Snippets of life since moving to Florida…
June 29 – Hello Florida!
We arrived safe and sound in Naples late this afternoon! As I write this, I am feeling exhausted but happy. It was a long journey (4 days), taking us through areas of the eastern seaboard neither of us had ever seen. Much of the landscape was quite beautiful. The Shenandoah Valley was really lovely.
Food (made by many of you), good music, and good conversation was the standard for each day.
The clouds were especially amazing, but when the skies burst open with torrential rains, it made for some intense driving. We had to get off the highway one time, because we just couldn’t see the road well enough!
We planned each day to be approx. 6 hrs. of driving. It turned into more like 8 or 9 hours, as we encountered unexpected delays of some kind each day: road construction (esp. in Connecticut), a couple of wrong turns, accidents (not involving us), and the above-mentioned torrential rainstorms. Stopping for lunch took at least an hour, but I must say that all of our meals were outstanding!
There are large trucks everywhere on the Interstate highways; most of their drivers are good, but some are pure bullies. There are also lots of people driving at reckless speeds who we began to call “MANIACS”. It was alarming to see them weave in and out of traffic, seemingly for the thrill and challenge. We survived it all by staying in a calm, safe zone of concentration, minding the speed limit, and not challenging anyone!
We had a nice dinner tonight with James and are heading for an early sleep in a few minutes. The weekend is filled with activity, as we prepare for Florida life in our condo; the movers arrive on Tues. with all of our “stuff”.
Thank you all for your good wishes, food treats, and loving send-offs, which sustained us all the way here. More news to come as things evolve.
July 3 – Where in the World is the Vacuum Hose?
Movers came today with our stuff! 3 good-natured men in 80 degree heat and high humidity. We’re in box-land, happy as clams.
We packed really well and labeled everything. Nothing is broken. Sometimes we pause to admire our packing skills. Need to create a box for the sewing machine? No problem! Use one box for the bottom, fit a slightly smaller box into it from the top, bubble-wrap the machine and place inside, tape the boxes together at the seams… beautiful!
Yet, we’ve been looking for certain key items for hours! Notably, the vacuum hose couldn’t be found and we needed it to clean the mattress. The movers loved teasing us about it!
July 10 – Loretta, the Fabulous Registry Officer
We moved in a week ago, and have been submerged in a myriad of details you encounter when changing state residency. Today, I registered the car and got Florida plates. It was probably the most delightful hour I’ve ever spent at a registry, and I’m not being sarcastic.
My number was called after a mere 5 minutes and I approached the counter. The friendly registry officer asked what state I had moved from. I told her “Massachusetts”. She said, “Oh geez, are you a Red Sox fan?” “Definitely,” I replied. “Well, I’m originally from New York and a Yankees fan, so I hope we don’t have any problems!”
I reassured her that I’ve had a few New York friends in my time, and we get along just fine. All of us laughed heartily.
Our registry officer, Loretta, grew up in Brooklyn and has lived in Naples for about 16 yrs. I loved everything about her. She was funny, knowledgeable, thorough, and professional. She was extremely helpful, especially with Peggy’s driver’s license “situation” (I’ll let Peggy tell you about that and let it be a mystery for now).
The picture posted here is today’s walk at dusk. There is a beautiful nature trail that goes around the perimeter of our community. As we walked, the sun was setting and the sky was becoming more and more golden. A real nice way to end another busy day. Love to all xoxoxo!
July 19 – Celebrating Peggy’s Birthday!
We had a fabulous day, starting with our visit to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, then an unbelievably delicious lunch with a decadent dessert, and ending with a gorgeous sky. A fine day indeed!
CORKSCREW SWAMP SANCTUARY
New sights and sounds fed my imagination in this Everglades ecosystem composed of pine flatwoods, wet prairie, marshland, and the largest old growth Bald Cypress forest in No. America. Despite the heat and humidity (and, consequently, the lack of wading birds), I still found everything quite fascinating and learned so much from our volunteer guide, Keith. Among the birds we did see was our first limpkin!
The root system of the pines was most intriguing, as they spread more horizontally than vertically, intertwining with the roots of their neighboring pines. The interlocking strengthens their ability to withstand the powerful hurricane winds. The metaphors of connectedness abound.
It would be great to return to see how things change for each season. I saw plenty of spots suitable for plein air painting. My key concern would be how to best protect myself from alligators!
July 22 – Scoping Out Places to Paint
A big part of the acclimation is getting back into my routine of bicycling every other day. I’ve been venturing out in the early morning, before the brutal heat and humidity set in, to explore the area, discover new trails, and scope out places to paint en plein air. The most obvious destination to begin my explorations was the nearest beach (Vanderbilt Beach), a mere 20-minute bike ride away. The route is a mixture of main road and a beautifully landscaped bike path. Private property abounds with no trespassing signs, but I found several public beach access areas with bike racks, which thrilled me!
After that first ride to the beach, the key goal became finding routes that are pedestrian- and bike-friendly. The main roads may have sidewalks, but are not built with pedestrians or bicyclists in mind (too many lanes and high speed limits). Fortunately, our community sits on the corner of a main road and a beautiful, tree-lined street that is quiet and safe. That road leads to the main branch of the public library and a small shopping center. Florida must have invented the concept of the shopping center because they are everywhere! We have literally gotten lost in these centers and have had to use Siri to help us navigate.
One day last week, I was crossing the main road outside our home and saw someone walking through a narrow path toward the sidewalk. I had never noticed this path before and spontaneously decided to see where it led. I felt like Alice going through the Looking Glass! The path was a paved entry into the neighboring community of single family homes and wide, quiet streets! With a bit of instinct and my phone’s GPS, I found my way southwest toward Moorings beach.
That Alice in Wonderland moment opened up a great big world for me. I now realize that between the main roads lie many quiet communities where one can feel the kind of safety and relaxation I’m used to while biking. Gradually, I’m expanding my repertoire of routes and finding loads of color and beauty along with way: fragrant smells of the vegetation, scurrying of geckos, bright flowers, saw palmettos, etc. What has captured my attention the most are the AMAZING clouds, which are massive, complex configurations of accumulated condensation. They are living, moving, and ever-changing, forcing me to look up at the sky and admire. This may be the year of clouds in my paintings. We shall see.