Friday, January 9, 2009

Greeting the New Year, Florida Style

We've just come back from two weeks of vacation.

Checked the house as we drove up to make sure all the doors were shut and no windows broken, unplugged the Christmas lights in the front yard as we walked in, found our plants alive, turned up the heat, turned out the "yes, somebody really is in the house" light, went through the mail, and have settled in.

Unpacking the truck can wait a few.

I'm eating my first real chocolate since we left--a dense, creamy truffle left over from holidays--breaking a healthy streak that would do my upcoming year of training proud, but, oh well, training allows me to (somewhat) eat this stuff.

These are my current, brief impressions:

It is truly nice to return to Albuquerque on one of those seeringly blue, sunshiney warmish winter days with little poofs of white clouds floating in the sky--instead of driving up into winter, like we did two years ago when we returned from a Texas Hill Country climbing trip.

Florida water is swampish, Texas water is musty. By the second to last day of the trip I couldn't lift a swampy smelling water bottle to my mouth because the smell was almost nauseating. At a (nice) Texas rest area just outside of Quannah, Mr. T dumped out the Florida water and refilled my bottles, so I wouldn't dehydrate over the last 10 hours of driving.

Camp food is unappetizingly good for you. Quick, easy, low fat. I went through withdrawal for the first week, my body craving a sweet snack after ingesting all those holiday cookies and candies for the two months before we left on the trip.

I feel good. My body feels good. We had 8 days in Florida and exceptionally good weather, according to the locals. We used the time and weather to get in 6 sessions of swimming (all outdoor--3 in open water), 4 sessions of biking, 5 of running, plus two yoga classes, and two days of weights. We went to bed between 8 and 10 pm each night, trying to read before going to sleep, but generally only getting in a page or two before closing our eyes.

It was nice to have down time. Getting away from everything. Getting to bed early. No schedule. We've had a frenetic year. Can't say I've had this much sleep in a long time.

The internet is just completely cool. We used wireless access at Starbucks, Whole Foods, and the training center. Did not get caught up in the usual internet diversions, just kept in touch with community including work and school, checked emails, and looked up information.

People are really good. Kind and generous with their time and knowledge, we felt like we were welcomed into a community. We were sent in the right direction whenever we were lost, let in on the backyard secrets of an area we didn't know. We had use of some one's personal jetted outdoor hot tub and shower facility for several days, were escorted to the nearest Starbucks when we were looking for internet (not directed, escorted), given fresh picked avocados, invited to join the Masters morning swim workout, and received directions for several local rides--including Sugarloaf--the highest point in peninsular Florida at 312 feet (30 feet shorter than the high point in Florida, iconic-because it's the only one you ever hear of-and dreaded by Great Floridian triathlon participants).

Everything is relative. Our little house looked spacious--after spending two weeks in a truck and a tent. The wood floors were warm and inviting, the windows let in lots of light, the park across the street gives us open views. It's a nice place to live.

On the everything is relative front, I had the best birthday cake and ice cream ever, on the road before 10:00 am. Cake was a Starbucks cheese danish in Amarillo, Texas, and a lone Dairy Queen somewhere between Tucumcari and Clines Corner in New Mexico provided a vanilla-cone-dipped-in-chocolate for the ice cream. Today is my birthday--and it's been a nice one so far.

Finally, warm weather vacations in the middle of winter are good. We love them. They get us out of the rut of hiding under giant jackets and being cold all the time. It's a good way to greet and renew for the New Year.

Happy New Year, everyone.
And, as with every new year, more to follow...