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35 Years In Homestead Florida

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. After a 1-week hiatus last Thursday for the #Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S.A. – I’m back for an all-new season of travel adventures every Thursday !

I recently spent 10 days with my family over in the Dallas Texas area. It was cold and rainy and dark and dreary for much of that time with 30s and 40s at night and in the mornings, and 40s and 50s in the afternoons. It was a bit unusual to be so cold and dreary for such an extended period of time in mid-to-late-November. I was prepared for the temperatures, as I’m a skilled weather forecaster – by hobby – not by occupation.

I returned back home to Homestead Florida last Friday November 25TH 2022, and the heatwave continues here in South Florida. Temperatures were approaching 90°F (low-30s Celsius) as I drove home from Miami International Airport. It’s been an unusually warm and humid November here, but that likely won’t continue much longer.

My favorite part of South Florida is indeed the weather. I want to live with this weather for the rest of my life. When I move away from here in 2023 I’ll still experience much of this weather – 3 hours north of here in Highlands County along the Lake Wales Ridge (“spine”) of Florida. Winters will be a bit cooler, and summers will be a bit warmer.

So today – the first of December – marks 35 years since I first arrived here during the early-morning hours of Tuesday December 01ST 1987. With the exception of nearly 19 months immediately after the catastrophic destruction caused by Hurricane Andrew on August 24TH 1992 – I’ve been here ever since. I arrived here as a young 20½-year-old USAF Airman, and now I’m a soon-to-be-retired 55½-year old USAF Civil Servant.

I feel like I grew up in this city. During the first 18 years of my life – I lived in 5 homes in 5 towns in 3 states. I have no friends from those years – only memories of what could’ve been. I consider my 20s and my 30s as my “childhood” here in Homestead, and my 40s and my 50s as my “adulthood” here in Homestead. I’ve lived here in Homestead longer than most people have lived here in Homestead. (Most of the growth of the city and the surrounding area has occurred since 2002.)

It’s been a fun 35 years in this town. I’m looking forward to new sights and sounds in the new year. #2023

Next #TravelThursday I’ll hit the ice. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

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Blogging Career Military Travel Weather

Phoenix Arizona

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. Yesterday was the 30TH anniversary of Hurricane Andrew’s destruction of Homestead Florida – my home of almost 5 years at the time. After 19 months of living in Maryland, Virginia, and Central Florida (Melbourne and Tampa) – I returned to Homestead in March 1994, and I’ve been here since. That’s almost 35 years (minus 19 months). When I first arrived here in Homestead – I was 20½-years-young. Now I’m 55.

I don’t think I’ve told anyone this before – other than my coworkers at the time in Gloucestershire England – but in July 1987 I actually received vague military orders for my next assignment / duty station to Phoenix Arizona. (Those orders were inexplicably replaced 3 months later with orders to Homestead Florida.)

I’ve never been to Phoenix – “The Valley Of The Sun”. Someday I’ll probably visit. I wonder how much different my life and career would’ve turned out had I gone to Phoenix instead of Miami / Homestead. There would’ve been no hurricane to drastically change my life 7 years into my military career. Maybe I would’ve stayed 20+ years on Active Duty. Maybe I would’ve fallen in love with Arizona – much like I’ve fallen in love with Florida. Maybe I would’ve never gone on a Caribbean cruise.

I know that I would’ve thoroughly explored much of what there is to see and do in Phoenix and beyond. I’ve only stepped foot on a small part of Arizona – the northern part from Hoover Dam to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. That was part of a family excursion out of Las Vegas in January 2002.

I grew up with hot and humid summers up in the Washington D.C. area, so South Florida’s weather wasn’t such a shock when I first arrived here. It just lasts much longer here than there. British weather was similar to Maryland and Virginia weather in the wintertime. Of course winter weather lasted much longer in the U.K. I generally don’t do good with dry desert weather – whether it’s sizzling hot in the summertime or freezing cold in the wintertime. I guess if I made that move to Arizona I would’ve gotten used to it after a short little while.

As a creature of humidity – even North Texas (where much of my family lives) – is too dry for me. My nose and skin don’t like arid-extra-dry. South Florida air always feels refreshing after returning home from a week or two in Texas.

Next #TravelThursday let’s visit Luxembourg. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

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Blogging Driving Food History Shopping Travel

Naples Florida

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. Last week I wrote all about the first-half of my short one-day road-trip to and from Naples. This week – it’s the second-half of that fun day some 2½ hours away from home.

My next stop on my museum tour was the Naples Historical Society Historic Palm Cottage a couple of blocks from the beach along historic 12TH Avenue South.

Here’s what I wrote about it on TripAdvisor:

This was my 4TH of 4 museum stops in Naples on this day, and it was the highlight of my day. I was the only participant for the 1 PM tour, and the docent was still eager to give the tour. Very admirable. He was very knowledgeable on the history of the house and the surrounding neighborhood. The house was beautiful and interesting. After the 45-minute tour I watched the 25-minute video, and that was very informative. I then looked around the house one last time on my own before emerging out into the front porch. I talked to the docents out there for a little while about the house, the neighborhood, and my own plans for next year when I’ll transition from a long career into retirement and serving as a docent in a few museums in nearby Highlands County Florida. GREAT experience at the Palm Cottage !

This visit almost didn’t occur. Parking is at a premium in this area. Nearly all of it is for the nearby beach and pier. It costs money ($3 per hour), and vacant spaces can be rare or non-existent – even during low-season in July. When I arrived no spaces were available. I drove over to the nearby shopping center where there was plenty of available parking, but signs were also posted stating no beach or pier parking. I drove back over to the “legal” parking area, and I stumbled across a vacant parking space right in front of the Historic Palm Cottage. I paid $7.50 for 2½ hours of parking, and I’m glad I did, as I spent nearly 2 hours at the cottage itself enjoying the tour (guided and self), watching the video, and then talking to the docents.

My final stop in Naples was Tin City – a historic and quaint shopping and dining village right along the banks of the Gordon River. It’s been there for over 100 years. Nowadays it’s a small collection of mom-n-pop shops selling antiques, knick-knacks, souvenirs, clothing, candy, and food. They also have a few larger restaurants there. I enjoyed an early-Dinner at Pinchers (a local Southwest Florida seafood chain). I then picked-up some monkey bread from Mon”Key” Bread Factory.

It was a fun day in Naples. 2½ hours to get there. 7½ hours of fun while there. 2½ hours to get home. 230 miles total. I need to do it again – maybe when the weather turns cooler in the dry season. I definitely want to visit the Historic Palm Cottage again. They also do guided walking tours of the immediate neighborhood. They look very educational. In conjunction with my next visit to Naples I also want to visit nearby Marco Island and Everglades City.

Next #TravelThursday we’ll head to the beach – 1,100 miles up the coast in Ocean City Maryland. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

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Blogging Driving Food History Military Travel

Naples Florida

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. Last Friday July 08TH 2022 I did something very rare. I drove out of the local area for a short one-day road-trip, and I returned home later that same day !

The fun started at the crack of dawn, or near the end of nautical twilight for you astronomy buffs. That was at 6 AM local time. That’s when I got on the road with no bags – no luggage – just exciting plans for my day in Naples.

I got on Krome Avenue (Florida State Road 997). Its origins date back more than 100 years. Up until just a few years ago it was a narrow 2-lane rural road that ran along the western fringes of Miami-Dade County. Starting in 2015 and continuing for the next 6 years it was modernized and widened to 4 lanes with a median. Now it’s a major thoroughfare with heavy rush hour traffic northward (towards Miami) in the morning and southward (towards Homestead) in the afternoon. On weekends it’s congested in both directions.

I picked-up U.S. 41 (Tamiami Trail) from Krome Avenue, and I also picked-up a yellow box truck right in front of me. This was definitely a test of patience for me, as for exactly 58 miles it never quite reached the posted speed limit. It stayed about 5 MPH below, and occasionally as much as 10 MPH below. I never passed it, but dozens of other drivers behind me didn’t have that patience. Every single one of them passed me and that truck. Even an 18-wheeler truck passed us by. As for me – my day-trip to Naples didn’t necessitate a death-defying act of passing on a narrow 2-lane rural road. I am thankful for patience – produced by the Holy Spirit within.

The truck turned left at Collier County Road 29 towards Everglades City, and I continued westward into the Naples area. Naples is quite unique in that it’s 1 of only 3 incorporated cities in Collier County. It’s the most-populated of those 3, but that’s not saying much. It’s got less than 20,000 residents; yet, the Naples metro area (essentially the entirety of Collier County) has a population of over 375,000. Naples contains the downtown area that serves much of the county, but it’s not the population center, and it’s not even the county seat.

So out of every 20 people that call the Naples area home – 19 live outside of the Naples city limits.

I’ve been visiting Naples for over 30 years. It’s about a 2½-hour drive from Homestead. Usually I visit (or drive through) Naples on the way to and from Estero or Fort Myers Beach in neighboring Lee County. There are a lot of attractions and parks and museums in and around Naples. I’ve probably visited the Naples Zoo more than any of them.

After a hearty Breakfast at Perkins (the closest one to my home at 109 miles away) – I ventured over to the Collier County Museum at Government Center. I’ve been there a handful of times, and it’s always interesting, and there’s always something new to see. It’s an interior and exterior museum with displays outside in a city park-like setting.

My next stop was a small military museum located inside the terminal building of the Naples Airport. It’s got a small footprint, but there’s a lot of memorabilia packed into it. I think that most of their visitors are waiting for a flight, or arriving from a flight, or waiting for their rental car. I don’t think that they get too many visitors who go out of their way to specifically visit the museum.

My next stop was the Naples Depot Museum – another Collier County-operated museum. It was my first visit in just a little over 10 years. It’s the former Naples train station – with lots of exhibits inside, and a train car and a caboose that you can walk through outside in the rear parking lot.

Next #TravelThursday I’ll continue my recap of my day-trip to Naples with the highlight of my day (another museum), and the finale of my day at a historic shopping and dining district along the riverfront that’s been there for over 100 years. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp