finding happiness in everything

Archive for the ‘Smiling’ Category

Exploring Tomoka State Park, FL


Tomoka State Park is located in central Florida on the east coast side. It’s only about a 30 minute drive north from Daytona Beach, 20 minute drive east from Destination Daytona (in Ormond Beach), about an hour and half drive from Orlando, 15 minute drive from Flagler Beach and is located just on the mainland across the Halifax River from Ormond By The Sea.

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Family oriented and pet friendly, this state park’s admission was $5 per vehicle or $2 per bicyclist or pedestrian for an all day stay. There are camping sites within the park and several great fishing holes. We didn’t enter into the camping area, so I can’t tell you much about it, but we saw a great many folks fishing all over the park.

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Gorgeous greenery, seasonal flowers and filled with palm trees of various sorts, this park is inviting and beautiful.  Large turnarounds are situated along the main gravelled (crushed shell) roadways. Well laid trails to hike are scattered about and there’s some wildlife to see. Large turtles call this park home as well as a stray alligator from time to time also. The turtles were particularly intriguing to our dog. They were digging into the soft sandy soil to conceal their eggs, so we didn’t get to see them up close.

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At the far end of the main trail there is a large tribute statue to the Tomoka Indians. It is weathered terribly and large sections of the statue have fallen off. The state of decay was sad to see, but it seems any money spent on the park has gone into the upkeep of the grounds – which were very nice. A restroom facility is located in the same alcove as the statue and there are several camping or cookout sections there as well.

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Visiting the Tomoka State Park was a delight for the day and gets a 5 out of 5 for family friendly and pet friendly. I highly recommend it! Click here to learn more about the park.

Adventuring onward….

Chrissy

Hearing 40


Reflections are not what they use to be. Mirrors are not utilized much now; the image looking back at me is sometimes unrecognizable and hauntingly older than my mind says I am.  Have you ever had that moment? When you glance at yourself and then glance again – because at first, you didn’t recognize yourself.

Life can be a lot like that as well. Most people have an idea of what they want their lives to look like by certain ages: 30, 40, 50, 60.  It’s true that we do not always meet the goals and lofty ideas that we set for ourselves. But it’s also true that some of the most random things that occur (completely unplanned) can be the most beautiful.

Personally, as I age, I appreciate many of the same things the younger version of myself did. To sit outside and just listen has never left my heart. No matter where I am, I can do it free of charge and it bothers no-one.  Why? Because I love what I hear. I hear God’s creation, his peace, and when I’m lucky…his still small voice.  Try it. Go sit outside. Sit in the grass of your yard. Sit on your porch or patio. Sit on a sidewalk. Just be. After a long pause ask yourself, what do you hear?

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I’m in my back yard in the Tennessee Valley. I hear at least 15 different types of birds singing back and forth with each other. Each one a sweet song and in a different pitch. The wind is blowing and the blades of grass are rubbing against each other. Footsteps are behind me as a brave squirrel is going up and down the Elder tree.  In the distance there is a faint sound of laughter and delightful squealing as the neighborhood children chase each other.  Often a loud car may zoom by in the distance. (They really need a new muffler.) I can hear water flowing through the ditch gently and occasionally I can hear small frogs jumping in and out of the water. There are tree branches scraping in the wind and there’s a whistle in my ear as the chilly breeze picks up. It’s spring in East TN and it sounds peaceful. Longer I sit, I would hear more.

Age has taught my eyes to see things in a different way than the younger me ever could. I see so much beauty now all around me and it’s also easier to see through people. One thing I saw wrong was my life at 40.  But, that’s a post for another day.

Be well. Know you are loved.

 

Chrissy

 

 

A new love 💘


 

I have a confession to make. I fell in love several months ago. Keeping it to myself until just recently when I shared it with my husband was difficult to do. He has been understanding and very accepting of my new love. He’s definitely my best friend and understands.

You see until recently, I enjoyed travel as long as it was recreational, short lived and I knew we were coming back home soon enough.  But lately, so many things have changed in our lives. All the kids are “grown” or at least they think they are. They have all moved away from home now and declared their independence.  We are now Empty-Nesters and have grown into a new class of people. One that I always assumed would never affect me much because I just knew that all the boys would still be around. I assumed that they would be around regularly and that the house they would always come home to- the house they grew up in, the house they matured in and had so many developmental memories and such- would somehow mean the world to them. Why I thought this way, I’ll never know.

I moved away from home at 18 and struck off on a life of my own too. I never looked back or even considered going back home. Actually, I saw going back home as a failure in life. If I couldn’t make it on my own, I would have been devastated!  There was one point when I went back though, in 2001 for about a year and half when both my parents were in a terrible car accident. Mom begged me to come help her and I did. That was short lived as God gave her Grace and she was walking again when I left. Alas, I digress…. so back to my new love…

So delusional thoughts aside, reality is often not was we expect it to be. In an adventurous ever changing world that we cannot control, we are but passengers on this  ride through life. A passenger doesn’t control the direction – and in my life God is the driver. So in recent years, I have just sat back and watched he scenery as I’ve been passing through. God is still my greatest love of all, number 1 in my life…my husband is number 2. But as for this new love I referred to, well it surprises me just as much as it has surprised my husband.

I love to travel! Not just leisure travel, but packing up and moving away travel. This travel is one that I had always denied before, absolutely refusing to leave East Tennessee.  Now, I’m excited by the thought and look forward to many new adventures along the way!

 

The Scent of the Ocean


Each morning I awake and visit my old friend the coffee pot. After creating the juice of joy, I venture outside to smell the day. Immediately my senses are activated as I take that first deep breath of the outdoors. For the last 5 months, that deep breath has been a salty sort.

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The air breathed at the Oceanside is sweet when you come to love it. It grows on you. It is mixed with salt, natural musk, sand, and a hint of marine life. The breeze is constant from the sea. There’s peace, tranquility, and grace.

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To visit a beach is an experience, but to live here is different. There’s a unique oneness that develops as you give your senses over to something larger than yourself. Being no stranger to beach side vacations, I used to think I understood the Sea. Only recently have I truly tuned in though.

Almost everyone I’ve ever known who’s been to the ocean declares, “I want to live here!” Some people even begin to look at real-estate as they dream of one day moving. They have in there minds that living here would be full of relaxation and everyday spent on the beach. Smiling, watching kids play & bury each other in sand, and applying sunscreen over & over again while chilling with a sangria.

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Reality of living here though is much different. We seek out the places few tourist go and avoid the downtown tourist traps like the plaque. It’s not possible to go to the beach everyday. Some days the beaches are closed due to the massive rip currents that tear away at the beach line, other days it is too cold. (Yes, even Florida is somewhat affected by the weather.) On extremely windy days, which come often, it’s painful to walk on the beach as there’s sand in that wind. If you ever get beach side sand blasted, it goes a few degrees beyond exfoliation. But, even with these things being considered, I love it here.

The sun is different here (compared to the Smoky Mountains where I’m from). It hugs your skin from every angle even when you’re fully clothed. It penetrates your bones and brings back life. Sunscreen is a definite must as this sun is unforgiving on the skin. The elevation is very low, so there’s very little pressure bearing down against your joints. The low pressure also helps hearing as it is gentle on the ears. The air is always salty and every breathe is healing and savory sea flavored. The sweet smell of the sea life is present in every breathe. Vision changes here as well. It’s bright most days, but the eyes adjust acutely and vision improves.

Homeownership is a bit more expensive here with the local, county, and state fees/taxes. Home maintenance is a regular neccessity. The salty air eats away at all things man-made. So setting aside a maintenance fund (at least 1\2 your home’s value) will be an absolute requirement unless you are filty rich. In that case, enjoy yourself freely!

I don’t know if they really can, but it seems as though the island birds begin to know and recognise you. We have a dove that feels very at home with us and receive frequent visits from various cranes looking to eat our endless millions of earthworms. They come regularly, with no fear, perching atop cars and freely walk our neighborhood streets.

Time slows to a crawl. Each palm waves in the wind in slow motion and the locals move in the same rhythm. Annuals become perennials, fruit is harvested in the winter, and palmetto bushes bring medicinally juicy berries.

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The sounds of the ocean are loud & ever present. The waves crash in and out creating their own unique song. It is the sole sound of the night. There are no crickets. The toads & frogs are silent. For they cannot compete with the mighty ocean. There are no morning song birds with their gentle morning wake up call. They live on the main land or bayside possibly, but definitely not seaside. The ocean is jealous of all other sounds and pushes them away with its mighty strength & winds.

Life on the Oceanside is beautiful, peaceful, and calming when you understand the Sea – its power, jealousy, and fickleness. It’s unpredictablely majestic and magical…and it smell grows on you over time.

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Nicest & Most Affordable Vacation Rental in Ormond Beach, FL


Through Devine Providence we found the Nicest and most affordable fully furnished vacation rental properties in Ormond Beach, Florida. I wish I could tell you we were active Snowbirds & our trip was leisure, but alas we were traveling for work.IMAG6886.jpg

I knew that we did not want to be in a hotel, even though we enjoy those luxuries, we wanted to feel much more at home and we wanted to bring along our faithful dog. We needed a place to stay for a couple weeks & usually pet friendly hotel rooms are crawling with fleas & generally stink. To be respectful, we did ask for the furniture to be covered in sheets becasue we knew that our dog would shed a great deal and did not want the owner to be required to clean up all that shedding.

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We were blessed to find Miriam at Ormond Vacations! She owns 2 RVs that have been converted into stationary fixed homes in a very nice & well maintained RV park in Destination Daytona. Both of which are extremely clean, completely functional & cozy. For now, I’d like to tell you about unit 178 “The Knot”. This place is a Glamper’s dream! Not only is “The Knot” cozy, it’s also large pet friendly! If you’ve ever tried to  travel with a Golden retriever  or a lab, you know that not all places labeled as pet friendly  truly are.  Not only was our large pooch welcomed, the owner caters to pet lovers. There’s  special towels, bowls, and carpet powder just for your 4 legged friend, along with feeding & water bowls.

*Please keep in mind as you look through the pictures that I’m showing you this place as we “lived” in it. These are candid photos. I have blurred names and brands on some products or blurred paperwork for privacy.

This rental would be considered the size of a small home, but 3 times larger than a hotel room. Upon arrival, parking in the rear, you’ll notice this place stands out among the rest. The owner has paid attention to every detail from the finely manicured yard to the decorative parking spot. The back patio is inviting with a carpeted entrance & if you’re searching for privacy, you’ve found it here.

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Upon entry to the rear of the home you’ll find the mud room equipped with a full size washer & dryer. From this point there’s an entry into the bedroom or access to the living room area.

The living room is quaint with a comfy recliner, 2 end tables, a couch, & coffee table. The flat screen TV is mounted on the wall for convenience. This room leads to the dining room or outside to the screened in porch. For now let’s go outside 😉  PhotoGrid_1481815026988.png

The large screened-in porch has plenty of seating with a sweetheart bench, 4 patio chairs & a lounger. It’s quaintly decorated & there’s a table & television there as well. This table is where I did a lot of work on the lap top while watching the sun come up in the east. Sunsets are gorgeous here also! If you get too warm out there, you can turn on the oscillating fan to create a breeze.

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Going back in, enter the dining room on your right by going up 2 steps. The dining room area was one of my husband’s favorite spots. It’s largely spacious & beautifully decorated with a nautical ambiance. A cozy and comfortable loveseat is situated on one wall with a coffee table across from a larger television perched in the bay window area. In the kitchen area there’s a large table with 4 chairs across the way from the full size refrigerator. There’s no stove for cooking, but there’s a double eye burner, a larger toaster oven, toaster, large microwave, electric skillet, coffee pot and all the utensils, accessories, pots, pans, strainers, etc needed to cook a full meal!

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Leaving the kitchen, enter a hallway with tons of storage space with built in closets & drawers – which are across from the restroom.

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On the other end of the hallway, you’ll enter the bedroom. Large, yet cozy with a queen size comfortable bed. The bedroom has even more storage & is decorated mystically also.

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Long story short, this RV converted home is spacious, beautiful, well insulated, and priced much lower than any other vacation rental in the area. The owner is responsive, accommodating, and a valuable source of local information to make your stay the best possible! She genuinely cares that her vacationers have a wonderful stay & maintains one of the cleanest places around!

“The Knot” is also biker friendly, smoker friendly and as mentioned before – large dog friendly. It has cable TV service ready for your entertainment and Wi-Fi is available from CampLink.

I would recommend “The Knot” and Ormond Vacations to anyone looking for a vacation rental in central Florida, Daytona Beach, Ormond Beach, Palm Coast, Flaggler Beach, or maybe even Orlando if the drive doesn’t bother you  This location is about a 1 hour drive to Orlando, 1 hour drive to St. Augustine, 1.5 hours drive to Disney, and only minutes from Daytona. If you’re interested in Bike Week or the Daytona 500, this is your best price!

More information  is available here.  By the way, incase you’re wondering, I have received no compensation from the owner of this lovely property. I just simply had to share this super awesome value for travelers on a budget and re-enforce that traveling on a budget doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice luxuries!

 

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