... The frost line in Florida is somewhere to the South ...
After a lifetime of fun-filled vacations I had the worst vacation of my life in
2009. Russell and I had sold our last Airstream travel trailer and given up
membership in a park for active retirees in Florida. But as the prospect of spending
a cold, icy winter in New England loomed, we asked my sister Jackie and her husband,
Allan if we could spend two weeks with them in Florida during the coming January.
They were happy to oblige.
On the appointed day we had a long but pleasant trip on Amtrak. Our relatives met us
at Palatka. They drove us to their home in Flagler Beach, a town of 5500 halfway
between St. Augustine and Daytona.
Then we settled in for a long, chilly two weeks. Although Russell and I had spent
several winter months in Florida for the last five or six years, our park was in
Dade City, near Tampa, considerably more southerly than Flagler Beach. We had not
packed properly and were cold most of the time. When we complained, Jackie turned up
the thermostat one or two degrees, but we were still cold. She wasn't being “cheap”;
the house belongs to their Maine daughter who bought it for her own eventual
retirement. She is generous about sharing it. Her parents stay there for ten weeks
every winter while Kim continues to pay basic bills such as electricity.
In the past, when we were staying in the park near Tampa, we would drive to Flagler
Beach and stay for a week or so. I have several friends in that area, and we four
would visit them. But this 2009 vacation was different. The Airstream couple we knew
in Titusville were not available -- they were getting too old and/or sick.
We did, however, manage to get to St. Augustine to meet a delightful couple from
Fernandina Beach. The six of us enjoyed a delicious seafood meal garnished with
intelligent, sprightly conversation.
Other than that one outing we seldom went out of the house. Traditionally Jackie and
Allan walked a great deal while in Flagler Beach, but on this occasion it was really
too cold to enjoy the outdoors. Once in a while we went to a supermarket, but, heck,
you can do that anywhere! Sometimes during those long chilly days I would notice
that Russell was missing. Upon investigating, I would find him in bed trying to keep
warm under as many blankets as he could layer on himself.
Finally, three days before our scheduled departure, the weather improved enough so
that we could go for a walk to overcome “cabin fever” The town boasts an attractive
boardwalk that meanders for a few miles through interesting terrain. Every so often
there are benches on which to rest and catch one's breath. It was so good to be out
walking that we overdid it. Even with frequent rests, Russell found it extremely
difficult to make it back to the starting point. He would not allow us to go for any
assistance. We finally got back to the car and drove home. Russell was so fatigued
that he stayed in the car, resting, for another hour.
Two days later our hosts drove us to Palatka to take the train northward. As we
traveled along, Russell and I joked to each other that we were going North to get
August 5, 2011