Monday, February 25, 2013

New Friends!

We've had a busy week. We started it with the 3rd anniversary party of the Black Dog Bar & Tables, a little bar down on dock street that has a pretty fabulous bottled beer selection. They had 2 great bands and a bunch of us from the Tiki Bar met up for a fun evening.
Royce and Jay in the barber chairs at Black Dog
We saw a Facebook (FB) post that some NuRVers were on their way into Cedar Key last Monday and we were super excited to meet them because they were from South Lake Tahoe! I wasn't sure if they were actually "from" there or if that was their last stop because quite often we full-timers will change our "Lives in" section on FB if we happen to be parked for an extended period of time. Like, right now, FB says that I "live in" Cedar Key, FL, but most often it says South Lake Tahoe, which is the last place we actually lived in a house. Anyway, I was excited to meet them, Julie was about my age and that's always fun - and as we all know, Tahoe peeps are the best! We were not disappointed.

Our boat hitch
We dragged them over to the tiki bar, to yoga and just about everywhere we went, but we had a super spectacular day on Friday when they rented kayaks and we brought our canoe down to the dock to put in where they were. It was also the first time we used our super cool boat hitch that we got when we bought the boat. It is a piece that hooks onto your hitch and extends way out so you can throw the canoe in the back and secure the part that is sticking out of the car. It makes it super easy to bring the canoe with you short distances without putting it up on the top of the car.
Julie, Colin and Jay at the Tiki Bar

Pizza night at the Tiki Bar
The weather cooperated and we didn't have to worry too much about the tides since we were going to use the boat ramp. We each packed a lunch and some drinks and set off around noon. We took them over to Atsena Otie Key which has a quite a rich history of war and industry. I've been on the island and there is a super cool old cemetery on it and the remains of a civilization that once lived there. Bill has kayaked around it and now so have Julie and Colin. Unfortunately we had such a great time paddling around and through the island that we only made it to one of the remote little beaches to picnic and chill.
Julie and Colin in their kayaks

Chillin' on a remote corner of the island.  Loved Julie's super cool chair and shade.
Last night we all headed over to the Tiki Bar to watch the Oscar's for a bit and we bid adieu to our new friends whom I am sure we will meet down the road, or in Tahoe!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Manatee Springs State Park

Friday morning we got an email from friends Karen and Krash, who are here for the winter - they were planning a trip to Manatee Springs State Park and wanted to know if we'd like to join them. The manatees like the cooler temps and when our friends, Clarke and Elaine went down there a few weeks ago to see them there were none around, but we had been having some cool days and Karen thought the manatees might have found there way back and boy was she right!

I have to say the best part of the trip was the ride there and back. Karen and Krash like to use technology as little as possible - they don't do facebook, have a blog or even text on their phone. They had looked up the directions on mapquest at home on their computer and we were following the directions that Karen and written down. They were a bit unsure of the route we were taking and it was all I could do to hold myself back and not bring up the navigation on my phone! At one point I did look at the map on my phone just to make sure we hadn't passed a turn off, but I did hold back the rest of the time. We went the back way, totally circumventing the not so pleasant drive through Chiefland and it was absolutely beautiful. We were paralleling the Suwanee River most of the way. We passed the signs for the Treasure Camp Restaurant which Karen and Krash had heard about and we thought it might be a good stop on the way back.

It was a chilly day but the sun was shining and we made our way out to the manatee viewing area and were delighted to see a group of about 15 of them out there coming up for a snout full of air every now and then. The trees were filled with black vultures and turkey vultures everywhere you looked, along with quite a few turtles that were quite obviously mating in the water. The roots of the cypress trees are called "knees" and project up from the ground, I've never seen anything like it before.

If you look closely you can see the vultures.

We hung out for awhile just taking in the beauty and snapping some photos. On our way home we decided we must stop at Treasure Camp and check it out and we were not disappointed. Bill and I have been toying with the idea of buying some property close to Cedar Key - this area is probably a little too far from Cedar Key for us, but boy did it get us thinking! Once a month the state park hosts a moonlight paddle here, we may check it out on Saturday.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Birthday Fun!

I had a fabulous birthday celebration! We went to Gainesville for the day - the big city! Started the day with a fabulous sushi lunch at Mahzu Sushi.

Lunch was followed by a mani-pedi at Avant Garde Salon - Bill went and did some errands why I was being pampered. Afterwards we hit the movie theater to see Silver Linings Playbook, which I loved. And then we went a did a little grocery shopping at the natural foods store in town. I was most excited for our dinner venue at The Top. The reviews were fabulous and there were so many vegan options it was hard to choose, which was kind of funny because we both ended up eating the same thing! We shared an appetizer of Plaintain Chips with spicy black bean dip and each ordered the special pecan crusted tofu tacos - wow, and we had enough for leftovers which were amazing all over again!

On our way home we hit Trader Joes - we probably haven't been to a TJ's since we left Palm Desert in October. After a quick stop at Target we headed home...a long 12 hour day, but we had a great time, thanks honey for an awesome birthday!

While we were in Gainesville, doing up the town, our full-time rving friends Richard and Michelle arrived in Cedar Key. The last time we saw them was in October in Santa Fe. Unfortunately they brought the bad weather with them but they were only here for one full day so we drove them downtown to show them around. We hit the Black Dog first, because they have an AWESOME beer selection and then wandered over to Seabreeze on the dock down the street to play some pool. It was a fun day and playing nine ball we each won a game!

We ended the day at the Tiki Bar...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I have become a food hoarder!

It's true, ever since we started our plant-based/whole foods diet I have become petrified of finding myself without everything I need in my house to prepare a meal (actually meals for a crowd)! A little of it has to do with the fact that we are in Cedar Key without access to a natural foods market, but the fact that five out of seven days there is a produce stand open less than a mile from our house should negate that issue. I've always lived with a full pantry and have tried to trim that back while living full-time in our motorhome but at this point right now, with what we have in the pantry, refrigerator and freezer we could probably live for at least a month! I am actually putting undue strain on the hooks that hold up our shelves and have already had to replace a couple - not good.

My first vegan cookbook: Everyday Happy Herbivore by Lindsay S. Nixon
I think it started with getting my first vegan cookbooks and looking at the lists of what you should have in your pantry - I didn't look at it as if it was a guide but the rule! And I must say that most any recipe we pull up whether in the cook book or on the internet we can make with what we have in the house, which is a great convenience, but at what cost?

One thing we do need to work on with our diet is to cut back on the processed foods we use. Because I have always been a pretty lazy cook and I am always worried about making sure Bill is fed I have a freezer stocked with some vegan entrees and every time we go to town I am sure to buy some pre-made treats, like a Thai noodle salad. These are all vegan and taste great, but I think they also contain quite a bit of oil, more than we should be eating. While at Trader Joes yesterday I had found some rather yummy looking Chicken-Less Crispy Tenders - oh they looked yummy and I was just thinking about how I could use them in tacos when I turned the bag over to see the ingredients.  Number 2 ingredient, after water, was Soy Protein Isolate. I've been reading a lot about this lately and it's something you really don't want to incorporate into your diet.

Once in a while when we go out, like last night for my birthday dinner, it's ok but we need to start moving away from these meat, chicken and fish "substitues" to more fresh, whole foods. These products did make it easier for our transition and using them here and there is fine, but not as part of our regular diet. What we should strive for is not more than 5 ingredients on the package and they should all be items you recognize and know, like Potatoes, Onions, etc.

So how am I going to stop becoming a hoarder? How am I going to relax and realize that we aren't going to run out of food?! We aren't due back into "town for two weeks now so that does give us some time to "shop in our cupboard" but what happens when I hit Tampa and run for the nearest natural foods store? I think I'm going to need some help with this...maybe I will just send Bill, can I really do that? Will he find all the hidden yummies I might locate on the bottom shelf in the corner of the store? Probably not, and that's a good thing! Let's see how I do...stay tuned.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A most excellent day...

The weather finally warmed up again and Bill declared it a "beach day". Not quite warm enough for bathing suits and the water but definitely warm enough for him to take off his shirt and me to wear a little sundress. We packed up the bikes with our books, some beers and snacks, threw our backpack chairs on and off we went.

Afterwards we headed over to the Big Deck for some beers, salad and french fries! We scored and the band Moon Dog was playing the blues. It got even better when Matt, a local who plays a mean harp, came up to join them. We were digging it big time and got out on the dance floor a bit. We saw our friend Jay ride up on his scooter and got a bigger table so he could join us - he had seen us "check-in" on Facebook. Another reason I love FB - this has happened to us a few times when we've "checked-in" someplace and friends came and found us.

Jay is a fabulous photographer and captured these pics of us - thanks Slider!

The band was playing on overtime and when they finally shut down we traipsed across the street to the SeaBreeze to play some pool. It's been months since we've played and the joint was empty on a Sunday afternoon.

Another excellent Slider shot of Bill.

A shot of Jay rocking out!
Sundown was approaching so we started our bike ride home with a stop at the Tiki Bar to finish the day off right.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

February Sexuary...

Courtesy of Christine's Welcome To My Brain"
Have you heard of this? It is an annual experience my friend Christine from Welcome To My Brain started and I was intrigued. Basically you and your partner set goals for however it is you want to experience Sexuary. As she says "there is no one way to do it. It's about setting goals in the best way for you. Making sex better for YOU - whatever that means. More sex. Different sex. New toys. No toys. Faster. Slower. Whatevs." 
February just happens to be my favorite month - it's my birth month, it's the love month and it's the Age of Aquarius month, how can you not love it?! Anyway, Bill certainly wasn't opposed to embracing Sexuary, whatever that meant for us. We didn't get around to putting down goals in writing before the month started, which I think was kind of important for this challenge, but it's not too late and we need to come up with something more specific than how we've been doing it. Maybe we'll each write a few ideas down on pieces of paper and once a week pull one out of a hat - who knows? But, it does get your mental (and other) juices flowing and just the anticipation of what it could be is fun. So get together with your partner, check out Christine's blog and have some fun with it; I know we are!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Plant-Based/Whole Foods Diet & Weight Loss

So as most of you know, towards the end of September, Bill and I decided to embrace a new dietary plan. We were convinced by the science in the documentary Forks Over Knives. Bill was doing this for medical reasons and weight loss. I had been trying to lose weight for a couple of years now with no success. I am now post-menopausal so over the last few years my metabolism seems to have come to a halt. I have never had a weight problem, but all of a sudden I had twenty pounds on me that had never been there before, and nothing I did would make more than a 2 pound budge after months of effort. I was amazed at our friend's enormous weight loss and wanted that for myself. Now, as we all know, men seem to shed the pounds pretty quickly, once they decide to cut back, so I wasn't too upset watching the fat melt off of Bill - 20 pounds of it, but my weight-loss was moving at a snail's pace. I was losing faith, but Bill and my friends encouraged me that eventually it would come, and I am happy to report that this morning I finally reached my first goal. It took almost five months to do it but it's here and I will keep persevering! 

Another side-effect of menopause is the lovely thickening of the waist line - or what used to be my waistline. I always had a tush and thighs, even at 100 lbs, but now I have this lovely pudge around my middle. While watching the morning news magazine shows, after the Super Bowl, the ad with the guy with the 10 pack abs was on and said his amazing abs were all due to doing the plank position. So I started doing plank several times a day and timing myself. I could not even do an entire minute when I started but now, I can do over a minute. In just a couple of days I have already noticed the difference!

We have been having a lot of fun with our meals; getting creative and experimental. I have never eaten the foods that I am eating now - I amaze myself everyday. But every single thing I put in my mouth is good for me - even that little piece of dark chocolate every now and then! We don't count calories, we eat all day long and don't have any labels like "breakfast, lunch or dinner." Bill has been learning to cook curries, much to my delight. It took him a couple of months of watching me cook before he got the inspiration and now I can't get him out of the kitchen (not that I want to!!). He's making soups and chilis and it's a lot of fun. Our meals have become our entertainment, especially now that we're in Cedar Key.

Anyway, just wanted to share my excitement!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The last couple of weeks...

 I definitely have some catching up to do!

We received a surprise Happy 2013 gift package in the mail from our good friends Daniel and Jen, in South Lake Tahoe - they had made their own mustards, a brown sugar scrub, tea, some home brew and Jen's special ginger snaps - along with a jar of Tahoe snow and a pine cone...oh how we miss them, and Tahoe!

 Late in January we took off on our bikes with Clarke & Elaine, fellow NuRVers for brunch in town at "Eat at Pat's". They have a rice & beans dish that is fabulously spiced and with a green salad it makes a nice meal! Afterwards we took off on a bike ride - after a foggy, chilly start the sun came out and it turned out to be a beautiful day.

We passed a little yard sale and there was a bunch of stuff in a pile - anything for a quarter. Bill immediately stopped, thinking that we might find some kitschy little thing to go on top of my flag pole on my bike. And that we did - a funky little Barbie doll head -and she even has purple hair to match the fringe on my bike seat and basket!!

Clarke and Elaine have been biking all over the island but I wasn't sure if they had seen some of the spots we had found for the New Year's Day hash, so we took them on a little tour of some of our finds. We ended up biking almost 8 miles and had a great day.

We've spent a lot of time at the Tiki Bar - and this year for Bill's annual alcohol abstinence he's decided to change it up a bit and instead of doing his 46 days he's decided to not drink for a week each month. Last year it was difficult doing his 46 days while we were here in Cedar Key. Our social life kind of revolves around the Tiki Bar. It's stumbling distance from where we're parked and it's basically the only time all year where we really are in a community so it's the absolute worst time to do something like this. Abstaining for a week each month is like a monthly cleanse and he thought it would work out better - he definitely will be drinking less overall, but it just makes more sense for how he is living his life right now. I will join him in this too.
Our friend (and fellow RVer) Jay had left a few weeks ago to do some traveling but made his way back here to celebrate his birthday. And now he's going to spend the winter here as he's got a job bartending 2 nights a week at the Tiki Bar, is that a chill job or what?! We're pretty happy that he's going to stick around.
Bill made grilled poblanos stuffed with his famous roasted garlic mashed potatoes for Jay's birthday party.
The group of NuRVers that had been here this past month were bidding us adieu, as they left to continue their travels. Maria & Brian left to head towards the Keys and Sam & Tracy left also while we were in Palm Desert. Then Chris and Cherie were off to see their families, Forrest & Mary and Clarke & Elaine headed south, and Pace & Kylie moved west to Texas. We're looking forward to seeing our good friends, Maria and Brian, in March when they come back on their way north. We enjoyed the opportunity to get to know the others a little bit better and some for the first time. The park definitely feels different!

We got a nice surprise the other day when Sam and Tracy came by to retrieve the car they had parked here while they were traveling. They are some of the very first friends we made on the road and we share a lot of memories.

We took off to see Doano (Bill's mom) on Tuesday - it had been three weeks since we had last seen her in Clearwater (Tampa area). Neither of us had anything to do so we called her that morning to see if she wanted a visit. It's a long drive, but the added bonus of getting to a good natural foods store was great.

Today was the first day I volunteered at the Cedar Key food pantry. It's open every Thursday afternoon and there are 46 locals that come each week to fill a box with canned goods, bread, milk, eggs, meat, chicken and fresh veggies. In a town of 700 people that's a pretty big percentage of the population. The people I worked with were great and I look forward to working there again at the end of the month. One of the things I love about Cedar Key is the community. I have met so many wonderful people through yoga, the Tiki Bar and now the food pantry. I could easily call this place home - it's certainly the closest I've come to feeling that way about any place since we left South Lake Tahoe.

I'll leave you with a few of our spectacular sunset pics...