Friday, February 23, 2018

We're on Shutterstock...finally!

Yesterday was a landmark day.  Lance got his first photo approved for resale on Shutterstock.

This is a big deal because it represents the first win in a long run of learning curves about online photography sales.

Shutterstock was more difficult to get rolling than either of us anticipated.  They rejected so many shots; this one's not sharp enough, that one's too tight - there needs to be some room for the buyers to type on it, the other one has a tiny, almost not visible trademarked logo in the background...

In the end, the first one accepted was such a simple shot, a fishing lure snarled in a branch at the lake's edge.  Lance shot it our first foggy morning in Florida.

Snarled fishing lure, Coe Landing FL, Dec 2017

We both took photography classes at Napa Valley College back in the day, but then we each went on to corporate jobs instead of pursuing photography as a profession, always leaving a "what if..." hanging there in the balance.  I've been published a few times but neither of us has ever sold a photograph.  So we're very excited about this win and the potential it represents.

"Cholo Chicken" (Key West, Jan 2018) was rejected because somewhere on here is a trademarked logo

I'm immeasurably proud of Lance, and feeling so overjoyed about building a life that leaves room for him to pursue this and see where it leads.

He's been shooting lots of video and is becoming quite good with it, too.  Youtubers ...we're coming to you soon!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

...and I got to fly in a WW2 trainer

...and I got to fly in a WW2 trainer
That's the way I finish just about every sentence these days. After leaving the Keys on February 1 we had til the 11th before we checked into Mexico Beach. We decided to take our new friends Beth and Dick up on their generous offer to stay with them for a couple of days, and so we became driveway moochdockers in Belleview, FL.

What a great stop! After getting settled they took us over to the Villages for some Rock, Blues, and Soul with Rocky and the Rollers. The place was packed! Standing room only, while several hundred people danced the night away. The Villages has three town squares, each with music every night of the year. We stayed to the end and zig-zagged between the careening golf carts back to our car for the short drive back to the house.

We had two tentative plans for our last day with Beth, Dick and their friend Mary. Shawna wanted to see manatees, and Dick wanted to show me the private airport where he spends just about every day helping with projects and hanging out with his neighbors. I was interested because of the eclectic mix of aircraft at the field. I have many memories of spending time with my dad talking to pilots, he called it "hangar flying." The manatees turned out to be quite a drive and since we were expecting a long drive the next day we decided to save it for our next visit. So while the ladies went antiquing, Dick and I headed out to the airport where I was greeted with a big smile by Chris, the owner of the property with the runway. Chris is a Delta pilot who truly loves to fly.

When we arrived he was busy with the construction of a mother-in-law unit on his property. Oh and by the way, he casually mentioned that the BT-13 hadn't been up in a while and would I care for a ride if the cloud cover burned off; this after I had known him for about two minutes. I am constantly amazed by the friendliness and generosity of the people we have met on the road.

Our friend Dick with the BT-13

A BT-13 is a WW2 trainer similar to an AT-6 Texan with a slightly smaller Pratt and Whitney radial engine and a fixed landing gear. I immediately took him up on his offer and started praying for the overcast to clear. The overcast cleared, Chris finished his project and it was time to go. I loaded myself into the aft seat and put on the five-point harness. We taxied to the end of the grass strip and after a mag check he poured the coal to her, I felt every one of the 450 horses as we sailed down the runway. What a rush! A couple of low passes over the runway so Dick could get some photos, and we were off for a tour of the area. 

As we were approaching one of the many lakes in the area Chris let me take the controls. I've got to say it wasn't the most coordinated turn I've ever made! On the Cessna 152's I'm used to flying when you start a turn you have to pull back on the stick a bit to keep the nose up. With that big Pratt and Whitney up front, not so much. I think I gained about 1000 feet! Chris kindly pointed out the artificial horizon and told me to "step on the ball" meaning use my rudder peddles to keep from "skidding" through the air. 

After a turn around the lake he took the controls back from me and did a wing over and some high-G turns as well as a low pass over a neighboring runway. One perfect landing later I was back on the ground. The whole flight I've been trying to be "in the moment" but as a blogger I felt the need to document this with some photos and video. I managed to get a great video of my knee and some totally unusable photos, so there's that. 

This has to be one of the most memorable experiences of my life (sorry kids being born ;-). Life on the road isn't all fun and games, it can be hard sometimes but I gotta say "This Too Doesn't Suck!"

Sunday, February 11, 2018


Our departure from Lake Okeechobee led to a Harvest Host location a little further up Central Florida. This was our first non-winery Harvest Host location - it is a farm and it's all about the bees.  The products they sell at the bee barn range from honey to lip balm to jelly.

Beautiful honey selection

Bees. Not enough of them to go around, so these bees are always on the move, contracted by farms as the timing is right.  This month they're out in Bakersfield, California pollinating almond orchards.  Their dance card is quite full afterwards visiting an assortment of orchards across the country as they make their way back home, only to do it again.

On moving day, the beekeepers wait until all the bees make it back to the hive at  sundown, wrap the hives in plastic wrap and move them at night by truck to their next gig.

Inside the Bee Barn

I was thinking about the dance that bees use to communicate their findings, and it occurred to me that these traveling bees are always in new environments, and therefore always communicating new routes to one another.  I'll bet they are superior dancers.

We parked behind the barn alongside a field, and we were visited by an assortment of chickens and cows. Chloe was not amused that they were grazing right outside the window, but the cats  really seemed to enjoy watching the white birds that follow along with the cattle, likely gobbling up all the bugs on display from the freshly disturbed earth.

This Harvest Host location had no hookups so it's good we are self-contained.  What it did have was plenty of elbow room, peace, quiet, and truly brilliant stars after dark. Oh, and morning rooster song with my coffee. The hosts were friendly and told us of their plans to someday open an RV park, and we'll enjoy their hospitality there, too, later down the road.

Fabulous and friendly beekeeping hosts

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Embrace the Shed

We've been in Lake Okeechobee for a week now, in an adult-only community.  This means lots of peace and quiet, golf carts and perfectly manicured small plots of land with park homes on them. Nothing moves after dark, except the bugs, of which there is a never-ending supply in Florida.

Total peace and quiet. Some friends called this "old Florida".
In Central Florida, even the most modest home is waterfront property.
We picked this landing spot because it was advertised as "lake view", it's even in the name of the place. There is no actual lake view from anywhere on the property.  There are also no restaurants around, so we cook at home - it's better for us anyways.  Worst of all, when we pulled in I was annoyed that part of our parking spot was taken up by a shed. We had to disconnect the trailer in order to settle onto our lot within reach of everything. Irritating.  Until I realized the shed door was not locked, and it was empty inside. Dry, secure (sort of), hooray - I decided that since it's in our spot that makes it MY shed... finally a place to paint and dry my desktop, which we cut out way back in Port Aransas and have been testing out since then.

We even found a woodshop on the property, run by a helpful old man named John, and he had the tools to make short work of the sanding process.  A little paperwork to protect my shed floor, some paint and an overnight fan, voila - desk!

My office space 3.0
Lance installed an external monitor for my laptop because I get squeamish if he moves around the bus while I am squinting at the little laptop monitor. The bigger screen is quite helpful.  Small details of cord/power management need to be worked out still, but the basic layout is working out great - so our third office design was the right one. Two strikes and one home run.

Since today is my 45th birthday, hanging around a place where I'm the youngest by a few decades helps to keep the birthday blues away. Birthday bonus.

So, I am learning again, the path to happiness is to embrace each location for what it is instead of lamenting what it's not.  No restaurants, no lake to play on and nobody to chat with at sundowner hour = no distractions, peace and freedom to get some work and projects done.  It seems I am re-learning the same lesson, perhaps I should take it to heart so I can move on to new ones.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Florida Keys

Usually by the time we pack up to leave we're ready to move on. This time not so much. What's different this time? In a word, everything. When we arrived we were immediately made to feel welcome by our camp host and fellow campers. The weather was less than optimal (by Keys standards) but we went out for several paddles on the kayak and paddle board.  Chloe was a hit in her red doggie life jacket riding on the board with Shawna. 
This is a Poisonwood Tree. Dangerous to touch or even stand under; imagine a whole tree made of poison oak and you've got the idea.

We haven't seen any yet, but we keep looking. Chloe didn't know quite what to make of the foot long iguanas which were about everywhere.

The people we met were predominantly from the East coast, our camp host Patty and her husband Tim are from Massachusetts and the parking lot was full of cars with license plates from the really cold states up north. We met Jim and Nancy, full-timers for the last 11 years, who gave us priceless advice on where to stay in the North come Springtime. Dick, Beth and their friend Mary who offered a spot to stay as we head toward Port St. Joe, our next long landing which Mexico Beach Jim helped us arrange.  John who gave me some pickled pike as a parting gift (don't knock it til you try it) delish'. Ray who gave us invaluable information about sunshades so Shawna won't cook in her office window in the afternoon sun (time to get the sewing machine out honey!) Gary led the informal board meetings on the lawn. George and Linda with their distinctly New England sense of humor (their RV has a sticker that reads "Mass-holes"). Dennis knocked on our door with fresh homemade pie and quiche and his wife Susan told us stories about their lives in Eastern Pennsylvania (they have a son who races a Porche 911 with a diesel engine in the Lemons racing series!) The point I'm trying to make is we feel like we really got to know these people. Nobody had their face stuck in a phone or a tablet, and spontaneously about a half hour before sunset people started gathering at the tiki bar on the beach to watch, and frankly rate the sunset.
Every sunset is spectacular in its own way on the Florida Keys

We couldn't decide which one to share with you, so here are our two favorites

We left reluctantly on Thursday, amid hugs and promises to see one another "down the road".  The Florida Keys is a singular place and we can't wait to come back in December.