Hang on to What We've Got
With reservations in place in-state, the Carolinas, and ultimately Vermont, I hit the road early February to push my way out of Florida before the March mania begins. Florida has felt quite busy these past few years, but it's over the top now as the year-round and seasonal population has simply exploded. Too many people and far, far too many cars, so hence my decision to push out before March, the busiest winter month of all.
I'm thinking this is the last hurrah, so my first stop is Sebastian, a place I've felt at home these past few years. It's also just a 2.5 hour drive to test out the Element, which remains questionable. I've spots on both the inlet and the mainland, and I'm really looking forward to a few weeks of the outdoor life.
There was an interesting mix of people camping from throughout the US and Canada -- newbies and veterans, young and old, outdoorsy types and those seeking a cheap bed. The inlet is pretty well developed now and the traffic on A1A is an all day event. In town, the New Yorkers with a smattering of Californians are changing the culture here, and the locals are shaking their heads. I'm so pleased that I found this spot oh-so-many years ago, and so thankful for Paul Kroegel, Teddy Roosevelt, Roy Couch, and Archie Carr for saving greenspace for the wildlife and me!
Sing to me Old Blue Eyes
When I rolled into South Florida to help a friend, I could not have imagined the magnitude of what I was stepping into. Let me be clear, 2023 is a kick-in-the-ass odd numbered year already.
My friend’s house needed serious attention, and with injuries that just won’t quit, he was committed to performing at three events, as well as renovating an empty condo he needs to sell. So, for the past two months, I’ve been a sander, a painter, a cleaner, an installer, a hauler, a secretary, a motivator, an organizer, a cook, a DJ roadie, and quite a few times, a nag. That’s life?
Perhaps, but not all of it. While cycling is difficult in this concrete jungle, I did sustain my minimum weekly miles. Pedal -- but never let your guard down. I also did a bit of writing and editing as two clients reconnected; so incoming moolah is starting up again. Good timing as my dear Element, also known as home, has taken a bad turn. A few sensor fixes and too many dollars later, I’m now sitting on the edge of my seat as a used part arrives tomorrow that must be the solution.
Just what makes that little old ant
Think (s)he'll move that rubber tree plant
Anyone knows an ant, can't
Move a rubber tree plant
But (s)he's got high hopes, (s)he's got high hopes
(S)he's got high apple pie, in the sky hopes*
To say that I’m exhausted is an understatement, but okay February, bring it on slowly. My itinerary has me back in my tent this weekend and out of the Sunshine State by month’s end. I’m so ready to be back in my element.
*Van Heusen, Jimmy and Cahn, Sammy, "High Hopes" (1959). Vocal Popular Sheet Music Collection. Score 2890.
In a word, December has been exhausting, with issues carrying over into my new year. Luckily, it’s time to digest the multitude of people, places & experiences that shaped 2022 before I step forward into the next 365 days:
- Read 67 books (bump to 70?)
- Eat one fantastic reuben sandwich with Maryland gal pals
- Enjoy a number of outdoor concerts; a joy I’ve missed the past few years
- Look back from day one of this journey and begin to put thoughts to paper.
Yes, 2023 has officially begun but I’m still pondering what’s next on the agenda, and you?
Delighted to be in DeLand
In early 2014 -- my roaming "test year" -- I found the small town of DeLand, Florida when I signed up for one of my first WorkAway volunteer exchanges. It was an interesting experience as my 20-hour work week focused on boat sanding and painting while living with a family of 7 (five kids!). They had recently returned from years in Costa Rica and planned to start a river tour business along the St. Johns River.
Unfortunately, I didn't keep in touch, but I did recall DeLand as a sweet little town in the lakes region, just west of Daytona. From Georgia, I wanted a fairly short drive, a solo break, and a few days to simply play. I lucked out with an affordable bed in a bikeable neighborhood offering views of a half-dozen lakes. Since I was just a few miles from the Historic District, afternoons were spent window shopping, on an art walk, book buying, and visiting the Stetson U campus in very pleasant 80-degree weather. DeLand has certainly held its small town personality, but area development has brought the auto brigade coming through all day long. Yet, for Florida, it's still pretty calm and quaint!
Next stop is South Florida -- yikes on development and traffic -- with an extended visit that will seem like a WorkAway! More to come...
Not Talking Turkey
The journey south continues with a week-long stop on Blythe Island, an unknown area along the East River, just a few miles NW of Brunswick, Georgia. I arrived to a few days of warm, sunny weather in a community of 700+ people in a slow-paced neighborhood where I could walk, bike, and peruse a regional park with a campground (future reference!). However, the official occasion is to celebrate a Florida friend's 60th birthday, tour the Golden Isles, drink eggnog and eat pie.
When Mark arrived, we plotted the outdoor itinerary, but as the week went on the weather wasn't very cooperative. Rain, fog and cool breezes were the norm, so a few movies and a few games of Rummikub were added! Nevertheless, we headed out daily to enjoy historic Brunswick, St. Simons and Jekyll Islands.
Brunswick became a British settlement as early as 1738 and has a town layout similar to Savannah with squares and parks in a grid style. During my last visit to this area (in 2017), I'd camped for a month on Jekyll (and loved it), while simply day-tripping elsewhere. In Brunswick, I'd toured the main commercial streets, but this past week we enjoyed the Historic District of homes and greenspaces as well. Each of Brunswick’s 14 original squares in the Old Town has a story; and two major squares have retained their original size and shape.
Many photos tell the story...
I've now landed in DeLand, Florida, but do send good karma my way. The Element needs to take me another 236 miles south in the morning and continues to act up.
Cyclist, writer, teacher, avid reader, bike/ped advocate, nomad, pie lover