Monday, 31 December 2012

New Year's Eve

Another early morning dive into the pool.  We had the pool boy show up today and got him to make some adjustments for us.  The heater on the pool comes on at about 9:00 am and runs all day long.  It turns off in the late evening and the water cools off over night.  The solar panel that is here is disintegrated and we can't use it.  So the water was getting cool overnight and in the morning it was what you can call refreshing.  Not cold but cooler than I like.  Doesn't stop me from getting in each morning but now we have found out how to keep the heater going all night long.  Tomorrow morning, January 1st, is going to be awesome.

Judy and I headed out on the bikes for a ride down to the Dollar General Store.  What a great spot.  We found lots of bargains.  Then back home.  While we were out Tom and John had headed out with the jeep to do some shopping and get us a movie for this evening.  They ended up going out for lunch and checking out a dealership where the sales force was determined to sell them a new jeep.  They managed to escape though.

Tom and I headed off down the canal in the kayaks for a nice long relaxing paddle.  I borrowed this picture from John.   Thanks Mr Hollinger!!

Lots of turtles and herons today along the way.  One fellow was fishing off his deck and said he was catching 20" bass.  He said he does catch and release.  There are lots of heron and egrets living along the canal so there must be lots of fish to keep them happy.

We are getting ready for a nice Chateaubriand dinner tonight to celebrate the end of 2012.  Tomorrow is another day and another year.  Happy New Year to everyone.  We wish you all the very best in 2013.

Until next time - safe travels.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Buzzards - What is the Meaning?

This weather was a bit cooler this morning so it was a fast dive into the pool.  But it didn't take long to get warmed up.  I love to be able to roll out of bed and hit the pool every morning.  Like I think I have said before (a few times) I could get used to this lifestyle.

Judy saw what she thought were wild turkeys walking around outside the lanai.  A short time later I heard some little footsteps on the roof of the house.  I went out and discovered that our house had been invaded with not wild turkeys but turkey buzzards!!!  Man they are ugly things.

Tom says that if buzzards are hanging around it means that something is either dead or close to being dead.  There didn't appear to be anything around in that kind of shape and we made sure that the cat didn't get outside.  They would likely make quick work of her.  But all is safe and sound and they disappeared after awhile.

John headed out for a ride on his motorcycle to see some of the sights this afternoon.  Tom and I jumped on the bicycles and went for a 12 miles ride.  We managed to find our way to the Rotonda and looked around there a bit.  The Rotonda is an area that was built in the shape of a wheel.  There is a middle area and then the residential subdivisions radiate out like spokes.  Each spoke was supposed to have its own golf course and the canals run throughout the area.  When the market took a dive not all the areas were sold and it is still not totally developed.  A great concept but it didn't fully get off the ground.  There are lots of houses for sale in the area.  The wind came up and it was hard riding back to the house.  Good exercise for sure and after all we have been eating since we got here we need it.

Another day in paradise.  Until next time -  safe travels.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Miromar Outlet Mall Day

The required swim was taken this morning before we headed south to Estero to the mall that everyone says is the best around.  This is located between Naples and Fort Myers.  The mall boasts over 140 Top Designer and Name Brand Stores.  When we arrived we stopped for lunch and then hit the shops.  The only rules were that we would all meet back at the start in two hours.

Off we went - visa cards in hand.  The mall was all outdoor and there were some lovely fountains and rest spots throughout.

 At the end of the two hours I was still empty handed.  I didn't find anything that wanted to come home with me.  I wandered back to the spot we started at and found John and Tom at a restaurant having a cold beer to help with their shopping fatigue.  They both had new golf shirts to show off.  Judy wandered along with a few bags of her own.  These signs below pretty much sum up our thoughts for the holidays so far.

The beer might be free but it is always free tomorrow.  Today it was a whopping $2.00.  Can't beat that.

It was another day in paradise!!  Until tomorrow - safe travels.

Friday, 28 December 2012

A Rather Fishy Day

First thing I need to post is a picture I forgot to post yesterday while we were hiking in the park. This tree caught my eye.  Is that not awesome.  So spooky.

The morning swim has been taken care of and we are in the jeep heading to Sarasota to take in The Aquarium at Mote Marine Laboratory.  This is a nonprofit organization opened in 1980 to showcase the marine research taking place in Sarasota.  Mote's ocean and coastal research has been working for the betterment of the oceans since they opened in 1955.

The displays of fish were pretty neat.  Here are just a few examples:

Cuddle Fish

Lion Fish
Clown Fish

Sea Horse

I can't remember what the last one is called...anyone know?  It is about 6 to 8 inches long.  One in the tank was white.. they change color to blend into the surroundings.

The raise the sea horses there.  They had a tank with tiny little horses born just a week or so ago.  They were about 1/4 inch in long.  So cute.

Sting Rays

Sea Turtles

There was one lonely dolphin at the park.  It was a rescue dolphin that has been there for nine years.  It had a medical issue that doesn't allow it to ever been released.  They had a sea turtle that had been rescued and is completely blind.  The facility is very interesting and the work that they do there pretty awesome.  We watched a sea lion show.  They say it is not a show.  They train the animals to make it easier for them to give them medical examinations, take blood, study them and keep them exercised and entertained.

This girl could do a one flipper hand stand.  What do you think Jen!!  Can you still do these?

The sky opened up and the rain poured down just as we were finishing up.  So we packed back into the jeep to head back to the house.  As we were driving through Sarasota we saw this statue.
It is called the Unconditional Surrender and is a rendition of the picture taken on V-J Day in Time Square of the American Soldier kissing a nurse August 14, 1945 celebrating the victory over Japan in WWII.

Another great day in paradise!!

Until next time - safe travels.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

New Experiences

Up this morning and into the pool.  This is a habit I would like to be able to keep.   A beautiful egret came to visit the canal behind our house this morning,

 Judy made up a great lunch and we headed to Cedar Point Environmental Park which is located on the Lemon Bay in Charlotte County.   This park boasts 115 acres of pine flatwoods, scrub, mangrove swamps, salt marshes and wetlands.  We hiked all the trails with the exception of one that was closed due to the American Bald Eagles that were nesting in one area of the park.

Along the way we heard something crashing through the underbrush.  Up on a little hill this armadillo appeared.  He stood there and watched us for a minute before taking off again.

One of the trials took us out to the edge of Lemon Bay.  There was a dock at the end of this trail where we sat for a few minutes looking over the water and singing "Sitting by the Dock of the Bay"....:)
We headed back down the trail where we met a lady that was clipping berries off some vines.  She said the vines were invasive and the berries were toxic to the birds.  She told us that the berries were called Rosary Berries.  She said the story was that the Spaniards forced the natives to string these into rosarys.   The juices would get on the fingers and would poison the natives.  She said the local birds would not eat them but the migratory birds would and would die.

As we continued our walk we saw this interesting tree with huge pods hanging.  Not sure what kind of tree it is.
As we were walking near the closed trail we were watching for the eagle nests.  We were able to see one huge nest with a mother eagle sitting the nest.  She just watched us as we watched her.  Pretty awesome.
After our walk we had lunch at the park before heading up the gulf coast.  Along the way we saw people cleaning up the dead fish along the shore. These are a result of the red tide situation happening on the water.  Here is a definition of what this is.

"The term “red tide” is most often used to describe a particular type of harmful algal bloom common to the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and is also called “Florida red tide”. This type of bloom is caused by a species of dinoflagellate known as Karenia brevis, and these blooms occur almost annually along Florida waters. The density of these organisms during a bloom can exceed tens of millions of cells per liter of seawater, and often discolor the water a deep reddish-brown hue.
The most conspicuous effects of red tides are the associated wildlife moralities among marine and coastal species of fish, birds, marine mammals and other organisms. In the case of Florida red tides, these moralities are caused by exposure to a potent neurotoxin produced naturally by Karenia brevis, called brevetoxin."

There were literally hundreds of dead fish.  Not a very pretty sight and pretty smelly.  We could still feel the effect of the red tide on our breathing.  We were all coughing even in the car as we drove along.  We headed back to the house where Judy and I took the kayaks down the canal.

 Tom and John headed out on the bicycles for a ride.   When Judy and I returned we hopped into the pool for our second swim of the day.

 We read that there was an earthquake in the south shore of BC.  I checked with my cousin Sharon to be sure they were okay.  They live at Sechelt which is just north of Vancouver.  She reports that all is well.  Twyla sent us a text on Christmas Day that they were having a great time on the slopes over the holidays and no more broken bones.  Thank God for watching over my loved ones.

What a great day of new experiences.  I saw wild life that I have never seen before outside of a zoo and I paddled a kayak for the first time.   Things can't get much better than that.

Until next time - safe travels.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Boxing Day

We had a quiet morning. Tom was the first person up and spent some time out by the pool practicing his guitar.

 Judy and I spent lots of time in the pool getting our exercise and trying to rid ourselves of some of yesterday's calorie intake.  John and Tom blew up the kayaks and took them down to the canal that runs behind our house. 

They headed out on the canal system to do some exploring.

This canal system runs for miles through this area.  The boys paddled for quite a way until they reached a fork in the canal.  They decided that was a good place to turn back for today.  If you paddled long enough you could get out to the Gulf or lost whichever came first.

After lunch we headed into Walmart to pick up more groceries and supplies.  In the great USA they do not have Boxing Day so we didn't see the tons of shoppers you would normally see in the malls in Canada on Dec 26th.  

We spent the afternoon playing a version of Trivial Pursuit that I have never seen before.  We were pretty pathetic at the game but it was good for lots of laughs.

We had a bit of rain later this afternoon which made the pool even warmer.  I think a swim this evening may be in the cards.  Until next time - safe travels.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

Merry Christmas Everyone.  We send our love to our children and grandchildren back in Canada  We hope everyone is spending this special day with those that they love.

We were up early this morning and into the salt water pool.  The water was lovely warm and refreshing.  We discovered that Santa had found us even though we had left Canada.  Tom looks pretty cool with his Corvette calendar that Santa had left for him.

After we powered down the great breakfast that John made we headed out on bicycles for over an hour.  We peddled around the subdivision and checked out lots of turtles along the way.  This big fellow was about a foot long,  He didn't appear to be afraid of us at all.  We walked right up to him and he just looked at us like we were interrupting his lunch.

We got back from the bike ride and then piled into the Jeep to head to the beach.  We needed to spend some time on the beach Christmas Day.  We were really surprised that there would be so many on the beach on Christmas Day.  I guess this is what you do in Florida instead of heading to Grandma's house for turkey.  Judy figured Grandma is likely at home cooking the turkey while the kids were out having a good time.  There were lots of Grandma's on the beach also...including us.

There was a red tide warning on the Gulf today.  There were lots of dead fish washed up on shore.  The spores in the air were so bad that many people on the beach were coughing, including us.  We walked for a way down the beach.  There were alot of people shelling and searching for sharks teeth.    We watched a pod of dolphins traveling along the coast.  Seeing the dolphins really made the day extra special.   When the coughing got too bad we turned around and headed back.

This evening we are spending time by the pool.  The weather here is much warmer in the evening than it was in DHS.  We can sit outside in the evening in comfort   We are smelling the turkey cooking and getting hungry.  I hope everyone has had a day that was as much fun as ours has been.

We see on the internet that there is a bad storm heading towards Toronto.  So glad we are not there.  The sand is much more enjoyable than snow in my books.

Until next time - safe travels.

Christmas Eve

December 24th John had the motorcycles and bikes all loaded into his trailer all ready to go.  Judy packed up half the stuff in their motor home, including the cat, for our trip down to Port Charlotte.  We had the trailer packed to the ceiling almost and the jeep was full.  We arrived in Port Charlotte, picked up the keys for our house and managed to find the place with no problem.  The house is great.
On the right side of the house is a very large master bedroom, walk in closet and a huge bathroom that opens directly onto the patio.  On the left side of the house are three more bedrooms, one of which opens onto the patio and another bathroom.  In the middle is lovely large livingroom, dining room and kitchen.  The pool area has a fully screened lanai.

The back yard slopes down to a canal.  We have not seen any alligators in the canal yet but John and Judy plan on using their blow up kayaks in there soon.  They are going to check out the wild life for us.
After we arrived and got everything unpacked Judy and I headed to Winn Dixie to stock up on groceries and to get our turkey for Christmas Day.  

We spent a lovely evening enjoying the patio and the company of our friends.

More to follow.

Early Christmas Dinner

On December 23rd we were leaving for Florida for our Christmas holidays.  This year is the first Christmas that Stuart has had in Canada for several years and the very first Canadian Christmas for Heajin.  To help them celebrate Tom and I headed up to their place on December 22nd.   Unfortunately Jennifer had to work and was not able to join us.  She is planning on going to visit Stu and Heajin over the holidays.  Here Heajin is busy peeling the potatoes for dinner.  The turkey is in the oven and smells pretty good.

Dinner was excellent and we all ate far too much.  So much for the diet.

Both Jennifer and Heajin have their birthdays on December 25th.  I made a birthday cake for the girls.  Hopefully there will still be some left when Jen gets there.   Christmas gifts were exchanged and we played some darts and some cribbage.

 It was a very nice evening.  Thanks guys.  Now it is time to finish packing and get ready for the holidays.  We have some snow on the ground now.  Not much but looking forward to the warm weather in Florida.

December 23rd we grabbed a cab for the airport.  The flight down, thanks to Westjet, was very smooth.  John and Judy were at the Orlando International waiting when we arrived.  We piled into the jeep and headed down to Winter Haven for the night.

More to follow.

Monday, 10 December 2012

The Hunt for the Perfect Tree

On Sunday Jennifer and her boyfriend, Adam drove up from Niagara region and we all met at Stu and Heajin's place.  We are on the hunt for the perfect Christmas Tree for Stu and Heajin's apartment.  We have passed down all of our decorations to them so they are all ready to get on the search.  We headed up to Drysdale's Tree Farm and WOW.  There must have been 500 vehicles in the parking lot.  They had tractors pulling hay wagons, horses pulling hay wagons, dogs pulling carts, stuff for sale, Santa, food stands, music, you name it and it was there.  What a booming business they were doing.  

We rode a wagon out into the fields of trees and then walked around searching for that elusive perfect tree.

But we found it and with the help of Stu's dogs and our trusty hatchet we managed to drop it in its tracks.  Actually after being hacked at for about 15 mins it finally just gave up and fell over.

We headed back to Stu and Heajin's where our decorations found a good home. 

This is Heajin's first Canadian Christmas and we hope that she enjoyed her day.  We are glad that they will carry on the tradition of going for their own tree.   This was something that we have done with Stu and Jen for the past twenty years.  When they  would young they used to whine about going.  It was too cold or they were too tired or just too.  But we always dragged them out.  When they got older they would call and ask us to wait until they got home before we went for the tree.  Now Stuart and Heajin can carry on the tradition and maybe one day with their children.

Hope everyone has done all their shopping and are ready to relax and enjoy the lead up to the big day.   

13 more sleeps to Florida.

Until next time - safe travels.