Astral Nomads

One man, one woman, one rabbit......traveling with the stars.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Altamont Springs

Ok, Nomadistas, one day until the camping begins in earnest. In the meantime, we're still visiting relatives and taking care of some quotidian business. I had to get a new pair of glasses since I left mine somewhere in either Tennessee or Virginia. Not only have I lost track of states, I am really not sure what day it is. My reckoning of time has pretty much devolved to Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow with an occasional Day After Tomorrow thrown in to keep me grounded. I also have to go to the dentist tomorrow since I cracked off a huge chunk of molar last week on something really hard in Ben & Jerry's new Creme Brulee. Suspect I might need a crown. If so, going with gold again. Love me some bling! In the meantime, we drove over to Wendy's sister Vicky's yesterday to say hello. She lives in Altamonte Springs with her husband Pepe and a chihuahua named Mimi. Very nice and cozy lake-front apartment.

 lots of gardens at the apartments here!

Florida oranges decorate the colorful buildings!

This is the view from her bedroom window!

Vicki and Pepe

Mimi is Vickie's baby... so cute she is! She was a rescue dog who was said to have many issues from former abusive owners. Lots of love from Vic and Pep have turned her into a wonderful little poochie!

Vicky, Mimi, and Wendy

They even have a clubhouse, pool, and gym here!

A neighbor visits...

and then two more neighbor friends (the wee one is a turtle)

Now even more neighbors greet us...

including Lucifee! Lucifee!

We booked seven nights at a campground starting Wednesday so tomorrow we'll post some preliminary pictures of Wekiwa State Park. (We did some hiking there yesterday to check it out). After that, we'll be off the grid for a week until we can find some Wifi. The park has hikiing, biking, a natural semi-warm spring, and canoeing so our plan is to drop back into nature for a bit before beginning to work our way south. They say the black bears are harmless. Ha!
Gerry- text, Wendy- photos and additional commentary.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

To Orlando Gumbofest

Wendy has a ton of family spread around Florida, so before we settle down into the nomadic camping life-style (yeah, I know, we promised adventure and we're doing the domestic circuit: we're almost there - hint: real camping starts 12/1). Anyway, Wendy's brother Eric invited us over to his house in the Delaney Park section of Orlando (real nice!) for his annual Gumbo Fest. Not sure if it's because his cool wife Carol is from Baton Rouge or not, but let me tell you: Eric Weigand makes about the best gumbo I've ever had. That's Eric's house in the picture above.

This is Eric's daughter Aubrey, although she
prefers to be called 'Billie'. She's a killer on the
basketball court and she decided that 'Billie' was
a better hoops name than Aubrey.

She also loves to read so Aunt Wendy came
through with some classic literature.

Oh yeah, trampoline too!

This is Eric's 'man-cave', a fully furnished hut
at the back of his property with a full kitchen.

Eric and me chilling prior to the
ceremonial first serving of the gumbo.

Carol made a brie that was cooked in pastry
that was to die for. I love me the mighty brie.

The mighty gumbo itself. Too bad you can't
eat the picture. Just believe me when I tell ya.

Aubrey, ooops, BILLIE with Aunt Wendy.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

To Oviedo

Well, the bird being history and all that, we packed up the van, said farewell to Fred and headed east to Oviedo FL to hang for a few days with Wendy's mother, Wiggy. Wiggy lives in Oviedo with Wendy's sister Bonnie and Bonnie's husband Michael. It's a bit ironic that Bonnie and Michael are actually in NJ because their daughter, Kelly, just gave birth to their first granddaughter. I hope, dear reader, that you can follow this. The ride from New Port Richey to Oviedo is just over two hours and the rather unremarkable since a new highway always you to skirt south of Orlando. No Magic Kingdom for the Astral Nomads. It's just DismalWorld to me.

Florida is ideal for succulents.

And, of course, oranges. Man, they grow on
trees down here.

This is Bonnie and Michael's house, in a nice quiet neighborhood.
We're gonna chill here until they get back and then head out south and
actually start to do some camping as we make our way down towards and
into the Everglades.

Oviedo's only claim to fame is the Oviedo Marketplace Mall.
We went there in search of a Starbucks so we could grab some Wifi.
I was never a huge fan of their coffee but it is starting to grow on me.

The mall was surprisingly empty, considering that
it's the day after Black Friday.

Wendy, being a little light on camping
formal wear, decided to check out this
ravishing number. Just the thing for a
Kumbaya sing-along, assuming a liberal
application of mosquito repellent about the
shoulders, arms, and neck.

We are going over to Wendy's brother Eric's for a Gumbo Fest this pm and tomorrow we're going to check out Wekiwa State Park. Back to nature...

Otis is hanging pool-side and happy.

PS - Big hugs and kisses to Annabel who is celebrating her 1st birthday today with a big family party! Love you baby girl!

-Gerry (text) and Wendy (photos)

Thursday, November 25, 2010


This little Blue Heron seemed non-plussed by Mr. Gator.

The palatial yet usually empty pool where we
are working on turning ourselves into bronzed nomads.

Otis, thankful that it's bird and not
Hassenpfeffer on the menu, receives some
morning affection.

Given a kitchen, it is impossible to prevent Wendy
from baking something. If you think her photography
is good (and it is) you should taste her baked goods.

Wendy's dad, Fred, is a TV enthusiast. That point
cannot be overstated. We never watch the tube but this
week we've indoctrinated back into the prime time schedule.

Stuffing pre-stuufing.
Did I mention the pie? Yes, my mind appears to
be going.

Wendy: I am very thankful that the Astral Nomads are able to fulfill their lifelong dream. I am equally thankful for the big extended family that will be celebrating in NJ and also in CA... love you guys! I will give thanks that I am able to celebrate this holiday with my Dad today and my Mom this weekend... it been too long away from them.

Gerry: T-Day SHOUT OUT to my family in NJ, CA, and PA. Gorge thyselves in glory! Save room for pie.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New Port Richey

We went In Search Of the enigma that is New Port Richey and found a channel that runs into Tampa Bay so I suppose it is conceivable that some minor port-type activity may have occurred in the past. (Still no evidence of an Old Port Richey.) Apparently the city had a inchoate and ultimately fizzled stab at becoming an east coast version of Hollywood back in the 1920's. Now it's a sleepy little town with a few historic buildings on its tiny main street and not much else of note to the casual observer except a nice downtown lake with circular drive and and a modern boat launching ramp into the aforementioned channel. Also, old-time golfing great Gene Saracen lived here for a while.

Who knows why the ibis flocks?

This is the lake downtown. One source claims a 250 foot depth.
I don't know about that but I could not see the bottom.

This is the channel that runs through town.

This picture (and the one below it) were taken
in the development where Wendy's dad lives.

Oh yeah! Nothing wrong with being poolside
in November. Fred's development has a pool that
gets very little use except for crazy-ass Yankees.

Gators are everywhere. We use the threat to discipline Otis.