SEASON’S GREETINGS FROM THE KEYS
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! We hope that your year goes out gracefully, and that the new year arrives happily.
It was quite the year for us. We, who have never as much won a T-shirt, were gifted a brand new home from the USA and the State of FL, aka Rebuild Florida via HUD. Not so many natural disasters occurred (in 20 years) up until hurricane Irma (2017), which is the reason for our good fortune, but (sadly) too many since.
Here we are in our house approximately 45 days, and two months come Christmas, and we’re still settling in: building shelves, filling peg boards, hanging art, ordering shades, unpacking boxes, organizing tools and fishing gear onto other peg boards, but we are just about done.
Future projects include an elevated deck; a completion of the yard fence; a gate; security; and in our dreams – an in-ground pool.
We lived on Sugarloaf Key, mile marker 19, in a beautiful home for 10 months while our new home (mile marker 31, aka the distance from Key West) was being built. It was a great 10 months. We loved the house and the neighborhood. And, our rent was covered by the same program, Rebuild Florida, who built our house and gave it to us. How lucky is that? Very! Super! Crazy!!
We were certain that there would be conditions regarding the house – minimum of years demanded to live in, regulated sales price, etc, but instead they just gave us the keys and said, “The project is completed. Enjoy your house.” Oh yes, we promise to!
We feel super lucky to be able to start over with a brand new house and three beautiful boats, two of which we make a living with, and the other as recreational. Our future business plan is to do five or so 1/2 day charters per week. Capt. Allison will also do some charters, so maybe seven, and she will continue to do design work for her longtime (and new) clients. But, we plan to take “us time” too.
In our free time, it’s a boat fish live mentality. BTW, that’s the link to our boating book website. But, we plan to heed said advice. And, in case you are wondering, live rhymes with give. I only say that because we did a radio commercial a couple of years back, and the DJ (enthusiastically stated) Boat Fish Live – rhyming with jive.
Some of our other links include: theroadtokeywest.com, onceuponatimebomb.com and our first book, foodtruck411book.com. Allison designed all four of our books and the websites too, including keysboattours.com, islanddesign.us, and tortillville.com. Have a look when time permits. Let her know what you think. 😊
Speaking of Allison… …Allison had a nice four day visit earlier this month to see her mom, her aunt Laura, and to celebrate her grandmother’s 101st birthday. Happy 101 Lee!!! I had to stay home to take care of our pet cat, Barney, and our pet tortoise, Shelly. They say “Hi, Happy and Merry!” They also want to let you know (that they both like Temptations treats).
Next, it was my turn to visit New York to see my mom and four of my sisters 12/11 – 12/14. Unfortunately, the day before my flight, my back tweaked on me, so I had to delay the visit.
Fortunately, I purchased the ticket with points, and was able to cancel it without a penalty, even getting all of the points back! It might be a while before I get to see at least two of my sisters, (Beth and Debbie) who don’t live in New York, but hopefully not too long. We do have an open visit policy here. Just saying.
It’s always hard to believe that Christmas is just weeks, or even days away, especially when the average temperature hovers around 80° here everyday, always with blue skies. But, there are lighted boat parades, and Christmas trees for sale, and of course Christmas music everywhere, so that’s a reminder. That, and the key deer, and the lighted fire truck that cruises down all the the streets of Big Pine at night one week before Christmas – music and all. It is also a nice time to visit Key West to see the lovely decorations on historical homes.
We were going to forgo a letter this year but it felt a little too Scrooge. Ours will be quiet, no tree, minimal decor (candles in windows), no gifts (it’s all a gift), a nice dinner, and likely a special boat outing, perhaps even a charter. As we like to say, “Your vacation is our vocation.” But, we do miss family, and holidays together.
As a side note, It’s a little bit strange to live in Florida. We are now longtime Floridians. But, Island / Keys Floridians – not mainland. But, we have a good life, and affordable health insurance, and a way to make a living, and good goals. We feel it the right place for us – probably forever as a base, but with plans for side trips elsewhere too.
Update: I did see my chiropractor, and am well on my way to being back to right. That is to say, I’ve been hobbling like a 65 year old – come this March anyway. Hey, got Medicaid. Social Security is probably a year and a half off. As for my back, it’s just a weird thing (30 years now) that happens once a year or even every two years. I need to stretch more – and will.
Even though work has been slow, we needed the time off to get our house together. We were very lucky to have had use of a storage pod too where our stuff was stored for the entire ten months, and then another month on our property. I don’t know how people move in just one weekend. I couldn’t imagine doing that.
The Keys have been in pre-Covid mode for the past couple of months. That is to say, prior to Covid it was the norm to be slow business-wise from September until Christmas. For the two years during Covid, the Keys were discovered anew by many people. It became a very popular place, an alternative to vacationing over seas, and we were super busy the entire time. So, we look forward to things picking up – always starting the day after Christmas. We are sure that it will. The calls are already coming in. Then, it stays that way pretty much through Summer.
We had a great visit back in September to Douglaston, and also to Montauk, New York, and Jones Beach too, which was wonderful. We really hope to make it an annual visit.
We just want to say that Allison and I hope that you and yours have a very happy holiday and a great upcoming year in every way possible. That you are also healthy and happy. We wish you all well and extend an open invite whether you stay in our guest room, (our soon to be) tent platform, on our boat, the Allison Lee, in your RV, or elsewhere. We’d also like to take you boating, whether it be an eco-tour, a snorkel experience, or fishing. You will have a blast, and sure to return for more.
We also look forward to family and friend visits this Winter: nephew Chris Liebner in January, and Allison’s mom come February to name a few. It is my hope to visit NY before too long.
We hope to practice the “so called” New Year resolutions thing in 2023, and start biking, walking, and swimming on a regular basis. But, that’s for next years letter. We will ll see. 2023 will mark year 13 in the Keys for us, and our 8th year as Keys Boat Tours. How time flies.
Allison and I hope to get officially hitched (married) sometime in the new year. We just need to figure out the details: easy, affordable, and your presence, if possible. So, that’s the exciting news to close this Christmas letter.
Thank you for the cards that we have received so far. Great to hear about Carmela’s European experience, Jim’s book and music, Quinn & Joels’s upcoming nuptials, visits to mom, her ongoing gym sessions, Allison’s family updates, and all!
Anyway, thanks to siblings; Meg, Barbara, and Jimmy (very much) for being there for mom while we are afar but always close. We are super happy that you are (all) in our lives. 😋❤️🎄
Lots of love,
Brian and Allison
Here’s a look 2022 ❤️ :