Thursday, January 3, 2013
"My" Beach House Story
Happy New Year from Flagler Beach, Florida
January 1, 2013
Greetings from "my" home for the month of January. We arrived here on Saturday afternoon after a three-year absence to find a brand new kitchen, new living room furniture, but the same incredible view from any point in the house and a sleepy, slightly bohemic community that I totally love and pray NEVER changes. It is now Thursday and thanks to perfect weather (sunny, mid-70s), we've been on the go since arrival leaving little time for writing journal updates. I'll get caught up on our travels for those arriving from Facebook and somewhere along the way, will add New Year's Goals for those who read the blog all the time. But since several have expressed an interest in how I've managed to snag such an incredible place for an entire month especially after a three year hiatus which I thought would result in losing the opportunity permanently, here's the story.................
We have enjoyed a week or so in Florida during Bill's Christmas break for many years. Winter has always been an extremely difficult time for me both physically and mentally. Becoming a savvy, properly dressed, physically fit and well-equipped hiker has changed my entire winter outlook, HOWEVER, I still relish the days spent in Florida as a reminder that spring will come!
Quite by chance, we rented a house in Flagler Beach for 10 days in December/January of 2006. Flagler Beach was an area of Florida we hadn't really discovered and was a random pick of somewhere new to explore. Other than its location directly on the Atlantic, that house was nothing special, however, the couple that managed its rental program lived next door on the upper floor of a duplex. The bottom unit in the duplex, they rent weekly in the summer and seasonally in the winter. We became good friends and before we left that year, I casually made the remark that when Bill retired, we hoped to winter in Florida and would they keep us in mind.
Imagine my surprise when a few months later, the Conways called asking if we would be interested in renting for the entire month of January. I won't take time to share details of why the rental was to be available ONLY for January rather than the required winter seasonal winter, except to say we considered it a lucky break for us since we only knew about the unit by pure coincidence. We considered the pros and cons and decided to try it. This was the same year Allegiant Air initiated direct flights from Sanford (Orlando area) to Knoxville and we were able to book Bill TWO round trip tickets for less than $100. Because of his school schedule, he is able to stay through January 8th or so and then he returns for the long MLK weekend. Or as we prefer to think of it, his birthday weekend!!
Here's where the story gets tricky!! Bill turned 50 in January of 2006. The plan was that he would retire in five years (already five years past the retirement plans we made at age 30) and we would already have our January "nest" secured. Although I am safe, secure and content here and we became quite accustomed to being separated during the final years of my career, it was something we hadn't planned on doing again. But it was only for five years and since the MLK weekend fell in the middle of the month, we were never separated for more than 10-11 days. Always in the back of our minds, we knew that the Conways maintained a waiting list for winter and if we gave it up, we would lose it. And that is how the story went for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010.
By January, 2010, it was evident that Bill needed a refresher course in math because when asked when he planned to retire, his answer was still five years! Funny how he'd always neglected to let me in on the fact that the five-year plan was a "rolling" five years!! My sweet father-in-law was ill, we knew he was not likely to make it another year, 2010 had been a HORRIBLE weather year in Florida, Allegiant Air was now flying into Orlando International (1 1/2 hours away) instead of Sanford (40 minutes away) all leading us to believe it was time to let it go. So we did! And it was the right thing to do!
I truly believed I would never hear from the Conways again as my arrangement with them had been so specialized. Remember it's a "seasonal" rental meaning I was splitting it with a couple from Michigan who only wanted Feb/Mar. I assumed if it was ever available again, our only option would be for the entire season.
Last summer, I was delighted to get a call from Mrs. Conway asking if we'd be interested in January again. I think I asked her to repeat it five times - ONLY January and the answer was yes. I was more than ready to return and it happened to be the year that Bill's academic calendar fell perfectly giving him the maximum amount of time here before reporting back to school. I'm still not sure exactly what transpired to make January and ONLY January available again, but right now, am so thankful that it did.
We were able to negotiate a couple of extra days, so have been here since Saturday, the 28th. The weather has been Florida postcard perfect and we've been on the go since the day we arrived. Today dawned cloudy, but still quite warm with calm winds. We've declared it a "rest" day. Later this afternoon, we'll go for a long walk (gotta get those 10,000 steps), Chef Bill will prepare a delicious dinner and we'll watch the Lady Vols play basketball tonight. Tomorrow, we'll visit the absolutely amazing Flagler Beach farmers market and after that, who know??
I hadn't planned to go into this much detail, but like I said, several have asked, so there you have it. Much more to come, but in the meantime, here's the link to the house. These pics are better than mine! It's off the market for the winter months, but available by the week during the summer. The only negative I can mention is that it is small. Perfect for a couple or family of three, maybe four. If you want peace, quiet, nothing but the sound of the surf, away from anything touristy or commercial, it's perfect.
Thanks for reading!!