And to be perfectly honest, I’m still adjusting to our new reality: We’re living in Florida. We’ve given up our home in Oregon. We’ve given up our life of full-time traveling. And it looks like the pandemic is going to be a part of our lives forever.
Sometimes I feel a bit lost. But when I’m longing for what used to be, I remind myself that a cornerstone of happiness is the willingness to embrace this moment, wherever I am, whatever is happening.
“Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.”~Mary Oliver
With that in mind, I’ve set myself to the task of feeling at home here. I remind myself of the path of gratitude that I learned from my dad, and the path of being fully engaged in life that I learned from my mom.
Consciously cultivating a positive attitude does much more for my happiness than random internet searches on actuarial tables. Which I actually did one day. It was a sobering experience, lol. But it’s good to acknowledge that time is passing by, and to be deliberate about how I want to spend this precious life.
When we took on the task of renovating my parents’ home last year, it was with the intention of selling it. We chose everything with the idea of making the house appeal to a wide range of buyers—which basically meant neutral. And then, last summer, we decided to not sell, and to make this our home. We’re committed to the neutral gray palette that we chose for the renovations (which also goes well with the stone wall in the living room). But I need color. I need texture. I need art.
So I bought a purple chair. And baskets, lots of baskets. And turquoise dishes. I’m moving away from the ‘staged to sell look’ to doing whatever I want. Because this is our home, and I want it to feel like home.
Along with cruising the aisles of Wayfair and Overstock for household items, we’ve been researching and scheduling big projects. In the last month, we’ve gotten a new HVAC system, a new garage door, 20 tons of gravel to refresh the driveway, and a new pole barn to replace the old structure that was in bad shape. Now we have a place to park our truck and trailer. But dang, that thing is enormous!! It’s rated for 140 mph winds, as is the garage door. We’re hoping we won’t be testing that out.
Still on the list: a new wood stove, fixing up the lanai, redoing the shop and studio, more landscaping, and the new windows that have been on order for nine months. Supply chain issues are real.
The pandemic has been almost non-existent in this part of Florida for months, and we got our boosters, so we’re feeling somewhat more comfortable venturing out for local outdoor events. But with the emergence of yet another variant (STOP IT, already!), we’re still wary in crowds, even outdoors. And we’re still avoiding indoor activities, other than socializing with vaccinated friends, which is thrilling!
Enjoying Local Events
There’s always something festive going on here on the Forgotten Coast. It’s pretty amazing to have so much offered in a county consisting of a few tiny towns with only 11,000 residents total.
The Seafood Festival is one of the big fall events. The last time we were in town for the festival was in 2012 (I’ve been writing this blog for a LONG time!). The oyster shucking and oyster eating contests were just as spirited as I remembered. The winner ate 165 oysters in 15 minutes. I love oysters, but that sounds terrible.
At the end of November, we went to the Lantern Fest at the Crooked River Lighthouse in Carrabelle, just 15 miles away. It’s a benefit for the Crooked River Lighthouse, with beautiful handmade lanterns, music, and dance performances. It was magical. Now that we know about it, we’ll make it a yearly tradition.
Enjoying The Natural Beauty
This is still a community that largely depends on fishing for sustenance. Which means that despite the art galleries, beautifully restored Victorian-era homes, and even a couple of craft breweries, it’s still rough around the edges. We like it, just as it is. It’s real.
We’re lucky to have the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve right here in Eastpoint. Their mission is to protect this special place, where hundreds of miles of rivers flow south through cypress swamps to converge with the bay in our backyard. This is essential habitat for oysters, shrimp, fish, and migrating birds, and it’s one of the most productive estuaries in the northern hemisphere. Most estuaries have been severely compromised (New York City, for example).
How fortunate we are to live on an estuary that for the most part, is still undeveloped and pristine. We embarked on a couple of educational river and bay cruises, courtesy of the reserve.
Happy Birthday, Magnolia!
Magnolia turned one year old at the end of October. We cannot imagine our lives without our sweet, funny, and loving furry companion. How lucky we are that she came running out of the woods last February to adopt us.
As always, dear friends, we’re grateful to have your company, both at home and in our travels. We hope you’re doing well.
Looks like heaven to me!
Aww, thanks Terri! Come visit!
You sound great Laurel. Your part of Florida looks really pretty I hope to get up there 1 day.
So glad to read your post that all is well. Oh my did that kitty get big💕
Love your new location and your daughter “Maggie”.
We sorta have two homes. Primary is Northridge close to the HWY 118 which has wonderful northern locations when you turn right off of HWY and drive north.
My weekly drives are HWY 1 and Hwy 395 then some funny but scenic drives N & NE of home. The second home is our boat up at Channel Islands. Have a end slip with a 100% view of the harbor. Boat is 25 feet longer than our motor home of 25 feet.
Enjoy your site you created to show your photos and write comments.
Love the purple chair, and baskets. More color, must have more color! As our international travel plans have been postponed just today, we’re boosted and looking forward to seeing the Forgotten Coast White Pelicans next month.
Happy Birthday, Maggie!
Oh, Karen—I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve had to postpone your international travel plans. This darned pandemic. :-( But I’m excited to hear that you’re coming to Florida. We would love to see you two! Maggie says thank you for the birthday wishes. :)) And I agree, the more color the better!
Haha, our ‘daughter’ Maggie! Sometimes we do seem like crazy cat parents, lol. Your two homes sound idyllic, Bob. How fun to have a boat and a motorhome!
Thank you so much for your good wishes, Kathryn. I hope you’ll come to visit us. I’d love to spend time with you and show you some of our favorite photography spots (including our backyard :-)). Yes, Magnolia has gotten big! She’s 11 pounds now, but we think she’s finished growing.
What a lovely post! I completely agree with your statement: “a cornerstone of happiness is the willingness to embrace this moment, wherever I am, whatever is happening.” Too often we lose sight – and the enjoyment – of what is because we are worrying about what will or could be. I love the colors in your home – purple, blue, and gray go so well together. And, of course, what a beauty Magnolia is! She did so well when she picked you as her family.
Janis, I completely agree with you that it’s easy to lose sight of the beauty of the present moment when we’re worrying about the future—or lamenting what we’ve lost. I’m really trying to stay present and grateful, and it makes all the difference.
Thank you for you kind comment—Magnolia is such a sweet and fun kitty. We’re all very happy that we’re together. And I’m glad you like our color palette! I’ve always had purple in my life, but the blues and grays are new, so it’s a fun new challenge.
Dang, we missed all that new stuff by a year! It looks great, though, and I’m glad it really feels like home now. I’m looking forward to seeing what you do with the shop and studio areas — those are such interesting spaces. Even with full-time traveling, being satisfied with wherever you are whenever you’re there is key to happiness. 🥰
Ha! Well, you guys need to come back for a visit!! This new propane firepit is fantastic, and I definitely thought of you guys when we cranked it up for the first fire. We would have been so much more comfortable on the screened porch. But this year, we could have also been indoors!!! So as I said, you need to come back. :-) As far as the shop and studio—we have had so many “interesting” things to deal with here, lol. This is looking like a never ending project.
Thank you for your blog.
We were in your beautiful area in January of this year. We absolutely loved it!
We can’t wait to come back.
Ilse, I hope if you return to this area that you’ll let us know! We would love to meet up with you. I’m glad to hear from you and hope all is well.
So glad to know that you are happily settled. May the winds be mild and always at your back.
That is a beautiful blessing, Nancy. I’m always happy to hear from you, and I hope that you two are enjoying a wonderful fall in Ashland. Are you heading to Anza Borrego this year? We sure miss those gatherings.
Love the pictures and your descriptions. Magnolia has gotten so big!
Thank you so much! We’ve landed in a very photogenic locale. And yes, Magnolia has gotten so big! We’ve cut back her food to ‘adult’ portions instead of ‘kitten’ portions now. The vet said she was getting a little too big, haha!
Such a beautiful post. So happy for you and Eric. You have great sunsets too! We miss seeing you up here in the Northwest, and especially Lopez Island. Not the same without you guys there but your quote from Mary Oliver is so true. Take care and happy holidays!
Wayne and Karen
Oh, it’s so wonderful to hear from you two! It seems like yesterday that we were enjoying sunset together at Shark Reef. We do have beautiful sunsets here…so think about coming to visit us!
Honestly, we miss the Pacific Northwest and always will. And this is a very special place, too. It’s hard to love two places on opposite coasts. Anyway, thanks for staying in touch, and we hope your holidays are joyous.
The house looks great and I love that purple chair! You’ve done such a great job personalizing the space and making it so comfy and cozy. I’m wondering if Wayfair is gonna have a building named after you soon? Maybe at least a conference room?? 😂
You’ve landed in a spectacular location – so much nature and community and friends to keep you busy. I’m glad you’re really settling in and enjoying all the benefits of settled life in a beautiful place.
I could have done without the 100 plus oysters though. Blech!
Happy Birthday, Magnolia!
Now you’ve got me thinking, Laura. Wayfair should definitely have a building named after me! I am tired of shopping, but I’m also grateful to have such good online options. Because as you know, we are in the middle of NOWHERE. And we were starting from scratch, which is kind of overwhelming. Too many decisions. But I’m very glad that you approve of the purple chair, and very soon, you will get to sit in it (of course, you will have to share with Magnolia).
This is a beautiful place, and we can’t wait to show you and Kevin and Thor around. We just found a fabulous place today for lunch, so hurry up and get here!
You write so beautifully Laurel. I love your “color” touches and Magnolia is truly a beautiful kitty–pets add so much to our lives. I am assuming the photos over the TV are Eric’s–what are they displayed on–canvas, metal? Time is passing us by at this stage in our lives and I subscribe to the “eat the cake, buy the shoes and drink the wine” theory trying not to dwell on covid, aches and pains, all the nastiness going on in our country’s politics, etc.!
Oh, Janna, thank you so much for your kind comment! Time truly is passing by—and it seems to speed up with each passing year. I really appreciate your positive approach to life. Having a loving pet adds a lot to our enjoyment, doesn’t it?
In answer to your question, the photos over the TV are Eric’s. We had them printed onto canvas on the Costco website, and we’re very happy with the way they turned out. There is SO much wall space in this house, and this was a reasonable way of filling some of it.
Funny how life has a way of shifting, changing and we can resist or shift with it. Anything is possible (living in FL or even AZ🤷🏻♀️) and as you mention the joy is embracing what is. The photos are gorgeous as always and that stew looks delish! Happy Birthday Magnolia, Happy Holidays and to a bright new year❣️
Leah, you’ve had your lives of travel and adventure upended just as we have. As you say, we can either resist (futile and frustrating) or adapt. I know you weren’t expecting to land back in Arizona, but there is a lot of beauty to embrace there, just as there is here in Florida. And I know you’re making the most of it.
Wishing you both happy holidays, and let’s hope for some light in this coming year! Come visit us sometime. :-)
As your photos demonstrate, you live in a beautiful place and you have incredibly attractive friends. :-) Coming off the road definitely requires an adjustment, but you have exactly the right attitude to make it work. Almost any lifestyle can be a great one if you make the most of the opportunities offered. I mean, living in an RV certainly doesn’t give you the priceless chance to spend months waiting on windows, right? Seriously, your new chapter gives you new challenges and new options and new ways to be engaged. I know it will be just as great as full-time travel, though different.
Shannon, we DO live in a beautiful place. And we do have very attractive friends, who are also intelligent, humorous, and generous! As you know, this has been a huge adjustment for us, but having you guys here has made everything better. Am I ever glad we met you on the trail in Pinnacles National Park several years ago and started following your blog!! Here’s to many more shared adventures in this interesting and quirky and lovely place we all now call home.
All I can say is I just want to live your life in that wonderful place. How happy your parents would be knowing you are living in and loving their home.
Sherry, I think of my folks every day…and I do believe they would be very happy that we’re living here and loving this beautiful place. I hope you’ll get to visit this winter.
So looking forward to April and a brief visit to this beautiful area. It will be
special seeing you and I’m looking forward to having some of that great seafood you talk about. Until then!
Penny, we’re so excited that you and Tom are coming to visit us! It will be so much fun to catch up and to show you around our new hometown. We can’t wait to cook our local seafood for you….which will go perfectly with the lovely wines that you just sent to us! OXOX
Laurel, this was such an enjoyable post! It’s always fun to learn how our fellow RVers spend their time when they’re off the road. I have three very disparate comments. (1) Even though we might need something a bit heavier duty due to potential snow loads, I’m very envious of your pole barn. Rest assured, I’ll be thinking of you every time I’m cleaning the snow off of our travel trailer this winter . (2) My sister-in-law is a retired marine biologist who worked on an estuarine research reserve here in the northeast. Visiting her at work was always a fascinating experience. (3) I’m intrigued by the photo of fishing boats that includes the Holy Spirit. Now I’m wondering if it’s a father/son team that operates it.
Mary, I also enjoy posts from our fellow RVers and friends, traveling or not. I think “at home” posts are every bit as fun to read as on-the-road posts. 1) I do not envy you shoveling snow off of your trailer. We’ve never had to contend with that! Not to any great extent, anyway. 2) How cool that your sister-in-law worked on an estuarine research reserve! We’re taking full advantage of the educational opportunities here and are hoping to be involved as volunteers in some capacity. 3) Haha, that’s a good question! I love the name of that fishing boat.
Love the work you’ve done on your new home. In one of the early photos of this post, I’m convinced that Magnolia is laughing at you about some trick she’s pulled somewhere. We love Apalachicola and hope to return soon. I met the Oyster Shucking Champion on our last visit. He could put out a dozen faster than I could say “cocktail sauce!”. Have a great week and please keep the pictures of your progress coming. Joe
Joe, How fun that you met the Oyster Shucking Champion! It’s wild how fast they can shuck oysters. As you know, it’s not an easy task. Many of those guys shuck oysters for a living, so they’ve had lots of practice.
I’m glad you like what we’ve done so far with the house. Magnolia likes to be involved with everything, including putting furniture together. She was yawning and getting ready for a nap, but I’m sure she also spends plenty of time laughing at us. :-)
I think Mary O would be proud. And your “new” digs are definitely yours now! Good on ya, and thanks for all the reminders (that will clearly continue to be necessary for the rest of my life) to SOAK. IT. ALL. IN.
Aww, thanks, Gretchen. I remind myself every day of all that we have to be grateful for. Just pausing to notice makes all the difference. I hope all is well on Lopez.
Your house looks beautiful, and Magnolia has grown up to be such a fine looking kitty! Weather-wise, October/November were our favorite months when we lived in Pensacola. I do miss seeing those pelicans, not too many of them here in our part of AZ.
Those oyster contest winners look far too happy after what they just consumed. I was forced to try one after I moved to FL and one was more than enough!
Thank you for your kind words about the house and the kitty, Gayle. I can understand why October and November were your favorite months in Florida. It has been gorgeous! We’re happy to have landed here, and we’re even happier that Magnolia joined our family.
It’s good to hear from you—I hope you and Jim are enjoying a lovely fall in Arizona. And I’ll take whatever oysters you don’t want, lol.
Your home is lovely.
Thank you, Deb. I hope you two are doing well, and enjoying what looks to be a new life adventure.
Love getting your posts from ‘HOME’, love the changes and colors!!!! Very calming!!! We returned last week from Ecuador, 135 new hummingbird species and more birds. We have now seen more South and Central American birds than in Our US count!!!! Do we have a favorite? Possibly the cock of the rock because he is so strange in design!!!! It was an incredible trip, Amazon at NAPO Wildlife Center was incredibly beautiful, humid but bird life on the river paddle great. The scarlet macaws were beautiful. When you see them flying by the dozens free, it’s hard to imagine even one in a cage!!!!
We spent one day in Quito at the magical city market. We had scheduled. Trip to a weaver and leather shop but 5 hours in the car was just too much,..glad we opted for a down day with friends!!!! If the opportunity ever arises, go visit. Our guides were amazing and the culture incredible….
We are packing up for TX, AZ and NM. Have not seen our kids in 2 years so will stop in San Antonio for a few days before heading west. We need to be back out there!!! I will get our blog up and running on some downtime on the road!!!!
Have a wonderful Christmas, Julie
That sounds like a fabulous trip, Julie. All those hummingbirds! I saw a cock of the rock at the San Diego Zoo many years ago and will never forget it. What a gorgeous bird! So good to hear from you and to know that all is well. Enjoy your trip to the southwest, and stop by to see us if you can!
Laurel, you do know you are tugging at my heartstrings when you talk about the Forgotten coast in such a beautiful way. I too love the ‘rough edges’ and can’t imagine this part of Florida without its rustic charm. Thanks for sharing such beautiful reminders of a place dear to my heart.
Suzanne, you understand exactly how unique the Forgotten Coast is. This is such a beautiful place, and you’re right—it’s the ‘rough edges’ that give it a rustic charm. I hope that you and Malcolm will come to visit us here.
Although we’re still planning nine months of travel next year, I can relate to your “new now” working on house projects and focusing on being where we are. Love you purple chair – I have an orange one that adds a burst of warm color in our also gray tones living space. I’m envious of your fishing village surrounds, even as much as I love our desert. The lantern festival looks amazing! Magnolia is one lucky little kitty to have chosen the two of you for her family :-))
Happy Holidays to the three of you, we think of you often.
Jodee, it’s hard choosing between the desert and the coast! For now, we’re loving it here and it’s feeling more like home. Especially now that we have a purple chair, LOL!
We’re hoping that we’ll get to meet up with you guys this summer in Michigan. And you’ll get to meet Magnolia, who does not yet know that a long trip is once again in her future. I keep telling her she’s a lucky kitty even if she has to travel. Enjoy your holidays and your time with family and the grands!
Yikes! I can’t believe I just saw this blog….what have I been doing? I’m glad you’re home and that you had a wonderful trip. I think that having a home base and still traveling is the absolute best way to live. Magnolia makes life interesting and keeps you in the moment. I must admit I’m a little jealous, all that beautiful water…. I’m always torn between the desert and watery places. I guess that’s why I enjoy traveling so much, I can have both.
I love Janna’s philosophy – eat the cake, buy the shoes and drink the wine! Life is short and you’re making the very best of it in your sweet new home with that funny, photogenic and sweet little girlie! We miss seeing you.
Haha, I know exactly what you mean about time slipping by, Sue. I can’t believe it’s almost mid-December. I know you guys have been busy settling into your new home and trying to complete projects, same as we are. We certainly never intended to land in Florida, but it’s turning out to be a good decision, and it’s feeling more like ‘home’ every day. Magnolia, of course, adds a lot to our happiness. Along with long stretches of travel, of course!
We miss seeing you guys, too. We’ll figure out how to see you before too much longer. Happy holidays!