Which Famous Highlights to see in Seattle this Spring?

The best part about my stay in Seattle was the Airbnb I found located in the West Queen Anne section of the city. The 100 year old, beautifully renovated home on the hill overlooking Elliott Bay was the best place I have ever stayed in. We had 2 large bedrooms with amazing views, a kitchen, living area and large bathroom as well as all in the modern appliances including a washer and dryer.

The Airbnb in Seattle

Years ago I booked a stay in Palm Springs a long drive from all the action. I learned that time that choosing a location when you visit a new place is paramount to the enjoyability of your stay. This home was located on a quiet street and in a neighborhood where you could walk to amazing restaurants, a general store and even Kerry Park for the best view of Seattle.

My son and I arrived at the airport and once we gathered our luggage, walked outside the doors where our TURO car rental drove up and the driver handed us the keys. We plugged in the address of our Airbnb and off we went. TURO car rentals are like Airbnbs in that you are renting someone else’s car at a predetermined rate. I have found the cars to be in great condition, less expensive than rental car companies and convenient. Geico insurance covered TURO rentals in Washington state, but some insurance companies do not cover TURO so check before you book.

After spending a week in Alaska, we had plenty of laundry so got started on that right away once we checked into the house. We had the entire lower floor of the home and never saw the owners. They texted to be sure we were OK and if we needed any suggestions on things to do in the area but we assured them we were fine.

The first night, we drove the one mile over to Queen Anne Avenue North and decided to dine at “How to Cook a Wolf” restaurant which was recommended by the homeowners. It was restaurant week and we HAD to have the three course meal which was pretty expensive and the chocolate dessert I ordered wasn’t available. Still, the character of the restaurant was nice and we ate outside which was fun.

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Settling into the Florida house at Christmas

Settling into a new home in Florida has challenges and can be a lot of fun, once the furniture arrives. Christmas in Florida is different too!

It’s been a bit of a challenge to decorate my new Florida house for Christmas when it reaches 85 degrees outside some days. So, I turned down the air-conditioner, put the fireplace channel on the TV and told Alexa to play holiday music and opened the green Rubbermaid bins.

Well, the poor 17-year-old tree we dragged from New York to our new home, I’m sorry to say, didn’t quite make it. The tree trunk wasn’t fitting into the base and Pete’s sledgehammer work caused its demise. Pete was pleased as punch and hoped that was the end of the Christmas tree decorating as we know it, but conveniently Costco still had a few trees for sale! This new tree is super easy to assemble and has multiple options for the pre-attached lights: colored, white, blinking, slow going on and off. Whatever brings you joy this season right?

Speaking of joy, I went back to my first couple of years after Mike died and read the Christmas blog posts. As a new widow, I was overwhelmed by the idea of Christmas and seeing all the wonderful memories represented by the assorted ornaments we had gathered over the years. By the third year, I was ready to decorate again but only used white ornaments and lights. It looked pretty but I still kept all the sad feelings at bay. In contrast this year, all the ornaments came out. I played “Let it Go” and bagged up a bunch of decorations that I was ready to part with. A few trips to Goodwill pared down some of the excess. This year our tree is colorful and full of joy and happy memories. Some days I even use the colored lights instead of the classic white lights, because it just feels good.

I won’t see my kids for the actual holiday days this year. They live far away and I will miss them, but I was lucky to be able to fly to New York City last weekend and spend two fabulous days with both boys. I took them to the Central Park Zoo and we walked around the tree at Rockefeller Center and ate all the best New York foods. It was just the three of us and I’m still smiling over the precious time we shared.

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Working with the Florida beach horses

I roll over and see the light starting to sneak through the blinds. I’m about to turn over when I remember: I have work today.

Whoopee!

I smile as I get up and grab my phone and glasses. The coffee pot is ready, so I push the button and check the weather for today. Sunny and hot in Florida. No thunderstorms until late in the afternoon. Great. The coffee pot dings and I can sip hot, caffeine into my veins.

I gather some lunch snacks and refill two water bottles. I dress in my black tank swimsuit, black biking shorts and a pink tank top. I’ll ask them for a company tank top today.

I pack a change of clothes and two towels. One for ‘work’ and one for after if I decide to swim at the beach, 5 miles further down the causeway.

Pete makes me a delicious protein-rich breakfast and I take Harry out for his morning walk. I kiss all goodbye and put on my pink baseball cap. I’m heading out to work.

Florida Beach Horses was looking for guides after many of their workers went back to college after the summer. They invited me in to train. I did two rides with the supervision of an experienced guide and was asked to come back. I guess I passed the interview process!

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What do you do in the First Year of Retirement?

“Anything I want”

Haha. That’s the smartass answer, but what do you really do in retirement?

For someone like me who worked steadily out of the home 40 hours per week, all this time at home is a significant change. Back when I had a busy family and house to run, I felt like I was never home. In retirement, you spend more time around the house. This is only my first year, so I am not an expert on anything. This is just what I’ve done so far.

It has been a peculiar time for everyone. We had the pandemic that never left. That caused many activities to cut back, especially international travel, which I have enjoyed over the past few years, and I hope to continue soon. I managed a few getaways this past year, but like most people, I haven’t left the country.

I moved. That was a full-time job. Going through all that stuff. Selling big items. Giving things away. I thought I really purged until I moved to Florida. Now, unpacking and settling into a new home is a full-time job. We both brought too much stuff, and we need to set up our home with new furniture. It takes a little while, and it is coming together nicely. Not sure when the dining table will arrive, but we saved a folding table and chairs for now.

With time on my hands in a new town, I have been actively seeking ways to keep busy.

I must admit, I enjoy sleeping in these days. Pete and I got up early for work for years, so the luxury of getting up when you feel like it has been nice. After my second cup of coffee and breakfast, I take Harry for his morning walk around the pond behind our house. We pass a dog park, so we will stop for a quick visit if someone is there. Harry smells his new friend, then basically ignores the other dog. I am starting to see repeat dog owners and I try to remember the names.

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9 Happy Surprises in Moving to Florida!

9 Happy Surprises in Moving to Florida

One month, and it’s beginning to feel like home. We definitely kept too much stuff from both our homes in New York and still need to purge, but I have faith it will happen. We unpacked most of the 106 cardboard boxes, and found interested parties on the internet to take the empty boxes, thus keeping them from landfills. Signing up for the Next Door app has been helpful. People recommend nail salons, pet sitters, appliance repair services and post photos of random creatures like bugs and bobcats.

We knew it would be hot in Florida in August, but I have some positive revelations from our first month here as well:

1. It’s hot everywhere in August

I had braced myself for the heat. Flip flops, scrunchies for the hair, shorts and a bikini for the pool on my Lanai. Then I heard from folks back home in New York and in Minnesota and in Arizona. The USA seems to be overheating this summer and it’s not only in Florida. The humidity is high, but people here are prepared for it. The stores are all airconditioned. The homes have A/C and private pools. People use the pools more than the beach in the summer, and stay indoors during the hottest time of the day.

2. People wear masks in Florida

Even though the governor has argued that schools can’t mandate students wear masks, people are wearing them in lots of places, more so than they were in New York last month. I was surprised to see more than half the people in Walmart and Publix wearing masks. The COVID positive rates are high in Florida and hospitals are filled with unvaccinated people on ventilators and dying. Many of the schools have defied the governor and are enforcing mask rules to protect the kids and teachers anyway. It is good to see people using caution and common sense in public, even if they don’t have to.

3. Costco sells wine

I am a big fan of Costco. The warehouse store makes me happy and I have bought everything from tires and bunk beds, to steak and pistachios. In the middle of the store, a short drive from my house, is a sommelier and a humungous selection of wines of all types and prices. They even have a Kirkland brand which tastes pretty good. I’m hopeful they will start giving out free samples; maybe a wine pairing next to the morsels of Pierogis and Brie cheese.

4. People are helpful at DMV

Picture on my license plate

Seriously, this was definitely a pleasant surprise. They don’t call it DMV, you go to the “Tax Collector” here. Due to COVID, you make reservations online. I was able to reserve a time for the next day. You fill out some paperwork, and if you don’t, they give you some to fill in when you check in. I replaced my driver’s license in about 30 minutes and had a brand new colorful one with a much better picture; they let you smile here. Then, I registered my car. Behind the agent, is a shelf of beautiful plates you can choose from if you don’t want the one with a plain orange. Mine supports the coral reef and is oh so pretty.

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Ang Thong National Park, Thailand

Unforgettable Day trip to Ang Thong National park in Thailand

Due to limited travel plans, I am revisiting my blog of runaway widow travel posts this month highlighting some of my favorite photos and places I was fortunate to see. Thailand…

Ang Thong National Park, Thailand
LINK: https://runawaywidow.blog/2016/08/24/ko-samui-ang-thong-national-park/

My New York Beach Wedding

After loss it is possible to find love again. Marriage after age 50. Dream wedding on the beach on Long Island New York.

As a 55 year old widow I never thought I was going to have so much fun getting married again. Today I celebrate my ONE YEAR anniversary! It has sure thrown us lots to deal with: retirement for one of us, a global pandemic, a home sale, the death of my mom,  a kitchen and bath renovation and both my kids coming home to live with us for a while during it all. Moving forward every day has been my motto.

We survived half of 2020 and keep smiling that we have each other. It’s never too late for another amazing adventure in life!

So let’s go back to the beginning…

The Proposal

It all started with a proposal back at Thanksgiving 2018 We went out to dinner and he surprised me with a beautiful diamond and sapphire ring. The two sapphires stand for our September birthdays which both fall on the same date!

Unlike most brides to be, once engaged I immediately booked our honeymoon. In fact since I wanted to go to Greece I thought maybe we’d just get married there.

That turned out to be expensive and in several ways too difficult to get an official marriage license.

And then his great niece volunteered to be a flower girl so we adjusted our course.

Having both been previously married I wanted to do a lot of things differently.

For starters, we would not be getting married in a church.

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Quarantine Activity: Time for Family Movies

7 weeks sheltering at home due to coronavirus journal. Watching old family movies, sharing meals and taking the pause.

I  can not believe we have been sheltering in place due to the Coronavirus for 7 weeks now, but it is true.  Schools in New York have been closed 7 weeks and we have adjusted to learning on line, teaching on line, working from home, shopping only for food and necessities while wearing masks, keeping a social distance, watching the news and waiting. Waiting for the numbers of new cases to go down. Waiting for the numbers of deaths to go down. Waiting for the vaccine.

As we tire from watching our local and federal politicians, we have grown to respect recommendations from health advisors about how to start up the economy again.  Some states in the south or in sparsely populated northern states are planning to reopen businesses soon.  New rules about low numbers of patrons in restaurants or stores is suggested. Hair and nail salons may open soon. New York still has high numbers so while a plan is being made, it will not be ready to go for some time.

I believe most states have now cancelled school for the remainder of this year but we have not heard about the fate of New York schools yet.  It seems likely the distance learning model will remain in place for some time.

Life at home seems to have taken on a rhythm this week.  We still have 5 adults and 2 dogs living here.  We are enjoying our nightly dinners at the dining table and then play a game after the meal together which I really appreciate.  The rest of the day we all pass each other and head in and out of the kitchen making breakfast and lunch in accordance with our wake up time that day.

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Surprising Lioness and cubs on Safari in South Africa

SOUTH Africa lions and giraffes on safari – widow travel with friends

“Now I know that we must always build space around real grief. We need to allow the pain to carve within us a deep knowing of what it means to live, to shape us as innocence never can.” This quote is from Boyd Varty in his book Cathedral of the Wild: his autobiography about growing up on the Londolozi game reserve has resonated with me on this trip to Africa.

My blog name Runawaywidow may initially have been an jab at running from the reality of the tragic loss of my husband. By year two I began to understand, that while it was wrong and so unfair, it really did happen and I couldn’t deny it any longer.

Traveling and journal/ blogging has been part of my healing therapy for the past 4 years. Tuesday, August 28th I will once again acknowledge the date that he died. And once again, I will be in a remote part of the world busy traveling. Once again I will make a donation to a worthy cause in his honor and I will probably have a little chat with him as I still often do.

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Should you visit Johannesburg? YES!

3 days in Johannesburg before a week long safari. Much to see: Apartheid museum, cradle of humankind, hot air balloon ride and more

Watching the sunrise over the foothills of the valley in South Africa in a hot air balloon should have always been on my bucket list. Who knew what an amazing and awe inspiring experience that would be. All I could do was look around at the land and the sky and my good friends and count my blessings in life.

It all began last year when my book club went to the dinner portion of an golf outing fund raiser and I ended up “winning” the African Safari auction. One of the women in the club and I thought it sounded like a great adventure and the next week 2 other women in our book club, that has been together for 21 years, joined us. We spent the past year making plans to extend the safari week to include a few days in both Johannesburg and Capetown.

The Flight

As you can imagine the flight is expensive. And we booked 2 additional flights within Africa to insure that we made the most of our stay. To keep costs reasonable we opted to fly coach. Ouch.

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