More vacation stories to tell..

This vacation has taken almost three weeks to gel into a couple of blog posts. Why?  The trip to Fort Lauderdale, the Keys and Weston back in January had a pretty good running commentary. This vacation was done without a computer. I used my Droid phone to check email and really just stayed off the grid.  This was about connecting with my DW, she has had a tough few months.  As you remember her stepfather passed away a week before Christmas. Two days before Christmas her mom went into the hospital and she passed on January 3.  A rough month following a bumpy fall.

The Tampa trip was scheduled in October as a way to celebrate our 29 th. wedding anniversary . Who knew at the time that the need for a few days to connect would be so pressing as they were (and are) this winter.  The previous blog entry Small Steps covered several topics including the first day in Florida where we spent the afternoon on Clearwater Beach walking in the Gulf of Mexico (the water was cold) and experiencing the sunset.

Today we will go kayaking on the Hillsborough River. We used the same company this year as last year. Why re-invent the wheel if it works?  Canoe Escape rents kayaks and canoes for river trips.  Friday started out foggy on Tampa Bay. Our hotel was right by the bay and the fog shrouded the highway until we got about 3 or 4 miles east closer to the center of Tampa.  The drive to the canoe place took about 20 minutes or so.  When we got to the park, the sky was still overcast, but the temperatures were in the mid 70’s. And yes, a touch of humidity was in the air (more than a touch).  We were the only customers in the park during our rental and orientation.  Last year we kayaked on a sunny Saturday and the park was jam-packed.

The river was quiet. Just my DW and I in our kayaks drifting downstream. If you wanted to paddle, you paddled. If you wanted to drift, your drifted. There is enough current to keep you moving without the danger or excitement of rapids and white water. We did hear a few odd things as we kayaked down the river. Looking to either side we saw alligators, lots of bids and quite a few turtles. No people or building were visible from the water. We heard a dog barking off to one side. And later we hear the backup siren that some trucks make when backing up.  The noises were out-of-place in the dense forest.  We traveled 9 miles on the river. I took quite few pictures and some video as well.

We stopped on the way home at a farm stand where they make fresh milk shakes with local strawberries.  The shake was outstanding.  After we got back to Tampa we went to a fish market looking for dinner. We found stone crab claws, locally made smoked fish salad and Hog Fish. We ate the stone crabs Friday night and the Hog Fish Saturday night.  There is nothing like fresh seafood for dinner!

 

 

Here is a link to all the pictures from the river.

Enjoy!

 

Namaste

 

Shark Valley 2014..

Yesterday my DW and I went to the Shark Valley National Park in the Everglades. Here you are the visitor and the residents are free to roam. The residents are alligators, turtles and many, many types of birds.  Last year I visited this park by myself and wrote about riding a bike among the alligators.  We decided to ride the tram this year to have the experience of listening to the guide talk about the area and the animals. On a bike you can take as much time as you want, but you don’t have the guide to explain and point things out. If we go next year, we will ride bikes. We saw quite a few of the residents. I took quite a few pictures, some of which I will share at the end of this blog.

A few important things to keep in mind if you choose to visit this park.  The park is in the middle of nowhere. The park has a small parking lot that generally is full by 10 am. You can park on US 41 and walk the 200 yards into the park. I am not sure what they charge walk-ins. Cars are charged 10 dollars per car. The best months to see the alligators are December through April. Once the air gets hotter than the water, the alligators will spend more time in the water and less time along the road getting some sun. The sun will warm them up in the winter months.  Take the tram ride at least once.  The bike ride is a flat 15 mile loop with at least one of the directions into the wind. Judge the wind before heading out.

After the ride he had a burger at a Miccosukee Indian restaurant. We were not very adventurous and had cheeseburgers and fries. The food was fine for road food. There were quite a few competing air boat ride stands along US 41 during the drive. The Miami Beach Travel Guide has this page about what you can visit in the area. After our late lunch we drove back to the timeshare and caught the sunset.  Dinner was pizza at a local pizzeria that had 8 different craft beers on tap. We got to sample all of them. It was a pretty neat concept for a generic pizzeria. The food was fine, maybe a little heavy on the garlic.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the wildlife pictures..

Namaste

 

Halloween 2013 – Jersey Shore edition..

No, not that Jersey Shore edition!  I’m sure that there was or will be an episode like that. But this is not it. We however have pictures and video from Halloween 2013.

We don’t have small children anymore. If you follow this blog, you already know that. Halloween used to be a huge event here at our house. We would spend the better part of October building a haunted maze on the front lawn complete with scary effects, fog machines, strobe lights, music, you name it, we had all kinds of crazy stuff.  Then, the kids grew up, life got more hectic and the Halloween tradition of the crazy maze in the front yard stopped. We still have all the stuff, maybe next year.  I have one more epic display to do.

We both got home from work around 5:30 pm so we missed the smaller children.  As a matter of fact, we must have missed most of the children.  It was pretty quiet around here.  I took some pictures that I will share at the bottom.

I also went to the Belmar boardwalk to look around and shoot some video. I posted the video on YouTube and will re-post it here.

Enjoy the pictures and the video

 

Namaste

 

Figured I would stop by..

Heck, it’s my blog, I better stop by! I am the victim of one thing leading to another this week.  Here’s a quick run down (not excuses)!

  • Friday – worked from home,  went to Buckalew’s on LBI for dinner. St. Patrick’s Day nonsense. Food was ok. This was our first time on LBI since Sandy.  The island seemed quieter than normal.
  • Saturday – worked on FAFSA’s for the two college children, completed them.  Crappy weather. Made home-made fish n chips after my DW told me to stop looking for a restaurant that would cook them since I like mine the best.
  • Sunday – groceries, cooked mussels with white wine sauce for lunch and Guinness Irish stew for dinner. My family are not big corned beef eaters. Sunday was St. patrick’s Day.
  • Monday – worked, played lacrosse. I did not score any goals. The goalie had my number that night. He stopped three-point blank shots of mine.
  • Tuesday – worked, adult school yoga. We had our first Rita’s of the season.
  • Wednesday – dinner with DS1 since my DW was working at the Men’s Health Night at her hospital. We stopped by on our way home form the bar (restaurant) to say hello. First day of Spring.
  • Thursday – today, worked and cooked dinner. My DW had a union meeting at 5 pm today.  Today would have been my mothers birthday. Happy Birthday, Mom!

Kids, hmmm…  DS1 worked. DS2 and DS3 continue to pursue their educations (right boys?).  Nothing really special this week. DS2 won some cologne in a raffle at his school. He bought tickets thinking it was perfume for his girlfriend.  I guess it is, in a way…

Pictures,  click here to see pictures from Men’s Health Night. Click here to see pictures from my trip to Pt. Pleasant Beach today.  There will be a few from each set below.  Enjoy!

Namaste

Vacation Day 11..

Yo ho, ho..  A pirates life for me..  I am now a bachelor in Florida.  My DW and DS3 went home to the frozen (sub-frozen) north yesterday.  Me, I’m getting the maximum return for my timeshare dollars by staying until Sunday.  Right.  Day 11 was January 23, 2013.

Today’s adventure was to travel to the Shark Valley National Park in the Everglades.  I read about the park in a guide to South Florida bike rides. That guide can be found here.  They have a company in the park the rents bikes and runs a tram tour for people that don’t want to ride a bike. The park is in the Everglades, next to an Indian reservation.  The park has a flat, 15 mile loop trail that takes you out into the Everglades. The mid-point of the ride is an observation tower that allows for a 360 degree viewing of the Everglades. 

All good ideas, when viewed on a webpage.  The drive from Weston is about an hour. Most of the drive is through the Everglades. The State of Florida is doing quite a bit of road work on Route 41 which added nearly 20 minutes to the drive. It also seems from the last two days of driving, that controlling the water in the Everglades is big business in Florida. Dikes, dams, canals, locks, pumps, bridges and construction are all evident visiting this area.

The bikes that they rent are steel frame, one speed, back pedal to brake, type bikes.  The tires are about three inches wide and suited for riding on the sand. The loop trail is paved for its entire length. There are alligators along the loop trail. Lots of alligators. More than you would care to see. And, they are not in cages and neither are you! The alligators were mostly placid during my visit. I would ride by them and say hello, they would ignore me. I would stop the bike every now and then and take some pictures, they would ignore me.

The devil of the ride was the 15 to 20 mph wind out of the north that blew straight down the loop trail on the 7 mile journey back to the parking lot from the observation tower. The breeze kept the temperature down (mid 70’s) but with the steel frame, fat tire, single speed bike, the ride back was a challenge. I really missed my own bike that day. And, for all my carrying on, I really enjoyed the visit.

Instead of heading back east through the construction on Route 41, I decided to continue west toward Naples and pick up I 75 and take that road home. I saw more of the Everglades than I thought existed. Trees, canals, birds, indian villages, and more construction. I was happy to get to I 75 since the speed limit is 70 and the traffic was light.

After I got back to the timeshare I bought some fresh ravioli and sauce for dinner. I took a dip in the hot tub, cooked dinner and called it a day.

Here are some pictures and a video from my visit to the Shark Valley National Park. Enjoy!

Namaste

Kicked to the curb..

Not me, nor any of my children!  Nor my DW for that matter. The subject is the Christmas tree. Yesterday, New Years Eve, my next door neighbor had their tree out at the curb. The town will pick the Christmas tree’s up with a special truck and grind them for mulch.  Not this week, though. Our tree is still up. I think it is coming down this weekend. In two weeks we head to Florida for some time and the tree won’t last until we get back. My next door neighbors have four children and may have put their tree up closer to Thanksgiving than we did. I guess four or five weeks in the house might be the average lifespan of the tree.

My DW is participating in the Lesley Sansone’s Walk a Mile a Day for a Year Challenge.  Click here.  My DW found the walking videos on You Tube. She does them two or three times a week when the house is quiet and she has some free time. Today, to kick off the challenge, my DW and did our mile walking around the neighborhood. I, of course, brought my camera. The subject of the pictures was to be Christmas trees already kicked to the curb.  I also shot some pictures of the furry (and not) animals that were eating at the buffet in the backyard this morning.

Kids, DS2 is at home. He went to a New Years Eve party with some friends from high school. He had a good time. DS1 was in Hudson, Ohio with some WJU lacrosse buddies celebrating the new year.  We traded texts this evening, he is headed back to Pittsburgh tonight and is a little bit (a lot, maybe) hung over from last night. DS3 is still out on Long Island with a girl that he goes to university with. We spoke last night after midnight. He sounded like he was enjoying himself.

Last night, low-key for the parents. Veal for dinner, LSU (they lost) football on the tv. We had out midnight champagne toast and blew off some fireworks.  We were in bed by 1:30 am.

Here are some pictures from our walk around the block today.  The Drop Box of the pictures can be found here. Enjoy!

Namaste

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2012 in review or Happy New Years!

First off, to those that have read and visited my blog, THANK YOU!  Yes, I’m shouting. 

Below is the end of the year report that detail where you are all from, how many times you visited, or if you have been naughty or nice.

Enjoy! 

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 10,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 17 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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