Sunday, May 9, 2021

Leaving Shelter Inn Place - Mexico Vacation Dreams Riviera Cancun

Since getting our second Pfizer vaccine on February 13, we are feeling much safer so we have been out and about a bit more. We are now comfortable being in contact, while masked and social distancing, with people we know who have not had the shots. We have been out to dinner with friends, took in a movie and a local crafts festival. It sure was great going out to public events. All that said, we declared the official end of our stay at Shelter Inn Place on day 396, April 12, when we flew to Mexico for an eleven day vacation. 
We had lunch with of our upstairs neighbor Morgan and her cousin Chris who was visiting from Kansas while recovering from hip replacement surgery. We went to the Tide House, a newer restaurant overlooking a marina. The view was great, the food was okay but the service left a lot to be desired..
We also got together with my cousin Missy and her husband Marty, who were wintering near Lake Okeechobee. It was great getting caught up with what they have been doing this winter.  
On April 12 we flew from Miami to Cancun for the vacation we had originally scheduled for April 2020 and rescheduled for December 2020. As you can see our view for the stay was wonderful.
While we now live in Florida and have a pool, it was great being waited on by the wonderful staff  at Dreams Riviera Cancun.
Covid protocols were in place and included touchless menus using your phone. Portofino, a Mediterranean restaurant, was one of many restaurants we had to choose from every evening. Other restaurants served French, Mexican, Asian, Steak and Seafood cuisines.   Since the resort was operating at 60%, social distancing while eating was never a problem.
As always, the entertainment team had plenty of activities starting with a morning stretch session.
Water aerobics was another activity Nanc loved.
While only one restaurant, Bordeaux, had a casual elegance dress code, we dressed up every day. It sure was different after nearly 400 days of mostly shorts and t-shirts.
There was live music every evening at the Rendezvous Bar. This is something else we have really missed while at Shelter Inn Place.
A couple mornings we took advantage of room service and had breakfast on our veranda.
We had our own cabana a couple days by the pool. This gave us a needed break from all the sun.
Our view from the cabana. Dreams, unlike the Secrets resorts we prefer, allows kids. Not a big deal for the most part but we still prefer the adults only resorts..
Another evening, another dress up.
When we did not have a cabana we spent most of our time under the umbrella. We both got very tan, but not burned like some people we saw.
Another evening another dress up and a new piece of jewelry that brought a big smile.
It only rained one day and for us it did not matter as we had scheduled massages for that day. I guess having someone that close to us for over an hour really shows we have a lot of faith in the vaccine. Nanc even went back for a second one. 
The spa is located in these thatched roofed buildings. The water is part of the hydrotherapy cycle we went through before the massages. The cycle starts with a shower, followed by a dry sauna, steam bath, cold water plunge, three water jet stops for your legs, back and arms, a couple whirlpool areas for your feet, legs and body, and ends soaking in a warm bath with a cool towel over your face. It was so relaxing I did it three different days.   
The Love lock is for couples to show they will stick together. It's popular with the many couples who get married at the resort. After 51 plus years will did not feel the need to do it.
Another night, another dress up.
A couple days we took our morning walks on the beach. This neat sign board on the beach showed we were over 9000 km from Alaska but only 3100 from Peru.
Learning to make ceviche. Grouper, shrimp, tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, seasoning and lime juice. Served with tortilla chips.  VERY YUMMY!!!!! 
In order to return to the United States we needed a Covid test. We also had to complete a CDC and Mexican government questionnaire about our travels and contacts.
It was not a big deal, but it was strange having someone stick a swab very far into your nose. 
Our last day was Earth Day and they had a special celebration that included Mayan culture symbols related to the environment.
Nanc took part tossing a seed into the water to be carried away.
Enjoying a champagne, Nanc, and an iceberg, Jim, on our last day in Mexico. It was great getting away and being pampered by the wonderful staff at Dreams Riviera Cancun.
Almost every day we were there, there was at least one wedding. This night there were two, one by the pool and another on the beach terrace. Each day they set up for the wedding and when we got up the next morning everything was gone, only to be put up again that afternoon.
 
 On Earth Day evening the show was performed by the same people from the earlier celebration on the beach
The entertainment at these resorts is always great.
We had a special bottle of wine for our last dinner at Oceana. Our waiter, Alfredo Estrada, was fantastic. Great service, very entertaining and engaging.  
Back at Lex Lakes we had a going away party as some people were heading north for the summer. Lou and Lillian made lasagna while everyone else pitched in appetizers and side dishes. Our little happy hour sometimes turns into a feast!!
We started doing the happy hour gatherings a year ago with eight people social distancing. This week we had over twenty with almost everyone vaccinated, so we felt comfortable being close together outside.
On Friday after returning from Mexico we went to Stuart Boathouse with George and Nan. We had a great meal on the banks of the St. Lucie River. Slowly but surely we are happy to be getting back to the pre-covid normal.

COVID
While the number of cases has been going down, there have been 3,373,632 more people who have contracted  covid and 50,165 additional deaths in the US since our last post. That said, there is good news. When I last wrote nearly two months ago less that 100,000,000 people had gotten at least one shot and just over 10% where fully vaccinated. Today 31.1% are fully vaccinated and 245,799,333 doses have been administered. That is great progress but there are still way too many out there who are refusing to get the shot. This is only going to prolong the pain and suffering for millions of families.
PLEASE STAY SAFE AND HEALTHY EVERYONE!!!!

Friday, March 12, 2021

365 Days at Shelter Inn Place - Getting Out - Condo Projects

WOW!!!! It is so hard to believe this marks one year at Shelter Inn Place. Like most everyone on the planet, it seems like it has been much longer. While we pretty much are behaving the same way we have been the last year since getting both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, we now feel like the light at the end of the tunnel no longer feels like an oncoming train.
Our Lex Lakes driveway happy hour group is still gathering once a week. This week was a going away party for Claudia who has decided she does not like the heat and is moving back to snowy New Hampshire. Here are Nanc, Nick, Claudia, Hector and half of Joan giving her a farewell toast.
Jim, Mark, Cookie and Morgan enjoying the food and festivities.
Lillian, Lou and Diane. As you can see by the many bottles,it was a great send off. Lou made a special ouzo cappuccino and Lillian made biscotti to dip in it. Very Yummy!! 
A spider basket covered with dew and catching bugs on a foggy morning.
What do you do when you have a going away party and forget to bring out the champagne? Easy, the following week you get together in her driveway and salute her. Here are Jim, Lou, Lillian, Diane, Morgan, Mark, Cookie, Nanc and Jim sending warm cheers to chilly New Hampshire from sunny Florida.
A wood stork taking flight. It is neat seeing so much nature in or little community.
Another step closer to normal. On February 13 we got our second Pfizer vaccine. We are happy to report neither of us had any of the side effects we have heard so much about. After two weeks we should be at maximum immunity. That said, we will continue to wear masks, social distance and wash our hands. With the shot we will be able to go to places we have avoided for the last year. At this time we are planning to go to Mexico in April, as long as there are no new major out breaks.
We ventured to Riverbend Park near Jupiter for a nice day of bike riding on the many trails with George and Nan. (whose picture I failed to take). The park has over 10 miles of trails winding through the woods. After the ride we went to lunch at the Dive Bar in Jupiter. The dive in Dive Bar refers to scuba diving not the trashy place I was expecting. 
Into every life a little rain must fall. I took Opus for a 30 mile ride before Christmas and he ran like a top. The next time I went to the storage place, when I started the engine many lights and alarms went off. Turns out there was no anti-freeze. When I contacted our towing service they made arrangements to have it worked on at Cummins in Rivera Beach. Before Opus could be put on the hook he had to be winched out of his storage space facing against the fence. Good news, it was "only" the line running from the engine to the front. Bad news, we are paying for a repair while not using our rig. 
No rain this day. We went to our favorite beach in Hobe Sound for a day of sun and fishing. 
This guy came ashore in a very well equipped kayak that was set up for diving. He had been out over a mile diving for lobster.
He had a very successful day. The one on the left weighs four or five pounds. Unlike what we are used to up north, Florida lobsters do not have claws. It looks like a fun way to fish.
He did much better at catching than I did. Not even a bite. Still a great day on the beach in February. Nothing wrong with that.
Nancy's one dollar orchid she got at Winn-Dixie in the Keys last January. It had a couple flowers when she got it, but for most of the year it was a green stick with leaves. Nanc babied it and assured me it would bloom. It sure has, with several flowers and more on the way.
More proof we are feeling protected now that we have the vaccine. We ventured out to downtown Stuart for the arts festival. The crowd was much smaller then it has been the last couple years as winter visits are down over 20%. The vast majority of people were masked and the booths were spread out a bit more than in the past. It was great being out on a warm sunny February day. We even went to the theater to see Nomadland. There were only 10 people, counting us, so we were well spaced and felt safe.

THE PROJECT
When we hit the road in 2007 we got rid of almost everything we owned. One exception was our coffee table. It was special to us because it had been my parents' first kitchen table. When we bought our house we cut the legs down, stripped the paint, stained it and used it for over 25 years. It was the only piece of furniture we stored. When we bought our condo it was furnished and the old table did not really fit in.
Nanc wanted a place to hang our COP*R*CHEF pots and pans in the kitchen and after much thought we decided to use this small wall by the counter.
This was the table top before I tore it apart to see what I had to work with.
Sure did not look like much at this point. Since it was a work in progress, when we started we were not sure what it would look like when it was done.
Some new tools were needed. The first was a sander to remove the old stain. Using it made me realized I needed a workbench.......
......so I ordered a Black & Decker Workmate. I got a good price and the box shows why. It works great as a bench and can also be used as a vise.
I was able to clamp the wood down with an extra piece to guide the cuts, making them very straight.
The next step was staining the pieces to better match our kitchen cabinets. It was a trial and error job with the first stain not being the correct color. 
Finding the studs resulted in several holes in the wall that needed to be spackled and painted. Of course if you are painting one small wall, you might as well paint the whole kitchen.
With my old drill and level I mounted the boards to the wall with black screws we needed to order from Amazon. The placement was important so the pots and pans did not hit the newly painted wall. 
The finished job. The pans hang on decorative black hooks. For the lids I cut up the plate rack from the picture above. The two pieces at the top were from the side of the table. We are happy with the project and the way we repurposed the old table which has so many memories.  I thought this was the end of my work in the kitchen until I was told we need to install a copper back splash under the cabinets. 
Another condo project I checked off my honey do list was painting both bathrooms. They are both very small which in many ways make them harder to paint than a big room.

COVID
It is so sad looking at the Covid numbers. When we started our stay at Shelter Inn Place on March 13, 2020 the total cases were 1,666 and 45 deaths. At that point many people were saying it was not a big deal, no worse that the flu and would soon disappear. 365 days later all that early optimism and false information has been proven wrong. One year later totals in the United States are 29,286,720 cases and 530,829 deaths. Sadly, those numbers mean the US has over 20% of the world totals.  All that said the good news is last March the idea of a vaccine was just a wishful fantasy but as of today 98,203,893 people have gotten at least one shot and over 10% of the people have been fully vaccinated. We feel the country is heading in the right direction and, hopefully, by summer we will be near our old normal.
Please stay safe everyone.