hawaii, part two

Packing in all of the fun

Our time in Hawaii continued to deliver. We settled in to a relaxed routine, with me rising early (for 4 or 5 am calls!) and Phil sleeping in. While I worked at the desk in the living room, he painted at the dining table. I’ve been asked whether we tire of each other’s constant company, and I think the reasons we don’t are (a) we really love being together and (b) we are like toddlers in parallel play–we can be in the same room but engaged in completely separate activities. We often went for walks or drives after I finished work, to catch up on each other’s day and see the sights. Did I mention that Hawaii is beautiful?

These cattle egrets were ubiquitous–on beaches, in towns, and especially perched atop cattle!

Wild chickens abound in Hawaii. We almost stumbled over this mama and her chicks!

And no, we didn’t spend all of our time on Oahu! On consecutive weekends we visited the Big Island (Hawaii) and Kauai. We had to get negative COVID tests before entering Hawaii, and again before visiting each island. Fortunately, Walgreen’s had good availability, and we got our results on time. On the Big Island we used Marriott points to stay at a Courtyard, securing a lovely ocean-view suite via upgrade certificate. But before checking in we headed out for brunch at Island Lava Java Bistro, where our outdoor table afforded a splendid view of the ocean. 

Phil skipped the Java for the adult beverage!

We saw the Big Island the next day via a commercial tour. Along with two other parties (all of us masked, of course!), we boarded a van and proceeded on a Circle Island tour, with stops at a coffee farm, active volcano, waterfall, candy factory, parks, and much more.

A rainbow of flavors from a Big Island shaved ice shop

We were astonished at the microclimates–sunny and hot on the south shore, pouring rain on the north. It made for a long day, but when we boarded our flight that evening we felt we’d truly experienced the island.

The Roamers on the Big Island

We loved the Big Island trip, but our favorite place was Kauai, known as the Garden Island for a reason! Kauai is GORGEOUS! It has everything–mountains, ocean, gardens, beautiful resorts, hidden beaches, and great food. We landed, picked up our Turo rental (the ONLY vehicle available on the island, a Ford F1 pickup!), and after a quick breakfast headed out on our audio-guided tour. For a tiny fraction of what we paid for our Big Island tour, we got four GPS-enabled audio tours that included turn-by-turn directions. We could set our own pace, linger where we wanted to, and explore places a large van would never be able to access.

Beautiful Kauai

After a wonderful day touring the island, we checked in to the Kaloa Landing Resort. WOW! I had booked on points and used an upgrade certificate, but we were blown away by our two-bedroom villa overlooking the ocean. I’ve traveled for business for many years and have stayed in a lot of gorgeous properties, but this might be the best of them all! We enjoyed a lovely evening, slept like babies, and the next morning after a quick breakfast were out exploring. 

Welcome gifts at our villa!

We grabbed coffee at a local truck (stood in line for 30 minutes!), then headed to the beach. There we spied what appeared to be a dead seal–but then it started wiggling, rolling around in the sand. It completely ignored the few people gathered to watch, burying its head in the sand and going back to sleep.

Our new seal friend

With our audio guide in hand, we proceeded to explore Waimea Canyon, aka the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” It was breathtaking, in more ways than one–I was terrified at the sharp drops just inches from our truck’s tires! We stopped halfway up at a lodge for a much-needed break (yes, there was a calming adult beverage for me).

The Grand Canyon of the Pacific

Just before heading to the airport we had the best meal of our entire Hawaii adventure. The Hukilau Lanai offers a 5pm Sunday tasting menu, including wine pairings, for $50, and I had made reservations weeks in advance. This made our top 20 list of the best meals of our lives! 

Corn risotto cake topped with a perfectly cooked Fresh Catch at Hukilau Lanai

The day after our return from Kauai, our dear friend Patricia arrived. Visiting Hawaii has been a dream of hers, and she would be spending a week there, split between her son and family, who were visiting Maui, and us. We had a glorious time enjoying adult beverages in beachside bars, sunning and beaching in Waikiki, and exploring the island together.

Patricia enjoying a local specialty, loco moco. And, yes, a mojito. For breakfast.

 We were on the fence about attending a luau, and Patricia decided to skip it. My FOMO eventually won out, and Phil and I thoroughly enjoyed the Paradise Cove Luau. We learned about the culture while enjoying dinner and entertainment in a gorgeous setting. 

Official Luau shot

By far the most astonishing thing we saw was the Banzai Pipeline. One of the most dangerous surfing spots on earth, the waves average 9 feet but can be as high as 20 feet! Standing at a safe distance on the beach, we were mesmerized by the force of these walls of water–and shocked that surfers can actually navigate them!

Patricia at the Banzai Pipeline

On Patricia’s last day we visited Pearl Harbor. I can’t find the words to describe the experience. I especially appreciated all the people who were there during the attack and its aftermath, sharing their memories via video.

Approaching the Arizona memorial, everyone on the boat was respectfully silent.

Our final week flew by. Patricia departed, and the next day was devoted to organizing and packing. We bid a fond farewell to our host Kai, who promised to visit us when we move to France, and boarded the flight to the mainland. We loved Hawaii and will never forget this time, but now we’re ready for our next adventure, in northern California’s Sonoma Valley!

Last glimpse of Oahu

aloha!

The Shroyers have invaded Oahu

I have to confess, we’ve been so busy having fun that I’m a bit late posting a Hawaii update. This place is magical! 

One of the gorgeous scenes from our first island drive

It felt a bit strange boarding a flight–after flying several times a week for many years, I hadn’t set foot on a plane in 13 months–but we felt very comfortable, especially since Delta was still blocking middle seats. The flight from LAX was about six hours, and we arrived eager to explore this new wonderland. We picked up our Turo car (saved at least $500 over the rental agencies’ offerings) and headed straight for Waikiki Beach.

Cocktails at Waikiki

After sipping our first Hawaiian mai tai (Phil) and pina colada (me), we tore ourselves away from Waikiki to discover our home for the next month. On a dead-end street across from a stream, our third-floor apartment offers a view of the mountains, the sounds of birds and roosters, and a lovely breeze that enables us to keep the windows open all the time. With three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a wonderful kitchen, it’s our favorite temporary home so far! We book at least a month in each Airbnb to get a significant long-term stay discount, so while this was a bit of a splurge we’ve stayed within our budget for the first six months of Roaming.


Malasada, the Portugese donut

The unexpected and delightful bonus of this home is our neighbor, Kai, who owns the building and lives below us. On our first full day here I ran into him and invited him up for cocktails–and he arrived with a bottle of homemade limoncello! Kai has been the most wonderful host, friend, and advisor. For example: he has gifted us with warm malasadas from his favorite bakery, homemade chocolate banana bread warm from his oven, and a slice of mixed berry pie from his favorite pie shop; he’s joined us for several dinners, including carryout from his favorite Chinese and traditional Hawaiian restaurants; at his recommendation we have visited a breathtaking botanical garden, a tropical tree farm that sells its fruit (including our new favorite, mangosteen, and also durian, which we didn’t buy; so, so stinky!), and a beautiful waterfall. Roaming sometimes doesn’t allow for much of a social life, and Kai’s friendship and generosity have been a highlight of our time here.

Plumeria at Koko Crater Botanical Garden, one of Kai’s recommendations

While working from Hawaii means that I have frequent 4am or 5am video calls (UGH!), it also means that my work day ends early, providing the opportunity for afternoon outings. We have taken advantage of those to visit farmers’ markets, enjoy beaches, and take drives around this beautiful island.

Phil enjoying our first beach picnic

The beaches are spectacular and photos don’t do them justice. I’m fascinated by the color of the ocean, ranging from bright green to turquoise, to blue, to purple. And the flowers! And the trees! And the mountains! This is called paradise for a reason.

These leaves look like they’ve had paint splashed on them.

We’ve also enjoyed long walks–on the beach, in downtown Honolulu, in parks and botanical gardens, in Chinatown–always marveling at the sights and sounds (and the people). Sometimes the things we see crack us up, like the faux police car that pulled up beside us.

This caused a double-take!

Can you believe this tree?!

There is so much more to share–weekend trips to the Big Island and to Kauai, more beaches with HUGE waves, a visit from dear friend Patricia, and amazing water athletics (none of which were performed by us). I’ll get to that, but now it’s time for a quick stroll before cocktail hour!

 

 

Time to say goodbye

You know it’s been good when it’s hard to leave.

Our time in Sunny California is coming to an end, and we are SAD! This has been a wonderful month, filled with family, friends, gorgeous scenery, great food and wine, and beautiful weather. We leave tomorrow, and while no one will feel sorry for us (after all, we’re heading to Hawaii next!), we’re a bit sad and nostalgic. We’ll be taking the sense memory of this magical place with us, along with even deeper connections to people we love. We’ve spent time in San Diego in the past and thought we knew the area, but our time here in North County has expanded our appreciation of just how special this place is.

At the San Diego Botanical Garden we met this beautiful topiary woman.

We’ve spent lots of time with our cousins–wineries, picnics, dinners–Karyl even took me to get my first pedicure in 13 months! We had a lovely Ocean Beach lunch with “friend who is family” Travis and met his three-year-old son Forest for the first time. We met dear friends Gracelyn and Ralph for a 56 degree outdoor dinner at Dana Point (brr!), and spent the next morning with them on a long walk and lovely (warm) outdoor lunch.

Visiting wineries with Karyl and Matt!

We’ve spent quite a bit of time just driving around, soaking up the beauty, and walking in some gorgeous parks and gardens. We even took a hike one day, something we’ve been meaning to do more of! Everywhere we go, there is something beautiful to look at.

Topiary dancer. Isn’t she beautiful?

A special highlight of our time here was when Beth and Wade visited. They spent six days with us, but it seemed like six hours. Beth and I have been besties for 50 years and hadn’t been together in a year and a half, so we had lots of catching up to do. And–bonus!–we got to celebrate our birthdays, which are four days apart, together, along with Beth’s friend Susan, whose birthday is between ours. On St. Patrick’s Day. along with Karyl and Matt, we celebrated with green beer (green wine for non-beer-drinking me) at local landmark Prohibition Brewery, followed by a surprise birthday cake at our Airbnb. We’re all vaccinated, but for extra safety we “blew” out our candles by fanning them with our plates.

Birthday Birthday Birthday!

One challenge of the Roaming lifestyle that I haven’t yet mastered is using up all the food. Despite some actual planning (I don’t normally plan meals at all), we always end up with uneaten food. For our last dinner at our Airbnb I did my best, making mashed sweet potatoes topped with frizzled lunchmeat turkey, plain yogurt, cheese, and toasted pecans–accompanied by roasted cauliflower with leftover homemade tomato sauce, and a side of roasted beets. I had leftover homemade shortcakes and whipping cream, but only three strawberries, so I added some supremed orange segments for strawberry-orange shortcake. Surprise! Everything was yummy. Alas, we still ended up with lots of cheese, brussels sprouts, and oranges that we couldn’t use.

It may not be pretty, but it tasted pretty great!

On our last day here, at our Airbnb host’s recommendation, we visited the Grand Tradition Estate and Gardens, one of the most beautiful venues we’ve ever seen. We had a wonderful brunch, followed by a stroll on the grounds. Boasting a large pond, two waterfalls, and breathtaking flowers, this place proved to be a highlight of our time here, and a wonderful place to spend part of our last day.

Just one of the waterfalls at Grand Tradition

The Veranda restaurant on the grounds was a treat, with exceptional service, delicious food, and reasonable prices. I had the Wellington Benedict (unusual, delicous, and rich!), Phil had a great omelet, and we shared a lemon berry mascarpone cake that was outstanding. If we were getting married, that would be our wedding cake.

Antici………….pation!

Second waterfall!

We are spending the rest of our last day doing laundry, pre-packing organizing, and cleaning. This afternoon we’ll virtually attend the wedding of Kristin, daughter of our dear friends Cara and Steve, followed by a last dinner with the cousins. Tomorrow morning, after a birthday video call with our kids, we’ll head out to the LAX area, where we’ll have dinner with Kuzin Dafid, and Monday morning we’ll be off to Hawaii for our next adventure. We will leave California with hearts full of gratitude for wonderful family and friends, good health that allows us to travel, and beautiful places to go, but we’ll also leave a bit of our hearts here.

 

 

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!