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!!