Monday, February 28, 2011

Enjoying the Weather and Life

The weather has been spectacular. And if there were no alligators in the water around here, we would be boating every day. But every body of fresh water will contain an alligator. We don’t do alligators – we have an inflatable kayak, number one. Can you picture it? One bite from one of those creatures, and we’d be splashing around in the water. Might as well write “GONER” on our foreheads. Cruising the Mayakka River last year was enough to strike terror in my brain forever. Even with promises from other kayakers that ‘they won’t hurt you’, well, they were 10 feet away from me and 10 feet long with a LOT of teeth – that SHOW. And, they sleep with their eyes open. Or they pretend to. Gave me the willies, and we had to exit.

Now, kayaking on the ICW is another thing altogether. On a day like this it would be wonderful. Low breeze, scudding clouds, no humidity. Probably lots of manatees, too. However, we have that l-o-n-g drive to get to the coast and Gary is worried about our old tires. But, yesterday, we ordered new ones which will be in next week. YAY – maybe we can go somewhere soon. For now, we’ll wash and wax her – which will definitely make it rain.

Gary cooked pancakes for breakfast – good lookin’, huh?

And then he worked on his patriotic trellis. What? He ordered the NJ, NC and FL state flags on the internet, drilled holes in the top of the trellis and added them next to the American flag. He’s so creative.

Last night I was messing around on the computer and found HP games. Hmmm. There was a trial for ‘Jewel Quest’ offered. I clicked on that. It is a card game similar to solitaire with jewels involved. On the face up pile, you can go up or down (e.g. eight on a nine or ten on a nine). If you can use one from the displayed cards, you try to use the same suit, which earns you jewels. In the background there is haunting music as it is in an Indiana Jones-like setting: spears, old books, shrunken heads, gold and jewels. Well, I got hooked and played until 11:30. Poor Gary was ignored for the evening, but was asleep when I got to bed. I’m afraid if I start it again, nothing will ever get done.

Sunday was the Oscars. Did your favorites win?? Since we had not seen one of those films, we could only guess which ones we thought were going to be a great film by the previews on TV. Now we can see them (when they come on TV). All in all, they were not too boring. One thing I can’t understand: these people are actors. They memorize lines all day long for months. If they know they are nominated and they have a small amount of thank-you speech time, why can’t they make up a small thank-you speech (and memorize it) before they get up on stage and say Ummm, uggghhh, duh for 3 minutes? Some of the winners were interesting, even if they went over their time (like Colin) but some we couldn’t wait to see leave the stage. Are you with me on this?

Today we ran around doing piddly stuff and worked on our taxes again. We never did any outdoor fun stuff (booooo), but it sure is pretty sitting on our patio reading the Sunday paper.

I hope you like the new look of our blog. Wanted something new...

We don’t have much time left before we get ready to head up north. Gary can hardly wait! We will be going to Sevierville, TN for the RV-Dreams Rally and then a little down the road to Dollywood to work for the summer. It’s funny that we still make plans far in advance with this lifestyle. I didn’t expect to do that at all. Next spring will be different. Maybe. Who knows???

Friday, February 25, 2011

To Infinity and Beyond

At the risk of sounding ‘old’, we are recuperating. There is a reason the young have young. Thursday evening we were actually asleep at 10 pm. Nothing like your own bed, yes? Even if it moves.

We did a little housekeeping, got a few groceries and watched the space shuttle 10 minutes before lift- off. I said we were going to watch it on the east coast, but Gary said it was a little too much wear and tear on the Jeep (that and gas is $3.30 a gallon) so we planned to catch it on TV. Well, we got a late start out and came upon a bad accident on the way home. Three cars facing eachother in a watery ditch, but no one was hurt that I could see.

So here are some pictures of the launch from the TV in case you missed it.

As usual, I am in awe of such power and bravery. Have you ever seen the movie “Cocoon” where Maureen Stapleton and Wilford Brimley decide to leave earth and go into space with some recently-met aliens? Well, it would take me 2 seconds to do the same thing if asked. Space awes me. It’s so vast and mysterious. I would like to know that I’d be able to come back some day, however.

Anyway, it is Discovery’s last voyage, already having 143 million miles to its credit, beginning with its first flight in 1984. By the time this mission ends, the shuttle will have tacked on another 4.5 million miles. And it will have spent 363 days in space and circled Earth 5,800 times. I wish our Jeep could do that!

Friday we slept in till 8:30 then drove to Panera for a bagel. Did a couple of chores then headed home for a sit under the awning. It was 86 degrees today. What’s so great about this weather is that it is not humid. It’s supposed to be wonderful until Tuesday when it’s supposed to rain. We need it around here.

Tomorrow we are going to do something ‘au natural’ as we are getting tired of city life. We can hardly wait to pull out of here to head north to the RV-Dreams Rally in Sevierville and on to our new jobs in Dollywood. It won’t be long now.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Catching Up Again - Lots of Photos

I have not written in soooo long. Sorry everyone. We’ve been really busy having fun – and that’s what it’s all about, right?

First, here are those photos of the ice cream we enjoyed on Valentine’s Day: These are the flavors you can choose from.
They have some proven favorites in case you find the list too daunting. Then they mix it up in a metal bowl with some base flavoring. Next comes the liquid nitrogen shot. “Smoke” pours over the bowl and onto the counter as it is mixed up some more. They squish it into a container and hand it to you amid ooohs and aaahs.
As I said, it was yummy, and we couldn’t finish it, either.

Tuesday (the 15th) we drove over to Winter Summerland Mini Golf on Disney property. Which course should we play - Summer or Winter?
They both looked so challenging! Summer won and we got our tee off time, balls and clubs. We had fun and it WAS challenging.
I thought the course was very cleverly designed using the perfect vehicle: travel trailers.
We had a few holes-in-one made that afternoon, but still came in way over par for the course. Ron's happy!

Thursday (the 17th) we left for St. Pete after putting the awning in and disconnecting the water. We were going to babysit Henry (the 8th) (four months)until Monday. It was a holiday weekend, and Lance, Lauren and Graham were going up to visit their dad in Kennesaw, GA. Michelle and Brian were going to South Carolina for a mini vacation. Well, it’s been a long time since I had a baby to care for, so we were just a little apprehensive. But he is a great little guy, so we settled in and played with him every time he woke up. Sorry for all the pictures, but that was our weekend. Our outing was to The Pier for lunch and a visit to the aquarium.

The lunch was good, but the aquarium was a bit pricey for two rooms with four tanks of fish and info on hurricanes. However, he really loved the colors of the tropical fish swimming around, so it was worth it. Here's his saucy look:
Other than that we worked on rolling over, holding up our head, standing, funny sounds, proper holding of the bottle and sleeping through the night. He passed with flying colors.

We got home on Tuesday evening after seeing our Drs for physical check ups and eye doctors for eye exams. Gary’s eye is all better and he wanted to start using his contact again. I thought I was seeing OK, but my prescription changed too.

We were pretty worn out after looking after Henry, but Wednesday we arose at 6 am to arrive at Mt. Dora to meet my brother, Bob and friend Rosie.
Bob collects and restores antique cars and is a member of the Horseless Carriage Club of America. The HCCA sponsors tours around the nation, and members drive their cars in huge trailers to these events. This week was the National Board of Directors Meeting at the Lakeside Inn on Lake Dora. Bob and Rosie drove down from New Jersey with two cars: A 1907 REO (which we toured in today) and a 1914 Cadillac which a friend drove. I won’t bore you with all the photos I took, but here are a few:

It was so much fun, and after the sun broke through the clouds during our stop at the Yalaha Bakery, it was even more pleasant. A lot of members are true to the time period and dress accordingly. There were some really stunning outfits walking around out there.

We had lunch at a little Café on a balcony, and walked around town visiting the little shops. I splurged on a little wooden bird (I love birds) made in Indonesia. Cute, huh?

We met so many nice people and saw so many beautiful cars. And it was so special to see my brother again. Rosie has become a very special friend and is an artist herself.
Please feel free to visit her website: to see her fantastic creations.

There, I’ve caught you all up to today. It’s been a really fun week. But tomorrow we are hitting the road to watch the Discovery shuttle launch! I promise it won’t take me a week to tell you about it. Thanks for your patience!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Valentines To You

Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you all have someone special to share the day with. Even if it’s just your pet goldfish.

After my walk, I did a little cleaning and then the phone rang. It was Pat at Dollywood. We talked a little and we are now employees! We’ll exchange paperwork, and get a start date. Because we are attending the RV-Dreams Rally in Sevierville, Tennessee from April 11-17, we said our availability date was April 18. Dollywood is right down the highway in Pigeon Forge, so we will start searching RV campgrounds to stay for 3 months. Working in concessions should be interesting. At least we have a pants and shirt outfit to wear. Stay tuned for more developments…

It was Valentine’s Day, so Donna and Ron and we picked up Casey after work as promised and drove over to his new home in Sherwood Forest RV Resort. Gary and I had planned on looking there for our six month stay, but it was more expensive and more crowded than Kissimmee South. However, their new site is even nicer than the one here. There are along the edge of property with a tiny flowing brook behind them, lots of trees for a buffer on their patio side and a deep lot. We hung out there a while, and talked about traveling. They had lived in Arizona for a year before arriving in Florida, so they knew lots of far-out places to see. I copiously took notes. Terry asked if we had hiking sticks to which I replied ‘not yet’. He showed us one he had made out of a yucca plant. When yuccas bloom, they sent up a tall – sometimes 25 foot – stalk that blooms near the top. They are very sturdy, and his was sanded, polyurethaned, with a leather thong wrapped around the top for a grip, and decorated with some beads and feathers. They offered me one that they had roughly sanded and now we have a new project! Thanks, guys! I’ll show you pictures when we start sanding.

Anyhow, we decided to all go out to Chile’s for dinner and we had a very entertaining waiter, which made it even more fun. Then we decided to go to Pure Magic – an ice cream store with a twist. You can choose two size cups and as many flavors as you want. They start with a metal mixing bowl, pumping the ice cream base into the bottom. Then they hold it under a giant can of liquid nitrogen and turn on the power. Clouds of ‘steam’ roll over the bowl as he brings it back and starts adding your chosen ingredients. Gary and I chose caramel coffee fudge almond. He stirs it up, then adds some more LN. The end result is a huge container of ice cream. We couldn’t even finish it, but boy, it was good! Pictures to follow.
Tuesday was even warmer and sunnier, and the men talked for a while outside under the awning, until we decided we would try Taco Bell and Walmart on Rte. 27. After Taco Bell, back on 27 North some police cars, ambulances and State patrol cars came screaming by and the traffic stopped. Just up ahead (we heard on a trucker CB) a log truck had jackknifed onto the median and turned over spilling logs everywhere. I tried to get a photo with our dumb camera and you can just see the cab of the truck.
We were sure he had died in that wreck. There were two news helicopters hovering over in about 10 minutes. Amazingly, we got by. We did our Walmart thing, but it took 20 minutes to get back onto Hwy 27 from the parking lot. And, we were low on gas. We crawled to where we noticed they were diverting all traffic off of 27. That was a good thing for us and we made it all the way to Davenport before we got gas. Later that evening we heard that the driver had sustained only minor injuries!

Donna cooked up some Fettuccini Alfredo with shrimp and broccoli and I contributed a salad. Yummy. She even bought a tiny cheesecake like my birthday cake for dessert. Didn’t need that, but ate it anyway. (Four miles tomorrow morning!) We talked for a while, yawns and goodnights. We’re playing mini-golf tomorrow at Disney World. Gary finally gets to hold a golf club!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Friends Leaving

Saturday dawned bright and sunny. I love that we gain a minute or two of sunshine each day. Spring is right around the corner! Hang in there, northies!

It was a sad day, though, as our friends Terry and Sheri and their son, Casey were moving parks. They were planning on staying here long-term, but things changed for them, and only Casey will be working at this park for now.
They didn’t move far, so after they loaded their U-Haul and trailer, off they went with waves of ‘see you later’.
Casey even set off the last of his fireworks.
Monday after work we are planning to drive Casey home to see their new spot. I will miss Jasmine, their mini-schnauzer, too. But the rest of the park probably won’t. Jazzie barked louder and louder until it sounded like she was being murdered. Sheri always had to pick her up and hold her muzzle shut until she quieted down. Here she is ready to go.

We decided to throw some things on the grill for dinner, added some purple hull beans (I had never heard of these…) sautéed onions and mushrooms and roasted taters. Yummy.
After dinner we sat around and talked until Donna suddenly remembered she had to work in the morning and off they went.

Sunday was another beautiful morning and the high was 69 degrees. I gave Gary a haircut, did my two mile exercise walk, and looked through the paper for coupons while we ran the generator for its exercise. We then headed out to Kohl’s who was having a 'buy one top or bottom and get one free'. Well, that didn’t work for us, so we had lunch at Panera. We stopped at Walmart to pick up some groceries and a new spice basket. I keep all my spices and herbs in a plastic container basket in a cupboard, but it had broken and cracked. So with our new container, I washed all the spices, labeled them and put them in their new cupboard.

The peanut butter had to find a new home (which was, of course, where the old spice basket used to reside). Here is a photo of my new spice container’s home.

OK, so this is how boring our life is right now. I am actually taking photos of my spice container. Sheesh.

Tomorrow will surely be more exciting…

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fun in the Park

Thursday it started out in the low 60’s and rainy. After my 2 mile walk, we dove into the tax swamp. Using TurboTax is not difficult, just time consuming if one is not familiar with it. It took about 2 hours until we were brain dead, so we saved it until another day.

Nobody felt like doing anything all day as it really never got pretty. But we did plan to go somewhere to dinner, and finally we voted on Cracker Barrel. I don’t know why I do this, but I have a favorite in every restaurant that we frequent (which has not been very frequent lately – we’ve been wining and dining the Jeep instead of us), and I order that every time. So I had my grilled chicken salad, as usual, and as usual, it was good. Donna had chicken, Ron had chicken livers and Gary had chicken slick (chicken and dumplings). We did a little looking around the store, and then decided to watch Under the Tuscan Sun at our place. It was a sweet movie, reminding us that we should look in our own backyards for happiness. I don’t think that applies to full-timers, though.

This morning was gray and middle fifties, so we did a little more taxes. Just when we thought we were going crazy, Donna came over and said ‘let’s go to Downtown Disney for lunch and then Disney Quest for some fun!’ We didn’t have to be asked twice. It was cloudy and windy, but TWC promised sunshine, so we had hope. The Earl of Sandwich was jammed, so we wandered over to Captain Jacks Seafood restaurant. We split a chicken parm sandwich and salad which was perfect. Then we stopped by Ghiridelli’s for dessert. A free sample of their chocolate – mmm, caramel inside milk chocolate! Look, the blossoms are out on the trees!
We walked all the way to the other end of the park and entered Disney Quest.
I had never been in here before, but my son, Tristan and his friend spent hours in here. It is 5 floors of cutting-edge technology, virtual reality and 3D encounters. Here we are in Buzz Lightyear’s Astroblaster.

You steer your own rocket, scooping up asteroids, firing them at other ships and bump into adversaries (like bumpercars). Fun! Gary and I created our own rollercoaster through a lava flow, entered a simulator and off we went. Upside down and looping all around. Awesome! We rode the Pirate’s ship, using cannons to ward off the other ships and stealing treasure, and then plunged down a prehistoric river on a raft in the Dinosaur Age trying desperately to avoid dangerous obstacles. All of these were 3 or 4D requiring the use of special helmets or goggles to see things virtually. Pretty cool. We stayed there 3 hours, but Donna suddenly didn’t feel so good. I gave her a couple of TUMS, and that seemed to do the trick. After we arrived home, she rested a little, and then they came over for dinner (which had been cooking all day in my crockpot – wonderful inventions, yes?) It was delicious especially with ice cream for dessert, and then we sat and talked for a couple of hours.

We called it a night, and hit the hay. Tomorrow our friends, Terry and Sheri and their son, Casey are leaving for another park, and we want to help if we can.

Another great day in the life.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Duckies Everywhere

Monday morning Gary lagged out of bed. The taxes were hanging over his head and he didn’t want to do them. By the time he got up, got a cup of coffee and went outside to read the paper, Donna came over with her chair and sat down to chat. Ron came over soon after reminding her that they needed to have their Disney picture ID made today.

Of course they asked us if we’d like to go, and off we went to McDonald’s for a quick lunch before driving over to Disney University. Gary and I hung out for about 15 minutes looking at the photos and captions on the walls. Disney is a man I’d have really enjoyed meeting. He had such simple and clear insight. Disney World is the epitome of fun for so many families. It’s a shame it is so expensive. But I truly believe that Disney had no expectation of the business it was to become. He just wanted a place for families to be together and have fun. That vision he definitely achieved.

They returned with their new photo IDs and we headed home. The wind was kicking up, and we put in our awning and prepared for a storm line. It rained for about 20 minutes – just enough to make the ground dirt stick to your shoes, which tracked into the coach, which made me have to vacuum. At least it takes me 10 minutes to vacuum the whole ‘house’.

Later the boys (Gary, Ron and Terry) watched the brats roast while the girls (Sheri, Donna and I) got everything else ready.
Great dinner was followed by lots of talk of travel – my favorite kind of talk. It makes me realize how much we need to see. Everything sounds exciting and interesting. We had planned to go out west right after our RV-Dreams Rally in Tennessee the middle of April, but if we get jobs at Dollywood, we won’t be going out until next spring/summer. Oh, well. Plans can change at a moment’s notice in this kind of lifestyle. That’s what’s so great about it. Now we’re thinking we won’t get to Alaska until 2012 and that’s OK! Anyone want to go with us?

Today we wanted to go ‘see the ducks at the Peabody Hotel’.
What is that? Every morning, 5 mallard ducks arrive by elevator from their penthouse apartment at the Peabody Hotel to the ground floor, walk 75 feet to a fountain in the middle of a lobby, and hang out until 5 pm when they walk back to the elevator on their red carpet and go to sleep in their penthouse.
We found the Peabody after a breakfast at Panera, and hung out there for 20 minutes. Suddenly there was an announcement that the ducks were coming, and sure enough, 5 little ducks raced across the carpet and up their steps into the fountain enjoying having their picture taken.

Crazy, but adorable. You can see how important these ducks are: they are everywhere.

The Peabody is a huge hotel with beautiful chandeliers as you can see by a photo Gary took.
We enjoyed it thoroughly until we checked our parking ticket for one hour’s parking - $7.00. Up to 30 minutes is complementary, but 30 minutes to 4 hours was $7.00. Guess how many people find that out too late.

We have needed a toaster oven forever, and Gary saw a Black and Decker on sale at Macy’s. After we left the hotel, we headed toward the Mall of the Millenia. It was listed at 44.95, but on sale for 29.99. Gary said he might be able to get some more off that. Donna and I looked at each other mouths open. Soon Gary said if we opened an account, we’d get another 20% off. So we ended up getting it for $20 less. Here it is:

Suddenly the alligator made an appearance (well half of one actually). Tried to get closer, but he went under.

We had a little grilled salmon and then settled in for some TV – it’s FUNNY NIGHT!