Nothing good happens after midnight..

Yes, my blog appears to be resurrected! I have spent the last six months writing the blogs in my head, yet never sitting down and typing them out.  Hopefully this post is the start of the next wave.

Yesterday was my DW’s birthday. Now she is as old as me! If you are a Face Book friend or a Twitter follower, you would/could know that we signed up for a four day yoga retreat in Woodstock, NY for her birthday weekend.  Yesterday we drove the 200 miles north full of expectation of a serene weekend. Not!

As I write this, we are back home in Manahawkin. We arrived home at 3:30 am this morning. Yesterday,  I got my four hundred miles of driving, a yoga class, a vegan meal and the worst Chinese food ever.  The Chinese food was a late lunch in Woodstock where the best part of the meal was the tea.  But that is not really the point of this blog post. But avoid the Little Bear in Woodstock. Just my opinion.

The yoga retreat was supposed to happen at a rental property at 880 Wittenberg Road, Mt Tremper, NY.  The ladies that were running the retreat are yoga teachers from the local studio where we have been going for several years. They found the house and booked it back in April making sure that the owners were aware that they were going to use the property for a yoga retreat.

We got up there around four pm yesterday and got moved into our room. Since we had booked our stay first, we got the best room.  The house was outstanding. The room was great, the house and grounds were great. We visited with the other students as they arrived, then we had our first yoga class. We ate dinner around 8:30 pm and then everybody went here and there in the house to read, talk or just watch the fire in the fireplace. Pretty relaxing.

We (my DW and I) went to sleep at 11 pm only to be woken up at 11:45 pm and were told that we had “violated the lease” and had to leave the house, immediately.  Like at midnight, in the dark, in the rain. Get out! So, we packed up our things and packed the car. We helped the ladies running the retreat pack their car and straighten up the inside of the house putting the furniture back were it was when we arrived.  Then we drove home arriving at 3:30 am.

What happened? Well, it seems that the owners have a camera/cameras in the house/outside and saw that there were five cars in the driveway and we were only allowed four cars. Then they started looking online to see what the retreat was about and saw that the ladies were charging us for the retreat. We had to pay our share of the rental, the food and the supplies. Yoga classes aren’t free. Yes, the ladies were probably making a profit on the weekend (operative word is – were), but they have bills to pay just like the rest of us.

Since we had “too many cars” and the house was used as a “commercial venture (my words)”, we were evicted at midnight last night.  That is truly a first for me. Money? The ladies promise to make us whole from the weekend.  I did not speak with nor was I present during the discussion with the owners last night.  I have not read the contract, I did not rent the house. This blog is my view of what happened.

Are you looking for a beautiful house in Woodstock to rent? I would avoid 880 Wittenberg Road.  Or if you can’t/won’t, then be prepared. The owners are toxic.

Thanks for reading, I will try to be more regular in my posting.

Pictures below.

Namaste

Looking up from living room to where our bedroom was

Looking up from living room to where our bedroom was

Singing to my DW on her birthday

Singing to my DW on her birthday

Living room. Great space for a yoga class

Living room. Great space for a yoga class

Checking off another concert..

This past weekend we (DW and I) were in Scranton to see DS2 perform in his last undergraduate Marywood Wind Ensemble concert.  We arrived Saturday afternoon and grabbed DS3 from the clutches of his GF who happened to be A. In Scranton (she lives on Long Island), and B. Heading back to Long Island as we arrived. I must have missed the memo that she was in town.  The concert went well. After the concert I took some pictures of the seniors and the conductor. The Drop Box link to those pictures can be found here.

After the concert and before dinner we went to the Best Western to check into our room for the night. We have stayed at this hotel dozens of times over the last five years. It is relatively cheap, clean enough and not far from Marywood. This time when we arrive the hotel was in chaos. People everywhere, cars parked in the wrong places, just crazy busy. I got my room key and headed to the room. I opened the door to the room and was overpowered by the stench of cigarette smoke. Somehow we were given a smoking room. We don’t smoke. I called the front desk and was told that since we booked through Hotwire they could put us in any room they wanted. And, there were no other non-smoking rooms available. Sucks to be you, have a nice day. Not!

I called Hotwire and got them to cancel the room and book us into the Holiday Inn near the Wiles-Barre – Scranton airport. The hotel was a little further out of town, but it was a step up in cleanliness and customer satisfaction.  Dinner was at Cooper’s Seafood Restaurant with DS2’s GF and her mom who drove drown from upstate New York for dinner.  The food was fine and we had a table out of the way and had plenty of time to talk and visit without the hustle and bustle of the main part of the restaurant.

Sunday morning we went back to Marywood for mass. DS2 plays his trumpet during mass. After mass we went to lunch with the same crew as the night before except for DS3 who “did not know what time” to be there. He stayed in bed Sunday morning. Enjoy college life son, the real world is waiting for you!  The drive home was uneventful except for the various people that seemed blinded by the lack of bad weather and did there best to occupy our space on the highway while we were using it.  Go figure!

Thanks for reading, enjoy the pictures!
Namaste

New tech toy..

This blog can hardly be called a “Tech Blog”  Maybe I would fall into the “Travel Blog” or the “Walk a mile in my shoes” blog.  Writers are supposed to write about what they know, right?  I like my electronic toys.  I try not to follow the current trends, but when I do, I try to run to the head of that trend’s pack.

About a month ago I bought a Roku 3 for our family’s Samsung HD TV. Back when we bought the TV, money was real tight and the cost difference between the Smart and non-Smart TV was enough that we bought the “dumb” TV. Smart vs. Dumb, what does that mean? A Smart TV can go on the Internet and view content that might only be available on-line.

An example of that would be ESPN 3. This Internet only channel broadcasts some of the second market or smaller colleges men’s lacrosse games. I can watch ESPN 3 on my phone or laptop. Neither of them have a real HDMI output. The phone has one, but the picture does not come out well when plugged into the 55 inch HD TV. And not just lacrosse, ESPN 3 covers a HUGE range of sports from all over the world.

The ROKU 3 (purchased from Amazon with free delivery) delivers HD content from the Internet. That assumes that the content is HD to start. We have also watched via Livestream other college lacrosse games.  Since we also own a VIZO  Smart TV (for the kids), we have a Netflix account.  The Roku and Netflix play well together.

Are you a tech (geek) with a HD “dumb” TV? Buy a Roku 3 with confidence. The Roku people have thousands of channels available. Some are free, some are subscription based. They even have an “adult” section that they don’t advertise but a quick Google search will show you how to find you way there (if that is your thing).  And you can play games like Angry Birds on the Roku 3!

Thanks for reading and enjoy having 1000’s of channels to watch with nothing on!

Namaste

 

Tampa Sunday..

We went to Davis Island in Tampa to look at houses and eat breakfast. We had eaten at our hotel the previous days and wanted something “better”  We ate at an Irish Restaurant on Davis Island. We ate outside at a picnic table. My meal was slightly interrupted when the children that had been eating decided to play Frisbee in the parking lot. They could have used more adult supervision since the Frisbee hit me in the back of my head while I was eating.  I don’t think the parents even knew. Hum and smile, throw it back and keep eating.

The homes in the area start at 775 k and go up. This is a pretty exclusive area and near Tampa General Hospital. I would image that a fair number of the doctors and administrators live there.  But, we can dream, and dream we did. By the way, the most recent lottery tickets were a total bust!

We drove north after eating and touring Davis Island with our final destination being Crystal River, Florida. We were told about an excellent fish market and seafood restaurant. We did not have anything planned and we had a nice new rental car, so we went for it. The toll road had a plaza every 10 to 12 miles (60 mile drive). Maybe they could charge a little more and not make us stop so frequently.

While driving we looked on Trip Advisor (my DW, not me, I was driving) and discovered that the restaurant got bad reviews. We stopped by anyway and found the fish market closed and a line at the door to the restaurant. The top rated seafood restaurant was just up the road so we changed plans. The top rated seafood restaurant was in a mall food court. Really! We went in and walked past and kept going. They need to vet these reviews a little better. We did get some ice cream before leaving the mall.  On the way back to Tampa we purchased a Sun Pass for the car. Sun Pass is like EZ Pass in the north-east. You pre-pay the tolls and can drive through the toll plaza without stopping.

Sunday evening found us back in Tampa for outdoor yoga. Hixon Park in downtown Tampa is where they have a free yoga class on Sunday evening. The park has a terraced area that the students can lay their mats on and the instructor is at the bottom. This was really cool. Check this off as another great, free, outdoor yoga venue.

Here is a Drop Box link to all the yoga pictures.

I will post a few down below.

Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Namaste

 

Tampa/Sarasota Saturday afternoon..

Saturday morning we spent in Tampa at the Flan Festival and the Ybor City Farmer’s market. You can read about that here. Saturday afternoon we drove south to Sarasota, Florida to visit the distillery at Drum Circle Distilling. This is the company that makes Siesta Key Rum. Their website can be found here.

The distillery has a tasting room and also gives tours. What could be better than free rum and a tour?  Nothing that day for sure.  While we were there they had a camera man video taping the tour to be used in a promotional video.  My DW and I are in the video which I will post below. We are in the video in seconds 20 -23, in the tasting room talking to the owners.

The rum was good. I wish it were available in New Jersey near us. The only liquor store that carries the rum is in Union, NJ which is about 80 miles from home. The best rum was the spiced rum. The aged rum needs a few more years to age.  Here is the video.

 

http://youtu.be/7d7Bgcy8nr0

 

The crazy part of the afternoon was that the rental car would not start.  The battery was dead while we were in Sarasota. I called Allstate Roadside (we have with our cars at home) and they came out and jumped the car for free. The car, which we rented from Dollar Rent A Car, was a 2012 Altima with 41,000 miles. The tires were beat and the body showed the miles. When we picked it up at the airport there were not many cars to choose from. Next time I will walk back inside and get something nicer. Really, 41,000 miles at a major US airport in your rental fleet?

When the mechanic opened the hood we discovered that the positive terminal on the battery was corroded. I have never, ever, had a battery that corroded on any of the cars that I have owned over the years.  The mechanic removed the negative terminal and cleaned that (it wasn’t too bad). He went to take the positive terminal off and the connector started to bend. Then next stop after bend is break. He stopped working on the terminal and just jumped the car. He advised that we don’t shut it off and return it ASAP! Nice, huh?

We drove the car back to Dollar after talking to them on the phone. We picked up a 2013 Impala with 7000 miles. That is the kind of mileage I would expect at a major US airport from a major car rental. Shame on you Dollar Rental!

Here is a picture of the battery terminal on that car

2014-02-22 14.58.46

Here is a link to the Drop Box containing the pictures from the distillery tour.

Here are few distillery pictures.

Enjoy and Thanks for Reading!

Namaste

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

 

Small steps..

The accepted wisdom is that all journey’s start with one small step.  I have often found that a good kick in the seat of your pants is another way to get a journey started. So far, this journey has been of the small step variety.  What journey is this that we am embarking on?  If you have been a constant or an intermittent reader, you won’t be surprised by the next few sentences.  Last month we (DW and I) went to Tampa for five days to escape New Jersey and this colder than normal winter. While we were in Tampa, we bought a Sun Pass for our rental car.

Oh, big deal, a Sun Pass. What is a Sun Pass? It is like an EZ here in the North East except it only works in Florida (I think). Basically you can go through the toll plaza without stopping and the electronic tag is recorded and your account is debited for the toll. Nice and easy.  How many times have we been in Florida and not had a Sun Pass? Without it, the car rental agency helps themselves to your credit card to pay the tolls. With an “administrative fee” attached.  No more of that fee for me.

The next step was having my DW looking into what she would have to do to get a Florida nursing license. All they want is money (surprised?)  Send in you fee, provide proof of a valid nursing license from another state and a copy of your finger prints and you too could have a Florida nursing license.  Small steps.

The final step for the last two weeks was to look at a few hospital websites for job openings. We have also spent a few hours looking at real estate listings near the hospitals. Next week we will speak with a builder in the neighborhood and get an idea of upgrades and fixes that will allow us to sell our current house.

There you go, a plan in action. This blog will be a forum for the journey.

Pictures?  Sure, here are a few from Clearwater Beach, sunset time.

Here is a link to all the Clearwater Beach Pictures via Drop Box

Thanks for reading

Namaste

US A1A..

Thursday morning we dropped the kids off at the airport and then went to Grandpa’s Bakery for breakfast. This restaurant was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  The food is excellent. You get a few samples of some baked good to eat while looking at the menu. After we ate the plane had taken off towards Philadelphia and we were free to explore.  We wanted to stay near the airport in case something went wrong and we had to go back and get them.

We drove to Hollywood Beach and walked the boardwalk. Two miles each way, no hills or snow!  We walked some of the walk on the beach near the water until my DW’s pant legs got wet from several waves. As you can imagine, I took some pictures. The Margaritaville Resort was under construction this year. Last winter the lots were vacant with a sign announcing the arrival of the building. Maybe by next January, the construction will be completed. I don’t image that we can afford to stay there, but we certainly can walk the grounds and have a cocktail.

After our walk we continued down A1A into Miami. We found Joe’s Stone Crab restaurant. This is another place we certainly can’t afford. We can buy our own stone crab claws and the mustard sauce recipe is on the internet, so why should we go there? To rub elbows with the rich and famous, I guess.  We stopped for gas near the American Airlines Arena where the Heat play. In the gas station we saw filling up, a matte black Lamborghini. Talk about awesome. And when the driver was done fueling up, he gunned the engine for all of us who were watching.

We drove around Miami some more and found our way behind the airport where we discovered the Lala Seafood Market. I will admit to being a fish market groupie. My DW will attest that I will stop in random fish markets to see what is for sale. I did spend the first 20 years of my working years in the seafood business. We purchased a fresh Hog Fish and some fresh white shrimp. The lady working the market did a good job filleting and skinning my fish. The entire transaction was done by us in english and her in spanish. Neither of us spoke the other’s langauge. I don’t know if she enjoyed our visit, but we did.

The fish got marinated in the juice of a fresh lemon and some fresh garlic. After an hour I added the fish to a frying pan with a little bit of olive oil.  I used a cajun seasoning to give the meal a little bang. The fish and shrimp turned out good, no leftovers.

Thanks for reading and here are some pictures from the day.

Namaste

 

 

Vacation bunnies..

To the person from up north (not us) that brought the “norther” to South Florida, Go Home and take your weather with you!  Wah, wah, I know we will get no sympathy in this cause.  As you can guess, the weather down here has turned colder. We still have our shorts and flip-flops on. Instead of 82 and sunny we have 68, cloudy and breezy. Again, no sympathy is expected.

For breakfast we went to 5 Hermanos Too, a Cuban “joint” that serves authentic Cuban food and coffee. The egg sandwiches on the Cuban bread are outstanding. We found them last year when we stayed about 10 miles further north.  My DW and I walked around the neighborhood to look at houses and dream. We found a fixer-uper that is listed for 599,999.00. On LBI it would be a tear down and start over.  I took a video of some beautiful flowers in front of a house painted blue like the ocean complete with a mural of a jelly fish on the wall. 

DS3 and I went out on the street to throw the lacrosse ball around. I will be playing in a tournament Friday, Saturday and Sunday. No time like the present to start warming up.

We kind of missed lunch and went out for ice cream around 3 pm. We went into a tiki bar and found two things. People smoking and no food. A quick Red Stripe later we were gone. We found a deli with ice cream just up the road and had our snack. After we returned to house I figured I better get some pictures in before it got dark out. I will post a few of the pictures below.

If you read this mornings post you read about our adventure last night for dinner. Over the course of the day I have traded texts with Barbie and I spoke with the owner of the marina on the phone. One silly comment has blown up into something else. Does the waitress still have her job? I really don’t know. But like I told the owner, we will return and eat there either way.

Thanks for reading.

Namaste

Swingers? Not exactly..

Life is funny. Sometimes you have to work for the stories that you tell, other times, well, they come to you. Last night we ate dinner at Geiger Key Marina and RV Park.  They bill themselves as “The Backside of Paradise”. This is another of those places that you probably won’t find in a tourist brochure. You should add them to your Lower Keys places to eat. How did we find them? There in lies the story.

About a year and a half ago I started following Barbie Wilson on Twitter. She is the “Sunrise Queen of Key West” @barbiedoll0087 is her Twitter name. She posts a picture of the sunrise and some sunsets from Key West every day of the year.  I fantasize about living in Florida, so this is my way of living vicariously though her pictures. Especially on the cold winter days in New Jersey.

When we came down to Florida last January we, (DW, DS3 and I) met up with her at the Hogfish Grill for lunch.  It was a leap of faith by both of us since we had “met on the internet”. Lunch went well and we have continued to trade twitter messages of the last year. Usually with her posting some epic sunrise or a Key West picture of some sort and me favoriting or commenting on the picture. I’m sure she has quite the following of people around the world that enjoy her pictures.

Last night we arrived at the Geiger Key Marina to meet Barbie for dinner. She was working until 8 pm at the KW Urgent Care.  We arrived first and grabbed a table.  I told the waitress that we were waiting for Barbie to arrive to eat. She gave me the strangest look. I said, yes we know Barbie, I met her on the internet.  The waitress’ look was priceless.  You see, Barbie’s husband running a fishing charter company called Knee Deep Charters out of the same marina. They know her quite well.

Not wanting to cause Barbie trouble at the marina (small town, people talk), I explained our story.  This allowed the waitress to relax a bit. She looked at my DW and I and said, “Maybe I should not say this in front of the kids (DS3 and his GF), but I thought you guys might be swingers..  Umm, we laughed. No, just tourists!  We are in the Lower Keys and that kind of thing probably goes on.  The comment still has us laughing this morning as I write this.

This morning Barbie texted me that the manager of the marina called her to apologise for the swinger comment and that the waitress was in trouble with management.  I told Barbie that we though the evening went great and were not at all offended. 

As a sad  note that gives this blog post a unhappy ending, the waitress lost her job this morning.  That sucks.

Sometimes the stories come to you.

Namaste

 

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