sunny california!

The Shroyers finally get warm.

Our drive from Phoenix to San Diego was fascinating. Who knew we’d drive through mountains, deserts, green farmland, a whole town based on dates (aptly named Dateland), almost-Mexico–complete with border patrol checkpoints–and more mountains? We experienced an hour delay in the mountains caused by a wreck (an RV jacknifed and caught on fire, but we believe and hope that everyone escaped safely), and we finally arrived unscathed at our cousins’ house in San Diego. True to form, cousins Karyl and Matt had margaritas ready! We enjoyed a catch-up visit and poolside dinner before heading to our new home for the next month.

Desert! Sand dunes!

And a lovely home it turned out to be! A small family farm-in-progress in Vista, this AirBnb is the upstairs apartment in the former barn. With two bedrooms, a spacious bathroom, well-equipped kitchen, and cozy living room, we quickly expanded into the space, relieved after a month in our tiny Santa Fe home. Our hosts are gracious and helpful, and the resident chickens supplied beautiful eggs.

Love makes the eggs taste better.

The next day was Monday, so we didn’t get a chance to do much exploring until the weekend, but we did manage lunch at the Yellow Deli in downtown Vista, followed by a stroll. Vista turned out to be much larger than we’d imagined, with cool art, nice parks, and plenty of restaurants to sample. In California there are lots of outdoor dining options, so we’re taking advantage of that (and exceeding our restaurant dining budget!).

Alley Art Woman in Vista

Our first weekend in California was wonderful! We met Karyl and Matt for a picnic by the water, where Phil and Matt enjoyed a quick game of bocce ball and I got to ride Karyl’s pride and joy–her electric bike! The picnic was beautiful (have I mentioned that Karyl is the incarnation of Pearl Mesta?), a gorgeous and delicious spread into which we dug with such gusto that I forgot to photograph it.

Bocce ball and bikes

We also spent a day simply exploring our surroundings. We walked the beach at Carlsbad, sampled a couple of restaurants, drove around the hills, bought flowers and fruit at nearby farms, and visited a winery. We enjoyed an outdoor, socially distanced tasting  with live music, where we met the most stylish dog I’ve ever seen.

I felt underdressed next to her!

The next week Karyl sent us her CSA farm share. What a bounty! Gorgeous, locally-raised fruits and vegetables became a lovely dinner that evening: steamed veggies with aioli, zucchini in a homemade chunky tomato sauce, and Phil’s specialty, cheesy toast. Did I mention that the oven in our AirBnb is broken? Our lifestyle includes a lot of “figure-it-out, make-do, find-a-creative-solution” challenges. I’ve cooked most of our meals for two weeks without an oven. It’s supposed to be repaired soon, and that will be great–but making things work is a valuable learning process and part of the fun of being Roamers.

Dinner from our CSA box, courtesy of Kuzin Karyl

So far in our second weekend here we’ve explored the  Alta Vista Botanical Gardens, had lunch with dear friend Jeanne in her gorgeous backyard, and watched the sun set on the Del Mar Civic Center Plaza patio. There we enjoyed a whimsical charcuterie platter courtesy of Karyl, who knows how to make everything special. She is my role model for how to live graciously, with gratitude, generosity, and charm.

“Culinary art” at Alta Vista Botanical Gardens

“Boat-cuterie” a la Karyl

We are so very grateful to be here in this beautiful setting, with perfect weather, lemons and oranges growing outside our window, and the ability to spend time with wonderful cousins and friends. After five months of Roaming, we have no regrets.

 

 

Buh-bye, santa fe!

On the road again

The second half of our time in Santa Fe was filled with long walks, some gallery visits, a couple more day trips, and lots of cozy time in our casita. We got a lot (well, for us at least) of snow, so it was tempting to just stay in.

The view from our casita’s front door

One of the things I find fascinating about long walks is the interesting (strange) sights we see. One day while walking back to the casita, I came upon this notebook. I wonder what the words mean? Was it a game?

Was this a word game?

And on a day trip to Madrid (pronounced with a short a and emphasis on the first syllable, unlike the Madrid in Spain), we saw this:

Wait, Heaven is going out of business?

 

By the end of our sojourn in Santa Fe, we’d seen some fabulous art, met some very nice gallery owners, and even got to dine outdoors a couple of times at restaurants with patio heaters (still chilly!). Our favorite gallery experience was at Jones Walker Gallery in Taos, where we chatted with one of the owners. I love those brief encounters where despite the brevity of the connection, there is a true friendship that forms before you say goodbye. Jones Walker might be my favorite art gallery ever. And speaking of art, while I am not and will never be artistic, I’ve always wanted to try throwing pots. In Santa Fe I got my chance, at a delightful pottery co-op across from our casita, Paseo Pottery. Chris, our instructor, was taking a break from his doctoral studies in art history, and he proved to be very patient and a great teacher. Throwing pots is a workout!

This is not an artist.

By the end of the class (socially distanced, with four students) I’d managed to make a little family of imperfect pots. The best two will be shipped to me in a few weeks–if they survive the firing and glazing processes!

I made these!

Finally it was time to say goodbye to Santa Fe. The night before we left I peeked out onto the patio and saw our parting gift: the biggest icicle I’ve ever seen!

Santa Fe icicle

The next morning we headed out early, grabbed coffee, and drove to the Grand Canyon. I’d only seen it from the air, and being there on the ground was awe-inspiring. We walked the paths for a while, took way too many pictures, and then drove on to Sedona for the night.

GRAND Canyon!

Sedona was magical! We had very little time there (definitely planning to return!), so after checking in to our hotel, we walked to a nearby restaurant for dinner. The dinner was forgettable, but the area was so cool! Imagine an ice cream shop with art!

Can you tell the lights are “ice cream cone” art?

The next morning we got up early and headed to the Airport Vortex to watch the sunrise. As the sun illuminated the famous red rocks, we were again dazzled.

Sunrise illuminating the red rocks, with the town of Sedona below.

And then it was off to Phoenix, to visit  dear friends in their new home. We packed a lot of fun into less than 24 hours, with a group lunch on a farm, tours of model homes in their beautiful brand-new development at the foot of the mountains, and a special dinner with friends at the Arboretum. And we got our fur baby fix with their dog and two cats!

Unforgettable friendships, memorable dinner

And then it was off to our next adventure. We’re so excited to begin our stay in Sunny California!

winter doldrums

We’re in Santa Fe, but. . .

Well, we’re halfway through our time in Santa Fe, and honestly, we’d be happy to leave now. It’s not that we don’t like the area; it’s stunningly beautiful. But it’s cold! And all the museums and restaurants in New Mexico are closed due to the pandemic! The few restaurants that are open offer only carry-out or outdoor dining, and who wants to dine on the patio when it’s 30 degrees? I’m not very inspired to cook in this tiny kitchen with only 1 saucepan, 1 dutch oven, and 1 skillet (a stainless steel one to which everything sticks). First world problems, indeed. We realize how privileged we are to be healthy, happy, and experiencing this great Roaming life. But we still occasionally get a tiny bit whiny.

Phil waiting for our Farmers’ Market coffee. Why yes, that is a giant beet over his head!

On our first Saturday here we walked to the Farmer’s Market at the Railyard, just a couple of blocks from our casita. We’d just made a grocery run, so we didn’t need anything, but we managed to grab excellent coffee and pastries.  From there we headed out to the Chama Wilderness, a favorite place Phil wanted me to see. My favorite sight was when we got down close to the Chama River, but the whole thing was thrilling (and scary, on some of the S-curves where our car tires were inches from a deadly dropoff!). On the way we stopped at a general store for burritos, and on the way back I got a glimpse of Georgia O’Keefe’s house; it was closed, but we could peek over the wall to see the rooftop.

A scene from our first day trip, to the Chama Wilderness

Like everyone else of a “certain age,” we have been trying to get COVID vaccinations. The over-65 group is not yet eligible in New Mexico, so on Thursday afternoon I decided to check in Texas. And voila! Amarillo had plenty of availability on a first come, first served basis. So 30 minutes after my last call that day, we drove four hours to Amarillo, spent the night in a hotel, and were in line at 7:15 the next morning. Everything went extraordinarily well, and we received our first shots at 9:02. We headed back to Santa Fe, with Phil driving so I could do my video conference calls. We’ll be in California when it’s time for the second shot, and we’re checking that website daily for appointment availability.

Kudos to Amarillo’s public health department!

 

One of the things I love about Santa Fe is that art is everywhere. Even the bus stops and overpasses are beautiful! It’s easy to see why artists want to live here. I especially like unexpected art that startles, in an otherwise mundane setting.

At a coffee shop, the television wears a beautiful silver frame. Art!

One of the few recreation opportunities we have here is walking, and we’ve done a lot of it. The architecture here is beautiful, so different from other parts of the country. And the random art on walls is amazing!

On a walk this week I encountered a thoughtful swinging elephant.

This trompe d’oeil is startling!

Interestingly, the galleries and shops are mostly open. We can’t really shop (as Phil likes to say, “That’s great, honey, but we’re all out of wall space in the car!”) but we love wandering through galleries. And we truly are enjoying our cozy casita. We’ve also been able to see a few friends, which has been wonderful (socially distanced, but still fun!). But honestly? We’re looking forward to heading out to sunny California. Our plan is to leave here a couple of days early, visit the Grand Canyon, make a quick stop in Sedona, spend a night with friends in Phoenix, then start our sojourn in the San Diego area. 

How are you handling the winter doldrums?

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Holidays!

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

 

 

Next up: savannah!

We said goodbye to the Cape

On the day of our departure from Chatham, we rose early; we had to get to Wilmington, Delaware in time for me to make a couple of video calls. We used Waze instead of our car’s integrated GPS and were able to avoid the “lost time” in the D.C. area that we’d experienced on our way to the Cape. I finished my calls and we headed to a socially distanced dinner at the Columbus Inn. Highly recommended! The next morning, a Saturday, our destination was downtown Raleigh. We spent a delightful evening wandering the streets, admiring the art, both in galleries and on the streets, and revisiting the Raleigh Times for dinner; but the best part was an outdoor cocktail/dessert experience at Bittersweet, where we had quite a wait due to a wedding reception. The bride and groom wore matching gold sneakers and their small group had almost as much fun as we had watching them!

Happy couple!

Amazing Raleigh street art; lots of support for Black Lives Matter here!

We arrived in Savannah on Sunday afternoon, just in time to get settled and make a quick grocery run (we’re directly behind Kroger!). Our home for the next month is our favorite so far–a roomy two-bedroom with a dear little balcony and plenty of work space, just two blocks from Forsyth Park!

 

Finally, room for my monitor!

Our first order of business was of course finding a great cocktail lunch. Treylor Park was the perfect place (we’d discovered it on our first Savannah visit in 2017). We sat outside and shared a wonderful low country flatbread, which came with an assortment of hot sauces. We happily sat out a brief rainstorm, partially sheltered in the beer garden.

Treylor Park hot sauces

 

One of our first day trips was to Charleston, about a two-hour drive from Savannah. We had a wonderful lunch at Rodney Scott’s BBQ before heading to the Public Market area. We walked all over Charleston without an agenda, just enjoying the sights. We headed home determined to make another visit to Charleston before our time here is over.

 So much for a miniature reindeer!

Charleston: making ordinary, utilitarian objects into art.

We really love Savannah. There is beauty everywhere, lots of fun people-watching, and more interesting restaurants than we could ever visit. So far, in addition to walking many miles around the city, we’ve visited Tybee Island, enjoyed a walking food tour (combining favorite things!), and spent an afternoon in HIlton Head. More to come!

Savannah symbiosis

Peeking through iron railings into private gardens is one of my favorite things in Savannah.

One of the sights during our walking food tour. Fancy dress!

There is so much beauty in ordinary things.

Today we’ll visit the farmers’ market in Forsythe Park, walk the city, and begin shopping for special holiday meals. Stay tuned for more Savannah fun!

 

 

 

cape cod II

Counting down to Georgia

We’ve now been on the Cape almost a month, and we’ll be leaving soon. The time has flown, but we’ve been able to do most of the things we’d hoped for despite the pandemic. I took vacation our first week here, and we had the four-day Thanksgiving holiday, so we’ve had plenty of flexibility.

The wild Atlantic coast. This was one of the views on a walk this week.

We did manage to spend a day in Boston. We parked in our old neighborhood, the Leather District, and walked to the North End, enjoying all the sites along our “regular” path. We loved the familiarity and noted the changes since we lived here. We enjoyed strolling the Rose Kennedy Greenway, outdoor cocktails and appetizers at our favorite North End restaurant, Bricco, and of course we hit Mike’s Pastry (how could we miss that?!). We took an Uber back to our car and were impressed with the car’s cleanliness, masked driver, and open windows. I still long to stroll the Common and Public Garden, but the crowds scared us off.

Phil drinking French wine in an Italian restaurant

And suddenly the holidays arrived. We were lucky to spend Thanksgiving with our dear friends the Cummings, part of our “family by choice.” We’d planned to dine on their deck, and they even bought an outdoor heater. Alas, it poured rain all day, so we had a masked, indoor celebration. It actually worked out well, with separate dining rooms that allowed conversation between them. The feast was fabulous, featuring a gorgeous spatchcocked turkey with a maple glaze by our host Sandy.

I may do this turkey for Christmas!

 

We had visited Martha’s Vineyard a couple of times when we lived in Massachusetts, but never with a car. The Saturday after Thanksgiving, I managed reservations on the ferry and off we went. This time we were determined to see the whole island!

The Vineyard cliffs in Aquinna–breathtaking!

After grabbing a socially distanced lunch overlooking the ocean (crabcakes!) in Oak Bluffs, we set off for Edgartown. What a beautiful little downtown! We parked by the docks and proceeded to walk the area, getting slightly lost in the process. I love the quirky things we see on our adventures–those unexpected, unusual, strange, and beautiful things easily overlooked–like a pianist sculpture among all the Christmas decorations.

Piano Man, just hanging out in someone’s yard

Gayhead Light

From Edgartown we headed on to Chilmark, Aquinnah, and then back to Tisbury, where we had a fabulous dinner at La Soffitta. We were seated at a cozy table surrounded by palms, well distanced from the two other occupied tables (We hit restaurants at odd times to avoid crowds). Our waiter, who was also the bartender, made fabulous cocktails and served us the best grilled focaccia we’ve ever had. Stuffed but happy, we headed back to the ferry and home.

We have just over a week left on the Cape. I’m working, so we won’t be doing much aside from almost-daily walks. I’d like to hit P-town one more time if possible, and we plan to stroll the downtown Chatham area, which is charming. Then it will be on to Savannah for a month. We’ll be on our own for Christmas, since we don’t know anyone there, and we’re looking forward to learning how to create holiday without a tree or family gatherings. Stay tuned!

Just before sunset at Gayhead Light

 

 

 

Cape Cod I

Our beach! It’s about a seven-minute walk from home.

It was a beautiful drive to the Cape from Raleigh!

Our home for a month is a darling Cape cottage.

Our dear Plymouth friends sent this welcome gift!

Nantucket humor abounds in this charming island!

Nantucket mermaid house. She didn’t invite us in.

 

 

 

We’re here!

We had a lovely night in Wilmington, Delaware, just after the big election victory celebration there, with an outdoor, socially distanced dinner at a restaurant on the river. The next morning we got an early start and were on our way to the Cape. The drive was beautiful, with a fun outdoor lunch stop in charming Fairfield, CT. The closer we came, the more excited we were. The drive was beautiful, and we were thrilled to learn that we weren’t too late for fall color.

Finally we arrived at our Chatham cottage, just in time to make a grocery and wine run before dark. The cottage is perfect–BEST BED EVER, a great kitchen and good shower, along with a comfy sofa and smart tv. After a couple of days exploring our beach, visiting our beloved Provincetown, and trying out some exceptional bakeries, we took the ferry to Nantucket. It poured rain all day, but we had a wonderful time bar-hopping. Two days later my shoes were still damp!

After a lazy stay-at-home day on Saturday, we headed into Boston on Sunday, intending to walk for hours in our favorite city. Unfortunately, there were too many people with the same idea, so we nixed the plan for safety concerns and instead picked up carryout from Sweet Cheeks Q, Tiffanie Faison’s wonderful barbeque restaurant. Yes, we were the people who drove three hours for takeout!

Enjoy a few pictures of interesting sights in our Cape journey so far. More to come!

 

Raleigh

 

We love New England, and spending time on Cape Cod was a priority, before it gets too cold. So we decided to look for our first long stay somewhere roughly along the route to the Cape. Raleigh was our choice, largely because one of Phil’s closest high school friends lives in Durham, and also because I’d spent time there for business and was interested in exploring it more. I would take a week off, my first vacation time this year, so we’d have ample time for adventure.

We began by exploring our immediate neighborhood, an area called Cameron Village. We had chosen this AirBnB because of its walkability, and we weren’t disappointed. We walked ten minutes to the grocery store daily, and I have to admit we’ve explored a number of neighborhood restaurants offering outdoor dining. Our tiny one-bedroom apartment is conveniently located but has a very small kitchen with only a dorm fridge, so storing much food was not an option–nor was having both of us in the kitchen at the same time.

Once my vacation time set in, we began exploring the area. First on our list was downtown Raleigh, which is small and easy to navigate. Our favorite “find” was historic Oakwood, a 19th century neighborhood with a variety of beautiful homes. We explored it initially by car and later on foot. Two things stood out: first, Oakwood is an overwhelmingly liberal neighborhood, with ubiquitous “Black Lives Matter,” “We Believe in Science,” “Hate Has No Home Here,” and political signs. It was a balm after living in a conservative red town during election season. The second interesting thing was that Oakwood residents take Halloween SERIOUSLY!!! Pictures cannot capture the festive and spooky spirit of the area. We  had so much fun, especially after we staved off the hangries by walking to local restaurant The Raleigh Times, where we shared the best Ruben sandwich of our lives (with collard kimchee instead of sauerkraut!) and Phil had a wonderful craft cocktail.

On Sunday we decided to explore the Black Farmers’ Market and the North Carolina State Public Farmers’ Market. Rain was pouring down during the first visit, but everyone seemed happy to be there and appreciative of customers who came out despite the weather. By the time we arrived at the second one, the rain was reduced to a drizzle. We couldn’t buy much (tiny fridge!), but we bought some wonderful espresso beans and a few veggies.  And we tried two North Carolina delicacies: boiled peanuts (YUCK!) and a peach hand pie called a Jack. Jacks are fried in lard. Yep, lard. 

We also had some delightful day trips. On one day we visited the Glencoe Mill HIstoric District (only drove around because it was raining), a lovely historic neighborhood in Burlington, the Duke University campus (I love college campuses), and walked the historic district of Hillsborough.

The North Carolina Museum of Art was exceptional, with an astonishing range of works. They were issuing free tickets on a schedule to avoid overcrowding, and we felt very safe social distancing in our masks.

We were surprised by the Ava Gardner Museum in Smithfield–much more interesting than we’d imagined. And we spent a couple of hours walking the historic district in Wilmington, which was lovely–but there were too many people not socially distancing, so we spent a lot of time dodging them.

But the best part of our Raleigh adventure has been reconnecting with old friends. We spent a wonderful afternoon with Phil’s highschool friend Lloyd and his wife Janet. Their outdoor entertainment area was beautiful, and they set up beverages and empanadas in separate areas so we all felt safe. At the end of our visit we picked up barbeque and spent another evening with them. We had another wonderful evening with friends Michael and Sara on their patio overlooking the lake. Michael is a wonderful cook and created a well-timed dinner of heavy appetizers–roasted dates with a soft cheese dip, mini-sandwiches, and summer rolls, followed by a spectacular apple crumble. We had not met Sara before, and it was one of those magical “instant friendship” experiences, We’re still talking about what a great evening that was.

And finally we spent an evening with my colleague Norm, his wife Marie, and their daughter Sophia. Norm is a unique blend of actuary and improv performer, and one of my favorite colleagues. We picked up dinner from their favorite vegan restaurant and feasted on great food and even greater conversation on their patio, overlooked by huge trees and stars.

So our first long stay has been a big success by all standards. Exploring a new area, reconnecting with great friends, and sampling wonderful food adds up to our kind of lifestyle. We are so far loving our Roaming experience!

 

Leaf-head Phil in Southborough

Look at this beautiful porch mural in Oakwood!

Liberal Oakwood neighborhood

This home’s Halloween decor was beyond anything we’d ever seen before!

Witches!

Skeleton dog wears a mask for safety!

Look closely. The zebra and the frog are fishing!

Norm’s backyard–“lovely, dark, and deep” woods