Annapolis MD

I’m home. Annapolis is where I moved when my kids were little and I was still married. After getting divorced a few years later, I raised my kids here alone and got sober here and lived here for 20 years. I may have grown up in Nebraska, but I lived here longer than any place else.

It’s hard to find a more beautiful town than Annapolis, especially in the spring with everything in bloom. George Washington really slept here (funny how I keep ending up where he hung out – he chopped down a cherry tree in Fredericksburg) and it was the US capitol for a short time.

Here’s a picture of Middleton tavern across from the city dock. Geo.Washington hung out here, too. It was established in 1750. I hung out here in the 70’s a lot. Very popular place especially the outdoor dining in the spring. We ate there after my son’s wedding a little over a year ago. Wonderful food but pricey.

Middleton Tavern

Middleton Tavern

Ego Alley - City Dock

Ego Alley – City Dock

City Dock – or Ego Alley as we used to jokingly call it and now it seems to be what it’s called on the maps – is where people pull their boats in to show off and dock their boat to come downtown for the restaurants and bars. We used to sit on the walls and laugh at the smart alecks trying to turn around in such a tiny area. It’s a small area going right up into the main drag. Sailing is a pretty big deal here, and they have a huge boat show every year at the city dock. Most locals try to leave town then or rent out their houses for outrageous sums.

State House Plaque

State House Plaque

Annapolis State House

Annapolis State House

The State House is the oldest one in continuous use in the country. The Governor’s Mansion is next door and across the street is St. Johns College established in 1696. The other college a couple blocks away is the Naval Academy. Midshipmen and women – Mids – are all over the place in their dress whites looking so crisp. Johnnie’s – St. Johns Students – are also everywhere. If you live here you can recognize the Johnnie’s. They are nerdy creatives if that’s a style. They have a look that is unmistakable and hard to describe. Every year the have a croquet match between the two schools.

Mids waiting for the bus

Mids waiting for the bus

There are three unique shopping areas; Main Street is only 2 blocks long going from Church Circle down to the City Dock, Maryland Avenue, which stretches 2 blocks from the Academy to St. Johns, and West Annapolis. This was my choice for boondocking my first night here.

If you have anything larger than a minivan, you do not want to drive downtown on the narrow colonial streets. I barely squeaked through with my conversion van. You won’t be able to park anyway. I am parked at the Naval Academy Stadium where they play the Army-Navy game.

The only drawback is they don’t like you to sleep in the lot, so I slept overnight on the street in front of the little West Annapolis shops before I went over to my housesitting job. It’s just a couple blocks from the stadium so it’s convenient, and I didn’t have to worry about homeowners being around.

You can park at the stadium for $5 a day and take the trolley to downtown, which is just a short distance, for $2 round trip, and they come around every 20 minutes. If you can’t walk much you can take the trolley around downtown for free but it’s very walkable and all within a few blocks.

There’s a little bookstore and cafe near where I am staying and I stopped by this evening and chatted with the owners a bit. Two very nice ladies. I was going to try to get something to eat but the little places I went seemed to close at 6. I walked on downtown but the places that were open were all the pricey restaurants, so I finally found a little place on Prince George Street called The Moorings and got a toasted sandwich of fresh tomatoes and brie on sourdough bread. Delicious. I also have now had a Brie and Granny Smith Apple on a Baguette at the Bookstore since then.

Day 2 in Annapolis I went to lunch at the Potato Valley shop on State Circle that I was trying to get to yesterday. OMG wonderful little place. All kinds of baked potatoes with every filling you can imagine under the sun…artichokes, spinach, cheesesteak, everything.  Had a very nice chat with the owner, Barb, and she was great. They have actually been there for 18 years and do a very brisk business right across the street from the Statehouse.

Garlic Butter Potato

Garlic Butter Potato

Potato Valley

Potato Valley

Potato Valley

I got the least expensive which was Garlic Butter with greens and roasted onions…$4.65. It was a whole meal…huge potato with a salad of lettuce, red pepper strips, cucumber, sliced apple, and the roasted onions are kind of like crunchy onion rings. So good.

Then when I was at the counter chatting with her after I paid for the potato, I decided I also wanted a brownie and she wouldn’t let me pay for it. Then when I was almost done with my potato, she gave me a free sample of some corn salsa and beans and avocado and cottage cheese to try on mine. Oh YUM. What a deal…what a sweetheart.

Love this place and must go back while I’m here. I don’t think I was even looking homeless today. Little outdoor tables…so sweet. I stayed awhile till the lunch crowd was gone when I took this picture. It’s only open for lunch though so go early…closes at 4 or 5.

Annapolis Bookstore & Cafe

Annapolis Bookstore & Cafe

Heading to the coffee shop bookstore tomorrow morning to chat with those nice ladies again. Very friendly people here. The tourists can get tiring but they are the lifeblood of Annapolis and the shop owners know that, but still…very nice people here.

Day 3 – Had coffee and chocolate croissant at the bookstore…picked up a cheap used book to read there. Very nice. Book hoarders heaven… stacks on the floor, all around.

My son Allen called to take me for a belated Mother’s Day lunch, so I introduced him to Potato Valley. I had the artichoke, cottage cheese and some chilies and cheddar. Very good. Allen had the ham and cheddar.

Then we spent the day looking at furniture and homes which is one of our favorite things. His wife Shawnt’a joined us later and we had a grand time. Rained a bit on us but we got over it.

Day 4 – Spending the day at home since I was gone so much yesterday. Elvis and I went for a walk over by the Naval Academy today, met another dog to walk with for awhile, stopped at the bookstore for another chocolate croissant. He got lots of love from everyone there. This is a very dog friendly town. People take their dogs to all the restaurants that have outdoor seating. Stores have water bowls outside for the walkers.

Day 5 – Not much going on today. Cleaning up and packing up to head on to St. Michaels. I will miss being here but can’t wait to see my girls. That’s it for Annapolis. I know it was a long post but there’s so much here. Here’s a bunch more miscellaneous pictures if you are interested. I’m sure all you former Annapolitans will chime in with whatever I missed.

Governor's Mansion Gardens

Governor’s Mansion Gardens

Prince Geo. St.

Prince Geo. St.

Annapolis Townhouse

Annapolis Townhouse

Maryland Inn

Maryland Inn

Down Main Street to the water

Down Main Street to the water

Annapolis Main St.

Annapolis Main St.

St Johns SignSt Johns Sign


I’m back on Virginia soil and happy to be back home safe. My daughter Jena had a pet sitting opportunity for me in Annapolis, MD, my old stompin’ grounds, for next week and it seemed like a good time to just head home. I have some catching up to do on blogs about places I’ve been, but when I was in Fernandina Beach FL which is a lovely place, it rained for 4 days and I got stranded in a Walmart parking lot. I’m just fed up with this van not starting when it rains, and I still don’t have an answer to the moaning problem even after 5 mechanics checked it (Nancy thinks I need an exorcism).

While I was stranded I ran out of power after 2 days in the starting engine because I was heating water and cooking in my lunchbox and charging my phone etc. I do have a jump starter that I was using after that, but that was running dry too and I was afraid to not have enough power to keep my phone charged, and be able to jump the van once the sun came out. Fortunately a nice clerk at the Walmart let me plug it in by the soda machines out front. Another couple came by while I was sitting there and offered to jump start me if it didn’t work, so that was a double blessing.

Earlier on Sunday, the day the sun finally came out, Minivan Joy, who some of you know from the Women Go Solo and VanDwellers forums on Yahoo, came to visit me and try to help. She was on her way to Pennsylvania to visit her kids for Mother’s Day and we went to McD’s and I had some warm food for the first time in 2 days. Boy was I grateful. I just love meeting other van dwellers and I appreciated so much that she drove over to meet me and try to help. We tried to start the car with her jumpnstarter but it didn’t have enough juice either so we just visited a bit more and she went on north. Unfortunately her transmission went out in SC and she had to junk her van and rent a car to get on her way north. Between that and the pet sitting opportunity, I just decided enough was enough. I didn’t want the stress anynmore of worrying about a breakdown and honestly I had just seen all I needed to see for this trip.

I drove straight through from Fernandina and here I am at my dear friend Nancy’s again. Her 15 year old cat just died a couple days ago who she was so attached to, and she is beside herself, so she’s glad to have someone to hug and lean on. Her mama was out of town so I wasn’t too much in the way in her little house. Hopefully I’ve been some help to her. Tomorrow we head to Annapolis for Mother’s Day where we met and became friends and raised our passle of kids.

Monday I head over to the Charlottesville area to meet another vandweller named Gypsy Jane for lunch and then I’m off to my dear friend Juanita’s for a day or 2 of spoiling – she’s already figuring out what goodies she can make to fatten me up. After all I’ve lost a whole 15 lbs on this trip so I’m wasting away…haha, I wish!

I’ll try to get caught up on all the travel stuff while I’m in Annapolis. Too many fun times and chatting with friends to spend a lot of time editing and sorting pictures. Talk to you later.

Tarpon Springs FL

I did promise a post on Tarpon Springs didn’t I? I was there for almost a week. It’s such a lovely little place. Cute downtown of course or I wouldn’t have stayed there and lovely parks. I spent a lot of time at Craig Park which wraps around a bayou where the manatees come up to get warm. You can just see their backs and noses sometimes but it’s still pretty cool. I tried to get pictures to no avail.

Tarpon Springs is where the Greeks dive for sponges. There’s a whole area called the sponge docks where you can learn about it a buy lots of sponges and other gifty stuff. Great big ones you can use for towel holders, they were beautiful. But I didn’t get out of the car there. It was the week before Easter and the snowbirds were still there and it was mobbed with people and cars and no parking so I just drove past.

The little downtown is all antique stores and I went in one and the owner had a hair salon in the back. He was so nice and so excited about what I was doing. He told me they have an Art and Farmer’s Market every Sunday and I could borrow a table from him, so I did but it never happened. At first the market was cancelled because it was Easter but then all the vendors decided they wanted to do it anyway. We got there and found out the farmer wasn’t coming because his veggies froze that week so the other vendors decided not to do it either. I spent Friday working all day in the park making stuff for it and my back was really hurting badly. Shouldn’t have spent that many hours at it.

Some of you may know that I was staying at Walmart while I was there and while shopping in the hardware department, I met a very nice man and we started talking and I was telling him about the moaning in the van and he said he used to be a mechanic and came out to the lot and listened to it. He thought he could help me check it out and he asked me to dinner Friday night. Well with my back being so bad I decided not to go after all.

I honestly was more interested in getting help with my van than dinner.  But we kept missing our connection for the rest of the weekend and I ended up leaving town Monday and not contacting him again. I may have been a little chicken, too. It’s been years since I’ve been on a date date except for going to coffee or dinner with a couple men friends, and I’m not sure I’d know what to do. So it was all for the best. It’s nice to be asked though. Haha

Jena suggested I take my cousin’s advice and go back to Haine’s City to their mechanic who is very popular. I always take Jena’s advice;-) I went back there and took it to him twice. The van never made a peep. He drove it around for half an hour wasting an 1/8 of a tank of gas and nothing. I ended up spending 3 weeks at my cousins. My uncle’s caregiver had hurt her back and was concerned she would have to quit. I stayed to see if I could help but unfortunately I am no longer 50 like I was when I took care of Mom and Dad and I realized very quickly that my memory and my strength and trying to get up to speed with his needs were such that I was probably more harm than help.

I had that big order for coasters to go to Louisville KY to finish and Murphy’s law prevailed. The mold I needed had been messed up, I had to resculpt the model then tried 8 times to get a decent mold waiting of course 24 hours each time to see if it turned out. Finally I got it all done and sent it off and several things broke in shipping, so I’m madly working on getting those replaced now. Anyway I was grateful to have my uncle’s carport to use for a studio while I was messing around with that. It got up in the 90’s that week and was so very humid the paint wouldn’t dry right either. Boy! So much for retirement, huh?

Well I can’t find the pictures I promised for the moment. The new Chromebook is driving me crazy. I know they are here somewhere, and I’ll just have to wait to post them.

Jacksonville, FL

I am skipping around here because I am having trouble finding the pics for Tarpon Springs, so I will wait to post that blog. Right now I am in Jacksonville. I drove through without stopping on my way down, so I decided to explore a little more on my way back north. This is my first day here and I hope to stay a couple more days. We’ll see.

The one thing I wanted to see was the Riverside Art Market. It happens every Saturday by the river in downtown and what a lovely thing. The bank has parking available on its lot but signage is sadly lacking. A policeman directed me to it. Click on the link for more info.

RAM Jax 1

Lots of artists and craftspeople and tons of visitors, food vendors and a farmer’s market as well. It is under the bridge, surprisingly so it is shady and no rain, but unfortunately the winds kick up quite a bit there. One vendor took the fabric off his tent so the wind would just blow through it.

RAM Jax 2

I stopped at a few places, but since I have no room for anything and no money for frivolousness I only looked. I did stop at Sun Dog Soaps because the owner, Al Burns, had a display of Tarpon Springs Sponges. I didn’t get a picture of them when I was in Tarpon, so I asked if I could take a picture and he kindly decided I should have me in the picture which I’m not so sure was a good idea after seeing it. Anyway, he has lovely products, but I only bought a small sponge to use for my art. He has great lip balms and handmade soaps and such. Nice guy, check him out.

This is a truly awful picture of me...no makeup, hair blown to bits. but I wanted to leave me in there to show you the scale of these sponges. This picture was actually taken in Jacksonville but the sponges are from Tarpon.

This is a truly awful picture of me…no makeup, hair blown to bits. but I wanted to leave me in there to show you the scale of these sponges. Aren’t they fantastic? This picture was actually taken in Jacksonville but the sponges are from Tarpon.

I also stopped at River City Artworks and met Denise. She has a lot of fun things. I know there are a lot of the cards and things with old pictures and funny sayings out there, but I still get a kick out of them and hers were so well done. Here’s a few pics of some of them. She was very interesting to talk to.

Denise of River City Artworks

Denise of River City Artworks

Love this one.

Love this one.

Be Yourself













Then I stopped and had my fortune read by a palm reader since it was free. She said I was very creative and that I was really good at traveling and had 2 lines together that indicated that if I ran into trouble my guardian angels would pull me out just in time. Seems like that’s what’s been happening so I took her word for it. Then I went across the aisle and had a 5 minute chair massage for $5. I treated myself to a Jamaican beef thing in pastry that was kinda like an empenada or a pasty. Yummy, and then I had a chocolate pastry that was almost obscene it was so phallic. But I relished it anyway.

Palm Reading directions

Palm Reading directions


Palm Reader at work

Palm Reader at work













I asked the massage guy if there were any little artsy-fartsy fun little shopping areas around and he sent me 2 blocks west to Park Street. There was a cute little area and I couldn’t find parking but I drove around by the park which was lovely and sat and read my book for awhile. There were 2 darling little girls there that I want to do a painting of someday. They were feeding the ducks and pigeons and having a grand old time. There was a big pond with lots of ducks and geese floating around.

Isn't she darling?

Isn’t she darling?


Duck Pond Riverside Park

Duck Pond Riverside Park











While I was there I happened to see an old pizza place that was closed and realized I could park there and walk to the stores, so I did. I stopped in a bead place just for fun and started talking to one of the owners, Theresa, and she thought maybe my things would go well in her store, but she had to talk to her partner about it first, so maybe I will have a little sale there. I didn’t even have a card with me and as you can see by the picture above, I looked like death warmed over, so that was interesting.

Fun little shops on that street, had to laugh at one store that had a black leather corset with gold spikes all over the boobs. I laughingly said to another lady there that I was going to buy it..it was definitely me. She laughed too. It reminded me again of a favorite card my sister sent me once a few years ago with a couple old ladies on the front asking “are we too old to be floozies? I think we should be floozies before it’s too late” Well folks I think my floozy days are behind me, but every once in awhile I forget I’m an old lady now, doncha know!

I am changing directions in many ways. First of all, since I have a Chromebook which is basically a google machine, I am thinking of changing my blog to Blogger instead of WordPress. This will hopefully make all things easier…we’ll see.

The big change is that my trip agenda has changed. I have decided not to go west this year after all. I got a late start on this trip…planned to leave Jan 1 and didn’t get away until Feb 20. Then I got down to Florida and stayed everywhere longer than I had planned to. I don’t regret that for a minute. I may not see a lot of these people again anytime soon and it was delightful to spend so much time with them. Some was planned, some wasn’t.

So the big plan I had to travel to Florida, then follow the gulf coast around and go on to Phoenix, then up the coast of California, on to Canada then back around to the middle of the country visiting all my cousins and doing a video family history is just not going to happen this year.

First of all it’s too hot to go that way now.

Second is if I go diagonally up through the middle and circle the other way I’m headed into tornado alley at the wrong time.

Third is the van is acting up and may need some help soon that I can’t afford.

I don’t want to be breaking down in the middle of West Texas

Fourth is that my Medicare starts in July and I really need to get that and Medicaid set up in Maryland where I may be living someday.

Fifth and most important is the week in July that the kids and I spend with each other at Fishing Bay. That’s almost more important than Christmas and Thanksgiving where you basically get together for a meal and then go home. We are in a relaxed state of being and just hanging out. It’s great. Didn’t want to miss it.

So now I’m meandering back up north to some cooler weather, although it was rainy and cold in St. Augustine yesterday, and beautiful sunny 70’s today. Then I will probably be back in Maryland by mid June. After Fishing Bay, if the van is behaving, I will head up north to New England for the fall colors and back home for the holidays. Maybe I’ll do the cross country thing next year, maybe not.
Mermaid - Ocean BlueDidn’t have a picture of the blue mermaid ready yesterday so here she is today. If you are reading this blog you can get it for $20 which is the wholesale price and on sale until Mother’s Day. Just type in “wholesale” for the discount code on my website http://jjohnsdesigns.com.  Arghh – can’t get the link to work so you’ll have to copy and paste. There is a link on the sidebar also. C’mon people…I gotta pay for gas to get home. Help me out here willya?

Now that I’m done with my shameless promotion, here’s a picture of a bride in front of the carousel at the park by the library in St. Augustine. Sweet little shady park I think I’ll go sit there and paint awhile. I did go to the beach today but I only stayed a minute. Thought I should try it once, but I still didn’t like it. Drove back thru downtown just to cleanse my palette. There’s an art and farmer’s market tomorrow morning so I might try to get into that and sell off some of this stock I’m lugging around. 

Bride at Carousel St. Augustine

I’ve already told you a lot about St. Augustine, so tomorrow I’ll tell you all about my trip to Tarpon Springs on the Gulf Coast.

Don’t know why my font keeps changing size. Can’t see where to fix it…oh well.

I spent about a week visiting my friend Lynn in the Tampa area which was wonderful but the first night I was there I plugged in my computer and I get nothing but a black screen. Fortunately I sold some products in Orlando so I trotted over to Best Buy with 40 dollars in store credit, most of which was a Christmas present from my son, and I try to check out tablets. Nobody wanted to help me so I had to wait a few days before I got one.


I bought one and it wasn’t sufficient for my needs, so I traded it in for a Chromebook. I was ready to throw it out the window I was so frustrated with it, so I went to Best Buy and talked to the Google guy and he was very helpful. Apparently I had a glitch that was new to him but he got it fixed without too much trouble and now it’s working pretty well.

I used to live in Sarasota 40 years ago so we went downtown to Sarasota to visit it – nothing looks the same. We walked around downtown which was charming and talked to some shops but no one is buying at the and of the season now. Found a gallery with several works by a sculptor named Glenna Goodacre. Amazing! Most in the thousands of dollars. She designed the Sacajawea coin.
There was a homeless girl sitting on the street who was a very talented artist. She drew beautiful angels and fairies and women and was selling her drawings on the street.  I wasn’t able to buy one of the drawings but I gave her a couple of bucks to help out. We were appalled to find out the Salvation Army Shelter charges $10 per nite. Can you believe it?
We had big plans to ride the trolley to the beaches, but we just kept talking and talking and didn’t ever get anywhere. She has a great apartment with a balcony overlooking a lake and lots of herons and ducks and geese and even a gator, so I was very content to sit and visit. She’s had such an interesting life, traveled all over and lived in Mexico several years volunteering at an orphanage. Amazing woman!


I was planning to leave Sunday morning and it rained and my van wouldn’t start of course. I decided not to have her fuss over me so I just read in the parking lot until I got sleepy and took a nap. Unfortunately she saw my van was still there and got worried about me. Such a to do and I felt so badly for worrying her. Darned van. It finally dried out and started and I went on my way.


The good news is I also got my mermaid mold made and it looks great. Lynn was camera shy so I don’t have any pics of her, and I was so involved I forgot to take pics in Sarasota. But here’s a pic of the new mermaid. Picasa isn’t coming up for me today so I had little editing on it. Hope you like it

Reaching for the Stars

Reaching for the Stars

Been Gone Awhile

My laptop crashed a couple weeks ago.

First I got a tablet. Tried it for a couple weeks and it just wasn’t going to cut it. I really wanted a tablet because I wanted something small and easy and inexpensive, but I couldn’t really type on it easily or insert my picture card or any of the things I usually do.

I tried really hard to post to my blog with my phone, but I really couldn’t get it to work right. I did get pretty good at typing with my thumbs but it just wasn’t enough.

So I did a lot of research and decided an Acer Chromebook would fit the bill nicely. Just got it set up tonight and I’m tired so I will just let this be a quick blog post.

In the last couple weeks I have visited my friend in Sarasota and went to Pass-a-Grille and other spots in St. Petersburg, spent several days in Tarpon Springs and am now back in the Orlando area and spent lots of time at Disney’s Epcot Center.

I will try to catch up with y’all and tell you all about it and post tons of pics, but for now, I’m just gonna hit the sack.

Nite nite.