Vero Beach, FL
Vero Beach is a charming small town in Florida, with beautiful parks, enormous trees for climbing and a few guarded beaches, which the kids finally agreed to go to…(after all, we do live surrounded by water these days; a trip to the beach has lost some of its exotic flavor).
|At first no one wanted to go to the beach, because it would be "boring"...|
Many of the Vero Beach beaches are nesting habitats for sea turtles during the Spring months, and it is not unusual to spot turtles making their way to the water, if one plans the trip well. As we found out, most shark attacks happen right around that Spring time, because the sharks, rushing to take a tasty bite off of a turtle, occasionally bite humans. Such attacks are very rarely fatal, but it is one thing to read about them on Bull Run Mountain, VA, and quite a different one to watch your kids splash in the waters from that news article. Being the helicopter mom that I have slowly turned into, breaking out of my shell, during our trip has been necessary, difficult, and incomplete.
|Helicoptering tree-climbing, "Be careful children, don't climb too high, ok, I'll smile a little."|
You may never recognize me again! After a visit to the dermatologist, no more Mina with The Mole!
|The waters from that newspaper article, don't they look sharky?|
Vero Beach brought us a wonderful visit with Father Deacon Peter and Diakonissa Tanya, at their beautiful Florida home. Diakonissa’s cooking is phenomenal, and they are so hospitable! If you are passing through Vero Beach, on your boat, you must time it with their Florida stay, I will give you their address – you absolutely must try her focaccia! It took buying a boat and sailing away from everyone, to bring us closer to some of the families from our home parish, St. Mary’s Orthodox, in Falls Church, VA, who would have thought!
Another pleasantly surprising part of our sailing trip, has been the ability to find an Orthodox church near our marinas. We rarely have a hard time locating Catholic churches nearby, but I left VA armed with a copy of the Orthodox Typika, prepared to turned our boat into as much of an Orthodox service-friendly place, as possible! Starting with Savannah, there would be an OCA church at every single town we visited, within 10-15min. drive!
Visiting different parishes has also been quite an eye-opening experience. Most of these small parishes are tightly knit, and we are quickly spotted as the “visiting family”. There are quite a few differences in customs and traditions, which we have grown to not question and simply respect and accept (well, the children never accepted having confessions heard at the altar, where “Everyone can hear everything!”). It does not take long to start a conversation with "the sailing family", after Liturgy. We have also experienced, first hand, the importance of being a welcoming and inviting “host family” at church during coffee hour, something I have failed to offer many new-comers at our home parish. Partaking of food and drinks, by yourself, in the corner, surrounded by strangers, makes those bites hard to swallow!
|St. Andrew the First-Called, at New Port Richey, super cool teens at a super cool church. And Fr. Patrick used to be a sponsored skateboard skater!|
Finding new friends, and visiting current friends has been the most enjoyable part of our trip. We have always been able to find other kid-boats, or boaters to chat with, at every marina, and even at anchorage. This has not been a lonely trip thus far, but it did take at least a 1000 miles at sea, and a few months of such lifestyle, for everyone to embrace it. That would happen further south, when we would finally reach Miami!
|Playing with some of the kids from another boat, with 5 (FIVE!) kids aboard, all of a sudden our boat feels large!|
We took a couple of weeks off from our boat-life in Vero Boach, to visit Joe’s uncle, at his house on the west coast of Florida. We very much enjoyed celebrating Christmas with family and friends. The Tampa area feels quite different from East Florida, and we found ourselves browsing Realtor to see if maybe we can have our next land home on that bay. Yet another plan, which was later changed. We were just quickly reminded of the convenience and comfort of sleeping in a regular-sized bed, having unlimited running water and electricity, and using the bathroom the easy way. Going back to the boat, after our land vacation was a bit tricky!
|Relaxing on the porch at uncle Gene's house, in New Port Richey, FL. Spending a warm and sunny Christmas at his house has turned into a family tradition.|
|With a small tent any space can become a private room, who needs beds anyway!|
|Cooking a delicious meal, ymm, just eat it with your eyes closed!|
|Exploring a tiny sandbar in the Gulf of Mexico, someone has placed a metal cross on it. The cross is now the highest point on the sand bar!|
|Christmas Eve with family, keeping an old Bulgarian tradition, we had an odd number of fasting dishes!|
|This boat was washed up on a small island. Joe and Gene managed to find the owners and helped them gather whatever valuables were still left there. A terrible sight to see, and, sadly, a scavenger hunt waiting to happen!|
|The sand is so white, might as well build a sandman!|
|We met up with even more cousins, these ones are Bulgarian, from Seattle, WA!|
|Mother-daughter bonding crafts time; there is no internet at uncle Gene's, hurray!|
|No, I did not take that photo of Joey trying water skiing in a spot called "Shark Alley". I was cooking at the house, angry and worried, but it is a cool photo!|
Once we came back to Vero Beach, we were all anxious to leave our marina and sail south to Miami! That was the nicest marina we had been at, the most expensive stay so far, and the least favorite for the children. We found out that gated 55+ communities rarely attract live-aboard families with loud children, who ride their scooters and skateboards early in the morning, chase each other and eat most of the donuts at a quiet morning get-together party, at the quiet pool, with the quiet waterfall…lesson learned.
|Our quiet marina with the quiet pool, the quiet waterfall...|
|The quiet water at the quiet marina. We did enjoy the free coffee in the morning!|
|Shortly after arriving at Vero Beach, we were attacked by No See Ums - tiny flying, biting bugs! Time to go! Crafts have never been my thing, but you cannot go wrong with blue masking tape, I use it all the time!|