A Visit With Santa On The Strand in Galveston

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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!

.V..

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The Difference Between Conchs and Whelks

A Conch by any other name…is probably a Whelk!  Click the pic to discover the difference in the two!

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Key West Road Trip — The Journey Home

{Journal Entry}

DAY 4:

‘Pulled out of St. Joseph’s Peninsula at around 1:30 or so, headed West on Scenic 98 to 71 North.  We’re planning to visit the Southern Tip of Georgia before we head home on El Camino 84 to Texas 287.  That’s the plan anyway.

*Update*

We ended up at a rest stop off of Interstate Highway 65 at 1 AM in the morning.  Ugh!  ‘Drove all night, but we didn’t want to pay the $$$ on a room for just a few hours of sleep.  So…after stopping numerous times at various motels–and trekking out to the ONLY (what seemed like it) National Forest in Alabama, we settle for a nice…much safer, rest stop.  It was the best choice, and one we should’ve made much earlier in the evening. 

*What I Learned*  Sleeping at rest stops isn’t half as bad as I suspected.  Guess it pays to listen to Nico sometimes; as much as I hate to admit it.  lol

St. Joe Peninsula — Day 3 of Journey Home

{Journal Entry}

‘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.

Leaving The Florida Keys

Three weeks had gone by like a blink of an eye, and our stay in the Florida Keys was coming to an end.  It was time to start heading back to Tejas.  Even though we would’ve loved to stay in the Keys forever, we had obligations with the coming of our first grandchild.  Sometimes life just works out that way I guess.

And while the anticipation of a baby is usually a happy time, our’s was bitter-sweet, as our grand baby’s father had been murdered when my daughter was just two months pregnant.  It was a traumatic experience for her, to say the least.  So, while we’d been gone for almost two months, we had known all along that we would have to be there for her in her last trimester.  She had been spending time with her dad and brother in the time we’d been gone.  She was safe–of this we were sure.

So…the morning came when we sorted through the belongings we’d somehow accumulated in three weeks’ time, and begun to rid our ourselves of the things we knew we couldn’t carry and were sure one of our new friends could use.  T.J. was glad to take the small TV we’d been using for Baby.

We said our good-byes after the van was packed to the gills, and headed back up Overseas Highway; hoping to make it past Homestead by nightfall.  I sat quietly in my ‘copilot’s’ seat until the tears began to fall.  I could not contain my sadness for leaving this place we’d called home for almost a month.  To me…it felt more like home than the place to where we were returning.  I was overcome with grief.  Nico held my hand, comforting me from where he sat.

The scene was always like a dream: the endless miles of beautiful aqua blue water, the historic railroad bridge beside Bahia Honda State Park, the old abandoned Overseas Highway that is now used more for a footbridge or for bicyclists.  I was in love with this place for its quiet calmness, peaceful waters, even the ‘sometimes stinky’ mangrove swamp.

We had bonded with Key West the evening we sang at the Sunset Celebration on Mallory Square.  I remember, as we walked to our first gig as Street Performers, looking down at the well-worn and weathered brick streets in Old Towne…thinking how I’d love to walk barefoot on them.  The pirates who’d come to Key West hundreds of years before had walked those same streets.  I was fascinated by the idea of walking in their same steps.  Hopeless romantic…I am!

One thing I know for sure — I will always treasure our time in The Florida Keys and the nice people we met, the friendships we formed.  There is a special place in my heart reserved just for Key West and Sugarloaf Key.  To me….they will always feel like home.  I pray someday…soon, the wind will catch our sails and we will find ourselves there once again.  A girl can dream…a girl can pray.

.V..

Playing the Sunset Celebration in Key West

So…we’d set-up to play the Sunset Celebration on Mallory Square there in Key West.  We’d never done the ‘street performer’ gig before, so we had no idea what to expect.  After being directed into a nice spot near the water’s edge, we began belting out a few of our tunes; not sure if anyone was listening at the time.

I have to admit, without any sort of amplifier or speakers, it was all I could do not to strain a vocal chord to two.  But we managed to get through it all just fine.  In fact, Nico did wonderfully and seemed to fit right into that sort of scene.  With my soft voice, I can’t be so sure anyone ever even heard me, much less have an opinion.

But there was one man who did seem to have something to say, and a few folks stood close by listening as best they could while we sang the sun into the ocean.  The nice man told us “You have great spirit.”  We took it as a compliment since he and his wife had been listening to our show for quite some time.  Click on link below to see hightlights from our performance on Mallory Square.

Video:  ‘Flaminco Sunset’ by Gypsy Vin Rose

All in all, we had a great time–it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I wouldn’t change it for the world!  And the next time we head back down to Key West and the Florida Keys, I look forward to going back out to Mallory Spuare and singing my heart out…once again.  After all, I have nothing to fear…and nothing to lose.

.V..

GVR

www.gypsyvinrose.com

 

Party in The Florida Keys

Party at Mangrove Mama’s:

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.

Video: Party at Magrove Mama’s

..V. ~~ www.gypsyvinrose.com