Travel Florida: The Trip to my Margaretaville


It is a trip that should take three days when you are dragging a UHaul and have a cat and dog with you. For the latter reason, it took us a little over two days. We didn’t want to stress the cat and dog. It turns out that it didn’t – stress the cat and dog, that is. It did stress us. Almost 1200 miles under those conditions is daunting. When you have a portion of your worldly goods with you and the welfare of two little creatures on your mind, it’s more daunting. When you spend the trip wondering if you’re doing the right thing, it’s stress on top of stress. Such were the conditions under which I traveled from Kentucky to South Florida to move into my new little home, to live there part time. I arrived earlier this afternoon. Tonight, I’m still so ramped up that, as usual, I can’t sleep.

On the plus side, the farther we drove down the Florida peninsula, the happier I got. I love South Florida. The more tropical it looks, the better I like it. This from a girl with a Swedish background. It got hotter and hotter until, by the time we reached St. James City, Florida, our destination, it was truly hot. Around 89 degrees today with humidity to match, though not as humid as at the height of summer here. I call this place Margaretaville. Let me explain.

I stopped at a convenience store on the road leading to the bridge that goes off to my island and, before I left the store, I was giggling out loud at the cast of characters in the store. An older, very jolly guy, in an orange tank top and white short shorts, strumming Beach Boy songs on his guitar….inside the store. No, not Jimmy Buffet, but close. The girl behind the counter recognized me from my last visit only a month and a half ago. She asked me what I was doing back and when I told her we’d bought a place there, she came out from behind the counter hugged me and told me how much fun we’d have. She was decades my junior. A large sign was posted over the counter saying, “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere!” Believe me, I was more than ready for five o’clock and everything that went with it! Everyone in the store was talking about the manatees and their babies hanging out at the docks and how many nesting pairs of bald eagles had been spotted this season. The latest gossip was that Justin Timberlake, and stretch limo, had been spotted at the local Winn-Dixie. 

Each of you who knows me personally and well, already knows what a kick I got out of all this! 

On we went the few remaining miles to our little place in the sun. No critters were lodged inside to be chased out! But since the sellers had left, it had been locked up and the inside was hotter than the gates of hell. The A/C is still roaring full steam ahead. You see, when you leave your place in far South Florida in the summer and you are as close to the coast as I am, you normally don’t leave on the power. Why? If a hurricane comes your way and you get wind damage, you don’t want your place to burn down as well, so everyone cuts off the electricity when they leave. Who am I to question the wisdom of that?

As the neighbors spotted the UHaul, some of them started appearing in the yard. Some with a bottle of wine. Others with a mixed drink to stick into our hands. Some with the latest news. So many people on this island are from somewhere else and everyone gets along famously. Gives me renewed faith in the human race. 

As we went to work on the beginning phases of unloading our stuff from the UHaul, I found myself smiling. I love this place! I’m so glad to be back! Stay tuned for the Adventures in Margaretaville…..uh…….Pine Island yet to come!

Travel Florida: A Second Home


Tomorrow is the day. If you had told me a year ago that I would have a second home in Florida, in a spot in Florida that I love, I would have told you that you had lost your mind. Now I do have a little second home in that special spot in Florida and plan to spend six months a year there and six months a year at my home in Kentucky. Wow. I never thought I’d say that. It could be that, some day, I will live on my island in the sun full-time. That is down the road a bit.

I leave tomorrow for the long journey to Ft. Myers, Florida and it will be long since we are taking a UHaul with us. It has been quite a few weeks around the homeplace in Kentucky. Sorting and packing. Thinking. Wondering. Talking to friends near and far. This having two homes thing is no easy task. Two of everything? Not quite!

Our home in Florida is tiny. I’m not interested in having a large home there. I don’t want “stuff.” I’m over “stuff.” I’ve become a minimalist. So we are taking personal stuff, household stuff, my writing stuff, and that’s about it. Oh yes, the dog and cat, of course. I don’t want to dust. I only want to cook small, healthy meals. Then I want to walk out the door and go to the beach. Or walk my dog. Or ride my bike. Or go to Matlacha, the coolest little town on the planet and an artist’s colony at that. The home of the famous Bert’s Bar and Grill, written up in Southern Living as the place to get the best grouper sandwich in the world and they knew what they were talking about. I wonder if that old, respected Southern publication knew that the front room of Bert’s Bar is filled with pool tables and bikers? That makes me smile every time I walk in!

So tomorrow we head toward my island in the sun and start the moving in process. Having lived in Kentucky all my life, living on the Gulf Coast of Florida is going to be a really new experience. This isn’t just the Gulf coast. It’s an island off the Gulf Coast and about 3/4 way down the peninsula. It’s tropical. Below the frost line. It has alligators! And hurricanes! Believe me, that isn’t all. It also has the most beautiful, big birds you’ve ever seen. Dolphins to swim with. Plants I’ve never seen before. The wetlands. Incredibly nice people from all over the world. The best part? I feel free there and I’ve always wanted to feel free.

I’ve traveled a lot in my life. Florida wasn’t my favorite place,, but I’d only been to the most commercialized parts of Florida. Finding this island was like finding a jewel in a box of rocks. It’s a little bit of Old Florida and not much of Old Florida remains. The only other places I’ve ever had any interest in living were overseas. Portugal, which I love. Ecuador. Maybe Panama. My island in the sun is the best.

Another thing that is close by is this small airport with one flight a day to Lexington, KY. Better yet, a cheap flight. When I want or need to, I can fly back to Kentucky to see my family and friends. But, for the time being, I’ll still be in Kentucky six months a year – in the summer.

I’ll be writing about my experiences right here on this blog so check back. I’d love to do this with all of you!

It’s Overwhelming to Relocate

I’ve been thinking about relocating for a long time. Years really. I moved to the town in which I live for two reasons. My mother, who lived with me at the time, wanted to move home. The town where I live is my home town. Second, my job was in this town. I had commuted for years and I was tired. Full disclosure. I didn’t want to move back to the town I had called home the first twenty years of my life. But there was my mom to consider. There was my job to consider. So I had a house built and I moved.

I found something out the hard way. You can’t go home again. Yes, I know it’s a cliche. I had been gone 25 years. I had changed. My friends had changed. The town had changed. I had one family member left in my hometown – my mother. She passed away two years after we moved.

I still had my job to consider. So I stayed in my hometown although I told my husband that I wanted to move when I retired. He agreed. I retired six years ago. We still live in my hometown.

There is nothing at all wrong with my hometown. The problem is simple. I don’t fit in there anymore. In some ways, I never did. I really don’t now. It is a perfectly nice small town in a beautiful area. But, for some reason, it’s just not “my place in the world.” In the 25 years I was gone, I learned to like things my hometown doesn’t offer.  I have forever friends in my hometown and they will always be just that – forever. We’re all different now and although I love to see them, I need to be in a place where I’m comfortable and happy. I found that place several years ago.

We finally decided to move. Our initial plan was to sell our house and move, bag and baggage, to the place that we found and love. We knew it would be hard, that finding real estate would be a challenge. We didn’t know how much of a challenge until we talked to a realtor in our most desirable place. We need to be in our place as soon as desirable property comes on the market because property sells almost immediately. We weren’t quite sure what to do.

Then we saw a small (tiny) place come on the market. An older couple had decided to sell their winter home as one of them is ill. They were selling it at bargain basement prices. It is not somewhere that we want to live forever, but for awhile, it will do just fine. We went to look at it, loved it for our purposes now, and bought it immediately.

Our plan now is to spend six months in our new place each year and six months in our current home. We’re moving to South Florida and we aren’t yet sure we want to be here during hurricane season, just in case. We feel really lucky because this will give us a chance to see if we like South Florida and want to live here full-time.

Lucky is not the only way I feel. I feel completely overwhelmed. I recognize that the way I feel is probably normal. Figuring out how to live in one place six months of the year and another place the other six months and they are 1100 miles apart has to be a bit difficult. What makes it more difficult is that our six months in Florida each year will not be consecutive.

One thing I know for sure. I’m not going to be here in the most likely hurricane months. It is frightening to me to think about our little place here so close to the coast. I know that I can’t  leave anything here that I consider valuable. I’m sure I’ll get used to living so near the Florida coast and less conscious of the hurricane potential!

Living in two places means having duplicates of everything and I’m not talking about housewares. I mean two doctors, two dentists, two pharmacies….you get the picture. I will be complex at first to get everything situated. We will need another automobile here.

Life will change and become quite a bit more complicated. I was ready for a change. All of these things that seem to be obstacles will work themselves out with our help. I am excited about my new life!

Discover What You Need

img_0413

No matter how old or young we are, we constantly discover things we need, and don’t need, in our lives. I have been slowly discovering, over a period of time, what I need. But I only just came to a decision regarding what to do about it. Sometimes, discoveries are difficult, even painful. My discovery about what I need to do with my life isn’t painful, but it is going to be rather difficult even though on many levels, it’s exciting.

My decision. I have to move. Change my residence. Have a new place to live. Have some new experiences. When I say that I have discovered I have to move, I don’t just mean to the next town, I mean 1000 miles away. South. Near the ocean and where the weather is always warm. Margaritaville. Paradise. I guess that gives you a clue.

I moved from the city to the country 18 years ago. I grew up in the country, right in the area to which I moved. I moved because of my career. It’s true what they say. You can’t go home again. I haven’t been happy since I moved back to the country. I guess I unknowingly became a city girl in the 25 years I was away. When you move away from your hometown just 2 1/2 years after high school and stay gone for 25 years except to show up there for your job and drive back to the city to go home each day, you lose touch. You lose touch with the people and the culture. You lose touch with your friends that still live in your hometown. You lose touch with the culture they live in. You become different over the years and so do they. My hometown, where I worked but didn’t live, became different right under my nose. I’ve been lonely since I moved back to the country.

I’ve thought about just moving back to the city, but now I’ve changed and it doesn’t suit me anymore. I have good friends there but things like the climate don’t suit me. I need things now that weren’t so important to me in the past. Warm weather. The ocean. A smaller city with close access to a big city. People my own age with interests similar to mine. Because of the type of career I had, I have friends all over the country. College professors are transient by nature. I’d like to live in a college community.

I need to be close to the conveniences of life. I’m not now and I have to drive a 150 mile round trip to the city to take advantage of those conveniences. Sometimes, I drive to the city three times each week. Often, it is two times per week. I’m tired. I’m tired of that drive and living on the interstate. What I consider necessary conveniences for me may not be necessary for you. What I do know for sure is that the time is coming where the drive is going to be very hard for me. I want to be able to walk out my front door and have a good restaurant within a mile or two instead of 75 miles. I want to expend the energy I use for that drive on other fun things. Like sitting on the beach.

Imagine this. For 23 years, I’ve commuted several times a week, one way or the other. I can’t imagine how many years of my life I’ve expended on that interstate!

It was not an easy decision for me to move 1000 miles from home. I like to put down roots. Completely pulling up stakes and leaving everything familiar to me scares me to death. A wise person once said to me that you should do what scares you. That’s where growth lies. I believe that.

I’m lucky. I still work but I can do what I do from anywhere since I am a writer/consultant.

Soon, we will start house-hunting in the area where we want to live.. Then, in the spring, we will put my house up for sale and hope we can somehow simultaneously sell the house and buy another in Paradise.

It’s scary. Wish me luck! Go out and get what YOU need! #amwriting #amblogging #writing