Yesterday, we finally broke-away from the remodeling chaos, and took Baby down to the Strand District…here on Galveston Island. It was her very first ‘Claus Encounter’, and it went really well. But…I think Daddy might’ve embarrassed her just a little. ; )
It’s a rarity these days, for us to get out-and-about–I hate to admit–and just see the sites that our new hometown has to offer. The cost of such an afternoon? Nada! Which is about all we have to spend after Christmas shopping. Still, I have to say, our little tour of Downtown Galveston, and the Santa Claus photo shoot with Baby and Gypsy Vin Rose, was a huge success!
Next year, Santa…we’ll see ya again! Same time…same place! And we promise, we’ll be good in 2014.
Blessings to All this Christmas…New Years…and Always!
Wow…! What a wind we’ve had overnight and this morning! It’s gotta be making all the birds fly backwards out there. Poor little seagulls! I feel for them while I’m sitting nice and cozy-warm by my faux fireplace…in our little caravan home.
I feel rather grateful today; thinking of the things we do have and not focusing on the things we are lacking. One of which would be money: broke as a joke…we are! But, I still feel really grateful, none-the-less. You see…? My husband has started a part-time job for a time-share resort, and to us…this means ‘finally’ a steady income. As much as we are attempting to live a simpler life, society just keeps reeling us back in. And living below one’s means shouldn’t include having to struggle so badly that your selling your stuff (things you might not want to sell) in-order to keep bills current.
I have to laugh at that one: keeping the bills current. Sometimes I just don’t know which way is up! We’re damned if we do (follow the 8 to 5 robotic flow of society) and we’re damned if we don’t (attempt to live below our means in a small dwelling, whilst the ‘uppety’ folks around us frown down their noses like we’re criminals?). But it has all taught me a very valuable lesson: you can’t please everyone…so you got to please yourself, as the song also goes.
So I’m rambling, which I tend to do. But I promise I really do have a point to all this. My point is, we are thankful for what we have, though we are longing for less even-still: less of the societal hooks in our sides, less bills, less crowds of people and traffic, less work and more life (I miss my husband when he isn’t here, and this place would fall apart without him), less complications all across the board, and less nosiness from the folks that think it’s better to send my daughter to ‘traditional school’ (homeschooling looks better everyday). I could go on and on…but I won’t bore you that much!
Either way, we will continue to work on our tiny house dwelling – caravan home, and I will continue to look for a small, but secluded, plot of land to homestead; something that we will own and I can have farm animals and make my own cheese, and gather eggs from our own chickens. And…we can still be free to go camping and travel a bit in Peniki. She needs an overhaul, so we are rather forced to stay put for now. Still, she needs to be turned out to greener pastures and times…just like us. Graze off the land, as we were meant to be allowed to do; this land was God’s gift to man, and man has dominated it to his own injury. My belief…entirely.
So, even though these birds are still flying backwards in life, we are making some progress with the remodeling of our travel trailer — caravan home (one in the same). Therefore, I felt in order to keep this blog from becoming such a ‘hodge-podge’ mess of subjects, I should go ahead and start a blog dedicated to the remodeling of our vintage trailer. I hope you will follow and see what we’re up to, the many mistakes we often make (so you won’t make them too), and the little innovations we are forced to come up with…due to lack of funds. I will be posting the link or reblogging right here…soon! I invite you to take a peek into our chaotic life. You might just be inspired, but you’re sure to have a laugh or two.
Just a few months ago…we pulled into Galveston with everything we owned in a 17 foot U-Haul truck, and Peniki (our old Hippie van) safely strapped on a car trailer. We were high on hope and full of dreams; we were. Arriving at around 3 am, we found an out-of-the-way spot on the seawall, crawled up into our old VW on the car-hauler…and fell in ‘til morning. We’d be heading over later to unload all of our stuff into our 10×15 storage unit that we’d pre-arranged weeks ahead of our move.
So there we were, soundly sleeping…exhausted and happy to finally be in Galveston. For several years we’d been trying to make a move. For several years we’d been locked in the rent-race and living paycheck to paycheck; never enough money to save or travel. Finally…we were really newbie transplants to the island—we were finally islanders.
“Yes…!” I said to myself as I awoke that morning to the sunrise out over the Gulf of Mexico. It hadn’t all just been a dream after-all. Baby was still soundly sleeping beside me. Nico was next to her, still snoring away. I knew he was road-weary after pulling such a rig for hundreds of miles. I let them both sleep while I sat there and watched the sun come up. It was beautiful! Just as I’ve always thought the sunrise is astounding, this one seemed even better than I’d ever witnessed. Perhaps it was because we had actually made the move and were trying to let it sink-in that we were in Galveston to stay and build our lives and a business; raise a child too. It was a dream…coming to reality.
So, for a while…I just sat there, mesmerized by the moment that was my here-and-now. I had no clue how it would all play-out: our establishing ourselves as islanders, our business launch, where we’d end up setting roots and living—in my father-in-law’s motorhome, was the initial plan—who we’d meet along the way, would we be met with success or failure. I had so many questions that would have to go unanswered…for the time-being. I wondered too if we’d find a way to get our music out there to the local music scene and start establishing ourselves as musicians more thoroughly in G-Town than we ever had in the city. I was left to wonder so many things. I would just have to wait and see.
Having enjoyed some quiet time to be alone with my thoughts, it wasn’t long before Nico was awake and back behind the wheel of the U-Haul truck; we had a busy day ahead of us…we knew. Me and Baby just stayed sleeping inside Peniki while Nico pulled us a little ways down Seawall and around the corner to Taco Cabana; we were starving and needed to carve out a plan for the day. Coffee…! That was all I cared about at the time. I needed some java-juice and I needed it quick!
A little while later, I was enjoying my black coffee…along with some really delicious bean and cheese tacos that tasted much better than I ever remembered them tasting before; even when we’d have them back in the Fort. We scoped out the goings-on of our first morning as islanders: noticing that for everyone else, it was just another day. The hustle and bustle—be-it at a slower pace—the tourists arriving or departing the island, the huge dinosaur-of-an-outdated-motorhome sitting a short distance away from us in the Randall’s parking lot. I wondered about the occupants of that motorhome for some crazy reason: were they new to the island, had they just gotten here or been here for a while? To this day, I still don’t know why I gave them a second thought.
Funny…the things I wonder and think about! I scare myself at times. And while I couldn’t actually know about what was going on for other folks, I knew for us, it was the start of a different life; one we’d been trying to transition to for quite some time. We just sat there and enjoyed ourselves and the down-time we knew wouldn’t last once we got to storage. It was a morning that will forever stand-out in my memory as the day we arrived; when Galveston made islanders of former city folks. We so-welcomed the change.
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.
Okay…! So we’d planned on heading on in to Key West today; check it out and see what it’s all about. Long-about noon time, we cruised over Cow Key Channel and there we were: In the Famed Key of Keys! I snapped pic after pic of anything…everything my shutter could capture.
It didn’t take us long to see that it was a very busy little island. Taking the right path where it splits (A1A goes left, Hwy 1 goes right) we ended up in traffic! Yuk…traffic!! Of all places in the world, I never expected such hustle and bustle on Key West. But there we were; one red light after another, waiting…waiting, to see what all the fuss is about. Still, we weren’t seeing it.
Finding our way to the Publix Market, there were bikes everywhere out front: That was different than anything we’d seen back in Texas or along the way. A nice change of pace, I thought to myself. We parked and went in for a few necessities, and plenty of libations for T.J.’s barbecue later that evening.
I must admit, the view across the street from Publix was like seeing night and day; Publix was ‘Blah’…the Gulf side Marina was very inviting. I saw houseboats everywhere! I wanted to go live on one of them. Nico and I dreamed of what it would be like to float around in our houseboat, without a care in the world; singing…playing music, writing songs all day or night. The vision was nice while it lasted; thanks to the hectic frenzy inside Publix.
The energy in there was all bad! The people were as crazy as back home; the vibes I felt from one woman were barely short of evil. She was in a very bad mood and didn’t do much to hide it. I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there! We decided to avoid Publix after that. I was rather taken-aback by the ‘feel’ of the place and the people in it. Publix is definitely a place I’d NOT recommend in Key West.
So…after that ‘experience’ at Publix, we decided to check out the other side of the island before heading back to Sugarloaf Key. It was a very refreshing change from the commerce side of Key West: hotels, seawall, beaches, miles of sidewalks for riding…running…walking. I loved the other side of Key West! Now this…I definitely would recommend. When you visit Key West, take the left turn…not the right. You’ll be glad you did!
After a brief tour of the ‘lighter’ side of life on Key West, we spent the rest of our day back on Sugarloaf; kicking back a few brewskies and prepping to mosy down to T.J.’s for some laid-back fun on Lazy Lakes’ peaceful freshwater lake.
The evening was filled with fun, good food, singing and playing our music. I do believe, after that night, T.J. is our biggest fan! He shared a lot of insider secrets to entertaining on Key West. To hear him tell it, we needed to share our songs at the Sunset Celebration that goes on nightly over on KW. It was fun to imagine, but we weren’t quite sure we were ready to join the ranks of street performers. But, time would tell! If it was left up to our new friend, I knew we’d soon be braving the crowds on Mallory Square. It was an exciting thought!
For us…this morning was a new beginning. The light of day had brought with it a better view of Lazy Lakes Campground and the clear water lake beside us. More of our new neighbors stopped for a friendly ‘hello’ and to tell a few tales of their younger days when they either owned or knew someone who’d owned a Hippie Van like Peniki. Still, we seemed to be frowned-down-upon by the more ‘uppity’ clan of big-riggers; the ‘old codgers’ I call them.
All in all, the folks at LL are turning out to be a pretty warm bunch of retirees, part time beach bums, or full time ‘conchs’ as they so lovingly refer to native residents or transplant natives of The Florida Keys. Again, our new friend T.J. happened by on his bicycle…on his way down to a little store called Kickin Back, a mile or so down Overseas Highway. Being the nice person he is, he asked if we needed anything while he was there. Lucky for us, we were well packed, and at that time only needed to buy more ice for our ice box. The campground office sells ice and is really laid back on when campers pay. Like I said, Lazy Lakes is just the place to go for a relaxing vaca in the Keys.
For most of our first full day on Sugarloaf Key, we’ve lolly-gagged about on our bikes with baby in tow, met a few more nice locals, and relaxed for the first time in days; got a little fishin’ in too. We ended our day with a few brewskies by our trusty old VW Van, overlooking the myriad of fish from the ‘backyard’ of our new place in the Keys; however temporary it might be.
Tomorrow will be a busy day when, in addition to the barbecue we’ve been invited to at T.J.’s, we will head in to check out Key West, pick up a few more groceries and supplies…and see how the local ‘Conchs’ live. I can hardly wait!
Woke up….packed up a partially set-up camp, deciding to leave and explore Key Largo. Gotta find a WiFi signal soon. A little while later, stopped at a little sandwhich shop near the Publix Market and used the internet there. We met a few nice folks–Kim the shop clerk and Brent the owner of the shop. I got Kim’s FB info and we decided to keep in touch.
Had initially planned on heading to Big Pine Key to camp for a few days; at least until we went and checked the only available spot at Breezy Pines RV Campground. It was a ‘no go’ there! Bad energy and too many shady looking characters. We ventured further down…closer to Key West, even though it was late in the day. I’m glad to say, after much fear we would end up w/o a spot for the night, we landed at Lazy Lakes on Sugarloaf Key. This is a happy and peaceful place to be. Love it here!
Day 21: Leaving Sebastian Inlet, Headin’ to the Florida Keys–
Up by 8:30 or 9ish, ‘did laundry and packed up the van for the final stretch of our Peniki adventure road trip. ‘Got on the road late b/c we had hot dogs and good conversation with our neighbors Eddy and Suzanne. Nice People! We’ll have to keep in touch.
‘Thinking we’d head straight for Key Largo today; per a tip from Eddy, we decided to take the Toll Road straight on down and by-pass Miami this time around. I had really had my heart set on seeing Hollywood Florida, but our new friend Eddy said it’s just a lot of hype, souvenir shops and the like. Still, I want to see it…someday.
Visited the ATM, bought diapers and wipes, fueled up the van and we went in search of Florida’s Toll Road. In the end, the toll road proved to be way too fast-paced for our old classic VW. I was a mess when it came to nerves, but Captain Nic kept it steady and calm; even when we thought we might get mowed down by the crazy drivers who aren’t still stuck in the 70’s…goin’ 55 mph. : ) The left side service station exits, right off the ‘fast lane’ really didn’t help our case any at all. At one point, some flaming idiot came past in a fury, yelling some stupid shit! I wanted to catch up to him and put the Whoopass on him….but the van never could catch the maniac. LMAO
Finally, after hours and many miles of chaos on the toll road, we rolled in to Key Largo at about 9 pm or so, quickly found a campsite (as fast as we possibly could anyway), and ended up at The Key Largo Campground and Marina…just off Overseas Highway and within walking distance to Publix. We paid WAY too much for the lot w/ a water view, but at last….we had arrived. A BIG sigh of relief fell over our camp and ourselves as we went about constructing a partial set-up for the night.
Camp was finally put together and we were more than ready for bed by about midnight. Luckily, the baby slept through it all. ‘Will see tomorrow what this place looks like; if it is worth the $$$ we spent, though I doubt it is.
All in all, it had been a pretty good day’s travels. Peniki had taken us all the way to the Florida Keys and God had blessed us in so many ways.
*Remembering* Nico met a nice man from Haiti who was working at the Key Largo Burger King. I remember thinking of how much farther he had traveled to a new land, by comparison to our own travels. I thought to myself: If this brave man can come all this way and make it work, we should be able to as well. I dared to dream.
Day 20–Mother’s Day: Flagler Beach to Sebastian Inlet SP
Mother’s Day today! Woke up around 9:00 or so to a beautiful sunny day on Florida’s East Coast. Lovely ocean waves in the distance; I can barely hear them from our campsite at Flagler Beach’ Gamble Rogers State Rec Area. We really do like it here. The facilities are nice, with clean restrooms right across from us, and a laundry facility as well. I can see the Atlantic Ocean from our temporary front yard. ; )
Nico cooked breakfast, made some coffee and fed Baby too. Flagler is a very inviting place, but I think we’ve decided to press onward. We were up and gone by noon, but in our travels, we’ve discovered that A1A Highway along the Atlantic Coastline, is NOT a friendly road! We were going the speed limit of 55 mph, but cars were still idiotically passing on the wrong side of a skinny two lane road…with no shoulder to pull over if needed. Crazy Drivers! We escaped A1A as quickly as possible, and opted to take Highway 1 on down from Ormond Beach. The SP there was nice, but still not the best we’ve seen.
Stopped near Daytona for drinks/ice/gas, and decided to head for Sabastian Inlet SRA. [Note to Self: Daytona…YUK! No Go There Again!] A little while later, there we were at a nice campsite across from the Gulf side of Florida, watching the sun set over the water. ‘Met a nice couple from Jacksonville–Eddy and Suzanne Shores–camped out next to us at Sebastian Inlet. But we quickly realized that the Park Hosts really ‘STINK’ there!
We travel for up to 6 months out of the year, and more often if we’re lucky. Part-time living/traveling with our little one in Peniki, our Vintage VW Westfalia, is what life is all about for our family. For us…it’s the way to go!
Here’s a little story that was recently published on Green RV Living, about how we roll…and live PT Off the Grid. God Bless and Happy Travels!
Day 18: Econfina River State Park from St. George Island
Pulled out of St. George at around 12:30 PM on Friday. We said goodbye to Rob West; our nice camphost from Pennsylvania. ‘Found an island grocery market and a ATM, then stopped-off at a little roadside seafood stand and bought the day’s catch directly from the fisherman who’d caught it that morning. What we bought:
1 lb shrimp, 2 lbs red snapper filets, 2 crab cakes. Yum! I’d be cooking the cakes later on down the road, along with the shrimp, and the fish I planned to save and cook the next day since it was frozen.
While at the seafood stand, we met a nice man, a retired college professor. He loved the van! : )) We love St. George Island! …hate to leave. We both agree we could live quite happily on Saint George Island. Never know…maybe some day!
*Beautiful drive along coastal 98 headed East, as we were leaving the long bridge to/from St. George.*
We stopped at an IGA in Carrabelle, FL for groceries and stuff. The ladies at the store were really nice and helpful. You don’t see that everyday! *Cute little town, that Carrabelle! I took pics of a kewl wooden boat-bar. Love it!! We wanted to stop, but we had to forge ahead.
Refueled in Pancea while down the road, and had every intention of going on to our desired destination, but considering the time-of-day and how tired we were, we decided to camp for the night at Econfina River State Park. Come to find out, there were no campsites at the park, so we found a rural spot at a private compground up the road and secured a spot for $17. Not too bad! And the primitive site was very secluded and lush with Palmettos and Palms…and that scary Spagnum Moss hanging from the trees. It reminds me of the Scooby-Doo mysteries every time I see it. Lol This trip, we’ve seen it a lot too.
*Nice old bald man (The ‘old bald man’ part…his words, not mine. lol) named Ron, who we met back at Econfina while asking for directions, loaned me some sunblock/bug repellent called ‘Cactus Juice’. It comes from Texas! hahaha Good stuff! We used a little then returned it to the store nearby, per his request, the next day before we pulled out. He said he knew the folks there at the store and they’d hold it til he came in the next fishin trip…that next weekend more than likely. : )
We cooked the shrimp from St. George on the open fire-pit that night. It was delicious! Once we turned in, we had a bit of a scare when we heard some goings-on outside our camp. Blanca had been fixated by something out in the woods all day since we’d arrived. Nico went out (I begged him not to, but…you know men) to see what it was, but seemed rather spooked when he came back in. He said what ever it was, it was circling our campsite, was very heavy…and very fast. Needless to say, he stayed in after that. ; )
Obviously we made it through the night, or I guess you wouldn’t be reading this. Haha It had been a good day…all in all. Many…many Blessings!
Had breakfast and got ready for a nice day at St. George Island Beach. ‘Loaded up the bike trailer to the limit, and we were off! Fun…fun day! ‘Found a Pirate’s Booty of seashells! Yayahhhh!!!
Headed back to camp and started a campfire to grill Bratwurst sausages. While the fire was stoking, I headed out to buy ice from the camp-hosts and ended up meeting Rob’s wife Anne. Nice lady! We ended up chatting for over an hour and meeting other passersby out walking their dogs.
Later that night, Nico played guitar for Nixi and we settled in…after showers. It had been a good…good day. Lovin’ every minute of St. George Isle! No words to describe…
Met a nice couple from Gainesville, FL this morning who bought a copy of our CD (First one sold!! Yay!!!). Huck told us that he’s a native of New York State and his wife Leah is from Colorado. They had two sons, and they were there at Grayton Beach SP on a family camping trip. Nice people! I hope they keep in touch.
We finally hit the road at around 2 PM (Ugh!!), leaving Grayton Beach headed East on 98. It was a nice drive with no complications. Yay!! ‘Arrived at St. George Island State Park after passing over a three-mile-long bridge and snapping a few pics of the lighthouse there on St. George. While we were stopped at the Ice Machine, an older couple pulled up in a golf cart wanting to snap a pic of us; the Hippies in the VW Van. Too Kewl!
Arriving at SGI SP, we paid for a couple nights and set to work on camp. ‘Met camp-host Rob West from Pennsylvania while buying firewood for our campfire-to-be. Settled in for the night after setting up rig and cooked a bit on the fire. Turned in at a reasonable time…for a change, but didn’t get much sleep (for a good reason, this time). Nico and I made up for lost time. Yayah!
Not bad for a day’s work! We were lovin’ St. George Island so far.