on to santa fe!

The Shroyers hit the road

Our time in Savannah came to a too-quick end. We loved our time there and hope to return. If you’ve never been there, I hope you get a chance to visit! We had to leave a day earlier than planned in order to make annual dental exams that our Texas dentist had worked in. We bade a sad farewell to Savannah and headed to Mobile. En route, we noticed a sign for “FDR’s Little White House.” We googled it and learned that this was the location of the famed Warms Springs where Franklin Roosevelt found relief from his paralysis and pain due to polio. We decided it was worth the detour, and we were right! Even though it ended up being a three-hour detour (making it a 10-hour travel day), we thoroughly enjoyed our visit and were glad we went. My favorite part was chatting with a guide who explained that her parents met there when her mother, a polio patient, was wheeled around by her father, a “push boy.” They fell in love, married, and CarolAnn considers that she owes her existence to FDR!

FDR’s “Little White House”

The next morning we were off to Beaumont, Texas. Although we tried walking through the historic downtown, we found the city to be run down and a bit depressing. We were glad to head out early the next morning, meeting our friend Patricia in Houston at House of Pies for a quick breakfast catch-up chat. Then it was off to our Dripping Springs dentist, followed by a happy reunion with out son, who greeted us at the door with adult beverages! We caught up, headed to Torchy’s Tacos for carry-out dinner (If you go, check out the secret menu!), and when our daughter-in-law got home from work we all dug in. We spent a wonderful six days with our kids and loved every minute of it. The strangest and most exciting (scary) thing for me was a trip to the shooting range. Our son, a gun afficionado, had wanted to introduce me to shooting for a long time, and I finally acquiesced. The drive out to the Marble Falls shooting range was lovely, and he secured a tactical bay for us–a very private area that faced into a large, built-up berm. He started me out with a .22 pistol, from which I eventually progressed to an AR15. I went from shaking hands to relative calm, due to our son’s gentle instructions and focus on safety. I’m glad I did it, and it’s a memory I’ll cherish. Oh, and Phil beat me on the clay shooting!

“Sandy Oakley”

On Inauguration Day we bade a fond farewell to our kids and headed out to Roswell, New Mexico. We listened to the inauguration, sang the last verse of Amazing Grace with Garth Brooks, and wept listening to Amanda Gorman’s beautiful poem. With a new President and our first woman Vice President–!!!–safely installed, we breathed a sigh of relief and checked into our hotel before heading out for a stroll. We happened upon the International UFO Museum and Research Center a half-hour before closing, and the gracious owner refused to let us pay. We skimmed through the exhibits, marvelling at the old newspaper stories and claims of over 300 witnesses, finding the museum to be a mix of facts, speculation, and kitsch. It was fun!

One of the exhibits at the museum


The next morning we had only a three-hour drive to our destination for the next month, Santa Fe. We had some trepidation about our AirBnb, having been so impressed with the lovely bedroom that we’d failed to notice that the place is a studio casita! We wondered how we’d adjust to living in a single room with a tiny kitchen and bathroom.

Looks big, right? Then you realize it’s the only room!

We checked into our casita (incidentally, our AirBnbs all have contactless checkin) and schlepped everything once again from the car. And guess what? We found that while it is VERY cozy, it’s going to work out just fine! I was thrilled to discover that the desk is big enough for my giant monitor. We even found a spot for our Breville espresso machine. Did I mention that we’re traveling with that monster? 

Can’t travel without it!

Sure, we have to make toast in the living/bed/dining/office room–insufficient counter space and plugs in the kitchen–and we now have to go to bed and get up at the same time, but we’re cool with that. A big part of this adventure is learning, problem-solving, and adapting. Case in point, I’ve already managed to prepare a few tasty meals in that tiny kitchen!

Salmon, brown rice, and haricots verts, prepared in the casita kitchen

So now we’re happily ensconsed in our cozy casita, taking long walks through downtown Santa Fe, visiting the farmers’ market, enjoying the fabulous scenery (and snow!), and feeling thankful for this new life we’ve carved out despite the pandemic. We are a couple of lucky Shroyers!




A perfect day


On Sunday as we enjoyed our coffee, we had the inevitable conversation: “What do you want to do today?” Realizing we only have one more weekend in Savannah, we wanted to make the day special. And we succeeded! Here’s how we spent a perfect day.

On the path to a perfect day

On a previous trip to Hilton Head we’d driven through Bluffton, SC, which even in the dark appeared to be a charming town. Later Phil heard that Bluffton has some great restaurants; that’s all we needed to hear! We decided on Cahill’s Market, a working farm, market, and restaurant that’s been in the same family for three generations. Cahill’s was honored as Best Breakfast in Bluffton, so we knew it would be a fun choice. 


Cahill peacock

We arrived and were immediately seated outside after greeting one of the Cahill peacocks. Phil had the second-best huevos rancheros of his life, while I opted for eggs with a “chicken biscuit.” Both were great! After breakfast we headed into the market to pick up country ham and Cahill eggs.

These chickens provided the eggs for our breakfast!


Full and happy, we headed to Bluffton’s Old Town, where we walked off our breakfast, peeked into a few galleries, and enjoyed the sunny day. Bluffton is a charming town, with lots of art, beautiful parks, and a cherished history. We were reminded of our former hometown, Wimberley, Texas. Where Wimberley has “Bootiful Wimberley,” with huge boots scattered throughout town and decorated by local artists, Bluffton has oversized oyster shells decorated similarly. We felt at home as we strolled across town and into the waterside park. 

Blufftonites who are feeling a bit crabby can relax on this bench.

After our walk we hit the road, heading to Charleston for a final visit. We parked near the historic market and walked over to Harry’s rooftop, where we split a crabcake sandwich and enjoyed the best cocktail ever–a boozy limeade! Next up was a walk through the market, where we picked up a sweetgrass basket and some local items for a gift. We then proceeded to walk the city for hours. Unfortunately, we were too late to tour the Unitarian Church, the oldest UU church in the South, dating back to the 1700s, but we saw too many gorgeous churches to count. Charleston is a beautiful city, with wonders everywhere. We walked eight miles, with Phil taking pictures of churches and street scenes he plans to paint.

The sign at the Unitarian Church

By 5:30 our feet were tired and it was starting to get dark. As we looked out over the water, I asked Phil, “Do you really want to drive home tonight?” “Not really,” he replied. And within minutes I’d used Marriott points to book a room at the Renaissance. We giggled as we explained to the hotel desk clerk that we’d need an amenity kit, since we hadn’t planned to stay over. We checked in and immediately headed out to dinner at Magnolias, a restaurant serving upscale southern cuisine. We didn’t have a reservation so opted for a socially-distanced hightop table in the bar, where Phil had bouillabaisse with a southern twist (it had okra!) and I enjoyed parmesan crusted flounder. 

The next morning I showered, washed my hair (didn’t even have a comb so it was “au naturelle”), and put on yesterday’s clothes. We walked to La Patisserie for coffee and pastries, then headed back to the car for the two-hour drive home. We’d had a perfect day, and we were grateful.





Warning: this post is mostly about food.

Phil and I knew that this holiday would be different, not only because we’re in the middle of a pandemic, but also because we’d be spending it in Savannah, where we knew no one. I asked our kids for suggestions on how to make a stay-at-home-alone holiday special, and they had advice. “We do a lot of planning–the food, the games we’ll play, the movies we’ll watch–and that leads to a special celebration,” our daughter explained. She should know, as she and her husband live in Europe and have often created solo celebrations. Our son had similar advice, sharing his plans to be at home with his wife, smoking meats, watching movies, and hanging out in the jacuzzi.

So after Thanksgiving we began discussing what we could to do make Christmas and New Year’s special, with just the two of us in an AirBnb, with no tree or decorations or family or friends. Food would, of course, be a major component. Phil wanted a traditional turkey dinner, and for Christmas Eve I wanted a cocktail party. Meanwhile we were eagerly exploring our temporary home and taking in the holiday sights.

Anticipating that high-end hotels would have beautiful decorations, I dragged Phil through every one I could find, both in Savannah and in Charleston. Christmas trees abounded! The most astonishing thing we saw in a hotel, though, was a display of gorgeous gingerbread houses. We were amazed by the intricate detailing, colors, and realistic resemblance to actual houses. I can’t imagine having the patience, much less the talent, to create such a masterpiece.

We try to get out every day just to walk around Savannah and enjoy this beautiful city. With its parks and squares, it rivals Paris as the most beautiful city we’ve ever seen. Everything was decorated! We saw a bronze turtle wearing a Santa hat, decorated monuments, and even decorated trash cans!

Along with all this holiday spirit, we of course had to plan a special cocktail for our holiday. Phil made a delicious take on a cosmopolitan–very similar, but less sweet. The trial run was successful, so we proceeded to the menus for Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner.

How to make a cocktail party for two? Fortunately, having hors d’oeuvres for dinner is something we do regularly. For this feast, we decided on a mix of traditional (queso with ground bison, crudites, hot artichoke dip) and new (martini deviled eggs!). At the farmer’s market I’d found lion’s mane mushrooms, which I’d never seen before, as well as a creamy lemon goat cheese. Voila! With some shallots, a little puff pastry, and some Savannah peach jam, I was able to make a tasty appetizer. We had a lovely evening, watching holiday movies, enjoying our cocktails, and planning for our family video call the next day.

Our Christmas day breakfast is always the same: my mother’s Christmas tree coffee cake, sausages, and soft scrambled eggs. That tided us over until evening, when we had the traditional turkey feast. We ate leftovers for days!

I love to cook, and one of the fun games of Roaming is to figure out how to turn out good meals in all sorts of kitchens. For the holidays, we bought a couple of disposable roasting pans to augment the limited cooking vessels in our AirBnb. We learned to use washcloths as napkins (I abhor paper napkins–terrible for the environment!), and to roll out dough I remove the label from a wine bottle and use the bottle as a rolling pin.

Our repast included roast turkey, my mother’s dressing, mashed potatoes with gravy, made-from-scratch green bean casserole, and my Gaga’s cranberry-orange salad. Oh, and homemade rolls. There was no muffin tin, so they were free-form. As my daddy used to say when something didn’t turn out looking very nice, “But it’ll eat good!”

New Year’s eve was a quiet evening at home, with another special meal: locally-raised bone-in pork chops au poivre, roasted sweet potatoes with more of that lemony creamy goat cheese, and crispy brussels sprouts with local bacon and dried cherries.

So we entered 2021 well-fed and content. Now, on to the new year! My word for 2021 is ADVENTURE.

An elegant Savannah doorway

One of the dozens of hotel trees we saw

Can you believe this is a gingerbread house?!

We spotted this guy on one of our walks.

Even the trash cans are decorated!

Christmas Eve cocktail party for two

Phil’s Christmas dinner plate