Be Flexible

I preach organization, planning, goal-setting and list making but not to the exclusion of being flexible. You may have noticed that on the last day of 2015, I posted 13 Down, 2 To Go. That’s right on the final day of 2015, we had completed only 13 of the 15 adventures we set as goals for 2015. We didn’t watch a boat parade during the holiday season, and I didn’t catch a redfish.

Meghan caught my redfish.
Meghan caught my redfish.

Sure, it was possible to complete these two, but things changed. A 90th birthday celebration and a memorial service for a loved one took priority. Squeezing in a parade and a fishing trip just to check them off a list would have taken away the joy and caused a busy November and December to be filled with stress.

What’s the purpose of the 15 in 15 list? It’s an attempt to make sure we get out and do things we enjoy. When we started the list in 2013 we were still working and relied on the list to make the most of our weekends and time away from work. Retiring in May, the list took on a different meaning. We no longer need to plan how to use precious days off. Instead, our 15 in 15 list served as a resource in planning our new found freedom.

An unscheduled trip to Miami, sailing and biking, took priority over a redfish trip planned in August. We can go fishing later, right?

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A camping trip in the Panhandle morphed into a camping trip up the east coast just because we had more time.

Trying to accomplish an unrealistic goal just because it’s on a list causes unnecessary stress. Lack of flexibility may also result in missed opportunities. Sometimes our plans are not in our own best interests so it’s important to adapt to changes to be successful. Being flexible also makes it possible for you to effectively face challenges. You haven’t failed when you change the plan. Instead, you’ve learned the original plan failed to meet your needs.

You’ve probably heard John Lennon’s famous quote: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

Replacing an air conditioner with the money saved for a down payment on a car…that’s life.

Twisting your ankle the week before cross country camp…that’s life.

An accident that sidelines you from your daily routine…that’s life.

Babies that arrive earlier than expected…that’s life.

Hurricanes, floods, blizzards and so many other natural events that interrupt schedules or even change lives forever…again, that’s life.

And life isn’t something that gets in the way of our plans. It reminds us that our plans aren’t always a priority.

I’m not going to stop planning, and I hope you won’t either. Being organized, setting goals and making lists are all worthwhile activities, but it’s just as important to be flexible.

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Mom

 

13 Down; 2 To Go

One of my favorite annual events is what we refer to a Sunrise Sunset. From the time I was in high school, I said I wanted to watch the sunrise over the Atlantic and then set over the Gulf in the same day; but it wasn’t until we created our first 13 in 13 list did this become a reality. In 2013 sunrise was in Miami on South Beach and sunset was on the pier in Naples. In 2014 we started the day on the beach at Canaveral National Seashore and watched the sunset on Clearwater Beach.

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Yesterday, barely meeting the end of the year deadline, we started the morning on St. Augustine Beach. While many are complaining about the unusual December heat, 69° at 6:30 is nearly perfect for a walk on the beach.

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The mist from a foggy morning didn’t seem very promising, but by sunrise at 7:20, the orange sky made for a spectacular sunrise.

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The morning was too beautiful to just jump in the car and drive across the state without a walk on the beach.

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Followed by a walk through the old city looking for the obelisks with stops at other must see sights.

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Next stop Gainesville for a snack and a sneak peak of the 352 Walls exhibit and a sculpture called Luna (named after our sometimes dog?) Then back in the car and on to Cedar Key.

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A 3:30 arrival meant plenty of time to walk around town scouting out our sunset viewing location and even time for Tony’s world famous clam chowder.

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What looked like a perfect sunset changed to golden glow as the sun descended behind a thick layer of clouds. However, the cotton candy clouds that followed were worth the wait.

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On the way home we were already planning for Sunrise Sunset 2016.

12 Down; 3 To Go

Last year at Christmas I received a card from John in which he gave me a trip to Paris. However, since I wanted to go in the spring, something that wasn’t possible due to our work schedules, we postponed the trip until 2016.

Then the more we started planning, the more we decided we wanted to go to The Netherlands instead of Paris. So in September we booked a bicycle trip through The Netherlands during the peak of tulip season. Since biking is an important part of life in The Netherlands, it seemed like the only way to go.

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The confirmation for the trip came with a training schedule. That’s right, we have to train for our vacation. They recommend rides of various lengths to prepare for a week of 25 mile daily rides.

The schedule calls for serious preparation to begin two months out, but since I rarely ride more than twelve miles I wanted to make sure I can handle longer distances. We’ve taken rides ranging in length from 17 miles to more than 25 miles this fall so I know I’ll be able to make it.

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But I know for sure what we’ll be doing the rest of the winter.

11 Down; 4 To Go

Somehow I missed “officially” writing about adventure number 11 on our 15 in 15 list – probably because our plan for a fall camping trip changed drastically from when we first crafted our list on January 1st of this year.

We originally planned to camp in the Panhandle once the weather cooled. October or November seemed like the most likely time for such a trip. This all changed when on the spur of the moment we packed the tents and bicycles in the Suburban and headed north in search of fall instead of toward the beaches of the Panhandle.

We rode our bikes in Virginia, Maine, Vermont and Pennsylvania.

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Hiked in parks.

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Visited more lighthouses.

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And covered bridges.

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And pitched our tent seven nights in three different state and national parks.

 

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Of course, we spent our fair share of nights in hotels on the way home due to rain since we decided long ago that camping was to be a fun activity, not something we’d suffer through.

Fall camping trip ✅

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Not along the Gulf Coast, but a wonderful unexpected adventure.

More Lighthouses: Maine Style

Maine wasn’t on our radar when we set visiting fifteen lighthouses as one of our goals for 2015; but when we decided to take a September New England trip, Maine lighthouses were a natural part of our time along the coast.

Our first night in Maine, we stopped in York, the site of Cape Neddick Light. From Sohier Park we viewed the lighthouse located atop a rock island a short distance off shore,

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and as I turned around, the view of a white rowboat beached on the rock below with an inn in the background brought together everything New England.

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Later that afternoon, we burned off our seafood lunch by walking eight-tenths of a mile out to Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse along the granite breakwater.

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Couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day surrounded by the blue sky and waters.

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Egg Rock, the small island with a lighthouse, was barely visible from the mainland; but that couldn’t keep us from counting this as lighthouse number twenty-one. Located in Bar Harbor, we were able to photograph the lighthouse from Acadia National Park.

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From Acadia’s Schoodic Point, the Winter Harbor Lighthouse is clearly visible, but again its location on an island in Frenchman Bay prevents an up-close visit.

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Our final Maine lighthouse visit…the Prospect Harbor Light. Located behind a fence and a Coast Guard manned security booth, makes access by the public impossible. However, by climbing down on the rocky beach along the road leading to the light, it is possible to get a good, unobstructed view.

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Twenty-three lighthouses. Looks like we underestimated our abilities. And with a camping trip in the Panhandle yet to come, I don’t think we’re finished.

10 Down; 5 To Go

With more than three months left in 2015, we met our goal of visiting 15 lighthouses. On a single day earlier this month, we went to St. Augustine, lighthouse number 14 and Ponce Inlet, lighthouse number 15.

We started the day with a bike ride on the beach at Anastasia Island State Park and took a couple of long distance pictures.

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Then we biked over to the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum to get up close views of the lighthouse we’d seen from the beach.

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What’s a trip to St. Augustine without a meal at the Columbia Restaurant? After a delicious lunch, we were ready to begin the next leg of the day’s journey.

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Our drive down A1A ended at Florida’s tallest lighthouse located at Ponce Inlet. No, we didn’t climb the 203 steps to the top of the lighthouse. It was after 4:00 by the time we arrived and the storm clouds made it unlikely we’d have a chance to get to the top before the lightning put an end to the day’s tours.

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In just over a week, we met the goal by visiting the oldest lighthouse in the state, the Amelia Island Lighthouse, the one lighting Florida’s oldest port at St. Augustine, and the state’s tallest lighthouse located at Ponce Inlet – quite a historic week.

Now that we’ve completed this challenge and visited four lighthouses in Florida (Anclote Key earlier this summer), we should shoot for 15 Florida lighthouses in 2015. We better get busy!

9 Down; 6 To Go

Family Weekend is an event that’s added to our list of “to do’s” each year. In the past we’ve always met at the lake for this event, but since that is now home, it seemed like a good idea to take Family Weekend on the road.

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This year our designated first weekend in August also coincided with Sarah’s graduation from the University of North Florida where she received her Masters in Health Administration, so it was only natural to look for a location near Jacksonville for this year’s get-together.

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We spent the weekend in a five bedroom house on the St. John’s River less than 30 minutes from the UNF campus. A place where we could swim

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go boating

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play games

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go to the beach

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relax and enjoy one another.

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It was also a great location to observe the blue moon and watch the ships moving in and out of the port in Jacksonville.

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I think we’ve forever modified our plans for Family Weekend. This will be a good excuse to find new places to visit for our yearly reunion.

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Florida Lighthouse 2: Amelia Island

How appropriate to write about our second Florida lighthouse adventure today, National Lighthouse Day.

Constructed in 1838, the lighthouse on Amelia Island is the oldest lighthouse in the state of Florida, and one we’ve tried to visit on numerous occasions. The lighthouse can be seen from across Egans Creek at an overlook at Ft. Clinch State Park as well as when crossing the creek from the road, but on several occasions we’ve attempted to find the lighthouse tucked behind houses in a neighborhood none to anxious to welcome lighthouse gawkers.

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Since this is the year of the lighthouse, we set out more determined to find this elusive beacon, and I’m pleased to say we were successful. We located a street not found on any map we have of Fernandina Beach, O’Hagan, a National Historic District street located off Lighthouse Circle. In order to reach the lighthouse, we stopped at the park at the corner of Atlantic and Wolff since we were pulling the boat and driving down O’Hagan with a trailer was not a possibility.

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Walking a few blocks was a good way to get to the lighthouse grounds, but unfortunately access is restricted except on Saturdays from 11am-2pm and on the first and third Wednesdays of each month when Helen O’Hagan Sintes, the daughter and granddaughter of former lighthouse keepers at Amelia Island gives tours. The restricted access explains why our photos provided obstructed views as we were standing on the closest point to the lighthouse taking pictures through the fence…our only option.

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As we left Fernandina Beach, WJCT, the local NPR station told the story of of the O’Hagan family and their connection not only to the Amelia Island Lighthouse, but a story about the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse as well as the importance of the O’Hagan name to Florida lighthouses.

A coincidence?  Maybe, but I think it’s an invitation to visit Ponce Inlet and a return trip for an O’Hagan guided tour of the Amelia Island lighthouse.

Amelia Island Lighthouse. That’s number 13. Only 2 more to go to meet our goal of 15 in 2015.

Looking for Lighthouses: Vancouver

Our first round of lighthouses was in the state of Washington, but after crossing the Canadian border, we continued our lighthouse quest by visiting three sites in the Vancouver vicinity.

Vancouver’s Stanley Park is home to two lighthouses. The first, Brockton Point is located on Burrard Inlet just two miles into the paved bike path that follows the perimeter of the park.

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Stanley Park’s second lighthouse is another two and a half miles down the bicycle path at Prospect Point.

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The third lighthouse we visited was a short drive from Stanley Park in West Vancouver. Here we found Point Atkinson Lighthouse in Lighthouse Park nestled among acres of first-growth Douglas firs. The Beacon Trail was an easy hike to a bluff overlooking the lighthouse and coastline. And after a few pictures, a hike through the park on one the the trails was a perfect way to end the day.

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With over four dozen lighthouses in British Columbia, we barely scratched the surface, but these three combined with those in Washington, makes six. We’re well on our way to visiting 15 lighthouses before the end of the year.

8 Down; 7 To Go

July 1st, with passports in hand, we crossed the border to enter British Columbia and start adventure number eight on our 15 in 15 list.

We quickly realized that some special event was occurring in Vancouver as large crowds swarmed the harbor and vendors lined the street in a carnival type atmosphere. What we assumed was hoopla surrounding the Women’s World Cup taking place in the city and throughout Canada was actually the celebration of Canada Day with a parade and fireworks scheduled for later in the day. What a welcome!

 

On our second day, we rented bikes and pedaled the perimeter road through Stanley Park checking out the totem poles, lighthouses and enjoying a wild place in the middle of the city. After lunch at the Fish House, we were off to Lighthouse Park overlooking Vancouver for a hike in the woods.

On the morning of day three, we started at Granville Island feasting on fruits and baked goods at the farmer’s market and checking out the shops. Buying was not an option since our luggage was already stuffed beyond capacity.

Our last stop before leaving Vancouver was at Goorin Brothers, a haberdashery, to select hats, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gifts from Emily and Brian. I know, no room in the luggage…we wore the hats on the plane.

The final stop in British Columbia, a hike in Golden Ear.

Then back to the U.S. in time to celebrate the 4th of July and looking forward to more 15 in 15 fun.