Day One and The Two Great Horned Baby Owls


Sabbatical officially started today as I left Virginia Keys Grassroots Festival and left Lyle with a pillow, his bag and a towel in the parking lot.  There was miscommunication and he is stuck without lodging for a night.  I hope the mosquitoes don’t bite too hard on the beach tonight.

Nicola Ross asked me to make note of how I felt at the beginning, middle and end of sabbatical.  She is writing a book about sabbaticals and has great insight.  I have been planning this journey for almost 6 months.  I look back at journals and I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of years evidently.  But yesterday I almost bailed.  I had not actually thought about what it would be like to abandon my children for 45 days or to leave Lyle standing with his bags at Grassroots.  Yesterday I felt like I was going to throw up and I started thinking that maybe this was batshit crazy (as Lyle would say).   Damn, maybe I’m just too extreme…I could have just gone and gotten my toes done and spent a couple of days camping at Lake Jordan.   Also, driving Baby Blue, is an event.  She only goes between 55 and 65.  Staying in the slow lane is a must as she blows around quite a bit.  She is 32 years old and she has some issues, like the heat from the engine kind of comes into the floor boards and makes your feet really really hot.  Because Florida is also quite hot, both windows must come down and I’ve developed dreadlocks.  It’s fine because it goes with the look of the westfalia, but I may need to shave my head when I get home.  And I have a square head.  Just a few challenges I was thinking about.

Lyle and I walked to the Rusty Pelican on Key Biscayne last night.  We were dirty, in running shoes, sunburnt and we ended up with the most beautiful view of Miami at sunset ever.  No one seemed to mind how bad we smelled at this fancy restaurant.  We watched the sun go down and the lights go on in the tall buildings and Lyle who professes to hate being alone said he would shove me off to get me to leave Grassroots.
I appreciate his shoving.  Carol and I sat in her tent in the dark Friday night and she gave me a pep talk…it helped a lot.  She said there are no expectations, if all you do is rest, that is enough.  She always mentions the jewish term Dayenu meaning it would have been enough.   Be grateful.

So, off I drove this morning. I kissed my Dad goodbye (camp ranger at Grassroots) and Lyle.  Big lump in throat.  I cranked the ABBA in honour of Melissa and Meredith (who went to school in Miami) and drove Baby Blue over those bridges and complicated highways and went west through Alligator Alley.  This highway goes right through the Everglades and it was just what I needed, not much traffic, gorgeous birds and I actually saw one alligator.  There is a thin body of water the whole way and you could see the spiny back of the alligator. Tons and tons of birds and I didn’t have my expert birder with me.  So, I’m just going to make up the names.  I think I saw blue herons, green herons, black herons, black and white herons, snowy egrets, crazy looking birds that looked like something out of Alice and Wonderland.  Gorgeous.

I stopped in Naples, thinking it was a cute little town.  I was confused with Italy.  Very very old people and very very manicured.  Had a lovely brunch though and kept going north to St. Petersburg.  Charlotte, who I work with insisted I stop at Fort De Soto, a place she and her husband had extremely fond memories.  You have to book months ahead to get a camping spot it is such a popular spot.  Her husband, Skip, passed away over a year ago and from what I’ve learned about him, I’m sorry I didn’t meet him.  Two baby owls were just born and my mission was to get a photo of these creatures.  So, I drove as fast as I could considering Baby Blue’s limitations and raced against sunset.  Pulled into the most beautiful place, pulled my bike off and biked 3 miles to where Charlotte said they would be.  Dense fog was setting in, but I made it to the tree and got the shot of the baby owls.  So, today is dedicated to Charlotte and Skip.

Uncle Bob died yesterday, Godspeed.

I think I can do this.
baby owls


About tamischwerin

I run a non-profit (Abundance NC) that builds community resilience including health of the earth, our bodies and our spirits. I also am active in creating an Eco-Industrial Park community in Pittsboro NC.

12 responses »

  1. Tami,

    I love the adventure you are taking! Joyce has kept me in the loop and showed me your blog last week. Your mom and George forwarded on your link so I could follow your travels! I was so excited to see you are in Ft. De Soto.. this area is my stomping ground! If you see someone w a boat, have them take you over to Egmont Key. There are remnants of the fort and it is beautiful! Enjoy your adventure across the US! Safe travels!

    (Bob’s daughter in law)


  2. Mom and Dad took me and my roomies (including Meredith) to Rusty Pelican for my graduation. The views there are magical, just like your trip. Enjoy!!


  3. Darling,

    Walked the beach the morning after you left, and saw a group of manatees along the shore. How cool is that? Must be a sign of good luck. Be safe…


  4. The baby owls are so sweet! Seeing miracles of nature like this fill my soul and remind me how magical our planet is…I hope your journey will continue to be filled with beautiful reminders of how lucky we are to walk on this big blue planet. Miss you!



  5. Tami –
    What a beautiful beginning to your journey. Makes me want to get back out on the road, love it! Two non-profound pieces of advice to carry along on your sojourn:
    1. Talk to Strangers.
    2. Be.
    The rest takes care of itself from there, trust me on that. Love you – Kevin


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