Welcome Home to Florida

We caught an early flight out of Las Vegas yesterday morning and as the plane circled over our former home, heading out into the open desert, I said something like, “What a pile of dirt!” – lol!

It had been an emotional roller coaster revisiting the place we’d called home for 9 years. I was reminded not only of the excitement we’d had flying in from San Francisco and staying in different hotel properties, but also living there. I was also reminded of why we felt compelled to leave.

The flight on Southwest was pretty good going back – the service was quite attentive – and before we knew it, we were landing in Orlando via over Tampa to avoid some storms. What a sight for sore eyes! I mean, literally! All the greenery and water! What a contrast from the Las Vegas desert.

And I began to feel a renewal of my original love for Florida as we drove the hour back home. So pretty. So peaceful. Sunny but not too sunny. Hot but not too too hot – even the humidity is a welcome relief from the oven-like temps of Vegas. Maybe that was the point of the trip for me. For Rich, well, he had a very productive week at work. Everybody so excited to see him. They’d love to have him back at headquarters but I don’t think I could live there again.

We’re definitely looking forward to getting back to Disney, and especially for the Food & Wine Festival. Rich’s brother will be here for that – looking forward to reconnecting like we did on our trip in 2010. What a year that was – doing the F&W Festival with our Disney friends and family. Looking forward to seeing who we can meet and connect with this year.

We stopped at our little downtown deli and Rich got us some sandwiches to take home because neither of us wanted to prepare food. We noticed a musician set up outside the market/deli area and we stopped for a listen and offered a tip. I took some video and captured a pic of that. What a fabulous welcome home!

A Day in the Neighborhood

Last night I had the strongest martini I’d ever had – wow! I could barely get out of bed this morning. I don’t think it had anything to do with how amazed I was that the view of the Las Vegas Strip from my bed was lit up all night long – lol! You don’t see that in Florida. How soon we forget what a place is like.

Rich brought us some coffee and breakfast from Starbucks in the lobby and then I rode with him to work to have the rental car. So today I drove through the old neighborhood just to see it. Not much has changed in the almost 16 months since we moved away. The new emergency room was finished and open and I hear it’s pretty awesome.

i couldn’t get inside our gated community (although it looks like they’re still having problems with the gate), so I just did a drive by and then drove to our favorite park and walked a bit of the trail. I was overcome by the feeling of being home. Of course, to my psyche, Skipper and Lovey are waiting for me in the house – not on the Rainbow Bridge. I could have stayed for hours but I had to get back to the hotel to get ready for lunch with Rich and our friend John.

So nice to see a familiar face – lunch at Lola’s was awesome! Rich then dropped John off at work and me back at the hotel.

I remember how difficult it is to live here – the heat is so intense as is the sun blinding. The best part about Vegas is staying in a hotel casino in a separate world than the harsh reality of the desert. Still, there are so many memories here, so many things that feel like home.

 

 

Birthday Cruise to the Bahamas

We’re counting down to Rich’s birthday cruise to the Bahamas. After the month we’ve have, we really need to get away – we’re so glad we made the decision to book another cruise when we got back from my birthday trip to L.A./cruise to Ensenada.

I’m looking forward to my first Margarita and Rich can taste those Guy’s Burgers. Sipping, relaxing, noshing… ah, life at sea!

Shadow, Daisy, and I are up again during the night. I’m hoping they’ll keep quiet and let Rich sleep before getting up for work in a couple of hours. They’re now asleep at my feet as I write this. In this moment, we’re all okay so it’s hard to get up from the computer and go back to bed.

Shadow is getting better about howling his grief – I suppose we all are. It still takes Rich and I by surprise, though, like all the places we still see him or the little things we did with Skipper in mind and now we either don’t need to or don’t especially want to. His presence is all over this house – I suspect we built it for him. After all, he was king! 🙂

Looking back at a few photos from the Vegas years, I’m posting a few of Skipper that especially stood out this morning. And as much as I was desperate to leave Las Vegas, I do miss it sometimes. Certainly, the memories. I definitely needed a break from it, though.

Late Sunday afternoon reminded me of how good we have it here. We just hopped in the car and drove to the beach and there I was dipping my feet in the water. Heaven! You can’t do that in the desert.

A friend and I were talking about meeting my father 16 years ago and how it was too short and I realized I knew Skipper longer than I knew my father.

That reminds me of a story about a woman I worked with in San Francisco when we were in ours 20s. Her dog died and then her father died and I said to another co-worker, “She seemed more upset about her dog dying than her father.” And Stefany said, “I suspect she got a lot more love from her dog than she ever did from her father.”

Anyway, here’s to Skipper. Look at those eyes – he would give me that look and he seemed so human. I will miss him forever! Love you, sweet boy!

 

 

 

Our Florida Vacation

We called 2017 the “Year of Repositioning” and many of you followed our journey from Las Vegas to Florida and the fits and starts along the way.

2018 is the “Year of Adjusting,” and I’ve really been struggling lately, actually even before the one-year anniversary of arriving in Florida. The first 7 months were spent in an apartment in North Orlando while we house hunted and then built our home in a beach city we’d never lived in before. So the adjustment period started all over again, although we might have been further along in our adjustment if we hadn’t had to split our time. But, then, this is our third time in Florida and I always get homesick. Hence, the upcoming birthday trip to SoCal, a short cruise to Mexico, and a couple of days at Disneyland Resort. I can’t wait to touch down once again!

Just for kicks, I looked at some pics of our Las Vegas home and the surrounding area and am so thankful we’re out of the desert – the best thing about living there was that feeling of home and being only 4 hours from Disneyland/SoCal childhood. I miss that! Sometimes I can’t believe I’m so far away now. How did this happen? 🙂

Anyway, here are two pics that show the contrast of living in Las Vegas and living in Florida – no wonder I struggle to adjust – it’s a huge change!

The back of our Vegas house – solar screens are popular as a way to block out some of that hot desert sun. We also had blackout drapes on the back side of the house for that intense afternoon sun.

This morning’s view from my screened Lanai where I sip my coffee every morning – glorious!

Two different worlds for sure!

Saturday, we shopped for the trip in the morning and then had our lunch at La Fiesta, which is so authentically Mexican, we’re there practically every week. At least the weeks we’re not at Disney. The Margaritas are amazing!! Growing up in Southern California surrounded by Mexican culture, margaritas and tacos are a taste of home.

Tequila, take me home!

Halfway through eating lunch. 🙂

We were shopping at Target the other day and we picked up some food items like tortillas, black beans, rice, tortilla chips and salsa and the clerk said, “Are you having a Mexican Fiesta?” I just looked at her and said, “Every night is a Mexican Fiesta for us.” The thing is nobody would say that to you in California or the West Coast or the entire SW. In this day of the Food Network and food education, I’m a bit shocked even somebody in Florida said it.

No doubt we’re having a blast in Florida, enjoying frequent trips to Disney and the beach – what a welcome change from the desert. Our house is wonderful, the golf community is gorgeous – both a dream come true. But it’s not home. And, as always, it’s starting to feel like we’re on another extended Florida vacation.

 

We Have a House!

Or at least we think we do. We sign the lease sometime today, we think.

It’s been such a crazy process this time around. So much is happening all at once. We got a little spooked yesterday and were sipping a cold one, discussing whether we should cancel the whole thing. Maybe it wasn’t the right timing for this. But as we were chatting and Rich was on the phone talking with our agent, I heard a noise in our front yard. It sounded like kids were digging around. I’d caught them one day doing something with one of our bushes – I never did know what.

Anyway, I opened the front door to see what was going on, and I noticed a man with a shovel doing something in our front yard. I then noticed his pick-up and wondered if it was the maintenance guy back doing something. And then I realized, he was putting up the “For Sale” sign.

It was as if the Universe was telling us we are definitely moving so stop talking about not moving. lol! But it’s definitely times like these when you especially appreciate friends and family and even strangers sharing their stories. There’s something about being in it together.

And whenever we do have doubts, like early this morning when I realized just how much I’ll miss this house, I recall Mr. Arizona and his words to keep moving and don’t look back.

Living the Luxury Resort Lifestyle in Las Vegas

The latest decision we had to make was, “Should we go ahead and sell the house and move into a luxury resort condo rental if the plan to leave Las Vegas falls through or should we take the house off the market until there is a real getaway plan in place?”

Entertaining the possibility of selling and staying until we can make our getaway at a future date, I searched online and found a few fabulous rental condos with views of the Las Vegas Strip.

Turnberry Towers is within walking distance of what was once the International where Elvis used to perform, and my friend invited me to stay with her and her parents during that first summer Elvis appeared. I used to stay there several times a year on business trips to Vegas from San Francisco back in the 1980s (and watched them film Elvis and Me from my room overlooking the pool).

My novel, The Tom Jones Club, came from so many of my Vegas experiences.

I interviewed for a tech writing project in Turnberry Towers when they were building Fontainebleau on the Strip (the project folded before the building was finished). But when I realized it wasn’t for me, I stood up, told them so, and left. They were so flummoxed that somebody would actually do that – lol!)

This one actually faces the Hilton (what it will always be to me), and not the Strip, which, for me, is best because I prefer the morning sun over the late afternoon west-facing view during the summer months. Once the sun sets, the view of the Strip is amazing, but until then… brutal!

Two or three years back, Rich and I attended the last Elvis Festival there and we got a private tour of the famous Elvis Suite and the famous story of the dressing room where Elvis and Barbra Streisand sat on the floor and discussed the possibility of Elvis starring in A Star is Born (the Colonel blew that opportunity).

The pool inside the Elvis Suite at the International aka Las Vegas Hilton aka the Westgate

So, yeah, wow! How cool is this? Well, after thinking about it, I decided it would be cool for about a week or two at most. I mean, how many days/nights can you spend in a casino? About 3 days/nights we learned from our San Francisco to Las Vegas weekend getaway days.

Now for a little blast to the past…