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.