Day 77: The Eight Hour Tourist

I spent day 77 of the Nowhere To Be Project in Washington, D.C. We pulled into Cherry Hill RV Park last night and called it a night fairly early. The park itself is okay, but our spot is really flooded due to the recent rains. That is a problem for a clean freak like me because the dog (and the husband) keep tracking in mud. We stayed at this park many years ago and liked it due to its proximity to the city. That part remains good, thankfully.

We hopped on a bus at 9:45am at the park and took it to the metro which took us directly into D.C. This is my fourth visit, so I didn’t feel pressured to do everything. Instead, I meandered around Smithsonian’s Museums of Natural History, American History and their Freer Art Gallery. My favorite thing was the exhibit on America’s First Ladies. Despite not having an official role, our First Ladies have been outspoken and action-oriented. As a fashionista and collector of antique dishes, I especially loved seeing their gowns and their china patterns.

We enjoyed lunch at one of our favorite outdoor cafes (Cafe du Parc) where I enjoyed an amazing vegan streusel and wiled away the rest of the day by roaming the streets of our nation’s capital. It is a beautiful place that everyone should try to visit, even if you’re limited to just eight hours as we were today.

Day 76: How Many Cookies Does It Take To Get To D.C.???

Day 76 of the Nowhere To Be Project was a loooooooooong travel day that took us from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to College Park, Maryland. We usually try to keep our travel days at no more than four hours, but with today’s journey we’ve been on the road for seven hours already with about two more to go. While road trips in a RV are much more comfortable than being confined to a small car, the challenge of finding ways to pass the time remains.

I guess I could watch TV using the satellite system we installed on our rig. For some reason though, I feel the need to keep my eyes somewhat on the road in my chosen role as an annoying backseat driver. As an avid reader, I could devour the next book in my current literary addiction, the “Outlander” series by Diana Gabaldon. I’m not sure why, but I find it difficult to focus intently on my reading while zooming down the highway at 70 miles an hour, so that’s out too. That leaves me with needlepoint, which I’ve done so much of today that my eyes are blurred from trying to keep the stitches in line while bouncing up and down country roads and interstates. I’ve also spent a fair amount of the day snacking- a hidden danger of traveling in a vehicle with a fully stocked kitchen. How do you pass the time on the road???

Day 74: Ocean Lakes

We stayed in South Carolina on Day 74 of the Nowhere To Be Project, but traveled from Hilton Head Island to Myrtle Beach. We reserved a spot for two nights at a place called Ocean Lakes Family Campground. It is a sprawling beachfront resort loaded with cottages, RV spots and thousands of golf carts! If the beautiful beach wasn’t enough, they have swimming pools, a water park, a market, snack bar and more! For $60 bucks a night, it seems like a steal so far. We walked a few miles on the beach gathering shells and now we’re flying our kite and firing up the grill for a beachside veggie feast. I used to dread Sunday nights because I knew that work would be calling again in the morning. Nowadays, I am able to enjoy my newfound appreciation for Sunday and I’m most certainly doing that tonight. Hang tough…retirement makes it all worth it.

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Day 69: Not Just Any Sandwich

On Day 69 of the Nowhere To Be Project, I happened upon an amazing new restaurant in Central Florida. Don’t you love when that happens? I was out gathering supplies for our upcoming six week voyage in our RV when my stomach came a calling. I used my Happy Cow app for the first time to find local restaurants offering vegan options. A place called “The Wildflower Co.” popped up as an option just a few miles from where I was. When I pulled into the parking lot, my first thought was, “oh, well, the place must have gone out of business”. I was so bummed! As I was about to exit the small rundown plaza, I spotted a sign that read “Vegan Cafe Around Back”. With that, I parked and headed out back hoping for a yummy feast.

Thankfully, I spotted the “Vegan Cafe Around Back” on the sign just as I was about to leave the plaza!

The facility itself is nondescript to the point that I wasn’t sure if they were open when I entered. I did see someone sitting at a table, so I approached the counter and perused the two-page photocopied menu. Just then, a staff member came from the back to take my order. I was informed that the photocopy represented their brand new menu. I was torn between the ReLoaded Tots and the Shrymp Po’ Boy. I went with the sandwich despite not knowing what soy curls were and was offered a choice between tater tots, potato salad and macaroni and cheese as a side and decided on the latter. I grabbed a seat by the window to wait for it all. While the decor at The Wildflower Co. is very utilitarian and sparse, there was a lovely view of a pond and outside dining area from my hightop table. After about ten minutes, another staff member delivered my meal.

I was shocked by the enormity of the sandwich. It looked and smelled amazing and I couldn’t wait to bite into it. The soft Cuban bread was overflowing with warm crispy chunks of the fried soy curls. The sandwich was dressed with apple slaw, tartar sauce and cranberry sauce. It may sound like a bit of an odd combination, but it was honestly love at first bite. I’m sure I sound hyperbolic, but this was, without any doubt, the best sandwich I have ever eaten in my life. Let me qualify this by saying that this includes all the sandwiches I’ve ever had, both as a vegan and a non-vegan. I was so enamored by the sandwich that I almost forgot the mac ‘n cheese. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as memorable as the sandwich anyway. It could have been a bit warmer and it generally lacked flavor despite the heavy seasoning (paprika?).

I decided to take half of my sandwich home to share it with my son who ended up absolutely loving it. He is not vegan and usually survives solely on cheeseburgers from Burgerfi. When asked, he said it was “really good” and rated the sandwich as an eight out of ten! I gave it a perfect ten and plan on taking my husband to The Wildflower Co. for dinner tomorrow so that I can try more of their offerings! The only recommendations I might offer to the proprietors would be to get a large chalk board to present their menu (instead of the single photocopied paper one) and to offer freshly made iced teas as an additional beverage option. This place was a lucky find (thanks Happy Cow) that has been placed on my list of favorites in Central Florida!

My son also loved the Shrymp Po’ Boy sandwich!

Day 66: Why Is Food An Afterthought at Disney?

Day 66 of the Nowhere To Be Project marked our third, and final, day at Disney. As natives of Central Florida, we’ve been coming to Disney all our lives. We are always beyond impressed with the cast members, facilities and parks. We just don’t know why Disney cannot pull it together when it comes to dining. Several years ago, we had an amazing meal at Disneyland’s fine dining option, Napa Rose. This was the driving force in our decision to celebrate our son’s 21st birthday at Victoria & Albert’s, Walt Disney World’s most upscale restaurant.

The restaurant itself is located in The Grand Floridian Hotel. The hotel is promoted as the finest option for lodging on Disney property, so it makes sense that Disney’s premier restaurant would be housed there as well. Victoria & Albert’s is located on the second floor overlooking the lovely hotel lobby. Guests are greeted at the door and seated in a time-staggered style to avoid a rush at the entry. We arrived approximately ten minutes prior to our 6:30pm reservation. I had booked the reservation months in advance, first having tried and failed to reserve the popular chef’s table option. The maitre d’ informed us that he would not be able to seat us for twenty minutes and escorted us to the adjacent bar while instructing us to return shortly. We did as he said and returned twenty minutes later with a bar server who said she had to carry our drinks back to the restaurant for us if she wanted to keep her job. We were warmly greeted again and promptly seated.

Our waiter greeted us by name, acknowledged my son’s 21st birthday, and distributed personalized menus to all four of us before explaining the menu. There are two options: seven course or ten course. Within each option, there are several additional choices, some of which require an up-charge (e.g caviar, Kobe beef, etc.). A representative from the restaurant had called several days prior to our visit to gather information on dietary restrictions. At that time, I had indicated that I was vegan, so was given strictly vegan options on my menu. We all chose the seven course option ($185.00 each) and I added the paired wine course ($105.00). This included seven paired samples to accompany each course of my meal (2oz each).

Non Vegan Seven Course Menu
Vegan Menu

The presentation of each course was lovely and the service was solid and refined. While the dishes were a genuine pleasure to gaze upon, they didn’t really ignite our tastebuds. As foodies, we had been looking forward to innovative dishes and explosive flavors. What we got was just okay, nothing any of us would seek out again, and that is beyond tough to swallow when spending $1100.00 to do so! Food at this price point should completely blow you away, shouldn’t it? Furthermore, the facility itself is extremely dated with worn upholstery, tired furnishings and china, and dated restroom facilities.

We’ve had a wonderful time at Disney and really enjoyed the celebration at Victoria & Albert’s despite the disappointing meal. I just can’t figure out why Disney drops the ball with dining. Over the years, I’ve eaten at almost every quick service (in park) option and probably all upscale fine dining venues at Walt Disney World and am consistently underwhelmed. I really wanted to love Victoria & Albert’s, but it simply did not deliver. I guess we can’t expect a company that has set the bar so high for entertainment to do the same for food. Next time I visit, I’ll dine off property.

Day 13: Rest, the Open Road and the Tiny Dancer, too

Homemade Vegan Potato Soup, the cure for what ails
Day 13 of the Nowhere To Be Project had me cozy on the couch nursing the cold gifted to me from my son. I promised myself that I’d just rest, sip my homemade vegan soup, breathe in the Vick’s menthol rub and watch movies. I ended up on my laptop planning our ten week winter adventure that will begin in January 2019. We will travel from Colorado to California and up through Oregon and Washington in our new RV, the Tiny Dancer, too (the name is the 2.0 version of that of the class A we owned many years ago, the Tiny Dancer).

My paltry attempt at rest got me thinking about the whole point of the Nowhere To Be Project, to refine and document the art of doing nothing. Two weeks in and I do feel happier, my blood pressure has dropped a bit and I think I’ve even shed a few pounds. Despite these positives, I still catch myself rushing, multitasking and generally freaking out when there is no need to. These fruitless behaviors remind me of the recurring nightmare I have where I forget to show up for final exams. Old dysfunctional habits die hard, I guess. Hopefully, ten weeks on the road will stamp them out for good. Until then, I’ll just lay here amid the vapors dreaming about the open road (instead of failed exams, I hope:-).

California is Calling

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