Thursday 19 March 2015

Anna Maria Island

March 18th we got the itch to go see something different. Judy had been to the Red Barn Market in Bradenton and suggested that we give it try. Just west of Bradenton is Anna Maria Island which is a great spot to spend an afternoon.

It is what is called a barrier island along the coast. It is a seven mile strip of white sand.

So this morning we saddled up and the four of us headed out on a day of sun, sand and shopping.

A two hour drive got us to the market and she was right. It is huge. We walked around for at least an hour and we didn't even hit the entire place. We did pick up a couple of items before heading over the bridge to the island.

We arrived at Holmes Beach where we parked and jumped on the free ship utile bus that takes you from one end of the is,and to the other. Our first stop was the southern tip at Bradenton Beach. John and Judy are ready for our adventure of the day.

The Coquina Bay Walk took us up through the shrub, over boardwalks and to different advantage points along the water.

After that hard work in the 90' weather we headed back to the beach for ice cream!!

Then back on the shuttle for the ride to the north tip of the island where there is a pier that you can walk out to a restaurant at the end. Lots of people out there fishing also. A neat spot.

Back on the shuttle again to take us back to Holmes Beach where we went for a nice long walk on the beautiful white sand beach.

A stop at Long Horns on the way home for a lovely dinner to top off another awesome day in paradise.


Thursday 5 March 2015

Wekiwa Springs State Park

An hour and a half north of here, near Apopka is Wekiwa Springs State Park. A natural spring fed river flows crystal clear and calling to me. March 4th was to be a hot 80'+ sunny day and we were going to take advantage of it. We loaded up our kayaks and also loaded up John and Judy in to Big Mo and headed north.

Where the spring opens up the area has been made into a beautiful swimming spot. You can see the water bubbling up from the underground spring and there were guys trying to dive down into the mouth of the spring opening. The force of the water flowing is so strong that it would just pop them back up. The water rises at 74' all year round. A beautiful spot.

John and Judy rented a couple of kayaks and we carried ours down to the river and hit the water. What a great day to be paddling! I love the reflections of all the colors in these clear waters.

We paddled up the Wekiva River for a couple of hours (not sure why the river and park are spelt differently??) on our way back down we corralled our kayaks on the water to eat our picnic lunch.

Lots of wildlife to be seen.

This fellow let me get within a foot of him to take his picture. I could almost reach out and touchhim.

Lined up so cute at turtle school.
Just soaking up the sun. This was a small one. Maybe 4 feet long.

We stopped for a nice dinner on our way home to complete another great day in paradise!!
Until next time - safe travels.


Thursday 26 February 2015


Yesterday just seemed like the day to have a little road trip. John and Judy joined us for a drive west. We had been told by several people about a place over in Plant City called Parkesdale Farm where they had the best strawberry shortcake in the state. So with all those recommendations we figured we should check it out.

This is a great spot if you are in the area. They have a huge fresh fruit and veggie market. The produce is awesome and their prices are great. We picked up a 5 lb of beautiful red grapefruit for $1.98. Can't beat that!

These were so huge Tom and I had to share one. Judy looks just a little excited!! Yummy. A breakfast of champions.

From there we took the I4 towards Tampa. Everytime we drive by this RV dealership I want to take this picture. On this day I managed to get it. Think this dealership sells Airstream? Yup. Looks like they have them planted

We went to the Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Station last year to see the manatee but had to make a return trip again.

With the weather as cold as it had been we knew there would be lots in the warm waters at the Plant. And we were right. There were over 100 manatee taking advantage of the heated water that is disbursed into the canal by this coal powered hydro plant called the Big Bend Power Station. One of the park reps said that there were 220 in the channel the day before. These two big fellows were sure enjoying their spa in the 80' water. The one big guy spent much of his time floating on his back relaxing with just his mouth above the surface. The other with just a nose out of the water. This is a safe protected sanctuary for the manatee but there is no food for them here. They have to go back out into the open water to find their sea grass each day.

We saw stingrays, Dolphins, black fin shark and many other types of fish. Also on this property is a hiking trail that takes you to an observation tower. We had to check that out. At the top of the 50 foot tower you could see all the way to Tampa and St. Pete.

See the black crab in the tree? There were hundreds of them in the trees along this trail. Ugly little guys!!

We drove through Apolo Beach, which is close to the Power Plant. The housing there is pretty spectacular. On the water and close to Tampa. I can't imagine what some of these places must cost!! A stop at Costco in Brandon to stock up and then dinner at The Out Back rounded out a pretty great day in our neighborhood.

Until next time - safe travels.


Sunday 15 February 2015


February 14 Valentine's Day and what better way to spend it than watching auto racing at Daytona? I can't think of anything.
Yesterday morning we packed a lunch and hopped in with John and Judy and headed over to Daytona to watch the Lucas Oil 200 and the Sprint Unlimited.
They are rebuilding the Daytona Raceway and what a huge improvement to the facilities. We had just the best seats in town. Right after the start-finish and directly across from my guy Kyle Busch's pit. Awesome!!!
After the Lucas Oill 200 we had sometime to wander around and see the sights plus grab something to eat before the big race started at 8:15 p.m. I even had to cough up for a $4.00 cup of coffee to warm up between races. It was cold!!
The Sprint Unlimited was a pretty exciting race. All the big names race in this one.
Here is Kyle in for tire changes.
There are some big crashes. This one was directly in front of us.
Looks like our gang was pretty chilly!!
By the time the race was over and we waited for the bus to take us back to the parking lot we were all pretty much frozen. Even with our winter coats we were cold. Funny how our bodies have adjusted to the warm florida weather. At home these coats would keep us warm at -30'
You will recall that last year we went to the Daytona 500 and got rained out. At least now I can say I watched a whole race at the Daytona Speedway, actually two races. Another scratch off the bucket list. Yippee!!

Friday 13 February 2015

Scratch It...

... Off my bucket list. Falcon 9 rocket took to the sky Wednesday and I was there!!!

John decided to give it another try at Cape Canaveral for the launch. You recall we headed over on Sunday to watch but it was scrubbed at the last minute. Monday and Tuesday the weather did not cooperate. Wednesday was their last shot at getting it where they wanted it in orbit. If it didn't go they did not have another window of opportunity until down the road.

Monday Tom's sister Pat and husband Dick arrived for a visit. They showed up in the pouring rain. We are starting to think Pat brings it with her!! Rodger and Terry joined us here for dinner and Tuesday the six of us went out for breakfast at The Egg House in Lake Wales. We stopped at Florida Natural after so they could see the displays that are at the welcome center and taste the different samples of orange and grapefruit juices. We enjoyed some sunshine on our patio for more of a visit before they headed back down to the Fort Myers area where they are until the end of the month. We hope to get over to see them again before they leave.
Wednesday morning I did the walking class and then laundry. I just got home when John sent a message asking if I wanted to go with them to the Cape. Tom was helping a neighbor in the afternoon so I jumped at the chance. We had a nice leisurely drive over and arrived at the viewing area at 3:00 pm. It was bright and sunny but the wind was cold. We waited, with fingers crossed, hoping that the launch would happen and it did.
At exactly 6:03 this is what I saw through my binos!! I got this picture off the internet. I did snap a few with my iPad but I was busy with the binoculars watching the close up view and it was awesome.
This is what I could see with the naked eye. The white dot is the rocket. So glad I had the binos along!!
We were able to see the first stage ignite and the separation happen.
We could see the first stage start dropping back to earth. Due to heavy seas they were not able to attempt to land it on the barge this time. However they did report it made a soft landing in the Atlantic and they feel positive that they will be able to land the first stage on their next rocket launch.
I was able to watch the rocket for quite awhile before it disappeared from sight. The smoke trail remained in the sky for awhile after that.
Also the pink smoke remained over the launch site long after the rocket was gone. I think the color was from the sunset. Pretty!
Just being there and seeing it up close (with binoculars) and to be able to hear the sound of the rocket that came across the water in waves was incredible. It will be hard to top that experience this year.
According to the Nassau news the rocket coasted for 22 minutes. At approximate 31 minutes into the flight the second stage ignited for its second burn to place the satellite in its parking orbit some 200 km from earth. And at 35 minutes the satellite was deployed. The satelite will ultimately be positioned 1.5 million Kms from earth. It will take 110 days for it to reach that position. That is 4 times farther away than the moon. Wow!
Awesome experience!!








Sunday 8 February 2015

Rocket Launch

One thing on my bucket list is to see a launch from Cape Canaveral. Sunday was to be the launch by SpaceX of the new Falcon 9 rocket into orbit. It is carrying The Deep Space Climate Observatory that is to monitor solar storms. This satellite was originally built in the 1990's to track climate change. After this project was cancelled the satellite was been sitting in storage ever since. The satellite is to be placed in orbit 1.5 million kilometers from home. Here is an Internet picture of the rocket waiting to blast off. We were not that close!!

SpaceX will attempt again to land the rocket booster on a barge in the Atlantic. Their last attempt didn't work out so well.

We headed out this morning with John and Judy on a beautiful sunny, calm day. Perfect for the launch. We arrived at Cape Canaveral and located the spot close to the Air Force base where we can watch. This is directly across the bay from The Kennedy Space Centre. There are even bleachers for people to sit on to watch. We ate our lunch there and then headed into Cocoa Beach to check out the beach as we had plenty of time to spare before the 6:12 launch.


After a walk on the beach we headed back to the Cape, stopping at a fish market first to pick up some fresh fish and shrimp!!

We arrived back at our viewing area and watched 5 cruise ships leaving the port behind us. The last one to leave was Disney. Lots of big horn blasts, music and cheers as they each left on their journey.

Lots of people starting arriving to watch the launch.

By 5:00 pm the bleachers were filled and the lawn was filled with lawn chairs and some pretty impressive cameras.

You can just see the rocket in the distance. Towards the left side of the picture are the two lighting towers with the rocket in the middle. This is the view from where we are sitting. We will be able to see the rocket blast off and we should be able to see the booster separate. The weather continues to be perfect. We wait for 3 more hours for the count down to begin.

6:10 arrives and we get the word. The launch has been scratched!!! I guess it is still on my bucket list.
What a disappointment. Not sure when or if we will get this chance again. So many variables, good weather, the 2 1/2 hour drive over, time of day for the launch, etc. etc. you never know. We thought today would be the time with all those variables in place. But there was a problem with the rocket and it had to be put off for another day. It may go tomorrow but the weather tomorrow is calling for rain. So we will not see it.
We stopped for dinner on our way home at an Italian restaurant in Lake Hamilton called Florindino's. Pretty darn good.
We were disappointed with not seeing the launch but it was a fun day in any event. Until next time - safe travels.



Saturday 7 February 2015

Busy Times

The time flies by. January 28th was the annual Snow Bird Extravaganza in Lakeland. We headed over to check out the displays and watch the great Canadian entertainment. On the stage this year again were Michelle Wright, John McDermott, Pavlo and Bowser and Blue. Great music and great comedians. No Walter Gretzky is year though.

The weather has been less than great. It has been cooler than usual with lots of wind. Our pool heater was out of commission for a couple of weeks. We did brave 72' water a few times but there were no water aerobics. I continue to go to the 3 mile walking class four days per week with Judy and Terry. On my days off I try to get in 3 miles around the park or in the gym if the weather is bad.

Tom and John built a stand with a ladder, odd boards and snap ties for our old TV so we could have a big screen to watch the Super Bowl outside. It was quit a production. They dragged this all over to Hollinger's RV. Rodger and Terry also joined us to watch the best football game I think I have ever watched. Here is a picture taken by Judy of the gang.


When we were at the RV Show in Tampa Tom picked up a product that is supposed to put a new hard coat on the 5th called PoliGlow. He discovered that the gel coat on the nose and the back was starting to flake off. This new product is supposed to help take care of that problem. So he has spent many hours light sanding, cleaning and then several coats of PoliGlow. When he got finished it looks great.

Under the 5th we also discovered that all the steel frame was very rusted. A result of traveling in the salt conditions on our travels down here in December over the past couple of years. So I have spent many hours scraping the rust and then painting all the steel frame with rust paint. Especially under the slides there is a lot of steel to refinish. I spent a couple of afternoons scraping and a couple afternoons painting. It looks much better and should help keep our 5th looking and feeling like new. And since we now have a full concrete pad under the trailer it was a good time to be crawling around under there.

We Joined John and Judy to check out a new winery just north of here on highway 27 yesterday. A small Mom & Pop operation called Fiddlers Ridge Farms. They just recently opened and are trying to get established. They make blueberry wine and Orange blossom honey wine currently but plan on doing some blending to produce new favors. We got to take a look around and sample their product. The wine es a bit too sweet for our taste but I am sure they will be a hit. We left with our cash still in our pockets.

Today we drove into Frostproof to see the Orange Blossom Antique Car Show. For a small town there was a huge turnout. Approximately 200 of cool cars to look at. From the really old to the strange they had it all covered. We stopped at a spot on the main drag called O'Hara's Automotive Restoration. This place is filled with vehicles in different stages of being rebuilt. Interesting!

Love the puppy!! Looks real doesn't it?

The big boys


Lots to see and do. It turned out to be a beautiful day with the wind finally settling down. We had lunch in town on a patio. Pretty nice for February!!

I ordered a new camera today so will be able to get better pictures and more conveniently than with my iPad. A new Fujifilm Finepix XP70. Waterproof, frost proof, drop proof, idiot proof and wifi capability. Can't wait for it to arrive!!

Not sure where the time goes. One day it is Monday and in a blink of an eye it is Friday again. Some days I wish it would slow down a little. Until next time - safe travels.