14 days ... 4,000 miles ... $3,000 (give or take a dollar or two) ... and we're back home from our first postretirement winter getaway! We had a great time but, were happy to get back to Minnesota ... just in time for our FIRST winter storm, which left about 6 inches of the heaviest, wettest snow we've seen in years. Real heart attack snow .. thankfully, outside of my getting stuck in it a block from home, everyone survived.
Our trip was delightful. We didn't kill each other ... the car didn't break down and was very comfortable ... I finished a good book and crocheted a poncho for a granddaughter ... Ed's health was good ... we ate a lot .. drank a lot ... and laughed and visited with good friends.
Lessons learned from our vacation:
Never pay a $50 upcharge for an "ocean front" room at the Beau Rivage Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, unless you know you will arrive before dark and it won't be foggy in the morning when you look out the window at the ocean (boy, did they see US coming!)
Don't expect really warm weather in northern Florida in February ... it's cool and damp there, even though it's filled with friends from home and we had a great time visiting with them (and shopping on the rainy day)
Never say you're too old to try something new ... like sleeping in a Murphy Bed while visiting a friend for 5 days in Sarasota, Florida. They are comfortable as well as practical!
Don't take it personally if the waiter who took your order at a well-respected and popular Florida restaurant walks off the job before he delivers your food. Seems cigarette breaks are extremely important to some people ... however, it would be nice if the replacement wait person would have known that Ed ordered a deviled crab cake sandwich and not a "Gator burger." We did see a "gator" in the pond outside the restaurant window as we waited for our food to be delivered ... hope that Gator burger was shipped in and not freshly caught!
Expect the unexpected ... like a golf score of under 100 for 18 holes .. only the second time in my life I've done that. And it was in Leesburg, Florida, where we spent several lovely days with friends enjoying their hospitality including a trip to the flea market! Ed actually bought something, despite complaining that this was not his "cup of tea."
Just because a restaurant is called a "fish camp," don't be surprised to find hundreds of stuffed exotic animals gracing the ceiling, walls and various platforms placed throughout the establishment. There was a lot of fish on the menu, and one room was heavily decorated with painted wall plates (as in dishes) with fish on them, but the rest of the place was filled with lions and tigers and bears .. oh my! Along with snakes, giraffes, bison, deer, antelope, monkeys, etc., etc. I do have to say it was a bit unnerving staring up at the undersides of a number of male animals (all anatomically correct!) while you ate ... makes Red Lobster seem very tame by comparison.
Always have a flashlight with you when you travel ... even if it's just an app on your smartphone! It came in handy when we had dinner at The Olde Pink House in Savannah, GA, and the bar/eating area we were in was so dark I needed to turn on my cell phone flashlight to read the menu. I was a little embarrassed and was trying to do a quick "read and run" when I noticed the young woman sitting next to me doing the same thing ... ahh, technology! The dinner was delicious and the ambience wonderfully romantic ... and I continue to believe it was Ed who put his hand on my thigh during dinner and not the guy at the table next to me!
Mistletoe is a parasite that attaches itself to a host tree and grows wild in the south. Very interesting to see and once it was pointed out to us, we spent a lot of time identifying it as we drove the southern roads. Additional lesson learned: the driver should not be the person scanning the treelines looking for this growth .. especially when driving 70 mph on the Interstate in Florida!
Never assume that you've heard it all until you overhear a trucker in a truckstop in Mississippi talking on his cell phone to his "beautiful baby boy!" For the entire restaurant to hear, he acknowledged that he was happy his son was heading home for a visit and that Baby Boy would probably arrive before Daddy did, based on their geographical coordinates at that moment. So, Daddy advised Baby Boy ... "you'd best call ahead to your momma and let her know you're comin'. Otherwise, she's liable to get out her gun and shoot you since it's been so dang long since you've been home."
We loved our vacation and we are so glad to be home. And, yes, I did call ahead and let my Momma know we were comin'!