Sometimes we take the smallest things for granted in life, including ‘life’ itself. But in the end, if a lesson has been learned, we find that the simpleness of living is priceless. This is what I’ve come to find since we up-rooted from my hometown of Fort Worth, and relocated to Gulf-Coastal Texas. It has been a long road to plow (as my dear Mother used to put it), but I find now that our ‘garden’ (the garden that is life) is beginning to come-in quite nicely.
It all began the day we pulled out of Jamaica Beach RV Resort; happy to be leaving the paved-but-posh confines of the best RV park on Galveston Island. (Our opinions…and we’re sticking to it!) I have to admit, our past experiences with campgrounds has left us with a bitter taste for such surroundings. JBRV would have to be an exception…if you ask me.
Either way, and even though we would miss the hot tub, laundromat, pool…playground, and the charming little Seven Seas Grocery just across the road, we remained hopeful that we’d be well-on-our-way to actually gaining a semi-permanent address on Galveston Island. The Blessings we’ve been met with since that day have been abundant. We have been at our island home ever since; being lucky to have a very understanding landlord who knows what it means to start from the bottom and work your way up. He has become somewhat of a friend since we’ve gotten to know him better. He has also taken Nico under his wing by teaching him a trade that my husband had never-before learned. It brings to mind a saying I hold close to my thoughts: We never stop learning until we are no more.
So there we were– we had a place…but not entirely. Our very understanding landlord had taken a chance on us–renting us a lot, even though I know we appeared a rogue bunch. We had made a deal that if we could rent the place ‘temporarily’, and set up Camp Peniki, we’d be hard-at-it to find a better-suited living quarters…to keep up appearances mostly, since we’d live in our old Campervan full-time if society allowed. Had it just been us (Nico and I), we would still be out there…giving in to Wanderlust. But most vandwelling souls with little n’s find out the hard way–like we have–that we really aren’t free after all when it comes to the way we are ‘allowed’ to live or be.
So…we had a limited time to find a larger place to put on our really great lot…with a priceless view of the sunset…out over the bayou. I set to work searching and combing the internet, selling everything we didn’t need in storage to raise the money for our new home. Two weeks later, with half of our belongings sold and our storage half empty, we were on our way to get our new/old place: a vintage caravan in major need of some love. Perhaps it was the way I had called and called the man to see if our ‘home’ was still there (I had already claimed it in my mind). Maybe it was the desperation in my voice (I’ve never been very subtle with my emotions). I guess I’ll never truly know. All I do know is that he (the seller) took pity on us and ended up knocking $200 bucks off the price when we showed up with cash-in-hand. It’s a very good thing too, cause without that extra money…we wouldn’t have made it back to Galveston with our new place.
I know I’m just one of the numerous folks who believes that Blessings often come in disquise. This was so true for us when it came to getting our caravan-home…home. More than 24 hours later we finally pulled into our lot with what would become a full-time remodeling job. As that day before had gone, we’d suffered a major blow out in Liberty, Texas…right in front of a church, where the pastor had just arrived, on Memorial Day weekend. Due to the holiday and the late hour, no tire shops were open anywhere near the small town. The nice preacher man Blessed us with the offering of allowing us to park our travel trailer there…safely in the church parking lot for the evening. We all headed back to my Mother-in-law’s to stay the night, with hopes that we’d find a place to buy some spare trailer tires on a holiday Sunday. It’s great to know people when you are in a desperate state to do business when everyone else is on vacation or just off work.
Thank God we have good family to help us pull heavy things our old VW Van can’t; nice folks who know Nico’s family back in his home town; nice sellers on C List who don’t mind taking less and giving more to a family who was in need of a place to call home. And even though it has been a steady stream of remodeling our badly damaged and neglected caravan, I can honestly say…”It sure is a great feeling to actually ‘own’ our home. Bought and paid for; it may be small and not so pretty to some, but to us…it’s perfect!
It’s all in how you look at things. From where I’m sitting, this place is really coming around. I’ll gladly be sharing photos of our remod when the time is right. I hope it inspires some family…somewhere, to step off the crazy train of keeping up with the Jones’s, and live within (or below) their means. We are so-very glad we made that leap!
Blessings your way, from our Vagabond family to yours!
‘Pulled out around 11 am and headed North on 301/27/441, we will take 441 N/W when we see it and hopefully hit 98. *Camped at St. Joe Peninsula last night. I met a nice Mother-Daughter (Rebecca & Nicole) camping team, set up right beside us in a Classic Serro Scotty Vintage Travel Trailer. I loved their rig as much as they loved ours!
We sat up ’til way into the early morning….laughing and talking, tossing back a few cold ones, just having girl time. Lucky for me, Nico is great with Baby….so I kinda had the night off. Come to find out, they are Florida ladies. I exchanged emails with Rebecca so we can keep in touch.
*About St. Joe*
Beautiful beach. Had Fun fun fun! Watched a show-stopping sunset! We hope to return someday soon. Loved the beach and company, though the sites are really close together and very hard to get. I’d definitely make reservations for out next visit.
There are a few things I know I’ll never forget about our 3 weeks in the Florida Keys, and the Party we attended at Mangrove Mama’s on Sugarloaf Key is definitely one of them. We’d been invited by the owner earlier in the week, when Nico just happened to be introduced to him at the KOA Bar…in the campground next to LL. He’d gone to the store for something and, as luck would have it, ran into a few friends from LL, who were enjoying their 4 o’clock refreshments.
Needless to say, Nico and the owner of Mangrove’s hit it off and we were accepted into the rather tight-knit circle of friends/acquaintances on Sugarloaf Key. According to Nico, the party would be a benefit auction for a friend of Mangrove’s owner…who’d just-recently passed away. He was an artist…and so, they’d be auctioning off his works to raise cash for this, that, and the other. Either way, it was for a good cause, and the food and drinks were ‘on the house’. How could we refuse?
No…really! Since Mangrove Mama’s was classified more as a restaurant than a bar, we felt it was safe to take Baby, and lo-and-behold, she wasn’t the only kid there. I was a bit worried we might be walking into an environment not suited for our little one. But in the end, it all turned out to be a fun night…minus a few mis-haps and misgivings on the part of a few drunks and loud-mouths. It seems…there’s always one (or two) in every crowd.
All in all, we danced to a bongo band called the ‘Margarejects’…laughed with new-found friends, and made it safely home at a reasonable hour…across Overseas Highway and back to Lazy Lakes. In the end, Nico and I both had to admit “They really do know how to party in The Florida Keys!” What a blast we had with the local Conchs! I hope we can see them again…someday soon.
Okay, so we’d been lingering a lot on Sugarloaf Key and not had too much time for Key West until… Until we decided we had to know more of the island that our friend T.J. swore to us was ‘much better than we’d so far experienced’. *not word for word* We knew we’d have to make a day of it and, once and for all, see it for ourselves; Duval Street…Southernmost Point and everything in between.
In no time at all, Peniki was blaring down Overseas Highway at 55 mph and we were once again on Key West. This time, we’d left our bikes back at Lazy Lakes and opted to go afoot. We tried to think like the local Conchs and check out the ‘not so touristy’ spots where, in our opinions, the local-focal were likely to frequent. In our search, we ended up at a little outdoor bistro with a tropical setting like no other we’d seen anywhere near Duval…complete with talking birds. One Mango Daquiri later, I was sure we’d made the right decision by choosing to take a more intimate look at Key West and Duval Street. We were fast becoming friends with the Florida Keys.
We’d lost all track of time or day by the end of our first week in The Florida Keys. Sugarloaf Key had proven to be a perfect landing spot for our little family; our old rig a welcome sight to practically everyone at Lazy Lakes. I had the feeling that most folks didn’t know quite what to make of the ‘Hippies’ in the classic Volkswagen Westfalia Van. I was proud of Peniki…beyond measure!
So we’d survived Publix Market that first trip to Key West; never to return again. Winn Dixie had proven to be our grocery store of choice on the island. As for short ‘beer runs’ and other necessities, we biked on over to Kickin’ Back Market a few miles up from Sugarloaf Key, or just made a quick jaunt over to the KOA Campground Store…right next door to Lazy Lakes.
We had fallen into a laid-back routine by our second week in the Keys: I fed the fish right behind our camp-home every morning, Nico had his regular visits from friends for guy talk out by the street or sittin’ around our little abode. And even though it had been our intention to ‘rough it’ while we were on this adventure, it seems the kindness of others had lavished us with a few of the ‘finer’ things of camp-life; furnishing us with a TV hooked up to cable, fans, and a few chairs we’d really needed, freshly caught Mahi Mahi steaks, and some of the best company I believe we’ve ever shared. I really was loving life in the Florida Keys. Still, in my deepest subconscience…I knew, we would soon be returning to the rat-race to welcome our first Grandson into this world. If only, I thought to myself often, we could have everyone we love in one place…this place, I would never have wanted to be land-locked…ever again.
All in all, we stayed a full 3 weeks in the Florida Keys, and loved every minute of it! After that night at T.J.’s barbecue, we were destined to sing our songs on Mallory Square, for all of Key West to hear at the Sunset Celebration. It was an entirely different gig for us; an unforgettable experience I’ll forever cherish. I met a man who made an impact on my life; a fellow, much more seasoned, street performer. His name was Dr. Zeaus (spelling?), though I cannot recall his real name. I hope someday I can remember. Either way, we had an interesting conversation about life and the way people aren’t allowed to live the way they wish anymore…in this day and age. How we both feel that folks are no longer really ‘free’. I’m sure our beliefs would be met with much opposition, but to each his own. Right?
Needless to say, Nico and I took Gypsy Vin Rose to the Sunset Celebration on Key West and the evening was truly magical! Just as the sun was setting, we sang our hearts out; one of our favorite original songs ‘Time’. The music…the moment…the bit of money we made from passersby…the memories made…the much-appreciated words of a stranger “You guys have great spirit.” I’ll never…ever forget such words of encouragement. Still, no one was ever more encouraging when it came to our music than our friend T.J. And even though the CD we left him with was still just a rough-cut, live and unedited, he loved it just the same as if it were our polished studio work. It was real! As we know GVR must always stay! To us, our songs need to flow like the water, remain free as the wind: that is the voice of Gypsy Vin Rose. To us…anyway.
As for our thoughts on Key West, besides that first bad experience at Publix, we took rather well to the island life and the Conchs thereabouts. Riding bikes, snapping pics, fishing, kicking back with friends, swimming, touring and lunching on Key West, and singing at the Sunset Celebration. So many things about our three weeks in The Florida Keys, not to mention the wonderful new friendships we’d formed, are memories I’ll always treasure. And because there is still so much to tell, I couldn’t possibly cover it all in one sitting. I invite you to keep posted. The adventure is just beginning!