Monday, September 27, 2010

Meeting Neighbors

Sunday was ‘all you can eat pancake’ day at the clubhouse. We met some more people as we ate pancakes shaped like Mickey Mouse (a sign, I’m sure). A lot of people work at Disney here full time and part time. Disney employs about 6000 people, so it stands to reason these people have to live around the park somewhere. More helpful insights and words of advice.

These are shots of our view to the right of the coach, and our resident alligator. The sandhill cranes are a family of Dad, Mom and two little ones who were born in June. They walk around sounding just like the raptors in the move Jurassic Park. Some people feed them corn and they have learned to show up at the same time everyday for the treat. They do have some enemies – another group of cranes. I haven’t seen it yet, but they are said to duke it out at times. Should be an interesting sight.

Sunday night was the “Ice Cream Social”. More and different people with more advice. Bob and Mary are down from Panama City to work at the Food and Wine Festival. This is their fourth year working for Disney in different capacities and he was hired again this year. They invited us on Wednesday to go to Universal Studios to apply with his wife as he heard from a friend that they are hiring right now and have a bus that picks you up from here and takes you up there. That is about a half hour ride, and if that’s true, it is a BIG perk! His thinking is that we could all ride together. (that is if we all get jobs and have the same hours)

Today we met Miss Amelia at Universal HR who was very nice and told us to go right on back and apply on line, then come see her. She would then arrange an interview right then. Well, Mary decided she didn’t want to work for Universal after all, so we left to head home. We were about 10 minutes out and I realized that I had left my planner in the bathroom. Gary called Universal, and it had been turned in to security. I felt terrible asking them if we could go back and get it, but they graciously did. It was about 1:30 and so we decided to take them to lunch at their favorite restaurant, Golden Corral. We would apply on line later at home.

Now,we have had some computer issues, as you know since we haven’t been able to write in a couple of weeks, but we got it up and running today and opening his email, Gary got a – wait for it – email from – you guessed it – Walt Disney World!! It was asking for a WEB interview which he will do when he calms down. (I didn’t get one yet) But we are rather excited!

Stay tuned for good news (we hope).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

To the East Coast

Today we made a trip to Casting to update our Walt Disney Applications. The same lady we met before, Rosa, was there to greet us, and she said to go to the computers, make the changes and see her when we were done. We changed our address to our current campground, added a few talents we ‘forgot’ we knew, and went back to see her. She went to our applications, noted the changes, asked us to have a seat and she’d be back to us. We watched her confer with another employee, work on the computer a little, then came and said we were fine, our applications were ‘perfect’ and they would be in touch. Well, let me tell you, we felt like Tinkerbell – I’m sure our feet never hit the ground. Now for the big wait…

Friday we drove to Daytona Beach for an RV show, which turned out to be a sales pitch for Jayco products. But we met a lot of people at our table while we ate free hot dogs. They came and went, and we just sat there greeting new couples. It was the highlight of the trip. That, and the half-million dollar Georgetown. We stopped at the Disney booth to talk about the Wilderness Campgound and learned that we could park there while we worked, but the discount would change each month, and we would need to make a new reservation every thirty days (and perhaps not get a spot). Hmmm. We’ll see about that. The good thing about that is that we would have transportation to and from home so that our hours wouldn’t have to be identical as we only have one car.

We drove past Daytona Speedway (in the rain) and after the show, we decided that since we were here, we would try to drive on the beach! We had some lunch at Bubba Gump’s Seafood restaurant, walked on the beach at the Arts Pavillion, (who’s that cute guy on the left?), saw a giant jellyfish and then jumped in the Jeep and headed to the “World’s Most Famous Beach”. Fortunately it was not spring break, so the beach was only partially crowded, but here we are driving on Daytona Beach! Yeeha!

Monday, September 20, 2010

A New Home

It was a hot, muggy morning, but who cares! We were leaving Frog Creek CG and heading to Orlando! We settled our electric bill, moved our coach to a straight area and hooked up the Jeep. The drive was a cinch! I didn’t yell ‘Left! Left!’ at all. An hour and half later we arrived at Kissimmee South or Three Worlds Resort. They were recently bought by CareFree Corporation which has a number of resorts around the country. It got good reviews, and is close to WDW for our jobs (which we don’t have yet). We pulled in perfectly, set up camp and met the part-time employees across the way, Terry and Sherrie and their son, Casey. Lovebug season is upon us as we found out on our drive here. Gary has to clean the front of the coach or those wuzabugs will take off the paint! Oh, and they stiiinnnkkk.

This view is from our patio, but it was overgrown and full of poison ivy. Well, we can’t have that. So we borrowed some shovels to plant our new shrubs – a couple of crotons and a couple heather, cleaned up the other plants that were left here, applied some mulch, killed the fire ants, made little borders from broken patio stones and made our area a little nicer.

I also offered our volunteer services at the office and for gardening for the older folks that find it too difficult to do anymore. The boss said that they might be able to pay me to clean up the mobile homes they are trying to sell. Can’t wait to hear more about that!

This morning Gary made a delicious breakfast from some leftover steak, and Tasha was ready to chow down. She looks like she might be thinking “they’re not gonna let me eat this, I know it, I know it”. She was right.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Granny and Nanny

Today is Gary’s mom’s birthday. She is 87 and going strong. Happy Birthday, Granny!

We were trying to get everything ready for the au pair who arrived today in Tampa to help look after four to six children depending on the week. She is from Austria and doesn’t know a lot of English which should prove interesting. Michelle was having a lot of contractions, so I made her stay at home instead of going to the airport. Karina was met by Brian, Lauren, Graham and Lance. She is adorable and brought the kids and grownups gifts from overseas. Smart, too. I hope she has an easy time fitting in.

Lauren was supposed to come home with us, but was too interested in the nanny, so Graham volunteered. We had some dinner, showed him how his bed opened up, looked for the alligator (fortunately we didn’t find it), and read stories. Saturday we woke up at a decent hour – 7:30 and got ready for the beach. Poppy tried to teach him how to doggie paddle. He loved the pelicans and played with the couple of boys next to us. We had a sandy lunch, buried each other and his cars, then headed back to St. Pete. Michelle’s old babysitter came from Sarasota to show the new nanny the ropes and we headed out for a delicious dinner with Brian and Michelle at Kona Grill. Yummy. It was a dark ride home.

Monday we leave this park, so tomorrow we will have to pull up stakes. A new adventure is right around the corner!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Couple of Strangers

After a quick cup of coffee, we drove to St. Pete to meet my son, Tristan and his friend, Ramsie. They had driven up from Miami last night with a couple of unusual passengers. Ramsie is employed as a zookeeper at the Miami Zoo and had promised to do a presentation to our grandchildren’s school. The children were expecting to meet Baby, the Amazon green parrot and Stripe, the Madagascar python.

Just the drive up was a miracle because my son is terrified of snakes. Stripe was in a large Rubbermaid container which was duck-taped closed. Even so, I am totally amazed he made it without a wreck. Ramsie admonished him: it’s all in your head. Yeah, that’s right. Man-up, Tristan. And he did! They also brought Lily, Tristan’s English bulldog. Isn’t she cute?

The first presentation was to the fourth grade. Baby can imitate animals, sing songs, knock on the door and swing upside down. Ramsie told them that he loved applause, and the more the kids applauded, the more Baby would perform. The kids went wild. Then out came Stripe. Tristan hid outside the door. Stripe was impressive, let me tell you, but the kids loved him, too. Ramsie said they could all touch him if they used their two fingers to stroke him. Here’s Lauren having a turn. Even Graham and Ellie were mesmerized.

We headed back to the house for some lunch, helped the kids with their homework, and left around 4pm for home. Fun day.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Partying, Beaching, Storming

It was party time Saturday night! Our friends that live in our development kindly threw a welcome home dinner for us. We loved seeing everyone again, eating lasagna, salad, bread and a fabulous dessert, and talking right through the thunderstorms. I can’t believe I forgot the camera, for I would have shown you a few mug shots. Everyone was doing well, looked great and we talked for hours catching up with the last five months.

We drove past our home and it looks like it needs a little attention to gutters and gables, so we’ll probably be ‘a couple of workers’ on Wednesday and do some work on the outside. Getting the Little Giant ladder into the jeep will be interesting… Gary was also asked to play the role of ‘rent-a-hubby’ to clean out Donna’s gutters. He misses doing ‘man’ things for the single gals around the neighborhood, and apparently they miss him, too.

We finally left with promises to see them all again during our winter stay in Florida. Orlando is only 1 ½ hours away from our house, and we’ll be wanting to visit our new grandson after he's born as well.

Sunday we woke to a beautiful day and decided to go the beach. Gary packed up his fishing gear, and I packed lunch and a book. Anna Maria Island is our closest beach with a good little fishing pier – the Rod and Reel Pier. We have taken our family there many times. Gary caught a couple of small flounder, too small to keep and since the beach was on the bay side instead of the gulf side, there was no breeze. It's raining in St. Pete. I was in the water more than on the beach because it was hot, hot, hot! Here's a little shorebird. Here's Gary, a kayaker, and the Sunshine Skyway behind them. We had our picnic lunch in the shade, then came home. Gary went down to the creek and fed the fish there. This is a picture of Mooch. He helped himself to the leftover bait. A couple of bites, but only one bluegill made it to land. Notice Mooch to the right waiting for a chance to steal the fish. He threw it back in to grow some more. We worked on our resumes for a couple of hours while watching the golf match. Beaching makes you really tired for some reason, so we hit the sack early.

This morning we were ready to head up to St. Pete again, but Michelle slept badly last night, so asked us to wait till noon. We drove up, worked till 5, listened to thunder and watched it rain all around us, but escaped every drop all the way home. Then, during dinner, I heard a lot of thunder. I looovve thunderstorms - especially taking photos of lightning. This was a fast approaching storm, so I only got one shot before it started raining huge drops. This was a heavy-duty storm - the power went off, the wind was trying to rip off the awning (a HUGE fear of mine - we were going to go out to rescue it) and it lasted a good 20 minutes. Cool.

Tomorrow we will be doing something really interesting. A couple of special people will be here. Till then…

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Reminder

Thursday we hauled our gardening tools up to St. Pete and started cutting, pulling and blowing to get the garden in a little better shape. I was getting a cold, so I ran out of steam around 2 pm. Michelle and I picked up the kids from school while Gary tried to get some shelving cut at HD. Graham decided to try on Poppy’s sunglasses. We left around 4 and missed the rain this time. I collapsed into bed with a book while Gary piddled outside. Dinner was leftover chicken casserole, then back to bed.

Feeling not as bad as I thought I might, Friday we had a yummy bagel at Panera’s before Gary’s appt. with Dr. Z. Unfortunately, Dr. Z was called away on an emergency, and since the office didn’t have our cell phone number, they couldn’t get in touch with us. So Gary chewed the fat a little, then we headed to Target to look for curtains for the Nanny’s room. Nothing. Then we headed to JoAnne’s to check out material. I got a swatch of what I think is the best choice, but I’m still not happy with it. I’ll see what Michelle thinks. A very kind lady in line behind me offered a 40% coupon to help with the 4+ yards needed. It expires tomorrow, so I’ll be baaack! Then we stopped by the library for some CDs to load onto our Ipods, grabbed a spooky movie and a couple of books for me. The library for me is like Christmas – only better. I can have anything for free and all I want of it. Thanks, Ben.

Last night we had salmon on the grill, then Gary took a ripe peach, soaked it in Triple Sec and grilled it. We put a little Greek yogurt and sprinkled some tropical trail mix on top. Yummy. (and healthy!)

Today is the anniversary of 9/11 and our thoughts are with those who lost loved ones in this senseless tragedy. We watched some of the ceremonies on TV which brought back memories of where we were and what we were doing on that terrible day. It makes us appreciate how short our lives can be – thus our present situation. Enjoying what we have left. Life should NOT be a journey to the grave arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out and screaming 'WOOO HOOOOO what a ride!'

We agree.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Working, Working

Yesterday we spent all day in St. Pete moving more furniture, arranging the nanny’s room and fixing things around the house. I know Michelle and Brian appreciate our help, as they couldn’t do it themselves. Brian is learning a lot about how to upkeep and repair their home – something he would previously hire someone else to do. We’re proud of him.

We left around 4:30 with huge thunderstorms all around us, but we only got about 14 drops of rain at home. Our little hibiscus plants are always thirsty. I think we will plant them in the ground around our patio when we get to Orlando. I’m looking forward to moving there, too. Six months is a long time, and we’ll really have a bad case of hitch-itch by the time April comes. We need to start thinking about next year’s job this year. Do we want to work at a mountain area in the summer? Or do we want to work somewhere in the south during the winter? It’s crazy to have to think this far ahead, you may think, but the jobs are being offered now so the employers can get their ducks in a row. So that’s why we, like many others, have to think far ahead. It might be fun to work in Alaska…

Today we went back to St. Pete and worked on the microwave frame, caulking, painting, wallpaper repair, door issues, lightbulbs…the list is seemingly endless. But it gives us something to do each day and we get to see the kids. Little Graham (3) asks each day we leave if we are coming back. Today we picked him up at preschool as a surprise. There’s nothing like a little boy hugging you around your neck murmuring ‘MomPommy’.

We left a little too late and ran into a wall of water so thick that when we paid our toll for the Sunshine Bridge, we couldn’t even see it. Gary was worried about the awning and the wind, but when we got near home, the wind had abated and it was just raining. Whew. Gotta remember that when we’re so far away from home.

Going back to St. Pete tomorrow, but Friday is Gary’s dermatologist appointment to confirm that his the problem with his eye is in fact MF instead of anything else, so I think we will take the weekend off, but will have to get back to “work” on Monday as the new nanny arrives on Friday. She will be really welcomed!

Sorry, there are no pictures - we were too busy working.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Lance Dreams of Fish

Yesterday it was hot and humid, so Gary and I went up to St. Pete to visit our family. When we arrived, Brian was playing Monopoly with Lance and Lauren, and little Graham announced from the top of the stairs that he had a fever, but just a little one. I felt his head, and indeed he did. That didn’t stop us from heading to IKEA, the Swedish furniture store, in Tampa to pick out some furniture for the new nanny arriving on the 17th. First we needed to pick up a truck at Home Depot to transport a queen size bed and mattress home. More on that later. I love IKEA – their designs are simple, functional and smart looking. They have great prices because YOU put the furniture together and YOU carry it home. I still have pieces I bought 25 years ago in Canada because they are made to last.

Anyway, we get there and look for the bed they picked out in the catalog – ugh oh, they are having issues with that bed, so have discontinued it. Choosing another style, they head over to mattresses to choose which one they have to get in the truck. That done, Gary and Brian head down to Pick Up with their tickets, and we head up for some lunch. It was yummy, but the kids wanted to play in Smaland, a resident play area where you drop your kids off, and shop while someone else looks after them. FREE! Even though Graham wasn’t feeling that great, he wanted to play. So Michelle and I hurried to get bedding and a lamp. That done, we picked up the kids and drove back to St. Pete.

The boys had unloaded and returned the truck and were busy moving stuff. It turned out that we didn’t need a truck at all. That mattress was rolled up. It could have fit easily into the other car. Sheesh. We continued moving furniture all around the house to accommodate the new stuff, meanwhile Graham slept. Then we collapsed with pizza, then packed up Lance so that he could spend the night with us and fish tomorrow with Poppy, but not before Lauren and I made cupcakes! She loves baking and decorating as much as making crafts and art work.
Sunday, it was forecasted thunderstorms, but it looked good in the morning. Lance and Gary cooked bacon and pancakes on the grill, then readied the fishing stuff to fish in the creek. Meanwhile I packed a lunch for both of them for the trip to the pier. Lance caught the only fish at the creek, and the only fish at the pier. He had a ball. Gary dropped him off at home while I spent about 30 minutes at the pool before I heard thunder. On the way back, I met Paul, a worker at the CG and he happened to be working at Brown Eagle’s home just as he drove up. Brown Eagle is a Cherokee Indian who makes silver and turquoise jewelry. I need to see some of that! When I told him that Gary and Lance were fishing on Sunshine Pier, he said he had caught the biggest fish recorded there a couple years ago. It was at night, and it took 2 ½ hours to have everyone on the pier try to bring him in. They couldn’t pull him up, but it was estimated that this jewfish weighed about 500 pounds! It’s so cool who you meet in campgrounds!

The exciting thing I did today was sign us up for the 2011 RV-Dreams Rally in Sevierville, Tennesee next April! It will be so cool to see our ‘family’ again. I faithfully read almost all of their blogs and still love hearing about their everyday adventures. Somehow, Howard makes it sound interesting. This will be our jumping off point to our adventures out west next summer.

The wind is whipping up, and this blows the awning, which is tied down, but still shakes the coach a little, especially the monitor. No rain yet, though.
Tomorrow, we will head back up to St. Pete to do some more furniture moving, repairs and sewing curtains for the French doors and dining room. It’s gonna be tight for 9 people to live in that three bedroom house. However, Gary and I live in about 300 square feet, and we do just fine. We continue to love our lifestyle and hopefully, always will.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A New Winter Nest

Yesterday Gary and I jumped into Mesa and drove over to the Orlando area to look for our winter nest. The first campground was not great, although the price was good. It was out in the middle of nowhere, and charged electric on top of the price - a pretty normal practice for long term residents. The next one was near a golf course (Gary smiled) and was green and lots of water. The Office Manager, Karen, gave us a map and said to drive around noting any sites that were empty that we liked. Some of them were probably reserved, but maybe not for six months (which is what we wanted). Off we went, marking the ones we considered appropriate. We tend to like a site that is not squished between two others, so the end sites were especially attractive. When we got back, we showed Karen which one we liked best and she said "I KNEW you'd like that one best. Unfortunately, that one is reserved, and has been reserved for the last 10 years, by a couple of snowbirds, but not until January. However, we just heard that he is very, very ill, and they may not come at all next year. Let me talk to the Manager." Ten minutes later, we got it! I guess they really thought these two wouldn't be down at all. We felt bad, but she said if they get down, they will save another good site for them. Yippee. It's a corner lot, we have about 25 feet of 'yard' under oaks and palms, look out onto the lagoon, a fire pit and all for a great price (including electric!). We took a ride out there on her golf cart, and the entertainment manager, Terry, met us at the site, so we introduced ourselves to him and his son who works in maintenance. His wife, Sheri works in the office. They seem very nice, so we will enjoy having them as neighbors. No kayaking in the many lagoons, however - crocs.

We headed out after thanking them for their time spent with us, and then drove a couple of miles to Disney's Fort Wilderness campground to check out their sites and the possibility of getting a discount if we - I mean WHEN we - get jobs there. A forty to sixty percent discount, but it's a really expensive campground, so would probably not be able to afford to stay there for six months. However, we shall see.

Today, we went grocery shopping at our local Walmart, but when we came out we noticed our tire cover that says "Life is Good" was missing. Could it have fallen off? We retraced our drive there, but we kinda knew that it had been taken. Bummer. After we put the groceries away, Gary went back to see the manager. She said that we would have to call the police to file a report, but it was worth about $45. and so the police would say forget it. Double bummer. I loved that cover - it said all that is true as far as we see it. Oh, well. We can't afford a new one now, so our ugly spare tire will just have show for a while.

Then Gary decided to try to catch something at our creek while I hit the pool for some more exercise. He caught three fish until he had an equipment malfunction - a major line backlash - whatever that is. He let the fish go, as we are having our Grandson, Lance, stay with us on Saturday night and plan to take him fishing at the creek and maybe the Sunshine Bridge pier. We may need an alternate plan as it might rain.

Well, we can't do a thing about that, but we will have fun for sure! That's the name of the game!

A parting shot of the sunset from our coach. Almost as good as the beach, no?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Back on the Beach

Happy September everyone. It’s prime hurricane season and the Atlantic is active with Danielle, Earl and Fiona. This morning a mandatory evacuation of visitors in Kitty Hawk, NC was given by the mayor, and if we were there we would have been gone by now. Now that we are renting our home in Florida, it is a concern even more if a hurricane decides to come that way. We are in Florida for the winter this year, but next year, we may not be, and I will worry. I’m good at worrying. I get it from my mom. It doesn’t do any good to worry, we all told her, just be as prepared as possible. Worse case scenarios run through my brain all the time. I figure two things: if I think of the worst thing, it won’t happen, and if it did, it was meant to for some reason. So I cover my bases.

I actually got to the pool for a swim yesterday while Gary was picking up Mesa. It was cool and refreshing and I did a few laps for exercise just like I used to do. The humidity was so low last night, we opened all the windows in the coach and had a cool breeze blow all evening. The train at 6:15 woke us up for a minute, but we fell asleep again soon after.

We met the assistant manager, Harry, yesterday who loved talking about his trip to Alaska. It sounds absolutely fascinating and we can’t wait to go. The ALCAN Hwy is finished, but we still won’t take our coach to some of the more remote areas because of the roads. We’ll see what we can do. We just need to get things going here: Gary’s treatment and getting a job. We will be going on our recon mission tomorrow to check out winter CGs near Kissimmee before they all fill up.

Today, I got my haircut by my old hairdresser who was surprised to see me again after 5 months. She did a good job I think. Gary dropped me off while he went to get his CT scan and then came and picked me up. We visited some old neighbors until 6:30 and then popped over to the grocery store for some dinner to take to Lido Beach for the sunset. This was a photo from the Ringling Bridge going over. The water was perfect and there were tons of people there even being a Wednesday school night. Ahh, but up north school doesn't start till after Labor Day, so that explains it. It was so good to wiggle our toes in the pure white sand again. I must have come from the sea because I love it so.

Till tomorrow!