Friday, January 3, 2014

Celebrating the holidays Florida-style

December 23-January 2, 2014
Cortez, Florida
Holiday Cove RV Resort

With our five grandchildren and their parents in Southern California and my sons in Oregon and Nebraska, it is a little hard to totally embrace the Christmas spirit. We are, of course, also used to cooler weather and, when we were lucky in Oregon, even a little snowfall.  This is our third winter here in Florida since we have been living full-time in the motorhome and while we love the beach and sunny weather here, we would rather be celebrating the holidays with our kids. We are fortunate, however, to have my brother and his family, and also my aunt, nearby in Zephyrhills which softens the angst of being far away from our families a little bit. 

For Christmas Eve, we went to my niece’s home for a large holiday meal and festive gathering. My great nieces and nephews are almost all college age or older now. I even have one great-great niece who is seven, making my brother a great-grandpa already! 

xmas eve 2013 collage

Christmas morning was sure a quiet one for us. No little kids to wake us or a big Christmas morning brunch to prepare. We kept it real simple this year by only buying a couple presents for the dogs. We figure our whole lifestyle right now is the big present we are giving one another. The dogs, on the other hand, seemed to need a little extra something: Everlasting Treat Dispensers. (We did also have two presents to open from Eddie Bauer from my step-daughter and son-in-law--sweet!)

I wanted to do something different to celebrate Christmas Day, so we made a plan to have a picnic at our favorite beach with another couple whom we met last year in Fort Myers.  I made crab cakes which I tried to keep warm ‘til we arrived, and we also had salmon spread, prosciutto and melon, brie and cherries. Of course, we also brought our favorite drinks to toast to each other while watching the beautiful waves and shorebirds. Pati and her husband Murray had to wear their Christmas gifts from their daughter: a bikini t-shirt for her and a ripped muscle shirt with a nipple ring for him—funny. Too bad I didn’t get the photo of Murray in his shirt though.

When we arrived at the beach this man was feeding the shorebirds—a big no-no!  I took a deep breath and let it go rather than say anything. Don’t people know not to feed wild creatures???

We stayed long enough to watch the sunset in its varying stages. Unfortunately, at the end it went behind a big bank of clouds that seemed to come from nowhere, but before it did I managed to get some shots that captured the mood of the day.

The day after Christmas, Vic and I went to see one of several movies on our viewing list: American Hustle. The film was entertaining, well-acted and kept our interest, but it is not a great movie. We try to see all the movies that are likely to receive Oscar nominations, and that list is pretty long already—Philomena, Nebraska, Saving Mr. Banks, Inside Llewyn Davis, August: Osage County—among others.  So, more movie-going will surely be a part of our time here.

We also took two days to do some much needed dog grooming. Fortunately, the dogs are very accustomed to this ritual.

Just four days after Christmas, we returned to Zephyrhills for my niece’s birthday. It was a rainy Sunday afternoon, almost perfect for taking a drive. Plus, Vic will go almost anywhere for Baskin Robbins ice cream cake.

kims with bday cake

We also enjoyed watching the Bears vs. Packers game at the birthday party. Even though my family is from the Chicago area, many of us are Packer fans.  Even the dog, Gracie, had her game clothes on. We left before the game ended, but listened to it in the car. The Packers ended up winning the NFC north championship when Aaron Rodgers threw a 48 yard touchdown on 4th-and-8 at the last minute!  We are looking forward to seeing the 49ers vs. Packers showdown at Lambeau field this Sunday for the NFL playoffs. Vic grew up in San Francisco, so we will have a little rivalry going on between us.

gracie in packer costume

On Monday of this week, we took a lovely bike ride in Robinson Preserve with a small group from our park. We happened to be real lucky to see a myriad of shorebirds (including spoonbills and wood storks!) feeding at low tide. I only had my cell phone for a camera which always seems to happen when the best photo ops show up.

robinson preserve bike ride collage

The day before New Year’s Eve my niece Shannon and her boyfriend came to visit us. I took them to happy hour at the Swordfish Grill  just a few blocks from us, then we went for a walk on the beach, and I fixed fresh grouper on the grill for dinner. It was fun to share our little corner of the world here in Cortez with them.

pam and shannon

New Year’s Eve for us started with a walk to our local tiki bar to have some char-broiled oysters and listen to some music. The music wasn't too good, so we took a ride to Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach (about one mile away) to check out the music scene there and discovered a great spot on the outdoor patio at the Blue Marlin Grill.   I ended up going to bed before midnight, but Vic stayed up to watch the big ball drop. 

oysters at swordfish grill

On New Year’s Day we rode our bikes a short way to the Cortez Bridge to take a look at about 30 offshore race boats passing through. Too bad they all had to slow down for the slow wake zone under the bridge as it would have been more fun to see them actually racing.  A group of guys on jet skis joined in the fun as the boats were passing through the bay.

We ended the day with a short bike ride with friends and a New Year’s toast together at our place. It feels good to be ushering in a new year full of possibilities. Let’s make it a great one!

new years wish
“What the New Year brings to you will depend a great deal
 on what you bring to the New Year.” — Vern McLellan


  1. You two have been having one adventure after another. The picnic on the beach sounds wonderful.

    I, too, love spending the holidays with family. The first three years we traveled, Paul didn't fly back to Ohio to spend the Christmas season with us. It wasn't quite the same. So not being with the kids, I would think, would make it feel very different. Glad you got to spend it with friends though.

    Hope you keep having warm sunny weather.

  2. I agree, the picnic on the beach sounds so nice. We had one planned for Christmas Eve...just the 2 of us, but the weather didn't cooperate!

    So glad you are out and about enjoying all the nice weather. I love the birds, but the raccoon is way cool!

  3. I am very impressed with what looks like warm weather there in Cortez from your first picture of Vic shirtless. And I thought only places at least 50 miles south of Tampa were warm for the winter. I'm updating my data base here. You do such a good job of condensing a clearly busy 8 day period into an interesting and informative post. Love your pictures! You just seem to be having a grand time with so many family and friends.

  4. Sounds like you are keeping busy in Cortez. Glad it was warm enough for a beach picnic.

    Good to know the weekly bike trips are still happening at Holiday Cove. Looking forward to rejoining after two years.

    I'm glad you didn't forget the dogs for Christmas:) We pass on the gifts for each other, also.

    Try to stay warm this coming week!

  5. I am glad that you and Vic were able to make the best out of a bad situation - celebrating Christmas and New Years in the wilds of Florida. It was good that you had friends and family to help y'all through it. Happy 2014.

  6. That looks like a great time! That bikini outfit is a great way to avoid sunburn and still be in the beach spirit:))

  7. Your tans are looking great! You can't get them in Oregon for Christmas, no matter how good you've been. ;c)


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