Monday, March 2, 2015

My First Snowbird Trip to Florida

So here's the story behind my two-week snowbird trip to Florida. Joe, my ex-husband, and I have remained friends over the years. He lives in Florida, but was home for Thanksgiving. He was saying how much he missed seeing the grandkids on a regular basis, 
(These grandkids)
so I said, "Hey, I have a great idea! Why don't we do a house swap!" He said, "When?" I said, "January." He said, "For how long?" I said, "How about a month?" So we planned it out and bought airline tickets. He would stay at my house, drive my car. I would stay at his condo and drive his car. And we did it - not for a month, but two weeks.

On January 21st, I flew to Tampa, Florida, found his car in the parking garage, and there I was, just like that, away from frigid January in Indiana and in Florida paradise. As I drove from the airport across the Courtney Campbell Causeway, lined with palm trees and beautiful water on both sides of the highway, it was kind of hard to believe.

Joe's condo was very nice. One whole wall was windows and looked out at the Bellair Bluffs Bay Bridge. I spent a lot of time looking out those windows.
(The view from the condo's windows.)
I loved seeing the sunsets. I could go to the beach, only a mile away, or there was a dock by the condo with a lovely view. I took a lot of pictures.

The first weekend I drove to Port Charlotte, about two hours away, and stayed in a hotel overnight. Two of my music friends, Aubrey Atwater and Elwood Donnelly, were appearing in concert at a church there. They live in Rhode Island and were spending six weeks in Florida this year, booking concerts along the way. I enjoyed seeing them and their concert very much.

On the way back, I stopped at St. Armand Circle near Sarasota where my grandmother used to take me when she lived in Florida. My, my, it has really changed! It used to be kind of a rustic shopping center on Longboat Key. Now it is a high-end shopping area with lovely restaurants. It was a beautiful day and I mentally wrote a letter to my grandmother telling her how much it had changed.

One day I had lunch with my cousin and her husband, who were doing a test snowbird trip this year. They are both recently retired teachers.

The second weekend I went to the Pinellas County Folk Festival. It was held at a historic park where old Florida houses had been moved and restored. There were at least eight music stages, lots of vintage cars, food, and very tall pine trees. And dogs, lots of dogs.

The rest of the time I did a lot of reading, and had to find a project, so I bought knitting needles and yarn and began to knit a shawl. 

I ate seafood and went to the beach. And the bridge right outside the window turned out to be a bridge that people walked or ran across, so I started doing that. It was a beautiful walk. One day I got caught in the rain, but I didn't care. It was warm and I was just walking in the rain, something you don't find yourself doing every day. 

(The view from the top of the Bay Bridge)
I flew home on February 4th, hoping that winter in Indiana was nearly over. That hasn't happened. I have been shoveling snow for two days. And dreaming of the beach.