Blog, Travel Blog

#traveltuesday: The Florida Keys

It’s the middle of December, we’re inching closer to the winter solstice, the days are short as hell, and I bet some of us are even dreaming about, planning, or executing sunny vacations to warm places with tropical drinks in our hands. I know the shorter days have got me a bit down, but the solstice will turn that all around as the days start to get longer. When this happens sometimes I do reflect on the years I spent my winters in the Florida Keys, one of the places where I laid the groundwork for some of what I do now — nannying and dog sitting, as well as the true beginning of my luxury customer service career.

Don’t get me wrong.. I played a lot too, in the sun and sand, in the waves — on kayaks and motor boats and pool floats and everything in between. All those activities are sure to leave one feeling hungry and I thought I would share this list of some of the best places to eat throughout the Keys. I personally lived less than a mile from Marker 88 and can’t speak highly enough of the lively atmosphere and serene setting on the bay that meld together for the perfect afternoon of drinks on the water, or evening out to dinner with friends.

Snorkel with local wildlife if you’re driving through!

If you have plans to travel to the Florida Keys, or are just dreaming about them to get you through the winter, check out this list of the top restaurants on the southern-most 100 mile stretch of US1.

Where do you dream about traveling to when your surroundings (the weather or the atmosphere or the lack of sunlight) have got you down?

Blog, Travel Blog

Charlotte Courthouse, Virginia

This week for #traveltuesday I’m writing about a place I ended up in unexpectedly. My grandfather (John) has been sick for a bit and while we were hoping he would hang on until the spring and keep telling us all the stories of his 87 years, unfortunately that just wasn’t the greater plan. After his passing last week our family gathered round to support my Gram and help her through this difficult time, and our gathering place was the southern town of Charlotte Courthouse, Virginia — my Gram and John’s home together for just over ten years.

Charlotte Courthouse is a small lumber town in south-central Virginia, not far from the North Carolina border. This is where I could insert countless paragraphs of local history if John were still around to help me sort out details. Instead I’m left with some beautiful photos and memories of John that I hope will last a lifetime.

Charlotte Courthouse really isn’t close to anything — it’s about two hours from Richmond and Raleigh — but it does sit in the outer (outer, outer) suburbs of Farmville, home to Longwood University. Somewhere in the middle sits the Fishin’ Pig restaurant, and it’s a must-stop kind of place for down-home southern cooking. Their BBQ — from chicken to pork to brisket — comes piled high on a bun, the fried green tomatoes are to die for with just a bit of cream cheese inside the batter served alongside a citrus-dill remoulade, and the fried catfish is lightly breaded, and fried to perfection.

I would say one of the main attractions in this part of the country is the outdoors. What my mom called “desolate” I would call “remote,” and remote makes for some of the best hunting, fishing, camping, hiking and general outdoor activity areas. I don’t hunt, but if you do you should check out Fur Fins and Feathers, a beautiful hunting lodge featuring fishing, deer and fowl-hunting right out the front door. You’ll have to call to find out more information, but if you do let them know “Nancy’s grandaughter” sent you, and June and David will treat you like family at their beautiful retreat.

Check out a few photos below from my trip — the weather truly was gorgeous this time of year, and if it weren’t for the sad circumstances it would have been such a lovely family trip. Shout out to my mom for helping get me across the country at this time when I so needed to be near my Gram.

Drop me a line below about a time you turned an unfortunate trip into a time to explore someplace new! I would love to hear about your favorite unexpected travels.

I’ve finished life’s chores assigned to me,
So put me on a boat headed out to sea.
Please send along my fishing pole
For I’ve been invited to the fishin’ hole.

Where every day is a day to fish,
To fill your heart with every wish.
Don’t worry, or feel sad for me,
I’m fishin’ with the Master of the sea.

We will miss each other for awhile,
But you will come and bring your smile.
That won’t be long you will see,
Till we’re together you and me.

To all of those that think of me,
Be happy as I go out to sea.
If others wonder why I’m missin’
Just tell ’em I’ve gone fishin’ 

-Delmar Pepper

Rest in Peace, John William Tharpe, 1931-2018