Spring break unwind

Spring break

(Image by Thank you for your support Donations welcome to support from Pixabay)

“Go where the wifi is weak and the sun is strong”.

(Unknown)

Spring break 2021 has been circled on my calendar for awhile.  I did not have visions of a Jamaica getaway as I have in past years.  COVID-19 has adjusted the things we look forward to now.  I am hoping with the multiple vaccines available we will be able to get back to travel again soon.  I routinely scheduled my Jamaica trip around spring break but will continue to display patience as I wait my turn to get the vaccine.

Happy to report my mom, aunts, uncles and multiple friends are fully vaccinated!

I decided not to overbook myself for spring break and just unwind a bit.  My 2020 was overshadowed by COVID-19 and my move from Tallahassee to Fort Pierce.  Relocating during the height of a pandemic proved a bit harder than I ever imagined.  The physical process was simple to pull off—the mental and emotional aspects of adjusting to a new location, new work environment and new people while staying safe in a pandemic was challenging.  Proud of my efforts so far and look forward to continued growth with this process.

Spring break was my chance to reset a bit, kick back and enjoy life. 

Decided to head north and spend most of my break in my home town, Jasper, Florida.  I did not load my schedule so I took my time as I drove north.  Made my way to the Daytona Beach Outlets for some shopping on my drive.  The Daytona outlets are fairly new and I am always looking for some good deals.  I visited this same outlet back in November on my drive to the Smokey Mountains.  I did not find any deals I liked in the Nike or Van Heusen stores so I got back on the road.

Made my way to Jasper before sunset and caught up with my mom for my first day of spring break.  She is a traditional southern mom so yes, I had a large dinner waiting for me when I got home. 😊

I normally pressure wash my mom’s house yearly and decided to tackle the project while I was in town on break.  The weather in North Florida during March is very nice—no heat or humidity.  Pulled my pressure washer out of the shed and began the process of knocking a year’s worth of grime off the house.  My pressure washer began coughing halfway through the house cleaning process—thought it was just a spark plug issue so changed it and I was back in business—for awhile.  I have had this pressure washer for some time and it just would not go any longer.  Jasper is a small town and there is not a local small engine shop available to help with this issue.  Almost called it quits but wanted to finish this project since I started.  Made my way to Lowe’s in Live Oak to see what they had available.  Ended up purchasing a new pressure washer with 2800 PSI (pounds per square inch) which gave me additional power—equals less time pressure washing.

Got the new washer setup and cranked out the rest of the house cleaning.  The only drag when pressure washing my mom’s house is the two story aspect.  Yes, I have to get up and down a ladder to reach the portion of the house directly above her porch.  This happens to be the most visible part of the house and I cannot neglect it and still claim I cleaned the house.  Going up and down the ladder with a pressure washing wand in my hand was fun a few years ago.  Now, it feels like work but I got it done.

I decided to get away from my manual labor the following day.  Made a point to visit with friends and go see my favortie aunt in Live Oak.  I have not been able to visit with her in a long time due to COVID-19 but felt comfortable sitting with her for a bit since she is fully vaccinated.  We were able to catch up and share a few laughs again—felt good! 😊

My last spring break project was to pressure wash my grandmother’s house.  I normally have both houses scheduled to pressure wash during the same visit so kept the tradition alive.  The second house is not as large as my mom’s so it does not take me as long to complete.  This was a great aspect this year since severe weather was expected later in the day.  I was able to get the house washed and avoid getting caught in the rain that made it to Jasper in the afternoon.

I am happy to report I was able to complete a few projects while in Jasper, see family and sleep in daily on my spring break.  The time away from career related activities was needed considering the COVID-19 world we live in.  It was nice to disconnect from my work email and computer—not thinking about substantial activities was refreshing.

I know this does not sound like a typical spring break but it was exactly what I needed. Now it is time to find a beach and work on my tan! 😊

Irie!

What activities help you to unwind?  What are you looking forward to doing again?

“If traveling was free, you would never see me again”.

(Unknown)

Walking and enjoying Mulligans Beach House (Vero Beach)

Mulligans

“An ocean breeze puts the mind at ease”.

(Anonymous)

My Walk into the Future allows me to continue to seek out new adventures and venues.  The COVID-19 pandemic has rightfully slowed down unnecessary travel and interactions, but the beach still has wide open spaces to explore. 

My relocation to the Treasure Coast provides access to some great beaches with amazing views to take in.  Several of my work colleagues provide me with places where the locals hang out and guided me towards Mulligan’s Beach House in Vero Beach. The biggest reason they wanted me to visit Mulligan’s is because it has a huge outdoor seating area that sits right on the world-famous Vero Beach.  I have visited Vero Beach (city) multiple times for the outlet mall and other retail shopping but have not been on the beach side of the city in years.

Turns out I visited Mulligan’s Beach House back in August 2014 prior to relocating from Oviedo, Florida to Tallahassee, Florida for my job at Florida State University.  Always heard how beautiful Vero Beach was so took a road trip back in 2014 to get a feel for the area and take in the beach scene.  Mulligan’s was close to the hotel I booked back in the day, so it was an easy choice for some great food.

Fast forward to 2020 and I immediately recognized I had been there before as soon as I hit the parking lot.  Seeing the familiar outside seating area and extra-large deck chair put a smile on my face.  I instantly reflected to my 2014 visit and the great memories made during my visit back in the day.  Also highlights the concept of small world because my original visit was made because I never thought I would make it back down to visit Vero Beach.  Now I live 20 minutes from the famous beach and local attractions on the board walk.

My most recent trip to Mulligan’s Beach House was made on a Sunday afternoon.  Figured this would be a good day and timeframe to visit to avoid the potential of large crowds.  The overcast weather also contributed to a smaller crowd when I got there.  The outside seating areas provided a great place to sit on the beach, people watch and listen to some good music.  I was able to find a nice corner spot and continue to physical distance.  Did not have a taste for anything specific but wanted to explore the menu a bit.  I am not an adventurous eater so settled on chicken wings and draft beer—which was two for one during happy hour.  The wings were surprisingly good and went great with the atmosphere of Mulligan’s.  A nice, chill place where the locals eat.

Mulligan’s has indoor seating at the bar and tables—some of the locals were comfortable seating inside but I do not know when/if I will be that comfortable again.  The governor just announced restaurants and bars are no longer restricted to 50% capacity so I am sure more people will be dining and drinking inside again without proper physical distancing.  Scary thought but eliminating these restrictions will expand our time trying to combat COVID-19 in the state of Florida.  Hate to see the gains we have made with COVID-19 get sidetracked as our governor tries to help political gains for the presidential election.

Mulligan’s Beach House is a fantastic place to visit if you are in Vero Beach.  My next venture in the Vero Beach area will be the Ocean Grille which is right across the parking lot.  I have heard great things about the food there and will get back soon to see what they have to offer.

Where have you always wanted to eat but have not made it yet?  How have you adjusted your dining plans in a COVID-19 world?

http://www.mulligansbeachhouse.com/vero-beach/

 “The waves of the sea help me get back to me”.

(Anonymous)

Mulligans2

Walking and enjoying the Square Grouper (Ft. Pierce)

Square Grouper1

“It is life, I think, to watch the water.  A man can learn so many things”.

(Nicholas Sparks)

My Walk into the Future continues to look more like My Walk with COVID-19.

That would not be as catchy of a blog title so will stick with Walk into the Future! 😊  Again, the pandemic has slowed down the adventures but has not completely shut them off.  I remain careful when I venture out and take precautions to ensure I am not exposing myself to undue risks.

Most of my adventures center around the beach and shopping excursions.  These have proved to be safe and gets me out of the house for fresh air.  Will continue to find new beaches to sit on and enjoy the views on the Treasure Coast.  Still do not know why it is called the Treasure Coast, guess that will have to be a future blog article when I find out.

A favorite spot for the locals is Square Grouper.  Thought it was a clever name when I first heard it but Googled the definition to make sure I understood how the place got the name.  Turns out it is a clever hook and attracts a lot of people based on the name and meaning.  Yes, you should Google it to understand what it means. LOL.

My attraction to Square Grouper is it is close to Jetty Park and sits right on the Fort Pierce Inlet.  The location is at the mouth of the inlet before it empties into the Atlantic Ocean.  It is a great location to catch sunsets that seem to plunge directly into the inlet.  The Square Grouper is 95% an outdoor venue with two bars, a tiki hut stage, and a large outdoor seating area.  The plastic chairs are not comfortable but serve a purpose as you can move them around as needed.

Square Grouper2

The outdoor venue has been great to practice physical distancing while also enjoying some live music.  Most of the bands are local and only play for two hours—cannot say the bands have been memorable but they have been good enough to make a few people get up and dance.  There has never been a large crowd when I visited but everyone seems to enjoy the atmosphere.  I spoke with one of the bartenders and he let me know they typically got around 600 people nightly before COVID-19 impacted the world.  The crowds are a lot less than that now—the most I have seen there is around 50 people spread out around the outdoor seating areas.  A few brave folks will sit at the bar but not very many.  Face masks are still required to enter but do not know how long that will last since the governor has relaxed statewide restrictions.

A surprising aspect of visiting the Square Grouper is the food.  Typical bar staples but they use fresh ingredients and fantastic seasonings.  I have tried multiple items on the menu and have not been disappointed yet.  I have been a bit adventurous and explored menu items I would not normally get. Both bars are fully stocked but the signature drink is the Rum Runner.  Never had one prior to my visit to Square Grouper but now it is my go-to drink when I am there—try it frozen if you make it there.

Hoping the band lineup starts to improve since I enjoy live music.  Will continue to leverage the Square Grouper as part of my Walk into the Future.

https://squaregrouper.net/

What locations are on your adventure list?  What makes it a place you want to visit?  Thanks!

“On the beach, you can live in bliss”.

(Dennis Wilson)

 

Running tourist—the Treasure Coast edition

“Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out what you put into it”.

(Oprah Winfrey)

Shared my running tourist Tallahassee adventures in an earlier post.

Decided to tackle the subject from my new home, Fort Pierce, Florida earlier than I did from Tallahassee.  The Tallahassee post was written when I knew I was leaving the city and realized I never took the time to write about things available there.

Wanted to get an early jump on writing about the Treasure Coast.  I am sure I will come back to this topic and provide an updated view when the COVID-19 pandemic is gone.  Most things in this area are still closed or I am not confident enough to visit yet.  There are a ton of fresh seafood markets and restaurants in the local area but do not see me going in for a meal right now even with proper physical distancing.

A good spot for takeout is 12A Buoy:  http://12abuoy.com/.  Do not know where the name came from, but they have good shrimp!

Running routes

My first two attempts to find a place to run in Fort Pierce did not go well.  I got my runs in but did not enjoy them very much.  There are not many multipurpose trails here so got out for a sidewalk run to stretch my legs.  Turns out the sidewalk I was on ended after about a quarter mile and I was relegated to running on the side of the road.  Not a huge fan of this process but did discover a nice hill and made the most of it to maintain endurance.  Never went back to this route since it had me too close to traffic.

My second attempt at finding a place to run was at my complex.  We have a large circular route (.59 miles) and I thought maybe this would get me going.  Never been thrilled going in circles but gave it a shot. My initial goal was 5 miles total, but I only got in 3.5 miles before boredom tapped me on the shoulders and I stopped.  Not a huge fan of seeing the same things when I run, and this route did not have the feel of being on an adventure—which I need for distance training.

Decided to use Google to find better spots to run.  Google identified the George LeStrange Preserve as a place with trails and it was only a 10-minute drive away.  Decided to scout the preserve and it provides multiple options with the best route going around the lake.  Again, this was a circular route but longer and there’s wildlife, shade, the lake, and people to see while in the preserve.   Enjoyed this location so much I make sure to get over there for one of my weekly runs.  Completed my Nashville Rock N Roll Half Marathon dedication run there in April to get 13.2 miles in since the actual race was postponed.  Posted a decent time considering I had no on-course support, crowds cheering or beer at the finish line.

 

A work colleague provided his favorite running spot which goes over the large, picturesque Sea Way Drive bridge and leads to Jetty Park.  I initially viewed this route as an extremely tough run since the bridge is so big, but it appears my hill training in Tallahassee prepared me well to get up and over the bridge.  Enjoy this route because there is so much to see while running and there is always a nice breeze coming off the water to help minimize the heat.  I have leveraged this route multiple times for my Tuesday and Thursday runs—leave work and head east to get my 6-mile run in.  Used an over and back approach recently to get in a double digit run—nice views each time on the bridge. 😊

 

Beaches

The beaches in the local area opened again the last week in April.  The county mandate was people could be on the beach just for exercise.  This lasted for 4 days before the governor lifted the stay at home order and the beaches opened fully with a mandate for people to maintain physical distancing.  I have gone by the beaches to get a look and feel for them but will explore fully when it is safe to be out again.  I have visited Jetty Park multiple times and sat in my vehicle to enjoy the views of the water.  It is a good place to watch people and the boats floating by.

 Beach

The Treasure Coast is comprised of Fort Pierce, Vero Beach, Port St. Lucie, Jensen Beach and Stuart, FL.  These cities are all modest size but when viewed together comprise a large area.  My goal is to fully explore them all and then come back and write about the unique features of each.  Stay tuned for Part 2!

What areas are you looking forward to exploring when it is safe again?  Thanks!

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore”.

(Andre Gide)

FYI—the beaches are closing again for the 4th of July holiday weekend!  COVID-19 is not going away.

Running tourist—the Tallahassee edition

Running tourist

(Image by 272447 from Pixabay)

“He who is outside his door has the hardest part of his journey behind him”.

(Dutch Proverb)

Shared my running tourist moniker with a group I was networking with last week and was surprised they never heard it before.  I am sure I cannot be the first to use it to describe going to other locations for race adventures but thought maybe I should try to copyright the term. Nope, just Googled it and others use the same term to highlight their running adventures too. 😊

Decided it was time to look at the running tourism I see daily in my current home of Tallahassee, Florida.  Sometimes we take things close by for granted and never truly engage/enjoy them as much as the fun travel destinations (Nashville, New Orleans, Philly, etc.).  Please note, I get out and about as much as the next person in Tallahassee but never documented much in the Walk into the Future blog.

Running trails

I have referred to the many trails and places I train to prepare for my races.  Tallahassee is known for the multiple parks, trails, and greenways available to explore.  The terrain goes from very flat surfaces to high degree inclines which are perfect to help prepare for races around the country.  My early running years in Tallahassee were mostly contained to Lafayette Heritage Park and the Alfred Greenway.

Looking back believe I stayed with these running environments because they were close by.  I simply walked across the street to get on the paved trail that took me into Lafayette Heritage Park—the Alfred Greenway is on the opposite side of the park.  Both venues provided a good foundation to running for me and looking back did not provide a huge challenge to navigate.  I still utilize both trails when I am out to just stretch my legs.

Tom Brown Park provides additional trails (paved and unpaved) to log training miles.  I normally run through the park as part of a loop I can take to get additional miles in.  My 5 – 8 mile runs all include some portion of Tom Brown park.  Like the fact I do not have to carry water through the park since they have multiple water fountains and restrooms available.  Great place to watch people and see all the happy dogs with family in the dog park.  The dogs always seem to want to run with me for some odd reason! 😊

Graduated my long runs out to the St. Marks Trail.  The St. Marks Trail was an old railroad route from Tallahassee down to the gulf coast.  It is a place to see bikers, hikers and runners all utilizing the marked trail every day of the year.  I like the fact the trail has mile markers which makes it easy to log my runs—no guessing when I want to get a 12-mile run in.  The St. Marks trail has well maintained restrooms and a few water fountains, so these are perks I enjoy while out for my runs.

There are other places to run in Tallahassee, but these are the areas I utilize when I am writing about my training program.

Downtown

Tallahassee does not have a huge downtown area but provides a few unique experiences.  Was introduced to the museum scene by a friend who is native to Tallahassee.  The Florida Museum of History is a must see if you visit.  You can trace Florida’s history from the 1600s up to World War II.  The artifacts and stories of how Florida developed are interesting and worth the trip.

The Capital building is a great place to visit and get a bird’s eye view of Tallahassee.  The 22nd floor has a panoramic observation deck which lets you view the city from the highest vantage point. It is also a great way to exercise if you decide to walk up and not take the elevator.

Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille and Andrew’s Downtown are two good places to get a meal and drinks when visiting downtown.  This is a college town so there are multiple watering holes to visit close by.

My favorite place to hang out, drink beer and eat just happens to be a local dive bar, Corner Pockets.  I would never go to Corner Pockets when I first moved to Tallahassee because I thought it was a pool hall.  They only have two pool tables and they are in the corner, but it is more sports bar than pool hall.  They have the coldest beer in town and some of the best bar food you can find anywhere.  Prices are good and the staff is friendly.  Corner Pocket attracts sports fans, so you must arrive early on game days to ensure you get a seat—standing is allowed but I like to sit at the bar and watch multiple TVs.

Again, there are other spots in Tallahassee, but I am sharing where I hang out. 😊

FSU / FAMU

This is a college town and FSU and FAMU are the large schools here.  The students provide a huge population boost during the academic year.  The sports fans/alums who come back for sporting events also provide unique experiences since traffic doubles when the home teams are in town.  This creates a more festive environment and celebrations across neighborhoods.

I am a Gator fan so do not partake in much of this until the Gators come to town! 😊

So, there you have it—these are a few ways the running tourist enjoys life when not on the road.

What are your favorite venues in your area?  How often do you get out to enjoy them?

“Time flies.  It’s up to you to be the navigator”.

(Robert Orben)

Please note, wrote this article before I left Tallahassee for Fort Pierce.  Still wanted to share.