As much as I am a bred, born, raised and lived for nearly half a century in Northeastern Minnesota AND a former dog musher who thrived in the winter with cold and snow, THIS is what Mark and I gave ourselves for Christmas:
It has been a dream a year in the making with us sometimes wondering if it would really happen, on December 25th, 2013 at appx. 11:00 EST, we crossed over the Georgia line into Florida!
This all started when Laura Del Zotto, a high school friend of Mark’s invited us down for a visit to their ranch in Florida last January. We left Minneapolis on a freezing cold day with the winds whipping like crazy and returned 10 days later with air temperatures below zero and windchills in the -30′s. Three days earlier we had been snorkeling in the Atlantic in the Bahamas and said to ourselves “what are we doing HERE???”. That trip set the wheels in motion for our desire to move. We’ve had people tell us we are crazy, we’re not going to like it in July, blah blah blah. I’m not hearing ANY of it, because the beauty of no longer owning a brick and mortar business and having a location independent career….we can move come summer if we want! Hell, we may even move to our cabin in Grand Marais for July, August and September! Who knows???
We weren’t able to get to our destination without Mother Nature and Old Man Winter throwing in one last curveball. We left Grand Marais about 10:00 a.m. on Saturday (the 21st), a day later than planned. The weather reports for the central US were not looking good…ice storms, snow and flooding. We decided to head straight south to Iowa to visit some great friends that we hadn’t seen in 12 years (they used to have the closest cabin to ours!). We stayed in Clear Lake overnight with the hopes the weather would clear on Sunday. Not a chance. While it was clear in Clear Lake, the weather to the south and east of us, was horrible. We decided to stay another day/night in Clear Lake as I wasn’t feeling very good either. If we would have been in one vehicle we might have gone for it, but we were both driving and just felt like it was a good idea to stay put another day. Good thing we did! As we headed across I-80 East of Des Moines, we saw four semis in the ditched rolled on their sides, another being uprighted as we drove by, and two or three other spots where they had already been pulled out! YIKES. We landed safely in St. Louis on Monday night with the plan to head to Chattanooga on Christmas Eve. You know what they say about the best laid plans…
I woke up around 3:30 a.m. on Christmas eve unable to fall back to sleep since I had fell asleep while watching a Christmas movie on TV at 7:30 the night before. At 4:00 Takum woke Mark up to go outside and when they came back in Mark said…”maybe we should get on the road now while the traffic is light and get further down the road”. We thought about it for a few minutes and said “hell yes…let’s go”. I threw on a baseball hat, got dressed, packed up the animals, slammed an e+ shot and were on the road by 4:45 a.m! We breezed through St. Louis and started heading south. We had an unventful drive and we even made it through Atlanta unscathed!!! I have navigation on my phone so I led us through with giving “heads up” directions to Mark via walkie talkies (By the way…Cobra is getting a phone call or letter, since they didn’t work half the time….another story. But we MADE IT!). We ended up stopping for the night just about dark in Macon, GA. We felt like we could keep on going, but we knew Buster needed to get out of his kennel after 12 hours of driving and we could be “smart” and rest up for the last leg.
We waited until sunup to head out of Macon and stopped for breakfast at a Waffle House (our first time ever!), since it was the only place open to eat that we could find! While the food wasn’t the “cleanest” and I did HAVE to have some of a Waffle House waffle, the employees were some of the nicest and friendliest I’ve ever seen…and they were working on Christmas DAY!
About an hour after breakfast we crossed into Florida and around 1:00 local time, pulled into our friends ranch. We were greeted by the whole family (mom, dad, six kids and one grandchild), unloaded our clothes into the guest house, freshened up and headed over to the main house for an awesome Christmas feast! Aferward we sat by the pool…OUTSIDE, in t-shirts until dark when it started to get a little chilly (yes, I did say chilly). Thank to to Laura and Bill SO much for their hospitality while we look for a more semi-permanent place to live!
Today we’ll be looking for storage for our belongings that we don’t need while we are in their guest house, checking out job possibilities for Mark (hell, I may even get a part-time gig) and looking for pet-friendly rentals. Bill and Laura said there are a lot of possibilities in the area, so we are going to take a look and see if we can find something out here in the “country” a bit so Takum has some room to run.
Speaking of running…it’s time for us to get moving on our day! So much to do and SO EXCITED TO DO IT!!! Dreams do come true…as long as you BELIEVE!!!