Greetings to friends and family. Really behind schedule in getting the winter post for 2016/2017 out there. Life here has been off schedule as Jan and I stepped back to assess what is working and where we can make life better. This summer we looked forward to spending the entire summer in Traverse City with a side trip to the UP and a back-packing trip to Isle Royale. Little did we know that would lead into a truly unplanned course of action
Overall it was a good winter in Gulf Shores. Larry had successful shoulder surgery and as this was round two knew what to expect and familiar with the process to get back into the game. Larry adopted a Vegan Diet in October in response to declining mobility issues. Jan has led the way on diet for some time now. The gutsy part of the process was Larry quit taking the six prescribed meds. The end of the story is improved mobility, a loss of 30 pounds, great blood pressure reads and blood work that indicated the meds really were not needed. The verdict is still out if the improvements were from stopping the meds or was it the diet change. Still working on getting use to the new diet (full time) but the pay back has been more than worth the effort.
Over the winter as we pondered the next few years it became clear it was time to sell our home in Michigan. Spending just three months a year there and travel plans for 2018 and 2019 that make it nearly impossible to get back at all supported a decision to sell. The natural fall back then was to make Gulf Shores our home base for at least the next two years to three years.
These decisions set the stage for even more reassessments and regrouping on our part.
Here are pictures taken at Easter when we got out of beach gear.
Easter we left the flip flops in the closet as we dug out the dress clothes
Jan posing in front of the new patio ferns…
Larry in long pants, not normal attire for the coast except for Easter
What follows next are snapshots of our life on the Gulf Coast for 2016/2017.
For those of you who follow Lefty she is doing fine. Another year and another set of hatchlings.
The daily ritual is a bike ride and stopping to say hi to Lefty…who is keeping track of her little ones
Found this an interesting place to hang out in the sun. There were six little ones to start now down to three
Walks and biking on the trail, walks on the beach are all part of daily life here…
Many evenings we take a walk to the park on the Lagoon to watch the sun set and view the high rises on the beach
Watching the weather on the evening stroll can be interesting
Lots of new trails at the Gulf Shores State Park…there were very few days you could not get out on your bike
The trail system includes many bridges through the wetlands where you can get up close and personal with the wild life
State Park has lots of interesting places to Kayak
Early evening stroll on the beach after most of the folks have gone home. Like the way this shot lined up and the evening color cast.
Warm weather equates to busy beach. This winter it was warm and beach friendly much of the time.
The State Park wharf gets a lot of action especially if you like to fish. However swimming is not recommended as the sharks like to hang out here!
The Ridge community is a central part of our life here in Alabama. Here are some shots from get togethers this year.
Think I was off my game as the pictures at the pool party were all like this. However, great turn out and time to interact with friends and neighbors.
Building 1 was the first to install a “hardscape” behind their units. Ken and Brenda hosted a community backyard potluck to show off our project. The Ridge Association board adopted this as an approved owner upgrade…with approval of course!
Ridge owners and board members enjoying the cook out…
Ken managed the grill skillfully…with just a little supervision!
Events like this we get to meet other owners and a chance to learn more about each other in the community
There were several projects this year as we prepped for possible expectation that we would be here full time. We updated the laundry area in the and replaced all the major appliances. The project that added to the quality of life was creating a hardscape off the patio area.
Pictures to follow:
The “before” picture of the patio area.
Doing a “hardscape” did require some homework. Once executed everyone liked the result.
The best caption I could come with “The ugly duckling turned into a swan”
This winter with great weather we got out on the trail more. Exploring the forts in the area and learning about their purpose and then different uses over time. These forts with their locations and their history goes back to the founding of the country, the Civil War (War of Northern Aggression), World War I and II. Plus, housed relocated Native Americans along with many other uses. The Gulf Coast has lots to offer for history buffs.
We also got out to several natural refuges and reserves many of them are educational and/or researched based. Of course, there is always the Fairhope Art Fair.
Bon Secour is where you can run into almost anything on the trail…Good hiking and a great place to explore…
This trail has it all flora and fauna…here one stays on the trail!
The Bon Secour trail ends at the beach and as the footprints attest it is a well travelled path
This was a good hike and recommend it highly…
Weeks Bay is an interest stop between Gulf Shores and Fairhope. Educational setting for the study of estuarine ecosystem where salt water and fresh water meet
The wooden trail at Weeks Bay seemed to wander endlessly through the marsh
Fort Morgan is alway a fun experience with so much history to explore. The photo opts are endless.
Fort Morgan has lots of brick and the aging process is spectular enhanced by the sea air of the Gulf of Mexico
Fort Morgan has many of these buildings with arches
Fort Pickens has withstood the test of time, at least from the outside
This is Fort Pickens. This is now a screen saver image for my laptop.
Here is an example of Fort Picken’s military role…There are lots of big canons to look at…
Each year we look forward to the Fairhop Arts Fair. A rewarding arts experience as well as a place to buy that special item that calls out to you.
Jan taking a time out at the art fair.
Really enjoy seeing the fun food offerings. However now with the Vegan diet can only look and not touch!
The drive out of Fairhope is through Pecan grove country. Still March so no leaves yet.
Here is the visitor section of the blog…it is always great to have folks come south in the winter!
Uncle Larry’s visit to the coast to get out of the midwestern winter…
Larry and Jan hanging out in Pensacola at the seashore…
We took Larry to historical Pensacola. Lots of history here going back to 1500’s. Taking a break at the museum.
The City has done a great job putting together interesting exhibits..
The restored old church from the 1800’s. Loved the soft green color and all the wood work.
Karl and Cully come from NYC to visit after the first of the New Year
Ok, so what is a visit to Pensacola without a stop at the National Navy Aviation Museum
The museum covers a long time frame and lots of Naval history.
This sculpture catches your eye; military art work…coming back home!
Museum Entertainment…by a very colorful and animated museum volunteer. As you can see she had her audience in the palm of her hand!
Karl having fun at the museum!
What is a visit to the Gulf Coast without at least one Low Country Boil experience.
This painting caught my eye…lots of dimension with action plus I liked all the color
Dauphin Island Estuarium: very educational and a nice way to spend a morning with NYC visitors.
Well have you every petted a Stingray?
Then comes the time to pack up to head north. Saying so long is always a tough part of the process.
Saying so long for now is always hard…to good friends and The Ridge neighbors…
Once again packed and ready to hit the road.
When we decided to retire over seven years ago, we did our homework and determined we wanted to move to Seneca, South Carolina. We like the recreation opportunities, the medical services, being close to a major university (Clemson) plus many other college, and the quality of life of the region. Long story made short that never happened as life took its toll…so that being said before we headed back to Michigan we wanted to check it out again to see if we still felt the way pull. Our goal was to see if this could be home base after our planned travels and the stay in Alabama full time.
We fell in love the area all over again. It quickly became obvious, we only needed one big move not two. We then headed back to Gulf Shores to list our house there and then head back to Michigan to get that house on the market.
Here we are in South Carolina…little did we know this would soon be home
Lake Hartwell in South Carolina always calls us back…
Arriving back in Michigan later than usual but just at the right time to see all the trees in bloom.
Spring welcomed us back to Traverse City with all the flowering trees!
It took us ten days to get the Michigan house staged. We rented a storage unit to start the process. The realtor came at 11am to write up the contract to get the house listed. He had lined up several showing which were to start at 1pm. Jan and I hung out all afternoon waiting to come back home. The call came mid-afternoon we had a full price offer and our closing date would be June 20th. It all came together quickly, we had to pack and a move date of June 24th was quickly set. The rest is a blur as we packed and shed ourselves of lot of “stuff”. The moving truck left on the 24th as planned and we were right behind them. Our worldly belongings heading for a storage unit in Seneca, South Carolina and us to an RV park on Lake Hartwell for the near-term as the search for a house began.
Back to Home Base for the last time in Traverse City. That being said…Michigan will be calling us back shortly at least for a visit.
Well the big news was, we had an offer on the house the first day it was listed. This called for a plan of action right now…so the operative term is “careful what you wish for”.
The process over arching motto was to downsize…lots of big items that had to be left behind!
Saying good bye to the family piano which had been in the family for over 100 years! It went to a good home which made it easier.
The recurring theme was we need more boxes. We thought the process would never end! Plus will it ever fit on the truck?
All I remember now is carrying over 20 boxes of books down the stairs…
Moving day finally came and our hope was we are ready for this!
It took six guys two hours to load everything and yes, it all fit on the truck
The movers carried out everything and Jan and I finished up vacumning and moping. In a short time we had an empty house and now with only memories of the good times we had here…
As the U-Haul truck pulls out, we will not be far behind as we all head to South Carolina. All our worldly possession are headed for a storage unit somewhere in Seneca our expected new home.
Granddaughter Fiona and husband John came for a last time Traverse City visit. They celebrated their anniversary on Mackinac Island then coming to see us Memorial Day week. It was so good to see them, get a break from the packing and to get out with the camera to capture things in real life…
There was a fun break from the packing as John and Fiona joined us over the Memorial Day week
It was good to get out to the Northport Light house and Leelanau State Park
The tip of Leelanau County at Northport is always interesting. It was a great day to be there but a little cold for us folks who just came from the South.
Yes, we will miss views like this of Lake Michigan which have been part of our life for over 50 years.
Next stop was Peterson Beach and Park. Great place to find Petoskey Stones and when our boys were growing up a great stop after church…
John taking in the view of Lake Michigan at the Peterson Park overlook.
Next on the schedule, a hike on the Treat Farm Trail at Sleeping Bear NP and then a picnic on the dunes.
Fiona doing the dune thing, walking between the Posion Ivy and trying to enjoy the view at the same time
The wild flowers along the trail in the spring are spectactular…especially the Jack in the Pulpits for this hike. The Trilliums were most done at this time…
Over 400 feet above the water looking at the parks name sake the Sleeping Bear Dune
The hike over the dunes has fantasic views
The hike over the dunes has fantasic views and iconic photo shot for sure… The red trailer is visual evidence that the park service is doing restoration work on some of the buildings.
A stop at Sleeping Bear National Park demands a drive on the Stocking Memorial Drive. Viewing the color of Glen Lake is one of the drives many rewards!
Manitou Island as viewed from the Stocking Drive
Nice shot looking North, the lake is high right now note no beach.
Once you have been to Gwen Frostic’s, you are called back. Great place to reflect, buy great nature oriented prints and/or to just reflect on nature and what is important.
Fiona has memories of this outdoor movie theater. This is the last one still in operation in Michigan!
Then there are the sunrise and sunset pictures. When I do my blog postings I am always amazed how many pictures I have taken at beginning and end of the day…
Gulf Shores Early morning
Really love those early morning walks on the beach watching things come into view.
What can I say…I think I did this shot before, still not tiring from seeing the sun come up and all it brings.
Ok, same shot different day…
night stroll on the beach just before it rained…
Another night shot…however it was better in person. Love the glow and color of the night time lights.
Double rainbow just before we left Alabama
Sunset over Lake Hartwell
Lake Hartwell another day
Early morning shot on the way to the gym for the daily workout
Never tiring sunrise over West Grand Traverse Bay
The clouds help make this picture even better
Another photo opt on the way to the gym. The sunrise and sail boats make this picture perfect!
Well, here is the end of the story for now. There is an accepted offer on a house we both fell in love with…If everything works like it is suppose to, we close on August 14th. On Friday of this week we head back to Gulf Shores for a month. The objective is to bring everything back not needed to stage for the selling process. We had thought that property would sell first so in the process of rethinking what we need to do there.
On August 14th we expect this will be our new home…in Seneca, South Carolina
The next post will come from Seneca, South Carolina after we get settled and back on track to hit the road again…
Yes, retirement is a full-time job!
Larry and Jan