Big changes.

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A lot’s been going on in my life lately.    My daughter was supposed to get married last Monday, but the money they’d been saving (about $900) got stolen, and that included the money for her to register and get tags for her new vehicle (she had enough from the insurance to get a 2007 Nissan) and pay for their marriage registration at the courthouse.

She was devastated about the loss (of both the money and the “friend” who stole it from her) but is getting over it now.   Now the date has been changed to Monday the 28th, and they are going to get their marriage registration this week.   I’m as excited as she is.

She has been living with me off and on for…well, forever.   Since she’s become clean from drugs (it’s been a couple of years now) and she’s become more responsible and is working steadily, I actually like this arrangement.    It’s more affordable sharing the expenses with another adult, and I absolutely hate the idea of having to find a roommate (who I may not like) at my age.

My daughter and I are like best friends.   Sometimes our relationship is more like that of close friends than mother and daughter.  I think that’s good.   We just really like each other and I really like her fiance too, and the three of us have a good arrangement here in this two bedroom house in the North Carolina mountains just outside Asheville.

But frankly, the Asheville area, as much as I like it, is becoming ridiculously expensive as more people from other places discover its high quality of life, its natural beauty,  the many outdoor activities available, and its vibrant arts and music scene.  Even the outlying “suburbs” are more than we can reasonably afford.  And we need to move to a bigger place, with 3 bedrooms, not just two.

And why would that be?  Well…because my daughter and her soon to be husband have been stricken with baby fever and  I have a feeling one of the reasons they don’t want to wait any longer to marry is because they want to start a family sometime very soon.  She told me by the end of 2019 they want to start trying.   A few things need to be taken care of first before she can think about getting pregnant, and we definitely want to be in a bigger place first, so the baby has room to grow and we don’t all go insane!

The plan is for the three of us to look for a place together, because frankly, at my age, I don’t want to be living alone.    I’m not sure how much longer I can work full time, and if I cut back to part time hours, which I certainly will need to do at some point, I won’t be able to support myself.  As I don’t own my own home and would have to rent,  it just makes more sense for me to live with them.  Luckily, this is also what they want.  They adore the idea of a live in “Nana” once they start their family.   I rather like that idea myself.  It’s a throwback to the age of extended families, and in these uncertain, dark times, I think extended families may eventually be making a comeback, if they aren’t already.   Our families are going to need to be there for each other more than when Social Security and old age benefits were a certainty and life was just more affordable in general.

It’s funny, because I wasn’t at all excited about becoming someone’s grandma until my daughter started talking about babies all the time.   My first reaction was one of anxiety and near dread. Babies are scary!  They have so many needs.  They’re loud and messy.  So many things can go wrong.  They need so much STUFF:  all kinds of bulky contrivances that take up space and clutter up a small house, not to mention toys and lots and lots of attention.  I also worry about children being raised in such a toxic political environment as we have right now. If it were me contemplating having a child in the age of Trump, I’m not sure I would do it. But then again, I might! For many women, if not most, the urge to reproduce can be overwhelmingly strong, no matter what kind of political environment they live in or how bad things are.

As many mothers of young adult children probably do, I also kept thinking to myself, “She’s too young; she’s not ready.”  But that’s wrong.  She definitely is.  Yes, she’s been through a lot of adversity but has come through it beautifully.  It’s so easy to keep thinking of your child as a child, even when they’re fully grown and capable of making their own decisions.  She’s an almost 26 year old woman and it’s perfectly normal for her to want a family at her age.   And  the more I think about it, the more happy the thought of being someone’s “Nana” makes me.

We’d definitely need three bedrooms and two bathrooms though, and that would be a near impossibility for us if we stayed where we are.    I’m also tired of the ice and snow of winter and want to be somewhere just a little warmer.   The job market here also isn’t the best as it’s mostly service and/or seasonal work.

We briefly considered moving to the Tampa area, because my son lives there.  I do love the idea of the entire family being in the same general area.   But it’s just not practical or very affordable.  I also don’t want to have to deal with my fear of hurricanes every single year.  Even if we lived inland, there’s the risk of tornadoes or very high winds.  So, as much as I’d love living close to the beach, we decided to nix that idea.    Florida’s also way too far from my daughter’s dad, and much as I don’t personally care about that (I don’t speak to him), he lives all alone and she worries about him.  That’s just the kind of person she is, and she wants to live close enough to be able to check up on him frequently.

We also considered just moving to a different part of North Carolina, but other cities are just as expensive as Asheville (or more so), and I don’t want to live in the boondocks either,  where houses may be cheap but would be so far away from any city and we’d all still have to deal with the ice and snow and the long driving distances to and from a job every winter.

So I began to consider the idea of starting over in South Carolina.  But not too far into South Carolina.  We still want to be near the mountains, so we can come back here whenever we want, and my daughter can still visit her father here.   Codependent or not, she worries about him and loves him, and he has no one left but her.

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Scene from Boiling Springs, SC

So we began to look at Boiling Springs, SC.   It’s a suburb of Spartanburg, a fairly large city with many more employment opportunities than Asheville has.   Boiling Springs is in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and you can actually see the mountains to the north.  The area isn’t completely flat like most of South Carolina.  It’s hilly, but doesn’t have the steep and sometimes scary almost vertical slopes you find farther north.   There are hiking trails and other things to do, and it’s also about an hour closer to the beach (one thing I hate about living here is being so far from any coastline).

Best of all, the school district has been rated #1 in South Carolina, and for my daughter and her soon to be husband, that’s important to them.   Boiling Springs is a little more expensive than neighboring areas in South Carolina, but it’s still a lot cheaper than where we are now, and it’s near everything we’d need or want:  she’s close enough to her dad to visit frequently, we’re still less than an hour away from Asheville and its environs, and we’d be living almost in Spartanburg.

We can definitely afford to do this, but change is hard.   I’ve been living in this area since 1993 and have grown attached to it.  I also hate the idea of having to get things like my car registration changed.   Then there’s dealing with the movers.  And the expense.  And the credit checks.  And the deciding what to throw away, give away, sell, and keep.  All those things are a pain and they can be frustrating.  No doubt about it, moving is always stressful, even if you’re only moving next door!

But I think the time has come, and I think all  three of us will be happy and I think it will be a good place for my possible future “grandbaby” to grow up.   SO in a few weeks, we’re taking a short drive down to Boiling Springs to get a better idea of what living there would actually be like, and how affordable it really is.   Maybe we’ll even look at some houses and apartments.

There’s one more good reason to move. My landlord is selling this property (though I’ve been assured there’s no need to worry about moving right away), so I think it’s best we just find a new place, in a brand new environment that will be a positive one and less expensive for all of us.

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My little girl is getting married!

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Talk about a whirlwind romance!   She started dating Robert (“Bobby”) in August, but they had been friends for a year or two before they fell in love, so it wasn’t like they were complete strangers.   They met through mutual friends.  There were a few problems at first in their relationship, but they seem to have gotten past and resolved them.

I’ve watched the two of them together, and I can honestly say I’ve never met a man who treats my daughter as well as Bobby does.  He shows no signs of any narcissism, or any personality disorder for that matter, although he has a few neuroses (but don’t we all).    He treats her like a queen but not in the typical wine and dine way of a narcissist.  He doesn’t shower her constantly with material gifts and dinners and flowers, but he’s considerate and empathetic and genuine, and he has taken to me too, and I to him.  I’m looking forward to calling him my son in law.  I think they will be good together and can grow and learn together as a couple.

He’s pretty stable financially, has never been married (he said he never met anyone he loved before), and also he is close to his own family who lives in this area.  At first I was concerned about his age, because he’s going to be 40 this month (he was born in 1979) and my daughter is just 25 (she was born in 1993).   But at her age, 15 years isn’t that huge an age difference, and it happens quite frequently that the bride is a younger than the groom.  She has dated boys her own age and in my opinion, they’ve all seemed a bit immature and self centered.  They certainly didn’t seem ready to support my daughter emotionally or financially (even though she will continue to work and don’t plan to get pregnant for at least a year or so).

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We’re not wealthy people by any means, but that doesn’t mean she can’t have a special day.   They don’t want to wait, so they are going to be married at the Courthouse next Monday (she’s not pregnant).  She ordered her own dress which by the way is absolutely beautiful and so flattering on her.   It’s a knee length long sleeve dress that is casual enough she could wear it for other dressy occasions.   I ordered her a pastel floral headband and some beautiful white ballet flats with a beautiful lace overlay.   She will wear my pearls (that I wore at my wedding) for something old and borrowed; a beaded off white clutch purse,  and a pretty bracelet with pale blue glass beads and rhinestones (for something blue).  This week she’s going to have her hair professionally done: a trim, and soft curls and highlights put in.

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Her dad and I will be there to sponsor them, and this Friday they’re going to the Courthouse to register.   After the little wedding, we’re going out to Carrabba’s for dinner (he dad has declined to join, which I’m relieved about) and then back to my place for a special cake I will have made for them.

Later on, if they want, they can always have another wedding with all the trimmings and a big reception, but I don’t think that’s a priority of theirs.  They just want to be married now!   I don’t blame them.  It will be lovely.

They have actually been engaged since the end of August (he was going to propose to her when we were at Myrtle Beach), but he didn’t have enough to buy the ring at that time, so he proposed on Christmas.   Here is the video I took of that.   She told me later she knew he was proposing, but by her reaction, you’d think she didn’t know a thing.

“Yes, I’ll marry you, stupid!”

My Clearwater and Tampa, Florida trip.

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Sandbar at Anclote Key Preserve.

More than two months ago, my daughter and I spent 8 days in Tampa and Clearwater Beach, Florida.  I never got around to writing about my trip, even though I kept promising to.  Well, I finally got around to it.  Better late than never, right?

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Horseshoe crabs — one of them crawled right over my feet!

I got to see my son while we were in Tampa, even though he had to work most of the 4 days were here, but we did all go out to dinner a couple of times, spent some time lounging at the hotel pool and hot tub.  On our last day together, we all went to ZooTampa.  It was a bit pricey, but worth it.   We got a late start, but still managed to see almost the entire zoo, except “Australia.”  The sections we saw were “Florida,” “Africa,” “Asia,” and “Primates.”   The zoo is very large so if you go, be prepared to spend lots of time walking!  Stay hydrated.   As we passed through the indoor reptile area (a welcomely cool respite from the heat), there were colorful decorations all over the ceiling that resembled deep sea creatures and looked as if they were made of glass — but they were actually sculptures made from recycled soda bottles and other plastic trash!

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We loved seeing all the different animals (there were even river otters — my favorite — in the “Florida” section).  My daughter seemed quite taken with the pink flamingos, who were very entertaining and funny.   There were so many of them!  We spent a long time just watching their antics.

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One of the days my son was working, my daughter and I decided to drive to Tarpon Springs, a small Greek fishing village which is known as the Sponge Capital of the US.  It was my third visit there.  It’s one of my favorite places in the Tampa Bay area. On a whim, we decided to take the Sponge-O-Rama cruise out into the Gulf.  It’s a two hour cruise and pretty cheap at only $20 per person.   We had to wait a while for the boat (a sort of ferry) to fill up, but when we took off, the water was pretty choppy from recent storms, and I had to hold on.  Drinks were served but it was hard to hold onto them without them splashing everywhere.  After we got out into the Gulf, the dark water from the marina and inlet suddenly turned bright aquamarine.   For a minute I thought someone had slipped some LSD into my beer!  But this is the actual color of the water.

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The boat’s captain, a youngish Greek man who had been raised in Tarpon Springs and worked with the boats all his life (his name was Atticus!) explained the reason why the color of the water changed so abruptly isn’t so much due to the depth, but because once you leave the river and enter the Gulf proper, the water changes from brackish (almost freshwater) to salt water.  The mangroves dotting the area suck up the nutrients from the water, making it clear.   He pointed out other things we were seeing along the way.

Finally, about three miles out into the Gulf, he pulled the boat over next to a large sandbar.   This was part of Anclote Key Preserve State Park, a group of very small mangrove islands so remote there is no way to get there except by boat.  The sandbar is a semi-permanent fixture, with a few low growing plants and grasses and a lot of seaweed washed up on the sand.   The sand was absolutely blinding white, like snow, and surrounded on all sides by the clearest aquamarine water I’ve ever seen.  In the shallow areas the water was so crystal clear you could barely see it.  Our group (there were about 20 of us) spent about 30 minutes exploring, collecting shells, or swimming.  We were each given a plastic grocery bag to collect shells in.   I didn’t spend much time shelling.  After a few minutes, I ran out into the pristine warm salt water and just let it engulf me.   The whole experience was exhilarating, even though 30 minutes wasn’t nearly enough time!

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The above photo is my absolute favorite.   The juxaposition of the white sands, aquamarine water and fluffy white clouds stirs my soul.  I have made this photo the background on my laptop!

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Our combined seashell booty.

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The marina at Tarpon Springs (notice how much darker the water here is)

We drove to Clearwater for the remaining 4 days.  The 10 mile drive over Tampa Bay into Clearwater is very pretty.   We stayed in a cute hotel right on the beach, but the weather during our stay could have been better.   We only had two days of good weather, but being right on the boardwalk, there was still more than enough to keep us busy.   Our first night, we ate at Clearwater’s most famous eatery, Frenchy’s South Beach Cafe.  The beach was wonderful, and not too crowded.  One day we decided to drive out to Treasure Island in St. Petersburg, even though it was raining.  Hey, why not?   It rained during the drive, and the entire time we were there, but the beach was still pleasant and the water warm.  We didn’t stay long, but it was nice having the beach almost completely to ourselves.

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Frenchy’s South Beach Cafe, Clearwater.

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Treasure Island in the pouring rain.

The sunsets over the Gulf were incredible.    I just can’t get enough of Gulf sunsets, and here are the pictures proving that.

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Sunlight from sunset reflecting off the clouds to the east.

On our second day, we had beautiful weather (even though the morning forecast had predicted rain), so we decided to book the Pirate ship for its Champagne Cruise, which takes off in the late afternoon.  There are two champagne cruises; ours was the first.  The next one takes off at sunset.   I would have liked to go on that one too, but we’d already had way too much champagne.  Yes, I confess both my daughter and I overindulged (you pay your $40 for the cruise, and the drinks are unlimited), but we had so much fun, and the views from the ship were amazing (a few are pictured below). The pirate theme was fun, and the appropriately costumed staff were friendly.  The nice young man pictured below (I can’t remember his name) even hung out with us on the upper deck for a few minutes.

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Me with view of the beach in the background

One thing I noticed this time was how good I’m getting at finding my way around the Tampa – St. Petersburg – Clearwater metro area.   It’s my third trip to this area, but this time I was finally getting comfortable just driving around and finding my way from one place to another.   I’m generally not good with directions and navigation, but  because everything’s pretty much laid out on a grid here, it’s a lot easier to get around the area than where I live, where there are mountains and no grid to speak of.

It seems so much longer than two months ago I was in Florida, but in some ways it feels like it was just yesterday.   To end this post, here’s a little video I made just after sunset of the patterns of the surf (it’s actually the first video I ever made from my phone).

A fun day.

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Side view of the Hundred Year Old Cabin, Arden, NC.

Yesterday was my daughter’s birthday, but this year has gone by so fast (and because of the continued cold weather, I was having trouble believing spring had really arrived), so I almost forgot about her birthday. It just sort of snuck up on me.   So I realized yesterday I hadn’t made any plans or gotten her anything.

I stopped by a cupcake shop on the way home and got six different types of cupcakes, then had her pick her favorite one (red velvet cake).  Then I placed a candle on top of it and brought it out to her while we sang happy birthday (I did not get a picture of that but I should have — the cupcakes were adorable and so colorful).

Then I told her I wanted to go for a drive and wanted company.   What I had in mind was a 3 mile trip to some river cabins I’d always been curious to see.     She and her boyfriend joined me, thinking the trip would be boring, but it wasn’t at all!

There are seven adorable rental cabins tucked away in the woods by the river.   Six of them are new, and all perfectly charming (we could actually go inside two of them), but the one that fascinated me the most was the Hundred Year Old Cabin.   We didn’t get to see the inside of it, but it’s very photogenic, as you can see below.

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Back view of the Hundred Year Old Cabin

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Front view of the Hundred Year Old Cabin

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Two photos of one of the newer river cabins.

We got to try out the hammock on one of the cabins closest to the river.   It was a beautiful day, and so relaxing just swinging in it and hearing all the nature sounds.  It was hard to believe I wasn’t on vacation and only a few miles from my home .

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We walked around the campgrounds for a while and took some pictures of the river, then we headed to Panera Bread for her birthday dinner.

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When people tell you to respect your family…

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I was an honorary furry for a few days last week.

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Me trying on one of my son’s fursuit heads during my August 2016 trip.

I completely forgot to mention this in my posts about my Florida trip.   I met a few of my son’s friends in the Tampa area furry community, and they are all awesome people — very chill, extremely friendly, and best of all, very supportive of each other.

I actually attended a furry party my son threw at his apartment.   I was an honorary furry for that night!   No, I did not wear a costume. In fact, no one did.  It was just good clean fun, nothing questionable or too weird going on.  We watched a furry dance competition on livestream on my son’s Mac, played Cards Against Humanity (it’s a hilarious game), and watched a couple of bad (non-furry) films.   (One of my son’s hobbies is throwing “bad movie” get-togethers for his friends — they watch these movies ironically and laugh at them — if you remember Mystery Science Theatre 3000, that’s the general idea here).  After all the silliness, we all headed down to the apartment complex’s pool and hot tub for an evening swim and relaxation.

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Two views of the bumper of the car that belongs to one of my son’s friends who was at the party.    She can’t get enough of ferrets and owns four of them.  It’s hard to see it here, but her car is a lovely frosted pink and is awesome.

Speaking of science, tomorrow is Earth Day, and I will be attending my second protest — a March for Science taking place here in my city.    I haven’t made a sign yet (and am not sure I’ll have the time), but I’ll be picking up a tee-shirt I paid for in advance (proceeds go to help the cause).    I’ll be wearing this tee-shirt along with the buttons I purchased at the last protest I attended about the ACA and healthcare.

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I’ll definitely post about my experience at the march tomorrow and will take pictures, as I did the last time.

The rest of the weekend I’ll probably be engaged in the tedious task of pulling posts from this blog I may want to use in my book.   That’s my intention anyway;  I can’t say I’ll actually commit to doing it.   Actual writing is so much more fun.

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Happy Earth Day 2017!

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Safe arrival.

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That’s my son at Hudson Park.   It was windy and rather chilly!

I’m just checking in to let everyone know I arrived in Florida safely.

The 12 hour long car trip was, well, a trip.    When I left my house at 4:30 AM the weather was horrible.  It was very cold and extremely windy, with a heavy, slushy rain that fortunately wasn’t icy enough to accumulate on the roads but left slushy patches on my windshield that the wipers could barely keep up with.

Driving down out of the mountains was kind of hellish, because I don’t see well driving in the dark to begin with , and it was made worse by the glare of the rain on the roads.    The roads weren’t icy, but were slick so I had to drive slowly.    The good thing about that was there was no one on the road at that hour.

When I entered South Carolina, the rain stopped, but it was still dark.  Early morning traffic was beginning to pick up,  and I stopped at a gas station in a tiny village called Joanna.   The sky was just beginning to lighten, which is pictured below, taken from the station’s parking lot.

 

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Bizarrely, the gas station specialized in selling New York City souvenirs — coffee mugs, T-shirts, plates, collectibles.    I asked the Indian owner (who was running the register) about that and he said it was because he was from New York City.   We wound up having a conversation about New York because I grew up and around that area too.  Silently I wondered why the heck he had moved to this unknown village in South Carolina that had nothing much going for it.

The sun rose just as I entered Columbia, just in time for early morning rush hour.   I stopped a few more times to stretch or use the restroom, but I didn’t have to stop long anywhere because I had brought snacks with me in the car to avoid time wasted eating or purchasing food. Besides, eating too much on a long drive makes me sleepy.   High energy snacks like granola bars, pre-wrapped slices of cheese, or cookies work best for me on a long drive.  They keep my energy up without making me groggy.

Still, the drive was exhausting.  By now the sky was bright blue and clear as a bell.  Despite the wind, it was hard to believe I’d left that morning in a slush storm.

By now, it had heated up, although it was still windy (and would remain so all the way down to where I was going). At the Georgia welcome center I stripped off my coat and hoodie, which I hadn’t been able to remove in the car, and changed from boots and socks into sandals.   Ah, much better.

By the time I arrived at the Florida welcome center (where they give you a free cup of orange or grapefruit juice), I felt like I’d run a marathon.    Why is it that sitting in a car all day is more exhausting than working out for hours?

As I entered Florida, my daughter texted me telling me they were leaving the house.   She and her friend planned to drive separately, although we were to all meet at the hotel.    Well, they didn’t leave my house until 12:30 — 8 hours after I did!     I continued on.   The drive into Florida is pretty much a straight shot — I-26, and then I-95.   But after Jacksonville it gets hairy, because there are so many road changes and they are easy to miss.     Thank goodness I had my GPS!   Even so, I missed one turn as I entered the county my son lives in and had to backtrack — in heavy rush hour traffic, which was more than a little scary.    I thought of my daughter and her friend and hoped they were safe.  I’d asked them to text me every so often to let me know where they were, and for the most part, they did.

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I arrived at the hotel and my son was already there waiting — in his new Chevy pickup!   Well, it’s not exactly new (it’s a 2006 model) but it looks and runs like new.    We went to Wawa (a convenience store chain) and ordered sandwiches.  Wawa sandwiches are awesome because you can special order ANYTHING on them via computer.  I had my tuna salad done like a Jersey Mike’s sandwich — with spinach, lettuce, oil and vinegar.    We got some donuts to take back with us.

He wanted to show me around so we drove a little bit.  We went to a park where he plays Pokemon Go!  (a game where you actually go outside to capture creatures on your phone) and walked around a bit.    A strong wind was blowing off the gulf, and it was COLD!  I could hardly believe this was Florida.   I was glad I’d decided to bring my hoodie.

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Look how strong the wind was blowing.   The buildings in the background, including the one with the thatched roof, is a bar/restaurant that plays its music LOUD!  I was jamming to it to stay warm.

It was too cold to swim, but when we got back to his apartment, we went in the hot tub and just relaxed and caught up on everything.    The hot tub worked wonders on my sore muscles from the long drive.    After I dried off, he drove me back to the hotel room where I unpacked and watched TV (not the news, for a change!)

I started to worry about the kids, because it was dark now and I hadn’t heard from them in awhile.  Being me, I had visions of them being in a terrible accident.

I called and talked to my daughter’s friend.  He said she’d fallen asleep and since he was driving he hadn’t been able to call for awhile.    They finally arrived right at midnight. We ate the donuts I’d brought back and went to bed.  They were as exhausted as I was!

The weather is supposed to warm up and today as I’m writing this I can already feel the change.    I’m not sure yet what we’ll be doing today, but whatever it is should be fun.   I’m still a bit sore from the long drive, though!

Back to the Gulf Coast!

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Sunset off Clearwater Beach.

In just a month (April 7th), I’ll be driving back to the Tampa Bay area again to visit my son. I’ll be there for 5 days, until the 12th.   This time, my daughter is coming along with me, since she hasn’t seen where he lives before.

When I went in August last year, it was the first time I’d ever been in Florida, and since my son was working most of the week I was there, I had time to spend alone exploring the area.  One of my favorite discoveries was the bath-warm waters of the Gulf near his home, with its ever-shifting tides that expose the silt-like sand at low tide.   There aren’t a lot of tourists there in August (too hot), so that trip actually turned out to  be not only a peaceful, but also a spiritual experience — not to mention that I got to see my son and spend time with him and do some fun things together.

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The tide going out at Rees Park.

For me, the worst part of any vacation is returning from one.    I remember how hard it was to re-adjust to my daily routine when I came home.  For a while, I wanted to move to Florida, but I have changed my mind about that for a few reasons, mostly because of global warming.  Central-west Florida may be submerged in the near future.   I also don’t think I’d care much for the weather, due to the near-constant threat of severe storms, tornadoes, and hurricanes.

This time, I won’t be returning home just as my SAD (seasonal affective disorder) sets in.  Spring is my best time of year, and my mood improves with the lengthening days, so I shouldn’t be blindsided by the double whammy of oncoming SAD and post-vacation blues at the same time.

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My son may have to work again for part of the time I’m there, but he thinks he can get off most of the days I’m there, so that means more time spent together.   Clearwater Beach is definitely on the agenda, and this time we are going to visit the famous aquarium there too.   We might even drive to Disney World, but  I’m not sure yet.   None of us have ever been there.   I might try my hand at fishing again.

Whatever we wind up doing, it’s going to be a lot of fun.  I’ve already booked the room (because there are two of us this time, we’re staying at a nearby motel). I’m   getting excited about our road trip!

I’ll be bringing my laptop along with me, just as I did in August, so I can still blog while I’m there.

All photos you see here were taken by me during my trip in August of last year.

Daughter’s weekend trip to Gatlinburg, TN (photo)

I died when I saw this photo they had taken today.

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Getting ready for my road trip next week!

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The Florida Gulf Coast before a storm (credit: my son)

I haven’t taken a long road trip since 2008! That’s WAYYYY too long. But after 8 long years, I’m getting ready for another one. Today I got my oil changed and my tires checked to make sure my car is road worthy for the 700 mile trip. I took Monday off so I’m going to Goodwill to look for an inexpensive travel bag. (I also have an emergency appointment with my therapist).

Next week, most likely next Sunday when the traffic on the highways is a little lighter, I’m driving to Port Richey, Florida, to visit my son for a whole week. I saw him in April when he came here to visit for a few days, but I’m dying to see his place (he lives in a nice apartment complex with a pool and a hot tub). I’ll be staying there to save money instead of staying in a hotel. He lives close to the beach, so we will also be hitting the beach a few times. He wasn’t able to get days off from work, but his hours are variable and I’m sure we’ll have a lot of time to spend together. He’s as excited as I am, and is planning to take me to a couple of his favorite eateries, of course the beach, and also fishing!

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The water looks like molten gold.

Hopefully the weather holds up. The Gulf Coast can be iffy this time of year since it’s the middle of hurricane season. I really need this trip, not only to see my son but also to get away and just relax near the ocean and see some new sights. The timing couldn’t be better, since I’ve been so triggered and upset lately. I think this trip is just what I need and will help me regroup and get my head and my emotions together.

I’m bringing my laptop with me because I will continue to blog while in Florida, and will post pictures every day of my adventures with my son. Gosh, I can’t wait!

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My son in Clearwater last year.