2013 was a year of replenishment and renewal. Having returned from a year-long, extended trip in 2012, it was time to build up some funds again. Short trips early in the year took us to Kiawah Island, Savannah and the Virgin Islands. In the early spring we focused on health and exercise, trying to work off winter’s excesses. From May to December we managed a mobile marketing tour for a new wireless company, spending more time in Texas than we ever had before, and really enjoying it. Side trips during our work contract included Galveston Island and the Florida Keys. Enjoy this review of our 2013 highlights.
Cape Cod is known as a summer resort, but visiting in winter can be just as rewarding. It’s almost a January tradition for us to delight in long walks on windswept beaches, dine in warm restaurants serving steaming cups of clam “chowdah,” and enjoy the peaceful tranquility of winter. Check out our Pinterest board on why to visit the Cape off-season.
A birthday road-trip to Savannah, GA was a real treat! It was my first time there, and we explored the Downtown Historic District, ate some amazing meals, toured historic homes and scouted out the famous Bonaventure Cemetery with its fascinating sculptures and notable burials.
The US Virgin Islands were a perfect late-winter getaway. St. Thomas was our base, and a timeshare exchange provided a cushy lodging option with lovely sunsets. We strolled the beaches, found a great walking tour of historic downtown Charlotte Amalie, went scuba-diving, and indulged in awesome day-trips to St. John and Virgin Gorda (part of the British Virgin Islands).
April was quiet on the travel front, but we were happy to spend some quality time with Donny’s family in Atlanta. The spring blooms on our nearly-daily runs (yeah for exercise-filled April) were beautiful.
Ancestry research is one of our hobbies when we have down-time. Donny’s second cousin three-times removed was a man named Ernest Willis. Mr. Willis donated a tract of land not far from the small town of Cashiers, North Carolina to the Nature Conservancy in order to ensure its perpetual protection. The walk through the Silver Run Preserve highlighted the special features of the region that make it a unique home for a diversity of animals and plants, including a number of endangered and threatened species.
Houston turned out to be a foodie’s paradise. We devoured everything from BBQ to Vietnamese to dishes from specialists in the locally-sourced like Underbelly. After we passed the 30-day mark in town, we were informed by our hotel that we were officially Texas residents. Now that was something new for perpetual wanderers like us!
The barrier island of Galveston was a much-needed break in an otherwise hectic work schedule. From a driving tour of public art to a walk along the Strand and a round of mini-golf, we thoroughly enjoyed our day. We capped it off with po’boys and beers with an ocean view at Jimmy’s on the Pier.
Another breakdown of our work vehicle, this time in Mandeville, Louisiana meant we could explore this small town on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. There are a couple of historic jazz venues in Mandeville, and Abita Brewery is right nearby, but the real highlight for us was a romantic dinner at Rips on the Lake. We sat at one of the high-tops out on the patio with a great view starting the meal with garlicky Jumbo Crab Legs and followed by Fresh Drum, served with sautéed crawfish tails and artichoke hearts. Blueberry bread pudding, made in-house capped the meal off perfectly.
On the east coast Florida we found our center again at the beach. Melbourne Beach, Cocoa Beach, Pelican Island National Reserve, Merritt Island: each with its own unique charm. It was also our first taste of some real café con leche and authentic Cuban food in a very long while. Happy campers.
There were so many highlights in October, it was hard to choose just one. We canoed through alligator-infested waterways near Tampa, stayed at Marriott’s Grande Vista Resort in Orlando, and caught up with my beautiful goddaughter and her family in Miami. We ate way too many crab legs in Ft. Lauderdale and escaped for a few days down to Key West. The Turtle Hospital on Marathon Key was our favorite discovery on that trip.
In Dallas we got lucky! Three broken axles on our trailer for work (as unlucky as that may sound!) resulted in some much-needed time off. We rediscovered Dinosaur Valley State Park, saw the Animals Inside Out exhibit at the Perot Museum, devoured like the foodies we are, and shared Donny’s very first drive-in movie.
Los Angeles was the last stop on our mobile marketing tour. In the final weeks, we were crunched for time, but still managed a walk along Manhattan Beach. Photos posted from that walk resulted in a fun meet-up with an old college friend. Through work, we made some great new friends as well!
Happy New Year!
We have absolutely no plans for 2014. Will we look for another experiential marketing tour to save up some more funds? Try out house-sitting? Set off on another extended trip? I guess it’s time to start planning. . . We look forward to sharing another year of fun and adventures!