Monday, March 9, 2020

Adventures in Texas


Medina Lake
Hello all,
I've been living more interesting times on my journey, and am remembering some things from the past few weeks that I can share...

On my way into Texas I stopped at the Gulf Coast Museum in Port Arthur for the afternoon. It was really quite amazing. The bottom floor was thoroughly about the history of Port Arthur. The whole top floor was about musicians who came out of Texas. So many!

There was a replica of Janis Joplin's 1964 Porsche 356, painted by Dave Richards, which was cool.

Janis Joplin Porsche replica at Gulf Coast Museum
I landed at Medina Lake Campground in Texas, located just southwest of San Antonio on February 16th. I knew my friend Keith was arriving the next day on his way back from his western excursion. But as I came around the corner into the campground... what did I see? A white VW bus with a trailer attached! It was my friend! A day early! That was a pleasant surprise.

We had some fun times hanging out there. He parked on the water side, about a mile away. I didn't at first, but moved over there a week later. It was beautiful by the water. The weather was cool, but warmed up some as the days went on. The sunsets and the deer and hanging out with Keith were my favorite parts. There were deer, often groups of ten or more, just hanging out all over the campground. I found that delightful and talked to them often.

Deer at Lake Medina Campground

Keith and I went into San Antonio one day and enjoyed visiting The Alamo and The River walk.
We went into Austin another day and walked along 6th and Congress, checking out the venues and food and some live music. We were actually scoping it out, looking for buskers (street musicians). Though it is rumored that there are usually many, we didn't see a single one. That was kind of a bummer because we were interested in coming back to do some ourselves.

6th St. Austin, TX
We spent time playing scrabble, walking, riding bikes, and working on a better music set up for the house speakers in my RV. It was great. Then it was time for me to go. Keith was staying one more week, and I was headed toward Austin. We'll see each other back in VT this summer I'm sure.

I stayed at two different homes from the Boondockers Welcome program for a couple of days on my way to Austin. At one, I was parked up on a hilltop overlooking the town of Boerne. The other was a cool place in the woods with huge gardens and gigantic containers collecting rain water for their water needs. The area was made up of mostly all limestone, which makes for a difficult water situation as it would ruin their water heaters quickly. So they created their own rainwater collection system. Nice people at both places.

I made it to Austin to see my brothers first race of the season at Circuit of the Americas. Mom flew in from Colorado. It has been a really special time for me. I so enjoyed spending time with my brother and learning about this whole racing world thing. I really didn't know the first thing about it, except that cars drive around race tracks at high speeds and it is a favorite past time for many people...
He got me a spot to park Aretha right along the race track. Concrete slabs and full hookups at each site were a pleasant surprise. Mom and I watched the races from a few different spots and it was all very exciting to keep up with Tom and his team. He is a BMW racing driver for Auto Technic. He was named one of the worlds most successful privateer BMW race drivers of 2014, as he took 3rd place out of the 283 drivers across the world that year. He was one of the drivers invited to the annual award ceremony in Maisach, Germany. That year he also won SCCA NARRC North Atlantic Road Racing Championship. He loves racing. I guess he was born that way.

At the upper paddock pit
Tom's car on the track


I've uploaded the next video in the originals video series I'm making. The song is called One More Song. I wrote it in 2016 or 17. I hope you'll have a listen. Please hit like and share if you like it!
One More Song Mp4

I am heading to a campground in Lake Whitney, TX today.
To my kids: PLEASE keep sending vids and pics and doing face time with me!!!

Take care of yourselves everybody - and those you love.

Until next time,

Stefani

Friday, February 14, 2020

My Last Days In Florida

I have been in Florida for over 3 months and have had some great adventures. Many of them have been shared in my blog posts. I headed out of Florida on the 9th and am making my way toward Lakehills,Texas. But I’ll step back to post a preview of some things from the past few weeks.

 I landed at Peace River Campground in Wachula, on Jan 18. I had really great neighbors, who invited me over to share their Quiche before I even got my water hooked up! Awesome people. They’re two couples traveling together in separate RVs and I just loved getting to know them. Chili, campfire, smores were all wonderful. The women even took me strawberry picking with them! We have been in touch since, and I hope to meet up with them again somewhere along the way. Thanks Susan, Willard, Sandy, and Patrick!
Stef and Mom



 Mom also stopped in for a day!










I met another couple at a music jam. We visited several times and had a great meal together over at their place after my friend Cheryl arrived from Vermont. Hello to Don and Alicia! I might just see you near Dallas soon!


 Cheryl came down for a week and we had a mostly relaxing, and definitely enjoyable time together. We had funny conversations about my aversion to selfies. I think she swayed me a tiny bit, at least toward allowing someone else to take a selfie with me in it. I guess…

 We went to a cafe in Wachula called Java Cafe. The Big Chikuna on the menu was totally delish.
 So Peace River is full of alligators. Many people canoe and kayak there, but we weren’t interested in doing that at all. We were nervous enough just walking along the river!

 We took the rental car into Fort Myers one day and spent the night at a hotel. We  found a really cool place in Ft. Myers called Java House. We had such a great conversation with the owner. He served us lunch on pieces of slate. Interestingly, he and his wife found their slate (plates) on the side of the road in Columbia, South America. The crepes and the artichoke spinach quiche was just amazing!


At Java House


We went to Sanibel Island the next day. It was sunny and warm on both days. Fort Myers Beach is a fun area, and we enjoyed some of the local talent (and ice cream) on the boardwalk. The sunset was beautiful. There was a sand artist out on the beach sitting next to two sculptures she had created. They were simply amazing.


Sand sculpture at Fort Myers Beach


 Sanibel, with its soft white sand and warm breezes was as enchanting as ever. It was a perfect day to spend some time at Lighthouse Beach Park, including the beach, the lighthouse, and the pier. There was a beautiful white great egret hanging out with everyone on the pier. (Or perhaps it’s actually his/her pier and humans get to hang out there). It looked like the fisherman keep him/her well fed. I will try to attach a video clip of it. I was also forever entertained by the many pelicans. The way they dive bomb into the water over and over to catch their food just cracks me up. They are such prehistoric looking creatures, yet they glide so gracefully along the water.


White great egret
Pelican about to catch dinner
Sanibel Lighthouse


 Continuing with the food/cafe theme, we found a great place there called Lighthouse Cafe/ The World’s Best Breakfast. Attached to it is Tuttle’s World Famous Seahorse Shell Shop. The owner has been there for like 35 years. Well don’t quote me on that, but he’s been there a looong time. We finished up our visit on Sanibel Island at a retro place called Cheeburger Cheeburger for a milk shake and a float. Yum!

Guy who owns Tuttles for 35 years


 Our visit eventually came to an end and Cheryl got back on a plane to Vermont. Brrr.
Thanks Cheryl! it was great to spend time and adventures with you!

 I headed back to the east coast one more time. I parked at my aunt's place again in Indiatlantic, next to Melbourne beach. The trip was to see my little sister run in the Florida Marathon. She did so great! It was my first time seeing her race and I couldn’t believe she ran 26.2 miles, including 4x over causeways! Man that was amazing. I can’t imagine even WALKING half that far, never mind running!

Sister Rachael getting ready for Florida Marathon


I am so grateful to have been able to spend time with family - my mom and sister, cousin Lisa, and my aunt MaryAnn. It was really nice to stay and hang out with my aunt by myself for a few days. I was there for about a week all together.

 Yes I finally left Florida on Feb 9, and am making my way to Lakehills, Texas.

 I stayed in Tallahassee the first night. Then in Fairhope, Alabama for two nights. Both of these places are part of the Boondockers Welcome program. This one is at the property of Big Daddy’s Grill. Its a great family restaurant and bar located at a pier on a river where boats pull up and people go in to eat. They arrive by land too of course. Its a popular place, and my gumbo was superb. Interestingly enough, I ended up playing their Sunday afternoon live music! It was fun, and good to perform for people again.

Pier at Big Daddy's Grill in Fairhope, AL


Next I stayed overnight with some friends, in Biloxi, Mississippi. Thanks for your wonderful hospitality Tina and Lewis! 
Biloxi is a really nice area. Unfortunately it was quite foggy, so it was difficult to even see the ocean as I walked/drove along. But that's okay. Can't have everything!

I'm getting closer to Medina Lake Campground in Lakehills Texas, where I am staying for a couple of weeks. I'll be meeting up with my friend Keith there. We plan to have fun and spend some time in San Antonio and Austin!

 Other than music jams and random occasions, I have rarely performed music in front of actual live people so far on this trip. I originally thought I would set gigs up ahead of time before I arrived in areas, but that’s not what I ended up doing. Its all good and probably supposed to be that way for now.

 In my search for income generating ideas, I have been learning and pursuing other avenues with music. I’ve also been writing songs, and have begun recording a video series of originals. I’m recording them right on the couch in my RV! I’m not completely sure what I am doing with them yet, but they will be uploaded to my YouTube channel in the near future. I will put updated links on Facebook, etc as I go. Here's a link to the first one /https://youtu.be/Qz0GrQ7DL8E

 I have upgraded my registration on a platform that will distribute my 2015 music CD  to multiple media streams. Only time will tell me how that goes.

 I've previously mentioned the articles I’ve been writing and publishing on the Medium platform. Its new to me and seems like a slow process, but I think I will keep going with it.

 I experimented with an attempt to sell jewelry one day at a 3 hour campground craft show thing. It wasn’t good. Okay I sold four items. But hey, I tried it out. Its really not a profitable environment for that kind of thing. I will probably look into some festivals sometime soon and try it again.

 Creating income streams in order to sustain this life is rather daunting. It takes a certain amount of belief. And creativity. And dedication to take the time to work on it.

That’s it for now. On to more adventures and opportunities!
Take care. Be well.
Hug the ones you love.

Stefani

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Travels along the Gulf Coast




Hello friends,

I've traveled over to the Gulf coast of Florida to hang out for a bit. 

I left Clermont on January 10th and headed over to Clearwater.

I took Route 60 / The Courtney Campbell Causeway to get over to Sand Key Park in Clearwater. Courtney Campbell Causeway is a bridge stretching across old Tampa Bay from Tampa's Rocky Point Island to eastern Clearwater. It's approximately 9.9 miles long with two elevated bridge spans to allow watercraft to pass through. Wow! It was really awesome to drive on that, with the water surrounding me on both sides for such a long time.

I spent the afternoon at Sand Key Park. Ninety-five acres are located on Sand Key, which is a barrier island between the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida mainland. Clearwater Pass, leading from the Gulf to the Intracoastal waterway, separates the park from the busy resort area of Clearwater Beach. It was perfect for me, with a big parking area, and just a walk through the mangroves to the white sandy beach.

A pirate ship off Sand Key

 I stayed at a Boondockers Welcome residence in Clearwater for a couple of days.

It was a nice place. The owner, Sherrie, had a cool fishpond inside her house. She had a nice pool area outside, but said the fish would get grabbed by birds if she had them outside. I found two great coffee shops while I was there. One in Clearwater was called Southie Coffee. https://southiecoffee.com/ I liked the music items throughout the place. The other one was The Haus Coffee Shop, in Largo. It's advertised as' a lofty cafe with a rustic-chic vibe serving espresso-based drinks, pastries & casual fare.'
 . Both had their own unique character.

The indoor fish pond at my first Boondockers Welcome place

Southies Coffee in Clearwater. Loved it! 

Another great cafe in Clearwater, FL



I mentioned Boondockers Welcome in my previous post. 

Its a program where home/land owners who want to open their property to RVers to stay overnight or longer, create a profile on the BW website, and then RVers can reserve for 1-5 nights, depending on the property owner's desire. Both parties set up their  profiles so they can connect. Its a great way to meet people and help each other out. Love it!

Next I traveled up the coast to stay at another Boondockers Welcome home in Hudson for four days.

Mikie Gallagher was the host at this one, and he was such a great guy. Hes a medically disabled veteran who opens his home up to travelers. It has become an important part of his life, and I I felt very welcome there. I had such fun with his two little dogs (Bostie and Delta). I even had dinner with Mikie and friends in the house the first two nights, and on the last night I went out to dinner with Mike and his brother Tom. I went in the pool one morning. We were all going to go to a nearby shooting range for practice, but the range was full during the time it would have worked for us. Darn. Oh well.
Good people. A great experience for me..

Many egrets were near and on Mikie's property


Today I hit the road traveling southeast from Hudson toward Wachula.

 I passed through a road called Bellamy Brothers Parkway. Kinda cool. Not the road, just the name.
I will be settling in at a place called Peace River Campground tomorrow, and  plan to be there for about ten days. My friend Cheryl from Vermont is coming to visit. We are working on a project together and I'm looking forward to spending time hanging out with her.

I have started publishing articles on a platform called Medium.

If you get a chance to read them and  hit the clap button, and follow me if you're interested, it would be super awesome. It will help create a small income for me as I'm traveling.
Here are the links to the articles:




Lots of love to my family and friends up north.

Stefani




Monday, January 6, 2020

A different kind of Holidays for me









Me & Mom in Paris.(Just kidding)
 It's a mural at Jaqueline's)
No snow here. 

Sunny, palm trees, and beaches. My first holidays out of New England and it felt strange. I definitely found myself missing Vermont and my family. Different. I spent a few  days and a very quiet Christmas Eve in Indiatlantic with my mom. We hung out and had fun. I loved Jaqueline's Bakery and Cafe in Old Melbourne Beach Village.

I headed to Palm Coast on Christmas day.

I made it in time for dinner at my friend’s house. Andy made a spectacular dinner in English tradition, including the Yorkshire pudding, mincemeat pies, and a dessert called bakewell tarts. There were Christmas Crackers at each table setting, which                                                                     were fun to crack open! 
                                               Of course Andy helped me with a few little projects 
with Aretha. 
                                                   Thanks again Andy! And thanks Maura and Rachel for 
                                                 the afternoon espressos! That was great!.

Christmas Dinner
I visited St. Augustine for the second time in my life. 

Although it was brief, I really enjoyed walking through the village streets and seeing the Castillo de San Marcos again. St. Augustine is located on the east coast of Florida and is the oldest continuouslyinhabited European established settlement in the United States. If you haven’t been, I highly recommend it.


Castillo de San Marcos
Oldest and largest masonry fort  in U.S.A. (325 years old)

Oldest wooden schoolhouse in U.S.A. (318 years old)

I also visited Flagler Beach in Flagler, FL. 

The sand is cinnamon colored with limestone crystals and occasional Coquina rocks. They are soft rock formed by the accumulation of sediments (specifically limestone) found on the floor of the ocean or other bodies of water. Coquina rock is found only in the southern coast of the United States and in New Zealand.


Flagler Beach Pier


I spent New Year’s eve at a place called European Village in Palm Coast with my friends
 and some of their friends.

On January 2, I headed back to the Thousand Trails Orlando Park

I will be staying here until the 10th. I’ve generally figure my way around this park now. I lost my way a few times the last time I was here. The perimeter is about two miles, which is a nice bike ride. Lots of great people. I stop and visit with people and get to pet dogs. I went to the karaoke/line dancing thing here the other night. The karaoke part was sometimes good and often funny. The line dancers were well practiced and in sync. Although I like the challenge, Its probably best for everyone if I just don’t try to join in...


Aretha and Yellow Bike going strong


I rode my bike to the clubhouse the other day.

 While I was inside, it began to downpour. Apparently it was expecting to rain for the next few hours. Bummer. I hadn’t checked the weather. A staff person lent me a rain cape and I ran out to the bike rack and brought yellow bike inside. They let me put it in a locked room until the storm was over. So nice of them. Then someone offered to give me a ride back to my place on the other side of the campground. Another person here took me to the store yesterday, and yet another neighbor came over to try to figure out my antenna connections in case I wanted local TV. That is just a snapshot. Everywhere I go, I continue to find very kind people and just what I need. It amazes me.



So far, most of the campgrounds I’ve been staying at are in the Thousand Trails network.

 I am a member of the Thousand Trails club, and it has been a great choice for me. The modest annual fee paid for itself by early November, so I’m literally staying at them for free now. I spend quite a bit of time researching different things, including how and where to stay for free while I’m traveling. I have generally figured out how to do it. The only place I have paid for so far was Ocean Breeze Resort at Jensen Beach, which was still 50 percent off because of another program I belong to. Perhaps it was a little splurge, but well worth it to me. State and national parks and a program called Boondockers Welcome are more options I plan to explore.

At the moment I have plans in Florida through the first week of February. From there I am working on a plan to head west toward New Orleans.

Good-bye for now, my friends.
Be well. Look for the good if you can. Remember that although there are many dark and difficult things out there, there is light and kindness too.

Stefani

Sunday, December 22, 2019

More adventures in Florida














Hello all,

I'm still moving around in Florida,

It's been great seeing new places and meeting interesting people. The weather has been averaging sunny in the high 70's. In the past, my travels in Florida were fairly limited. This new life has wonderfully allowed me to experience many more areas!  I enjoyed staying at the Orlando RV Resort in Clermont. Most days I would work on writing during the morning hours, go for a walk or bike ride and to the pool during the middle of the day, and then back home to work on jewelry, music, and other things. Tough life I know.
 
Some of my jewelry

 I drove down to Juno Beach next 

I stayed overnight at a Walmart in Jupiter. I parked and hung out at Jupiter Beach Pier the next morning. It was breezy, beautiful and peaceful. The water temperature was 78.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Jeez now that is warm!
Jupiter Beach Pier

 Then I headed to Jensen Beach 


I stayed at Ocean Beach RV Resort for four days. Jensen Beach is an unincorporated community northeast of Stuart and southeast of Port St. Lucie. It was a nice place and I really enjoyed riding my bike around. It is such a great little seaside town. A quaint main street has a section called Maple Street Art Cottages, a group of sweet tin-roofed homes that have been converted into artists’ studios.
There's even a cafe called Bunkhouse Coffee Bar next to them. Of course I went in those shops and ended up at the cafe. I loved the wall of Pay It Forward at the cafe. A person can purchase an item on the menu and donate it to someone by putting it on a sticky note and putting it on the board.

.
Pay it forward at Bunkhouse Coffee Bar


 I rode along the seashore and over to the causeway, but it was so windy at the causeway that I decided not to ride over it. Maybe I was being a chicken, but whatever. On the main street, Crawdaddies Cafe and Raw Bar included live blues and jazz music, but sadly, I already missed the weekly evenings it happened.

Crawdaddy's

 I landed at  Dupuis State Park in Canal Point on the 19th. 


I was scheduled to stay there for four days, but decided to cut it short to meet my mom back in Indiatlantic, located next to Melbourne Beach.  I hope to get back there one day soon. I met a family of six living in a big white school bus. They let me walk around inside and interview them. A mom and dad and three older children recently hit the road in a school bus they converted into an amazing living space for the whole family. I spent an hour with them and learned a lot about their adventure. You can follow them on Facebook at Wanderfar-Bus.
Family living in a school bus
White school bus
     I am staying here in Indiatlantic for a few days, then  heading back to my friends in Palm Coast for Christmas week. Santa and Mrs.Santa passed us on a motorcycle yesterday. How funny!


Mr. and Mrs. Santa

      I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones. May you be surrounded by love and peace and good health.

    If you see any of my kids or grandchildren, please give them a hug and pass on a 'Merry Christmas' from me.



Saturday, December 7, 2019

Holidays and stuff

Hello all,
It's been a quiet few days, as I'm now at Orlando RV Park for 10 days (even though it is in Clermont, not Orlando...)
I hope you've all had a nice Thanksgiving. I know it can be full of family, friends, and good food for some. 
It can also be painfully lonely and sad for others. I encourage you to reach out to those you know who may be struggling with this time of year. One gesture of kindness or a listening ear can make a big difference to someone. For me this was a little bittersweet, as it was the first Thanksgiving for the last seven years that I have not been a part of helping with the dinner at North Central Vermont Recovery Center in Morrisville, VT.  A big shout out to all of you up there at NCVRC. I was thinking of you on Thanksgiving day. 
I left the campground in Wildwood, FL on the November 26 and stayed with some dear old  friends on Palm Coast for a week. It's a beautiful area. I was grateful to share  their holiday time with them. These guys were a big part of my pre-teen and teenage years. Maura, the mom, let me stay at their house quite a lot back then. Rachel and I definitely got into our fair amount of trouble and heartbreak. Her sister Shelagh was just a little younger than us, and was hopefully not too scarred by our behavior and  influence...Just kidding Shelagh! Andy is Rachel's husband from England. Chopi is Shelagh's husband from India. He is one of the producers for the GOODNIGHT children's book series. I enjoyed the time with all of them very much.
 Their young boy Austin, and I, put on a little musical show for the Thanksgiving day entertainment and it was fun and funny! He's learning to play that harmonica!
Unfortunately I had a little mishap on the way over. This is kind of embarrassing, but hey the blog is not only about fun things, right? SO, I had stopped a gas station, which had a little smaller turn around than I'd prefer. (first mistake) I filled up with gas and pulled out to leave, taking a fairly sharp right turn. I was closer to the gas pumps than I should have been ( yup. second mistake) and my back drivers side corner got caught on the edge of the pillar. Yeah. That kind of sucked. I was quite mad at myself. I continued my trip to Rachel and Andy's. When I got there I had to take a better look at Aretha's injury. It wasn't good. I won't go into it, but the amazing Andy looked it over and proceeded to come up with a plan to seal it up for now. I decided not to take out an insurance claim.He did some (McGuiver) stuff and it is sealed up tight now. It should be safe to stay that way until next summer when I can perhaps get some Vermont helpers to look at it with me. So there's that. Andy also helped me with some scary trouble I had with my computer.  It seems that guy can figure out just about anything. Another angel in disguise.Thank you so much, Andy! 
I am uploading a video that Rachel took of my song The Bittersweet Truth to YouTube channel. If you check it out, please LIKE and SHARE! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_P3I6kROZzY
Well now I'm parked here for a little while working on some things and charting out where to go next. This is a big park, but I'm in a back corner near a lake. The sign at the lake says stay out of the water because of Alligators. Ok. I will. I have nooo problem with that. 
Until next time:


Thanksgiving appetizers by the pool


Me with Rachel and Shelagh

Solid temporary Bandaid for Aretha

Poor Aretha

At the lake at Orlando RV Park

Thanksgiving music with Austin


Saturday, November 23, 2019

Wildwood Florida



Hi All. I’ve been at Three Flags Campground in Wildwood FL for over a week now. It has been a good time to catch up on some writing, organizing my thoughts, and researching ways to create income. It was pretty chilly here for several days, but is creeping back up to the high 70s. (Sorry my northern friends. I’m sure you are mentally throwing stuff at me right now.)
 I’ve had a couple of unusual music experiences here at the campground. One lady I met at ‘Coffee on the Porch’ hired me to sing at a three site yard sale last Saturday. I must say I’ve never sang at a yard sale before, but the price was right and it was actually pretty fun. The next day I played music with two other people at the church service here. I’m not a church person, but they asked me and I said yes.
I’ve had a surprise visit from Keith Williams over the weekend! He is heading west in a couple of weeks and I think he was just trying to find some sunshine and warmer temps. He was able to get a campsite in this park for some days and he is only two sites over from me. We’ve had some fun times together while he’s been here. He took me to a grocery store, which was helpful because I don’t have a vehicle unless I want to unhook Aretha. I just bring what I think I’ll need for the duration of my stay and that works out fine, but it’s been fun to get out and around town. We went to a Gator World Park and held, fed, and learned about alligators. I did not know they can live to be 80 years old and can go a whole year without eating. Wow! We played some music with another gentleman here and we’ve been playing some music together. Games of scrabble, playing pool, grilled salmon, waffles for dinner, and practicing some music, have been fun. He was teaching me how to play cribbage, and I was catching on, but we will have to get back to that another day - because he is gone now. Thanks KW for the fun times!
I plan to head to Palm Coast from here to spend Thanksgiving with a family I've known since 4th grade.
Baby alligator
Over 'n out.
cute goats there too (?)
Home at Wildwood
Keith and baby alligator
Us in front of 'Big Al'










Adventures in Texas

Medina Lake Hello all, I've been living more interesting times on my journey, and am remembering some things from the past few wee...