Margarita Monday with Sharon at Sea #Cruise #Travel #amwriting

Okay, so our new latest thing is hanging out with Sharon at Sea and the gang on YouTube on Monday nights. We’ve even reserved a cabin for one of their group cruises, and are considering a second one.

So all of this having happened last night, got me excited to make a video for my novels Real Women Wear Red and the sequel, Real Women Sing the Blues, to replace the one I had on youtube years ago (before Goggle bought it and messed it al up). I kept thinking I’d try to recreate one, albeit, a bit different than before, but I did keep the same music. It’s just too perfect.

Maybe we can’t cruise right now but it’s such fun to hang out with other cruise lovers, and to relive the glory days of writing these two novels, remembering our past cruises.

French Martini & Cocktail Video (Inspired by Disney, Cruising, Las Vegas, California, Florida)

With the release of French Martini on Kindle, I was inspired to create a video looking back at our life through cocktails – lol! This was so much fun to put together (PS – a link to a recipe for a French Martini is in the video description). Enjoy! Also, please subscribe, like, and/or comment on the video. Thank you!

Thanksgiving in Margaritaville Trip Report Wrap-Up

Okay, so that’s a wrap for another trip report! In the meantime, we need to figure out how to get our videos from my iPhone to Youtube without going through the WordPress App because we have now run out of space. The iPhone to YouTube stopped working after the last upgrade so I don’t know if that has anything to do with it or I need to figure out how to fix it.

Another possibility is to upgrade our WordPress account for more storage and a few other handy tools. Another idea is to archive reports onto another blog to free up some room here. We’ll give it some thought and let you know how we’ve solved this problem.

Thanks for reading the report – we really appreciate the “likes” to let us know that you’re reading it.

Here are the direct links to each post:

Pre-Trip Report

Day 1, Travel Day

Day 2, Part 1: Tampa

Day 2, Part 2: Tampa

Day 3, Sea Critters and the Beach

Day 4, Part 1: A Bit of Hawaii

Day 4, Part 2: Disney Springs and Wilderness Lodge

Day 4, Part 3: Artist Point

Day 5, Wild Night in Orlando and Frenchy’s on Dunedin Causeway

Day 6, Part 1: Thanksgiving (Pool and Beach)

Day 6, Part 2: Thanksgiving (Dinner)

Day 6, Thanksgiving Extras (Private)

Day 7, Finale and Travel Day

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 2: Thanksgiving

Originally, we had reservations at Columbia on Clearwater Beach for Thanksgiving. But we really didn’t want to be tied down and it seemed a bit formal for our taste. We just wanted to pop into a beach bar for Thanksgiving. But when we called around, most places were closed. In fact, every place we called was closed. But we’d seen a sign about somebody being open earlier in the week so we thought we’d just fake it.

We had our usual nap and when we awake, we figured it was time to head out to see where we could eat. We figured if all else failed, we’d pop into Walgreen’s and get some pasta – I was really craving that.

So we headed out and passed by this place called Toucan’s. People were sitting outside having a drink and the hostess standing in the open door asked if we’d like a seat. We thanked her and walked on by. And then we both realized at the same time how fun that looked so we walked back and asked if we could get some take-out. She said, “Sure. Just order at the bar.”

Well, the bar looked so fun, we decided to sit down and have a drink. Rich ordered up a Margarita for each of us, and we hung out there and enjoyed hanging out with families and couples and singles all having a great time eating, drinking, and watch sports on TV.

Eventually, we asked the bartender for a menu and the Linguini with Clams really stood out for us, so we ordered some takeout. On the way out, we stopped to enjoy our last sunset in Margaritaville. It was so gorgeous. We knew how much we’d be missing this.

We headed back to the resort, weak in the knees by the amazing aromas coming from that takeout box. We couldn’t wait to dig in. I poured us each a glass of wine and we had the most amazing Thanksgiving dinner. From the morning sunrise to the morning walk on the beach to the morning swimming in the pool to the Thanksgiving cocktails and seafood past, it was the perfect day! This is how we like to spend Thanksgiving.

Originally, we got the idea for this trip because we were reminiscing about that first Thanksgiving in Florida when we’d just arrived in Tampa Bay. That restaurant is no longer there in Dunedin, but we’d had such a fabulous time eating seafood on Thanksgiving that we wanted to make it our tradition. It’s been 10 years since that Thanksgiving, but we never forgot it and thought it would be such fun to try to re-create it in Florida one more time.

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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.

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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.

 

 

Thanksgiving in Margaritaville, Day 5: Wild Night in Orlando and Frenchy’s on Dunedin Causeway

We punched the address of the Residence Inn in our GPS and as soon as we turned right onto 535, I knew where we were. This was the route we took when we lived in Windermere. And something about that really freaked me out. So when we checked into the Residence Inn, I was already having a bad feeling about this choice. Maybe we’ve stayed in to many Residence Inns on our cross-country moves, but they now remind me of what all of that entails. What had happened to my Margaritaville vacation?

To compound all of that, we had nothing with us – no meds, no toothbrush, no sleepwear, nothing for our cold. It suddenly seemed like a bad idea. But Rich was exhausted and he quickly got into bed. That’s when I became wide awake. I tried to sleep in the bed. I tried to sleep on the couch. But something about all of this discomfort was keeping me awake. Eventually, around 2 a.m. Rich awoke, too, and we decided to hid the road. He said he’d slept enough to feel able to drive us back to Clearwater Beach.

It was a very quiet drive and really quite beautiful when we approached Tampa all lit up night. It was a very familiar feeling after living there for a few years. What a relief to return to our beach cottage, though. Disney property is fabulous and we would have been much better off if we’d stayed on-property if we could have found something available. But we did keep our Elite status for next year so maybe it was worth staying over, especially since that’s what allowed Rich to rest up enough to drive us. I really don’t think I could have.

We arrived back at the cottage at 4 a.m. and slept until 8 a.m. Then we had coffee and cereal. We showered and dressed. I really didn’t think we’d get up and go anywhere again this day. But we decided to drive to the Dunedin Causeway and have lunch at the Frenchy’s Outpost there. We put our name in and the wait was short. It was a beautiful day and people were sitting inside and outside enjoying lunch on a weekday.

We chose to sit inside – it was just too bright outside and we liked the atmosphere inside. Rich ordered some kind of frosty drink in a bucket – lol! I ordered my usual Margarita. It was clam basket for Rich and my usual shrimp basket – what’s Florida without that?

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Then we drove onto the Causeway. First, we parked on the shady side, got out and took pics and video of the Causeway and then sat there enjoying the beautiful water. Then we switched to the sunny side and stayed in the car and watched the activity on the Gulf. It was just too bright and sunny out and we were still a bit tired from the night’s adventures.

Eventually, we headed back to the cottage and took a nap. We awoke around sunset, took some photos from the dock, returned to the cottage, ate the leftovers from Pearly’s Beach Eats, sipped wine, talked, and went to bed early.

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Thanksgiving in Margaritaville: Day 4, Part 3: Artist Point

We checked in at Artist Point close to our 5:45 PM reservation. We were seated at a table for two near the windows overlooking the walkway down to Roaring Forks. We had never been seated here before, but we had always noticed it. It turned out to be a very nice location, secluded and quiet with a nice view of the rest of the dining room.

WINE

Rich & Kathy
Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills

ENTREES

Kathy
Chinook Cedar Plank Salmon
Baby Sweet Potato, Chicory Greens, Forelle Pears, Yogurt, Lemon Vinaigrette

Rich
Seared Diver Sea Scallop Paella
Little Neck Clams, Mussels, Carolina Gold Rice, Tomato Broth, Petite Fennel

DESSERT

Rich & Kathy (Shared)
Cobbler
Seasonal Berries, Black Raspberry Ice Cream

Our server Rae was wonderful. Before long, she was pouring us huge glasses of Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir. It is one of our favorite Pinot Noirs. We have visited the Sokol Blosser winery many times and were members of the wine club.

We skipped the appetizers so we could save room for the cobbler for dessert. The menu was much different from the last time we were here, and Rich was happy to see that there was a paella that did not contain shrimp, which he is allergic to. The combination of scallops, clams, and mussels was a perfect blend. And the rich, thick paella was creamy and delicious.

Kathy’s salmon, the signature dish of Artist Point, was spot-on, with rich, deep flavors and a wonderful blend of accompaniments. We tasted each other’s entrees, and we enjoyed everything.

Kathy’s comments: It was really a classic Artist Point menu, but I could have done without the extra greenery on top. In fact, the couple who were seated behind us after we were seated had obviously enjoyed Rae’s service before and the woman told her to skip the greenery on her plate. Disney seems to be getting carried away with what they think is healthy eating. I enjoy veggies but this was ridiculous. lol! Still, they were tasty.

We had to have the cobbler, something we were looking forward to for so long. And it didn’t disappoint. Warm, yummy, and comforting, it was the perfect end to the meal. We shared the cobbler, and even then we were quite full from the scrumptious meal.

It was hard to tear ourselves away from the incredible atmosphere and the memory of the delightful meal, but alas we had more adventures ahead.

Kathy’s comments: Rich started talking about how tired he was and he didn’t think he was up for the drive back to Clearwater Beach. He mentioned something about checking to see if we could get a room at Wilderness Lodge. I wasn’t quite sure he was serious at first – this isn’t like him. But he kept mentioning it.

I was thinking it would be nice to boat over to Ft. Wilderness and we could do that if we were staying over. But being the budget keeper of this trip. I was a bit concerned about WL as a choice, so I suggested we stay at the nearby Residence Inn, which was $99 per night. We knew that because at one time we’d planned to split the trip. So we booked the room and boated over to Ft. Wilderness and back. More about the room in tomorrow’s post.

img_7626Waiting for our table

img_7627Enjoying our wine

img_7630Rich’s Paella with fennel moved

img_7628Kathy’s salmon with greens moved

img_7632Ah… the Cobbler!!

 

Thanksgiving in Margaritaville: Day 4, Part 2: Disney Springs and Wilderness Lodge

At around 2 pm we left the island via 60 on to 275 to 4 to Orlando. We were anxious to get our first look at Disney Springs. Honestly, we weren’t that impressed from all the videos we’d watched. It just seemed like a lot of chain restaurants from elsewhere stuck in a new outdoor mall on Disney property. But in person, well, we kept saying “Wow!” Surprisingly we were impressed.

The garage parking wasn’t as bad as we feared, but we were disappointed that the Marketplace area parking was now valet only at $20 a pop. But the Christmas decorations and music really added to the atmosphere. Finally, “Downtown Disney World” had a vibe similar to Downtown Disneyland.

We crossed over the new bridge and bought a McQueen ornament at the Christmas store and walked around the new Springs area. Tempted to try some of the new snack options but had. 5:40 ressie at Artist Point.

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We retrieved the rental car, drove past the MK gates, and on to Wilderness Lodge. We parked with the regular people (no Tables in Wonderland/no Valet) – lol. We admired the Christmas trees and music and outside grounds and had to stop for a glass of something at the Trout Pass Bar.

We so wanted a cocktail but ended up getting a glass of Cab because it was getting close to our dinner ressie and was conscious of having to drive all the way back to Clearwater Beach that night. We had a blast talking and laughing with the CMs and other guests. What a moment! It was all very exciting! We both had big grins on our faces.

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It was soon time for our reservation and we were seated along the side at a table for two in an area we’d never sat in before. We really liked it – it was quiet and private. The meal was delicious, of course, and Rich will write up a separate post about that. But here are some pics. We also took video and I’ll try to upload some of those later.

Then we walked out to the boat dock and boarded a boat to Ft. Wilderness via the Contemporary. Beautiful night!

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We walked around Ft. Wilderness a bit and I did my usual tetherball thing. But we were a bit disappointed that our regular stops at the gift shops were a bit of a bust. What happened to all the merchandise? It just seems like it’s mostly kid stuff and not much as much there. We felt the same way about the Wilderness Lodge gift shop, formerly a huge favorite of ours.

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It had been a long day and a long drive, especially with Rich having a cold. He really didn’t want to have to turn around and drive all the way back to our island resort on Clearwater Beach. We ended up making a bad choice, but I’ll save that story for the next post.

Thanksgiving in Margaritaville, Day 4: Part 1, A Bit of Hawaii

We took notes each day, or at least we thought we did, but it looks like we missed some days. So I don’t really remember what exactly we did this morning other than breakfast and coffee and walking over to Pearly’s Beach Eats for lunch. We’d planned to bring something back to the cottage and eat there before getting ready for our big day in Orlando.

I do remember finding the shortcut so that “Beach Eats” was only about a block away. We also finally saw the CVS we’d been told about. When we first arrived in the dark, we could only see the two-story Walgreen’s – CVS is now hidden behind the big parking garage that’s being built – that will really change the casual feel around here of being able to walk everywhere without worrying much about car traffic.

So we walked up to the order window at Pearly’s (I like to call it “Beach Eats” because of the big sign that says that), and when we heard the music and saw the tables and people enjoying their lunch alfresco, we decided to stay and eat there, too.

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Rich ordered our food and I picked out a picnic table, passing by the surfboard table because the chairs looked too uncomfortable – lol!

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While waiting for our food, we heard Iz singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and we were immediately swept away to Hawaii. I felt so very much at home in this moment.

So, here’s the video I posted earlier.

I had the beef Baja Bowl and Rich had a beef and hash brown Boss Burrito and we had Coke and Diet Coke to drink.

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Our meals were rather large so we took the leftovers back to the cottage, took our showers, got dressed and left for Orlando at around 1 or 1:30 p.m.

Thanksgiving in Margaritaville, Day 3: Sea Critters and the Beach

This morning we had breakfast in the room: coffee and donuts for Kathy and coffee and banana nut muffin for Rich. It was cold but we bundled up and walked over to dock to take pics and video.

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Originally, this was going to be Orlando day with dinner at Artist Point but we realized we needed a beach day before we took off for Orlando so we rescheduled it for the next day.

We then showered and dressed and drove to John’s Pass for lunch but changed our minds and continued on to Sea Critters. It was a beautiful day, but had a bit of a detour on the way due to some road construction.

We sat outside and took pics and video of the beautiful day in Tampa Bay and the people arriving/leaving Sea Critters by boat.

And then we  ordered drinks and lunch – Mai Tai for Rich and Margarita for Kathy. Rich ordered the Blackened Grouper with rice and beans and Kathy ordered her traditional Florida Shrimp basket with fries. We shared a slice of Key Lime Pie with caramel sauce, which was delicious.

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We then drove back to the resort for a nap with our daily stop at Walgreens for more snacks and mouth wash and Halls for Rich’s cold. When we woke up, we revived ourselves with a soda and chocolate squares. Then we drove to the beach to see the sunset and took some pics and video.

It was really freezing out and by now it was totally dark. My light Princess Cruises sweatshirt was not enough to keep me warm so we popped into a gift shop and I got a thicker sweatshirt with hood that said, “Clearwater Beach” on it. We also picked up a postcard for Rich’s parents. They used to come down to Clearwater Beach every winter when they were living in Massachusetts.

We stopped in at Ron Jon’s and Rich got a T-shirt. We passed a musician and he was playing his guitar and singing his heart out in the cold. I asked Rich to offer something for his tip jar and when he did, the guy’s face lit up in a huge way. He started talking to us about how tonight seemed even colder. I told him to “keep warm” and he thanked me for reminding him of that. It may seem like a simple encounter but there was something very spiritual about it that’s hard to explain. But now I think I know what Father Philip means when he says that you “see Christ in the poor.” Before I just thought it was those crazy Catholics (we’re now Byzantine Catholic – lol!). But I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since then.

Then we stopped by this walk-up place that said “Beach Eats” and grabbed a menu for lunch the next day.

When we drove back to the resort. Once the weather warms a bit, we hope to walk to the beach because it really is only a couple of blocks away from our resort.

Rich had leftover pizza and Kathy had crackers and cheese with our wine.

We stopped to check in with each other’s reactions to being in Florida again. It was fun but freaky at the same time. Some parts felt like home and other parts didn’t feel like home at all. We knew this week would be a roller coaster ride and we probably wouldn’t really know how we felt until about a week after we were home. Still, it was fun to talk about.

We were looking forward to Orlando the next day. Maybe Orlando feels more like home because we’ve lived there twice and the most recent.