thirty miles from us and was "only" a tropical storm with winds about 50 mph. The bad news, it became a hurricane as it moved north and hit the Carolinas pretty hard. 
You can see why I like the accordion shutters. The original shutters required getting on a ladder and putting up one slat at a time. Also, we are supposed to remove the shutters within 10 days after the storm passes. It took me less time to do all four of our shutters than it took my neighbor to put up one panel. Our neighbors who have lived in Florida a long time said this was a good practice storm for us.
It is the rainy season and skies like this are very common. Usually the storms don't last very long, but they can bring a lot of rain, wind and lightening.
A heavy afternoon shower.....
...... followed by a beautiful sunset and.........
Nice rainbow.
This moth hatched on our patio door and stayed there drying its wings before taking flight.
Neat heron at Lexington Lakes.
When we became Florida residents in November we registered to vote at the same time. Voting here is is much easier than what we experienced our whole lives in PA. In March for the presidential only primary we voted early, an option we never had before. 
For the August 18th primary for local officials and our US House Representative the election was by party. For this election we opted for mail in voting. Thirty days before election day our ballots came in the mail giving us plenty of time to check out where each candidate stood on the issues important to us. 
We mailed our ballots on August 1st and were able to check on line to make sure they made it to the office. It was all very easy and we are looking forward to getting our vote in for the November election. 


Friday, July 24, 2020

13 years -- 134 Days


Thirteen years is how long it has been since we left WashPA and started our adventure of living in a house on wheels. In that time we have traveled to every state in the US and most of the Canadian provinces and territories. We have also vacationed and cruised to nine countries in the Caribbean, Central America and Europe. For all that time we were in tourist mode. 134 days is how long we have stayed at Shelter Inn Place. Wow, what a change! That said, we are very happy that we are in a stix and brix rather than Opus as many of those tourist things we love doing are either closed or open with very limited access. 

The last year has been a roller coaster of high highs and low lows. We only travel 1894 miles while spending only 140 days in Opus at only nine different parks. Last July we were in WashPA for a our three month stay. We did all the usual things we have done there every year, doctors and dentist for the last time there and getting together with our many friends and family. A real highlight while there was our eleven day trip to Europe for a Rhine River Cruise. In the middle of October we headed south with a stop to see Nanc's sister Michelle and her husband Keith before going to the Outer Banks for three weeks. One of those weeks was a wonderful celebration with friends and family of our 50th anniversary. From there it was a five day sprint to our place in Stuart for six weeks. It was great seeing friends George and Nan who also just bought a place in Stuart. Joe and Kathy were in an RV park near Stuart and spent a few nights at our place. Mark and Renita, who were visiting their daughter in St. Pete, came over for a couple nights so we could show them around our new hometown. We also flew to Mexico for a relaxing week at Secrets Capri and to DC to spend Christmas with Michelle and Keith. Overall, the 2019 part of this year had more highs than lows.

On January 1st we headed to the Florida Keys for a month long stay. While it was great seeing so many friends that was where things started going downhill. On January 7 we got the call that Michelle had passed away from the cancer she had been battling for three years. We flew to DC to spend time with Keith and attend the celebration of her life which was much too short. We headed back to Stuart in February looking forward to having visitors from up north who were escaping the winter chill. Georgie came down for a week and John and Patrice, who were staying near Miami, came up for lunch. We then drove to Ocala for a celebration of life for Beth, an RV friend who had passed away at the Elks in December. Next Rick and Denise came for a visit and while they were here we got together with Marty and Missy who were spending their first winter of retirement in Florida. At the beginning of March Mike and Sherri came down for a few nights. Soon after they left our Aussie friends Brian and Karen stopped for a visit and fulltime RVers Dave and Kathy come by. We had a great time showing all our friends around our new place. This is how we expected it would be when we bought a place in Florida, being able to share our new home with so many friends and family. Little did we know things were going to take a BIG change with the arrival of Covid-19.      
134 Days
As I wrote in the last couple posts, our stay at Shelter Inn Place started on Friday, March 13. Little did we know what that would portend.  I also wrote about a few projects we did in the condo, but for the most part we have been staying home. One thing we missed was a vacation to Mexico in April with Rick and Denise. Also, our friend Mary Lou, who used to have a place in Jupiter, had to cancel her plan to visit. During this time we received more sad news. In March our friend Celine from Quebec lost her battle with cancer, in May we learned our friend Ollie from Abbeville had passed and just this month Diane, whom I worked with in Washington, died unexpectedly. So thus far, 2020 has had way too many lows. 
We have tried to make the best of a bad situation while still keeping our distance from people. We have learned and taken advantage of technology, communicating by text, phone and face time with family and friends. We did go for a walk on the beach one day. Unlike the pictures you see of crowded Florida beaches, we had no problem social distancing.
Walking away from the parking lot we pretty much had the beach to ourselves.
When we first saw this dark spot in the water we thought it was seaweed. On closer inspection we discovered it was a massive school of silver minnows. We were surprised that there were not more fish feeding on them. We did learn there were sharks spotted not far off shore, thus no swimmers either. 
One good thing about being stuck here we have been getting plenty of exercise. We are up and out early nearly every morning for a walk or run (Nanc). I have built up to where I did a marathon last week, 26.2 miles in seven days. Not a real marathon but very good for me. This picture is a Sahara sunrise from the sand that had blown across the Atlantic from Africa.
It's the rainy season down here so we often have interesting sunsets. 
We got together for an Independence Day celebration with our Lex Lakes happy hour group. Hector was all decked out for the holiday. He is another morning walker and has a different coordinated outfit and shoes every day.
Cookie and Mark, no masks, with their daughters Rachel (black dress) and Leah and Rachel's friend Derrick. The new members of the group wore their masks and social distanced.
The rest of the group Jim, Diane, Morgan, Nick, Claudia and Nanc. It has been great getting together with this fun bunch.
Did I say it is the rainy season. Our 4th of July picnic had to move into the garage when the clouds moved in.
It really came down hard and after about 10 minutes I asked, Morgan did you close your car window? Well, not only had she not closed the window, the sun roof was also open. It was very wet but there was no real damage.
I have done a couple projects. This kitchen cabinet needed more storage space.
We installed double sliding shelves giving us a lot more storage space. Something you need here as we have learned we need to be prepared if there is a hurricane and the power goes out. 
The new shelves have much more space. I was happy we were able to buy a standard unit that fit with just a small bit of modification.
Another happy hour and a happy birthday to Cookie. 
This is the sofa that was here when we moved in. It had seen better days and was not very comfortable. Since we have been spending a lot of time on it we decided we needed a new one. We went to Rooms To Go for their Independence Day sale and ordered a new one. 
It was delivered by these two gentlemen who were very efficient bringing it in, unpacking it and putting it in place, all in less than five minutes. As you can see, masks were mandated and they did a great job.
Happy wife happy life. Nanc toasting the new couch.
We don't have to venture far to see birds here at Lexington Lakes. A beautiful spoonbill.

Lastly, our plans for the future ????????????????????  While we have no idea what we will be doing in the future, with everything else that has happened in 2020 we expect we will be experiencing a hurricane in the next two or three months.

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.