Our 18-Month Florida Vacation Playlist

For videos of our most recent time living in Central Florida, check out our 18-Month Florida Vacation Playlist on our new YouTube Channel.

Christmas at Disney’s Yacht Club

We knew we wanted to spend Christmas Day at Disney World (outside the parks for crowd and AP blockout reasons) and have Christmas dinner at one of the restaurants. We couldn’t decide which, though, so we changed our ressies several times. But when we read about the new Ale and Compass at the Yacht Club, we settled on that the day before. And we were so glad we did.

Of course we love the Yacht Club – it is our home resort at WDW ever since our first stay there back in 1999 (the Contemporary was Kathy’s first back in 1982). We were very impressed with Ale and Compass – the decor, the food, and the service.

Christmas Lunch
by Rich

Starter (Shared)
Oven-roasted Oysters
with Spinach and Creamed Kale, White Cheddar, and Cornbread Crumbs

Entree – Kathy
Maine Lobster Roll
with choice House-made Vinegar Chips

Entree – Rich
Open-faced Skirt Steak Sandwich
with Caramelized Onions, Poached Egg, Fennel, Watercress, and Tomato Salad with Truffle Vinaigrette

Wine – Kathy
Domaine Savary Chablis, Burgundy

Wine – Rich
Columbia Crest Grand Estates Syrah, Columbia Valley

The oven-roasted oysters were fabulous, just the right start to the meal. The breading and accompaniments to the oysters were in perfect proportion to the oysters.

Kathy’s lobster roll was wonderful – not over-dressed, just delicious chunks of lobster on a nicely-sized roll. Kathy enjoyed an ideal pairing of hard-to-find Chablis.

Rich’s medium-rare skirt steak was incredible – tender, juicy, and full of flavor. The caramelized onions and truffle vinaigrette were especially nice touches. The Syrah was a splendid pairing, achieving a lovely balance between blackberry fruit and sweet smokiness.

After our meal we walked the Boardwalk, stopping at our usual kissing spot, and popped into the Boardwalk where we were each offered a complimentary peppermint sugar cookie. We continued our walk full circle to the Yacht Club – Rich even skipped his usual Boardwalk skip – and two stools at the Hurricane Hanna pool bar called our names and we each had a Margarita.

We chatted with other guests from St. Augustine, noting that this is the real replacement for the Trout Pass Bar at Wilderness Lodge. It has the same vibe that Geyser Point sadly does not quite have with so many families gathering there.

After our cocktails and conversation (love this about Disney World), we were in search of coffee before we hit the road and ended up at Beaches and Cream where Rich got us two coffees and two ice cream sandwiches (huge but yummy – lol) while Kathy grabbed us a table overlooking Stormalong Bay.

We stopped in at the gift shop where Yacht Club coffee cups captured our attention, made our purchases and then we drive back to the beach.

It was a gorgeous day out – low 70s compared to mid 50s at the beach. What an awesomely perfect Christmas! Disney for the day was even better being able to return to our new home at the beach.

Summer Vacation

This time of year it seems as if everybody is on their summer vacation. Two of Rich’s co-workers are going to Disneyland later this week. I know, I’m kinda missing it, but we’re hoping to get back there for a milestone birthday next summer.

My Florida lifestyle is a bit vacation-like and that’s the way I like it. And since nothing will really happen on the house until probably Labor Day, I’m going to amp it up. My new electric guitar arrives tomorrow so I plan to have some fun with that. But other than that, I’m going to consider myself pretty much on vacation. Instead of working on songs for submission to NSAI or working on my next novel, I’m going to relax, read a book, blog a lot, enjoy the pool with trips to Disney World and the beach, and forget about “producing” anything. Maybe I’ll even have some wine with lunch – that should help get me out of “production” mode – lol!

I’m also reading more than usual. I just finished The Woman in Cabin 10 (to be made into a movie). I’d discovered it at Barnes & Noble at a mall in a nice family community where we also discovered the Winey Wench – so fun! So last night we stopped by a nearby mall and the Barnes & Noble there was huge. We loved it! After strolling through the bookstore, touching and reading real books, I picked up a beach/pool read called Happens in the Hamptons. It’s kind of interesting to me cuz the protagonist spends the summer in the Hamptons from her home in Oregon. Having lived in Oregon more than once, I can relate to the character.

So now it’s time to get off the computer and take my book and my Elvis towel out to the pool!


The “Year of Repositioning”

Last year was our 20th wedding anniversary, and we celebrated all year long, including cruises and trips to Disneyland. We anticipated that, perhaps, this year would be the year we would finally leave Las Vegas for good, especially because the real estate market was favorable to selling our house.

What we didn’t expect is that this entire year would be devoted to “repositioning” (to borrow cruise ship lingo) ourselves from our home in Las Vegas to a new home in Florida.

During this in-between time, having arrived in Florida but waiting for a new house to be built, we have the opportunity to catch up with all the “old” new changes to Disney World before the “new” new changes begin. Still, we’re anxious to really settle in here, especially in our new home in a new town, and this waiting, living in that in-between space, in a too small of a space for the 4 of us and our house-sized furniture, in an area that will not be our future home, is frustrating, painful, and time seems to be standing still. (Obviously, I haven’t quite mastered the spiritual art of waiting yet, although, perhaps, it’s really a God lesson about appreciating where you are in the moment rather than waiting for waiting sake.)

We’ve bought new 3 times previously, but we’ve never been there quite this early in the process – there’s always been at least a foundation or framing already in progress. One of Rich’s co-workers who built a new house last year reassured us that the upfront stuff seems to take forever, but once things start happening, it all goes rather quickly.

I’m sure we’ll look back on this time fondly – we always do. I know this opportunity to build another new house is an unexpected and huge blessing, even if we’re quite anxious to get this thing started. But Christmas should be extra special this year if we truly are “home for Christmas.”

Not a bad “in-between” place – what I’m calling our “resort.”

Standing in front of our plot of land


A Florida 4th of July

I think maybe the 4th of July celebrations are finally over. Last night was the first night I didn’t hear fireworks going off. As for the 4th itself, we had 3 fireworks shows we could watch from our resort living room.

We knew Disney would be supercrowded so we headed for our favorite Margaritaville spot in Port Canaveral for lunch.

Rich ordered some kind of Rum drink and I ordered a Margarita.

I had the Shrimp Cuban Sandwich – awesome – and Rich had the Mahi Mahi Reuben – the best Reuben ever, according to Rich. For some odd reason, he didn’t get any potato chips, so I gave him mine and concentrated on the Shrimp in my Cuban, which is far better, in my opinion, than a regular Cuban. But, then, I love Shrimp!

It was pretty hot out by then – too hot for walking or sitting on the beach – but instead of heading back to our resort, we decided to drive to New Smyrna Beach, which we expected to be crowded because of the special 4th of July activities and we weren’t wrong. People were parking everywhere, getting ticketed and towed, we read later.

So we took a quick peek at the ocean from our car, and then drove back to our resort.

We watched our usual Capitol Fourth show, this year hosted by John Stamos with guests such as the Beach Boys. Fun, as always. But really looking forward to celebrating the 4th next year in our new home.



Tampa Bay on Memorial Day

After our taste of the crowds at Disney Springs on Saturday and wait time to just get our AP,s and hearing insane reports of wait times and staggered park entrances, we decided not to venture back to Disney on Monday to catch the last day of the Flower and Garden Festival.

So we headed back to our beloved Tampa Bay to catch up, have lunch at Frenchys Outpost and spend some time on Dunedin Causeway and/or Honeymoon Island. Frenchys wasn’t too crowded but we couldn’t get on Dunedin. So we squeezed onto a small stretch of the Courtney Campbell Causeway on our way back to Orlando.

It was such a blast being back at Frenchys – we were last there on our Thanksgiving trip from Las Vegas and now six months later we’re living in Florida again. We’d hoped we’d be living in Tampa Bay – Orlando is crazier than over – so much traffic and beat up roads making getting around quite a challenge. And, of course, housing prices are higher in Orlando.

We’ve been househunting like crazy and are absolutely exhausted mixing that with so much fun – lol! Hard to believe we’ve only been here two weeks.

Above: Blackenef Mahi Mahi Sandwich, Fiery Shrimp Tacos, Blue Paradise, and the “Perfect Margarita”

Catching up with Central Florida Weekend, Day 1: New Smyrna Beach

We moved in on Tuesday and after unpacking most of our boxes by Friday night, we decided it was time to celebrate Rich’s first week in the Orlando office. So I picked Rich up from work and we drove the back roads through horse and vegetable farms to New Smyrna Beach. We were headed for our favorite eatery in NSB  – JBs Fish Camp.

But first we stopped at the beach and walked around just a bit because we were both hungry, and I wasn’t feeling like walking the beach in my Vegas clothes – really need to shop for some Florida clothes. 🙂

By the time we arrived at JBs, the parking lot was packed, but we found a spot close to the road, and when we approached the restaurant, a band was playing and singing Red, Red Wine. We put our name in and about 15 minutes later, we were seated outside (inside seating was available right away but we chose to wait for an outside table.)

Rich ordered a Margarita, and I ordered a Salted Sea Dog, JBs version of the Salty Dog, a favorite drink from my youth. Normally, it has vodka and grapefruit juice, but JBs adds pineapple juice. It was so tasty.

Striving to avoid the temptation of my favorite fried Shrimp basket, I ordered the Shrimp Scampi with Corn on the Cob and Dirty Rice (at least I could choose how much of the butter to drip over the shrimp and corn), and Rich had Scallop Scampi with Bay Scallops with Hush Puppies and their especially good Cole Slaw. It was all delicious!

Rich had on his happy face and he said each mile he drove from Las Vegas to Florida was totally worth it!

Or maybe he said that the next day. Whatever day it was, it was awesome,and why we moved back to Florida. It doesn’t get any better than this. Or does it? Stay tuned for Day 2. But I could do this every Friday.

Preview Video here.