Farewell Thanksgiving at Wine Bar George and the Chicken Guy

When we got the email about Thanksgiving at Wine Bar George, we knew we had to do it for our good-bye to Florida. This would be our third time at Wine Bar George and one of the places we will miss when we’re back West.

It was a beautiful day – we arrived at Disney Springs at around 10:30 a.m. for our 11:30 reservation. The lime garage was already full but we’ve grown to appreciate the orange garage so that was no problem. We strolled around the springs, enjoying the atmosphere and Christmas decorations and our first stop was the Ganachery – another place we will totally miss. We got some chocolate toffee bark to take home and a milk chocolate Mickey and a vanilla with dark chocolate, shared them, while we strolled the Springs and made our way to World of Disney to get our first peek at the remodel.

We browsed and ended up getting Minnie Mickey coffee mugs. By this time it was getting close to 11:30 so we headed back to Wine Bar George and were seated on the balcony across from another couple, who were just being served a huge plate of Thanksgiving turkey. We exchanged appreciative glances and comments and ordered the same. The dinner was a traditional turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and haricot vert. We paired it with Argyle Pinot Noir. It was quite tasty, but I asked for a box to take half of it home for my evening meal.

We skipped dessert but made a point of stopping at the Chicken Guy. I’m not a fan of chicken tenders, but this was our last chance to try them. We were especially interested in the Nashville hot honey sauce – we were wowed by Nashville’s hot chicken when we evacuated there last year. I’m not usually a fan of hot chicken as in Buffalo Chicken Wings but Nashville chicken is amazing!

Anyway, we picked up an order of 3 tenders and the Nashville sauce for Rich’s evening snack since he managed to finish his turkey dinner. And then we headed home. It may seem to silly to complain about an hour and fifteen minute drive but it does get old. But that’s probably because we’re so ready to move back west. Our Florida vacation this time around is so over.

The toffee was incredible, my leftovers were even tastier heated up later, and the bite of chicken tender I had was the best chicken tenders I’ve ever had, although Rich remembers Cane’s in Las Vegas as being just as good if not better. We’ll have to make that one of our first stops when we get back so we can double check that memory. 🙂


Notes from the Road Day 3

After purging our home of appox. a quarter of our stuff, we expected the packing to go rather quickly. How wrong can you be? Rich kept me updated with text messages. So… the guy in charge usually works the moving end of things – not packing – and it showed. He was horribly slow and moronic. His “helper” was faster, brighter, and efficient by far. I felt Rich’s pain having to go through that from 7 am to 6 pm – so tired he could barely stand by the end of the day. We’ve had really good packers and really awful ones, and this guy beat the record of being the absolute worst in our relocation history – simply unbelievable!

I was feeling my own pain stuck in the hotel with the cats. Finally, after the maids had quit for the day with no possibility of them entering the room and letting the cats out, I went out for a walk. Whew! Much better out in the fresh air. I swore I would never let myself be in that position again, not if I could help it. When we buy our next home, we’ll do the packing as we do when it’s a local move. For cross-country moves, the packing must be done a certain way and we pay for the moving company to do it.

The good news is, Rich arrived back at the house bright and early this morning at 7 am to be there before the 8 am arrival of the driver/loaders. The “helpers” followed Rich to the house and organized much of the work by place boxes in the garage. The driver was right behind them, so we’re off to an early start.

The other good news is the driver lives in New Smyrna Beach, not far from our new home. The downside is because we’re moving into an apartment, he may have to shuttle the stuff, which means moving everything to a smaller truck – a longhauler might be too awkward. Just one more time I’m so sorry we have to move into an apartment. It will pay off later down the road once we’re finally in our next new home. I can’t wait for that day.

Rich took a photo for me of the longhauler parked in front of our house – for the last time. Bittersweet but so excited to be moving on!

Rich relaxed in our backyard for the last time while the movers loaded our stuff onto the long hauler. Thankfully, the driver and his crew were awesome and they were finished loading before noon.


Notes from the Road Day 2

This hotel is one of those hotels that has a cooling/heating system that is either one or the other – there is no off switch. Too cold at 72, I punch it up to 73 and the heater comes on. Too hot, I turn it back down. Too cold, I’m wondering how I will sleep at all.

I remember spotting a blanket in the coat closet so I get up in the middle of the night, rip it out of its plastic bag and place it on the bed. Rich pulls it up and thanks me. That’s the perfect solution.

Still, I can’t sleep. I have so many worries on our mind. I check the weather for the stops ahead and notice that we’ll land in each town the day of a storm – we must be driving with it. I worry about the condition of the car – it was just serviced and it’s only 3 years old, but it idles roughly, and I’m worried.

Skipper wakes us at 6 am, as usual, and we get up to feed him and to drink our morning cup of coffee, which tastes like Princess coffee, which is pretty awful. Not hungry that early, we skip getting the free breakfast and eat a protein bar instead.

Rich leaves for the house to take care of a few things before the packers are scheduled to arrive sometime between 8 am and 10 am. It’s 8:23 now and Rich just texted me that they should arrive in about 30 minutes. In the meantime, I couldn’t find my workout pants and had Rich scouring the house only to discover they were still in my suitcase, hidden in a dark corner. Ooops – so sorry about that.

Skipper and Shadow, who are normally very close, have been fighting – Skipper must feel like he needs to re-establish his dominance in a new place.

Shadow sneaks into my office chair as soon as he spies a chance (like at home), and Skipper claims the bed.

I’ll spend the rest of the day writing, reading, watching GH at 1 pm, snoozing, and eating – we brought a few frozen meals, snacks, water, soda, wine, and sandwich fixings with us. Rich should return sometime this afternoon after he drops off the cable box after the packers are finished. He is so worn out but I’m hoping that each day will ease his burden and he’ll recover for the 2500-mile drive.


Yesterday we sold our house! This called for a celebration, so after church last nightish, we went to Tommy Bahama’s Restaurant & Bar at Town Square. It’s the place we go when we want that Florida vibe.

The blazing desert sun was practically setting my hair on fire so when we arrived, the dark bar with live music beckoned. Happy hour was in full swing, and we were seated in a dark booth.

We both started with a strong and refreshing Mai Tai and shared the Duo of Dips for an appetizer, both on the Happy Hour menu. For our entrees, Rich had the Grilled Baby Back Pork Ribs, and I had the World Famous Coconut Shrimp appetizer portion, also on the Happy Hour menu. Both of our entrees included the best slaw ever – the onion really made it. We’d planned to order Key Lime Pie for dessert but were too full. 🙂


Mai Tai

Flor de Caña 4 Year, Orgeat, Orange Curaçao, Lemon, Lime, Pineapple, Dark Rum Float


Duo of Dips: Craft Beer Cheese, Spiked Guacamole, House-Made Chips


Grilled Baby Back Pork Ribs with Sweet & Spicy Blackberry Brandy BBQ, Island Slaw, Cauliflower-Potato Mash

World Famous Coconut Shrimp with Papaya-Mango Chutney

Mai Tai and Duo of Dips

Ribs with Cauliflower Mash

Coconut Shrimp

Rich poses with Town Square foliage

Kathy finds shade

Saying Good-bye

I look around this house, remembering our Lovey jumping to the high window, making an emergency landing, saving herself on the coat closet. I see her running out to the front porch – the only time she ran outside – when we first moved here. Perhaps she thought it was just another part of the house, especially when she saw me out there.

I see the movers on our first move-in. I see the landscapers out back, the patio where we sat and listened to Willie Nelson after buying that CD in that store at Downtown Disney that’s no longer there. I see Lovey sticking her head in the fridge, jumping up on the cabinets, eating on the cart from her special food dish, relaxing in her tree by the back window.

Skipper in the Johnson position, which inspired the children’s picture book, Scooter’s Big Adventure. Buddy singing in the garage entry with its great acoustics. Lovey yelling at the garage looking for Rich, as if he spent the day in there instead of driving off to work.

My heart is heavy missing Lovey in her house. Will we stay and try to replace her with another kitty? Or will we move on? Either way, we must take the time to remember her in this house before we say good-bye and move on with our life.

Writing yesterday’s blog post reminded me of how important writing is to me. I’ve been so focused on songwriting that I’ve neglected my other writing. Perhaps I’ll put all of those emotions in a book during Lent. Maybe this is what Lent is for.


Posted on our breeder’s web site after Shadow flew to Las Vegas to join our family in February 2014.

Thanksgiving in Margaritaville, Day 7: The Finale and Travel Day

Today was travel day and we were trying to decide how to best spend it. Our flight wasn’t until 4:50 p.m. but we had to be out of the cottage by 10 a.m. I asked Rich if we should explore the Ruskin to Riverview area (they were building tons of new homes in the area) or do something that would leave a more positive impression because we already knew we weren’t that much in love with the Ruskin/Riverview areas.

Our other two possibilities was to hang out on the Causeway and enjoy the Gulf views for several hours or check out the Wesley Chapel area where several new shopping centers had been built since we’d lived in neighboring Land O Lakes. We chose to check out Ruskin/Riverview, including driving over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

I was awake until one thirty a.m. and slept for an hour. Then I finally went back to sleep until eight. Got up and had coffee and cereal. We finished packing and cleaning the room. We checked out out at ten am per the rules and drove over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Beautiful and thought we might be able to live here. Stopped at Ruskin and finally got to tour the Lennar New Jersey plan in Ruskin. We loved it but there was no community pool.

We were getting hungry so we stopped at Mickey Ds in Riverview. We both had colds by this time and a Big Mac would be the comfort food we would need. Then we drove to the airport.  We dropped off the rental car and stopped at RumFish for drinks. MaiTai for Rich and Ruby Snapper for me.

Then we went to the gate to wait. Rich got us a Pumpkin Latte at Starbucks and we boarded at 4:20. We left Tampa Airport at 5:50 EST and arrived about 25 minutes early at 7:30 PST. The trip home was terrible. We’re already not big fans of flying, especially these days, and Southwest was horrible. They only offer you Fritos or Cookies or Vending machine crackers and fake cheese for a 4.5 hour flight. We were exhausted and coughing our heads off the entire time. We did get the Exit row, which was nice for Rich’s legs, but those planes are notorious (we found out later) for having super uncomfortable seats in the exit rows. My butt was numb after about an hour.

We had a great vacation and it was exciting to see Florida again. We’re no closer to knowing whether we would accept an opportunity to move back there or not. I’m at an age where I really enjoy the comforts of home and feeling at home – I’m not as adventurous as I once was. So it would really be hard to move back again. Part of me wishes it wasn’t so and maybe it isn’t entirely, but for now, being home, especially when you’re sick, is exactly where I want to be.

We didn’t get to spend as much time in Orlando as we may have wanted to, and we didn’t get to Caddy’s on the Beach, which was at the top of our list. I guess we’ll just have to go back again.

So for now, it’s good-bye Tampa Bay – good-bye Sunshine Skyway Bridge – I hope we get to see you again.


Thanksgiving in Margaritaville, Day 6, Part 1: Thanksgiving

I woke up at dawn feeling compelled to open the door, inhale the fresh Florida air, and watch the sun rise over the Bay. The emotional roller coaster ride continued each day and Florida wasn’t feeling quite as much like home as I’d hoped. In Tampa, we held out hope that maybe Orlando was our place. But in Orlando, I couldn’t wait to get back to Tampa. Does that mean the door is shut on living in Florida again?

And then that morning I woke up thinking, “I don’t think I can choose to never feel this again.”

So I quickly got dressed and walked over to the dock. A couple passed me and the woman said, “Happy Thanksgiving”, which was nice. I sat down and watched the sun rise and breathed in the wonderful Florida air that I had missed. The weather had been warming each day and it was feeling like the Florida I remembered.

I scurried back to the room to see if Rich was up because I didn’t want him to miss this. He was a little slower going but he did get up, made us some coffee, and we took it and a banana nut muffin back to the dock. We saw there enjoying the view, taking more pics and video.

After a while, we returned to the cottage to shower and get dressed and then walked to the beach. We walked all the way to the pier, down the pier, and then back down the beach. Along the way, I dipped my feet in the water – very nice! I love this!!

It was a glorious morning. The beach was absolutely gorgeous. I do think it’s a bit more stunning than my southern California beaches but it lacks that feeling of home that Newport and Huntington Beach give me. I think the California vs. Florida choice is the choice between adventure and home. I want both.



The day was really warming up so we returned to the resort and decided to sit out by the pool. One woman was out there when we arrived but she soon left. Well, here it was Thanksgiving morning and it was so nice out, we decided to change into our swimsuits. I think it reached close to 80 that day.

So, Rich went back first to change and when he returned, I changed. It was simply glorious outside! The pool was fabulous! This is the life!!

By Thanksgiving, it starts to get cold in Las Vegas, cold, meaning about 50 degrees during the day and maybe 39 or so overnight. We’d had a pretty warm fall late this year but on travel day, we had our first cold day. When we arrived in Florida, it was unusually cold but after a couple of days of that, it began to warm up and felt more like the Florida we know and love.

Another couple joined us out by the pool and we swam and enjoyed the sun and the warmth and the music. We sat out for awhile and then got back in for a final swim. Eventually, it was time for lunch. Rich remembers us having Beach Eats leftovers (and he has a very good memory), but I wrote that down for last night. I’m wondering if this was the day we had the Stouffer’s pizza we’d picked up at CVS – anyway, one or the other last night and one or the other today for lunch.