finding happiness in everything

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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Hilton Head, SC Sunrise


Here is the beautiful sunrise on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

Hope you enjoy as much as I did.

 

With Love,

Chrissy


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!

 

Adventure in Hilton Head, SC


Everyone who knows me knows I’m a savings freak. I shop On-Sale only, use coupons, rebates, savings apps, and am a member of over 20 different “points” programs. I get freebies in the mail & I’m all about budgeting. I say all this to let you know the many travels I write about have been fugal initiatives funded by savings, gift cards, & rebates. Now, on to the Hilton Head Adventure!

I had oftentimes heard of Hilton Head Island but never been & was thrilled to have an opportunity to go. South Carolina was a state I’d never ventured to before. I was so excited to be there I took the first photo op I got.

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South Carolina Welcome Center

The drive to Hilton Head wasn’t too bad. Once we got out of the mountains in North Carolina, it was a relatively smooth drive. South Carolina was pretty flat. The only serious traffic congestion was on I95.

We stayed at the Best Western about 1 block from the beach. Not a bad walk at all. The hotel was quaint & the staff friendly & accommodating. Our first room stank as though only men had peed there for an extended amount of time, so they moved us the next day to a ground floor level room – no Febreeze needed 😉

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Pee stink room

On our first full day I asked my husband if we could rent some bikes. He obliged & we rode to the Pines to see the sights.  The locals told us that we would need to ride down near the entrance and then ride along the beach and then come back into the community  to gain admittance. They neglected to tell us that riding along the beach was like towing a tank behind your bicycle! Well, at least that’s what it felt like for me. My husband had no trouble whatsoever! He flew down the beach with complete ease and left me in the dust, literally. I had only managed to pedal a short distance before I had to get off and push the bicycle. There was such a heavy drag on the back wheel it was almost impossible for me to pedal. I figured, “Great! I’m left… all alone… I will sun burn and die of dehydration on this stupid beach while pushing this stupid bicycle. My back hurts, my legs hurt, I’m going to die here…in the sand…on this beautiful beach. I’m thirsty. Can’t stop though. If I do, I’ll just sit down & be lost forever. Crap! I’m too old to even get my face on a milk carton. No kids will identify me. Adults will just step over my limpless body assuming I’m taking a peaceful little nap. Then an alligator will come out of the ocean & drag me into the water…because they drown their prey. There could be an alligator in those bushes!” At this point, I got back on the bike & eventually found my husband who’d peddled back to find me and ask me why in the world I was so far behind.

“Watch me”, he says, “it’s easy. Look, I haven’t even broke a sweat. Why are you going so slow?”    I can’t remember my response, but I’m sure it wasn’t pretty.

We finally made it into the Pines & after peddling 3 freaking miles we figured out that there was absolutely nothing to see in that community! In my mind it was a waste of money to rent the bikes, a waste of time, a wasted day that I could have been laying on the beach like a lazy old fart while my husband swam in the ocean.

So this total endeavor was about three-and-a-half to four hours long and by the end of it, we finally made it back to the hotel, I felt like death.  I realized how seriously out of shape I was and I realized that South Carolina is not quite as flat as it looks when you’re riding a bicycle.  We parked the bikes on that day and although we had paid to rent the bikes for an entire week, I don’t think we ever got back on them.

The great thing about the hotel and the entire Community where we stayed is everything was totally within walking distance. The walking didn’t hurt me near as bad, so we walked a lot after that. We looked at some of the shops and we found a unique mom-and-pop restaurant to eat at every evening.

Overall it was an absolutely fabulous adventure & I’m so glad we went 😉


So, we finally made our way south to Georgia during our travels & I must say, I was a bit disappointed. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word Georgia? Well, for me it’s two things…that song “Georgia” and there’s peaches. Peaches!!!!

We were in Hilton Head, South Carolina for a little over a week soaking up the sun (and me getting sun poisoning on my face) when my husband says, “Let’s go to Savannah.” Yippee!!!

Just a tad of back story: I thought renting bikes during our stay was a great idea. Everything looked so flat & there were hundreds of people who appeared out of shape like me riding them. On day 1 of bike riding I realized jusy how badly out of shape I was. After a 3 1/2 hr bike ride my legs were Jell-O. Thus, my excitement to go to Savannah!!

We took the back roads the whole way. It was a lovely leisurely drive with top speeds of 35-40. (Mostly 35mph though)

Anywho, on the drive we passed a lot of little fruit stands on the side of the road. Peaches! I wanted a peach so bad I could taste its sweetness. My husband said we’d stop on the way back through.

Savannah was a gorgeous old city full of history. We took in a little of it but weren’t there very long.

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We ate at a great little restaurant & headed to Tybee Island.

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Tybee Island

After my husband had about an hour in the ocean, we packed up & headed back towards Hilton Head. I was excited to finally get a peach!

Every roadside stand was closed 😦

So, I would just have to wait until the next trip…to taste a home grown mouth watering Georgia Peach.

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