Friday, December 30, 2011

Hialeah Park, Hialeah, FL..A day at the horseraces....

Thursday, 12/29/11 - Another Arts & Crafts day in the park and I must say I should have quit while I was ahead. I had 2 winners - the Christmas decorations...which went to Nancy & Howard and the Broom - that is heading for Kim and Bill's. Well today was "glass etching." I had a bad feeling about this when I saw it but put my money down anyway. I picked 2 wine glasses and the idea is to pick out what decorations you want to put on them and then the procedure starts. I won't go into all the problems I had but it took me 3 hours (yes, only me & the teacher were there at the end) and Howard's glass I put the decorations upside down & to low. Nancy's pattern didn't show up good and you can't tell what it is.....but I put them in a box and sent them UPS anyway. I told them to put them in the BACK of the china closet much for glass etching.

Friday, 12/30/11 - Hialeah Park is a very, old and famous horse racing park in the Miami area. Actually, I don't have much history of it and plan to find out more as it was extremely interesting. It has been closed for some years but just this year they have opened it back up and big plans for it. A race track PLUS a casino right there.

Our neighbors, Brad and Hilda, who are full time RVers from Michigan were talking about it the other day telling us that after the fourth race the flamingos that live in the center of the race track park actually fly around the park. They have been wanting to go so we ALL went today.

Of course one of the other big attractions, beside the flamingos flying, was that the entrance into the park and the parking were FREE. The current schedule is 11 Quarter horse races only and the first race starts at 1:15 pm with the birds flying about 2:30 pm. So we set off about 11 am with plans to get there about noon, have lunch, take a tour of the place and bet on the first 4 races. Well, it couldn't have worked out more perfect!!!!

We found the place with no problem and NO help from the girlfriend, GPS.....that address was not listed so we used an old fashion map and went right to it. As we arrived into the grounds the place is beautiful and very impressive. With grand, curved staircases up to the second and third floors. The place is huge with large old pictures hanging on the walls of the rich and famous who have been here through the years. We walked around just looking at the stables where the horses are kept, the beautiful statue of the famous horse- Citation. We even learned a scene from the Godfather was filmed right there by the statue of Citation.

Because we took our car, Brad & Hilda insisted on buying our lunch....which turned out to be a hot dog for Will (a 7 on the 1 to 10 scale) and a hot, salted pretzel for me....a perfect lunch. We then got our racing program and of course started checking out horses. Will gave me $20 to bet for him & me and we won 3 out of 4 races...with me returning $30 to Will. It was all very exciting and on the 4th race Brad who had not won our horse and fun when you are winning.

After the fourth race, right on que, the flamingo's take off and fly around the inside of the horse track for several least a good 5 minutes or so. It was amazing to see, those beautiful pink and black birds flying through the air. With that we decided to quit a WINNER and took our money and headed out the door and headed back to the RV park. It was a beautiful, warm. sunny day and we had great fun. Actually, we were dead tired when we got home which is so amazing when we aren't really doing anything. Oh well......much love to all our family and friends.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A fabulous Air Boat ride, Everglades, FL

Tuesday, 12/27/11 - We headed out with our friends Ron & Ms Dixie for an air boat ride on my favorite Florida road....Tamiami Trail on Hwy 41 West. We had been once before when we were here in Florida 2004/05 and loved it and wanted a repeat ride.

We headed out about 10 am and were going to try each of the 3 air boat places we saw when we visited Shark Valley a few weeks ago. Now when we were there at that time....each and everyone of these places were deserted....I mean no one. Well, today was another story, Christmas vacation and snowbirds have arrived. You would have thought they were giving rides away. The first place we stopped, which was the crummiest, Will did NOT like it, and I didn't like the boats, way to packed with people. So we headed for the next one, it was busier than the first one, so we headed for air boat number 3. Now this place is the nicest of the three but today was also the busiest. First we couldn't even find a place to park and then they squeezed us into some field to park. There must have been at least 6 tour buses loaded with people, BUT because it was the last air boat stand and I had a $3.00 off coupon for each of us....we decided to wait it out.

We got into line and purchased our ticket, which with the coupon was $20 and for that you got a 40 minute air boat ride, which included a talk out in the Everglades from the boat driver and when you returned they had an alligator show they put on. The best part of this particular ride was the boats were smaller and they didn't pack them, we had 16 people on our boat, which was only 4 people on a seat cross ways and allowed for lots of room to see. Our driver was excellent and he gave us a great ride even turning the boat 180 degrees. After I asked him if he ever does a 360 and he said no because they get water in the boat. But the 180 was great fun and going at that speed it felt fabulous. I was on an end seat (of course) so did get some spray but great pictures.

He then stopped the boat in one of the "hammocks" where we saw several alligators and he told us about the Everglades and the creatures that live there. The current most pressing problem is Python snakes in the Everglades. During Hurricane Andrew (in the 80's) a huge snake collector in Homestead, FL, where the hurricane hit the hardest, blew these snakes everywhere and through the years they have multiplied at an alarming rate. Also the "dumb" people that buy them when they are little, eventually bring them into the Everglades and "dump" them when they get to big to keep. He said there is a famous You Tube video that shows a 20 ft python snake that has swallowed a 7 ft alligator in the Everglades...I don't think I want to see it.

When we returned to the dock side it was apparent that everyone aboard had really enjoyed the ride and the entire experience. We were then escorted into the alligator show which was already going on. It was a trainers inside this fenced area with 4 very large alligators. We couldn't believe how this guy was able to touch, pet and even kiss these alligators. And they actually knew their names....I only remember Fat Albert and Killer. We should have gone back, after lunch, to see the beginning of the show that we missed.

We then headed for the outdoor area where Dixie & I got a picnic table and Will and Ron went and got our ice chests from the car. Yep, we even have them packing their own lunch too. It was perfect weather for being outside as there was some cloud cover (protection from the sun) a great breeze and the temp was was low 80's. It was a really fun day and after lunch we packed up the car and head for home. However, because we needed a "bathroom stop" half way home we stopped at an Indian casino for a look around.....NO gambling, we just used the bathrooms, checked out the buffet prices - $11.03 per person and left. We got home about 2:30 pm and everyone was really tired, as in, I think it's nap time. Tomorrow is Ron & Dixie's day to get their RV ready to hit the road as they leave out of here Thursday morning. We sure will miss them and sorry to see them go. Much love to all our family and friends.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Deering Estate at Cutler, Miami, FL

Monday, 12/26/11 - This was our day to go see the Deering Estate , this was owned by John Deering, the brother of James Deering who owned the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens (which we previous toured.) If you remember, (and why should you) these were the sons of William who started International Harvester Company....and everyone was very, very rich and of course this was before personal income taxes.

Believe me, these two homes could not have been more different. Around 1900 John Deering purchased the Richmond Cottage, which was the first hotel between Coconut Grove and Key West in Cutler, FL. He eventually bought up the entire town of Cutler and built right next to the Cottage in 1922, Stone House, which he used both of them as his winter home. It was interesting to see that when he built Stone House there was NO kitchen included....they cooked and ate in the Richmond Cottage. Stone House, a concrete house with 18 inch walls housed his vast art collection.

The most interesting room in Stone House was the wine cellar. This room was built during prohibition and has a huge vault door (think bank vault) but disguised with a dry-good shelving. In 1945 a hurricane flooded the cellar and rusted the vault door closed and it remained sealed for 45 years. When it was eventually opened over 4,000 bottle of champagne, wine and liquor bottles were discovered there. Of course everything had been ruined by salt water, breakage and insects but absolutely fascinating. The houses were beautifully decorated for Christmas and it was fun to see that. Unfortunately, when the houses and property were sold all the furnishings were taken by the family so there is no original furniture. However, the rooms were grand and the views out to the Bay were magnificent.

The homes are open all day for self guided tours but we took the only guided tour they offer at 10:30 am with our guide Linda. We were lucky it was only us and another family of three. Well, this family turned out to be a complete delight.....Amanda, a bright, darling 12 year old who is in the 7th grade, her mommy, and mommies boyfriend. Unfortunately, we never learned their names. Such an amazing story....they came here from Cuba 3 years ago and it was fascinating hearing the stories and telling us about life in Cuba.

After the tour we headed back to the car to have our guessed it, our ice chest, chairs & Mimi's TV tray parked right in the parking lot watching the people come and go into the Deering Estate. After lunch he headed back on to the property to await the 12:30 pm tour of through the natural areas which are a mangrove forest, a boardwalk which led to an American Indian Burial Mound. There our guide Linda, showed and explained about artifacts from centuries back. On this tour we had our wonderful Cuban family plus 3 visitors from China. It truly was amazing learning about each of the people on our of the young Chinese girls is a PhD student of Economics in Pittsburgh and I never learned about the others....however they ALL spoke English and it was wonderful to be able to talk with all of them. Of course they were equally amazed at our story.....bumming around the country for a year.

The grounds on this 450 acre bay front estate are incredibly beautiful. The view from these homes look right into Biscayne Bay. There is a "horseshoe" opening from the bay into their estate that manatees come into for the warm water that is there. They said last Saturday there were 6 to 8 manatees there. Fortunately, after our nature tour Will, Amanda and I went down there to see the four manatees people were talking about. They are huge animals, weighting up to 1000 lbs, but unfortunately they stayed "inside the horseshoe" and we were only able to see them when they came up for air. Not a great sighting but at least they were there.

It was truly a wonderful day (I guess I keep saying that....) the sights that we saw and the people that we met....Amanda said I reminded her of her grandmother in Cuba and I told her I don't have any grandchildren (only a grand puppy) and I could be her American grandma!!! Much luck and love Amanda and I know you will grow up to be a fine, young's hoping our paths cross again. Much love to all our family and friends.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas from Miami, Florida

Thursday, 12/22/11 - A very BIG day in W. Orange, New Jersey, Nancy and Howard traveled to Minnesota to pick up their new adorable dog.....MAUI. Maui is a cross between a Cocker Spaniel and Golden Retriever and should be about 20-25 lbs fully grown. If you can, check out Nancy's Facebook page just to see how adorable this puppy is.

Nancy & Howard arrived in MN mid morning and the breeder delivered Maui to the airport in the afternoon for a return flight at 6:30 pm. They kept texting me pictures and she did just great in her carrying case which was located under the seat in front of them. Since her arrival at home it has been non-stop puppy craziness and from what I have is love on all of their parts......lucky Maui has found a wonderful home and I can't wait to meet her.

A birthday SHOUT OUT.......Friday, 12/23 was my friend, Mary Ann's birthday and it's a BIG I won't mention the number but I will be catching up with her in 2 months. Saturday, 12//24 was Howard's birthday.....and of course his present was Maui.....A great big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to two of my favorite people.

Sunday, 12/25/11 - A very Merry Christmas to all of our family and friends. As much as we miss everyone, Will and I both agree we LOVE spending Christmas where it is warm and we are able to wear shorts. We truly want to follow the sun and never be cold again!!

Our Christmas celebration was to out to the Main Moon Chinese Buffet about 3 miles from the RV park with our dear friends Ron and Dixie of Texas. Actually, it is one of the few places open around here, we couldn't believe how quiet the streets were and where are all the crazy Cuban drivers. We all agreed dinner was wonderfu and we all over ate, of course, except Will. When we returned I immediately put back on my elastic waist shorts and got comfortable.

Here's hoping that everyone had a wonderful Christmas and got everything they asked Santa for and we again send our love out to all of our family and friends.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Another long but wonderful day at the Miami Zoo

Sunday, 12/18/11 - This afternoon we took our friends, Ron & Dixie down to RF Orchids in Homestead, FL for the 3 pm tour of the gardens. We had gone a week or so before but Will enjoyed it so much he wanted to go back.

In just this short time there were so many more varieties of orchids blooming and the place looked fabulous. We did not have Bob, the owner as our tour guide but Julie who has worked at the nursery for 12 years. Bob gave a great tour as he told a lot about his family's history, which was so interesting, but Julie gave a much better tour regarding all the plants. It was a marvelous afternoon and Ron & Dixie purchased a couple variety of air plants to put into some large shells they have in a basket. An of course no day would be complete without a trip to WalMart for much needed groceries. A fun day.

Monday, 12/19/11 - A local Chinese Buffet very close to our RV park has an annual anniversary special each year....2 for the price of one so my neighbor Mary asked if I wanted to go to lunch as her husband, Harold would NOT step foot in the place. Well, you only have to ask me once to go out for Chinese away we went. Actually, it was a pretty good selection and Mary and I certainly got our monies worth. We had a fun time sharing stories and lots of laughs and the most amazing thing.....I told her about our wonderful time in Rome, NY and our experiences on the Erie Canal and singing the songs. When we got back into the car she brought up on her CD player Bruce Springsteen, singing our old favorite...On the Erie Canal. We both broke out into song singing I ask you, how many people would just happen to have that song available in their car???? Great going Mary, it was fun.

Tuesday, 12/20/11 - It's Tuesday so that's when "the old people" get into the Miami Zoo for free with the Golden Pass so we invited our friends Ron & Dixie, who LOVE zoos to go with us. We got out there about 10:15 am and didn't leave until 4 pm.....A long and tiring BUT wonderful day.

We started out on the 11 am Tram ride that takes through out the entire zoo (which is HUGE) but also tells you about the animals. We didn't do that on our last trip and thoroughly enjoyed the ride. After the tram ride we got our hand stamped so we could go back out and have our picnic lunch on the median of the parking lot. As you know, this has become a tradition with us and we had them bring their folding chairs and it was great.

Because of the Christmas Holiday, they were lots of people (kids) at the zoo but they also had special "feedings" for different animals at different times. Actually, on our way to the tram we discovered that at 10:30 am it was the Bengal Tiger which the zookeeper explained about him and tossed him 2 snacks.....2 - 10oz steaks, which he devoured in two bites. We also saw the Chimpanzee and the Gorilla' was a 800 lb Silver Back male Gorilla and the Asian Elephants get fed and the zookeeper told about each animal and answers any questions you had. It was a wonderful experience and because it was a cooler day (in the mid 70's) the animals were incredibly active. We all agreed we had never seen so much animal activity at any zoo as we saw today.

We did a lot of walking and also rode the raised monorail around the zoo which is certainly a different look at everything plus the fact you are going through the beautiful trees. We attempted to go and feed the giraffe (you buy a cup of lettuce for $1.00) but the line was way to long and by this time we were exhausted. We boarded the monorail to head for the stop by the front gate so we could head on home. It was a glorious day and we were all very tired little boys and girls by this time. Now of course, since dinner, the trick is trying to stay awake until it's time to go to bed. Much love to all our family and friends. A special note: Happy Hanukkah to Howard & Nancy and all of their family......Bobbi, Jack, Roe and Herman that are celebrating this evening. Wish I was there with all of you!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Another beautiful week in Miami, FL

The time is just flying by here at Larry & Penny Thompson's RV park in Miami, FL, I can't believe we have already been here one month....and just one more month to go.

Tuesday, 12/13/11 - We experienced bingo Miami style.....played in the afternoon 2 to 4 pm for a fee of $4.00 for 3 cards and 2 hours of bingo. Best part was, Will finally won a bingo game....his first ever for a huge jackpot of $4.00. At least he got his money back that was more than I got, but we had fun and I'm sure we will be back there next week.

Thursday, 12/15/11 - Now this was a big day, my second Arts & Crafts project of which I made a Christmas Wreath. Actually, it turned out really well and I was so proud the teacher took a picture of me with the wreath and emailed to me. I sent it out to friends but they mostly commented on MY TAN, which is fine with me. Actually, those 2 great projects will be sent UPS to daughter Nancy as she really doesn't believe her mother did anything like that.

The other big thing today was our friends Ron & Dixie.....Driving Ms Dixie.... arrived for a 2 week stay at our RV park. Will and I were both excited to see them again and we even made up a bright neon green sign that said: WELCOME - Driving Ms Dixie - oh an Ron.....Texas. We attached to our lawn chair and were going to put it right in the middle of the RV space but it was so windy we had to keep it home and they didn't see it until after they arrived and came over to see us. It was fun and so good to see them and we visited for a very long time and are looking forward to doing things with them while they are here.

Friday, 12/16/11 - More visiting today with our friends Ron & Dixie plus other friends in the park. At 12 noon we all headed to the clubhouse for a pizza (the works) lunch. Later that day our friend Mary, who with her husband Harold, are hot air balloon people. Late that afternoon she came over and asked Will and I if one of us wanted to go up in the balloon early 5:30 am Saturday morning. I couldn't believe when Will said he wanted to go......First off, did he not hear 5:30 am and second, HELLO you have a rod in your back & it doesn't seem like a good thing to do. But he was excited and wanted to go. After Mary left I reminded him about his back and what if it was a hard landing, or a lot of wind or even if he had to jump out when the balloon came down. Of course, he then realized he couldn't go and went over to Mary & Harold's to tell them. I hated to be such a spoiler but really......Hot Air Ballooning, I don't think so and Kim would kill me if I let him go.

Saturday, 12/17/11 - A very fun day, at 9 am this morning in the club house they had a Flea Market for the campers. I went but what I decided I didn't need anyone else junk to add to my junk so was just a looker. However, the best part of the day was to come, my friend Sonia and I had made plans to go to Bayside on Miami's public transportation today.

Sonia is a friend I made the last time we were here in 2004/05 and they have been coming to this park for 13 years. Sonia is originally from Columbia but now lives with her husband James in North Carolina....wintering in Miami. She had purchased our round trip ticket, $5.00 ea for our days outing and Will took us to the bus stop this morning about 10 am for our "first leg" of the trip. Our first public ride was a bus to a huge shopping center, Dadeland where we then waited for the Metro Rail, our "second part" of the trip. We got off at Government Center, which seems to be the main spot and then boarded a "people mover." The people movers are small cars that run on a track, elevated above the streets, which are standing room only. They go in a circle around the So Miami area and you can just keep getting off and on at different stops, this part is always free. It was a great way to see the Miami area.

Our destination was Bayside, which was a great double decker open air mall, that had lots of kiosk, shops, arts & craft booths, many restaurants and a food court all located on the water. It was a fabulous place to walk and people watch. We were able to see lots of private yachts and even several cruise ships. We spent the entire day there, had a wonderful fish lunch and even sat and listened to an outdoor concert......Spanish music that is. Somewhere after 4pm we headed back to the RV park and this time, Sonia's husband picked us up at the bus stop. It was a wonderful day and we had a great time together. It was also very nice to have my private Spanish interpreter as few people speak English here. We have made plans to take another outing to the Art Deco area in South Beach on the public transportation. I can't wait. Much love to all our family and friends.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Shark Valley, The Everglades, Florida

Monday, 12/12/11 - We headed to the northern most part of the Everglades, Shark Valley mostly because they are the only viewing center in the park that offers a tram ride. The Everglades is a National Park so with our Golden Age Pass we get into the park for free but the 2 hour tram ride is $19 per person. Shark Valley is so named because this is an actual valley and is located in the Shark River Slough....there are NO sharks here!

We arrived about 10 am for the 11 am tram ride and were able to walk around the visitors center and there were alligators laying on the banks of the water ways ...right at the entrance. I was able to get a picture of Will with 3 alligators laying on the road in the background and sent it to his daughter Kim.....who of course thought we were crazy and told us to get the heck out of there!

We boarded the tram and then began our 2 hour, narrated journey through the saw grass prairie which consist of wide open prairie with mounds of trees which are called "hammocks." Unfortunately, we had a guide in training who also was from another country and was difficult to understand as well as she didn't have a lot of knowledge. Just the bad luck of the draw.

This particular part of the Everglades has the highest viewing of alligators and birds and we hit the jackpot today. One Florida guy on the tour who had brought out of state guests on the tour said it was the most alligators he has ever seen on the tram ride. From the minute we got there....the driveway into the park, there were alligators laying all over the place. During the tram ride we also saw many baby alligators that are usually born in September and and are about 4 inches when they are they were 6 to 8 inches long. The biggest alligator we saw on the tour was about 8 feet and the way you measure an alligator....just in case someone asks you.....the distance from their eyes to their nose, say is 6 inches.....they would be a 6 foot alligator. That's all the trivia I have for today!

The bird life out here was amazing however the most amazing bird was the anhinga....they are an underwater swimmer that pierces a fish with their sharp bill and afterward the bird "preens" and dries its wings. We saw them sitting everywhere with their wings spread out in the sun....just drying off.

Midway on the tour we stopped at a 65 foot tower that has a circular walkway so you are not actually climbing stairs to the of course we had a chance to make it, which we did. The view was spectacular and we were able to look down and see alligators lying in the saw grass and even very large turtles in the water. This area was originally owned by an oil company (who else) but was unprofitable so they turned it over to the government and this tower was originally used as a fire lookout. After the tower, which was the half way point we headed back to the visitors centers.

The road we were on in the tram is a 15 mile loop which is also used by bicycle's riders and walkers (those crazy people) Actually, I couldn't believe how many bike riders were out there. You can of course bring your own bike or rent a bike for $8 an hour. Trust me, the tram is the only way to go.

When we returned to the visitors center we of course found a lovely place to unload our chairs and Mimi's TV tray and have our lunch.....overlooking the Everglades. It was a fun and interesting day and we plan to also go down to the Northern part of the Everglades before we leave this area just to get a different view. Much love to all our family and friends.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

An update on this and that in Miami, FL

Thursday, 12/8/11 - Every Thursday this month in the park at 10 am they have an Arts & Crafts project, in the club house, you can sign up for....this being December, they are all about Christmas, decorations, duh! For what ever reason, and I still don't believe I did it, I signed up and showed up to make a table decorations. Of course, the other ladies took me "under their wing" and helped me even showing me how to use the glue gun. So I started gathering up poinsettias flowers, Christmas bells, leaves, ribbon & etc and "attacked" my piece of foam and came up with what I thought was a beauty!!!! Actually, I was shocked how nice it turned out and a picture is available on request to see the finished project. When I brought it home Will even wanted me to put it on the kitchen table to display it.....which shocked me as nothing is displayed here. I can't wait for next weeks project (I'm already signed up) a Christmas Wreath!!!

Saturday, 12/10/11 - RT Orchid Co of Homestead offered a free tour of their gardens this weekend so Will and I decided to go down there (a 10 mile trip south of us) for the 11 am tour. Because of the tropical weather here, orchids grow everywhere around here, in the trees, gardens and lots of nurseries specialize in them. We got there about 10:30 am and strolled thru several large greenhouses filled with every imaginable orchid....beautiful colors and my camera was going non stop. At 11 am Bob, who turned out to be the owner of the place, was gathering up people for the 11 am tour.

He then proceeded to explain that his grandparents started this nursery in 1932 on about 160 acres they purchased for the vast sum of $2,500. It was property they couldn't practically give away. The grandparents started the nursery & it has been in their family ever since. The amazing part we were to discover that the "garden tour" actually turned out to be his "backyard." The grandparents built their house there & he has added on....A LOT and what we saw were the orchids, plants and sculptures he has accumulated from all over the world. IT WAS FABULOUS. One incredible thing he told us that after Hurricane Andrew in 1992 there was not a green leaf or plant left standing. Most of the trees were toppled over and a lot of the palms that fell....they were able to pull them back up. His house & the grandparents house, when rebuilt, were constructed out of concrete and steel.

The tour consisted of about 25 people and Bob took us through the front, side & back yards explaining about all the different orchids, the amazing parrots he has in cages through out the yard. He told the story of one red, very large parrot that was given to him by some wealthy lady as one day the parrot "escaped" from his cage and completely destroyed a Chippendale dining room table & chairs by the time she had returned home. The bird left that night and rules the other birds in that cage.

The back yard had two amazing features, a beautiful black bottom swimming pool with a spectacular large orchid decoration on the bottom of the pool. He also has in the back yard a natural water spring that they have built 3 waters falls. The spring is FILLED with different types of huge fish, turtles and even a small alligator. When the alligator gets to big he donates it back to a local alligator farm and gets another "baby." He threw a hand full of fish food in the spring (that required NO maintenance as it is a natural spring) and every fish/animal in there went crazy feeding on them. We also were able to view his fabulous outdoor living room complete with a bar and lots of seating with an amazing stain glass window of orchids and animals. Words do not do this place justice and it was hard to keep remembering...this is someones backyard! Plus the fact that Bob was a genuinely nice guy and was very appreciative of what he has been given and he is definitely a good steward of the land and the people that work for him. It was a wonderful experience.

That evening, back at the RV park, was a potluck dinner at 5 pm open to all to attend. I, of course, brought, my world famous....WalMart potato & macaroni salad but I must say all of the people brought a wonderful array of food. It was a fun dinner and we met more very nice RV people from different pods. It was a busy Saturday while Sunday was just an off and on rainy day but the laundry got done and then we went out for our favorite lunch..... Costco....Will for a polish hot dog and me a yogurt and of course a quick tour around to visit the "food ladies." Another great day in Florida and sending out much love to all our family and friends.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables, FL

Wednesday, 12/7/11 - Ok, as of today the fabulous Golden Pass (available to all seniors) saved us another $ savings for 3 sightseeing outings so far = $86.00. How cool is that? The first Wednesday of each month a senior with a Golden Pass gets in the Fairchild Gardens for FREE including the guided 1 hour tram ride. Of course this was our day to visit the the 83 acre botanical gardens specializing in tropical plants from around the world.

The place is absolutely amazing and they must have every kind of palm tree from around the world. It consists of beautiful lakes, path, lots of benches and walkways into different areas such as plants of Madagascar (which was one of my favorites) a beautiful rain forest, a butterfly garden (plants that attract butterflies that were everywhere), a Conservatory, a sunken garden, edible garden and so much more. Actually, words cannot describe the beauty of this place, do yourself a favor and look it up. We took our first tram ride through at 11 am, brought our picnic lunch inside the park (they welcomed us to do so) then walked for hours thru the rain forest, sunken garden, down around the lakes and through many of the the specialty areas, after the walk we boarded the tram AGAIN, and took another tour around.

Also there was my favorite glass guy...Dale Chihuly in the Conservatory he had a gorgeous multi colored glass art piece at least 12 - 15 ft tall mounted in water so that you could see the refection of it as you looked at it. Outside, he had a series of at least 10 - Cobalt Herons in a pool. December, has been a HUGE art month in Miami and at the Fairchild there was an exhibit of by Will Ryman, a 42 year old guy from New York that built these unbelievable rose "structures" made out of fiberglass and steel and they were placed throughout the park. The biggest one was 5 red roses (pedals & stems only) that measured 30ft tall and 12ft wide. There were other smaller ones of pink, blue, purple and yellow through out the park. Also around the roses would be "petal shaped chairs" of the same color - it was breathtaking......I can't imagine how many pictures I took of just those roses. He also had bumble bee, about 15 ants displayed outside in the park. I am really looking forward to going through these pictures this evening.

We finally left there about 3:30 pm and were thoroughly exhausted when we got home, it was a beautiful Miami winter day....83 degrees and hardly any wind. I swear, when you hear them play a Christmas Carol on the radio it seems so strange.......REALLY, this can't be Christmas time here!!! Much love to all our family and friends and the fun just keeps on coming.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, Miami, FL

Monday, 12/5/11 - We picked another "freebie" out our our 2011 Golden Ticket book for Seniors and visited Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, , which is located north of us about 15 miles right on Biscayne Bay in Miami. (Side note: with our Golden Tickets so far we got into Zoo/$30.00 and Vizcaya/$20 for FREE with more to come)

Vizcaya was the winter home of James Deering and built in 1916. James Deering and brother Charles Deering were from the family of International Harvester. We will see "the other" Deering estate while we are here. Vizacaya was originally 180 acres of swamp located on Biscayne Bay right in the heart of old fashionable Coconut Grove/Miami but currently the house and formal gardens remain on 50 acres. James was a life long bachelor and built this beautiful Italy Renaissance house that was eventually donated, by his nieces, to the state of Florida to maintain as a museum open to the public.

The house is a 2 story home with all the bedroom and the kitchen located on the second floor. James had the kitchen built upstairs as he didn't want cooking smells through out the formal rooms located downstairs. What a view the kitchen help had! Downstairs rooms were located around a very large atrium, much like the Builtmore in Ashville, NC. Each room was decorated magnificently and all furnishings came from Italy, Paris and other parts of Europe. They at one time rented a huge warehouse in New York and stored furniture they purchased from Europe THEN designed a room to put it in....just the opposite of most homes.

James had a 3 room suite upstairs with a view of Biscayne Bay and a balcony. He had a bedroom, an office and bathroom. Although James never married he had a beautiful "adjoining" Cathay (Asian) room for "his" female guest. We wandered throughout the rooms while listening to the audio headset (we rented only one??) so I listen & repeat info to Will. Actually, Will said he liked this estate BETTER than the Vanderbilt's Builtmore....but not me. It was amazing to see but so much smaller and way less grand.

However, the formal gardens were something else. True Italian gardens with statues every where and lots of beautiful trimmed bushes, many in a maze formation and so many water features. There was a formal tea house overlooking Biscayne Bay an actual structure shaped like a large yacht that they would use a row boat to go and sit out there. At one time there was a canal completely surrounding the house & gardens where a gondola would travel showing the guest the estate. We actually loved the garden and spent a great deal of time out there walking around and just sitting and listening to the head set tell all about it.

Actually, after viewing the house we headed back to the parking lot to have our picnic lunch (2 chairs and Mimi's TV tray) and "greet guest" as they were heading in. It has become such a tradition for us on this trip. After lunch we headed back to see the orchid garden and the formal gardens. Our total time spent there today was 5 1/2 hours, we needed a nap when we got home but it was fun to be back on the sightseeing circuit. Much love to all our family and friends.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Being very lazy in Miami, FL

Saturday, 11/26/11 - Nancy & Howard returned from a very nice stay in Key West, FL and got a hotel near the Miami Airport for returning to N.J. on Sunday. However, we got one more dinner with them at our (Nancy & mine) very favorite, P.F. Chang's. It was located in So Miami on a "restaurant row" in a very cute part of Miami. We had a great dinner, with all the usual specialties ordered. Afterwards, we took a walk and had some great gelato, a perfect way to end a evening. We said our good byes and the next day they were home in dreary New Jersey.....already missing the Florida sun.

Tuesday, 11/29/11 - Tuesday is Seniors day at the Miami Zoo, which is a FREE day for us so we headed over to the zoo which is actually right behind our RV park. We hear the monkeys in the early morning yelling for their breakfast. The Miami Zoo is a HUGE place and we made a mistake by not taking the tram around to all the exhibits but walking. What we didn't know when we made that decision is how large this place is. We walked for 5 hours and didn't even see all the animal exhibits. The animals are not locked up in cages but in large grassy areas with a moat between the animals and the people. (keeping the animals safe)

Actually, we were more impressed with the landscaping at the zoo - the beautiful plants, flowers and trees. We are going to go back on another Tuesday Senior day and take the tram and see all of the animals. It is a beautiful place but San Diego Zoo is still the best!

Wednesday, 11/30/11 - On Tuesday evening as I was attempting to work on the computer my fabulous Verizon 4G was NOT doing it's job and just "crashed" as it would not hook me up to the Internet. I called the Verizon Tech Support.....they are actual Americans in America.... and he tried to talk me through doing an "up date" to prevent the problem I was having. He learned very shortly that I had no idea what he was talking about & suggested I go into a Verizon Corp store for someone to help in do the update for me! What kills me.....I just got this 4G 1 month ago and I already need an update. REALLY.... As I was talking with the Verizon tech, my phone crashed/went dead I have 2 things phone and computer. So Wednesday morning I gathered everything up and went to the Verizon store and they did the update with no problem. Then hard as it was to believe the ATT store was on the same block and they fixed the phone. I was hopeful they would replace it as the back won't stay on and I have been using scotch tape to hold it together. No such luck, they just replaced the scotch tape but at least the phone works.

Thursday, 12/1/11 - Can you believe it's already December.....where has this year gone? Before you know it we will be back in Fresno, but for now we are enjoying the beautiful Miami weather and today was one of the "laying out in the sun" days. Oh I managed to wash some clothes but that was it. Will is looking forward to hot dogs at the clubhouse tomorrow at noon, that's how relaxed this day has gone. Much love to all our family and friends.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Nancy & Howard come into Miami, FL for Thanksgiving

Thursday, 11/24/11 - Nancy and Howard arrived on Wednesday afternoon for a long weekend, Thanksgiving vacation in Miami & Key West, FL. They were lucky to get out of very rainy New Jersey on Wednesday morning and arrived early into the land of sunshine, Miami, FL. They are staying the night at the Westin Diplomatic Hotel, ON THE BEACH, in Hollywood, FL. An absolutely, beautiful and fabulous hotel that I once got to stay at when I was with Nancy. The plan was for me to come over Thursday, Thanksgiving day and hang out at the pool with them for the day...go back and get Will and meet them for dinner and the plan worked exactly like that.

It was an hour drive from the RV park to Hollywood, FL but because it was Thanksgiving the traffic was very light early in the morning. I arrived at my designated time, 9:30 am & not before, I think the email said. Their room was unbelievable, overlooking the ocean with a full outdoor balcony the entire length of their room. It was a 2 room suite on the 20th floor with a fabulous view....and no one wanted to leave. However, after a photo session we headed down to the pool to select our lounges by the pool for "laying out." Because it was early we got 3 right up against the "Plexiglas fence" that allowed you to lay on your deck & see the ocean, it was pretty spectacular.

Now for the best part.....In some of these Westin Hotels they have what I call....the FREE FOOD room, where they serve breakfast foods from 6 to 10 am and then again in the early evening, appetizers...which of course you can make a dinner meal out of, which I have certainly done before. I didn't exactly remember this hotel, that I had stayed there, until the 3 of us went back up to the Free Food room and upon entering the room.....voila, I recognized it immediately, even Nancy told me I commented before, "that this was THE BEST free food room on the Westin circuit. An boy did I remember that when I got in line, it's the only Westin place that serves lox....the stuff they sell for over $12 a half pound or so. We feasted on a wonderful breakfast and I was able to stock up on my favorite....peanut butter in individual servings (you just can't find them anywhere to buy.) After breakfast we headed back to the pool for some sun which unfortunately was in and out all day and the wind was blowing pretty good. Even so, Nancy & Howard agreed it was better than New Jersey and rain!

As it has worked out the last 3 years we have had MY Christmas present opening party at a swimming pool...2009 Santa Cruz/Fresno (?) 2010 Honolulu, HA and 2011 Miami, FL. Now I must say these are presents from Nancy & Howard to ME. Once again they surprised me with another "party at the pool" and I had a fabulous time unwrapping my gifts which were wonderful. Several absolute Nick Swisher pictures have been framed, my stocking from Howard, more Mariano & Derek "hand out" pictures, books, and fabulous personalized Christmas Cards. Such fun, but alas, I had to get back to the RV park to take a shower, get dressed so Will & I could meet them for Thanksgiving dinner.

Our reservation was for 4:45 pm at the Chart House Restaurant over looking the yacht harbor on the water in Miami near Coral Gables, FL. The drive was only about 30 minutes from where we are staying and girlfriend, GPS took us right mistakes. Nancy & Howard were already there and we were seated outside on the deck which was lovely. Fortunately, The Chart House, which is a fabulous seafood restaurant, offered a traditional turkey dinner which Will and Howard ordered. Nancy and I had the Mahi Mahi which was wonderful. It was a beautiful, but slightly windy evening and we visited for a very long time then Nancy gave Will his Christmas present....a 2011 World Series hat (always his favorite) a 2011 W.S. windbreaker an a beautiful coin from the mint, of the 2001-11 Remembrance of the World Trade Center. Around 7:30 pm we headed out, us home to the RV and Nancy & Howard were driving down to Key Largo for a night stay and getting up early and heading into Key West for Friday and Saturday. A wonderful Thanksgiving day but we missed being with our Clovis family on this very special day. Much love to all our family and friends and hope that your Thanksgiving Holiday was a good one. Now it's onto December and Christmas!

My day w/Charlotte and Community Center, Homestead, FL

Tuesday, 11/22/11 - I was very excited to spend the morning with Charlotte, my friend from Canada. Instead of working out in the RV park where we reside she travels with several friends down to Homestead, FL . (about 10 miles South of where we are) to work out in the Community Center & YMCA.

I drove our car and we headed out about 7 am which was brutal for me as I have grown very use to sleeping in these days. But off we went, taking the back roads to Homestead. Now this community center is a real bargain, for $40 a year membership you can use the gym, take water aerobic classes and many of the other classes they offer such as line dancing..PLUS that price also includes 4 or 5 amazing meals they serve, such as Thanksgiving & Christmas dinner.

Our agenda for the day, was to "sneak" me in for the day to see if I liked it and then I could decide to join. First up was a work out in the gym, then go over to the YMCA for the 9 am water aerobic class, lunch somewhere in Homestead then back at 1 pm for a line dancing class. How it ACTUALLY went was, we snuck me in and hit the gym for a work out. Charlotte and I visited and got caught up, she also showed me around this beautiful center which is loaded with "snowbirds." We then got back into the car to head over to the Y for the water class but discovered, much to Charlotte's chagrin" - the class had started at 8 am NOT 9 am as she thought. It seems the class starts at 9 am as it gets more into winter when it's cold....NOT. So unfortunately we only got to participate in the cool down of the water aerobics and not the full class. We also learned the Good News, they were having the "free" Thanksgiving dinner that day but the Bad News, there was no line dancing class.

So back to the Community Center for one more time to sneak me in for the free Thanksgiving dinner which was incredible. Round tables of 8 with cloth table clothes & napkins. The line dancing teacher had reserved 2 tables for her class (me included) which we got into the room about 11:15 am. The dinner is cosponsored with a local assistant living home - The Palace (lot & lots of prospective customers in that room) and the place filled up very quickly. What proceed from the point of "trying to say grace" and serve the dinner was hysterical and chaotic, sort of like trying to herd cats!!! I mean don't stand in the way of a senior citizens free Thanksgiving dinner, when they are afraid they might run out before their plate is filled. I believe they were suppose to call the tables by number, but no such luck, they just had us line up in the hallway & proceed through the dinner line. An what a meal it was, turkey, ham and all the fixings including several salads plus dessert. They had music being played in the background and even Mayor Steve of Homestead came by to welcome us. It was a first class production. We were both sorry there was no line dancing but the meal was a great substitution. After a trip to the local WalMart, BJ Warehouse (think Costco) we headed back to Larry & Penny Thompson RV park thoroughly tired but we had a very fun day hanging out together. As far a joining on a regular basis I probably won't... I miss my regular morning routine of my 3 mile walk, my fabulous 5 egg omelet and of course....Sports Center, plus next week Will and I start sightseeing around the local Miami area.

Also we are very excited we just got word that our Texas friends....Ron & Dixie (Driving Ms Dixie) are coming into Larry & Penny Thompson beginning Dec 15th through Dec 29th. YooHoo.......we can't wait guys! Much love to all our family and friends.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Finally, at Larry & Penny Thompson RV Park, Miami, FL

Monday, 11/21/11 - We finally arrived at one of our most favorite parks on Saturday, 11/19, Larry & Penny Memorial Park & Campground This is a Miami-Dade County Park that we found on our first trip in 2004/05 and loved it then. One thing that was very different at this park is the RV's are parked in pods (like a tire spoke) instead of rows. You get to know who most of your neighbors are. We both made a lot of friends and wondered if any of them still came here for the winter. And surprise, surprise...most of them still do. Some are here already and more are coming. The activities start in December and I understand the park is sold out already for January & February. They come from all over but only a few French speaking Canadians from Quebec are here.....lots and lots of English speaking people, which is great!

We are not in the same pod as last time and we are here until January 19th and have to move 3 times. Seniority on "your space" is everything and come Jan 1st we move to another pod, which is ok with us, we are still in the park. This place sits on 275 acres with miles and miles of trails and fabulous walking & bike riding areas. One thing they added since we were here is a swimming pool & club house. This morning I already went down at 7:15 am to do a Zumba class. It was great fun but too hard on my knees on a cement floor. Tomorrow I am going with my friend Charlotte to her gym for a gym workout, water aerobic class and even a line dancing class. That's should just about do me in but I'm excited to go and hang out with Charlotte.

Charlotte gave us a book for seniors of free stuff to do here in Miami....we just fill out the "Golden Ticket", enclosed in the book, and we get in FREE. God, I love being old. Some of the things we will do are a Botanical Garden, the Miami Zoo, Art Deco Walking Tour in Miami, a Bluegrass Concert and so much more.....I am sooooooo excited, I poured over that book today making all kinds of notes.

This Wednesday Nancy & Howard are coming down to the Miami area and we will spend Thanksgiving with them. They continue on down to Key Largo & Key West and return on Saturday where we will have a P F Chang's dinner together before they return home. A perfect way to end a visit. We can't wait to see them. Weather is so strange here, warm, windy, and then a rain so reminds me of Hawaii and at least most days I get some quality sun time. Much love to all our family and friends.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Good bye to Fort Lauderdale, FL

Thursday, 11/17/18 - We have been here a week and really haven't done any sightseeing in Fort Lauderdale but the one day with Bev so we decided to head out & see something in the area. We chose the Bonnet House down on Fort Lauderdale Beach. Actually, it is 35 acres of pristine property that was donated to the city of Fort Lauderdale in the 1990's to be used as a museum.

It is a subtropical historic house museum that was began in 1920 and took more than 20 years to complete. We had an extraordinary tour guide, Lorraine that was able to share the incredible history of this house and the families that lived here. The house was built by Frederic Clay Bartlett and his wife Helen, on property that her father gave to them. Fredrick was an incredible artist and all of the paintings, furnishings, china are original to the house. After Helen died, he married Evelyn who was married to Eli Lilly...yeah, that one. Evelyn was also an artist so the displayed works are of both of them. Evelyn lived to be 109 years old and was the one who donated the place to Fort Lauderdale. When you see an ariel view of the property, these acres are filled with fully grown trees and plants with the Atlantic ocean on one side, the inter coastal waters behind it and completely surrounded by huge hotels and developments. However, when you are on the property you feel completely removed from all of that. Lorraine gave a wonderful tour and history of the house and then she gave us a tram ride through the gardens and explained many of plants and trees on the property. We must have been there for a good 3 hours. It was a wonderful time. By the way, the Bonnet House is named for the bonnet lily that grows here. A beautiful yellow, water lily that the flower doesn't open up, they were in all the ponds on the estate.

It has been pretty warm and humid here and actually harder on Will than me. I, of course am laying out by the pool, greased up and spraying myself with a water bottle...not a bad way to spend November.

Friday, 11/18/11 - Well, how quickly the weather can change here, last night it just poured rain. One more time in the middle of the night I was running to close the 3 ceiling vents to keep the rain out. Then today, NO sun just rain off and on all day. A perfect day to just stay inside and read which is about all we did. Tomorrow is "moving day" we have a big trip in front of us.....50 miles down I95 to Miami where we will be for the next 2 months. This has been a nice park but we are hopeful to have more English speaking Americans in the next park. Much love to all our family and friends.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hello & Good Bye to our new friends, Juanita & Larry

Monday, 11/14/11 - The flurry and excitement of the weekend was over and it was back to my "regular job" here in Florida.....laying out at the pool working on my tan, oh and washing clothes. I love how they locate the laundry rooms right next to the swimming pool it makes it so easy to do both of my favorite jobs.

Here in this RV park there is a very large population of Canadians....Quebec Canadians and they ALL speak French only! Every morning on my walk I keep saying, "bon jour" to the people I meet....and pray they don't start talking to me in french. However, today I got lucky and met an American couple from Georgia and they spoke refreshing that was. Juanita and Larry who have been here several days and unfortunately leave tomorrow for Fort Meyers, FL, the Gulf side of Florida. Such nice people and we had a great time visiting at the pool.

About 4 pm they came down to our place and invited to go to dinner with them at a real Irish Pub and we said, "of course." Larry grew up in the Fort Lauderdale area and they both lived here for sometime but are currently residing in Georgia. They just recently purchased a beautiful, brand new trailer and are enjoying the lifestyle of retired and travel.

Unfortunately, I don't remember the name of the Irish Pub but we had a great table and enjoyed an authentic fish and chip dinner with good conversation. Fortunately, we chose to sit inside as there was a downpour during dinner just enough to jack up the humidity here.

When we got back to the park we went inside to see their trailer and continued swapping stories of our lives.....Wills back and unfortunately Larry has the same back problem so they were very interested in Wills 2010 back story. It was a fun evening and we were so sorry they had to leave so soon. Hopefully, our paths can cross again in Florida somewhere down the line. Much love to all our family and friends.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A GREAT weekend with Bev in Ft Lauderdale, FL

Saturday, 11/12/11 - Our friend Bev's plane was showing "arrival on time" so we headed for the Hilton Hotel located right on the Ft Lauderdale beach. The plan was to be in her lobby at 4:30 pm and she would take a taxi cab from the airport, and meet us.... And the plan worked perfect, we were only sitting there about 15 minutes when she walked in. It was great seeing a familiar face "from home" and we were both excited to spend sometime with her.

We all headed up to her ocean view room on (I think) the 30th floor which was a fabulous view. Took a few traditional pictures out on the balcony and then headed out for dinner. Will and I had "checked it out" the day before & found a wonderful restaurant about 4 blocks away with a beautiful ocean view, The Casa Blanca. The trade winds were blowing pretty strong at this time, and all the outside table were taken so we ate inside, upstairs (climbing a rod iron spiral staircase) and had a perfect table with an ocean view. Bev and Will went with the waiter, Jamie's favorite, Mahi Mahi and I went with the Swordfish....theirs was better, but mine was very good! We had a great dinner and conversation and when we left there, Bev was pretty tired and worn out so we walked back to the hotel and said our good nights....with a plan for Sunday.

Sunday, 11/13/11 - We picked Bev up at her hotel about 9 am with her luggage and headed down to the Riverwalk in Ft Lauderdale to take a 1 1/2 hour sightseeing cruise on the Carrie B Harbor Tour of the inter coastal waters. This place is called, The Venice of America. These are "water streets" of the VERY rich and famous. Most all of these palatial mansions have mega yachts sitting dockside at their houses. As the person giving the narration explained lots of these people have just arrived, on their yachts, from their Mediterranean homes and spend the winter in Ft Lauderdale....the yacht capital of the world.

We saw one of the 3 yachts owned by the ex Microsoft guy, Paul Allen...this enormous yacht had a helicopter on it and one of his other yachts, bigger still, has a helicopter AND a submarine. We saw Judge Judy's yacht which she just sold for a BIGGER one. We saw the house of the Doctor who invented Alka Seltzer; the owner of 3 businesses - Waste Management, Block Buster and Auto Nation.....and I think he also owned the Miami Dolphins football team. It went on and many VERY RICH people live there plus lots of sports figures. He showed us one house of a rich guy from Chicago who build an exact duplicate of his house in Chicago....including the trees he imported and planted there AND he has never stepped foot in this house EVER...and it's been several years. The servants are the only ones that live there and take care of the place. So as we are going by one of "the workers" is sitting out on the deck, reading the Sunday paper and we all wondered how we could apply for a job there. We even got to see Port Everglades where all the cruise ships leave from and there were about 6 in dock.....including Bev's, New Amsterdam. It was a great tour and Bev and I were running to all sides taking pictures and Will was calmly enjoying the tour from his seat.

After our tour we went down to Las Olas Blvd, where all the very classy retail shops and restaurants are located and had a wonderful lunch at the Cheesecake an outside table this time. Went back to the car, which we had left in a large parking garage and then proceeded to leave with out paying. Now let me explain, there were two drive ways with a gate and where you pay w/a credit card (no person around) and a second driveway with NO gate....just drive out, now which one would you take.....yeah that's what we thought.

We then headed for Port Everglades to drop off Bev at terminal 26 for her 5 pm departure. With only a couple wrong turns we found it in plenty of time and we were able to walk her through the doors, up to the security counter. There were big hugs all around and we all enjoyed the two days together. We found I95 North with ease and were back home with in a half hour. I'm sure Bev will have a great time with her friend who is already on board the ship. The friend is just returning from cruising for 3 weeks in the Mediterranean and will now spend one more week, with Bev, in the islands. Will and I are firmly convinced...that the RV lifestyle is definitely for us. Much love to all our family and friends.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

We arrived in Fort Lauderdale, FL 11/10/11

Thursday, 11/10/11 - We rolled back into the "big city" of Fort Lauderdale today after being out in the Florida boonies for several days. After leaving Clermont, FL we headed down the middle of Florida on highway 27 and found a Passport America park, Lake Glenada in Avon Park, it was Sunday and the office was closed and it was a pretty old park filled with park models and double wides. Our paper that was left for us said, "pick a spot" but not these which were listed and we had NO map. I wanted to leave but Will said no and we found a spot with a partial view of their lake. I'm so glad we didn't leave it turned out to be the most friendly park we have encountered on this trip. People came over to introduce themselves, tell us what was going on in the park and invite us, one lady even offered us her washer & dryer to do our laundry. We were so sorry we were only staying two days and moving on. While there we did get in a good game of bingo (NO we didn't win) and we hit the jackpot on the lending book library over 15 cowboy books for Will and 6 James Patterson's for me. Gosh, if we ever pass this way again we will definitely plan on staying longer in this great little park.

After leaving there we continued on down highway 27 to Moore Haven, FL another Passport America park but this one was in the middle of friggen nowhere and I mean nowhere. I tried going into the town, located 6 miles away to find a grocery store....they didn't have one. The park is under new ownership and they are working real hard to get it going but the 2 days we were there we only saw very large mosquito's and dragonflies......lots of both! We sure were wishing we were back in sweet Avon Park. Well those 2 very long days ended and today we headed into Fort Lauderdale.

It feels great to be back in civilization with WalMart's and Walgreen's everywhere. This is also a Passport America park and a really nice one, Paradise Island RV There is a great swimming pool a couple streets over from where we are parked and it's pretty close to the Hilton Hotel. Our friend Bev, retired last June from Kastner Middle School in Clovis is cruising out of Fort Lauderdale on Sunday, 11/13 but arrives here on Saturday, 11/12. We are meeting her on Saturday when she arrives at the Hilton Hotel and going out to dinner. Hey Bev.....take a nap on the plane so we can take you out to see the Riverwalk!!

Sorry the blog has been so quiet lately but the trip and sightseeing have been pretty slim. In Central Florida if you don't do Disney....there is not a lot to see. Hopefully, the action in Miami/Fort Lauderdale will pick up. Much love to all our family and friends.

Friday, November 4, 2011

More fun at The Bee's in Clermont, FL

Friday, 11/4/11 - It's been more fun this week at The Bee's RV park, let see Wednesday, 11/2 was Karaoke from 7 to 9 pm and NO I did not get up and sing. Actually, it was pretty slim pickens' on the talent side of the group assembled but a fun evening with our friends Dixie and Ron. I truly believe this is one activity you HAVE to have several drinks to participate in.

Thursday, 11/3 our friends Ron & Dixie left the RV park and headed south towards Miami and we are hopeful to meet up again down in Miami at our favorite Florida RV park, Larry & Penny Thompson. After they left this morning we headed down highway 27 to see an exhibit in Clermont - The National Presidents Hall of Fame. It featured memorabilia of US Presidents and their first ladies. They had displays of wax figures, first ladies gowns, replicas of china place settings and an incredible miniature recreation of the White House and the east and west wings. This was just like a huge "doll house" that had the back side out so you could see in and it was completely furnished in miniature re-creations. It was absolutely amazing. The same family for four decades has been caring for this house and changing out and redoing the house. It was advertised as "heavy" on Ronald Regan so I knew it would be safe for Will to go and see it and he thoroughly enjoyed it. They had several videos of White House tours to watch and a Ronald Regan speech.....we watch both.

Tonight, Friday 11/4 was the "all you can eat" fish fry in The Bee's restaurant they have in the park. On Tuesday it's chicken (we passed on that one) and Friday is fish (we went.) The place is open to the public from 5 to 7 pm and you should have seen the line out there, waiting to get in at 5 pm...unbelievable, they came from everywhere around here. It was good and we sat with our neighbors from Iowa who are here for 6 months. We certainly left full. Much love to all our family and friends.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

We are at Bee's RV Park, Clermont, Florida

Wednesday, 11/2/11 - I can't believe it's already November (we left Fresno on May 8th) and how I fell off the wagon writing on the blog. It seems since we arrived in Florida and not moving as often we are not doing as much sightseeing. But we are having a good time in the RV parks. The "snowbirds" are arriving from all over, especially from the cold, cold north. Our neighbors on one side are from Iowa and the other side, Michigan....they both stay for 6 months.

We enjoyed our visit to The Villages and especially the time spent with my cousin Joan and her husband Lee. Joan had surgery last Saturday and thankfully is doing very well. On Sunday, 10/30 we left our Three Flags Park in Wildwood, FL and headed down highway 27, right down the middle of Florida to a park we stayed in 2004/05, Bee's RV Resort, Clermont, FL We are here for 7 days, our usual Coast to Coast stay. We were lucky enough to run in to a couple we met in a Georgia park, Ron and Dixie from Texas. They are full timers in a big, beautiful 40ft coach and they tow a jeep with the cover on the spare tire that says....Driving Ms. Dixie. Will was out for a walk and came upon the jeep and said there couldn't be two of those. It was great seeing them again and we have visited back and forth. Last night the four of us went out to dinner at the local Golden Corral Buffet. We went in just before 4 pm to get the lunch price (free drink for seniors) and then the dinner food starts at 4 pm......that's a real "snow bird" trick we learned.

Tonight is Karaoke down at the club house so we are going with Ron and Dixie and NO MATTER what I will not be talked into getting up there and singing. It should be a fun evening. Ron and Dixie leave in the morning and we sure will be sorry to see them go, but maybe our paths will cross again....and soon!

Weather is very nice here and I have been able to get two days of tanning in out by the swimming pool which of course is a joy for me. I met a real nice lady at the pool yesterday, who was down visiting her folks from Aurora, Ohio, just outside Cleveland. Unfortunately, she left to go home today and it would have been so nice to have the company out there as I miss my "Wall Ladies" at Mesa Spirit in Mesa, AZ. Much love to all our family and friends.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

HAPPY BIRTHDAY NANCY......10/27/........

Tuesday, 10/25/11 - We ventured deep into The Villages to visit my cousin Joan and her husband Lee. We saw them last in The Villages during our 2004/05 USA trip. Girlfriend, GPS went straight to their front door in the first section of The Villages, Spanish Springs. We were invited for a delicious home cooked dinner, a rare event for Will and to meet their son Ron, his new wife and baby, Natalia and Michael.

Dinner was wonderful and we spent a lot of time visiting with everyone. Joanie is a wealth of information regarding my father, Charlie and his life as a young man. He lived with Joan's mom, my Dads sister, Nancy, and their two other brothers, Hennie and Louie. It's always a treat to hear family stories and Joan is full of them, what a memory she has. WHAT FUN! After Ron and his family left we broke out the cards of our new card game, 5 Crowns, as Joan & Lee are avid card players and they were not familiar with the game and wanted to learn it. Well, after one hand they knew the game just not by that name....5 Crowns. They then proceeded to teach us a new card game called....Golf. OMG it was really fun so much that we went out and bought 2 decks of cards to play this game ourselves. Who would believe that Will and I would be able to play 2 different card games, go figure.

Wednesday, 10/26/11 - Another beautiful day here, the weather is in the 80's and the humidity is not to bad, there, but no bad. We invited Joan and Lee out to dinner this evening and they picked a deli restaurant called TooJay's in the Lake Sumter square. Before dinner they wanted to show us The Village RV park called the Plantation. A very nice park with a pool, clubhouse and all the amenities of a nice park. We even got to go inside a park model of a friend of theirs that are still in New York and have not come down for the winter yet. A cute little place and great location in the park.

We then hit a speciality grocery store, looked for The Villages postcards and then headed for dinner. The food was great but the service was bad, actually it was our server Amanda.....just a little on the slow side. After giving her our credit card and the check she forgot us so we waited and waited and finally she showed up. Fortunately, our food was good and plentiful. After dinner we took Joan & Lee home and didn't stay as Joan's hip was bothering her plus the fact she is facing surgery this Saturday. Another fun day at The Villages for us.

Thursday, 10/27/11 - This morning I woke up with a sore and "raspy throat" and it didn't get any better as the day progressed. We were suppose to go back to Joan and Lee's to play cards but I was to afraid if I'm coming down with something and Joan is having surgery I just stay home and get better. Thank you Joan and Lee for your wonderful hospitality.

A HAPPY BIRTHDAY wish to my very special daughter, Nancy today......10/27 what a joy she has been....much love to you my dear and all my family and friends.

Monday, October 24, 2011

OMG you won't believe The Villages, Florida

Monday, 10/24/11 - We arrived at our first stop in Florida, Three Flags RV Resort in Wildwood, FL on Sunday afternoon and find it's a very nice park but not much going on in it. It's ok, we actually are in this area to visit my cousin & her husband, Joan & Lee who live in The Villages which are only about 15 minutes from where we are. I called Joan and we set up sometimes to visit with them, the first one being Tuesday at their house for dinner where we will meet her son, daughter-in-law and grandson for the first time.

On our last trip in 2004/05 when we hit The Villages, Will was sick with the flu and never got to see much of anything so this trip he was all in to find out what The Villages "lifestyle" was all about. We headed out after lunch looking for a sales office to sign up for the bus tour that they offer. Now this place is 40 sq acres with a population of 85,000 so finding one of the sales offices wasn't easy. Now understand, the general mode of transportation of a "Villager" is a golf cart and may I add there are hundreds roaming around. We stopped at one of the many shopping centers and picked the perfect golf cart driver to ask where the sales office was....and he gave us directions right to it. And lucky for us they had a 1:30 pm tour going out and 3 seats left.

While waiting we went out into the town square of Lake Sumter to walk around and started talking to a very nice man who purchased a house in The Villages and loves it. Unfortunately, he has been unable to sell his house in Ohio in the last 14 months so is not living here full time. He gave us lots of wonderful information and we so enjoyed talking with him.

Finally, our full trolley/bus took off and they took us on at least a one hour tour of The Villages and explained and showed us many of the different parts. It seems they have 2 complete sections,
Spanish Springs, the first one built, Lake Sumter Landing, the one being currently sold and finished up and in the works is a new one, Brown something a theme of an old cattle Florida town.

When we were finished we were introduced to a salesman, Carl who then took us on a 2 hour personal tour of some of the recreation area's, he also took us into some model homes and gave us lots of papers to read about The Villages.....all the recreation available, every type of store you can imagine. My favorite was that every night at 5 pm (love the early start time) they have music and dancing in the town square and twice a week vendor tents. In looking through the recreation paper they have a club/meeting for anything you can imagine. Swimming pools, tennis, pickle ball courts, bocci, shuffle board and golf courses, you can't even believe how many golf courses they have. It was truly the most unbelievable thing we ever saw. Just as an FYI, we went into the cheapest house they sell "the patio house" for about $150,000 and it was 1,150 sq feet. With NO mortgage your cost for taxes, amenities and monthly expenses...would cost approx $750 per month. It was a wonderful day and we were dead tired when we got out of there at 4:30 pm and headed home to our RV.

Tomorrow we look forward to seeing Joanie and her family and more of The Villages. Much love to all our family and friends.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Tomorrow we finally arrive in FLORIDA

Friday, 10/21/11 - Unfortunately, we found out to late about sightseeing in Cumberland Island located off St Marys in Georgia. All the brochures indicated once you took the National Park Service boat over to the Island there was no other transportation or tours available aand you were there for 6 hours. However, on Thursday we found out differently, very recently they have set up a boat and bus tour combination of Cumberland Island, which is not out in brochures yet and were booked for our last 2 days here, Friday and Saturday. Our next reservation with Coast to Coast has already been made to arrive Sunday, 10/23 so NO Cumberland Island for us.

We made the best of it and booked a 2 hour river cruise with Amelia River Cruises that leaves from Fernandina Beach, FL, about a 45 minute drive South of our RV park. The cruise was to leave at 10:30 am and of course we were early and enjoyed an early morning walk around the historic downtown area. Finally it was boarding time and there were about 15 people total for the ride which turned out to be wonderful and a real history lesson of the places we saw.

The cruise started out along Amelia Island and our amazing captain David gave a real descriptive narrative of the area and has lived here so long and known many of the people on the island and knew so much of the history. Actually, it was a joy just listening to him talk for the entire 2 hours with people asking questions all along the way.

We learned about the shrimp industry and how it is a dying business back here, they can't compete with the foreign imports the same story you hear over and over in every field. On our way out we were able to see dolphins but unfortunately no manatees were in viewing today.

On our way out to cruise along the Cumberland Island shore we had a rare treat in store for us....a submarine coming towards us in the Atlantic Ocean that is stationed at the Naval Submarine base at Kings Bay, Georgia. The Captain says it only happens once in a while and it was our lucky day. He said the last time they saw the sub, a patrol boat that goes out in front of them, maned with big guns, came right towards them and motioned them off. The patrol boat looked like they were coming towards us but didn't so it was an amazing photo op for all of us aboard. I just couldn't believe how it looked in the water as we passed each other......Rog, you will love the pictures.

As we continue on our way up to Cumberland Island our next big treat was a beautiful bald eagle the Captain spotted in a dead tree along the shore. Cameras were clicking again and then the eagle flew out of that tree into another one close by with branches for more protection. My lucky shot was I captured the eagle in flight. Already I had my monies worth on this trip.

Finally, we reached the shores of Cumberland Island and the first thing you see are wild horses grazing on the grass. There has always been a band of wild horses on the Island and the Captain told us about the birthing process he has witnessed. How they eat only the grasses on the Island and the National Park Service does NOT interfere in any way of protection for the horses. We learned that Cumberland Island was the home to the very rich many years ago, we saw Rockefeller and Carnegie houses. You should have seen Rockefeller's handyman's house....YIKES. The last handyman just retired after 36 years and they built a new house for the new man.

We learned this was the Island that John F Kennedy, Jr and Caroline Bissett were married on and got to hear the whole story from the captain of the wedding and reception. It was pure many wonderful stories he told about the people of the Island....I plan to try and find a book of the history of Cumberland Island to learn more about it's history. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed our cruise and we had a beautiful sunny but windy day on the boat.

We returned to the house late afternoon for a short nap as we were dead tired and were going out again this evening.....a rare night out for us. We are going to the Woodbine Opry which is held at the renovated "Old School" Woodbine Community Center. These are musicians from around the area that get together at 7 pm on Friday night for gospel and bluegrass music and Saturday for country western music. Will said he would buy dinner this evening so he picked Aunt Bea's Buffet with Southern fried chicken and gravy and off we went. It was Southern alright, okra, greens, cabbage and so many vegetables fried and fried fish and lots of other stuff. Well we had plenty to eat and then headed off for the music. We were only about 10 miles north of our RV park and of course arrived early and drove around the town of Woodbine before going inside.

Once inside it was the auditorium of their old high school and on the walls in the hallway were senior pictures of all the different classes. The concert is free but they sell raffle tickets for a 50/50 drawing and also a drawing for cakes, pies & other sweets that people make and donate for the drawing. The money is to help pay for keeping the lights on and restoration of the auditorium. We of course bought $5.00 worth of tickets.

I would say the average age of the musician this evening was 75 years old, most were men but there were 2 ladies. The music and singing were "ok" ...better than the last local concert we went to in North Carolina but it was a pretty long 7 to 10 pm concert. Actually, they played mostly country & gospel music and very little bluegrass. There was one exceptional singer, a local minister that had an unbelievable voice and did 3 gospel numbers. The rest were pretty ordinary. Finally, time for the drawing and I managed to win a bake good.....3 blueberry & 3 chocolate chip muffins. We didn't win the 50/50 drawing. Heading home it was as dark as dark could street lights and no idea where we were and the girlfriend, GPS was a little confused (she gets that way in the dark) but finally got us close to something I recognized (I was driving) and then I was able to find my way home. A long but very fun day.

Saturday, 10/22/11 - A beautiful, warm sunny day and we spent today with Will checking the car & RV as Sunday is moving day and me washing clothes, talking on the phone and mostly doing nothing, a great day! Much love to all our family and friends.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sightseeing in Historical St Marys, Georgia

Wednesday, 10/19/11 - At least it wasn't raining this morning when we got up so that was enough encouragement for us to make our lunch and head out for St Marys which is about 15 miles from where we are staying.

St Marys is a very old and cute little town that dates back to the early 1800s that seems to be famous for a couple things. The ferry for Cumberland Island leaves from here twice a day. Cumberland Island is the largest of the Georgia Coast's Barrier Islands. There is camping, day trips, fishing, hiking, biking, wild horses, loggerhead turtle but unfortunately no transportation out there so for Will and I it would be hard to get around. The other thing is a submarine base very close to St Marys.

We decided to just walk down the main street of Osburne and see what was there. The first thing we ventured on was a Submarine Museum and since my old retiree breakfast buddy, Rog is a "very old" submarine guy we decided to go in and look around. It was 3 floors of everything you ever wanted to know and much more about Submarines. Much has been donated to the museum from old Navy Submarine guys from everywhere. It was incredibly interesting looking at all the different pictures and memorabilia and then we ventured onto Rog's old sub.....Queenfish SS393. That was so fun as I took pictures with my phone so I could send to Rog.....he did learn how to view them and we even talked on the phone while I was at the museum! I of course take pictures with my camera but unfortunately those will never be seen by anyone but me....way to many pics taken over the course of the trip.

After the submarine museum we hauled out our "famous" chairs and TV tray for our lunch and sat on the walkway overlooking the bay/inlet and had our lunch. Lots of boats coming in and out and we could even see submarines off in the distant at the base. We just love having lunch this way.

We then headed on to Orange Hall which was built in 1838 in a beautiful Greek Revival type of architecture. It takes it name for the large sour orange trees that at one time surrounded the entire property. It was purchased & built by Rev H. S. Pratt and his father in law, John Woods directly across the street from the Reverends church, First Presbyterian Church. Unfortunately the Reverends wife died very young of yellow fever leaving 2 children so the good Rev latter married the nanny, which also was the wife's cousin and they moved to Alabama where he took a faculty position at the University of Alabama. WOW

The house is very open and large, 9,000 sq feet with 12 fireplaces, one for each room. The main floor was a music parlor, study, dining area with an original Tiffany chandelier and front parlour room. The upstairs were 4 very large bedrooms and the basement were the servants quarters, wine cellar, kitchen and old dining hall. A wonderful Orange Hall society works very hard in restoring and staffing the house for tours.

The most interesting thing for me was the the third owners of the house were James Howard Becker, an automobile manufacturing tycoon from New York & his wife who lived there from 1919 to 1925. They were responsible for installing electricity in the house, the Tiffany Chandelier and adding a brick floor to the basement which had been just a dirt floor. Unfortunately, Mr. Becker fell out of favor in St Marys due to "local political disputes." Yes, we could have been related. Note: Becker is my maiden name.

We then headed over to the church across the street to see the church and the grave sites of the young wife and her mother and father. We then continued on the walk viewing the old, large historical homes and businesses along the main street. The entire town is decorated for Halloween and I must say the people in the South take Halloween very serious. Everywhere we go in the South they have amazing decorations. Several other old churches, an old Toonerville Trolley they have on display and finally we reached the end of the line where we started and our car was parked but before we departed we decided in indulge in a ice cream and watch the people and boats. A fun sightseeing day but the weather threatened rain (but never happened) and then the winds picked up.....there is a tornado in Florida right we headed home for a nap under a warm blanket. Much love to all our family and friends.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A relaxing time in Woodbine, GA

Monday, 10/17/11 - Our first full day here and it's absolutely beautiful, temp is 85 and I am determined today to accomplish 3 things.....RV park reservations for February & March 2012 and lay out in the sun! And I am happy to report .....I got it ALL done.

I spent most of the day on the computer and phone checking out RV parks for reservations for February & March. Of course cost is our first issue and those are two high priced areas. First, off we need to be in Clearwater, FL the month of February because that is where a Fleetwood RV Service Center is and we have several issues that need to be taken care of by a dealer. I spoke w/a service repair manager, Kim and she was able to recommend several parks close by. As luck would have it I was able to find a reasonably price one on the same US Highway 19 N only 2 miles away so that will be great for running back & forth plus Clearwater is right on the Gulf side of Mexico.

Tampa was a little harder....the first place I called wanted $1,200 per month plus electricity, I thanked them and hung up quickly. After calling many parks and checking different locations I found one very close to Busch Gardens and not far from the Yankee Spring Training camp. Each park only required a $100 deposit to hold a space so that was reasonable in case something very unforeseen happens. I got those deposits off in the mail today and feel a sense of relief that is taken care of.

All that was left was to take my lazy self outside and lay in the sun and start a fabulous James Patterson book, Kiss the Girls. It's so good I have almost finished it by the second day.

Tuesday, 10/18/11 - Our day to go sightseeing in St Marys, GA a historical community located on the Atlantic Ocean. Many interesting things to see and do there but unfortunately the rain storm that has dumped 7 inches in Florida hit us today and it has not stop raining all day. That accounts for why I almost finished my book. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better weather day and we can start some sightseeing. We both felt like caged "lions" today and need to get back out on the circuit. Much love to all our family and friends.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

We're in Woodbine, Georgia...15 miles from Florida

Sunday, 10/16/11 - We left Hollywood/Charleston, S.C. on Saturday morning intending to finally stay in a WalMart parking lot in Pooler, GA. When we crossed into Georgia that afternoon we stopped at the Georgia Welcome Center and learned that WalMarts are posted in overnight camping. Our first WalMart stay of the trip was shot down. So we started scrambling and found a RV park just a few miles away and spent the night there at a whopping cost of $ of our more expensive stays. It was a nice park and actually located in Port Wentworth, just outside Savannah. We saw Savannah on our last trip through here in 2004-05 so never unhooked the car & just spent the night.

This morning we arrived in our Coast to Coast park, WalkaBout Camp & RV park in Woodbine, GA owned by a young Australian couple w/4 kids. It's back to our $10 park and we will be here for 7 days. There seems to be several things to see in the area including Cumberland Island. However, this afternoon, after our nap, we made a WalMart shopping run and then treated ourselves "out to dinner" at Wendy's, as we had a free coupon for a Dave's Hamburger which is a few miles down the road in Kingsland, GA. My favorite kind of town, one long road and everything is on it.

Going to work this evening on getting settled with an RV park for February & March, 2012 in the Tampa area....that is my goal for the week. Much love to all our family and friends.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sightseeing at Ft Sumter & USS Yorktown, Charleston, SC

Friday 10/14/11 - Today we were suppose to see Ft. Sumter, where the Civil War began in 1861 and Boone Hall, a plantation, both across the bridge from Charleston in Mt. Pleasant. We set the alarm clock for 7 am as the boat for Ft Sumter leaves at 10:45 am and we have been sleeping in these days.

We got out there about 9 ish and found out the Congressional Medal of Honor Museum, which Will really wanted to see was aboard the USS Yorktown
and required another admission ticket. We purchased both tickets and then spent the entire time out there so will have to catch up seeing a plantation in Georgia when we get there. While waiting for our ferry boat to take us out to the Ft Sumter island we boarded the aircraft carrier, USS Yorktown to go through the Congressional Medal of Honor exhibit. It was very interesting and we learned so much about the medal. Wills' disappointment was....they had nothing on Audie Murphy but a Look magazine cover. One of our most decorated soldiers and no mention or display of him.

We left to board the boat for Ft Sumter. which is a 1/2 hour ride out there and then you actually stay on the island for a one hour self guided tour. They have park rangers giving talks and available to answer questions. It was incredibly windy out there today to the tune I was wearing 2 sweatshirts. Of course most people didn't even have a jacket on which always amazes Will and I. We wander through the museum and all over the fort, me taking pictures and Will reading ever sign. The hour went by in a blink of time and we headed back to shore and our car where we had brought our lunch, one more time.

After lunch we went back to the USS Yorktown and boarded the aircraft carrier to go through the six self guided tours they have on board. Some of what you see is: Living & working areas, Fire and Engine rooms, Flight Deck & Bridge, Ships Memorials & Models, Wardroom & Brig and Charleston Navel Shipyard Museum. All of it was incredibly interesting but you have to realize this is a very BIG aircraft carrier and we were going up and down hundreds of stairs to all these different levels all afternoon, it was exhausting but we did it. We saw everything the ship had to offer. As we were finally leaving Will spotted the submarine Clamagore that was on display next to the USS Yorktown was open to the public for viewing so we hurried down there. I especially wanted to go through the submarine as my old friend Roger served on one and still talks about them fondly. Side Note to Rog: I sent you 3 pictures on my phone so figure out how you can view them.

Well after going through that submarine I can't imagine how anyone does that. Just getting through each of those doors was a job. I even asked some guy ahead of me to take my picture attempting to get through the door. And speaking of close have to be kidding that submarine made the aircraft carrier look like the Westin Hotel. How did you do it Rog?????

We finally left there about 5 pm right in the middle of going home work traffic. We and everyone else here were on highway 17 going South. All traffic in Charleston is either going South or North on 17, one very long highway with houses and business all along the way. I came up with a brilliant idea, I thought, why don't we find a place to eat and when we finish the traffic will be gone! As luck would have it, I had spotted a Chinese Buffet just yesterday and was able to drive right to it. So we had a good leisurely dinner and then got back on the road and guess what...there was just as much traffic as before......but we were full and revived so it didn't matter and we headed home. Tomorrow we leave for Georgia. Much love to all our family and friends.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Big NEWS for 2012 - Travel Annoucement

I have just received amazing news from daughter additional present for my 70th birthday next year is being planned right now!


My father's family is from Hungary and I have always wanted to see Budapest ever since I made a family connection there while doing some genealogy many years ago. Our trip will start when we leave from Newark, NJ on 8/31/12, fly to Munich, Germany & take a flight to Budapest, Hungary where we will be for 3 days.

We return to Munich and then fly on to Florence, Italy for 8 days and return back to Newark, NJ on 9/10/2012. Of course the fun part of the trip starts for Nancy right now....THE PLANNING of our schedule and activities. I, of course, am just out of mind excited.....I never dreamed I would ever return to Europe plus actually get to see the Tuscany area.

An amazing daughter I have and thank you Nancy just doesn't seem enough...but thank you, I love you and am so grateful for your generosity.

We are in Charleston, So Carolina, y'all

Thursday, 10/13/11 - We have been experience technical difficulties with the computer the last few days which is why the blog has fallen behind. Unable to access the computer at all I put out an emergency text last night to Nancy for the names of Verizon & Geek Squad in the area. An my "no fail" daughter provided both in the same shopping center just down the road from where we are staying. I decided to try Verizon first and little faithful 3g Internet seemed to be the problem, they even upgraded me to a 4g which they say will be faster & better.....will see about that. The important thing... it is working today.

We rolled into Hollywood/Charleston area on Tuesday, 10/11 in the afternoon to a Passport America park, Lake Aire RV a real nice park with pull thru spaces and lots of lawn instead of dirt. We overlook a small lake with a bunch of ducks that hang out there all the time.

Unfortunately, Wednesday, 10/12 our day for sightseeing, we overslept and didn't get out of here until late morning. Normally, that wouldn't matter much but there is NO parking in the city of Charleston if you don't get there early. We finally found a parking garage and then went down to the Visitors Center to sign up for a Gray Line 90 minute city tour. We were able to get on the 12 noon tour and really enjoyed the wonderful history and the incredible old houses. Street after street, house after house each one more beautiful than the last one. Our driver who was rather strange but very knowledgeable and we both thoroughly enjoyed the tour. The driver than dropped most of us off at the Market Place in the heart of Charleston where they sell all kinds of "stuff" plus many African-Americans have stands where they are making Palmetto Baskets which are for sale. They are beautiful and incredibly expensive, one bread basket I looked at was $365 and took 29 hours to make. Your right, Will was not interested in purchasing it! Our bus driver said, "years ago he purchased from an old lady, Mary that made beautiful baskets and she let him pay them off on the installment plan, but today they are worth a lot of money." Several of Mary's baskets are in the Smithsonian Institute today.

We then had a fabulous lunch across the street from the Market Place and just watched the people.....a great place to do that. We then walked around downtown and took a "free" trolley car ride back to the parking garage to head on home. Just getting out of that downtown area is difficult, all the streets are so narrow and the traffic is horrendous. On our way home we found the local WalMart superstore and did our grocery shopping and headed home exhausted. We were going to do more sightseeing today but I decided to get the computer working so we then ran a few errands. First off we found a Book Exchange store to turn in Will's 42 western books that he has read and then we purchased more cowboy books while we were there, he is definitely set for the rest of the trip. Wandered through Kmart and then found the first full service car wash and Will couldn't pass up getting the car washed by someone else. We will finish up our sightseeing tomorrow and head out of here further South on Saturday. Much love to all our family and friends.......Oh and PS to Will & Becky, we found the card game Five Crowns in downtown Charleston and now we can start playing!

Monday, October 10, 2011

We are in KINARDS, South Carolina

Monday, 10/10/11 - We left Old Fort, N.C. this morning as it was starting to rain and they are predicting rain all week. We saw what we had come to see in North Carolina....the Biltmore and fall colors. North Carolina, what we saw of it, is a beautiful state with very friendly people. The older couple, Fred and Jean that run Cove Creek RV park where we stayed, couldn't have been nicer to us. When we left this morning she gave us both a big hug and told us to hurry back.

We headed west on I40 and then east on I26 as we are heading for Charleston, South Carolina with an overnight stop in Kinards, So. Carolina. Will's son in law and daughter, are Kim & Bill Kinard, so our question to you you have any famous relatives in this town? We wanted to take a picture of a Kinards sign, any sign but unfortunately were unable to find anything and we didn't unhook the car to travel into the city of Kinards.....but it's here, take our word for it.

We are staying in a Coast to Coast park, Magnolia RV & Campground for just this night and will head into the Charleston area for a couple of days. Unfortunately, there is rain everywhere in this area with a good size storm due in Charleston. It seems like the rainy weather just continues to follow us. At least this afternoon we were able to wash clothes and get hair cuts and feel presentable again. Much love to all our family and friends.