Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year, Yeeha!

We made it to Texas!!  Last week we decided to leave a day early on Friday to give us some rest along the way somewhere as solid rain was forecast early in the week.  No problem.  Fastened the bike rack on the front of the Jeep, added bikes, hitched up the Jeep (no light showing Friday) and off we went. 

Two days later we were still in Florida, but then crossed over Alabama, Mississippi and into Louisiana on the third day.  Started feeling like we're getting some where. Road good: dry, cloudy days, stopped at rest areas for lunch and breaks.  Until we get to Louisiana.  The Achafalaya Basin Bridge is 29.3 km (18.2 mi.) and connects Baton Rouge with Lafayette over swamp, streams and lakes.  After exiting that bridge the road was as I remembered it almost 3 years ago when, two days after we purchased Bella and were driving home to Sarasota, I remarked that we would try to avoid Rte 10 at all costs in the future.  But it was a no brainer.  We HAD to go this way, and it was just as bad (or worse) than I remembered.  It was so bumpy, gutted and holey I really thought the TV was going to fall off the ceiling onto Gary.  Of course, he took that as an opportunity to remark that an HD TV wouldn't hurt as much as our analog Sony. [but it still works; someday, sweetie, I promise].

Over the Mighty Mississippi:

What do you think the grade is on this bridge?

And my happy cowboy driver!

We stayed in RV Parks just off the highway and found them easily by a new free app on our iPad:  You will love it.  Pick a place on the interactive map and it pins all their RVParks around that spot with a list to the right.  Touch the pin and it brings up the info on the park. touch the name of the park in the list and it brings up all kinds of info. I also check RVparkreviews to see what that says.  Then I check the website and Passport America (as we're members).  Every one has been at least satisfactory and most above.  Check it out!  It's free!

This is a picture out our window of our stay in Lakeside RV Park in Livingston, LA.  A little pricey for us, but I got a Good Sam discount.  We also got propane here.  Very nice park. 

Tonight we made it into Texas and are resting tomorrow as it will be pouring all day.  The next day we have something fun planned.  So stay tuned.

In the mean time, have fun tonight.  I've been to Times Square many years ago and it was as fun as it looks on TV, but not interested anymore.  I think I'll just cozy up with my honey and watch it all until we fall asleep.  Hard day driving, so it might be before 12 midnight.  Infact, I can probably guarantee it.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Up and Down

O, engine light, O, engine light... 

The Jeep dealer told us the diagnostics indicated the Cat converter was bad.  They didn't have the correct part in stock, but they could order it if we wanted.  Meanwhile, it would be OK to drive to North Carolina.  Ha.  He turned off the light.

So we drove it around on Friday and Saturday, but it was sluggish, rough and was getting terrible gas mileage.  Plus it put out a noxious odor so bad we had to open the windows.  That would make it a little chillly up north.  The light came back on.  Something was wrong.  It was with heavy hearts that we called our family up north to say we would not be able to drive up to spend Christmas with them.  But, we really didn't want to break down on I95, or be poisoned on the way.  They understood, kind of.  We promised to FaceTime on Christmas day.  So we'll be spending tomorrow in St. Pete with our daughter and her family instead.  My son will be there, too, so not all is lost.

Woke up this morning, started the Jeep.  Engine light off.  We might be going a little crazy.  So we took Jeep to Midas to run another diagnostic.  They found nothing.  The tailpipe is full of black stuff, but that doesn't explain the odor or the bad gas mileage.  It could be a number of things, and they said to be sure to bring it back if the light comes on again.  Meanwhile they will get a quote on a new converter Wednesday.  Here's Mesa up on a lift.  I love to know what works why, and Paul and Ken were kind enough to show me all kinds of things, including pointing out that the Jeep was in great condition for its age.  That made us feel a little better.  So we'll wait to see what the light does - again...

Here she is at Midas. 

I got to go under her where Paul pointed out the new parts, the skid plates, how to tell an aftermarket part, etc. etc.  Love that stuff.

They let her down and let us go.  Our lives are ruled by a little yellow light.  Maybe like the star of Bethlehem???

Tomorrow, maybe we'll see the light...

Here's hoping all of you are planning a fun holiday no matter where you are and who you are with.  Merry Christmas, everyone!  And be safe.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


I can't believe I'm houseless.  I have always had a house my whole life.  It's not like I'm homeless.  I've got a wonderful home with my hubby.  It's so liberating!  Yippee skippee!!!

We close on the 8th of January from Texas!  Yee-ha.  Thanks goodness for Fedex, email and phones.  Tada!

But, that was Monday, and we celebrated, strangely enough with our renters at their new house.  I should say ex-renters, who became good friends.  Dennis is a wonderful chef and prepared chateaubriand, garlic mashed potatoes, kale, root veggies and creme brulee for dessert!  It was fantastic.  And we loved their new home.  Unfortunately, we forgot the camera. Thanks, you two!

Tuesday we did some errands, and I had a mammo.  So much fun, as you ladies know.  We celebrated the sale of our house at Gary's favorite restaurant Tommy Bahama's at St. Armand's Circle.  Our favorite two seats were available with a tiny view of the ocean, and we enjoyed our favorite appetizers and a drink.  Then we walked around the circle visiting our favorite boutiques and enjoyed all the Christmas decorations sharing a cup of Ben and Jerry's.

Wednesday I got my last haircut in Florida in the morning, and because I arrived early, I sat in the jeep for fifteen minutes, then went in for my cut.  I realized I had left the keys in the jeep when I paid, and confirmed it when I saw them hanging in the ignition.  Well, I had to unzip the back window and climb in through the little hole.  Good thing nobody filmed that.  At least I haven't seen in on YouTube yet. 

We have been in Florida for over a month and had not been to the beach once yet.  So we packed a dinner of fish tacos and headed down to Lido Key.  I noticed a couple police cars and news trucks in the small lot.  Heading onto the beach, we noticed a PLANE on the beach with yellow caution tape around it and a few badges guarding it.  What?  Turns out it was an emergency crash landing on the beach (and into the water as it turned out) due to engine failure.  The pilot and passenger were unhurt, but the plane had seen better days.

After things calmed down (I'm glad we missed the landing), we walked back to our chairs and watched the man in front of us feed the birds. All it took was a few crusts of bread and he had about 100 birds there.

Gulls have been known to (and we have seen them) take food out of your hand.  When they eyed us opening our food, they squawked a couple of times and all of a sudden they were all around us.  Yep, they actually got some of Gary's fish taco.

The sky was perfectly clear so the sunset was not as pretty as other times, but still watching it literally sinking below the waves was just as spectacular as always.



Beach Lovers
It got chilly soon, but there were plenty of people (from up north, I suspect) on the beach and even in the water.  More power to them.  Fresh air always makes us sleep well, and so we did.

Today was a special day for Lance, our oldest grandson.  He was playing Scrooge in his fifth grade play.  And he was wonderful.  He was not nervous at all, and really played to the audience.  Good job, buddy!

We went back to his mom's and wrapped Christmas presents, then had a delicious crock pot stew.  We needed to head home, because - are you ready - our engine light came on again!  Yay.  We have been getting terrible gas mileage, so have an idea it's the O2 sensor again.  Well, we don't have to leave for NC until Sunday, so we will be visiting someone tomorrow for a clue as to what's wrong.

Anyhow, it's been a fantastic week, and our last in Florida for a long while.  After we hit Texas we really don't have any plans for where we'll go.  Hopefully we'll be able to tour the west this summer.  We may have to walk, or ride our bikes instead of driving, but Bella is doing just fine.

Here's hoping you have a wonderful holiday, surrounded by those you love.  Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas and Kayaking

Thank you for your kind comments of my son, Tristan's, singing.  He does have a website:  If you would like to purchase his music, you can pay whatever you want for whatever you want.  Since he's 26, he doesn't always make my kind of music, but my favorite is called Oceans.  The train song, "Come With Me" was written in 2 days.  We won't find out if he wins until January 4.  (They must have to count all the votes by hand).  Anyway, we're proud of him.

I have waited until today to mention that Tuesday, the 4th, one day after we listed it, we had an offer on the house.  We are still negotiating, but hope we can tell you good news soon. 

Meanwhile we are getting ready for Christmas and planning our trip to North Carolina next week.  Like Howard and Linda, whom some of you might know, we are getting very brave.  We haven't made one reservation along the way to Texas when we leave on the 29th from Florida.  Mainly because we are trying to get there earlier than planned, and we don't know what the weather will be like.  Of course, our main concern is how long Gary wants to drive each day.  If there's not too much traffic, I might do some driving too.  We'll let you know how that pans out.

About two years ago, we got a gift card for Bonefish Grill, a terrific seafood restaurant chain.  We used some of it, but still had $40 left on it.  We checked and it was still useful, so we decided to try a Tuesday night, traditionally not a busy night.  Well we arrived a little early for us (6:15) and only had to wait about 10 minutes.  But the place was jammed.  Service was good, and we got soup, salad and two appetizers including tip for exactly $40!  [I love free food]  We then walked around the mall to work off some of those calories.  It's beginning to look a bit like Christmas, but it's 80 degrees.  That's OK with me.

While I had been cleaning the roof of the house last week, a dear neighbor of ours yelled up to me about coming over for drinks on the 14th.  I yelled back yes and we arrived on time at her house last Friday evening.  This has been a tradition for her every year, but the Christmas before we left, she mentioned that it would be her last.  However, something changed her mind, and we saw her old friends and caught up with her daughter, Noreen, and her three wonderful grandsons.   Thanks, Kathy!

This past Saturday was our Christmas day with our 6 grandchildren, daughter and son-in-law in St. Pete.  It started in Tampa and her husband's office where we needed a photo shoot of Michelle in an office setting for her website.  That took a couple hours, then Michelle and I ran to Publix for food and subs for lunch.  After lunch the kids opened their presents and were totally wowed.  I still can't tell you what they are becuase Christmas for all our family isn't over till Christmas, so you'll have to wait a little longer.  It was the first ever Christmas that we didn't have a huge turkey spread and tons of chaos.  It was perfect.  Low key, relaxed and the kids loved their gifts.  What more could you ask for?

Graham painting his pirate ship supervised by Henry

Today was another great day.  We had made plans with Terri and John Shea to go kayaking at the Robinson Preserve in Bradenton.  This is a 487-acre preserve undergoing a huge restoration process that is nearly finished. To date, numerous exotic invasive plants have been removed, effectively opening up the land for native plants. The preserve's new waterway system will help restore the tidal flow within the coastal habitats.

Robinson Preserve also features numerous recreational opportunities. Low-impact environmental activities include hiking and biking trails and canoe/kayak launches. Additional amenities include observation towers and platforms, picnic areas, and a visitors center.

A kind gentlement snapped our photo before our launch.

Most of the 3 hours [5 mile trip] was on open water, but at the end of the waterway, just through some mangroves, we came to Palma Sola Bay.

We had the wind at our back on our return trip, fortunately.  Mullet were jumping out of the water all around us, with roseate spoonbills, storks, osprey, hawks, egrets and ibis everywhere.  There were also bike-riders, rollerbladers, and dogwalkers along the paved paths and bridges.  Many people asked about our inflatable kayaks by SeaEagle.  That opened up a conversation between John and us about three years ago on the Myakka River on our maiden voyage in our SeaEagle.  We met on the river (among many alligators) when he asked about our boat, and that he wanted to get one, too.  I mentioned that we had heard about it on a blog, RV Dreams, and he had read that blog, too!  Were he and his wife, Terri going to the RV Dreams rally in South Carolina in the spring?  Yes!  Well, we saw them there just one week after we began full timing.  And we make it a point to get together to paddle when we're in Florida. 

At the take out, we had boat racks and a water hose to clean up our boats, we deflated them, tossed them in our vehicles and drove over to Panera for a relaxing lunch.  John and Terri are so excited to full-time, but are getting their ducks in a row, but it won't be long now.  I know we'll see them again and again. 

What another great day in the good life!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Working Toward a Goal

After trimming all the trees and bushes at our houseon Sunday, we cleaned up and drove to St. Pete for a Daddy Birthday Party.  Gary's birthday was Saturday, and Brian's was Sunday.  Ellie, 11, made the birthday cake from scratch, and we had ribs, roasted asparagus and taters.  That all went down easy! 

All By Myself
Happy Birthday, Daddies

We drove home and collapsed so that we can work harder tomorrow.  Fortunately every day is absolutely beautiful around 80, with a light breeze and no humidity.  Perfect Florida winter weather.  So working outside is fairly enjoyable.  However, we will be glad to get our stix and brix gone. 

Monday we bagged 17 loads of leaves, acorns, and yard debris.  That will get picked up on Wednesday.  Our agent put the house on the internet MLS and we got a call within the hour for a viewing.  We had to leave everything and disappear for lunch.  Sitting in the Jeep eating a chicken wrap, we watched our house until they left.  Gary worked on replacing a couple window ledges in the back.  Our dear, dear neighbor, Rafael, came over to help Gary with the sliding glass doors and pocket door.  Phone rings:  another viewing!  This time we didn't leave.   They asked where the stairs were to the upper floor.  We don't have an upstairs.  Ooops.  Called the Realtor to fix that problem. 

Tuesday I washed the roof - one of my favorite jobs.  I like high places.  A red-tailed hawk yelled at me from a neighbor's tree for half an hour.  That job took me most of the day.  But it was very satisfying watching that dirt run off the edge of the roof.  Whew.  Glad that's over.  Leftovers for dinner that we ate in bed.  Talk about exhausted.  We thought washing and waxing the coach was bad. 

Wednesday was Gary's check up at Moffitt in Tampa.  We ran over to the Lab to have blood drawn for our physicals, then had a good breakfast at Panera.  Then we headed up to Tampa.  Gary's Doctor was really pleased to see how good he looked.  A little red area I was worried about turned out to be nothing.  Gary is SPOTLESS!  Unfortunately, his Doctor was leaving Moffitt for St. Paul, MN to head up the Radiology Department, but he did give us a name of a Doctor at MD Anderson, Houston, in case.  I'm predicting we'll never see her.  Fingers crossed.

More people came to see the house, but we just ran by the house to put out the trash and fifty boards that we held onto for some reason.  All the yard waste was gone, and we hope they pick up all this stuff, too.

Today we woke up early, had breakfast, and dressed in grubs to do some more cleaning on the house, but people were there almost all day, so we ended up going to the bank to do some business, Walmart for a couple things, and Target for some Christmas shopping.  That done, we headed home for some outdoor grilling.  And here I am!

Giving our bods some down time to recuperate tomorrow. 

By the way, our son, Tristan, is a musician and has entered the Rocky Mountaineer Train Contest .  If you would like to hear his jingle, please use the link above, and please feel free to vote.  We're hoping he wins this, and we do think he's the best out of the top ten finalists. Maybe your friends would like to hear it also?   I think we would love to take this train ride, too, someday!  It looks amazing!

Thanks for visiting.  Things are looking good, like life!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Together with Family

Tuesday our son, Tristan, drove up from Miami for a Thanksgiving visit.  He arrived late, so we didn't see him until we got to Tampa on Wednesday for our trip to Universal Studios in Orlando.  The Jeep has been behaving well, so we decided to meet them there (also we wouldn't fit in their car).  The brave souls went on the roller coasters, we went on the tamer rides.  It wasn't too busy for the day before Thanksgiving, but Harry Potter is always busy.  Apparently they make more money on Pumpkin Juice than any other concession in the park.  The lines are always so long to get it.  Amazing what people want...
Lauren and Henry
We had a ball, but it was a long day and long drive home.  Michelle, Tristan and Brian were running in the 5K Turkey Trot at 7 am the next morning.  They asked if we'd like to cheer them on.  Well, sure, if was at 11 am, but we passed on a 5 am departure time.  Tristan later texted me that they all did really well and were really hungry!

We got to St. Pete. at 9:30 and began cooking turkeys.  One for the Halfway House and one for us.  All the fixings and lots of goodies for lunch.  Brian and Gary took the big kids to minature golf.  Michelle worked on her website:, (thought I'd throw that in there) and I continued to cook.  I enjoy cooking in a house once in a while - it brings back good family memories.  People came and went until it was finally Turkey Time! 

We all rolled away from the table, content for another year.  Thanks, sweetie for a fab Turkey Day.
Of course, we were able to take a little home with us for leftovers tomorrow.  It was a pleasant night to drive home.  And we were looking forward to Lance coming to stay with us on Saturday.  I smell fish in our future!

Saturday was beautiful again *sigh* so when Lance was dropped off, he wanted to go fishing immediately in our lake.  The worms were ready, so they hooked up and threw in their lines.

That particular spot was where our alligator hides out sometimes, but he didn't make an appearance.  Only one fish was caught by Lance, even though they fished till dinner time.  There wasn't anything playing at the movies that Lance liked so we visited RedBox and found the Avengers!  That took a couple of hours, then Lance read some of the books I had found at the flea market that morning for him.  He is an avid reader and had finished one and started another before he finally fell asleep around 10 pm. 

Bacon and eggs started the next morning before heading out to the lake again.  No bites, so they loaded up the Jeep and stopped at the grocery store for some shrimp and squid.  One of Lance's favorite spots is under the Ringling Bridge, so that's where they started.  Final score:  Lance - 4, Poppy - 0. 

Lance's puffer fish
Two bass, a puffer and a grunt, which was big enough to take home, clean, cook and eat! 
grilling that grunt
A little salt, pepper and fresh lemon juice, and it was ready!

not too sure it was tasty
He had a good visit, and so did we.  Next it's Lauren.  Time with the fam is getting short!

Our renters moved out on Wednesday. :(  They were the best ever renters.  We were very sad to see them go.  We had dinner with them at Applebee's, gave them a lemon and lime tree for their new house, and hugged them goodbye.  We will see them one day at their new place.  A funny story.  They have a cat, Chloe and a dog, Claire.  During all the packing, moving etc, Chloe went missing.  People had been in and out all day, but nobody saw her get out.  Finally Claire found her hiding in a rolled up rug.  Poor thing was scared to death and found a safe haven.  Good dog!

We will have a couple days work to do on the house on the outside.  Our renters were so good, that they washed and ironed the curtains and hung them back up, shampooed the rug and washed everything.  It's spotless inside!  Our realtor came to take measurements and sign papers, eyed me looking around and asked if I was planning to change my mind again.  I assured her I wasn't, but we didn't live in our home for very long.  However, life is an adventure, and we are on our way for some more of that good stuff, doncha know!  Life is good.

By the way, today is a special day.  It is my dearest hubby's birthday.  Thanks, mom, for having such a wonderful son!  And, thank you Lord, for allowing us another year together!  We will celebrate it with my girlfriends tonight as it's Girls' Club at our place!  Happy Birthday, honey!