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

 

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

 

 

Birds in paradise..

So they say that having a bird “poop” on your head is good luck.  Whomever said that was probably watching and chuckling not trying to clean up the mess.  We were leaving the Islamorada Fish Company after eating a late lunch when I was blessed by a bird. The target zone may have been the top of my head but the landing zone was the side and my shoulder. I hope that the stain comes out of that, guess the color, white shirt. We did enjoy our late lunch/early dinner. It was raining yesterday in South Florida. We sat at one table under their tiki hut and had to move when the rain started to seep through the thatch roof. It seems the roof is scheduled for repair sometime soon.

We were back in Key Largo yesterday to go shooting. Last year DS3 and I shot a few different types of pistols at the indoor range at Kiffney’s Firearms. Last year my DW decided to watch, this year she decided (without much prompting) to give the shooting thing a try. We had an instructor that walked us through using the weapons safely. DS3 and I had different .45 pistols. My DW choose a .22 pistol.  The instructor watched us for a few minutes and left DS3 and I alone to do our thing. He spent about 10 or 15 minutes making sure my DW was comfortable with shooting and loading her weapon.

We had fun. Nobody got hurt and everybody left the building with a smile and some stories to share. DS3’s GF decided not to shoot and watched us through the glass.  I will add a picture of my DW and her pink target. She did quite well.  I posted the picture on Facebook and her friends and co-workers had fun with the picture and her going out shooting with the boys.

Last night in the Northeast there was a big snow storm. The two kids were supposed to fly home today. From looking at the storm and flight cancellations, we decided to change the flight to Thursday to let the greater Philadelphia area have another day to clear the roads.

Keep warm and thanks for reading!

Oh, anybody want to stop by the house and shovel out the driveway?

Namaste

 

 

Enjoying a nice warm breeze..

Greetings from Sugarloaf Key, Florida. We are sitting in the screened in second floor porch watching the water and relaxing. Dammit, we are relaxing!  Really, it is all good.  We flew down Sunday into Fort Lauderdale and had breakfast then drove south to the Lower Keys. We wanted to try to make it for the sunset celebration in Key West Sunday, but that would have ment that we could stop nowhere on US 1. Driving straight through skips some of the fun of that drive. So we stopped and acted like tourists.

Monday we went into Key West in the afternoon. In the morning my DW and I went out and kayaked in the bay for an hour or so. Sun screen is mandatory for us visitors from the north. DW3 and his GF went for a bike ride. Today they said they want the kayaks. It is 10:30 am and they are still asleep. They might miss their kayak chance again today..

Key West was fun. We went to the Smokin’ Tuna to see Scott Kirby, a favorite Key West musician. The only problem was that his scheduled changed between Friday and Monday and he was not there. We had a few beers and a cheeseburger. The beer was cold and the burger was fine. Then we walked Duval Street for a while and ended our walk at Mallory Square. We watched some of the street performers and the crowd as we waited for the sunset.

The clouds and some rain changed the sunset viewing plans of the tourists yesterday. I got some pictures before the rain blew in. We may go back and try again tonight.  Dinner was at the Hogfish Grill on Stock Island.  Here is a tip, if you find yourself in Key West or the Lower Keys, eat dinner at the Hogfish Grill on Stock Island, you won’t be disappointed.  And yes, the neighborhood you drive though appears a bit sketchy, but you will be ok.

Here are a few pictures and we will check back in later in the week.

Thanks for reading!

Namaste

Set your intention..

Greetings from foggy Manahawkin tonight.  We spent the weekend between the Manahawkin mansion and the Best Western Plus in Dunmore.  Sound like quite the dichotomy of locations (at least from the titles of the locations). The reality was quite a bit different.  Dunmore, PA is one of the towns that Marywood University can be found in. The other is the city of Scranton, Pa. As long time readers, you would know that DS2 is a student at Marywood. A senior in fact. Graduation, possible grad school and a job are all looming in the not to distant future.

This weekend was all about a Wind Ensemble concert, dinner with the parents and Sunday mass. I guess he may have done some studying and whatever with his friends as well.  We arrived in Dunmore/Scranton at exactly 4 pm. The concert was scheduled to start at 4 pm. My DW had a continuing education class to attend in Atlantic City Saturday morning that caused us to leave for school later than usual.  It was nice to make it in time and not have to enter the concert hall during the show.  The concert went well. We enjoyed, but may not have understood, all the music. I have come to realize that I can enjoy the university level music without understanding it. I am making progress!

After the concert DS2, his GF, DW and I went to Coopers Seafood Restaurant for dinner. For all of you Office fans, Coopers is alive and well six months after the show went off the air. The menus are redone, the food tweaked and the selection of beer (draft and bottled)  is probably unrivaled in the city of Scranton. If you go there, ask for Pat. She is a our favorite waitress. A single mom, our age with a daughter attending Seton Hall Law School after graduating from the University of Scranton. Her daughter was a student of the wife of one of my uncles when she was in elementary school. Talk about a small world.

Saturday night we stayed at the Best Western Plus in Dunmore. They had a party in the “party room” which was under our room. The music stopped at exactly 11 pm. That was great. Sunday we attended mass at Marywood University. As long time readers (same assumption as before) you will know that DS2 plays his trumpet during mass. His GF is in the choir.  A fun thing for me, is that my DW has been welcomed into the choir whenever we are in town. This morning was no exception. It was cool to see my son, my wife and my son’s girlfriend all singing/playing during mass.  I can’t sing. I can however take pictures. Yes, I did.

Sunday after mass we went to the Buck Town diner in Dunmore. Eat here. Simple enough statement.  Elegant, no. Reasonably priced, good tasting food, yes. Good table and kitchen staff, heck yes! We drove home listening to the Cincinnati Bengals playing football on Sirius. They absolutely sucked in the first quarter and could do no wrong for the rest of the game.  The final outcome being a resounding win for the Bengals.

Tonight we went to gentle yoga with Gabby at Hot or Not Yoga in Manahawkin.  Tonight’s class was the perfect cap to this crazy weekend. Dinner was flank steak, red wine and mashed potatoes. DS1 was over for dinner. He was off from work for a few days and spent the weekend at home. Tomorrow he heads back to his apartment and off to work on Tuesday.

Me, I have a stress test with my cardiologist  tomorrow morning. Then I will work from home and probably go to a hot yoga class Monday night.

I hope you enjoyed living in my shoes for the weekend. I will add some pictures below.

Here is a link to the Wind Ensemble concert pictures.

Here is a link to the Sunday Mass pictures.

 

Thanks for reading.

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

 

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