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Monday, February 28, 2011

Last Days in Sarasota

We spent the last few days in Sarasota as we began we went places, except for Wednesday and Thursday we didn’t do much. I helped Mark to hone his computer skills and I loaded a couple games on his computer, these games will get him addicted to them. One is Bejeweled 3, Sarah and I play the game more than we should but it is a good time killer or I’ll play it while watching TV. It is a good thing I am retired, oh wait a minute I was doing the same thing when I was working. Isn’t life great?

Friday we went to the Red Barn Flea Market, http://www.redbarnfleamarket.com/index.aspx, I didn’t see any fleas there but maybe I wasn’t looking in the right places. It is hard to believe Mark & Sharon had never been there before. We went on Friday after lunch but we got a later start than we wanted and we only had a couple of  hours before they closed at four. Of course Mark and I were devastated we couldn’t stay any longer. Within the short time we were there Mark & I had traversed the entire complex, split a funnel cake and I even bought a couple of items. Needless to say Sharon & Sarah never got through the first aisle, I believe they spent most of the time in a bead shop, they did buy a couple things so I guess they used their time wisely. When it was time to go the girls wanted to go back on Saturday.

Saturday Mark & I dropped the ladies off at the Red Barn and said we will see you at four, then Mark and I headed for the Verizon Store. I had switched to Verizon the first week of February and the phone was working fine until a couple weeks ago, it would automatically answer any call I received and put the call on the speaker phone. So a visit to the store was in order. We got there and waited about 30 minutes before we were helped, they were quite busy. Anyway what we ended up doing was restoring the phone to factory specs, but we backed everything up and it is working the way it is suppose to now.

Sunday was the day we started to get the camper ready to move. First thing I did though was fuel up the truck, $3.79/gal and I guess it will go higher but we’ll deal with it. Next Mark & I installed all of the Pressure Pro monitors on the truck and camper, I don’t have any on two of the trucks tires because the air valve is pointing the wrong way, I’ll get that taken care of this summer. Pressure Pro monitors the tires air pressure and will warn sound a warning if the pressure goes below a certain point, indicating the tire is going flat. This will allow you to slow down and change the tire before it can do damage to the vehicle. Then it was time for a last bike ride before putting them on the bike rack. Mark and I rode approximately 123 miles, not a lot by some standards but we had fun riding.

Today was D-Day, the day when I would find out if I could get the camper out of the site without hitting anything. Before I could do all that I had to get the various hoses, wires etc. unhooked, disconnected from the mother ship Sarasota Lakes. Tony, who lives across the street, was gracious enough to move his truck which gave me a lot more wiggle room and we extracted the camper with relative ease. Then it was time for goodbyes, our neighbors, Paul & Judy and Kathy & John, then there were a few tears saying good bye to our long time friends Mark & Sharon. We checked the lights and made our way to the office so we could turn in our gate key and get our deposit back. We hit the road at about 8:45 and had an uneventful trip to our stop for the night at Jellystone RV Park in Madison, FL.

We will spend tomorrow night at a park by Foley, AL and see Dave & Sheri also long time friends, then Thibodaux, LA Wednesday afternoon.

Dreams Do Come True

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Last Week

Monday, not much going on, recouping from our trip to Daytona Beach, laundry and related tasks. Mark and I did go for a bike ride. We haven’t ventured to far off the reservation, RV Park, but we do go out and get on the sidewalk going down to the dog track. It might just be me but there can be no wind inside the park and as soon as we turn onto the sidewalk and head west the wind picks up and it kills my legs. I suppose if I lost a few pounds it might be easier to deal with but….

Tuesday, the temps finally reached a level where it was comfortable sitting outside. I rolled out the awning, actually I pushed a button and it came out by itself, pulled out the chairs, those I have to set up myself what drudery. Then I got my book and sat outside and read, oh the joys of warm weather.

Wednesday, more the same of Tuesday except we went to the late afternoon showing oh the last Harry Potter movie. The movie cost $2 before six but after six it jumps to $2.50. Now granted they don’t charge you much to get into the movie but watch your wallet if you want to get a beverage or popcorn. The small combo was only $4.50, if you only wanted a small soda it was $4 so the popcorn is a good buy. I didn’t even ask what the price was on candy.

The movie was good and ended exactly where I thought it would, so now the wait is for Part II. Or has it already come out? The theaters are old but clean so it is a good way to spend a few hours.

Thursday, a good bike ride of over 8 miles, my backside can’t take much more than that, a walk with Sarah and a trek around the outlet mall at Ellenton, FL, made up my day. Oh also some of the best ice cream around at Kilwin’s, I may have to see if they are a stock company and buy stock if we stay much longer.

Friday, another day of warm weather and reading, I haven’t read as many books as I thought I might but I have read three or four. I spend to much time on the computer, a lot of it playing Bejeweled 3, it is very addictive.

I have been reading a book about the Cajuns who reside mostly in Acadiana Louisiana. I expressed and interest in learning more about the people who settled in Acadiana from Nova Scotia and Jessica, great-niece, loaned me one of her books explaining this piece of history. The Cajuns, Americanization of a people by Shane K. Bernard is a text book and a bit slower read than a novel. World War II played the a big role in Americanizing the Cajuns. The advent of television and the role of radio has had a very great role in bringing the “outside” world to the folks in Acadiana. Up till the beginning of WWII most young people spoke French and English, with the beginning of WWII the state dictated English to be the only language spoken in schools. Some schools took this as a mandate to punish students who were caught speaking French in school. The culture of the Cajuns changed when the GI’s came home from the war and because of German and Italian prisoners of war being held in Acadiana.

I still have a ways to go to finish the book, I don’t know if I will be done with it by the time we get back to Louisiana, 10 days from now, but I hope to finish it. I am reading a couple more books at the same time both on the Nook and physical books. I picked up one I had started some time ago and began reading it but I couldn’t remember what I had read to that point so I started the book all over again. I have to do that some times.

Sarah has me walking a couple of times a day. Usually Mark and I go bike riding but his son and family are here visiting so I haven’t been riding, this gives Sarah license to harass me to go walking with her. So I do and we usually walk the circumference of the park. We did this twice yesterday, if I don’t watch out I’ll become and exercise nut.

Saturday and Sunday were days of not doing much. I may have mentioned this before, I was told all a person needs to know when retired is the big paper comes on Sunday. There are days I wonder what day of the week it is but that does not occur that often yet.

Monday I relented and told Sarah I would go shopping with here again. Mark and Sharon decided to go along so off we go to one of the many malls in this area. Actually it was not bad for two reasons, I found some shorts at Penny’s and Mark was there for someone to talk too. I also found a quick connect for the air compressor at Sears so it was a good day for me.

Tuesday we had to go back to the mall so Sharon and Sarah could return some clothes they bought the day before. I don’t return clothes they either fit or they don’t. If they don’t fit Sarah returns them for me I hate shopping but I hate returning things worse.

Sarah and I had also bought Madyson and Alexa’s birthday gifts so how do we get the gifts to them. Oh I know we can ship them, but we don’t have a box to put them in, so Tuesday Mark took me to the UPS store, I knew it was going to cost me some money but I never thought it would cost me more than we paid for the gifts. I didn’t have any boxes so I decided this was the best scenario, except I just thought of something I should have gone to Lowes or one of those stores and bought a couple boxes, it might have been cheaper I don’t know. So future forward we are going to have to come up with an alternative plan.

That’s all the excitement here. We are getting into a travel frame of mind, I am looking at campgrounds to stop at on our way to Thibodaux, LA. We leave Monday and I am giving us plenty of time to get there, we are going to go through New Orleans, I really don’t want to but it is the best route and we should get there in the middle of the day so hopefully it won’t be too bad.

Until later remember – Dreams Do Come True.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Daytona Beach/St Augustine, FL

We arrived at El Caribe in Daytona Beach, FL about 1 pm Friday, checked into the El Caribe and took our luggage to the room. We are on the top floor, 7th, with a room looking out over the Atlantic Ocean and the beach. It is quite a view. It was quite windy so the waves were probably two to three feet, more whitecaps than I have seen in a long time. We haven’t driven on the beach yet but I hope to do so before we leave.

We headed out later in the afternoon for the Ponce de Leon lighthouse. This is a working lighthouse with the lighthouse keeper’s home and a couple other buildings renovated. They have one building which houses the different lenses used in this and other lighthouses.

I climbed the 5,000 steps, well at least it felt like 5,000 but it was only 203 steps, to the top of the lighthouse. Look at this sucker and I want to climb it. DSCN0904 I don’t remember if this is going up or down it really doesn’t matter, there were a lot of steps.

IMG_0969IMG_0994IMG_0997I took quite a few pictures from the top of the lighthouse, http://www.ponceinlet.org/. I has some great views such as:


Here is where I almost bought the farm, I knew I’m not in good shape, well any shape actually, but the first half of the climb was killing, then everything went numb except my legs, they hurt so much I knew I wasn’t dead.

We had dinner at Inlet Harbor restaurant, good food, moderate pricing and a great view of the water. We even saw a couple dolphins swimming by. DSCN1102DSCN1110

We had a quite evening in the room and ended up going to bed right after the news, we are to start out early in the morning.

This morning we had breakfast at IHOP and then headed for St Augustine. I really enjoyed this visit, we began by visiting Castillo de San Marcos, http://www.nps.gov/casa/index.htm, I have put the link here so you can visit their website. It is an amazing story how the fort came to be and the history attached to it. Since this is a National Monument I was able to get all four of us in free by using my Senior Pass for Federal Parks etc. I have had this pass for about five years and this is the first time I have used it. Here are a few pictures I took at the Castillo;

IMG_1016This is the entrance to the Castillo.

IMG_1019 The courtyard, during a siege or battle all the people from the surrounding area would come to the fort for protection. The walls were 17 ft. thick in places.

IMG_1021IMG_1024IMG_1025IMG_1030These cannons could fire 1 1/2 miles with accuracy, the bigger cannons could fire 3 1/2 miles with accuracy.

IMG_1039IMG_1044IMG_1050The small holes you see in this picture are said to be holes made by cannon or rifle shot during a battle some 500 years ago. I was enthralled by this place, to think we were standing on a structure built in the 1500’s. The oldest structures I remember seeing before this are the stone walls in the battlefield at Gettysburg.

We bought a National Park’s Passport Book,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Park_Passport_Stamps, at the Badlands a few years back but didn’t even think about bring it with us so we couldn’t get it stamped. I asked the lady behind the counter about the stamp and she graciously gave me a slip of paper with the park stamp on it so I can tape it into our book. We have to get the book out and be more diligent about where the parks are so we can take the Passport Book with us next time.

We walked around the historic area of St Augustine and took a few pictures. I found a great chocolate shop and as a bonus they had Gelato, I told them I would be back. I guess Sarah heard me and we didn’t go down that street again so needless to say I didn’t get any chocolate. Here are a few pictures taken on St. George street.

DSCN0963This is the oldest school in the USA, there is a big chain wrapped around it to keep the sides from collapsing outward, I don’t know what is keeping them from collapsing inward.DSCN0964DSCN0965This raised piece is part of a door/window combination.

DSCN0966The walk was interesting, of course it is all set to attract tourist but the buildings look to have kept the original look to them.DSCN0974DSCN0976DSCN0977 I thought maybe you could read the plague and maybe you can if you copy it to another directory and blow it up. The inside of the cathedral had an interesting interior but the most interesting was the mural on the back wall.

We then saw “The Mission of Nombre de Dios traces its origins to the founding of the City of St. Augustine, America’s oldest city, in 1565. On September 8, 1565, Pedro Menendez de Aviles landed and proclaimed this site for Spain and the Church. It was here that Menendez knelt to kiss a wooden cross presented to him by Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, chaplain of his expedition. It was on these grounds that Fr. Lopez would celebrate the first parish Mass and begin the work at America’s first Mission. It was at this sacred spot that the Spanish settlers would begin the devotion to Our Lady of La Leche that continues into the present.” The cross which is erected on this site is quite impressive. The grounds are considered an archeological dig and has a very old cemetery, I saw a tombstone dated as early as 1815. The chapel on the grounds was small but unique.DSCN0992DSCN0988The inside of the chapel was very plain.

Then is was off to the Fountain of Youth,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fountain_of_Youth, this is also an archeological dig which has active digging going on. It was interesting to visit buy I don’t believe it warrants more than one visit. I really didn’t feel any younger after visit this park

.DSCN1002The fenced in area is a spring well that has been flowing since in the 1800’s and is believed to be the original site of the Fountain of Youth. During excavations of the site the archeologists found the stone cross and based on writings of the time they have this as further proof of the site as being the site Ponce de Leon thought to be the Fountain of Youth.DSCN1005

Then it was off to eat, we ate at Santa Maria restaurant, it is located on the water south of the Ponce de Leon bridge. The food was good, very good clam chowder, the wrap Sarah and I split was ok. The interesting thing at this restaurant is the feeding of the seagulls. The tables by the windows have a trap door on the window ledge where you can feed the gulls stale bread, provided by the restaurant at no charge. I saw one gull get a big piece of bread and the other gulls drove it to the water and you should of seen the melee, it was quite a scene.

After dinner we headed over to the lighthouse, http://www.staugustinelighthouse.com/, here is another link, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Augustine_Light, we visited the gift shop but didn’t go into the site I wasn’t going to climb this one and there was a charge to get in. I did get some pictures of the lighthouse and a building or two.

There was a unique looking tree on the property.


I decided not to climb the stairs in this lighthouse, I could have made it but the placed would have been closed by the time I made it up and back down.


We headed back to Daytona Beach arriving about 7:30, had some great ice cream and then back to the hotel.

Sunday dawned bright and no wind but the waves still roared into shore. Of course Sarah was up to watch the sunrise, it was nice but it was a sunrise. I’m just thankful for each day I see the sun because I figure when the day it never gets light out then I’m in trouble.

We checked out of the hotel and attended Mass and then off to eat. I know you all think I eat too much but if you think about it I usually only eat three times a day. We decided to drive on the beach to get to the restaurant. Here are a few pictures from that ride.

DSCN1094Proof that I did get out on the sand. It was actually a pleasant ride, 10 mph maximum speed. It was to cold for any sunbathers so we went a solid 10 mph. Seagulls were every where but that is to be expected.


When you are walking on the beach they don’t make a lot of effort to get out of your way. I also found small jelly fish laying on the beach, I figured they were washed ashore with the tide and got stranded, I don’t believe they were sun bathing. 2011-02-12_08-04-11_5062011-02-12_08-04-18_8612011-02-12_08-04-27_209

We left Daytona Beach around four and got back to Sarasota at 7:45 or so. Mark and I were listening to the Iowa Hawkeye basketball team get their ever loving beat out of them. I don’t listen to them very often, now I know why.

I got to thinking this morning about the trip to Daytona Beach and the one thing the area is noted for, Daytona Speedway. We went by it a couple of times and I didn’t get a single picture of it. The one bit of trivia I found was the Daytona race was raced on the beach until 1958, we saw some old pictures of the races, it would have been interesting to see in person. A good friend of mine, Jim AuBuchon, told me that during bike week there are between 500-600,000 motorcycles in Daytona. Now as far as I am concerned there is enough traffic now, I can’t imagine that many motorcycles running around there.

Anyway we had a good time and I did enjoy the visit to St Augustine and we are planning another trip to the area in a couple years.

Dreams Do Come True

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Nice Day in Florida

It has been a nice day today, reached about 70 with a light wind so it made being outside very enjoyable.  Mark and I did ride our bikes for about 35 minutes. My backside gets to hurting and I have to quit I can’t seem to find the right position to sit and there aren’t too many positions except upright. I would never be able to ride across the state or any rides longer than 20-25 miles. Oh well, I don't believe I will ever be doing that anyway.

Of course today was $2 hotdogs, actually $2.50 because I have to have a cookie. Today it cost me $25 because there are also T-shirts for sale and Sarah bought one for each of us. Now the $2.50 is each but I get the chili dog, chips, soda and cookie. My brother-in-law said all I talk about in my blog is about food items getting taken care of in the camper. Well……I guess he is right I do like food so he will have to skip over those parts of the blog.

Facebook – I had someone write me about Facebook and the amount of time people spend on it. I suppose some people spend more time on it than they should but then I spend a lot of time on the computer playing games, Bejeweled 3, my brother got me onto this one and it is addictive. I also spend a lot of time reading and some days taking Sarah shopping, she shops I try to find a place to sit and read. Anyway, a person has to be careful what they put on Facebook, especially if you are young, according to some newspaper articles I have read lately Facebook is one of the online locations prospective employers will go to for information about applicants. So be careful what you put on your Facebook account.

My birthday came and went without to much fanfare. Thank you for all the birthday wishes. We went to Mark and Sharon's for a Super Bowl party and they had a cake for me and sang Happy Birthday.  Otherwise I don't give or get gifts anymore, if I want something I go buy it and Sarah does the same. So on my birthday I went the Verizon store and switched our cell phone service to Verizon. All of my reading and research says they have the best coverage of all the carriers, I have the Verizon USB connector for our internet service and I have not had any place yet we couldn't connect to the internet. I have had to many instances of not being able to make a call etc. So I bought a Motorola Droid x phone and Sarah got a flip phone, anyway her phone worked great mine didn't work at all. The phone would come on if you took the battery out and put it back in, the phone would come on do one function and then lock up. So I took it back today and the young man who sold me the phone and he exchanged it for a new one. This one works great, I like the bigger screen, 4.3 inches, and the concept of the whole thing. So that was my birthday present to myself. I am now loading all sort of free apps onto the phone. Android phones don’t have the number of apps for them the IPhone has but with time I believe they will be right up there in the count.

Last night we went to the Circus Sarasota. Sarasota was the winter home of the Ringling Circus and still has a big circus presence here. We had a great time, they had about 10 acts and a couple of them were fantastic. I haven't been to a circus in 20 years, the last time was in Baraboo, WI when the boys were young, so it was fun to be there and especially listen to the kids laugh. I remember watching the circus come into Burlington, the trains would park on the tracks at  the river front by Memorial Auditorium and off load the railcars there. Then they would parade through town out to the old fairgrounds and set up the tents etc. Anything like that would be cost prohibitive today, but it sure is great memories.

DSCN0831The clowns are the ones dressed funny: from L-R, clown, Sharon Rexroth, Sharon & Mark Brueck, clown, Sarah & I.

DSCN0789This is our local alligator, this picture was taken behind the camper two doors down from us, I’ll bet you could get a couple pair of shoes out of him. I offered to help Sarah over the fence to get a closer picture but she declined.

We have only three weeks left here before we head back to Louisiana for Mardi Gras and then north. We will be in northern KS at the end of April and I know it will still be chilly then, if not cold. So I am in pre-travel mode, I start thinking about what route to take and how long to take to get there. The only thing we have going on between now and the end of Feb is a trip to St Augustine, FL. I have never been there and am looking forward to it. Mark and Sharon have a place they like to stay at on Daytona Beach so we will spend two nights there before returning to Sarasota.

We plan to leave here March 1st and be in Thibodeaux, LA on the 3rd, we will be there a week and then it is off to Houston. The plan is to stay at the San Jacinto Riverfront RV Resort for a week visiting friends and seeing Houston. Then we are north bound with a stop in Dallas for a few days, we have to be in Smith Center, KS at the Excel service center so they can patch the old dryer hole in the side of the camper. I read they now have automatic shades for the inside of the camper, I wonder if those can be retrofitted. After the repairs are done it is back to Iowa for a few weeks. We will get some appointments done and be on our way again.

That is it for now remember Dreams Do Come True.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Dreary Day

It’s raining outside which fits my mood today. I haven’t felt good since yesterday but nothing drastic just a blah feeling. I didn’t get up until 11:30 this morning, I don’t believe I have ever slept 12 hours before without waking up. I still don’t feel great but I am doing nothing today but sit around and watch NCIS, I want to feel good to watch the Super Bowl tomorrow.

But enough about that, we had a great time in Orlando. We left on Tuesday and stayed at Star Island, Mark & Sharon have a time share and were able to a two bedroom unit for us to stay at for our stay in Orlando.

Tuesday night we went to the Arabian Nights dinner theater. The dinner was pretty good, I had steak, mashed potatoes, broccoli, shrimp and cheesecake. You get wine or beer as part of the meal, they have soda in pitchers on the table. The show was ok, it was the story of a young princess and her dreams of a young prince with the genies thrown in for good measure. The horses were beautiful and they did the normal things when you see a show with horses in it. All in all it was fun and a good time.

DSCN0712Prince and princess.

DSCN0733One of the performers behind us.

Wednesday we spent the day at Epcot. It has been 15 years since we had been there so I was anxious to what changes had been made. After getting over the shock of a $175 entrance fee for two we took the obligatory pictures at the entrance.DSCN0737

The first attraction we saw was the Spaceship Earth. This ride takes you up in the sphere on a journey showing the history of communication for the human race. It was quite interesting, you have your picture taken while sitting in your personal transport car for the journey. Anyway the ride was very interesting and informative.

Next was the Universe of Energy, this attraction uses Ellen DeGeneres as the host and your journey takes you through the development of fossil fuels and what types of energy it will be. It was humorous and entertaining. You sit in large vehicles and they move though a series of scenes using video and sculptures to make the point. It was a fun ride.

Mission: Space gives you the choice of three experiences, Green is an intense ride, Orange is less intense and Mission Control is has no intensity here you use a computer to control a space ship. I chose Orange because I know Sarah doesn’t like a lot of rides. So we get in line and to go on our mission. The line moves forward and we were placed on number four, there are five numbers. These numbers designate whether you are pilot, navigator, engineer and I don’t remember the rest. Sarah and I were navigators our job was to push a button when told to do so. All of the fours got into a chamber, simulating a space craft, you get into the simulator and pull the harness type contraption down, it is tight and inhibiting. I get claustrophobic but I was able to handle it. This ride was not that intense but it was exciting and quite a ride. If you get to Epcot it is a must ride but go for the Green ride it will be an interesting experience.

The next ride was the Test Track, a must experience. Sarah didn’t want to go on this one so Mark and I did. I chose the individual ride, I figured you rode by yourself but this choice is where they place you in a car to fill it up, six to a vehicle. The ride takes you through a test track, brake test, heat and cold test, collision test and then the speed test. You get up to 65 mph before the ride comes to an end, a very exhilarating ride. This exhibit is presented by GM, they have a lot to see including new model cars you can look at and do a touch and feel on them.

We visited most of the countries at Epcot, ate lunch in Germany, meals are quite expensive in Epcot but I knew that from the beginning. Our meal at Germany was two brats, two drinks and one desert, cost $23 dollars. They had a lunch buffet costing $23 each we had the brats instead.

DSCN0751This is Germany, the buildings for each country are based on the architecture of the home country. The workers are residents of those countries.

DSCN0761This was China, we didn’t do anything in this country.

We left Orlando and got home Thursday afternoon about two.

I had been having problems with my computer so I decided to reload Windows 7 on my laptop. I began at 3 pm and finally went to bed at 1:30 am and the computer was still working on the reload. Friday morning when I got up it was done doing its thing and has been working great since.

We are beginning to get our destinations set for the summer and reservations done where needed. This will be a work in progress until we leave and even we adjust as we travel. Love this life style and hope to be able to do it for years.

Dreams Do Come True