Tag Archives: Seaside Florida

2013 in the Rear View Mirror

2013 – A year of travels and self discovery

The end of the year always brings reflection, a habit I developed when running our business. For us, 2013 was the first full year of retirement, traveling and self discovery. With our year-end travels, we were not able to send out Christmas cards this year, so hopefully this will suffice in lieu of cards for friends that follow our blog. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or Happy whatever-holiday-tradition-you-follow!

Early 2013

After spending last Christmas 2012 with our boys (Cameron and Ryan), we started out 2013 by moving Cameron from Maine to Colorado. After a semester at the University of Maine, Cameron missed Colorado and wanted to spend his college years at CSU in Fort Collins, Colorado. That suited us, as Ryan was already enrolled there.

Ryan, Cameron and I flew to Maine, cleared out his dorm and made the 3 day trek from Maine to Colorado. We were packed into his Ford Mustang like sardines, sharing the backseat with half of his belongings.  Not the most comfortable ride across country, but we spent a lot of quality time talking, joking and just having fun. We rotated driving duties, so we only had to drive about 2 hours at a time — a cool way to travel. Lynn met us in Colorado and we moved Cameron into his new apartment and he enrolled in college.

After returning to Florida, I spent my time fishing and golfing on warm dry days. Fishing in the bay was great, a friend (Tom Helderlie) and I caught lots of red fish. We had plenty of cold days that brought on the first bout of boredom since I retired so I decided to start working on a new software project, discussed in my March 2013 blog.

Spring 2013

In February, Lynn and I talked about traveling again. We had an epiphany — what if we rented our condo to fund more travel. Getting the condo ready for the rental season was a bit of a chore, but by early March, it was fully rented for Spring break. So we hit the road again by visiting our boys in Colorado, then on to California. In California, we spent several days in Napa Valley, learning more about wines than ever before.

Red wines fermenting

Red wines fermenting

Then we were off to Sequoia National Park, the home of some the biggest redwoods in the  world. I was literally in awe of the size of these trees.

Huge redwoods

Huge redwoods

Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park

Lynn and I had seen lots of Ansel Adams photography but had never visited one his most photographed subjects — Yosemite National Park. We took the chance to take some of our photos that could never rival his.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Before we left for California, a friend (Craig Bromley) mentioned that we had to visit Big Sur and the Sonoma coast. We tasted wine in Sonoma, visited Big Sur, the Hearst Castle, and spent a few days in San Francisco — what a cool town.

Point Reyes National Park

Point Reyes National Park

Iconic Golden Gate Bridge

Iconic Golden Gate Bridge

We ended our trip by taking in a Criss Angel show in Las Vegas.  That was my first trip Las Vegas, so we also took that time to visit the Hoover Dam.

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam

Las Vegas

Las Vegas

After traveling for a little over a month, we returned to Florida. April and May in Florida is very nice. Warm days, cool waters, and almost no crowds. On nice days, I fished and golfed as much as I could.

Canoe

Right outside our door in Florida

On cool or rainy days, I continued to work on my new software project (aMemoryJog). I wanted to have a solid business plan and software prototype before summer and I was able to accomplish that.

Summer 2013

By the start of Summer, our condo was fully rented for the season so we jetted off on our next adventure. We decided to spend some time with our boys in Colorado, then visit the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. We saw more mountains, wildlife, lakes, streams, geysers, hot springs and mudpots than you can imagine (I almost said “than you can shake a stick at” but I visualized Lynn rolling her eyes as she read it).

Hot Springs

Hot Springs

Old Barn on Morman Row

Old Barn on Morman Row

Jenny Lake

Jenny Lake

We then made our way to Oregon — starting in central Oregon and stopping to see Crater Lake — simply spectacular. Then we headed to the coast (Cannon Beach) — we had spent a weekend here when our boys were really young, but this time we spent a week really exploring this area.

Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake, Oregon

Haystack Rock -- Taken in 2013

Haystack Rock  – Cannon Beach

Oregon Coast - My favorite picture

Oregon Coast

Our journey then took us to Washington.  We started in Seabrook, Washington, a town fashioned after the movie “The Truman Show”. It is an idyllic town, reminding me of Seaside, Florida.

Seabrook, Washington

Seabrook, Washington

Seabrook, Washington

Seabrook, Washington

Lynn and I briefly lived in Seattle Washington when our kids were young but never spent a full summer there. Most of you know that Seattle is miserable during the winter, autumn and spring — it rains constantly. The summer, however, is another story. So we visited the Olympic National Park then headed for Seattle for a couple of weeks. It was spectacular. We discovered a new found appreciation for Seattle’s beauty.

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

Kestner Homestead Trail

Kestner Homestead Trail

Kestner Homestead Trail

Kestner Homestead Trail

Space Needle

Space Needle

Seatle

Seattle

Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier

We then journeyed to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.  There we explored the city and saw Butchart Gardens — probably the most beautiful gardens we had seen. Victoria is a cool town with lots of history. We learned more about Canada than we ever did in school.

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Leaving Victoria, we headed for a 3 week trip to Vancouver, British Columbia and Whistler. Vancouver is a really cool town, probably one of the coolest towns I’ve ever visited. It is trendy, has lots of great restaurants, is a waterfront community, and has tons of biking and hiking trails. The city looks similar to Hong Kong, with high rise apartments and condos on each block. Stanley Park is an incredible park — reminds me of Central Park in New York.

Vancouver Canada

Vancouver BC Canada

Whistler Canada

Whistler BC Canada

It was also here that I started experimenting with meditation. It really helps calm the mind, I highly recommend it if you have not tried it. I also accomplished a challenging hike called “The Grind“.  It is a 2,800 foot mountain climb that is nicknamed “Nature’s StairMaster“.  I summited in just over 1.5 hours and found a new confidence by completing it.  After finishing this hike, I pledged to train for a 50-mile bike ride upon our return to Florida.

Warning: Not for Wimps!

Warning: Not for Wimps!

The final leg of our Summer trip took us to Alaska. We spent 2 weeks cruising Alaska and visiting Mount McKinley. We visited Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, and then onto a land tour in Denali National Park. During this time, we visited breweries, took a helicopter ride up to mountain glacier, rode a dog sled across a glacier, and visited the iconic Glacier Bay — watching glaciers as they crashed into the sea.

Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay

Landscapes

Alaska Landscapes

Fall 2013

Returning from over 3 months of Summer travel, we made our way back to Florida.  This was mid-August and the weather was hot and humid.  There were still crowds during some weeks and some weeks were quiet.  It was a great time to catch up with our Florida friends, share dinners and play golf.

Rosemary Beach, Florida

Rosemary Beach, Florida

At the same time, I decided to begin working on my next challenge — training for a half century bike ride (50 miles).   After 6 weeks of training, I accomplished my goal and lost 1o pounds during the process. I also became passionate about bike riding and am still riding each week.

IMG_0724

Training for a Half Century

October and November were more mild with some really beautiful days. We spent weekends watching Bama kick butt in the SEC (until Auburn humbled us) and with the usual ups and downs of watching Dallas Cowboys football. Our boys came to Florida for Fall break and we spent Thanksgiving with the Miller family. My brother and his wife graciously had the entire family over for an incredible meal. Thanks Chris and Danielle!

Also during this time, I committed myself to finishing the first phase of my new software project and before we left for our next set of travels, I had accomplished that goal and blogged about it in early December.

End of 2013

We are spending December and January in Colorado with our boys. In fact, we rented a place in Fort Collins so that we can spend more time there in 2014. It is surprising how much we missed Colorado since we moved almost 2 years ago. Upon returning, we’ve been eating in our favorite restaurants, biking the Fort Collins trails and learning our way around the city. We plan to get some ski days in during January.

Our journey to Colorado started rough. We decided to leave a day early because there was a huge snow storm coming to Arkansas and Oklahoma.  On our first day, our car broke down in Birmingham, so we spent 2 days waiting for parts and getting it fixed. On the third day we made our way to Arkansas where it started sleeting. The next day was spent trudging through the snow storm, slowly making our way through Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas. White knuckle driving for a day, but we made it through the storm the next day and it was smooth sailing after that.

As I sit writing this blog, it is December 22.  The snow is falling outside, it is cold, and the boys, Lynn and I will be having dinner together tonight followed by playing board games.  What a wonderful life.

The Truman Show: Seaside, FL or Seabrook, WA?

Idyllic Town Fit for The Truman Show

When planning our trip to the Northwest US, we used the Internet to find this quaint coastal town called Seabrook.   From the pictures, it looked like a hip, upscale town, and it felt oddly familiar.  Many of my readers know we live in Florida but may not know exactly where.  We live on scenic 30-a, a beautiful coastal highway that runs along the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico, in a town called Seacrest.  Seacrest is nestled right between the trendy towns of Rosemary Beach and Alys Beach.

Only a few miles down 30-a is a town called Seaside, Florida.  This is where they filmed the 1998 movie “The Truman Show” (starring Jim Carrey).  In the movie, they called the town Seahaven, but most of the iconic houses, interior roads and shops were shot in Seaside. I think they chose Seaside as the location for this film because of the small beach homes with tin roofs and white picket fences.  Here are some pictures of Seaside (not all of these pictures are my originals).

If you wish to see a slide show, click here: http://www.webetripping.com/Gallery_USA_WA_Seabrook.asp

When we arrived in Seabrook, we talked to several of the locals and they all talked about how Seabrook was modeled after The Truman Show and Seaside, Florida.  We then knew why this felt so oddly familiar.  Since we stayed here a week, we formed our own opinions about how similar yet different the two communities are.

First, the houses in Seabrook are little more in the “New England Nantucket style”, with gray shingles and standard roofs.  We certainly have houses on 30-a in this style (think Watersound).  I think I actually prefer the look of these Seabrook homes over Seaside:

Score one for Seabrook.  

Seaside has lots of little shops and plenty of eateries.  If you haven’t been to Great Southern for the best cheese grits around, you’re missing out!  Seabrook has one eatery (Mill 109).  It has good food but it is small and limiting.  Seaside has lots of food choices.

Score one for Seaside.

Seabrook has some cool hiking trails that lead you around the community and it is set in a beautiful mountain setting.  Huge alpine trees and wonderful vistas.

Score one for Seabrook.  

We brought our bikes and found that Seabrook is not very bike friendly.  You can ride around the community, but you get about 10 minutes of biking time and you run out of places to go.  As anyone that has visited Seaside and anywhere on 30-a knows, we have over 28 miles of paved bike trails on 30-a.  And most of the way, it has beach views.  Simply awesome!

I took this picture from scenic 30-a while biking

I took this picture from scenic 30-a while biking

Score one for Seaside.

Seabrook is flanked by a small fishing town, Pacific Beach. This town is really small, has no movie theater, and has no endearing restaurants.  If you want to drive about 25 minutes, you can drive to Ocean Shores.  Ocean Shores does have a small theater that offers 3 different movie titles.  It offers a few touristy things to do (a casino, go carts, golf, and bowling).

But when contrasted with Seaside, it pales in comparison. In Seaside, you can take a quick trip to Pier Park with tons of restaurants, bars, fishing piers, shopping, and a proper movie theater.  Or you can jump in the car and visit Destin, who has a Bass Pro Shop, lots of restaurants, water parks, golf, mini golf and more than you can imagine to do.

Score one for Seaside.

The biggest difference between the two communities is the beach.  Seaside wins hands down.  In Seabrook, the beach has dark, mud-like sand while Seaside offers white, powdery, sugar-like sands.   In Seaside, you will see tons of people on the beach, building sand castles, swimming, surfing, snorkeling, and lounging under umbrellas.   In Seabrook, you may encounter 10 people on the beach, some flying kites and a few kids making mud pies.   With Seaside summer temperatures in the upper 80’s and low 90’s as compared to Seabrook’s mid 60’s, you can understand why.

Seaside, Florida

Seaside, Florida

Seaside, Florida

Seaside, Florida

Score one for Seaside.

The final contrast I’ll draw is the people.  People are friendly in both locations but you won’t hear that infamous southern drawl in Washington. For me, that is a good thing, I get tired of hearing my own southern drawl.   Now you know why these blogs are written and not in video form.  🙂

Score one for Seabrook.

Seabrook, Washington

Seabrook, Washington

With all that said, we think they are both great beach communities and we really enjoyed our stay. We highly recommend you visit if you travel to the Northwest US.  And of course, if you want stunning beaches, you gotta go to scenic 30-a.