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We Have Lift Off!

Yes, it looks small but that is Dragon (Shot on iPhone)

The second time is the charm for the crew aboard SpaceX’s Dragon perched atop a Falcon 9 rocket as they rode their way into history. A lot has been made out of the launch this past weekend because the US is sending astronauts to space from American soil again. The real reason to be excited and use the terms groundbreaking is that those astronauts were put there by a private company. Yes, NASA helped by supplying support and Astronauts but SpaceX trained them to fly Dragon. The history of space travel was paved by massive government-funded efforts- Saturday the 30th of May,  2020 the final frontier was truly opened to the people. We don’t just go on about this event because we are space nuts -see Space Camp post. We talk about this moment because we were there. Amanda and I drove the cross-state to Cocoa Beach to watch the launch. Yes, we’re were a bit far from the launch pad to see the rocket sitting on the pad but we got to see that baby soar through the sky on its way into orbit. We stood on the rooftop deck of a bar and tuned in our radio to Cocoa Beach Public Radio (AM) and listened to the countdown and lift off and then looked to the sky. We were just as thrilled as when we sat minimum safe distance for the Wallops launch several years ago. I hope you are excited too because space is the ultimate travel experience.

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The First Trip to the Beach 2020

The beach’s in Clearwater, Florida opened last weekend and we like many of us had an urgent innate need to step out on the sand and dip our toes in the water. The sand was warm and as soft as we remembered. The breeze was pleasant.  The water was quite cold. We didn’t care. We do know that the beach was a little different. The area we go to is dotted with chairs and umbrellas that are rented and we could tell the density of those umbrellas was a little less.  We did also find fewer people on the beach. Yet, as the day went by the beach began to fill up without everyone obeying the social distancing rules. I have to say I love the social distancing rules probably because I grew up on going to a beach where we often had more than a hundred yards between people at the beach. We know that there are plans in place to mitigate the crowding at the beach but we aren’t exactly sure other than closing parking lots and closing the beach as a whole they can do to limit the problems of spreading the contagion. We’ve adopted a policy of go early and leave before the beach fills up. We are looking forward to making many more trips to the beach in the near future. We just hope that we can keep going and things don’t go bad and they decide to close the beaches altogether.

 

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Hunsader Farms & Fiorelli Winery

The spring weather put us in the mood to get out of the house a bit. We decided to take an impromptu road trip down the coast. The first stop was Hunsader Farms in Manatee County about an hour south of Tampa. The farm/campground/petting zoo/produce market has a massive field of sunflowers that are “pick your own.” You pay 2 dollars per person to enter the field and 1 dollar per flower cut. You pay cash so make sure you hit up an ATM before your visit.

 

We then made a spontaneous pit stop at the Fiorelli Winery. The small winery has a nice selection of blended wines aged, bottled, and grown onsite. The vineyard has had to institute a few policies such as only allowing one family at a time in the tasting room at a time.  The wine was good and we departed with a couple of bottles. We know that our two dollars and in the case of the winery our 50 dollars aren’t like a massive stimulus but we honestly believe that every little bit helps.

 

 

https://fiorelliwinery.com/

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Your Guide to Staying At Home

We were scrolling twitter the other day and came across this most clever take on the Covid-19 Quarantine life. The people behind the Frommers guide books, books we recommend as a solid choice for planning a trip to just about anywhere, pushed this parody of themselves to Twitter. You’ve got to feel for anyone in the travel industry right now given the idea is “STAY SAFE, STAY AT HOME”. We know it will pick up again, eventually.  You all stay safe.

I recommend clicking on the link below to get a good look at these great mock-ups of Frommer’s covers. If you love travel books you will get a kick of it it.

Courtesy Frommer’s Travel

Click Here For Frommer’s Self Parody

 

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Coffee Dates Continue

The “Stay at Home” recommendation that many of us are under has really changed the way we live our lives. We’ve moved our offices into our homes, walk around the block instead of going to the gym, and don’t “go shopping” as something to do. Yet, we don’t have to leave all our traditions behind, we just have to modify them a bit. If you’ve been following our blog for the last few years you may remember that Amanda and I have a twice-weekly coffee date. We’ve been meeting for coffee twice a week after work for almost 15 years. We love this time to just sit and talk without the distractions of home or anything else. We love this time together, its where she edited my book, where we discuss our plans for the future, its where a stream of consciousness discussion reminds us how we love the way each other’s minds work.

The sitting and down staring at each other across a table is a no go for the moment. But, it does mean we’ve stopped this lovely habit. We still go out for coffee. We hit the drive-through and then park in the coffee shops parking lot. We have a lovely view that overlooks a busy intersection and have our coffee much like before. We still look forward to this time each week because we know if we are in this together we are happy it’s with each other.

The coffee date continues even if it is in the jeep parked in a parking lot.

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Virtual Carnival Update

Why not take a virtual trip to the USVI?  You have something better to do this week?

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The Perfect Lunch Break

We were told when we moved in that the canal that runs along the border of our apartment complex occasionally has manatees swimming and feeding on the bottom grass. I was starting to doubt that considering the canal gets very low at low tide. I was pleasantly surprised to stumble across some on my lunchtime walk last week. The usually docile creatures were diving and surfacing and diving and surfacing, the most active I’ve ever seen a manatee. I was having trouble counting them but believe there could have been anywhere between 5 and 7. The only problem is that the ability to get a good picture of an aquatic creature with your phone while standing 100 feet away isn’t easy. The weather and wildlife are one of the key reason that we are enjoying the Florida life. The chance to just sit down for a moment and admire nature in the middle of the afternoon while the crazy world goes by is a saving grace in this very weird time.

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Home Wuk -The Virtual Carnival in the Caribbean

You knew in your island soul that social distancing couldn’t stop the Carnival Virgin Islands on St. Thomas. The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism’s Division of Festivals has launched the “Home Wuk” on line social gathering to create a sense of community and give islanders and us a virtual Carnival experience.  The carnival season is between April and May and is typically the social event of the year in the Caribbean island territories of the United States.
“We know everyone was looking forward to Carnival, but postponing it was the right thing to do to make sure we help stop the virus from spreading,” said Ian Turnbull, Director of the Division of Festivals. “With the ‘Home Wuk’ series, we can lift people’s spirits and bring the VI Carnival vibe to everyone in the safety of their homes,” he added.

Courtesy of U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism

The frists online party was held on the 28th of March and hosted on the tourism division’s Facebook page in collaboration with the carnival troupe Insomniacs J’ouvert.  The event lasted for two and a half hours as “The Caribbean’s Hottest DJ” DJ Avalanche served up energetic island music attracting more than 63,000 views and was shared more than 1,500 times.
One viewer stated: “Nice concept, I love the virtual jam!” while another commented: “We jamming from far, social distance.”
The online party was just an excuse to jam but to push out the public health message, “You gotta be careful on the street. Make sure you have your mask, make sure you wash your hands, make sure you stay safe.”
We won’t have to miss the Carnival celebrations completely this year as the Territory plans to reschedule the Carnival, St. John and other cultural events when the crisis has passed.
Home Wuk isn’t over yet either. You just need to check in on The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism’s Division of Festivals  Facebook page for the next event or follow them on twitter @usvifestivals.
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The Planet is Closed

The global pandemic of Covid-19 has closed the planet until further notice. The shops, restaurants, and countless businesses, and even entire countries are closed, 43 countries in fact.  We love to travel and we most definitely are not traveling anytime in the near future.  We are, however, doing the few things we can do-we are shopping small. We have made it a habit to order out a couple nights a week. We even drove 40 minutes, there and back again, to one of our favorite restaurants to support them in this new, and hopefully temporary, economy.  We encourage you to save that box of mac and cheese you’ve got in your pantry and order in. We are sure the delivery drivers, cooks, and restauranteurs will be thankful for the business.

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Welp… what next?

If you are like a lot of us you’ve suddenly found yourself with more time on your hands. I was about to start a one-week spring break from teaching high school when the state decided to extend it to two. I doubt you need me to explain why… coronavirus. We were told to prepare to teach online before we left so we teachers thought something might be up.  We haven’t been told if that’s what is expected in this “second week” of spring break but we’re prepared.  I gathered up everything that makes sense to help transition to online classrooms including a spare laptop to help keep personal separate from private.  I know this is just one of those situations that you need to just be able to roll with the punches.

The biggest drawback at the moment for me is the lack of sports on television. We’ve got no Baseball, no College Basketball, and No NHL. You can imagine that for hockey fans such as ourselves it has impacted our leisure time. We’ve both decided to make the most of these wholes in our schedules. I’m going to the gym more and Amanda is trying to relax, if just a little, more.

The simple message we have for our readers is, just relax, don’t panic, and practice good hygiene. We will weather this pandemic because we are a resilient species that can think its way out of trouble. I’ll try and come up with something more interesting to write about next week.

Hang in there.

Zeke