Friday, 27 December 2013

Another Day in the Sunshine

We have been here for two weeks now and the time is flying by.  There has been an Ice Cream Social,  a Christmas Eve gathering with a very talented entertainer and a dinner theatre on Christmas Day in Fort Meyers.   We were on a bus at 7:45 am Christmas Day to take a three hour tour to Fort Meyers where we had a really great buffet lunch and watched a Christmas Show at the Broadway Palm Theatre. .  We had excellent seats one row back from centre stage.   I borrowed this picture from John as my camera battery died just as we arrived at the show.

Tom, Cheryl & Judy
After the long ride home again we called and talked to all the kids and grandkids.  It was great to have a good chat with everyone.

Today we headed over to the Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland.  This is a 1267 acre wilderness that is home to the Polk's nature Discovery Centre as well as miles of nature trails.  A beautiful spot with hundreds a majestic old oak trees that are hung with Spanish Moss.  They are incredible.  Reminds me of Gone With The Wind.

We saw lots of wildlife in the Reserve.  Some of it not so wild.  This is John & Judy, along with another Ontario couple Bill & Karen.  Bill  & Karen follow John's blog and when he had nothing but praise for this resort they decided to come down here and stay for a week of their vacation.

This reserve is a great spot to see a wide variety of birds.
Roseatte Spoonbill

Great Egret

Great Blue Heron

Anhinga drying his wings

Not sure - might be a Ibis


We also had alligators, turtles and armadillos.
A Young Alligator

Three Softshell Turtles

Armadillo having lunch

Armadillo heading north
A great day in the wild.  Until next time safe travels.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Manatee Viewing Center - Tampa

We are all settled into the Rainbow RV Resort in Frostproof, Florida.  The weather has been a bit cool but not like at home and there is NO SNOW.  This is the view from our picture window. That is the pond where Fred the alligator lives.  We still haven't seen him but we have seen pictures.  He does exist.
 Tom, John and Judy taking a break from all our hard work of being retired (or semi-retired in Tom's case)
Yesterday we headed into Tampa to check out the closest Costco to us.  Not nearly as convenient as at home but there is no shortage of places to shop near Frostproof.  After shopping we went to the Manatee Viewing Center at the Big Ben Power Station.

The power station takes the salt water to cool the plant.  This water is cleaned and warmed and pumped back into the bay.  When the Tampa Bay gets too cool the manatee move into the channel.  The manatee only thrive in warm water so this a refuge for them in the winter months.  There were sure lots of them for us to watch.
 Here is a mother and little one.
This big fellow was just resting in the shallows.  All the little fish were nibbling on his side cleaning off the dry shin I assume.

The sign says "if you love me, don't feed me or touch me"  That is for the manatee - not Tom.

I believe these are black fin sharks.  They looked to be about 3 feet long.  There was a large school of them.  This picture is for Cam (Taylor's boyfriend).  He would have fun with these big guys!!

Since we arrived we have been to the gym and the pool regularly.  Need to get back into shape after having a long break from the exercise routine since my surgery.  Feels good to be active again.  

Until next time - safe travels.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

We Have Arrived

We arrived at Rainbow RV Resort in Frostproof, Florida on Thursday afternoon.   Since then we have spent many hours getting organized and cleaned up after our 1500 mile (2400 km) journey from the Great White North.   We have been so busy that I have not even managed to get my camera out and take any pictures.  So I have borrowed a couple pictures from John's blog (Thank you Mr. Hollinger).

We arrived with a very dirty truck and rig.  Tara and Big Mo are not very happy or should I say Tom is not very happy to have dirty equipment.  John and Judy were there to welcome us and directed us to our spot.

 We got unhooked and set up.  But that was about as much as we wanted to do on Thursday.   We headed over to the Hollinger's RV for a relaxing beverage and a great Lasagne dinner.  It was nice not to have to worry about finding a grocery store and make dinner tonight.  We are pretty exhausted and made an early night of it.

Friday Tom and John got our internet and phones up and running.  I spent the day unpacking and getting everything organized in the cupboards and closets.  Tom got Big Mo all washed and shining again.  We headed into Winter Haven to look around and to pick up a  few supplies.  John and Judy came over for happy hour and stayed for dinner.

Saturday we continue our settling in.  Tom headed up on to the roof of the 5th this morning to get it cleaned up.  When he finished up top he started on the sides.  John came over and gave him a hand with the drying.  By the time they got done she was sparkling.

The inside of the 5th has lots of wood finish.  I used Murphy's Oil to clean all the window blinds and the woodwork on the main floor.  Washed windows and cupboard windows, vacuumed , etc. etc.  Lots of dust had accumulated since I gave her a thorough cleaning.

Judy and I headed for the pool for a swim while the boys worked on getting the electronics set up.  Will be nice to get the tv, dvd, tuner, etc. all working properly.  That is the hard part of having two homes.  Moving stuff from one to the other and having to set up everything all over again.  Maybe one day we will be full timers and not have to go through this again.

The park is really beautiful.  The grounds are very well maintained, the sites are really large and the people are friendly.  We even have a great view from our picture window of the pond on the next street over.  Water, palm trees,.... just like being at the beach.  Oh yeah - there is an alligator in that pond.  His name is Fred.  Will see if I can get a picture of him for my blog.  Just hope he doesn't wander over to my yard!!

Tomorrow is another day.   Hope to get all the cleaning and organizing finished tomorrow so we can relax and start to enjoy this great weather.

Until next time - safe travels.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Almost There

We got on the road early this morning even with a heavy frost on the trees, grass and windshield. It was actually very pretty.   As the day warmed up and we got farther south the frost disappeared. We did get caught in a traffic jam south of Atlanta, Georgia.  There was an accident and the traffic was backed up for miles.  We finally arrived at Lake Park KOA at 6:00 pm.  Lake Park is just south of Valdosta, Georgia and very close to the Georgia/Florida border.

Sites and Kabins on LakeLake ViewView from the back of the campground

It is a pretty park from what we were able to see on the way in.  Will be able to check it out better in the morning.  They did put us on a 75' concrete pad so lots of room and easy hook up, including free wifi and cable tv.  It came highly recommended and might be a spot to stop on our way north again.

We set up, unhooked and headed over the Winn Dixie to pick up a few things for dinner.  We are tired of restaurant food after being on the road for the past couple of days.  An early night tonight and hopefully a short and uneventful drive tomorrow to the final destination.

Until next time - safe travels.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

On Our Way South

We left home on Sunday morning to head to Tom's cousins, Rodger & Terry's.  Took a giant load of important stuff to stock up the 5th for our trip south.  We got her all loaded, hooked up and spent the night with Rodger & Terry.  Again our many thanks to them for allowing us to store our 5th with them over the summer and for all the help and advise from the pro 5th wheel guy (Rodger).

We got up Monday morning to an inch of snow on the ground.  But being hardy Canadians we hopped into the truck and headed out anyway.  About two hours down the 401 someone motioned us that we had a problem.  A wheel on the 5th is smoking.  We pulled into Chatham to Longwood's RV Centre.  A huge shout out and thank you to the great people there.  What service!!  They checked her over in the freezing cold and horrible wind.  They advised there was a belt on a couple of tires that were ready to let go.  They had a shop full and were not able to change the tires for us but called around and found someone that could.

The lady (Beth) got in her truck and lead us across Chatham and headed us in the right direction to Cottingham's in Tilbury.  The people at Longwood's would not take a penny for all their time and help. Anyone needing service in that area check them out.  

Longwood's R.V. Centre

 Cottingham's got our new tires installed and had us on our way within a couple of hours.  Another great service center.  This seriously put us behind both in time and cash. A strong head wind slowed us down also and really sucked up the diesel fuel.  The border crossing was quick.  They did go into the trailer but only for a minute and sent us packing.  We arrived in Lima, Ohio at about 8 pm and booked into the Holiday Inn for the night.

Tues am we were up early and had a bright and sunny drive all the way to Lenoir City, TN, which is just south of Knoxville.   No snow here but still too cool to sleep in the 5th.  It is the Hampton Inn tonight.  

There was a fair amount of snow most of the way through Kentucky. The highway was wet but not slippery.  Glad we stopped when we did last night by the looks of the snow along the edge of the highway.  They must have received a fair dump over night last night.  Thankfully today it is all melting and we were able to motor on without any problem.

Tired but happy to be more than half way there.  Florida here we come.  You had better be ready!!

Saturday, 2 November 2013

November is Upon Us

Not sure where the time has gone but it continues to fly by.  We should have been on our way south yesterday along with the Hollinger's but we will be delayed for another month.  I know that they will have the park all scouted out by the time we get there and have a whole list of fun things to do.

Halloween on the Hill was warm but rainy and very windy.  I didn't think we would have many kids around this year due to the weather but we had about 50-60 arrive at the door.  All the kids are so polite it refreshes our optimism for the future.  We do have lots of chocolate left over but it went into a baggie and into the deep freeze Friday am to take away the temptation.

My Grands had lots of fun at their community Halloween celebration.
Taylor, Karmen & Jake
 Even Mom got into the act.  They do have great times out there in rural Alberta.

Taylor and Twyla

Hope you all had fun on Halloween.  Whether you were handing out goodies to the kids or participating in your own celebrations.

The cold weather is on its way.  At least we have not had any snow yet.  Western Canada has had snow and are expecting a bunch more this weekend.  We are just having our typical southern Ontario rainy crappy weather.  For all those that are on their way south or getting ready to head out  - Keep warm and Keep safe.

Until next time - safe travels.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Goodbye Dear Friend

Today we said goodbye for our dear friend Ruth Kelly.  She passed away last Monday.  Last April  they found a mass in her pancreas plus other cancer sights.  She fought a good fight but lost.

In July  when were camping at Emily Park with the Hollinger's we took a drive up to visit with Ruth and Guy. She had taken radiation for tumours located in her brain and behind her eye.  She had lost 50 pounds and her hair.  She didn't want company, she was easily tired out.  But I promised that we would not stay long and we really wanted to come over.  She met us with that big smile she always had.  We knew at that time that we were saying goodbye.  She refused chemo treatments for the pancreas at is was not going to help.  She went home.  The last I heard from her was a couple of weeks ago.  We knew the call was coming but it was still a shock.

They had a Celebration of her Life today.  The place was packed which was a testament to how many lives she had touched.  How many people had been on the receiving end of the big smile she always had on her face.

I had only really gotten to know her over the past ten or fifteen years.  Tom had known her for probably forty years.  He and Guy worked together back in the old Victoria & Grey Trust years.

John & Judy Hollinger came to our house and we drove to Oakwood together. Our friends Ron and Pat MacKenzie and John and Alice Taylor were also there.  All associated through Victoria & Grey.  

Rest in Peace Ruth.  We are going to miss you.  Our prayers go out to Guy who is going to be so totally lost without his right hand girl.  And to their children and grandchildren.  Until we meet again!!

Friday, 20 September 2013

Bionic Woman Returns

It is over and I am home.  New hip has been put into place and now it is just into recovery mode. 

If you have never seen what the parts look like that they install see below.  Pretty cool.

Components of a Hip ReplacementIf I keep this up I will be worth more in spare parts than I am now...I hear titanium is pretty expensive. 

But I am glad it is over.  I have both a daily nurse to change the dressing and eight physio therapist visits all under OHIP.  Love Canada!! 

Thanks to everyone who called, emailed and posted on facebook for sending all your warm wishes.  Nice to know that there are so many out there that care.  Love you all.

Until next time - safe travels.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Hot Hot Hot

What do you do when the temperature is in the 30's on a beautiful September day?  You hop in the vette, put the top down and go for a cruise.  And that is what we did yesterday.  We headed up to Orillia to visit with our friends Ron and Pat MacKenzie.
 What a beautiful day for a drive.  We took the back roads as far as Barrie to enjoy the sunshine and the scenery.  As we got into the outskirts of Barrie it started to rain a bit.  In a convertible if you drive fast enough the rain never gets inside the car.  But we had to stop at a light and a police car pulled up beside us.  He lowered his window and said " I can't even counsel you to drive fast enough to keep under the rain.  But if you really want to speed up go into OPP territory".  He laughed and said "have a nice day".  He was a Barrie officer.  But rain stopped and the sun came out again and made for a great tour.  Pat and Ron invited us to stay for dinner with them.  We had a nice visit, a nice dinner and even though it was dark when we headed for home we drove down the 400 with the top down and it was quite warm. 

A birthday shout out yesterday to our friend John Hollinger who celebrated his 61st big one.  And a shout out to your friend John Taylor who will be 62 tomorrow.  Boy we are all getting up there!!  We will all be ready for the mail box money soon.

Yesterday was also the anniversary of the horrendous acts of terrorism in the USA.   I remember how terrified we all were at work.  Our office was on the 35th floor of an office tower with a direct view of Lake Ontario, downtown Toronto.  They kept playing the scenes over and over on the tv in the lunch room.  One plane was missing and they keep reporting that they did not know where it was headed.  We all kept watching to see if it was going to come across that lake right at us as we were in the heart of the financial district.  I sent all my staff home early that morning as they were all traumatized.  Tom was in Turkey on vacation when this all happened.  I was so afraid that he would not make it home safely.  We just kept watching the horror on the news.  So many lost, so sad, so senseless.  We will not forget!!!

Today I am busy getting the house cleaned and the laundry done.  Have to be at the hospital at 6 am tomorrow for my 8 am surgery.  A new hip this time.  Friday the 13th is supposed to be lucky I have been told.  Looking forward to having this one done and over with so I can get on with life.  Tom did such a good job being Florence Nightingale last time I figured I would hire him again this time.  But he refuses to shave his legs!!! 

Will catch up to you on the flip side.  Until next time  - safe travels.


Friday, 6 September 2013

Grundy Provincial Park

Thursday Aug 29th we arrived at Grundy Provincial Park after leaving Restoule.  It was 102 km from one park to the next and it was over a highway that resembled a roller coaster.  But we arrived to find that our site was a very large pull through and it was a perfect spot.  We got set up and walked around the area to see the sites.  We are walking distance to Gurd Lake so we can just carry the kayaks down to the beach.

  There are several small lakes within the park.  Three of which surround the area in which we are camped.  The Gurd, The Gut and The Grundy. The lakes here are not that large but they are beautiful with all the Pre-Cambrian Shield Rock.

Friday we headed out on to Gurd Lake for a paddle.  We saw a pair of swan with a baby across the lake. We were able to get quite close before they swam into the reeds to hide.  Normally they have several babies but this pair only had the one. Of course I didn't have my camera so had to borrow this picture off the internet.  But they loved just like this.
Friday evening our son Stuart and his wife Heajin arrived and got set up.  They are camped at an area where there is a dog beach and exercise area.  They have brought their two labs with them.  When they got set up they came over and had dinner with us and a camp fire.

Saturday we headed over to Grundy Lake for a paddle.
Stu, Heajin and the two dogs heading out on the lake.

I have never seen a baby Loon before.  Another first.
We stopped for lunch at a pretty spot.

When we finished paddling Grundy Lake Stu & Heajin headed back to their site.  Tom and I decided to try to navigate a small river that ran between Grundy and Gut Lakes.  We had one carry over and a couple of spots that we had to get out and drag our kayaks through but we made it.  Gut Lake is very pretty.  We saw some cliff jumpers plus at the end of the lake a natural rock dam.  It was a nice day on the water.  Later we headed over to Stu's camp site for some bocci ball.   Heajin is Korean and Stu lived in Korea for several years.  So we enjoyed a Korean theme dinner followed by camp fire.

Sunday was a day for hiking.  The Gut Lake Trail is 2.5 km rated moderate to difficult through the rugged rock of the Pre-Cambrian Sheild.  Another great hike.

We stopped on this rock for lunch part way through the hike.
Stu & Heajin came to our site for more bocci ball and dinner in the evening.

Stu and Heajin were leaving on Monday but figured they would stay and enjoy most of the day before heading home.  The morning turned out bright and sunny but by the time they got their stuff packed up it was 2 pm and the sky was clouded over.  They decided not to delay their departure and headed off.  Tom and I headed out to do another hike on the Swan Lake Trail.  It is only 1.5 km but considered moderate to difficult.
They are building a new look out here.  The trail traversed the huge rock in the background.

Swan Lake.  No fishing or canoeing allowed on these little lakes.
We drove out to Pakeshkag Lake.  It is a narrow road that runs through the bush and rock to this lake.  There is no exit, just to the lake and then back again.  Nothing there but this remote lake.  We looked around and drove back to the camp site.  

Tuesday we got up early and carried the kayaks down to Gurd Lake for one more paddle before we packed up to head home.  The swans where out again for our viewing.  They are so beautiful. 
A painted turtle sat on his log and let me float to within a foot of him.  He never moved.

Our camping is over.  We packed up and headed to Carlisle to Terry & Rodger's.  They had just returned from the Milton Steam Engine Show.  Rodger has several antique steam engines that he loves to display.  One that he has is a Rumely similar to the one below

We received a couple of items of sad news.   Our friends John and Alice Taylor let us know that Alice's Mom passed last Sunday.  We will be heading to Peterborough on Saturday for her memorial.  And our friend Pat McKenzie let us know that her sister Bev had passed away last week.  Pat lost her brother Peter just last year.  It has been a pretty rough time for her.   We send our condolences to both families.  Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this sad time.

We are home now.  Time to get ready for my next surgery on the 13th.  Can't wait to get it over with.  We have had a great summer.  Purchased our kayaks which we made good use of.  Had some great hikes.  Had a chance to spend some quality time in the 5er to give us a taste of what it will be like to be a full timer.  All in all it was a good time.  Sad that summer is over so quickly.

Until next time - safe travels.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Restoule Provincial Park

On August 23rd we headed north to Restoule.  From home to the park is 322 km.  We arrived at the park to find that the big rig friendly site we had booked was not big enough to hold our 5er.  We dragged poor Tara back to a spot where we could park and walked around looking for a site that would accommodate our rig.  Even the one we found was not easy for us to get into but we managed.

Restoule is a really beautiful park.  There are two lakes that we could access, the Restoule Lake and the
Stormy Lake.  And we paddled them both.  There are also four hiking trails within the park.  We hiked the three longest ones.

Saturday we paddled the Restoule Lake.  It is big!!  We worked our way west for over two hours before heading to the north shore where we chatted to a lady in a kayak.  She told us that for the past couple of days the rollers were so high on the water that she had been unable to paddle. Glad our day had turned out to be pretty calm.   On the way back we stopped in the lee of an island and had lunch in the kayaks.   Another two hours back made for a great day on the water.

Tom is taking a break before we finish our trip back to the park.  

On Sunday we hiked two of the trails.  A lot of birch trees were down in this area.

A pretty spot along the trail.

Sunday night it started to rain and rained most of the day on Monday.  So we took a drive into North Bay for something to do.  Not much to see there.  If you have never been to North Bay you are not missing much.  Couldn't wait to get back to the park. We stopped to buy fire wood from a 90 year old fellow near the village of Restoule.  He is a war veteran and had some stories to tell.  We had a nice chat with him before heading back into the park.  
Bambi and his Mom were waiting at the park gate for us.
Tues we headed up the Fire Tower Trail.  It is a 7 km hike up some pretty rough territory. 
This first little board-walk over a lovely marsh area looked like it was going to be easy.  But from there on it was much more difficult.  We got to the spot where you could go on up to the tower or take the trail down.  We met a couple at this point and they told us the last part up was very steep.  The lady kept looking at the scar on my knee and repeating how difficult it was.  I don't think she figured us old farts would make it.

A rest stop with a view looking down on Stormy Lake 

We made it to the tower.  

Tom is checking for cell service....still none.

Amber Lake - a spot along the trail on the way down
What a beautiful hike.   I am 3 months with my new knee.  I am so happy to be able to do this again.  I am busy wearing out the new parts but quality of life for me includes hiking.  Love to hike.

The next day we paddled the Stormy Lake.
Check out the fire tower at the top of the hills.  That is where we hiked!!  A long way up.

Still looking for cell service!!

The cliffs on Stormy Lake.  Beautiful.
It was a great week, even with a day of rain.  We packed up on Thursday Aug 29th and headed west to our next stop Grundy Provincial Park.  Details to follow.