Now that I know I will be spending a few weeks back in the sunshine state, it was time for me to get my body back in shape. After being cooped up in my home for months on end, when I looked in the mirror, the image looking back at me wasn’t as kind as I thought it should be.

OMFG!

Forget about the few extra pounds I put on! The rest of me was in very bad disarray. My hair was spiked out from all the static a winter home can discharge. My naturally curly hair actually stood up straight. It was something out of a Frankenstein movie. Next came the wrinkles and all the dried skin. My fingernails were chipped and sporadic. I don’t even want to discuss what the removal of my woolen socks revealed when I peeled them back to look at my toenails. Getting a haircut, manicure and a pedicure is totally out of the question. There’s just no money in my budget for beauty. I had to do all of my upkeep by myself. Hubby cuts my hair with a buzz pixie cut (#8 on the top. #5 on the sides).

Thankfully over the years, I have built up an arsenal of “beauty” products. Voila’

The first thing I did was get my body into a very hot bath filled with lavender bath salts. That got rid of the aches and pains of this 71 year old broad. Next I exfoliated my entire body with my peach fuzz rub. I have a special Dr. Scholl’s pedicure (and manicure, I use this product on my hands too!) rub that works magic in minutes. I used an Oil Of Olay mud mask product on my face (after I exfoliated it super special). I topped off my bath with a super rub down of Jergen’s body lotion on my bod and Neutrogena Retinol A on my face. Once dry, I utilized my trusty battery operated razor to do a few nip and tucks in some sensitive areas making me bath suit ready.

OMFG……..NO!

I’m still not ready. I need a few days out in the sun and surf to really transform myself. So, you’ll have to wait a few more days to see the ‘after’ affects. Sorry. Why do we people do this to ourselves? For me, the sheer thought of winter depression keeps me in my floppy PJs all day. Without pure fresh beach air, I would whither and die. I’ve been going to Florida every single winter since I was five years old. This pandemic has kept me away these past two years and in all honesty, I’m ready to break out, Covid-19 or not! I’m sure there are lots of people thinking and feeling the same way I am right now. To heck with everything.

I WANT MY LIFE BACK! NOW!

You would think I would have solved my wintertime Florida obsession by now but after three attempts, I’m like almost done. The first attempt was buying a Vero Beach condo that went sour the day of closing. It was called off (at a $2,000 loss) The seller cancelled the electricity one month before closing and mold erupted on the bedroom walls. Then enter 2015 where I actually bought and closed on a Sarasota condo BUT my surrounding neighbors smoked (which seeped in through the condo walls) and after a year and a half I had to sell the darn thing (at a $5,000 total loss) in order to maintain my own lung health (secondhand smoke kills, dontcha know?)

Fast forward to January 2020 and I thought I was so smart buying a $27,000 RV (now valued at $37,000) and leasing space at an exclusive RV resort back in Vero Beach, Florida. By the end of February I knew something was brewing pandemic wise and hubby and I quickly vacated said resort, drove back up to our northeast home, where on March 11, 2020 it was officially announced that the Coronavirus has infiltrated America. Everyone was ordered shut down, closed and inside their homes, where we have stayed ever since. Not my fault, but three times is not a charm: this was my third failed attempt to secure a winter location for my winter doldrums. Three times, you’re out!

My beloved sister just bought a huge home in Sarasota and has offered me one of her six bedrooms to me every winter. You and I both know that even family can’t put up very long with another family member staying in their homes for any extended period of time. This may work out for a while but it’s temporary. Right now, I’m stuck with an RV, that has a 4% loan on it (yes, I used it over the summer but that’s NOT the reason why I bought it) and it is causing havoc with my budget. I seriously don’t know what to do.

My longtime childhood friends, who also vacation in Vero Beach over the winter have offered my husband and myself a spot in their home rental vacation plans. Every winter they rent. They do NOT recommend selling their northeast homes and relocating to Florida permanently. They have, the same as I have, kids and grandkids up east and they are not leaving them. I told them I was very interested. I’m just waiting to get a price from them. I have to see first how much it costs and will it fit in my budget? Once I get the financial figures, I’ll have some serious thinking to do. Once I sell my RV there will be no going back. I don’t think I could ever afford a luxurious RV as the one I have now. I bought a model with every bell and whistle because I thought I would be living in it for three months straight. If I do ever buy an RV again, it will be a used model, a small model and only good for a quick weekend or a week the longest (as in a week in Maine).

My RV and pick up towing truck

I was so happy with my RV that hubs and I even bought a newer, used RAM pick up truck because we planned on going out west for a few months over the summer. The pandemic plus the increased rate of crime throughout the United States destroyed that dream plan. We’d literally be taking our own lives into our hands if we traveled solo to The Grand Canyon from New York State.

Here’s a photo of my long time friends, my sister & my BIL, & my little doggie in my arms at the Outerbanks NC rental

This past summer my longtime friends rented a beach house in the OuterBanks in North Carolina (click here for that vacation). Hubs and I took down our RV and met them there. We were able to stay at a KOA in the Outerbanks at a good price. This year my friends are renting the same house again and asked us to meet them again this summer. When I checked on the KOA prices, the rates had tripled. This was not doable for hubs and myself. No problem. My friends had one couple cancel on them and a bedroom opened up for my husband and myself (as well as our little doggie) to rent. The price of the beach house rental is split between five couples (it’s my long time friends who are three sisters and their husbands, my sister and her husband and now me and another couple. The girls and I, along with my sister, have all been friends for over 55 years. Trust me! We ALL get along! LOL!) When I told my friends I didn’t think we could join them again this summer in The Outerbanks, they offered the extra room (and personal bathroom) to us. The cost is only $300 per person, plus $100 for our dog. That comes out to $700 for a weeks’ vacation at a beach house vs $1039 just for the RV spot. We’d also be going by (our fuel efficient) car instead of our pick-up truck, which would save us a fortune in fuel costs (the drive can be done in a 14 hour day with two drivers: hubs and myself)

I think we know which way my future vacation plans will be going, right? There’s a reason why my longtime friends and my sister are millionaires and I’m not. Maybe it’s time for me to listen, live and learn a different way of thinking and living. Their power is in the numbers. The family sticks together, vacations together and shares expenses. They have always included my sister in their plans and they have now extended their hospitality to me. I need to prioritize what is important to me going forward and I have to respect my new inflationary budget. I still have over 60,000 airline miles left and maybe it’s time to catch a flight out to Colorado, stay in a hotel (or rent a condo?) and see The Grand Canyon that way. I’ve been talking about going there for years. Maybe it’s time to cash in my chips and live my life. I’m not getting any younger.

And I certainly ain’t looking any better!

Side Note: I’ve learned about setting up ‘sinking fund’ saving plans. I prioritized my budget and came to the conclusion that there are two most important things in my finances. #1 is paying my property taxes. #2 is continuing to travel and go on vacation. To me, that’s what my retirement was supposed to be all about. We did the European thing. Now we want to do the Americana thing. I’m not going to let this pandemic nor these inflationary times keep me from my dreams.

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