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.
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.
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.
The morning was too beautiful to just jump in the car and drive across the state without a walk on the beach.
Followed by a walk through the old city looking for the obelisks with stops at other must see sights.
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.
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.
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.
On the way home we were already planning for Sunrise Sunset 2016.
This morning as I headed to the beach for an early morning walk I noticed that St. Augustine didn’t decorate with traditional Christmas symbols but instead lit A1A with Florida sea life.
Then this evening I noticed Cedar Key also decorated Florida style.
Sea stars, sea biscuits, shells, a seahorse and turtle lit the streets of Cedar Key.
Even a red-nosed dolphin.
Only the fire department decorated with a traditional Santa.
Happy holidays from Florida!
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.
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.
But I know for sure what we’ll be doing the rest of the winter.
We have a stocking problem. No fireplace…our traditional place not only for stockings but for holiday photos.
At last, a solution. A curtain rod supported by stocking hangers on a buffet used as a television stand. Seems everything must serve multiple purposes in our smaller house.
And after searching for the perfect Christmas stockings without luck, I settled for holiday socks.
Filled with dodads.
Maybe instead of photos in front of the fireplace, we can take pictures wearing our Christmas stockings.
It really wouldn’t be Christmas without pictures of the family around the Christmas tree. This one taken on Christmas Eve 1965 of John, his brother Mark and their Mom shows boys exercising great restraint as they’re posing with gifts instead ripping the wrapping off.
TBT Lesson #82: Why do parents taunt their children with picture taking on Christmas Eve?
On Sunday, December 13 we drove passed a strange sight on SR 42 on our way to Orlando. There was a house with more than a dozen, maybe closer to two dozen colorful piles scattered around the property. Finally, we identified them as inflatable Christmas decorations. It looked like someone had gone on a rampage with flattened Santa, Frosty, reindeer and toy soldiers left behind.
I couldn’t help but wonder what happened. Maybe they’d been destroyed by a dog or some wild animal.
Then about 15 minutes later we drove by a large crowd gathered at the Lake County Fair Grounds in Eustis with a sign out front announcing a Knife & Gun Show taking place inside. Of course, a trip to a gun show after lighting another Advent candle at church in search of the perfect Christmas gift. What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
I wonder if the Knife & Gun show could be related to the flattened inflatables we’d passed earlier?
Heading home from Birmingham in the dark reminds me of many late night and often all night drives from North Carolina to Florida when I was in college. While late night travel is no longer my favorite, I used to love driving at night because there was less traffic and I wouldn’t waste any of my well deserved vacation.
Even after a full day of classes, I was so anxious to get on the road that I didn’t hesitate to drive twelve hours or more. However, I never tackled a late night drive alone, and while I never expected or wanted anyone else to take a driving shift, I did expect EVERYONE in the car to keep their eyes open for the entire trip.
As the signs along the highway warn, Drowsy Driving Causes Crashes.
A driver is much less likely to nod off behind the wheel with one or more passengers talking, singing or telling jokes. Interactions with others not only helps the driver stay awake, it makes the time pass more quickly.
If you’re driving, don’t get behind the wheel if you’re tired. But it’s just as important to do your part as a passenger. No napping…when in the car, stay awake.
By the way, this rule does not apply to children. Traveling with sleeping children is always a good thing.
Filling the tank on our Camry yesterday brought a smile to my face since a fill up cost only $20. What satisfaction at pulling into a station with a sign proclaiming the price of gas $1.99 per gallon.
But then this morning crossing the border into Alabama I couldn’t help but feel we’d been ripped off when the first station in the state laughs at Floridians with the large yellow sign singing Sweet Home Alabama’s price for gas at $1.77.
Really $1.99 is an exceptionally low price, much better than 30¢ gas of my youth which is equivalent to $2.32 in today’s prices or even the 19¢ ($3.26) of 1935. It’s only because the prices are posted so prominently that we obsess over every extra penny added to the cost of travel.
However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t make a left turn across three lanes of traffic to take advantage of the $1.73 gas price available to Sam’s Club members. It felt good to be able to take advantage of such a bargain.
And really, who doesn’t love a bargain?
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.
Hiked in parks.
Visited more lighthouses.
And covered bridges.
And pitched our tent seven nights in three different state and national parks.
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 ✅
Not along the Gulf Coast, but a wonderful unexpected adventure.