Saturday, November 30, 2019

Moving to Stuart and Becoming Floridians

November has been an unbelievably busy month starting with our big 50th anniversary celebration on Hatteras Island. We left Avon on November 7th and drove to the Cummins dealer in Kenly, North Carolina for our annual service. From there we took four days and drove back home to Stuart. Once there we began the process of moving ALL our stuff into our Lexington Lakes condo and becoming Florida residents.
We did not realize how much stuff we had in Opus and the CRV which included several boxes we picked up this summer that have been stored in Georgie's basement since we left WashPA in 2007. In the first four days we made 10 trips to where Opus is stored to bring things home. It was almost like Christmas for Nanc finding things she did not remember we had saved.
Of course it was not all moving in and getting things in place. We also got together with Nan and George at the Pelican for this month's full-moon party. It was a great evening of food, music and just getting caught up on what we have all been doing since we left Florida last spring.  
A big part of moving in was making the condo look like ours and not some place we were staying for a few days. Here are a few before and after pictures. This is what we had when we moved in and.....
...this is what it looks like now. The furniture is the same but all the pictures on the walls are now ours. We had a lot of them hanging in Opus and taking them down sure made it hit home that we were moving on to a new phase of our lives.
We had moved the armoire into the bedroom and put this new wall unit in its place in the spring, But now it is full of our things. I sure did put a lot of holes in the walls.
This was the guest bedroom when we moved in with a futon that looked like it was going to swallow you alive if you dared sit on it. 
We purchased the bed, headboard and the not very comfortable guest room mattress in the spring. We moved the big picture from the living room and the two small pictures are ones that our friends Karen and George Pelkey bought from us when we sold things before going on the road. They gifted them back to us for our anniversary. Nanc was so happy to see them when she opened that gift and they fit in very well with the nautical theme.
This was the second extra bedroom when we moved in. We did not want too many guest beds....
.... sooo we turned it into an office. We moved the desk from our bedroom and bought a comfortable chair and shelves for more of our stuff. It's a nice room we both use and a place where I can watch sports without bothering Nanc.
Looking down the hallway the walls now have our things making the condo so comfortable for us. We still have some things to do, but we like the way our new home is shaping up.
More fun and music with friends. High on our list of reasons we love this area is the Sunday Jupiter Jazz Society jam sessions. Walking into the Double Roads Tavern on Sunday it felt like we had not missed a beat.
Joe and Kathy, who we met at the Florida Keys Elks a few years ago, are in the area for a couple weeks on their way south so they joined us for the music.
We have stayed at their place in Nevada so we had the chance to return the favor. They came over for Nanc's famous linguine and seafood dinner. 
We knew we had to become residents to take advantage of the tax breaks given to Floridian homeowners. Our first stop was the Martin County office to get our Declaration of Domicile where we had to swear that our condo was our permanent home. After nearly 73 years of being a Pennsylvanian that was a little strange. We had one very small snafu as we needed to change auto insurance companies since Erie doesn't insure vehicles in Florida.
After getting insurance through the agent we used for our homeowners policy, we were able to do everything else in two very painless stops. The first was the Department of Motor Vehicles where, in less than an hour and half, we both had our Florida driver's license, were registered to vote (to help turn Florida blue), got a new plate for the CRV and my free senior fishing license. Our second stop was the Martin County Property Appraiser's office to get our homestead exemption on the condo. Unlike some of the horror stories we had heard, the staff at both offices were very friendly, efficient and helpful. 
We opted for the Save the Turtles Florida plate. While our plan is to still travel in Opus in the summer, we are looking forward to becoming part of the Stuart community and learning more about our new hometown.
The Rockin' River concerts on Sundays are one of the things that made Stuart an attractive place to settle. There is a small farmers market and a concert 50 Sundays a year. This week was the Nouveaux Honkies, a band we saw last spring. As you can see, the place was packed.
Another thing we love is all the different birds we see in the area. This little blue heron had the place along the river to itself.
We went out to dinner with Joe and Kathy a few times and decided to get together for Thanksgiving. They came over on Wednesday and Kathy and Nanc went shopping while Joe and I checked out the new Ocean Republic Brewery. On Thanksgiving morning it was a short drive to Hutchinson Island for a walk on the beach. It is great having the ocean so close. What a beautiful way to spend the day.
For dinner we decided to stay home and cook rather than go out to dinner. Joe is a great cook and he prepared a pot of seafood stew.
No turkey for us when we can have mussels, crab, scallops and shrimp. It was a wonderful meals and a fun day with friends.
We are getting more settled into our new home everyday and loving it. We have been so busy we decided we need a break, so next month we are going to Mexico for a vacation. We are looking forward to just kickin back and relaxing.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Hatteras Island - Celebrating 50 years

When we lived in a stix and brix our go to beach vacation was Hatteras Island, part of Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Of course those vacations were always in the summer HIgh season. Once we went on the road in 2007 we decided that every chance we got we would stop at Hatteras on our way south. This is the seventh time in the last thirteen years we have been there in the fall. Not all of those stays have been wonderful, as we twice were run out by impending storms. Once we even had to drive through water covering the road, a very stressful trip. All that said, we love visiting there and so we are back again.
Our first stop was the welcome center in Kitty Hawk where they have a monument dedicated to a century of flight that we had not seen. It starts with the Wright brothers first flight, which occurred in Kitty Hawk in 1903, then documents major events in the first 100 years of aviation.  It's truly amazing to see in one place what has happened just in our lifetime.   
This year was our first time crossing the new Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet. As you can see the new bridge is much higher and the old one is being quickly demolished.
What a great view of the Atlantic as you approach Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge on highway 12. 
This stretch of highway used to be protected by a much higher dune but now often gets washed out when there is a strong northeast wind. Don't make the mistake this RVer made, the sand is very soft and has captured many weary travelers. 
My favorite Hatteras pastime is surf fishing. Last year was the worst, as I was totally shut out. As you can see, it was much better this year. 
Love the beautiful sunsets on Pamlico Sound. When Hurricane Dorian passed over this spot in September, it pushed all the water out of this little harbor in Avon.
This is something we have seen on all our recent visits. Older homes being raised to protect them from higher and higher storm surge.
The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the tallest in the United States. We were here in 1999 when they picked it up and moved it 1900 feet to save it from the encroaching ocean. We were not able to climb to the top this year as it closed for the season after Columbus Day.
Last year when we celebrated our 49th anniversary here we talked about how we would celebrate our 50th. Since Hatteras is such a very special place for us, we decided the best way to celebrate would be on Hatteras Island with a few friends and family. 
We were happy these very special people were willing to take the time from their busy schedules to join us at the beach for a week-long party. The first arrivals Phil, Rick, Denise, Patrice, John and Linda with Nanc enjoying a toddy and a beautiful rainbow.
Our house from the beach.
The recent storm did a lot of damage to the dunes here and many of them will soon be in harms way. This used to be a double dune covered with vegetation.
More people arrived and we had a great dinner at the Sandbar Grill in Buxton. Here are Nanc, Jim, Betty, Linda, Phil, Bill, Rick, Denise, Valerie and Richard.
The Steelers were playing on Monday night, so some people (Rick, Mike and John) kicked back and enjoyed the win over the Colts.....
....while others (Sherri, Nanc, Mary Lou, Gail and Phil) played games...,
.... while others (Judy, Denise, Georgie and Linda) enjoyed a toddy while catching up with what they had been up to lately.
Mikey and I took advantage of the beautiful weather and did some surf fishing. The fishing was great but the catching was just okay.
Our view of the Atlantic from the top deck. We were lucky to have a house with an unobstructed view of the ocean.  Unfortunately, the electric pole spoiled the photo. 
People did not listen to our request and bought us many gifts. We got so many things it would require another post to show them all but we sure appreciated every one's thoughtfulness and generosity. This sign from Georgie says it all about 50 years of marriage. 
We even had entertainment as Mikey brought his guitar and played a few songs for us.
This is where Tommy passed away last year while he and Georgie were on vacation and we were honored that Georgie asked Nanc and I to join her in spreading some of his ashes in the ocean. We also stopped to see Mrs. Dillon who owns the Outer Banks Motel where we all stayed when we vacationed here. It was a very special place for them too and we are happy we were able to share it with them.
Another game night with Mary Lou, Gail and Kim playing Mexican Train and Valerie, Linda, Sherri and Georgie playing Sequence.
One afternoon a few of the ladies did a bit of shopping and had lunch at Diamond Shoals. Here are Valerie, Linda, Georgie, Sherri, Gail, Judy, Nanc and Mary Lou.
Someone told Mikey to go fly a kite, so he did. It was almost to windy that day but he got it into the air and kept it out of the water with the help of his runners Jim and Richard.
We were lucky to have steps over the dune to get to the beach, as most of them had been wiped out in the storm. Here are Valerie, Nanc, Betty and Irene.
They strolled on the beach looking for shells and just enjoying the Hatteras sand. Betty and her Aunt Irene got the prize for traveling the farthest. They drove to New Orleans, took a 24 hour Amtrak ride to Charlottesville, a two hour bus ride to Richmond, than a five hour drive to Avon. We were so happy they came to celebrate with us.
Old coaching buddies John, Bill and Jim.
On Halloween we stayed in and had a pot luck cookout. Here are Valerie, Georgie, Linda, Rick and Sherri having a toddy while waiting for the food. 
Mary Lou, Betty, Denise and Judy telling tales.
Kim, Patrice and Bill.
Gail, Nanc and Irene busy in the kitchen.
John cooking the burgers and dogs under the supervision of Richard and Jim.
Georgie, Sherri and Mikey sure enjoyed the meal.
Mary Lou, Phil, Rick, Denise and Irene liked theirs too. Thanks to everyone who contributed and help prepare a great meal for everyone.  It was DELICIOUS and what a fun evening we had.
Little did we know we would witness an attempted alien abduction that evening. Here is Nanc trying to save Richard from who knows what fate.  
Fortunately, Valerie the good witch cast a spell on the evil alien and it agreed to carry Richard to bed.
Friday, November 1st was the BIG day for celebrating 50 years of marriage. Here are the family members that were able to join us: Rick, Denise and Judy with the happy bride and groom. We are sad that Nanc's brother Dave and his wife Kasuko were not able to come from Washington state, and her sister Michelle and her husband Keith were not able to come from Washington, DC. Both Dave and Michelle are dealing with health issues and just not up to making the trip.  It would have been a so nice, as the 1st is also Michelle and Keith's anniversary.  We missed them and wish them well.
The happy couple. Who knew on November 1, 1969 what a wonderful life and adventure was ahead of us. Time has just flown by and our life together has been fantastic.  We are looking forward to many more years of great times together as we start a new faze of our life in Florida.
We had a great meal and celebration together at Pangea, one of our favorite local Hatteras restaurants. This is the only picture we got all week with everyone together. 
 We want to thank everyone for joining us and helping us make this celebration of 50 years of marriage an unforgettable event. We had a wonderful week with our family and friends. It was difficult deciding who to invite.  We wish we could have invited more to join us.     
After dinner we moved the celebration down the road to Turner's HIgh Moon, a local club. We had met Randy, playing guitar on the right, earlier in our stay and he told us his group was playing that evening. He and the rest of the band made it a special time for us and we had a great time dancing the night away.

Again, we couldn't have planned any other type of celebration that could have topped what a great time we had. We thank everyone for joining us. You made our 50th Anniversary very, very special.

As I write this, we are back in Florida and getting settled into our new home in Stuart. We sure are loving the weather as we watch the cold temperatures up North. Stealing a line from a DJ we were listening to the first time we went to Key West in 2007, "I'd rather be here drinking a beer than freezing my ass off up North."