First in line for takeoff..

Pull those seatbelts tight, we are first in line for takeoff.  The flight attendant on our Southwest flight announced to the relief of all of my fellow passengers.   Florida beckons, once again.  Escaping the cold for some fun in South Florida.  Fourteen days to pretend we made it.  Six days in the Keys, the rest in Weston where I play in a 45 year and older lacrosse tournament at this time each year.
As I write this the sun is rising above the Virginia Capes.  I like the window seat.  The sunshine feels good on my face.  Along for this adventure are my DW, DS1 and DS3. The middle child is house sitting.   Look for more posts this week from our trip

Back in November I worked as a poll worker during the most recent election.  The day was boring due to low voter turn out. One funny (maybe not, if you give this story any thought)  happened late in the afternoon.   A women came in to vote carrying one small child and guiding another slightly older child by the hand. Neither child wanted to be there.  Cranky would best describe their behavior.  The mother signs in and takes her voting slip over to the voting booth.   She handed me her slip and I tried to smile as the children got louder.  The older one says in a loud voice “NOT THE CLOSET MOMMY!  NOT THE CLOSET!”
Hmmm. I just kept a neutral face while everyone in the polling place looked on.
That statement comes up now and then in conversation. Seemingly at the oddest of times.

Some psychiatrist will put their child though college with that child.

Namaste

Lunch at Keys Fisheries, Marathon, FL

Lunch at Keys Fisheries, Marathon, FL

 

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

 

 

No, no, no and no, but maybe yes..

Nonsense of a title. Wednesday started off slow. It was nearly noon time before the “kids” were awake and moving around. They were scheduled to fly back to Philadelphia on Wednesday but, we decided to postpone their flight home by a day due to the 14 + inches of snow that fell in Philadelphia. That went along with single digit temperatures. Neither of them had anywhere to go, so why go fly into that mess any sooner than necessary.  This gave them a “free or extra” day in Florida.

Noon time they surfaced and we were ready to go out and do one of two different things. They needed to shower and dress for the day. We (DW and I) decided to wait by the pool for them. We walked out and sat down by the pool and both quickly came to the conclusion that spending the day in and around the pool was probably the best idea for the day. It was chilly, but the pool was heated and the sunshine warmed the pool deck nicely.

That is what we did. We stayed and played in the pool and the hot tub for the entire afternoon.  We caught the sunset from our room and went out to a local restaurant for dinner. Simple and easy, just like a vacation should be.

Here are some pictures from the day by the pool. Enjoy!

No driving, no walking, no problems, pool? Why yes!

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

 

 

Florida road trip..

Monday’s adventure was a road trip here in Florida. DS3’s GF has family in Florida that she does not get to see very often. After some discussion over the weekend, it was decided that we would meet her Aunt Maureen and Jeff for lunch in Clewiston, Fl. Clewiston bills itself as the “Sweetest Town in the USA” (or something like that), since they are in the middle of the area where the primary crop is sugar cane.

We drove west and north from Weston and met them at Roland Martin’s Marina where they have a real nice tiki hut set up on the dock overlooking the marina. In the distance you can see the locks to Lake Okeechobee.  The food was good. They probably could have put a few more gator bites in my appetizer, but the rest of the lunch was good.  We took pictures, of course. The GF enjoyed visiting with her Aunt and we got to hear some interesting stories. It seems that the aunt and her boyfriend are/were avid motorcycle riders having each ridden more than 250,000 miles. Just the thought of that makes my butt sore.

After we left them we drove up on the dike and looked off towards the lake and took some pictures. Then we went east towards the ocean in search of ice cream. Who would have thought finding ice cream in Florida would be a project? We stopped in Wellington, Florida at a Cold Stone Creamery. Yum and Yum!

After our ice cream stop we continued east until we arrived at the Atlantic Ocean. We found a public beach in Lantana and parked and walked in the water for a short while. And we took pictures.  (Seeing the theme yet?) We picked up A1A South in Lake Worth and drove south to Hillsborough admiring the houses and the views (both east towards the ocean and west towards the sunset). After crossing the Hillsborough Inlet we turned west and went back to Weston. One huge circle.

The drive was long but we got see some more of Florida that we had never seen. And the money in the Palm Beach County along the ocean as evidenced by the mansions on the water, must be incredible.

Enjoy the pictures and thanks for reading.

Namaste

 

 

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