Taking a Florida Roadtrip in the Winter

Taking a Florida Roadtrip in the Winter. This is a recap of the roadtrip Hubby and I took through Florida this winter. We landed in Ft Lauderdale after a cruise, and thought it would be great to drive the state and visit cities we had never been to before - Naples, St Myers, and St Petersburg, and to one we know very well - St. Augustine


This is a recap of the roadtrip Hubby and I took through Florida this winter. We landed in Ft Lauderdale after a cruise, and thought it would be great to drive the state and visit cities we had never been to before – Naples, St Myers, and St Petersburg, and to one we know very well – St. Augustine.

Taking a Florida Roadtrip in the Winter

I have been fairly quiet on the blog and social media the last two months. While I mentioned our January and February winter trip in my newsletter (sign up, it’s free!) a few times, I haven’t given many details. For better or for worse, that is about to change!

We all have “bucket list” items; things we would like to do or see before we “kick the bucket”. Many such items are travel related. For me, one of my “bucket list” items was to see the Panama Canal.

Hubby and I had a Panama Canal cruise booked years ago but due to work obligations, we were unable to make it. After we got Max, we tried to make vacations short if we traveled without him (a week or less). We did take two long trips, both work related, before Max became ill. After Mr. Max developed GME we only went to Europe once annnnnd that was it for our long vacations.

After Max passed away, I decided we were going to do some traveling. Hubby and I have a short list of places we want to go, but several of those trips are fairly long (over a month long). We are heading back to Italy for six weeks in the fall. Hubby has been working diligently to book the sights and sounds we want to experience. Next winter (January and February) we are going on THE trip of our lifetime – Australia and New Zealand. We sincerely doubt we will head back (unless we take a world cruise) as the flight time is 22 hours, and well, that is a long time on a plane. Right now, Hubby’s trying to figure out how to break it up (possibly a stop in Hawaii if we go west, or a stop in Barcelona if we fly east) so we don’t arrive exhausted and lose the first two days.

If we get another dog (or two) we will again be constrained to no longer than two-week vacations without the pet, so we figured let’s do the long ones while we can.

When we planned this Panama Canal trip, I suggested to Hubby that we had no reason to go home right away once we disembarked; how about road-tripping through Florida!?

He was all for it, so we drove down to Ft Lauderdale from our home the beginning of January taking a slow drive over four days. While in Ft. Lauderdale, we enjoyed dinner every evening with one of our relatives (two of Hubby’s relatives, one of my relatives).

We then boarded our cruise, and made sail for the Panama Canal! (I’ll be writing up that trip next week.)

When we returned to port, we hopped in our vehicle and drove across alligator alley. Hubby was on a call with my brother and I kept yelling out “there’s one!” to the point that they both told me to be quiet. Darned speaker phone.

Taking a Florida Roadtrip in the Winter. This is a recap of the roadtrip Hubby and I took through Florida this winter. We landed in Ft Lauderdale after a cruise, and thought it would be great to drive the state and visit cities we had never been to before - Naples, St Myers, and St Petersburg, and to one we know very well - St. Augustine


We arrived in Naples, Florida on January 29th, and we were greeted by the friendly neighborhood Bentley dealer while the Rolex sign winked at us across the street. Naples was far, far, far more expensive than I expected.

We did very little in Naples as it is all nature, or food, related. And that was ok. Sometimes, you just need to slow down.

Taking a Florida Roadtrip in the Winter. This is a recap of the roadtrip Hubby and I took through Florida this winter. We landed in Ft Lauderdale after a cruise, and thought it would be great to drive the state and visit cities we had never been to before - Naples, St Myers, and St Petersburg, and to one we know very well - St. Augustine


After five days in Naples, we drove up the road to Ft Myers. We again did very little (the weather was simply hot as heck!), but nevertheless enjoyed our stay.

Taking a Florida Roadtrip in the Winter. This is a recap of the roadtrip Hubby and I took through Florida this winter. We landed in Ft Lauderdale after a cruise, and thought it would be great to drive the state and visit cities we had never been to before - Naples, St Myers, and St Petersburg, and to one we know very well - St. Augustine


After five days in Ft Myers, we drove up to St Petersburg. We loved it! I swear downtown St Petersburg is trying to become the Austin of Florida. Lots of glass museums, glassworks, trendy shops, restaurants, a try it wine place (I want Hubby to replicate the idea in Buffalo!), along with sailing, and dogs! dogs! dogs! This was the single most dog-friendly city I have ever seen! If we do end up with more dogs, we will definitely look to snowbird for at least a month in St Petersburg in the winter.

Taking a Florida Roadtrip in the Winter. This is a recap of the roadtrip Hubby and I took through Florida this winter. We landed in Ft Lauderdale after a cruise, and thought it would be great to drive the state and visit cities we had never been to before - Naples, St Myers, and St Petersburg, and to one we know very well - St. Augustine


On the left is the hotel where we stayed.


Sonny-boy and his SO were in Cancun, Mexico and decided to join us for a week in Florida on their way back home. He works for a bank and there is a “rule” about taking two weeks of vacation together once per year. She is a nurse and was able to stack days off with her vacation. One week in Mexico, one week in Florida was their plan.

Once they joined us in St Petersburg we did a more “touristy” things, and less aimless wandering.

After St Petersburg, we all went over to St Augustine. They only had three days with us there, but Hubby and I were there until Sunday the 17th.

Taking a Florida Roadtrip in the Winter. This is a recap of the roadtrip Hubby and I took through Florida this winter. We landed in Ft Lauderdale after a cruise, and thought it would be great to drive the state and visit cities we had never been to before - Naples, St Myers, and St Petersburg, and to one we know very well - St. Augustine


We, of course, love St. Augustine. I planned on doing “all the touristy things we never had time for” when we snowbirded there for years, but the best-laid plans…

We went back to the Alligator Farm, spent time in Old Town, annnnnd took some time to see how much had changed in the two years since we were last there.

Taking a Florida Roadtrip in the Winter. This is a recap of the roadtrip Hubby and I took through Florida this winter. We landed in Ft Lauderdale after a cruise, and thought it would be great to drive the state and visit cities we had never been to before - Naples, St Myers, and St Petersburg, and to one we know very well - St. Augustine


Our time in Florida was met with hot, but sunny, weather. Our only rainy day was when we drove cross state from St Petersburg to St Augustine (with a stop for tastee delight ice cream so Hubby could revisit his favorite metro-NYC spot in Florida).

After that, we went to Savannah. We “lived” less than three hours away from Savannah, Georgia for years, and yet we had never done more than drive through once before. I had always wanted to visit, so it seemed like a perfect time to explore the city on our drive back home. This is where our weather-luck turned. And where I found that my blood had thinned in the prior five weeks… man it was cold at 55 degrees (and a lot less)!

The weather in Savannah was dreadful (rainy, windy and cold) so we didn’t do much by way of sightseeing. We did manage to eat at some pretty decent restaurants though (my Instagram account has the trip food photos).

After that, it was the long drive home. Hubby planned it very well. We drove in between a southern storm that came in the day after we left Savannah, and a northern storm that arrived two days after we got home.

All-in-all I am very glad we took the time to explore some of the west coast of Florida. It was simply beautiful on the gulf coast, and the weather – while unseasonably hot (it was 10-15 degrees above normal) – we clear and sunny!

Next vacation? Six weeks in Italy this September through October. That should be fun! As I mentioned above Hubby is in the planning stages now.


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St Augustine, Florida, 2017

St Augustine, Florida. Life in Vilano beach, early 2017. Photos of A1A, Vilano beach; white sand, strong waves, and sunshine. Taken 3 and 4 months after Hurricane Matthew.


Every Friday when I send out my weekly newsletter, I include a few updates on what is going on in the Ann’s Entitled Life household. However, I am unsure how long I will be keeping those old newsletters, and this blog is supposed to be my diary, so I like to give a bit of a round-up on occasion on what is going on in our lives so I can look back 10 years and reminisce.

This year, we are once again at our condo in the St. Augustine area snowbirding. We’ve owned the condo for four years now, and Hubby is getting happy feet. We are probably going to list it in April, and see if it sells. If it doesn’t… well, we come back next year.

This is on top of still looking for a new home back in Western New York. That has been more difficult than we had hoped it would be. We know what we want, where we want it, and it becoming more apparent as time goes by that that home may not exist. (We will not build as our personalities are not made for the trials of building a home.) Also, the market back home is much hotter than down here in Florida, and the supply back home where we want to live are extremely tight. Not certain I want to overpay for a house with a view and then spend big-bucks renovating to make it liveable.

However, with a bit of luck, we could be selling two places this year and buying one in 2017. Thank goodness Hubby unloaded one of his rental properties last year and is considering unloading more this year. I can forsee a lot of real estate transactions in our future, or none… ah the real estate waiting game. Good times.

St Augustine, Florida. Life in Vilano beach, early 2017. Photos of A1A, Vilano beach; white sand, strong waves, and sunshine. Taken 3 and 4 months after Hurricane Matthew.


St Augustine, Florida. Life in Vilano beach, early 2017. Photos of A1A, Vilano beach; white sand, strong waves, and sunshine. Taken 3 and 4 months after Hurricane Matthew.


Anyhoooooo…. getting back to our time in St Augustine in 2017.

The weather has been outstanding. Not just good, but phenomenal. Oh sure we had a few days with highs in the 60s (that is amazing!! In a normal January we’d have been happy with that for most of the month’s highs nevermind lows for daytime high temperatures!), some rainy weekends and a tornado warning one day (ok, that was scary), but for the most part we’ve had lovely 70s and 80s with a fair amount of sun.

St Augustine, Florida. Life in Vilano beach, early 2017. Photos of A1A, Vilano beach; white sand, strong waves, and sunshine. Taken 3 and 4 months after Hurricane Matthew.


St Augustine, Florida. Life in Vilano beach, early 2017. Photos of A1A, Vilano beach; white sand, strong waves, and sunshine. Taken 3 and 4 months after Hurricane Matthew.


Max and I have made it our mission to go to the beach and walk in the (low tide) waves a few days a week. He is groomed on Fridays this year, so I take that into account. We had set up physical therapy for him in Jacksonville on Thursdays mainly for the water treadmill. Come to find out that the treadmill there was flat, no incline. Well, we can get the same results on the beach here, so I take him down on Monday (he’s already looking a little grubby after the weekend) and Wednesday for a good mile+ walk on the sand, and through the water.

Since traveling to Jacksonville and spending the day made no sense for PT after we nixed that water treadmill, we have a physical therapist come to the condo on Thursdays to give Max the rest of his therapy exercises and a laser treatment (for pain management). The PT vet said he is doing extremely well and she does feel the beach walks are helping him.

Mr. Max lowered his Prednisone dose this past Sunday, so the beach may also be necessary to deal with an increase in energy!

St Augustine, Florida. Life in Vilano beach, early 2017. Photos of A1A, Vilano beach; white sand, strong waves, and sunshine. Taken 3 and 4 months after Hurricane Matthew.


St Augustine, Florida. Life in Vilano beach, early 2017. Photos of A1A, Vilano beach; white sand, strong waves, and sunshine. Taken 3 and 4 months after Hurricane Matthew.


These photos show some of the damage from Hurricane Matthew last October. When we arrived in January, there was a dumpster in every driveway on A1A (not kidding). The Vilano Beach Pier was undergoing some repairs (since finished) and our condo building still had repairs being made in the basement (storage lockers). Two blocks with older homes and trailer homes seem to be toast. Considering all that will be going on in Vilano beach the next two years, I expect some pretty pricey housing to go up on those blocks.

There was one house on A1A that was on pylons for years. They had trucked in more sand for support two years ago and were working on the house for what seemed like forever. THAT house looks beautiful now. The rest of them? Well, you see in the photos above the damage done by the hurricane to some of the beach homes.

There is sand on the opposite side of the street on A1A too. If you had not been down here before the hurricane hit, you wouldn’t think anything of it. To me, it is odd to see. I followed along on twitter when Hurricane Matthew hit, and then the clean-up afterward. A1A here was covered in debris and sand, and the trucks came down the road and basically plowed everything out of the way before they reopened the bridge to people and traffic.

I did post Hubby and Sonny-boy’s ocean fishing experience here: Offshore Ocean Fishing – From Ocean to Table.

Hubby has been heading into Jacksonville once a week for shooting lessons. He’s getting quite proficient, and brings home is targets for me to “admire” more often than not.

St Augustine, Florida. Life in Vilano beach, early 2017. Photos of A1A, Vilano beach; white sand, strong waves, and sunshine. Taken 3 and 4 months after Hurricane Matthew.


For myself, I have been doing nothing. And enjoying every second I have been doing it! Publix has a B1G1 wine sale every week, and I found two new wines to put into my rotation: Ravage Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (we went back twice to get this one… omg good!) and Buried Cane Cabernet Sauvignon 2012.

Hubby and I enjoy a “date day” every Tuesday. We go out, explore and/or shop, have lunch, etc. (We have a puppy sitter stop in so Max is not alone for too long.) Every Friday when Max goes to the groomer, Hubby and I have a good 4-5 hours to ourselves again too. We have hit all the resteraunts in the area we have enjoyed previously, and will not be off to new restaurants starting this Friday!

That is all that has been going on with use these early days of 2017. What is new with you and your family?


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• For more Florida posts on Ann’s Entitled Life, click here.

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Offshore Ocean Fishing – From Ocean to Table

Offshore Ocean Fishing - From Ocean to Table. A day of Atlantic Ocean offshore fishing on a charter boat in the St Augustine, Florida, Jacksonville, Florida area. The catch goes from ocean, to our dining room table!





Hubby had wanted to go ocean fishing for a few years now, and the weather was never conducive to going when we had company (fishing is not for me). Until now. Sonny-boy came to visit us last week at our condo in Florida, and he and Hubby went out offshore ocean fishing.

The weather has been glorious the last few weeks in the St. Augustine area. Little rain, mostly sunny, and temperatures from 65°-80°. Unseasonably warm and clear! We will take it.

With this wonderful weather, came great fishing conditions. Normally, ocean fishing in January is not possible (the captain of the boat Sonny-boy and Hubby went out with said he normally goes out five times in January). When my brother was up two years ago in February, the ocean was too rough the whole week to go out. You need fairly decent weather to go out ocean fishing with a rod and reel.

Hubby looked into the offshore ocean fishing a bit for cost and regulation. The charter boat covers their fishing license (as I understand it is part of the fees the charter pays to Florida). Some boats do not go out very far, and Hubby wanted one that would go out far enough so they were not waving at the people on the beach.

He finally settled on a charter boat for him and Sonny-boy that was 6 hours long (other choices at this time of year were 4 hours and 8 hours. There is a dawn to dust choice in-season.) The cost was $650, so this is pretty expensive fish.

Offshore Ocean Fishing - From Ocean to Table. A day of Atlantic Ocean offshore fishing on a charter boat in the St Augustine, Florida, Jacksonville, Florida area. The catch goes from ocean, to our dining room table!


In Hubby’s words…

I went on a 6-hour offshore fishing trip with my stepson today off the coast of St. Augustine and Jacksonville, FL. I have only ocean fished once before, and that was in a small boat off Long Island years ago. This was a 36 foot 600 hp center console boat. Water was a bit choppy heading 10 miles offshore due to swirling winds. We then headed north about 10 miles towards Jacksonville.

For most of the time we had lines in the water, it was non-stop action. We were bottom fishing, and the fish would sometimes hit the bait before I had even set the reel. I must have caught over three dozen fish throughout the day. Unfortunately, most of them got thrown back in the water. We ended up keeping our limit of seabass (5 over 13″ each). Over half the fish we caught were red snapper, some nice sized ones, too, but we could not keep any. Also, I caught a 30# drum fish and a small strawberry grouper that had to go back.

If anyone has visions of relaxing while ocean fishing, forget it. There was no place to sit. Instead, you had to brace the front of your legs against the sidewall of the boat while holding the rod in your hands. This did not do my back any favors. With all the action, my wrists were actually getting tired.

Then, there was the mid-trip nausea and dry heaves for five minutes. The captain gave me credit for getting right back on the horse and continuing to fish afterward. I don’t mean to complain, I just wanted to relay my actual experience. The captain definitely delivered as far as finding where the fish were.

As I understand it, trolling-style fishing happens in the summer when the ocean water is warm. Maybe I will give that a try someday.

Offshore Ocean Fishing - From Ocean to Table. A day of Atlantic Ocean offshore fishing on a charter boat in the St Augustine, Florida, Jacksonville, Florida area. The catch goes from ocean, to our dining room table!


Sonny-boy and Hubby each caught a drum fish. That is a picture of Sonny-boy with his. Sonny-boy is 6’5″ tall, so that is one big fish!!

Unfortunately, they had to toss them back. Not in season.

Hubby caught more than 15 red snapper fish (Sonny-boy caught 3) and had to toss them all back. According to the captain, they could not take any (I since found this website that suggests they could have each kept one, possibly two – red snapper.)

Offshore Ocean Fishing - From Ocean to Table. A day of Atlantic Ocean offshore fishing on a charter boat in the St Augustine, Florida, Jacksonville, Florida area. The catch goes from ocean, to our dining room table!


Offshore Ocean Fishing - From Ocean to Table. A day of Atlantic Ocean offshore fishing on a charter boat in the St Augustine, Florida, Jacksonville, Florida area. The catch goes from ocean, to our dining room table!


They ended up keeping 10 seabass (5 each).

After filleting (which was included), Hubby said they end up with about 3- 4 pounds of fish.
We had dinner, and then Hubby foodsavered the rest. (Be sure to click here for Hubby’s Vacuum Sealing Tips and Tricks!)

Offshore Ocean Fishing - From Ocean to Table. A day of Atlantic Ocean offshore fishing on a charter boat in the St Augustine, Florida, Jacksonville, Florida area. The catch goes from ocean, to our dining room table!


Offshore Ocean Fishing - From Ocean to Table. A day of Atlantic Ocean offshore fishing on a charter boat in the St Augustine, Florida, Jacksonville, Florida area. The catch goes from ocean, to our dining room table!


Offshore Ocean Fishing - From Ocean to Table. A day of Atlantic Ocean offshore fishing on a charter boat in the St Augustine, Florida, Jacksonville, Florida area. The catch goes from ocean, to our dining room table!


Fortunately, it was delicious because for the price per pound, it was the most expensive fish fry we ever had! 😛

A few notes – the amount of red snapper they caught (that was tossed back) was a surprise even to the captain. Apparently, the ocean is quite cold in January (it isn’t horrible when we walk the beach, but I would not want to go swimming right now). Normally little fish come up when it is warmer to feed.

Offshore Ocean Fishing - From Ocean to Table. A day of Atlantic Ocean offshore fishing on a charter boat in the St Augustine, Florida, Jacksonville, Florida area. The catch goes from ocean, to our dining room table!


The same for the pelicans. They will scoop up those fish and eat them. Right now, they are very hungry. There was a welcoming committee when they came back hoping for fish scraps. You cannot feed the scraps to the pelicans though as the bones could lodge in their throat.

Hubby and Sonny-boy both said they had a great time, although it was a lot of work and not the sitting in a chair while drinking a beer and hoping for a nibble idea most people have of fishing!


Disclosure: the links in this post may be affiliate links.

• For more Florida posts on Ann’s Entitled Life, click here.

• For more Travel posts on Ann’s Entitled Life, click here.

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