Saturday, September 26, 2015

Jax Fax, or How I Learned To Love Florida

     Time for a bloggy update! Sorry to be so slow but there have been many doings since our last post, mostly revolving around settling in here.

     We found a new apartment, which means leaving our short term rental a little early, but the landlord agreed to give us a refund if she is able to rent it, so we are hopeful. Our new place is in the Riverside/Avondale district of Jacksonville, so we are on the other side of the river from the short term place, to the West of the St. John's river. This is cool primarily because the neighborhood has much more character, with tree lined streets and pretty old houses. On this side of the river it's a lot more like Jersey, with strip malls lining both sides of 4 lane undivided highways.

     So I spent a lot of time this past week getting our address changed on all our accounts great and small, setting up internet, cable, utilities, etc, etc... I've been taking advantage of the pool and gym here to start training for a sprint triathlon and that's been very rewarding in the sense that I've never done anything like that before. By now it must be obvious that making a practice of regularly trying things we've never done before is a priority in our lives here at Team Toomey/Dunkinson. Hopefully I can keep it up once I start working, and maybe even drag LuAnn into it with me. We just joined the Y and went to the gym all week, in addition to my training, so that was a good start. There's some great street art around here too.

     Searching for work has not been as rewarding, in as much as I haven't secured a position yet. I hope that will change soon. Despite my natural misgivings at starting a new job I have a bit more time on my hands than is strictly good for me, and have yet o really turn it to creative pursuits. I have managed to get some guitar playing in, but the weather is so nice I really want to go outside and enjoy it, especially since (in my view) it's rapidly getting so awful in the Northeast.

     We went to the Saturday Art Market, met some nice people & watched the dog costume parade. That was fun. Seems like a lot of really great food and music events happen here all year round and we've already gotten tickets for several of them, including the bacon & beer fest which we are very excited about.

     We ate at Southern Charm, an amazing all-you-can-eat shrimp buffet type of thing they call "cracker food". I thought any po' white trash person was a cracker, but apparently the term is of Irish extraction, a bastardized usage of "craic", meaning fun.

     We, of course, went to Jax Beach where I immediately broke one of the beach chairs we just bought. *sigh* Made in China. Swimming in the ocean is gonna be a lot harder than it is in the pool. Also spent a bunch of time shopping at the antique places for some furniture pieces we need like a kitchen table, coffee table, lamps, end table...basically the stuff we got rid of before we moved. We checked out TVs at best buy, and picked the same one we gave away that's now half the price. I continue to fail to convince LuAnn that milk crates, bricks and planks make suitable furniture. The designer in her rejects my trailer park chic!

     We had a very nice dinner with the family of one of LuAnn's former co-workers who coincidentally happens to live in Jacksonville. We also went to reggae night at Jacksonville Landing and saw the 319 band. I had to get a new phone because AT&T sucks and sold me a phone that, though it worked everywhere else in the world, staunchly refused to work properly on the T-Mobil network. Yet another reason to hate those monopolists. Humph.

     Perhaps this all seems very boring and normal to everyone else, but to me it's still an amazing adventure. So many new things to do and places to see! We are loving Florida pretty hard, although so far the Jaguars and Buccaneers aren't really rocking my world. I bought a Gators T-shirt. Might have to root for Miami! :-)

     The weather has been kinda funny. Most days it's nice in the morning, clouds up in the afternoon and rains in the evening. So far I am not really minding it though. Got me a new suit to go to interviews in. My pals say I look like a preacher. Brother Andy!

     Well, that's it for now. Hopefully we will be having more far flung adventures soon in places like New Orleans, Tallahassee, Miami, Key West and of course Savannah! All the best you fantastic people!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

After England: American Road Trip!

     Last day in Malvern Link! Got up early and took care of the hound, met Deborah, the lady who would watch Nessie the one day between my departure and her people' arrival and after a brief SNAFU where Enterprise forgot to pick me up I drove the rental car to Heathrow, dropped it off and got through security with no trouble. That was surprising because LuAnn was looked at quite carefully but apparently that was random? Anyway, here's Dublin from the air!

     After a short uneventful flight I got through the "US Pre-screening" which basically meant I cleared US customs in Dublin. So that was weird, but cool. The guy said "You've been through 17 countries in 9 months and THAT'S all the luggage you have?" to which I replied "Well, yeah. plus this guitar." He shook his head and waved me through. I haven't flown into Boston in many years and I forgot how pretty it is!

   The long-ish flight got me to Boston Friday, and I waited an hour and a half for the Hertz rent-a-car because there were so many people in line and so few clerks. I was NOT pleased. Nevertheless I got a bitchin blue Chrysler 200 car, met up with some old pals in Burlington and had a blast. 

     Saturday morning after breakfast at the diner I grabbed some guitars and drove to Buchanan, NY to visit more pals, including the newest member of their clan above, got some more guitars and had another blast!!

     Regardless, I doubt we'll be house sitting again soon, so it's a moot point. You can't please everyone, but evidently pissing everyone off is a cinch. Meanwhile, blue Chrysler 200! Thing goes like a scalded ape! I want one but really it's not in the budget, especially until I find some work.

     Sunday it was off to NJ to visit my pals on the shore, then to DC to pick up LuAnn's art, that we left there, then the rest of the way to Richmond VA to visit my folks. After a nice night's sleep at the Arboretum there we had breakfast at yet another diner and finally I drove to Jacksonville in 8 hours flat (with two stops for gas & pee). Whew! Got all my guitars, LuAnn Dunkinson's art and got back in the fold with the wifeypoo! Yay! Let the Southern adventures begin!

     This week we bought a fancy Fiat 500 and secured an apartment since we have to be out of this short term rental Sept 26th. I was leery of buying a Fiat for various reasons, but we've driven several of them in our trips to Europe and LuAnn just loves them. I must admit she's pretty fun to drive; the car, I mean. 

     I wanted to name her Fiona cause she's Italian and fat and green like in Shrek, but we settled on 'Sophia' instead. Have I mentioned the beaches here? 'Cause DAMN! So clean! So flat! Prefect for running! And the water is so warm! Hallelujah! I'm already loving it here!

     Other than that there's been a deal of errands that needed doing while LuAnn was at work and now finally we have a weekend together so we went first to Jax Beach and then headed down to the St Augustine lighthouse. 

    St Augustine is having their 450th anniversary but the weather wasn't so great so we came home and watched Batman reruns. Good times! Got some new friends to see over the holiday and I hope you all have a fantastic one as well. Cheers mates! Happy Labor Day! Thank a union worker for your day off!