Tampa, FL: Hallie and Chris

Hallie and Chris are newlyweds…and are as sweet as can be. We had such a fun time with them…even though our visit was short. They are so full of life and energy! I initially met Hallie when she sent me this photo and told me the cool “God story” about her wedding dress. It was a thrift store find…perfect size…perfect price! And look at her fabulous hair! It matched the flowers in their wedding…now that just makes me HAPPY! A few weeks later, she offered to trade their Champion Juicer when we passed through Tampa, and of course, I was quite excited about that! We had been wanting a Champion…so that was such a blessing!

When we arrived from Sarasota…we met Hallie at their church and we got settled back into a nice, quiet corner. The church had a HUGE lot with a playground, so it was a blessing to have our very own “front yard” with room to run and play and be free. That evening, we went to their apartment to have supper (a HUGE yummy salad with all the fixins!). Bella loved watching their turtles and geckos…and we had a great time chatting. Both Hallie and Chris work from home…in the comic book/art industry. We had fun looking at the different comics they have done!

The next day, we met for lunch at The Grass Root, an organic vegan/vegetarian/raw restaurant. From the moment we walked in, I knew it would be a wonderful experience! It’s so deliciously earthy in there…with a deep orange color on all the walls that just radiates warmth! The owner, Spencer, was our server…and his wife, Sabrina, was on hand as well. The food was AMAZING…so flavorful, with options for everyone. They do more than just raw food, and have an extensive menu for the entire family.

Here is a little blurb from their website:

Grass Root is not only a destination for the health conscious, but also a cultural hub in Tampa. We have customers from all walks of life. Our restaurant has provided us with the opportunity to connect and feed a large array of people. We feel blessed to be of service to all of you.

Grass Root is truly an expression of who we are as people and collectively as a family. We have great respect for the Earth itself and accept responsibility for its well being. We know that eating an organic vegetarian diet is a major contribution. For those striving for an optimum existence , the RAW/LIVING foods lifestyle is the way to go. It has profoundly positive effects on your overall health, the environment and those around you.

They have won several awards, including one from VegNews for being one of the best restaurants for “every day dining” in the entire country! They also have a large raw meetup each month. I am so happy that we found this little gem…I really, really wanted to go back for another meal…but we had to leave for Atlanta! Someday…I’ll be back and will enjoy their food once again. If you’re ever in Tampa, don’t miss it.

Thanks to Hallie and Chris for being such great hosts!

Photo album here.

Sarasota, FL: Paul and Nicole

We drove straight across the state of Florida … from Vero Beach to Sarasota, and arrived at Paul and Nicole’s house. Some of you may know Nicole as “Mrs. Pivec” of Golightly Place. When we arrived, we were greeted warmly with a chalk drawn “Welcome Friends” in the driveway. :) An entire crew of people answered the door when I rang the doorbell, and we got to meet everyone, including Paul’s brother’s family, who was down visiting from Minneapolis for a month.

That night we had a delicious meal…Nicole is a wonderful chef, and their family is vegetarian. We sat out on their back patio and enjoyed the fragrant orange blossoms as the smells wafted through the night air. We had big plans to go to the beach the next day…but when we woke up, it was raining. And the forecast said that there would be more “soaking” rain. We didn’t want to take the chance, so we had a day of thrifting and grocery store shopping. Before we headed out though, I got to use their VitaMix to make my green smoothie…weeeee! Love it. Later on, we made some magic carrot juice…oooooh the carrot juice! :)

Speaking of food, we also went to Veggie Magic (owned by Jenna Norwood of Supercharge Me!). It’s a new raw restaurant in Tampa and we were excited to go! We had a great time taking it all in…checking out all the raw goodies. One of my favorite things was the caramelized onion “bread”…but later on we found out that it didn’t really agree with our digestive systems :) hee hee. We had “living” pizza, a Mexican green wrap, curried cauliflower, and raw apple crisp. Delish!

On Easter Sunday, we enjoyed visiting their house church (which they just happen to live right next door to!)…and a crazy egg hunt in the backyard. Paul and Nicole’s home backs up to a small pond…which they assured us only has one small alligator…sometimes :) There are other exotic birds (or so it seems to us) and lots of lizards too. They have an orange tree, grapefruit tree, mango tree, and avocado tree! It was like the Garden of Eden! :) I’ve never had an orange straight off the tree and it was like juicy heaven. It was such a beautiful setting…perfect for celebrating the resurrection of King Jesus! After all that excitement, we had a potluck brunch, and then at the last minute decided to head to the beach!

I am sooooo glad we did. It was a GORGEOUS day at Siesta Key, which was just a short drive from their house. We were able to get a lot of sun, build several sand castles and get in a few boogie boarding runs by Bella. It’s just so relaxing being at the beach. It’s not something I’m familiar with…growing up in Iowa. I could lay there all day reading and listening to the sound of the waves. As we were leaving, we were able to see a drumming circle starting. Yet another thing that I could listen to all day! I love drums. We arrived home sandy and tired…but it was so worth it!

Bella really enjoyed playing with the “big girls”, whom she lovingly called “Friend” because she could never remember their names :) (i.e. “Hey FRIEND!! Where ARE YOU??!). They spent a lot of time on the swings and the trampoline. More swinging practice for Bella. I think we might have to figure out how to attach a swing to the RV!

Thank you to the Pivec Family for opening your home and hearts to us! Our Florida visit was wonderful!

Photo album here.

Vero Beach, FL: White Rabbit Organic Farm

We first heard about White Rabbit from our friends, Jim and Rene…they had done some workamping there. You can read about there experience here. We were going to be passing right by it, so we decided to check it out for ourselves. The farm is located down a long dirt road, just minutes from the ocean. The road itself was so washboarded…I was catching falling items in the RV all the way down! When we arrived, we introduced ourselves to Valerie and Brian, the owners, and also to Mike and Nick, who were living there and working for a short time before they headed on in their own travels. They provide housing and meals in exchange for work on the farm (similar to WWOOFing).

Matt got the RV parked and then got on his work clothes so he could pitch in with whatever they had for him to do! There is nothing Matt loves more than a good project to dig into…so he was in his element! Bella and I enjoyed the farm atmosphere…we checked out the goats, sheep, chickens, and dogs. It was so nice to have the open space to just run and play games and play. The sunsets were heavenly and the orange groves smelled delicious!

We had a great nights sleep…and woke up to a very loud and persistent rooster right outside our window! Now, I’m somewhat of a chicken/rooster fanatic, I’ve always wanted some of my own. I love being around them…and actually don’t even mind having one as an alarm clock! Bella loved checking out the rooster and his hens too. I think they inspired her to scratch in the dirt…because she did a lot of that while we were there…creating masterpieces like this one.

Valerie and Brian also run a farm store there on site that is stocked with organic produce and other natural products. It was so much fun to load up our fridge with an abundance of organic goodies…especially knowing that our money was going DIRECTLY to the farmer! The tomatoes were like candy…and the lettuce mix so tasty!! I loved that they have a self-service/trust based system…people would come and go all day, writing out their own ticket and leaving a check. There was just something so earthy and old fashioned about it. Good stuff. In addition to that, they produce biodiesel on site and sell it. Matt was able to spend a lot of time with Brian talking about biodiesel vs. straight veggie and learning how his system worked. He had a GIANT stockpile of veggie oil…it was amazing!

Bella really hit it off with Mike and Nick…she loved their dogs and was always wanting to take them on a walk. They were so sweet with her and would always stop to engage her in conversation. She, of course, had a million questions about everything that was happening at the farm. It was a learning experience for everyone!

While we were in town the first night, we ran into another traveling family, Anna and Nathanial. They had just arrived in Florida after a long trip from Ohio…so we invited them to come over to our place for some showers, food, and movies. We had a delightful time talking, laughing, and eating…and stayed up LATE! It was a fun night!

We ended up staying for 2 nights…and it was one of the best unexpected stops of the tour! They work SO HARD at the farm, doing something that they are passionate about. It was completely inspiring. Thank you to Brian, Valerie, Mike, and Nick for welcoming us with open arms!

Photo album here.

Edgewater, FL: Kevin and Lori

Kevin, Lori, Justin, and Josie are old friends of ours from Minnesota. Kevin was the youth pastor at Matt’s church in Brainerd, and now is the youth pastor at a church there in Florida. They were only the 2nd family that we’ve stayed with on the tour that we’ve known them in real life (not just online) before we arrived! It was a super quick stop…just an overnight stay, but we were able to catch up, show them the rig, spread some green/raw food love, and then hit the road again. We loved the huge palm trees in front of their house and all the crazy lizards and birds that reside in their backyard! Thanks for the hospitality guys…it was so fun to see you!

Photo album here.