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30 June 2018 Solomons, MD, – Washington, DC, – Greenville, SC, – Ocala, FL, Calleo, VA, St. Mary’s, VA

2 June
     What a fun day to end the week. Yesterday and today we watched the Blues from the dock and no matter how many times I watch them, it’s always a thrill and makes me have “wet eyes”.











AND, another celebration is this pool! First time I’ve swum since May 2017, and it felt fabulous. Almost like uniting with a long lost lover. 



3 June
We’re on our fly bridge enjoying the gentle rocking provided for us by torrents of wind and rain and watching the Grand Banks and Kadey Krogen dancing around their mooring balls. It’s once again sweat shirt weather.




4 June
     Dusk is settling in and we’re on our fly bridge reflecting on our lives, this day, and friendships. The only sounds are the chirping of crickets and the throbbing of the crab boats’ engines, returning with their day’s catch.
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7 June
We had an interesting day today and both occurrences were serendipities. We’re both over-due a filet mignon. Haven’t had once since Brunswick, GA. We’d seen good reviews for Jerry’s Place which we found in a tire store in Prince Frederick. Soon’s we walked in, Jerry was there to greet us, asked if this was our first time, inquired as to our fave seafood…. Told him we were really puckered up for a steak. Said he didn’t have those but had the best crab cakes in…the world. They brought us menus and a small bowl of kale, one of stewed tomatoes, and one of small pieces of haddock. Bill ordered haddock and I, a 6 oz crab cake. I was quite underwhelmed with the crab cake. A pickle came with it–all for close to $30. Seemed more like an appetizer. Bill loved his fish but $60+ for lunch was a tad on the pricey side, me thought. And we drank water—tap water!!! Staff was friendly and when we left and had exited the restaurant, the hostess came running after us asking how we liked it and told us about things to do and see in the area. Quite a friendly bunch. Interior’s quite eclectic. Jerry personally greets everyone who enters his portals albeit a mite steep for lunch…and faucet water.

Then we went to Cove Point Lighthouse which sits on a 7 acre point of land in one of the narrowest parts of the Chesapeake Bay. It was built in 1828 and is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse and the 5th oldest on the Bay. The docent was a very interesting little man who told several humorous tales and showed a video. We weren’t allowed to climb the stairs to the lantern room but I thought the pattern the stairs made was interesting.

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7 June
This is what it looks like when you have your ducks in a row.








8 June

     We found a nearby 7 mile hike today through the woods and the only sounds were birds communicating and the leaves crunching beneath our feet. This tree aspires to be a letter and the little patch of bright green moss catapulted me back to my childhood when I’d pretend it was fairy carpet. I love a stroll through unadulterated nature.

9 June
     
     A late lunch with Nancy, Ted, Martha, and Charles at Kingfisher’s where we enjoyed great food, great company, and tons of hysterical laughter. Thanks, Nancy for choreographing that.

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13 June

     We’re out for a nostalgic cruise and a respite at anchor. 


     We cruised past this is a restful point at Calvert Marina on our way to brunch.
Our cruise to Cockold Creek (there’s gotta be a story behind that name) was calm and peaceful. We anchored for brunch alfresco, napped, read, played in the water, and returned to our slip in time to meet Judy and Curt at Solomon’s Yacht Club for dinner. 

      Our approach to the Patuxent River Bridge. The Blue Marble is for Blue Mind endeavor.

A tall ship arrived next to the yacht club. 

   
Our wake after going under the bridge.


     We arrived home just in time to see a crimson sky lit from the setting sun. Nothing beats a day on the water and with boating friends—the best kind of folks.

14 June

Since we love DC, we don’t need much of a reason to go there to we thought a visit to the Apple Store would be enough of an enticement.

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We drove from Solomons, parked, and took the Metro and our feet to visit old haunts. The day was filled with lots of nostalgia as we revisited our home marina and some of our fave places in Washington. It was like returning home. Everything and everywhere is just so familiar to us. We walked ten miles without even realizing it. The ethnic and cultural diversity is one of the aspects of the city that I really appreciate and find so enticing.

15 June

     Long time cruising friends, Peg and Jim, cruised through on their way home to Pasadena, MD, and were at friends’ dock on Mill Creek–Judy and Curt. We took happy hour over to their boat and had a fantastic evening catching up on our lives since last we met. 

17 June
     I met with a group of 30 members of our trawler organization for dinner at Solomons’ Pier Restaurant. Great food, view, and fellowship.

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21 June

     The pre-drywall walk-through of our new home in Ocala went well. Tentative move in date is mid-September.
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24 June
     This is most certainly a cultural experience! The Chesapeake Cowboys ramming their boats. Hotter than blazes. Thankfully that’s checked off our bucket list.

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25 June

     At noon-thirty, we departed Calvert Marina, Solomons, MD, after 8 weeks of being there to clean and clean and clean and provision. Can’t explain the joy that fills our souls to feel water moving beneath our hull! Didn’t take long to realize that the bay wasn’t welcoming so instead of it being the Chesapeake, we’d prolly have to rename it the Chesapuke Bay. So off we went to find a protected anchorage–which we did where we were at anchor for 3 days and 2 nights waiting out the bay. A great time of reflection, reading, and painting.

27 June

     We’re on our way and the wait was well worth it. The bay was as calm as it could be and was a wonderful day upon the water.

     Certainly a photo op not to be missed. Every time we cruise by here I take another picture. Of course, they all look the same—just with different year’s dates.
     Our day of cruising was blissful and as we pulled into Lodge Creek Yacht Club/Olverson’s Marina, it was just like coming home. We’ve met so many wonderful people here over the years and have had such great times. We always anticipate our return. Twas fun getting together with Tom and Betty on Southwind. It’d been a long time since we’d seen them making for a get time of…again…catching up.

28 June

     The Chesapeake Bay Cruisers planned a huge gathering will with wonderful foods and of course, adult beverages. Visiting with old friends and making new ones constituted a very enjoyable evening. 

29 June

     Today’s the 72nd birthday “of my lover and my best friend.” Of course he got coffee in bed—as always, and the royal treatment all day of not having to lift his finger to do a thing—but brush his teeth. Mid afternoon we boarded Freddie’s boat (he’s the marina owner and has a heart as big all all outdoors) for a 2 ½ hour cruise to St. Mary’s College, VA, for their 4th of July concert by the Chesapeake Orchestra and their fireworks extravaganza.















      It was spectacular and equally so was the cruise home on the Potomac River that was as smooth as a baby’s butt and the full moon reflecting off the water. 






     Freddie was a great captain who’s plied these waters all of his life and navigates them flawlessly. On board was Richard and Sandy, 2 of his friends and old (not in age) trawler friends, Lolli and Craig. Because of my poor photographic skills, I can never photograph the moon as beautiful as it is. 
     For once in our lives and I’m blaming it on “extraneous circumstances”, we don’t have a detailed itinerary due to a period of being in limbo but you can be certain that July will be another entertaining adventure.

Bill and Laura
Calleo, VA

31 May 2018 Ocala, FL, – Brunswick, GA, – Richmond, VA, – Solomons, MD, – Chesapeake Beach, MD, – Indian Head Trail, Waldorf, MD, – Solomons, MD

     1 May.  Bill and I had our own private bon voyage dinner of filet mignons, at Cody’s Steakhouse; our Ocala Swan Song. Prior to pointing our noses northward, we slept well after making sure we left the coach spic-n-span.


     2 May. We stored our coach under cover near Ocala and began our sojourn with Solomons, MD, and our beloved Kindred Spirit III in our cross-hairs. We spent the first night back in Brunswick. We always seem to time our “passing through” to occur in time for an evening meal. Millhouse Steakhouse serves the most mouth-watering filet mignons that will absolutely melt in your mouth. No knife needed. Two steaks in as many nights???  We’ve worked hard and needed the sustenance. 

     3 May. Day 2 of pounding pavement in our 800 mile pursuit of reaching Solomons Island, MD, tomorrow. Bill’s a trooper and I’m exhausted just from sitting and doing nothing. I just can’t wait to lay my eyeballs on our trawler. I’m SOOO excited!!! We’re not getting any exercise and not eating healthy—but this, too, shall pass. We’re crashing in Richmond, VA, for tonight.

     4 May. We learned that our piece of dirt is beginning to take shape. This shows trenches for footings. Not sure that’s the term a builder would use but you get the picture!

     Now for the unexpected aspect of our yesterday’s trip where we witnessed something “as seen on TV”. We were merging onto I-95 just outside of Lumberton when 3 police cars were blocking our entry. One officer opened his trunk, pulled out his bullet-proof vest, and donned it—as did the others. There must have been 25-30 law enforcement vehicles barreling own the highway in the direction we were intending to travel. One officer got a ‘thing’ that we later learned was a wide strip of spikes meant to stop the vehicle housing the ‘bad guy’. We had no idea what was unfolding before our eyes or I’d have videoed it. The officer threw that thing across the interstate, a speeding (hijacked) pickup veered to avoid it, and the officer pulled it back so blazing fast so innocent travelers wouldn’t fall prey. This occurred in just a split second. The high jacker’s reflexes were amazingly fast despite his being impaired. The multitude of police cars took off after him and within less than a mile, they’d apprehended him.  His truck was off the interstate and on the grass so he had free (for him) lodging in the local slammer that night.

     So the story goes, he’d tried to hijack 2 semi’s and even shot into one of the tractor-trailers. Kudos to the NC state police, local police, and the sheriff’s department for putting their lives on the line and for their dedication to keeping us safe. We’re kinda naive regarding police activities so this was horrifying to watch. Maybe we need to watch more law enforcement TV.
      We arrived in Solomons and made a bee-line to Capt. Pat’s Seafood for lunch then straight to Calvert Marina. This is, without a doubt, what home feels like to us and when we arrived this afternoon, I wanted to kiss her all over. Kindred Spirit III is truly Home Sweet Home. Knowing this will be our last season aboard makes her even more precious.  At this moment, we’re sitting on the fly bridge enjoying a glass of wine and basking in the memories that we’ve made aboard her. Even though we’re in a slip, we can sense a slight rocking and the sound of the water lapping against the hull is more soothing and tranquil than any symphony.

     5 May. This day was the annual Solomons Maritime Festival, a celebration of Southern Maryland traditions of work, play, and self expression. The festival harkened back to a simpler, slower time when waterman spent their days on the water with very few ties to land. The exhibits, learning opportunities for the children, and music made for a well-spent Saturday. We met up with Curt and Judy who were volunteering there. We met them about 12 years ago when we were docked in Charleston, SC, and so were they. We developed a strong friendship and the rest is history. “Boat People” are just that way.  



     We worked like dawgs all week getting our boat squeaky clean from the bilge to the top of the full enclosure in anticipation of potential buyers and we aren’t finished yet. 


    6 May.  Somehow, an overcast day, freezing, dressed in sweats, last night we slept under an electric blanket and with the heat on —–none of this goes together. Didn’t know we were going to the north pole.









     8 May.  Yippee! Thanks to our future Larkhill neighbor, Diligent Donna and her photographic skills, she sent a photo of our slab that was poured today!  

     Lo and behold, it’s finally warming here. We enjoyed spring flowers when we were “down south” and now we have another opportunity to take pleasure in these. 

     12 May. We took a break from our scrubbing, polishing, waxing, repairing…and met Charmaine, our cycling guru and friend from DC, in Chesapeake City, for lunch and a stroll around town. She isn’t a boater but a extremely strong cyclist. Years ago when we were in DC by boat, (it’s a very long story—as most of mine are) the 3 of us met and we consider her one of our best friends. She takes her bike and rides all over the world. She’s got to have the strongest pistons of any woman I know. She works on The Hill and rides her bike to work during rain, sleet, or snow, with the caveat of—if the snow’s deeper than 3”, she’ll take the train. We see her often and it’s always a fun time spent. She even came to Ocala to see us—and ride— during the winter when we were down there “feeling out the area.” Lunch with Charmaine and Bill at Traders, Chesapeake Beach, MD.


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    13 May. Mother’s Day
                     Our Four Sons who call me “Mom”.
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   This is one of my most treasured pictures of Chad, Matt, Andy, and Stephen who’s still in the oven–He ranks a photo all by himself so you can see what he really looks like instead of being a lump. I love being their mom.

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     Before Curt and Judy took off on another adventure, we got together with them for cocktails at the Yacht Club and a tastebud tantalizing dinner at the Brassiere. 


     On a weekend, Elinor and Tom drove down from Severna Park for a visit and lunch on the island at Kingfisher’s. We met them, also years ago, in Marathon, when we’d winter down there. They were in the slip next to us.  Tom’s an avid cyclist and he led us on many rides east from Marathon. We’ve visited them by boat on the Severn River and he took us on exciting rides on the paved Baltimore and Annapolis Trail as well as down into Annapolis.


    LOOK!!! That concrete slab is about to grow some walls!  There are stacks of CMU’s and by noon that day, we had a semblance of a house.




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     That evening we had photos of the latest update of our home. The exterior masonry lock walls are completed and the lentil has been pumped with solid concrete. The build is moving right along.









     21 May. We took a Sunday morning stroll around the island ending at a cute little coffee shop over looking the Patuxent River.
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     Day is done and now we’re sitting on our bridge watching the diamonds dance upon the surface of Back Creek as we anticipate a beautiful sunset.
     26 May. This morning we met our DC cycling guru, Charmaine, at the Indian Head Rail Trail, MD, for a 30 mile ride through the solitude of nature. The silence was broken only by bird’s songs, the rat-a-tat of woodpeckers, and the hypnotic whir of our tires on the paved trail. 
     We came upon a pace line that ended horribly for one guy who did a face plant at 16 mph. Copious amounts of blood on the pavement and EMS came to take him away. His bike faired better than he—-his front wheel resembled a taco. 

     Charmaine found a little hole in the wall seafood joint where we had a wonderful lunch. The day was perfect. Temp just right, gentle breeze and verdant trees backdropped by a cerulean sky, and the company of a great friend and my best friend made for a spectacular day! Thank you, Charmaine!  🚴‍♀️🚴‍♀️



Grand Banks 42 CL Trawler for Sale

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Offered up for sale is a special 1984 Grand Banks Classic 42 ft. Trawler.  Kindred Spirit III has been loved and cared for by the same owners for the past 12 years.  During that time, she has been continuously upgraded and maintained in “Bristol” condition.  Her Captain is a retired engineer who has made his mission to “make her the best 80’s Grand Banks on the water”.  We believe anyone who examines her will agree that he has achieved his goal.
This Trawler is equipped exactly as a serious “Passagemaker” would dream of:
Two Ford-Lehman SP 135 engines
Updated Twin-Disc transmissions
Westerbeke 8kw Genset
Updated 12 volt refrigerator and freezer systems (the most energy efficient available)
Three updated Cruise Air reverse cycle A/C units
Centerline queen berth in the aft cabin
Galley with peninsula counter and built in microwave
Updated upholstery and curtains made with Sunbrella fabrics
Recent professionally installed custom made full enclosure on flybridge utilizing the best
      materials and exhibiting exceptional workmanship
Brightwork which always receives accolades from other boaters
Updated GARMIN Autopilot system with wireless remote
Wi-fi booster system
Extraordinary condition which makes her appear much younger than her age
This vessel is not a “project boat”, but one that is up-to-date and ready to be enjoyed by its new owner.  She is a classic beauty that was at the top of her class when built, and through dedication to her long-term care, remains there today. 
See photos at:    
Main Deck
Three anchors: Bruce, Danforth, Fortress, all rigged and ready to be deployed.
Ideal worm drive windlass
Anchor washdown 
Comfortable teak non-skid decks with no steps
Teak deck maintenance up to date
10 ft Caribe RIB Dingy w/ 9.9 HONDA Outboard
Dingy lift (12volt winch) mounted on boom
New Custom made Dingy cover
Fenders and dock lines
Magma LP Grill
Cap and handrails varnish in great shape
Lazarette Storage and 265 gal. Fresh water tank
Extended swim platform
Engine Room
Kidde Engine Room fire extinguisher
Two Frig-a-Boat 12 volt compressors: one for refrigerator and one for freezer
Two 8D batteries and one 4D
Xantrax 2,000 watt Inverter/Charger
Two Ford-Lehman SP135 Engines, 8,100 hours each
Upgraded Stainless Steel Engine Exhaust elbows
Fuel manifold and Filters with vacuum guages
Raritan Electric Water Heater w/heat exchanger to take advantage of hot engine water
   when underway
Upgraded variable-speed domestic water pump.
Two 300 gallon diesel fuel tanks
Westerbeke 7.7 kW Genset, with Carbon Monoxide Detector and Shutdown relay 8,200
 hours
Macerator pump
Two bilge pumps
40 gal. Black water holding tank
Interior
Vee-berth with Updated Cruise-Air Reverse cycle A/C unit
Head/shower with Raritan Sea-Era Electric macerator Head
Upgraded sink and faucet
Lower helm station with:
Danforth Constellation Compass
Connections for the Garmin 3210 Plotter
I-com VHF Marine Radio
Blue Seas Systems Monitor
L-shaped Galley with:
Princess Electric stove/oven
Sharp Microwave Oven
5 cu. ft. Refrigerator
5 cu. ft. Freezer
U-line Icemaker
Salon featuring:
Custom curtains made with Sunbrella fabric
Custom Upholstery with Sunbrella fabric
Clarion/Bose Stereo system
Sharp flat screen TV
Updated Cruise-Air Reverse cycle A/C unit
Aft Stateroom:
Centerline Queen Bed with Temperpedic memory foam mattress
Separate head and shower with Raritan Sea-Era Electric macerator Head
Upgraded sink and faucet
Hanging Locker
Updated Cruise-Air Reverse cycle A/C unit
Writing desk on port side aft
Flybridge
Recent professionally made full enclosure using Sunbrella fabric, Stratoglas
         windows, and Tenara (Gortex) thread
Danforth Constellation Compass
Connections for the Garmin 3210 Plotter with AIS
I-com VHF Marine Radio
Recent GARMIN Autopilot with wireless remote
Garmin 3210 Chartplotter with Radar overlay
Fold down aluminum mast with crutch support
Price $ 169,900.
Contact Bill Bender (864)-386-1197, or e-mail: billbender46@gmail.com
Docked at Calvert Marina, Solomons, MD.

30 April 201 Charleston/Mt Pleasant – Dublin, GA – Dothan, AL – Pensacola, FL – Ft. Pickens National Park – Tallahassee, FL – Ocala, FL

     


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    We’re a few days too early for the Cooper River Bridge Run but today was our day to Get Over It.




      We always jump at the chance to be front row center when Carroll Brown and “ensemble” perform. ‘Twas our good fortune to catch them at Dunleavey’s Irish Pub, Sullivan’s Island, SC. Sadly, prolly our last time to laugh, dance, and sing along with Carroll. This is one of our Charleston Swan Songs. Never to return. New adventures await.


     Our Farewell to Charleston Brunch with my best buddy, Page’s Okra Grill, Mt. Pleasant, SC





    
     We’ve been at Mt. Pleasant’s KOA for 2 1/2 weeks where we’ve observed families on Spring Break. We’ve seen children riding bikes and scooters; playing corn hole, tether ball, basketball, chase and tag! Loved seeing dads out playing with their children, teaching them how to build camp fires and the whole family sitting around the fire in the evening toasting marshmallows, laughing and talking. Reminded me of our camping trips when our children were little. My entire point of this saga is that not one single time did we see “devices” in these childrens’ hands and that was so refreshing and brought smiles to our faces. Loved it!!!!



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Finally back in our home state known for its warmth and Sunshine

  

    



































    We arrived in Fort Pickens National Park Campground, Pensacola, FL, just in time for a late sunset. We’re here for my 60th Pensacola High School reunion this weekend. 







     Can’t wait to walk the beach in the morning as the sun comes up and then cycle the island. I was born and grew up on this spectacular Gulf beach and never will I ever be able to shake the sand from my shoes or tire of the fresh Gulf Breeze.




     As promised, I got up at 5:30. What a marvelous and inspirational way to begin a day with solitude broken only by the cry of fishing seagulls and the crashing of the waves upon the shore.  Pensacola Bay was just a short walk over a dune and I walked west down to the actual fort. 






     Hark! My ears detected familiar sound. It’s Wednesday and the day that the Blues practice. WOW!!! What a thrill to watch. One photo shows 4 little black dots which are the Blue Angels. Hope the video sort of does it justice. Maybe you can see their contrail and the little 4 dots.






     Years ago we were adrift in the channel outside NAS on a Wednesday morning and had, what we considered, our own private Blue Angels performance. That is a sight forever indelibly etched in our memories. The sun was glinting off their bellies and that was absolutely exhilarating!!  Saw some of their practice this morning but it wasn’t nearly as dramatic viewing from ashore as from afloat.


     As if our beach walk along the Gulf and Bay weren’t enough, we took off on a 20-ish mile bike ride from the fort and east past Casino Beach.  Our plans for tomorrow include a lot of calorie ingesting and walking Pensacola’s historic areas.

     Today was to be a day of rest and forgetting our low carb eating plan. We succeeded in accomplishing number 2 with humongous bagels at Bagelheads with Tony and burritos with Emily at Cactus Flower. Somehow, we also walked 6 1/2 miles trying to get rid of the bagel AND burrito. 

    Back in my era, if your mind will allow you to think back that far, we locals teethed on Ft. Pickens, climbing all over the prison cells, turrets, batteries, loved going into Geronimo’s cell. He was the Apache Indian Chief. Now all that’s crumbling and cordoned off. “Those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end.”





          



     And look at these azure waters right here in my home town. Why ever did we think we had to go to the Bahamas to enjoy blinding white sand and beautiful waters? To me this is just as beautiful as what we saw in the Caribbean. But that was just one more thing checked off our bucket list.









     From my morning beach walk — I’ll never get enough of this sand in my shoes and Gulf waters coursing through my veins.





     Night 1 of two of our 60th Pensacola High School at Pensacola Yacht Club. A great time was had by all.


     Night 2 and the Grand Finale.


     Sunday, “the morning after”, we had a wonderful brunch with Tony and Andy which coincided with a group from our reunion who were also Sacred Heart School of Nursing grads.


     No trip to Pensacola is complete without at least one trip to Joe Patti’s. One night they steamed 2 pounds of large shrimp and we made quick work of every single one of them.


    
     On our last day we met our friend, Tony, down town and he led us on an Old Pensacola Historic bike tour…and we even followed him over the Bayou Chico Bridge for lunch at Cook’s Kitchen, the #3 ranked restaurant in Southern Living.


     Our last night there we just vegged, enjoying our final night in the beautiful National Park bounded by Pensacola Bay and the Gulf of Mexico and reminiscing over the friends we’ve been with, the wonderful meals we’ve enjoyed, and our cycling efforts.


     A bit of trivia—did you know Pensacola’s beautiful white sand is of quartz and came to us from TN during the Ice Age?



    
    17 years I spent growing up on the Pensacola beaches but then I went away to college and every time I’d come home, the beach was in my cross hairs.  After college I taught school in Ft. Walton Beach for 3 years and the activity was repeated—just in a different location. I think I took the splendor for granted because now I have a totally different appreciation for it. This morning, after 8 days of being out on Santa Rosa Island, we had to pry ourselves away as we head to Ocala to meet with our builder. BUT, before our leave-taking, I had to commune with the rising sun as I strolled the bay shore; took a detour up and over the Langdon Battery to see what I could see from atop; then walked the Gulf shore chatting with fishermen who were reeling in the Pompanos. Alas, it was time to heard east.


                      View of the Gulf from on top of the Langdon Battery

                                         View of NAS from the top of the Battery

Farewell, Pensacola

     Our initial meeting with our builder was scheduled at the end of the month so we’re back in Ocala by way of our state’s capital, Tallahassee. What an incredible day!! We met for an hour and a half with our builder and also our building superintendent. They’re a great team–fun, personable, and we’re looking forward to working with them. They took us out to our lot and explained what was what.  After luncn we worked on our 10K steps. As we were strolling the neighborhood, numerous people not only spoke but several struck up conversations.  The peerless happening occurred as we walked past a lady who was pruning her roses. She held out a rose for me; we chatted; we bade her adieu. This has been the tenor of Candler Hills residents that we’ve found each time we visit.
                                         We now have an address!

     We cast April aside on the 30th when 22 future Larkhill residents gathered to meet each other and get acquainted over cocktails and dinner. We’re going to be part of a fun neighborhood where the party has already begun.
     Tomorrow we’re heading to Solomon’s, MD, to resume our cruising.
Bill and Laura
Ocala, FL

     



31 March 2018 – Ocala, FL – Perry, GA – Clemson, SC -Atlanta, GA – Mt. Pleasant/Charleston, SC

     The beginning of March found us back in Ocala and we were excited for our  Pensacola friends, Andy and Tony, to come by for a visit. We had a great lunch at the Crazy Cucumber as we caught up on all we 4 have seen and done in the past few months. 

     Bill found an opportunity to take off on his bike for 23 miles of saddle time, unsuccessfully trying to make up for so long with NO cycling time. That evening we enjoyed music at Circle Square and at 7:00, went next door for an evening of Eagles music by the tribute band, 7 Bridges. Love this community!

I’ve found a new interest!
     Wanted to have some “ground breaking” photos so friends, George and Donna, were our photogs and we took some fun pictures of our own personal ground breaking. 



In the front yard of our ‘dirt’
     From there we went to an old car show where Bill met and bonded with a Model A and its owner; Happy Hour at the Lodge; dinner at The Club; and sliding in at the last second to enjoy an evening with The Kingston Trio. I sang along and didn’t care if my tone deafness offended anyone. What a fun fun day! What’s in store for us tomorrow??? Every morning is a new gift.

The Kingston Trio
   Another fun and filled to the brim day again. Bill and I took a class given by a wildlife photog on “What to Do With All Those Photos”. He was a wonderful presenter and teacher and we left there inspired to get more organized. We fit in our 10K steps through the neighborhood and went to Meadowbrook, our church’s First Wednesday service that more than met our expectations. It was a very meaningful time of soul-searching.

     Bill walked, exceeding his 10K steps while I sat on my backside in a 90 minute class with a brilliant instructor who made my brain cells stand at attention and hold hands. Her lecture was “Power and Fun With Words”. I’m a real clock watcher but we went 5 minutes over and I NEVER looked at my watch. I wondered why she was letting us go so soon. Would love to tuck myself in her back pocket and absorb every word.
     While I attended to hair, nails, and took 2 Life Long Learning classes, Bill cycled 35 miles through OTOW seeing things and places he hadn’t seen before. We left home at 9:15 AM and returned after 6:30 PM so it was an exciting day filled with ‘saddle time’ and learning. I attended an “Eye Health Awareness” class and one on “A Journey Through The Musical World of the Mountain Dulcimer”. Besides a very informative lecture, the ‘band’ was comprised of 8 dulcimers, 1 violin, 2 acoustic guitars, and 1 electric guitar providing a very relaxing afternoon.  We absolutely love it here! 

     We embarked on another adventure, leaving Ocala for Perry, GA. We’re just one of more than 2600 coaches here for a week-long rally. Opportunities for fun and for learning were colossal. We’re on our way to Stone Mountain for a couple of nights—love it there. This is what 2,904 RVs look like. There were 989 First Timers and we were numbered among them. This was a week well spent.



     We walked the downtown and historic area seeing beautiful old houses with azaleas bursting in a palate of colors, punctuated by Snow White dogwoods beginning to bloom against a background of clear blue cloudless sky. Perry is a beautifully quaint little Southern village.

     Our plans to spend a few days at Stone Mountain were cancelled by horrid weather so a few days later we drove to ATL to spend a short weekend with my brother, Bob, and our friend, Nancy. A little shopping and a lot of eating! They’re always so much fun to be with. Bob keeps us laughing and Nancy and I always have our own Laugh Fest. “A good time was had by all!”

   
     Enroute to ATL, we stopped in Clemson, SC, to enjoy a meal with long time boating friends, Bob and Emily.

       Palm Sunday gave us the opportunity to visit with our daughter, Courtney, granddaughter, Alleigh, and their pet bunny, Sophie. She’s so soft and sweet. Now we want a bunny rabbit! They live in Traveler’s Rest, SC, which is a little burb north of Greenville. It was SOOO cold there that day!!!
Palm Sunday
Our Grand Bunny, Sophie

     We’re back in Charleston for several weeks and looking forward to returning to our Seacoast Church, visiting with friends, eating rich and well, and seeing clearly!

     As the month ended we celebrated our anniversary. 15 years ago I was lucky enough to marry my best friend and Kindred Spirit. Happy anniversary to my amazing and ever so patient husband. (We ‘dated’ for 5 years—if that’s what it’s still called–meaning separate domiciles) with premarital counselling from our pastor to make sure there were no land mines. So 20 years—so far so good and I just can’t believe it’s been that long. He’s an incredibly long suffering man and I love you to pieces, Bill Bender!




     The last day of March found us strolling downtown Charleston not in search of restaurants or shopping but just relishing the gorgeous warm weather and splendid spring flowers.








See you again in a month!


Bill and Laura
Charleston/Mt. Pleasant, SC



 




February 2018 Christmas – Orlando – Titusville – Charleston/Mount Pleasant, SC, Brunswick, GA, Christmas – Lakeland – Arcadia – Seffner – Brooksville – Ocala – Brooksville – Ocala

     One of the advantages of living in Central Florida, besides being away from the coast and hurricane threats, is the proximity to so many places for day trips. We scooted down to Orlando to two furniture stores searching for bedroom furniture. When we left terra firma, 2008, we gave everything away except for 4 pieces of furniture so we’re starting from scratch. Thought we needed to begin the hunt before we found ourselves on the floor of our new home in sleeping bags. We know exactly what we want and that style isn’t easy to find so we need a head start. At ScanDesign, we found 6 pieces that we love and it’ll take 3 months from ordering to delivery so we can choreograph the timing.


     I have an affinity for bridges and below is my many times photographed Ravenel Bridge, Charleston, SC, and on the right, the Bartram Island Bridge, Jacksonville, FL.



 


     We made a quick trip to Charleston to take care of some business then back to Christmas, FL, and my pool du jour. We manipulated that travel so that we’d be in Brunswick, GA, in the evening to take advantage of wonderful filet mignons and cocktails at the Millhouse Steakhouse.


      Then, we moved on to Lakeland for a RV Rally, which was an eye-opener. During our stay there we drove to Arcadia to visit 94 year old Uncle Harold and Aunt Maybelle.  He is absolutely amazing and hasn’t forgotten one single thing in his 94 years. Sharp as a tack, he is!

Uncle Harold and Aunt Maybelle

     From Lakeland we moved on to Lazy Days in Seffner/Tampa for another RV gathering of our “brand” of coach. While there, we met some interesting and fun folks with whom we’ll stay in contact and expect to see again next month.

    Then on to Brooksville for a Blue Grass Festival—our very first but one of those things you’ve just gotta do at least once! There was a non-blue grass group, The Atlantic City Boys, very much like Frankie Valle and the Four Seasons or The Jersey Boys, and I LOVED them! They were incredible and I grinned all the way through their performance. Besides being musically excellent, they are superb showmen with their choreographed movements.



     While in Brooksville, Bill’s antennae picked up info of a festival/display of old train engines, tractors, and trucks so he took off to Fort Meade for the day and enjoyed that. Without any meal preparation needed for the day, I was able to spread out my watercolor materials in our tiny space and paint away.

     Another drive up to Ocala to check on our little rectangle of dirt being graded and prepared for the building of our home, enabling us to meet Donna and George for breakfast and Bruce and Patty for lunch. There’s NO way to eat  ‘healthy’ in restaurants! We’re soon going to be too big to fit through our narrow little doors.  But visiting with our friends—and getting fat—is so much fun!

 


   

     


     From the Blue Grass Fest, we drove farther into Brooksville to have some repair/maintenance done on our coach. Fortunately, the Suncoast Trail is just a stone’s throw away from our site so the 2 days we were there we took ultimate advantage of it both walking and cycling. We all recall the old, tired, and hackneyed ‘saying’ that exercise doesn’t keep but not only that, saddle time doesn’t save, either. Both of these came home to roost. We have made great use of the Suncoast Trail both on foot and bicycle. We are either older than we thought or more out of shape than ever we would’ve believed. We aren’t old so it definitely must be the latter.

     And so the month ends with us returning to Ocala and back in the same campsite we occupied for 2 months in the winter. 

Bill and Laura
Aboard Monaco Dynasty Coach
Ocala, FL


  

31 January 2018 Our January Whirlwind

     For a long time, we’ve wondered where we’d want to live when it was time to move to land. We love the area of western TN and NC but we both have such thin Southern blood that our temperature comfort level has about a 4 degree range—from about 72-76 degrees so that rules out the mountains. 

     I’ve always said I didn’t  want to live with a bunch of old people but I’m now eating my words. About a year ago, we heard of an active over 55 retirement community with the dumbest name—On Top of the World, Ocala, FL. We were in Wildwood, FL, having coach work done, were bored and decided to go see what this place was like. The gate guard wouldn’t let us through and directed us to the sales center. We were introduced to Mercedes, a sales counselor, who asked what we were looking for. Bill was sure he could escape the grip of a “sales person” so he said, “the smallest house with the largest garage.” She said, “I have it!” We were not even remotely close to thinking about moving to terra firma. She took us to the model, Arlington, and when Bill saw the 1100 square foot garage…well, the rest is history.


      Six months later we returned for a 2 night 3 day stay and were courted by On Top of the World with meals, tours, and connections with residents whose brains we picked. 


          We spent 2 months in Ocala to get the flavor of the area and to see if that is where we want to settle. We not only have found that Ocala fits us to a T but we bought a lot and will be building a house in a brand new still-being-developed Larkhill section of the Candler Hills area in On Top of the World where streets aren’t even in yet.

               Our friend, Wolfgang, Bill, and I surveying our piece of dirt


        There were so many who had their eye on Larkhill so our names were entered into a lottery pool and were drawn last Tuesday. We were the 4th of 20 to be drawn and we got our 2nd choice lot. We’ve spent two eight hour days with a designer in the Design Studio. Talk about painfully grueling!!!!! But we’re done!!! Bill did some tweaking of the garage, master closet, and laundry area. I tease him about his being anal and with a love of detail but he was incredible and outdid himself on every single iota of precision—things I’d have never thought about.

Our lot is sorta center left where the first pile of dark blue pipes are on north end.

      We’ll return in March and May for walk-throughs with a tentative closing date is 17 September. We’re super excited with some fear and trembling mixed in. 


          We’ve become so entwined and ingrained in the Candler community and have made so many wonderful, warm, and welcoming friends, that it’s really going to be difficult to extract our roots when we leave tomorrow. I’ve become part of a women’s Bible Study. Bill’s connected with several “old car guys” and 3 of them recently traveled to a Mecum car auction. 

A fabulous wood working shop for Bill.

          Remote control airplanes are huge and one of our friends has a whole fleet. There are endless educational and fitness opportunities. I’ve taken two art classes and both of us have attended several lectures/presentations on numerous and very interesting topics. 
      I’m so looking forward to having a pool walking distance from home.


 

The Lodge

The pool at the Lodge with zero entry in lap pool
The Lodge Pool

and a gym for a structured workout. I have the grace of an elephant but am eager to take ballet. 

      Almost every weekend at the Cultural Center, is the opportunity to see big name performers. We loved the Van-Dell’s last weekend. Frankie Avalon, the Letterman, and others will be here later this season.

      Our future neighbors are from all over. I had my fingers crossed for ethnic diversity and thankfully we aren’t all a group of white Caucasians and I’m loving the differences. Diversity was one of my favorite things about our 3 months in Washington DC.

     We’re so excited about regaining some structure in our lives and having a sense of community. The social life here is non-stop–quite a departure from our solitary cruising lives. There’s something going on here ALL the time; EVERY evening and we’re loving it. 

     We’ll be moving about the end of September and we’re so excited.

     Let me guess your first question. Yes, we’ll be swallowing the anchor and sadly putting Kindred Spirit III on the market this summer. We’ll return to her in May and spend some time on the Chesapeake and Long Island Sound. Selling her is the most difficult thing about this entire scenario. It’ll be “Cryin’ Time” in Lauraville, for sure. 

     We’ve loved our cruising life since we bought Kindred Spirit III, June 2006. After many trials and errors with Bristol and Epifanes, Bill’s finally perfected the art of varnishing and his ‘wet edge’. Our exterior teak is spectacular with the grain visible and a flawless glass-like finish. When it’s not fun anymore, it’s time to move to another adventure.

          The calendar of our birth years belies the way we feel which is decades younger than “the truth”. Bill’s teak maintenance is a tremendous amount of work. We want to settle on land while we can still enjoy the activities offered. So now you have our story of our impending new adventure.
     We spent a full day going to every single furniture store in Ocala and chose the best that we saw which wasn’t really a bell ringer for us but was better than other things that we saw. We’re focusing on our bedroom now feeling that a place to rest our weary bodies after the move should be a priority.

     Our “loose” intentions were to investigate a lot in Candler this time next year but things seemed to develop so fast with everything falling into place—just a year sooner than what we’d thought. We’re at peace with our decision and are confident we’ve made the right decision.

This month, I took a fun ink and watercolor class from a fabulous instructor. I look forward to being under her tutelage in the future. Bill’s had a couple of days with the boys. He was in Greenville, SC, for a week and the day after he returned, he and some of his old car buddies went to Kissimmee for a Mecum car auction. None of them came home with a garage-sized toy but think Bill’s getting getting primed since he’ll have this “dream garage”. Even though it’s 1100 square feet, he tells me a garage can never be too big.  He wanted to take some of our master closet for garage!!!  The nerve!!! One of these days I hope to have a wardrobe that exceeds shorts, tees, and jeans.

     After leaving Ocala, we moved to Christmas, FL. I’d never heard of it but it’s a cute little wide spot in the road and the campground has a rectangular pool that is actually swimmable. I’ve been in it every day since we arrived. This is the first time I’ve swam since May and the pacemaker bump-in-the-road in June so it was wonderul to see if I still knew what to do. It was as if I never had that 8 month hiatus.


     Our dear dear friend, Bobbi, from Merritt Island came for a visit and she brought steamed shrimp that had just swum that morning. For lunch we drove to Titusville to the iconic restaurant, Crossroads. Bobbi is amazing and I drink in everything she says. She’s a fount of knowledge and especially her past trawlering and motor coach travels.


     We’re a short drive from Orlando so we spent another day at 2 “transitional” furniture stores and without a quibble, have found our bedroom suite. It needs to be ordered which’ll take 3 months so that should work out perfectly.


     Monday we’re moving on but are enjoying this area for a brief time.


Bill and Laura
Christmas RV Park, FL


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31 December 2017 Solomons – Ocala – Leesburg – Silver Springs – Rainbow Springs

     It seemed to take forever to move from the boat to our coach. Even though the move isn’t from house to house, it is from home to home with the coach having FAR less room than Kindred Spirit III. To take a break from the drudgery, in Ocala we attended an excellent lecture on the Florida Panhandle which was of particular interest to me since I was “born and raised” in Pensacola. 

     Boating/RV friends, Dinata and Andy have just moved to Arlington Ridge Retirement Community near Leesville. During construction, Dinata took photos every day and posted them so that everyone could watch the progress. It was very fascinating to us so we went down for a visit, to see their new home where boxes were still being unpacked. They gave us a tour of their new neighborhood and we ended the day at The Village Green, a little pub and grill, where Dinata surprised us by singing. She has a wonderful talent and voice. We’d never heard her sing before so this was a huge treat. 

     More boating/RV friends, Sue and Rich, met us at Silver Springs State Park. 




     We wandered around over the grounds reminiscing of when we were there 60+ years ago and my, how it’s changed! That was one of Florida’s main attractions so long ago. There’s so much algae in the water that there are only a few bare areas that are free of growth so that the clear water can be appreciated and with a view of the sand. 

     The air was perfect and we vicariously lived through their tales of their month long hike through Ireland. 

     I was torn between skinny dipping which would’ve cleared out the area or jumping in in my clothes. I wanted to swim in tht water SO bad!

     These kids have lived a most adventurous life and every time we’re with them, we’re awed by yet more stories of experiences and feats we’d not known about before. They’re an amazing couple. Our time together was culminated at the Mojo Grill where we had the patio all to ourselves. A good thing because the guffaws and howling laughter would’ve been disturbing to others. We love spending time with them and Rich is hilarious. 

     The reason we’re spending 2 months in Ocala is because the retirement community that we’re considering when get older, grayer, and infirmed, is Ocala’s On Top of the World. www.ontopoftheworld.com.  From this point forward we’ll refer to it as OTOW. We want to get the flavor of the area and learn more about OTOW. I’ve always chanted that I’ll never live in a retirement community with a bunch of old people but seems I’ll be eating my words AND have become one of them. I sent a friend the link to the community and she said it looks really nice but there sure are a lot of ‘old people’ there. Uh-huh!


     We’ve taken advantage of quite a few of their offerings and one afternoon we listened to a couple recount their recent experience touring Cambodia and Thailand. They had 3000 photos from their trip and shared a mere 300 with us Fascinating!

     While we were still at Alliance Coach in Wildwood, FL, we had lunch at TooJay’s, across the street in The Villages. 

     One of our fave lunch spots that we were first introduced to while in Vero years ago. I went back to the coach after lunch and Bill spent the afternoon at a Tractor Museum in Leesburg, devouring every second of it. How many more museums of old mechanical things could there possibly be that he’s not yet seen??? Probably not too many.

     The day before Thanksgiving we were finally sprung from Alliance Coach where we had repairs and service taken care of. They are excellent and very fair in their charges. Josh, service manager, was outstanding in expediting our repairs. 

     We traveled 30 miles north on I-75 and thankful that we didn’t have to go farther. Traffic is atrocious and people seem to be driving like bats out of hell. We’re now in Ocala RV Resort (‘resort’ is a loosly used word) and can see the interstate from our site making us relieved not to be numbered among them. 

     Thanksgiving Day was our first day in Ocala and also my birthday so we celebrated both at a wonderful French restaurant in Ocala. Bill Bender did himself quite proud that day earning him some “good boy” points. He really outdid himself!



















     Bill’s has a Facebook account but he doesn’t post so I’ll do it for him. He drove to the Daytona Speedway for an old car show just as a day trip. He left at 6 AM and got home at 8 PM and walked 9 1/2 miles while he was there. He wore his Garmin because he always wonders how far he walks at these events. There were 1000 cars for sale and 5000 for show. He came home dragging his tail behind him and he was done for the next day BUT he had a good time! And I had a good time staying home playing “happy homemaker”.


     Friends we knew from Greenville, SC, Bill’s colleague at Michelin and his friend for 40+ years, Wolfgang and his wife, Pily, came down from their home in GA with their new travel trailer to see what we’ve been raving about at OTOW. 


Wolfgang and Bill
     We took another day trip to Rainbow Springs State Park.



and then to Cedar Key,  a quaint little fishing village reeking of Old Florida and had lunch overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.



     Every weekend, OTOW has live music in their Circle Square so we took Pily and Wolfgang there for unabashed dancing in the streets on a Saturday night. We’ve missed only one since we’ve been here.

                                Shaking a leg on a Saturday night


      We had the opportunity to meet Brigitta, Wolfgang and Pily’s realtor. We had dinner in their home and they are such a delightful couple. She and I have become friends but not real estate related.She has so much to offer and I can’t seem to get enough of learning new things.

  

     I just finished a 5 week acrylic painting class and my initial undertaking was our little TR6. Not a good choice for a green-horn but I finished it and it sort of looks like what it is supposed to be. 


I completed it one week early so, at the instructors’s suggestion, I chose a simple one and finished it in a couple of hours at our last class. At the close of  class #3, she said for my very first painting I should never have chosen the car with so much detail and perspective NOR should I have used such a small canvas AND that when I’m through with it, I won’t be happy with it AND I’m paralyzed with fear for doing something wrong. She waits d3 weeks to tell me!!!????  At the first class there were 5 of us. At the last, only 2. Wonder why.
Can’t get much more simple than this!
Our RV ‘Resort’  
     We’ve found a church here that teaches similarly to our Seacoast Church in Mt. Pleasant and we felt right at home the first Sunday that we visited.The pastor’s fantastic and his teachings are Biblically solid.

     Six months ago we were here for several days and met JoAnn and Lee with whom we’ve stayed in touch. We reconnected when we arrived and they had us to their home for brunch. Bruce and Patty were also guests and we’d met Patty 6 months ago when we were looking at the model homes. Patty’s in a Bible study with a large group of women and she invited me to join. We had a Christmas luncheon that was fun to be able to chat with each of the women and, of course, my primary questions were, “how long have you lived in OTOW and how do you like it?”  Bill and I have walked extensively in the development and everyone we meet or even pass on the street or sidewalk will wave. The ones who are walking, we stop and interrogate them. Everybody LOVES it but you know “there’s always one in every crowd.” One evening we were walking and a man was driving by, stopped beside us, lowered his window (to vent, I suppose) and spoke to us. We asked him the same 2 questions. He hates it here; he didn’t want to move here but his wife did—she wanted a tile roof and a palm tree. That’s why everybody moves to Florida, he said.


     Sholom Park, just outside OTOW’s gate, was donated by the owner/developer of the community, and is a 44 acre botanical garden that has over 2 miles of paved trails and more than 250 species of plants and trees. It is a place of natural beauty and a place designed to find inner peace to relax, unwind, and think on things.


     It’s such a beautiful and restful park. Hurricane Irma took out about 25 trees so can’t imagine how much more gorgeous that would’ve been. The park requires little or no supplemental watering. Native plants are combined with cultivated ornaments, perennials, and annuals. This creates a beautiful and resilient landscape. If you ever drive through Ocala, stop and wander through these meadows and woodland areas, with added flowers and trees, as well as native wildlife for our enjoyment.


     On a Sunday afternoon a Lutheran Church hosted the OTOW Concert Choir one Sunday afternoon and we were on the front row. The blending of voices was magnificent and the accompanist’s talent, extraordinary.


     One of the groups at OTOW are the Storytellers. We attended their Christmas presentation and all were good but the last story teller related his best Christmas ever when he was 13. My tears leaked out. He was such a great sharer.


     Last Sunday afternoon we attended the Ocala Jazz Musicians monthly jam and it was foot-tapping knee-slapping music for sure. A couple there were ball room dancing and they were such a treat to watch. She seemed to be levitating and gliding on air. 

     While I was at art one day, Bill attended a presentation of the Quirky Influences that Florida’s had on the U.S.  


     We’ve both attended several classes by an attorney on documents needed as a Florida resident of which we’ve been since 2007. We had our durable power of attorney and will executed in SC but FL has a few twists and turns, as I imagine do most states, so we’re going to have them reviewed by an attorney before leaving Ocala. The information was great and we learned several new things.

     Have you ever heard of a Cracker Cowboy Poet? Ocala is the horse capital of the world and cowboys here call themselves Cow Hunters. Hank Mattson provided an afternoon of entertainment. He brought many props—gator hide, snake skin, skunk skin, cow skull and more things than I can name but maybe in the photo you can pick out some things. He’s put 400 years of cow hunting facts into poetry that he recites in the Cow Hunter dialect. We laughed and I had tears. This was all from his heart and we could sit through his presentation again!



     There is so much to do in OTOW that no one could ever be bored. There are several pools; foreign language classes; art; sign language; ballet (which I can’t wait to do) and more than I can rattle off. There’s a fabulous wood working shop that Bill’s drooling over already. Remote control cars and planes are huge here and we’ve been out to the field to watch Lee fly one of his fleet of planes. Bill lapped it up.


     Our great cycling guru friend, Charmaine, came down from DC to visit and brought her bike for a little stroll through our potential new home.



  


    Moving to OTOW is going to mean swallowing the anchor and I can tell you, that’ll be Cryin’ Time in Lauraville. I LOVE that boat and being on and in the water. Can’t bear the though of no more anchoring out and the gentle rocking of our home. Always said we’d stay aboard till the Grim Reaper came but guess we need to become Land Dwellers before we get too much longer in the tooth. We’re looking at about a year out. When you buy a lot, you can’t sit on it and construction must begin. The lot we have our eye on isn’t even developed enough for us to purchase but should be within a month or two. The build time will be 8-12 months so the longer it drags out the better for us.


     Till the end of next month–
Bill and Laura
Ocala, FL

November and December 2017 Wildwood, Ocala, Daytona, Jacksonville, FL

     It seemed to take forever to move from the boat to our coach. Even though the move isn’t from house to house, it is from home to home with the coach having FAR less room than Kindred Spirit III. To take a break from the drudgery, we attended an excellent lecture in Ocala on the Florida Panhandle which was of particular interest to me since I was “born and raised” in Pensacola. 

     Boating/RV friends, Dinata and Andy have just moved to Arlington Ridge Retirement Community near Leesville. During construction, Dinata took photos every day and posted them so that everyone could watch the progress. It was very interesting to us so we went down for a visit, to see their new home where boxes were still being unpacked. They gave us a tour of their new neighborhood and we ended the day at The Village Green, a little pub and grill, where Dinata surprised us by singing. She has a wonderful talent and voice. We’d never heard her sing before so this was a huge treat. 




       More boating/RV friends, Sue and Rich, met us at Silver Springs State Park. We wandered around over the grounds reminiscing of when we were there 60+ years ago and my, how it’s changed!


     That was one of Florida’s main attractions so long ago. There’s so much algae in the water that there are only a few bare areas that are free of growth so that the clear water can be appreciated and with a view of the sand.




     The air was perfect and we vicariously lived through their tales of their month long hike through Ireland. These kids have lived a most adventurous life and every time we’re with them, we’re awed by yet more stories of experiences and feats we’d not known about before. They’re an amazing couple. Our time together was culminated at the Mojo Grill where we had the patio all to ourselves. A good thing because the guffaws and howling laughter would’ve been disturbing to others. We love spending time with them and Rich is hilarious. 



     While we were still at Alliance Coach in Wildwood, FL, we had lunch at TooJay’s, across the street in The Villages. One of our fave lunch spots that we were first introduced to while in Vero years ago. I went back to the coach after lunch and Bill spent the afternoon at a Tractor Museum in Leesburg and devoured every second of it. How many more museums of old mechanical things could there possibly be that he’s not yet seen??? Probably not too many.

     The day before Thanksgiving we were finally sprung from Alliance Coach where we had repairs and service. They are excellent and very fair in their charges. Josh, service manager, was outstanding in expediting our repairs. We traveled 30 miles north on I-75 and thankful that we didn’t have to go farther. Traffic is atrocious as it seems to be nationwide. We’re now in Ocala RV Resort and can see the interstate from our site. The traffic out there NEVER stops.  Our intentions are to be here for a couple months to get the flavor of the area and to make sure this is where we want to land one of these days. We’re in Ocala RV Park and Resort–that last word is loosely used. A ‘resort’ it isn’t.


                                   Duck Pond at our ‘resort’

     The retirement community that we’re considering when get older, grayer, and infirmed, is Ocala’s On Top of the World. From this point forward we’ll refer to it as OTOW. We’ve taken advantage of quite a few of their offerings and one afternoon we listened to a couple recount their recent experience touring Cambodia and Thailand. They had 3000 photos from their trip and shared a mere 300 with us. Fascinating!

     Thanksgiving Day was our first day in Ocala and also my birthday so we celebrated both at a wonderful French restaurant. Bill Bender really racked up some “good boy” points on my birthday. He did a super-excellent job!



     Bill has a Facebook account but he doesn’t post so I’ll do it for him. One day he went to the Daytona Speedway for an old car show. He left at 6 AM, got home at 8 PM and walked 9 1/2 miles while he was there. He wore his Garmin because he always wonders how far he walks at these events. There were 1000 cars for sale and 5000 for show. He came home dragging his tail behind him and he was done for the next day BUT he had a good time! 

     Friends we knew from Greenville, SC, Bill’s colleague at Michelin and his friend for 40+ years, Wolfgang and his wife, Pily, came down from their home in GA with their new travel trailer to see what we’ve been raving about at OTOW. While they were here, we took a day trip to Rainbow Springs State Park






and then to Cedar Key, a quaint little fishing village reeking of Old Florida. We enjoyed a Gulf-side restaurant for lunch. 














     Every weekend, OTOW has live music in their Circle Square so we took Pily and Wolfgang there for unabashed dancing in the streets on a Saturday night. We’ve missed only one since we’ve been here.




                              Shaking a leg on a Saturday night


     I just finished a 5 week acrylic painting class and my initial undertaking was the little TR6. Not a good choice for a green horn but I finished it and it sort of looks like what it is supposed to be. I finished one week early so, at the instructors’s suggestion, I chose a simple one and finished it in a couple of hours at our last class. At the first class there were 5 of us. At the last class, only 2.



     We’ve found a church here similar to our Seacoast in Mt. Pleasant and we felt right at home the first Sunday we visited. 

     Six months ago we were here for several days and met JoAnn and Lee with whom we’ve stayed in touch. We reconnected when we arrived and they had us to their home for brunch. Bruce and Patty were also guests and we’d met Patty 6 months ago when we were looking at the model homes. Patty’s in a Bible study with a large group of women. She invited me to join and  I’m really enjoying it. 

     We had a Christmas luncheon that was fun to be able to chat with each the women and, of course, my primary questions were, “how long have you lived in OTOW and how do you like it?”  Bill and I have walked extensively in the development and everyone we meet or even pass on the street or sidewalk will wave. The ones who are walking, we stop and interrogate them, too. Everybody LOVES it here. 

     While I was at art one day, Bill attended a presentation of the Quirky Influences that Florida’s had on the U.S.  We’ve both attended classes by an attorney on documents needed as a Florida resident of which we’ve been since 2007. We had our durable power of attorney and will executed in SC but FL has a few twists and turns, as I imagine do most states, so we’re going to have them reviewed before leaving Ocala. The information was great and we learned some things of which we weren’t aware.


     OTOW’s Concert Choir performed Christmas music at a local Ocala church and, of course, we were right there. Their voices blended beautifully and it was a treat for us.

     Have you ever heard of a Cracker Cowboy Poet? Ocala is the horse capital of the world and cowboys here call themselves Cow Hunters. Hank Mattson provided an afternoon of entertainment. He brought many props—gator hide, snake skin, skunk skin, cow skull and more things than I can name but maybe in the photo you can identify some things. He’s put 400 years of cow hunting facts into poetry that he recites in the Cow Hunter dialect. We laughed and I had tears. This was all from his heart and so intriguing that we could sit through his presentation again!




     
     A group of ‘elderly’ (I’m no longer certain of that definition) gentlemen who comprise the Ocala Jazz Society presented a concert that was out of this world. We tapped our feet and grinned the entire time. A lagniappe was a couple very proficient in ball room dancing who danced to several of their pieces. Their movements were beautifully graceful.


     Christmas Day, Bruce and Patty invited us to join their friends in their home for a Yule Celebration. We loved meeting new OTOW friends and being asked to share Christmas with them.


     Pily and Wolfgang returned here to escape the GA tundra. Pily went to Disney for a few days and Bill and he went to Jacksonville to look at a BMW for Wolfy and a Corvette for Bill. Bill was looking for pewter and this one was silver. Thought several passes with steel wool would dull the silver and give it a pewter look.  
   
     You may recall us talking about Charmaine, our cycling guru in DC. She came down for a visit and brought her bike. She, Wolf, Bill, and I went out for a little spin to show her the area. This is the gal who works downtown DC and rides her bike to work, rain or shine, unless the snow is deeper than 3″. She’s an animal on a bicycle and my hero.

                                       Charmaine and me


  

                    
                     Surveying our intended potential home site.


     Sidney Colen, developer of OTOW, has donated to the city, an exquisite piece of land, a 44 acre botanical garden, named Sholom Park. It’s designed as a place to find inner peace and is landscaped to thrive in the Central FL climate. There are 2 miles of paved pathways created throughout the park’s woodland areas and meadows that are teeming with native wildlife and more than 250 species of plants and trees. Sholom Park is named after Sholom Colen, the grandfather of Mr. Sidney Colen. It’s a most tranquil respite.












     Wolfgang, Bill, and I hiked a very pleasant 5 miles on the Baseline Trail area of the Cross Florida Greenway. Once upon a time, in the 1930’s, it was slated to be part of the corridor for the sea-level Cross Florida Ship Canal project and the latter Cross FL Barge Canal in the 1960’s and ’70’s. There are remnants of the digging from the ’30’s that still remain, so they say but we couldnt find them. Despite the number of parents and children on new bikes, skateboards, and scooters, it was still very quiet and peaceful.

     Along this woodland is a swath of true urban wilderness. We’re not fans of paved trails but the value of providing a ribbon of asphalt through a forest is amazing when you’re in the thick of humanity with subdivisions and strip malls on both sides of the park but gratefully out of sight and sound. People actually USE this trail and lose their fear of the woods. Another attribute of the paved path is its accessibility for bikes, strollers, and wheelchairs.  BTW, there are hills in flat Florida.


     We’ll leave Ocala 22 January, so if you’re in this area, please call and come visit.  We feel so enmeshed and ingrained in this community that it seems like home. It will be difficult to pull up our roots here as we move on to another adventure.


     Happy New Year to all and we wish for you a happy, healthy and better than 2017, 2018!


Bill and Laura Bender

19 November 2017Fall. Transitions. Leaving Kindred Spirit "up north". Waiting for coach repair.

     Once again we checked in to Olverson’s Marina, arriving just in time for Happy Hour and their Halloween Party with oysters fried, roasted; chicken fried, smoked; ham; and desserts unfathomable. With oyster knife in hand I attached those hot, steamy, smoking bivalves and ate till I couldn’t! Wonderful people and delicious food after a long day on the water. Coming here is like coming home. We’ve been here so many times and have great friends here. Of course, Cas and Freddie are the stars and better folks you could never find.

     ’twas a chilly and beautiful morning at Olverson’s Marina on the Yecomico River in late October. The night before we had a great evening with friends over cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and gales of laughter, hosted by Jon and Page. In the morning we’re casting off our lines en route to Solomon’s, MD, to tuck Kindred Spirit in for the winter. Being at Olverson’s is so much like home and we always love our stays here.

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     As if the feast last night wasn’t enough, just prior to our departure for Solomons, MD, the dinner bell rang for a gargantuan breakfast spread with Cas, Freddie, Linda, and Wayne at Lottsburg Cafe. I think my Western Omelet must’ve been made with at least a dozen eggs. Never have I seen such a mound of food! A very pleasant beginning to our day.

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     We happily tucked into Calvert’s Marina on Solomon’s, after a spectacular cruise on the Chesapeake. We couldn’t have ordered a more beautiful day nor a calmer bay. 
    
                                           
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      I have NEVER seen a window in a chimney. And it’s even sporting curtains.
    
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                    Day is done from Calvert’s Marina.
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                   This is a magnificent sunrise from Calvert’s.


     Great friends, Curt and July, live on Solomon’s so we joined them at Solomon’s Island Yacht Club for “shrimp night” and it was mouth-watering. Old friends and good times.

     Moved into a covered slip to see how we “fit”. Just hope and pray our new total enclosure doesn’t have to come down. What a monumental job THAT is!!! The mast is already lowered–not a big deal. I am absolutely overwhelmed with all there is to do before we leave here in 3 days. Most can’t be done till the last minute and I’m berserk. Leaving Kindred Spirit III in frigid climes is totally foreign to us…and scary. We had no idea that winterizing takes 2 men 1 1/2 days and 40+ gallons of antifreeze. Judy and Curt saved me from a total melt down last night but I do confess to a partial one. I’m just about to have a fit and fall in it. The carnage created with staging, packing away, etc., almost calls for a pogo stick to move from one part of our boat to another. This, too, shall pass.

A Waterman in Solomon’s Sculpture Garden

     Judy and Curt rounded up Ted and Navy, another couple of our friends who also live on Solomons for cocktails and dinner at the yacht club. More laughter and just a wonderfully fun evening.

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                                           Sunset from SIYC
     All of our stuff was “staged” in dock carts so when Bill returned with the rental car, we could make haste and waste no time transferring from cart to car. Onward to Mount Pleasant, SC.

I love Charleston’s Ravenel Bridge

     Bob and Deidre are old boating friends who’ve semi-settled in Mount Pleasant so we connected with them for dinner at Shem Creek Bar and Grill.

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           Evening shadows fall over Shem Creek.
     The next evening was great fun in Jim and Betsy’s home with lots of cruising friends, good food, and libations. The following day we had brunch/lunch with Jim and Martha in between MANY appointments! This is our bi-annual Medical Marathon with 18 appointments in 3 days! We’re loving these breaks of time with friends. 4 appointments tomorrow then we’re driving as far south as we can get before we fall asleep at the wheel. What a whirl wind these few days have been!!!

     Our 18th appointment was completed and we crossed the Ravenel Bridge with Brunswick in our GPS for that night.

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Leaving Charleston and crossing the Ravenel Bridge

     MUSC is a par excellence medical facility but so glad to be finished and on our way to some REAL adventures!We didn’t get out of town till after 5 PM but reached our destination with a planned stop at the Millhouse Steakhouse. What a gastric treat are their filets and a celebratory dinner! 

     Arriving in Wildwood, FL, where our coach has spent the summer presents the feat of moving in, unpacking, and getting organized. Our boat has waaaaay more room than our coach which is understandable since the coach lacks a fly bridge and numerous hatches. This is absolutely moving even though not from one house to another. Inside looks as if a tornado passed through and there remains MUCH more in the car.  

     To take a break from this challenge, we attended an excellent lecture on the Florida Panhandle; of particular interest to me since I was “born and raised” in Pensacola.

     Friends we met in Marathon years ago, Dinata and Andy, were boaters, then RV-ers, and now living in a real house on dirt. They’re in Arlington Ridge, Leesburg, so we got a tour of their new home and of their community. We went with them to The Village Green for dinner and to hear Dinata sing. What a hidden talent is she!  We’d never heard her sing before and she has a beautiful voice. What a treat!!
                                      Isn’t Dinata a cutie!



     More old boating friends who are new RV-ers but also live on land, Sue and Rich, were in the area so we met them at Silver Springs State Park for a hike and dinner. 


The air was perfect and we got to live vicariously through their tales of their very recent month long hike through Ireland. These kids have lived a most adventurous life and every time we’re with them, we’re awed by yet more tales of experiences and feats we’d not known about before. 


     They’re an amazing couple. Our time together was culminated at the Mojo Grill where we had the patio all to ourselves. A good thing because the guffaws and howling laughter would’ve been disturbing to others. We love Rich and Sue!!!




     Back in Wildwood, we had lunch at one of our faves and after lunch Bill spent the afternoon at an International Harvester Tractor Museum in Leesburg. Andy recommended it and he devoured every second. He closed them down. How many more museums of old mechanical things could there be that he’s not yet seen??? Prolly not too many.

     Another lecture was available so we heard a couple recount their recent experience touring Cambodia and Taiwan. They had 3000 photos from their trip and shared 300 with us. Fascinating!

     Still attempting organization. Shorts and short sleeve weather here although we hear it gets pretty cold. If so, we’re ready for it!

Bill and Laura
Wildwood, FL