Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Vaca Part III - More Gloomy Days

So the weather report for Tuesday wasn't any better. I have never seen Florida weather like this before. Did I already mention that? Usually it will storm, push through and be gone in a couple hours. Even hurricanes and tropical depressions don't hang around this long. Apparently, from what I could gather because most of the weather reports weren't that helpful, there was alot of moisture in the Gulf (duh, it's a body of water) and there was a front right on the border of Georgia and Florida that was stationary so nothing was moving and the clouds were just filling up all day long and pouring over most of Florida. We walked on the beach both days because there was no threat of thunder. As you can see, other than the birds and some seashells, we were the only ones out there.

We did drive up to Clearwater Beach on Tuesday and look around a little but most of Wednesday was spent watching movies or reading, just hanging around Camelot.

Me, reading.

Exciting stuff... And just a little teaser, things got a little better on Thursday but the weather didn't.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Vacation - Part II (Family & Friend in Florida)

So we only got to stay in Tennessee 2 nights and 1 beautiful day and then it was on the road again to Florida. We could have pushed it and made it all the way to St. Pete but instead decided to stop around 8:00 in Ocala where it quickly proceeded to pour down rain. Next morning it was still raining and pretty much rained off and on all the way over to the beach. We drove around in Tampa for a while looking at our old high school, first home in Tampa where Amber was born. Here's what is looks like now, much prettier than when we lived in it.

Then we drove by our last home we lived in, where Tyler and Scott were born and we all enjoyed our backyard pool!

We made a quick stop at the grocery store to stock up for the week and then it was over to the beach. We made it just in time for dinner and this sunset.

The next morning, more rain, but we were excited that H's brother Bo, wife Kim and kids plus H's sister Sharon and her boyfriend, Mike (who has also been our dear friend for over 30 years, but that's another story), were all coming over. We sat around the place chatting for a while waiting for the sun to come out.
Here's Bo and family

and Sharon and Mike

The sun came out around 11:00 and we headed across the street to the beach. Unfortunately I left my camera in the room but the beach was beautiful. The kids (and some of the adults) played in the water and the kids dug in the sugar sand. When we got too hot there we headed over to the pool and cooked some hotdogs and chicken on a stick and had a nice lunch (sorry, again no pictures as the camera was still in the room). We swam and chatted and then it was time for Bo to head home to Orlando as the kids were going to be starting their first day of school the next day. We were just so happy that they came and we got to see them all again.
Mike and Sharon stayed another couple hours just talking and then they had to head home too as they had work in the morning.

Howard took these pictures the next morning (Monday) after a night of rain and thunderstorms. The day started like this

but as the morning went on it became more like this. More rain.

Love the seaweed hair on this sand girl.

To say I was depressed by this point was an understatement, especially after we watched the weather report. More of the same, all day. Not our idea of fun as we didn't want to TRY to find things to do (which cost money) but we wanted to spend time at the beach and at the pool.
After some discussion we decided to head over to the St. Pete Beach Pier Aquarium and check it out. While it was something to do, sadly the aquarium wasn't much to write home about.

Really just some saltwater tanks in a couple rooms. Outside on the pier was just about as entertaining.
I saw this fellow as we were walking up.

He was sitting there so patiently and calm that I told H he should go stand next to him and let me take their picture together. Mr. Pelican was having no part in that funny business!

There was no hope of any sun (or a pretty sunset) this day. We managed to spend a couple hours hanging out at the pier and then headed back to the beach.

Outlook for Tuesday: Grim

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Vacation - Part I (deep in the hills and hollers of Tennessee)

We had an uneventful drive down to Tennessee and made really good time. I took this picture shortly after we got off the Interstate and onto some state roads in Kentucky.

We got into town around 6:00 and called Aunt Elaine and Uncle LeeRoy and they met us in town at the only place you can really eat, Doris's Diner (or was it Cafe?). Everybody had something fried and it was good! We headed back to the house, visited for a while and then turned in early.

Next morning, having coffee out on the screened in porch, we saw these beauties!

This picture cannot do these beauties justice. They were absolutely amazing. There are 3 one quart containers hanging just outside the screened in area and they are filled up every morning. By evening they are empty and if you watch this video you will see why!

There were more than 20 hummingbirds diving in and out between these three feeders. Each feeder can feed up to 10 birds and more than once, at least two feeders were full. I have never seen anything like this before anywhere. Amazing. I could have sat out on that porch all day and watched them. But, of course, we didn't! We had lots of other stuff to do!

Like checking out all the beautiful butterflies!

And then we had to go visit Kobe. He's a big sweetie!!

And Lady and Bobby were on the porch. Lady didn't feel like posing (plus she never sat still long enough to get a good picture or would start walking toward you if she saw you get the camera ready).

Bobby is the kitty. He's called Bobby because he's a bob-tail (actually he's got no tail).

From there we mosied over to LeeRoy's shop where Howard kept himself busy until late in the afternoon painting a parrot.

LeeRoy makes these and sells them at the Flea Market on Sundays and Howard worked very hard on his. I don't have a picture of the finished project yet but I'll take one soon. Then LeeRoy asked if I wanted to take a walk down the road a bit. The road isn't that long so we got Lady on the leash and headed out. We hadn't taken 20 steps down the road and LeeRoy wasn't really looking at the road when I yelled, STOP, WATCH OUT!! because this thing was right in the middle of the road, just sittin' there!

After I took this picture it slithered away over to this tree where it proceeded to do this!

LeeRoy said it was a rat snake or what they call a chicken snake. This guy could have eaten a chicken easily. He was huge but LeeRoy insisted he was harmless. I have to admit, he gave me the creeps, really creepy.

Later in the afternoon we were finally able to do the thing I really wanted to do while we were there! Go out on the lake! Auntie can't get out in the sun anymore (too many skin cancers) so she has to wait until later in the afternoon.

Here we are heading out.

Me (I know, my eyes are closed but it was the best picture of us), Auntie & Uncle LeeRoy.

This guy hung out with us while we ate our dinner. Apparently people feed them so they hang around. Look how smooth the water is!

The sun was just starting to set and the lake was beautiful!

We had a wonderful afternoon.
And we got home just in time to capture this beautiful sunset,

the best one we saw all week, even in Florida, which I'll explain later...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Another Girl's Weekend

I went on another trip last weekend. I went with my friends Cheryl and Judy (my bowling partner). We left Thursday afternoon and drove to visit our friend Claire in Indiana. We've all been friends for 20+ years, our kids all grew up together, running from house to house in the old neighborhood. We hadn't seen Claire in 3 years since her husband, Kenny, passed away. We had a great weekend full of laughter, eating, drinking, playing Five Crowns, just having a good time. We took the train into Chicago Friday around 1:00.

It was Judy's first time on a train and she really wanted a picture to commemorate the moment so I asked the conductor to pose for a quick pic with her.

The train ride lasted about 1-1/2 hours and wasn't bad except for the last 20 minutes when it felt like they turned off the air conditioning. It got really hot really fast. As soon as we exited the station in Chicago we headed straight for the Cheesecake Factory for lunch. We had already decided this sounded like a good place to eat and didn't think it was too far from the station.

It was so hot and humid and it took us a while to make our way the 10 blocks from the train station. When we had all finished our delicious lunch we just had to have a piece of cheesecake, Reece's Peanut Butter cup with chocolate mousse with 5 forks! (Claire's 16 year old daughter came with us)

When we were finally able to roll out of the booth we headed next door and discovered that the Hancock Building

was giving free passes to their Observation Deck. Once we got past the fact that it was Friday the 13th and we were about to go up to the 94th Floor on a nonstop elevator some of us, (who shall remain nameless) were afraid of heights apparently, we stepped off the elevator and had an amazing view of Chicago to the east,


north and


It was amazing to see the city that way. I've only been to Chicago a couple of times but I saw things I didn't even know they had like beaches,

rooftop pools,

this thing (which I have no idea what it is)

and Claire, who used to live in Chicago, had no idea either.

Seeing Navy Pier from this angle was cool too. It really changes everything.

When we finished looking around the city we walked up Michigan Avenue in the general direction of the train station and stopped and shopped in a few stores along the way.

We caught the 8:45 train back and went through a wicked thunderstorm with lots of rain. Thankfully when we arrived back at our station the rain hadn't reached it yet so we managed to stay dry.

Saturday we went to one of my favorite craft stores, Hobby Lobby. That store is amazing. It has everything for decorating and crafting you could ever want. And you know what I bought? Nothing! I have no time for crafts! All I ever do is read blogs. But it was fun looking at all the stuff anyway. From there we stopped at a candy factory that was having a garage sale. If you had a sweet tooth that was a great place to shop. I didn't buy any candy and only bought a little something for a special little sweetie I know and love. After that we went to see Eat, Pray, Love. Some of the review I had seen said it was "slow". I didn't necessarily find it slow but let's face it, it wasn't an action film. It was a journey with love and left you with something to think about. I enjoyed it. We had a couple options for dinner but finally decided to go Mexican. I never grow tired of Mexican food. We went back to Claire's that night and played another round of Five Crowns. Except for Claire's dog barking at her for 15 minutes because he wanted to go to bed and she was playing cards, we had a nice evening. He's an old man and he's almost blind and deaf and he wants what he wants when he wants it!

Here he is snoozing, which is all he did when he wasn't barking. Poor old guy!
We headed back to Michigan Sunday around noon and had a nice uneventful trip. Just the way I like it. It felt so good to sleep in my own bed last night! I slept like a baby. We had stayed up late a couple nights and I woke up early.

Monday I spent time trying to get things organized and ready to head out of town again. I had to make some dog food, pick up a few things at the grocery store, finish up some laundry, clean the fish tank, pay bills, fun stuff like that. Today I have a pedicure and packing.

We will be gone 10 days and I will miss my house and my pups and Scott too. Scott will enjoy the house to himself and will probably spend his time packing up for his big move in September.

I'm so looking forward to seeing everyone we haven't seen in a few years. We will catch up with H's sister Sharon, our good friend Mike, H's brother Bo and his wife Kim and their 3 kids and maybe a couple friends if things work out. I'm looking forward to seeing the beach again, swimming in the pool, hunting for shells, relaxing. I am not looking forward to the drive. Yes, we've decided to drive so that we can stop and visit my auntie and uncle in Tennessee. We will only stay there two nights and one day but it will be wonderful to visit them again and maybe spend a day on their beautiful lake. This will be our 3rd long driving trip of the year! I'm hoping for sunny skies, light traffic and strong satellite signals for my Aussie Garmin!! I'll have lots of pics when I get back!