Friday, June 23, 2017

We Are Here!

Spanish moss blows in the breeze in Tallahassee

As they say, "wherever you go, there you are."  And we are here! We are in The Land of Flip Flops after a week on the road (5 days of driving plus time off-road to visit family and friends in 3 different locations). While a quick air flight might have been nice, I think taking a week to get here helps us to physically and mentally weather the transition a little better. This is a huge change, after all.

Shortly after we drove into our new home state, our car was nearly running on fumes, so we stopped at the first gas station we could find in a tiny little town off of Interstate 10. This is a sign they had in their window:

sign in gas station window
Hmm. This doesn't represent the level of sophistication I prefer, but it did put a smile on my face. We are truly in the South now and I am so glad.

Today we moved into the Eastern Time Zone. We stopped for a late lunch around 2pm at The Cracker Barrel. I had my usual plate of trout with fried apples and cooked carrots. 

the St. Johns River

A couple of hours later we rolled into our new home town, which included a long drive over the St. Johns River. 

driving the Buckman bridge over the St. Johns River
Now when some of our grandchildren come to see us, they can sing, "Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house we go...." but they get to skip the parts about riding in a sleigh, etc. heh heh heh!

the bridge rises in the middle to about 65 feet above the water for boats to go under

The Buckman bridge is one of eight major bridges over the St. Johns River in Jacksonville. Beloved clocked it as we crossed today and then I checked his calculation with the Internet. Both agreed that it is just over 3 miles in length. 

I find this to be very exciting! If we can't live near the Rocky Mountains, then living close to huge bodies of water with interesting bridges is an acceptable substitute.

photo from the Internet
I expect to learn more about all of the bridges in time to come. The Dames Point Bridge is probably the most fascinating.

Anyway, we checked into our hotel, unpacked (we'll be here for several days while things get taken care of at the new house), and then drove past the house. The sellers have removed the furniture they used to stage it for selling, and have just today cut the grass. Everything appears to be in order for our closing early next week.

We ate dinner and then stopped at Publix to buy fresh produce for my Vitamix (which has been packed in the car for the past week), and ice cream.

While visiting with Beloved's cousins last night in Alabama, they sent us off with wonderful fresh peaches from their area. We sliced them up this evening and enjoyed them with Beloved's Ben and Jerry's Truffle Kerfuffle, and my [non-dairy] So Delicious Coconut Milk 'ice cream.' (you should try it; it's great!)

celebratory dessert
So, we are here, finally. It is a blessed day for us!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Eye Candy at Opryland

inside the Gaylord Opry

We drove today from Paducah, Kentucky to Birmingham, Alabama, making a lunch stop at the Gaylord Opry in Nashville. The rain related to Hurricane Cindy (now Tropical Depression Cindy) stayed with us the entire time.

Beloved takes a snapshot of a floral gazebo
We stopped here for brunch twenty-two years ago, when we were moving to Orlando. Some things have changed since then, including the parking. It used to be free, we are pretty sure. Now each car is charged $29 just to park.

Look closely to see a boat on the canal inside the building
However, it you are willing to pay that fee (and we were), the benefits are worth it.

Beloved's Turkey Bacon Club sandwich with potato salad
That parking fee does not include the price for lunch, but there are many options for dining once inside the complex.

my vegetarian quinoa veggie salad
We enjoyed sitting among the trees for our lunch, looking up at the balconies of the many, many hotel rooms.

the restaurant where we dined
In addition to the choices for food, there were gift shops. With the driving rain outside, I decided it was a good day for me to buy a hat!

me with my new ball cap

There were so many things to see -- all beautiful and tastefully displayed.

the revolving door to the outside included
a watering can full of flowers that also revolved

a glass display in the main entrance on the Cascade wing
This stunningly beautiful glass sculpture was made by Ludek Hroch in 2010. It is titled, "Resurgence."

the dining room in the Cascade wing

another awesome view of the Cascades American Cafe

By the time we were ready to return to our car, we hoped the rain had stopped. Oh, far from it! We had no choice but to hold our umbrellas close and walk through running water across the parking lot. I was glad to be wearing my waterproof hiking sandals!

After arriving in Birmingham, Alabama for the night, we met up with two of Beloved's cousins for dinner and learned a tornado had done serious damage in another part of the city during the afternoon. We are thankful for the Lord's protection of us on the roads during this long trip and through this harsh tropical weather.

Tomorrow is our last day on the road -- we will arrive in our new hometown in The Land of Flip Flops! 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Roadside Dining with Food Allergies

me with Son #2 at The Cheesecake Factory
Our road trip from Colorado to Florida began today. Yesterday we got to see Son #2 one more time with lunch at The Cheesecake Factory.

It occurred to me that for any of my readers who may have food allergies/intolerances, you may be interested to know what I'm eating to avoid my particular food allergies and intolerances while Beloved and I are on the road.

When possible, I check a restaurant's menu online before arriving to see if there is something I can order for myself. With the exceptions of dedicated fast-food burger, fried chicken, and pizza  businesses,  there is usually something I can have and even enjoy.

After I've been to a restaurant with an entree that agrees with me, I usually order that same thing anytime I go to that particular place or chain. 

Yesterday when we met Son #2 at The Cheesecake Factory, I simply checked the menu to be sure they were still serving what has worked for me in the past, their Santa Fe Salad.

The Cheesecake Factory's Santa Fe Chicken Salad

This is salad is a very flavorful combination of Lime-marinated Chicken, fresh corn, black beans, corn tortilla strips, tomato, and mixed greens with a spicy peanut-cilantro vinaigrette. The menu description includes cheese, but I asked them to omit that and they did. It was delicious, as it always is.

IHOP's Spinach Salad with grilled chicken

For dinner last night we ate at the IHOP located next door to our hotel. The Chicken Cobb Salad is advertised to be crispy or grilled chicken, hickory-smoked bacon, a hard-boiled egg, tomatoes and blue cheese crumbles with a buttermilk ranch dressing. 

I asked our server to amend that to grilled chicken, omit the cheese  and egg entirely, and to give me a vinaigrette dressing instead. No problem. It was wonderful and filling.

When we travel, I always take along some kind of store-bought fruit-and-nut bar (Lara Bars, KIND bars, and the like) that has ingredients I can eat. (label reading is essential, of course) They tuck easily into my purse and serve as my default plan when I am confronted with a hopeless (for me) menu.

Today while we were on the road, we stopped at a McDonalds in North Platte, Nebraska. McDonalds sometimes has a salad I can eat but I've learned the most tasty ones tend to be on their menu only temporarily. However when stopping along the Interstate for lunch, one can't be too picky. I made sure I had a nut bar in my purse and we went inside. 

McDonald's Southwest Salad 
Happily, McDonalds currently has a wonderful entree called Southwest Salad. It was made up of spinach, corn, black beans, a small amount of jalapeƱo pepper, corn chips, grilled chicken, and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Cheese was listed as an ingredient, which I asked them to omit. The salad was great. It hit the spot!

Yes, I do eat a lot of salads, but I've grown to love them and make it my business to include as large a variety of fresh veggie and fruit ingredients as possible. That makes them so much more flavorful, healthy, and interesting.

Shortly after I complete writing this post, we plan to have supper at The Cracker Barrel. My choice there is usually the grilled trout over rice with a couple of side dish veggies. I pass on the dinner rolls and cornbread. 

Writing about all this food has made me hungry. I'm going to dinner!

P.S. The comments are closed for today since we are on the road (and will be for the next couple of weeks).

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Goodbye to the Stuff

blooming Hosta in our yard on our moving day

"... no turning back, no turning back." (to borrow a phrase from a gospel chorus)  Every day is a milestone now! 

On Wednesday the guys came out from Christian Brothers Moving and Storage  to pack what I had not already boxed up out of my crazy-driven desire to be organized over the past two months. Or to be more specific, they packed up the kitchen, dining room, the garage, and those odd-shaped and large items for which I could not easily get boxes.

shrink wrap on a grand scale
The big surprise was that on Wednesday they also covered everything with huge rolls of plastic. We expected that to be done on Thursday (today), so we thought Wednesday would be our last night in The Brown Bungalow.

Sure, we could have slept at the house, but with all the tables and chairs shrink-wrapped, lamps dismantled and packed, and the Internet and cable turned off (a day earlier than we had requested), our last night was going to be bleak.  Beloved called our hotel to see if they had a room for us one day earlier than we had reserved. They essentially said, "Sure, c'mon on over!"

one of our two moving trucks
After a good night's sleep (although we have been waking up at 4am of late), we got back over to The Brown Bungalow where our adventure resumed. 

Five young men piled out of the two moving trucks and got to work so fast it made our heads spin. Apparently work is more enjoyable with music, so one of the guys played tunes supplied by Pandora from the 60s, 70s and 80s. That took the fun to a whole new level!!

this picture makes the packing look precarious
but it didn't stay that way
Beloved and I stayed on the covered front porch most of the morning, out of the way but sitting on front row [stools] to watch the action....except when Pandora came up with a song too good to pass up! We did not act our age (or maybe we did!) by dancing all over the front porch to the music, making probable fools of ourselves but doggone it, this was a happy day for us!! The Brown Bungalow sits on a corner of a somewhat busy residential intersection, so we did get some quizzical looks from cars driving by. But who cares?!! We laughed a lot.

Beloved with Oreck (the vacuum cleaner)
Then as the rooms were emptied, Beloved vacuumed the carpets and floors for me while I dusted the baseboards. (We make a great team!)

some items were too large to box up;
they were shrink-wrapped and well-padded on the truck
Incredibly, the five guys worked for only 3 hours to load the two trucks and then we bid them and our worldly goods goodbye. 

As Beloved emailed to our friend Winn this evening, 

"We told the moving trucks goodbye today and I said, 'Ok, Lord, Your stuff is on those trucks. Lend it back to us as You will and in Your timing.' 

Barbara said, 'I've been slimming down the stuff for a couple of months now. This is the Lord's opportunity to take care of things I may have missed.'"

That was not to cast any negative thoughts on our movers, but as anyone who has surrendered their belongings to a moving company knows, there comes a time when you watch it roll away from the house and you have to truly "let it go" emotionally.

We also have to remember that it's all "just stuff." 

My staff eagerly awaited their turn to board the truck.
Pictured here with "window seats": Rent-a-Nurse, Mrs Berniece Mertz and
Eaves Dropping (the Home and Garden reporter from the Whistlestop Weekly)
Mary: please note that Aloha Bear preferred to nap with his back to the camera!
On a misty-eyed note, we were blessed on this day to have conversations with dear neighbors: Karren and Steve, Chalesse and AJ, and Katy with her sons Ayden and Nolan. (I love Katy because she reminds me of our daughter, Surfer Girl)

When I think of the good neighbors we've have at The Brown Bungalow, Psalm 16:6 comes to mind:

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places...

Good people have been all around us, helping us to feel safe and happy. Such is a blessing not to be taken lightly.

Son #2 and The Lil' Red-haired Girl
Tomorrow we have our appointment to sign the closing papers on the sale of The Brown Bungalow and then the (by far) most difficult of this entire process will take place. We will be bidding farewell to one of our sons and his precious wife who live in the metro area. 

They have looked after us and in on us over the past twenty years, giving us much joy and satisfaction. Son #2 has delighted us with his funny pet names for us while helping us move furniture around, install under-the-cabinet lighting, helping his dad build huge storage shelves in the basement, and visited us when we were each in the hospital.

The Lil' Red-Haired Girl has absolutely fascinated us with her talents ranging from a home-based business of Internet web designs (a career shared with our son), her ability to make curtains and install tile floors and backsplashes in their near-century-old home, and taking care of her leased horse.

They both have 'sand in their shoes,' so to speak, so we know they will come see us as their busy schedules allow. It's never 'goodbye' with them, but more of a 'See ya later.' This time it will be with a damp twinkle in our eyes. 

Probably the next time I post here on the blog it will be with tidbits from our cross-country travel from here to the Land of Flip Flops. We have some stops to make along the way that will surely be 'blog-worthy.'

* *

Once again, because we are on the road and don't have the time right now, I've got the comments box closed. Just read and say a prayer for our safety, if you would. Thank you.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Moving Forward

Tuesday morning

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up;
do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43:19

Son #2 and The Lil' Red-Haired Girl came here yesterday to go to dinner with us, relieve our pantry of groceries the movers won't pack (and we don't have space in our car), take the lawn mower off our hands, and to hug us before we leave. 

Over the past week we have had several farewell visits with friends, including a well-attended Bible class dinner in a private room at Sweet Tomatoes, and many hugs with well-wishes from church friends at the close of the Sunday morning worship service.

Sigh. Not all of this moving process is starbursts and joy. I am very thankful for social media that helps to keep us connected over the miles and time zones. For me, anyway, that softens the sting of the goodbyes.

The packers come tomorrow (Wednesday) and the trucks will be loaded on Thursday. I have used the last of the dishwasher powder and already dismantled many of my kitchen cabinets to remove the shelf paper and vacuum out crumbs. Aside from eating odd foods leftover in the refrigerator and pantry, the chef in me is done.

Today I am sharing the breakfast table with a mountain of pots and pans. My morning coffee is in an old Christmas mug because my favorite mug is snugly packed for the car trip.

Our breakfast conversation focused around questions Beloved and I have. When do we take our last shower and bath so that the towels can be packed dry (not damp)? When do we disconnect the printer without fear of needing to use it again for the legal stuff that goes back and forth? Can we add just a few more things to the box with the telephones? 

We are truly in the midst of transition now. The Brown Bungalow doesn't feel like home any more but we don't close and take possession of Magnolia Place for another two weeks. 

We will transform from seeing one of our sons and his wife fairly often to seeing our other two children, their spouses and grandchildren. And the pups. We will get used to having visiting dogs in our home along with a lot more noise than we have now.

Don't get me wrong, we love children and dogs. It's all good. But it's a redesign of what is normal for us.

Our lives are taking on new shapes, almost as though we are being re-defined. It's like, not only are we entering a new chapter of our lives but perhaps it's more like we are starting a new book in a series. 

Well anyway, this is where I am today. Among the many decisions we discussed over breakfast, Beloved said he will have to turn off our Internet connection tomorrow. That translates to no more blogging for me until my laptop has a dependable source AND I have the inclination to write. I may or may not blog while we are on the road. 

Please keep us in your prayers as we come to mind. 

I'm closing the comments window with this post since I won't be able to respond readily.

Blessings to you all!

a recent purchase I absolutely could not resist