The holidays are officially over as it is almost the middle of January. We celebrated Christmas in Carrabelle, Florida, along the Forgotten Coast – it was warm some days and cool the others. We also had a couple of rainstorms – but there was no snow, blinding sleet or slippery roads – so no complaints here. After leaving our dear friends in Bainbridge GA, and starting our travels in to Florida we did expect it to get warmer but El Nino is playing havoc with our warm winter plans it appears. We do love the Appalacicola & Carrabelle area – the towns are saturated with interesting history as well as a wonderful fishing culture. The people were friendly and outgoing – eager to tell you why this corner of Florida is so special and – urge you not to tell anyone. They dearly want it to stay unspoiled. We could not agree more. We will seriously consider making this culturally sweet area a regular stop on our annual trek to warmer climes. We had a beautiful beach right across the street from our Carrabelle RV resort and that is a primary draw. Great seafood is abundant here, and we had some great fish to eat – my favorite fried oysters as well as terrific shrimp, scallops, and grouper. Our Christmas dinner at Gormely’s in the Gibson Inn was delightful, but the lunch at Boss Oyster was in honor of our dear friend Sam who passed last year, and introduced us to this area in 2010. Although the oyster business has shrunk due to reduced fresh water availability & temperature changes in the sea – the area is still supports a rich shrimping and scalloping harvest seasonally and that will always draw us back. The Wake & Bake Bread Co. must not be missed as well as the Grady Market, Richard Bickel Photography,and other small shops on and off the main drag. Wander around and stop in to chat with the proprietors – they are as welcoming as family. We will be returning to the Caravelle RV Resort next year – no question.
We departed just before New Year’s and traveled to St. Petersburg/ Madeira Beach where we had planned to stay for 17 days. Visit began with a Clark & Anne dinner (one of Rick’s former executive officers and his wife) – it was delightful – Anne named the Taj last year when she saw the first photos of our new motorhome and thought it looked like the Taj Mahal! We barbecued steaks that night, and drank a lot of champagne & wine! It was lovely and warm that first week at the St. Pete Madeira Beach KOA – a very large campground in the Bay Pines area along a fauna & fowl rich water system that offered many photographic opportunities. The herons, egrets and other water fowl are very friendly – often coming right up to your door for a snack. All kinds of flowering plants & palms here too – I am finally getting so I can identify different types – there are 150 or more types of palms in Florida but 1500 or so worldwide. I love the date palms, cabal, sago, queen palms, palmettos, foxtails and big fan palms – they all move so graciously with the wind. Long ago 1988 – when I first visited Florida and saw palm trees I knew I had to be around them – maybe I was a tropical bird in a former life!
Our stay in St. Pete was interrupted by the death of a dear friend who has been like a brother to me – so we traveled home to Massachusetts for the wake and funeral in his honor. Mike was my friend for 40 plus years – we worked together in both union business and politics. He was one of a kind leader and I consider myself very lucky to have had him in my life. He gave me away to Rick when we married in 1992 and luckily we had stayed in touch via email & Facebook. Although his death closes a door – his memory will inspire us going forward being kinder & more helpful to our fellow humans.
We returned to St. Pete with just a week left and it has been unseasonably cold. We still visited the famous Pink Castle – Don Ce Sar Hotel – build in 1926 in Jazz Age style – and ate lunch outside at the beach grille regardless of 15 knot winds. This part of the Gulf Coast is more densely populated, and it’s clear we are now part of an annual social movement – the snowbirds – grey haired folks who go south in the winter! This campground is almost entirely retired or almost retired people with an occasional grandchild and you know – that’s okay. We really love meeting new people – swapping stories, introducing our dogs, and we all appear to be enjoying one of the best times of our lives! We have met lots of folks from the frozen north – Massachusetts, Maine, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ontario, Quebec & British Columbia. While here, we ate at had several outside spots along the Pier/Marina, and included a stop at the Chihuily Collection – I love his glass pieces – they are wonderful and very uplifting. The Collection tour guidewas great, and she offered insights into his growth as an artist, and the inspiration for some pieces. This collection and the Dali Museum are great stops if you visit here. Also on Rick’s list – a visit to Lazy Days – the huge RV Superstore and Mage sales place in Tampa. It was a lot of fun – it is a huge place, we spent several hours getting on and off 45 foot Entegra and Tiffin motor coaches. It was great to see them in person, having seen photos on their websites. Who knows, a larger RV might be in our future…
Lenny has enjoyed these stops -especially the beach access – he loves going in the water and lucky he likes walking the beach as much as we do. He has met a lot more little dogs and plenty of Yorkies as they seem to be pretty popular with RVers. We are considering getting him a little buddy soon -he is 8 years old now, so we’d get a young female he can bond with before he is too old to care.
St Petersburg would be a stop in later years and this KOA campground is very nice – lots to do and even though we did not use the pools or hot tub/jacuzzi this time, we would weather permitting. Also the Pinellas Trail – a wonderful bike path is just outside the campground entrance and goes almost all the way to old town St. Pete.
In the midst of this stay, we also decided to sell our Beverly condo, so it is getting a complete new paint job compliments of our nephew who is a professional painting contractor and we have hired a realtor to help us. It will probably be on the market in a month or so. We feel good about the decision – we will get a sticks & bricks place as Rick calls it – somewhere warmer and closer to the center of the Atlantic Coast.
We depart St. Pete on Friday the 15th for Fort Pierce/ St. Lucie.
Once again photographs will be in a separate post coming soon.