Saturday, December 29, 2012

Bahamas – Another Ho Hum Week in Paradise  

Pretty enough to be a post card picture
Clouds are perfect

December 15 -21, 2012

Monday went to scuba refresher with Grand Bahama Scuba (Fred and Melinda). It was fun and it all came right back to me. Just wasn't sure after a year, but looks like the old brain is still working. I talked with Fred about his little scuba school and with all the equipment (many sets of diving gear, space rental, 3 boats he has, air tank compressor) his investment is over $1M. That is amazing to think about. John couldn't go because he just can't breath well enough now to snorkel or scuba. He did lots of scuba in his late teens, so at least he hasn't missed out totally on the underwater. He kindly took shuttle and did our grocery shopping. Weird how the store has things one week, but not the next even when it was fully stocked.

Went to Marketplace and had a gyro for lunch. So delish I could eat one every day. Walked around and then went to Casino. No cruise ships in so it was extremely quiet in there. Weird to see the poor workers standing behind their game tables with nothing to do but stand there. Played a few slot machines, lost our money and left. Back at the resort and walked on the beach, watched the fantastic sunset. Met a lady who said the sunset reminded her of one she had seen with her dad over 50 years ago. It brought back so many memories for her and tears. I went over and hugged her and said that we never do forget our dear parents. She thanked me for the hug and said it meant so much to her.   Made us both feel good.
Beautiful Bahama Sunset

Spent part of day on the beach, in and out of the water, reading, had a beer. A beautiful day, calm water, just a few clouds. At 2:30 I was picked up for my scuba dive. Went out with about 8 other divers about one mile off shore to Silver Reef.   First time I scubaed with a group, but our dive master was great and we had two of their team along watching over us.  My greatest fear is being lost or left, so I'm careful about the company I scuba with.  I watched that movie where the two divers were left behind and eaten by sharks.  It was horrible so I'm probably lucky that I will even go out.  What a neat reef. So many beautiful fish. Fred said there are over 400 types of fish there. I got to hold a big sea cucumber, and a brittle star fish. Very good time and I had lots of fun. 

Gena with a Sea Cucumber
Lots of fish
 Woke up Thursday at 6:45 a.m. and wonder what is wrong with me being up so early.  It is probably that I don't stay up as late as I did before (1:00 or 2:00 a.m.).  Spent half day on the beach, finished my book. We had four books we'd read and gave them to some people we met. That will cut down on our return luggage. Went to office and picked up my scuba pictures on a thumb drive from yesterday's dive.

12/21/12 (Mayan end of world day) woke up to howling wind at 7:00 a.m. and a bit later got some pelting rain. Hope we get through the day and see the sunrise tomorrow. Took a walk on the beach, took a few more pictures and then came back to the room. Spent the rest of the day here due to the high wind. Read and took a nap.

I've been surprised at how little stuff a person can live with. I took one small suitcase and a carry on (computer, of course, and Rx, toiletries) and managed to do fine for four weeks. I actually didn't even wear all the clothes I took. Two pairs of shoes, tennis and flip flops unbelievable. Of course, we were in a tropical place and made up our minds that we were not going to get dressed up.   How simple.

I finally got this loaded onto my computer on Saturday, Dec. 29th.  Had all kinds of connection issues.  We're at the library in Ormond Beach to look up stuff and get this posted.  It is time to post my new blog today too.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bahamas - Week 3

Bahamas   -   Week  3

12/8/12 12/14/12

Still Rock'in Out
Grand Lucayan porch

Saturday night we went to Taino Beach with Curtis and Shelby for the local fish fry. This was the first time I ever had a deep fried whole fish and it was served with typical Bahamian rice and peas, and cole slaw. I'm picky about cole slaw and I think theirs was a little bit better than mine. I had a Kalik beer, Curtis had a Sands beer, both are brewed in the Bahamas and quite good. It was fun to sit outside at tables on the beach and talk. I don't think I realized that when you are away from home you don't have friends. You have service people to talk to, but usually not about normal, life things. It was a pleasure to sit and laugh and have fun with our new friends.

Saturday Night Fish Fry
w/our CS friends, Curtis & Shelby
Taino Beach

John and I came back to the room and played a game of Gin. I brought cards with us and decided that we could learn some new card games and watch a little less of night time TV. I started out so strong, but then John got the hang of it and it was all over. We used to play cards together a lot, so it is fun to get back to doing this.

Sleepy Sunday. Spent a few hours at the beach. I managed to get into the cold pool for the first time and it was OK after submersion.  Hot tub. A beer for me, rum and Coke for John.  We took a walk down the beach, visited with several couples, and then stopped at a little beach-side hut and got a fresh coconut with its coconut water and rum. Not my favorite, but fun to have a drink from a real coconut. Went back to get a rum and coke, and the guy, Anton, was out of rum and had to go to the store (hard to believe). So he took off and was back in about 15 minutes. Took some fun pictures and had a good time sitting on the beach drinking rum. What's not to like about that. 

I'm one cool jelly coconut
Sip slowly, I'm full of rum 

Monday, shuttle to the store day. Need milk and may have to make a trip just for that. Sure makes one appreciate having a car and just going to the store. I made pancakes this morning and they tasted so good. I didn't want to buy syrup, so got some cinnamon and made the old favorite cinnamon sugar. Yum.

On Tuesday we got cleaned up and were going to hop the shuttle and John's back went out on him. We had just gone down our 3 flights of stairs. He stood on walkway a few minutes, slowly turned around the luckily was able to get up the stairs slowly. Thank goodness because I sure couldn't carry him. Put him to bed with an Advil. He rested awhile then got up and moved around slow the rest of the day. Bedtime another Advil and a good night's sleep.

John got up and said he felt alright. Not ready to run a marathon, but much better. This aging can be unpredictable. I twisted my knee somehow (only turned the wrong way I think). You never know what part of the body is going to act up next. We just keep plugging along. There are days when all is well and you sure appreciate the body. It is 12/12/12, so we're hoping to make it through the day.  Took shuttle to Lucaya Marketplace, looked around, ate lunch, John bought my Christmas present.  Also tried the famous Bahamian dessert, Guava Duff.  A sort of course, heavy cake that has Guava in dough, that is topped with a sweet, whipped, fluff that has guava in it.  I could not taste any guava or anything, just sweet.  Heavy cake, too sweet, so glad I tried it, but I'll pass next time.  I don't think we are into Bahamian food at all.  Walked over to the big hotel downtown, Grand Lucayan, to look around.  What a beautiful hotel and at around $200 a night it should be.
Lobby Grand Lucayan
Palm Trees

It pretty much rained all day long Thursday. Hard, tropical rain. It stopped for awhile and John and I went down to the beach to read. Rained again but we were under a palapa, so we waited it out. Went into the ocean, swam around a bit and did some snorkeling. Visited with some people on the beach including a kite surfer. Went into hot tub and it was the first time we had more than a total of 4 people in there. It was a full house and we had fun visiting. Decided today that I better go scuba diving while here, so sent an e-mail to a dive shop to set something up.

Enjoyed day at beach and pool.  Pool is very cold, but I've managed to get in it twice.  Ocean is much warmer than the pool.  Nice to relax, tan, read, swim.

In the pool
Under the water fall
Went to beach at 11:30 p.m. for an hour to look at the meteors.  Saw lots of stars, but I guess the show will start later.  We'll see if we can get up at 2:00 a.m.??
Learned today of the shooting and deaths of so many people.  This breaks my heart when I think of those little children.  Crazy times we live in and I won't go on and on - though I could.  God Bless all the families involved.
The sun sets on a sad day

This somehow got pretty long – with not much activity. John's back is better, my knee is better so we'll just keep on keeping on.

*  I thought this was interesting since I had not had "coconut water" before and the guy referred to a jelly coconut that I'd never heard if you care, see below.

The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which, botanically, is a drupe, not a nut. The spelling cocoanut is an archaic form of the word.[3] The term is derived from 16th century Portuguese and Spanish cocos, meaning "grinning face", from the three small holes on the coconut shell that resemble human facial features.

Found throughout the tropic and subtropic area, the coconut is known for its great versatility as seen in the many domestic, commercial, and industrial uses of its different parts. Coconuts are part of the daily diet of many people. Coconuts are different from any other fruits because they contain a large quantity of "water" and when immature they are known as tender-nuts or jelly-nuts and may be harvested for drinking. When mature they still contain some water and can be used as seednuts or processed to give oil from the kernel, charcoal from the hard shell and coir from the fibrous husk. The endosperm is initially in its nuclear phase suspended within the coconut water. As development continues, cellular layers of endosperm deposit along the walls of the coconut, becoming the edible coconut "flesh".[4] When dried, the coconut flesh is called copra. The oil and milk derived from it are commonly used in cooking and frying; coconut oil is also widely used in soaps and cosmetics. The clear liquid coconut water within is a refreshing drink. The husks and leaves can be used as material to make a variety of products for furnishing and decorating. It also has cultural and religious significance in many societies that use it.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Bahamas continued

John & Gena
Freeport, Grand Bahamas

12/2/12 - 12/7/12

Not much going on. It is quiet here and we're staying pretty close to “home”. Cabs cost a fortune, so not lots of running around. They do have a Monday shuttle to the grocery store. We went and restocked. Again, spent over $100 for the week.

Tuesday, we used our “time share presentation” (2 hrs. of listening to someone try to talk you into buying a time share here) gift – a choice of certain activities – and went on the glass bottom boat tour. It appeared to be calm water, but once we got out past the breakwater, to open water, it was rough. John wasn't feeling too hot, and I was OK up until the very end when I was starting to feel it.  It think this "bad stomach feeling" comes with age, because we were never bothered before.  Saw an old sunken 50 foot yacht, along with an old 200 foot cargo ship they purposefully sank for fish habitat.  It was in 100 feet of water and I really couldn't even see anything but a shadow. Saw and fed some fish. Boated around the marina and saw some million dollar homes.

Look at that sky
The Bahamas has the most unbelievable clouds
Thursday, went to Paradise Cove, about 45 minutes from our resort. I snorkeled there at Deadman's Reef, but really didn't see anything but some pretty ordinary fish. Others there saw some type of ray and a turtle. I was sad I didn't see the turtle. John read and had a Bahama Mama. After snorkeling not much to do, so we took their transportation back.

I snorkeled out to the reef

Thursday night we had a neat thunderstorm with lightening. I tried to take some pictures, but my camera isn't good enough to have fast shutter speed, so no success. Lightening knocked out lights out at the resort, but John had two flashlights so we were fine (my prepared Eagle Scout).   I was curious if it would be a day before they got the power back, but it was just about 20 minutes and the light came on. That made me happy.

Curtis and Shelby, Couch Surfers that I'd been communicating with on the Island, took us to Butler's Market Friday afternoon. It was great because we got out of the store without spending over $100.00 (unusual). We just replenished some stuff since we'd just been to the store on Monday, but it was fun to talk to people and see a new store.  We may go to a fish fry with them Saturday night. 

Besides the above, we've been reading (both have finished a book), hot tub, beach, naps, eating, walking on the beach. I think we're getting lazy.

We'll try to have some adventures to report next week. Who knows?  Signing off......

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Palm trees and
Christmas tree

11/24 - 12/1/12

Darn, had to get up early, 6:00 a.m. , check out and drive over to car park lot by the airport. Hopped on the shuttle and to the airport around 8:15. The airline didn't even have anyone there until around 10:00, so we just sat and watched the clock. Flight to Nassau was at 12:30 p.m., but since we're talking "Bahama Time" we were probably an hour late. Land, get bags, go through immigration and then go through bag check. It was hysterical as the line we got in they just passed every single person through, no questions, no looking in bags, nothing.

Now we try to figure out where to go to get to the Freeport plane. We had to go outside, get a cab ($6 for a 2-minute ride, but we sure couldn't walk it due to construction which seems typical of most airports) and drive over to the departure terminal and the time was 3:07, with our plane boarding at 3:15, great, just great. Zoomed to the curb, guy took our luggage, checked in and we were luckily on time, but now for the plane boarding at 3:15 p.m., it finally started boarding around 4:00. Again, I remind myself this is the Bahamas, chill out, kick back.

We've been to the Bahamas before and it is good to take some deep breaths and remember this is not our fast, totally efficient, society in America. It takes me a few days here, and also in Mexico, to relax and just not worry about time is just a word, so relax and go with the flow. I think a super type A person could go crazy here. When I think that John and I are at least B- types, we usually adjust pretty well.
View from our first room
On the marina/canal

Our typical day:

Get up around 10:00
coffee and reading on patio
eat a little breakfast
internet time
shower, dress
walk on the beach/shuttle to town/snorkel
visit with people we meet
4-6 happy hour
eat dinner
watch a TV show
bathing suits on and hit hot tub

Monday we took resort shuttle to the grocery store. I should have had some heart medicine with me because the sticker shock almost took me down. Regular size bag of Tostitos was around $5.45; the regular size Rice Krispies that I got was $7.99. It was amazing and I quickly realized that I could not afford to live on an island. A small bag of M&Ms is $1.50, so no candy for this girl, and not a lot of junk food. With the price of food, transportation and then a 35% tax for importing added, you can see that the prices really do go up. No sales tax thank goodness. We bought pretty basic stuff for a week and our bill was around $130.00 for the two of us for a week's worth of food. Luckily, rum is very reasonable.
Port Lucaya - Marketplace

Thursday, we took the shuttle into Port Lucaya to the Marketplace. Has some touristy stores, harbor, restaurants. We looked around and had lunch. I'm not big on Bahamian food, so I had a Greek gyro and it was the best one I ever had. Also tried a Bahamian beer, Sands, and it was tasty. All the people we talk to from Canada and U.S. are crazy for conch, a typical island food. When we were here before, staying at an all-inclusive, it seems like they served conch constantly and we did not like it. It was like chewing rubber bands. Maybe they just didn't cook it right. It has to be pounded to be tenderized, sort of like abalone (that we do like). I might be brave and give it another try maybe in fritter form, or breaded and deep fried.

Was a bit windy and overcast today. I was going to snorkel, but the waves were a bit rough due to the wind. This was the first day the water was not almost glass smooth. I will try to go tomorrow. Cooked a wonderful pot roast with onions and carrots all day long. Also made scalloped potatoes. Oh the meal tasted like heaven. Nice to make a homey, good meal like that every once in awhile. At 7:00 p.m. met up with two ladies staying here and we played Hearts in the bar area. It was fun and we didn't even keep score. 
Beautiful Bahama Sunset

 Saturday, 8:53 a.m. the phone rings. I woke up to answer it after several rings. No one there. Now why is my phone ringing? Why is it ringing at 8:53? This is irritating (I went to bed after 1:00 a.m.). This happens at these resorts. In Orlando we got a call every morning before 9:00 to let us know what the daily activities were. We did not care. Oh well, life goes on, and I'm up for the day.

Maybe I'll get to bed earlier. Oh yes, I will. We are going to the time share presentation. We went to one in Orlando, the time share was only $99,999. We didn't buy one, but got free breakfast and $50. Tomorrow we get breakfast, $40.00, 2 bottles of rum and 4 t-shirts, not bad for 90 minutes, just have to be there at 9:00 early day for us. Maybe this can be our new job going to time share presentations. Another lady from a place down the road is bugging us daily to see their presentation and they pay $60.00 for us to share our time with them.

Beautiful day, need to make a grocery list and go to the store, probably snorkel. Today is December 1st, with Christmas close by. The below was posted on Face Book, a great Grinch quote, that I want to share. Make your entire holiday season a good time by not stressing, enjoy the important things and true meaning and don't go overboard:

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons.
It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he
puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of
something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come
from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
A deep thinker
I love this movie and The Grinch

Saturday, November 24, 2012


11/18 11/24/12
New friends
Great place to see

So cute how they are lined up

So beautiful

This guy was huge

Help!!!!  Gator got me.

Visiting after Thanksgiving dinner
Left Cocoa Beach pretty early so we could meet up with some Couch Surfers at Gatorland, in Orlando.

Found our folks and were amazed that instead of paying $24.99 per entry, we got discounts for being from out of state, seniors, a veteran so our total for both of us to get in was around $15.00. That was so nice of them. We had a ball seeing all the gators, some that were just huge. Fun getting to visit with new friends and seeing the various shows such as gator jumping and wrestling, had a little train ride. Enjoyed the birds that were everywhere and the beautiful flamingos.

Monday we just did life stuff, wash, grocery shopping, went to the library to print out some documents we needed. Post office, documents shredded. Just usual life. Cooked, TV and hot tub.

Tuesday we went on a time share 90 minute presentation (which turned out to be over 2 hrs.). This resort is amazing, has restaurants, movie theater with free Disney movies three times a day, about 14 pools and hot tubs, mini golf, paddle boats, etc., etc. The first amount the guy showed us was for a 4 bedroom unit for around $99,900 and an interest rate of 17.99%. I was so shocked, crazy. They came up with about 4 other, lower offers, we had to see guysupervisor, be signed off by big supervisor all of which tried to talk us into things, but we got away. So we had a free breakfast and got $50, so it was OK since we didn't have anything else to do.

Later we played mini golf at our resort and I beat John by 3 strokes. Last time we played we tied -- we're always competitive with this game and tease each other a lot. In town there are some huge, amazing mini golf courses and we'll try to go to one of those when we're back here.

Wednesday we drove to Orlando to meet up with a new Couch Surfer, Terisa, who we met in Little Saigon for Vietnamese food. Terisa was a delight and we enjoyed meeting her and her friend. Lunch was good and I took home half of mine for dinner. Terisa invited us to her parent's house for Thanksgiving dinner. We had already planned to go to an Orphan Thanksgiving in St. Petersburg at 6:00 p.m., but that is 75 miles away and we'd be driving in the dark. So we canceled that and said yes to Terisa's invite, earlier and closer. We are looking forward to going. I'm taking some orange/cranberry bread I baked, and apple salad. We are so blessed and appreciate being able to join in on this holiday meal.

There are hundreds and hundreds of things to do here. We've been to Disneyworld before, and Disneyland many times, so we are not interested in mouseland. We will be back to this area after the Bahamas, so we will decide what to do when we get back. We try to limit expensive activities since this isn't vacation, but life. I do think we will go to Universal Studios later. They are having the Grinch as a special feature Dec. 1- Jan 1st, and I love the Grinch. I watch that movie every year.

Friday checked out the city called Celebration, a real little city created by Disney. Nice houses, lakes, parks, school. All owners are required to decorate during certain holidays. Must be neat to drive around in the evening during Christmas. Went to a little area called Old Town, has some shops, rides, car shows on the weekends. Fun sitting in the sun and people watch, temp was 70 and we were totally content and relaxed.

Spent Saturday doing wash, packing what we are going to take to the Bahamas we have to get down to one suitcase, one carry on, not an easy task.

Sunday off to the Bahamas for 4 weeks. Up early, check out, get to the car park, get shuttle to airport. Busy, busy morning. Can't wait to see that turquoise water and white sand. Such a pretty place.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Cocoa Beach, Florida

11/11/11 – 11/17/12

Giraffes - up close and personal

Feeding the birds.  Very fun.

Shoot the Curl, John
Last on a board in 1960's
He's still got it.
Pretty mellow time here. Hot tub every night. Some beach walking. John went fishing twice, once on the causeway pier and once at Jetty Park. At Jetty, we saw sea turtles and that the my highlight.

Of all the condos we've been to I like this one the most – maybe because we had 2 bedrooms and plenty of room? 3 TVs, good sized kitchen. Just felt comfortable.

On Friday we went to Brevard Zoo and had the best day ever. Fed the giraffes and birds. Wonderful zoo and a day that will stay with me forever.

Saturday night we walked along the beach, went to dinner on the pier, walked out on the pier and watched the fishermen and the surfers.

Sunday John got a haircut and I spent 2 ½ hours at the library doing paperwork. Lots of documents to print out (I miss my printer), copy (I miss my copier).

That's it from Cocoa Beach. Headed to Orlando early to go and visit some alligators.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Daytona  Week
11/4/12 - 11/10/12
Ocean front view
A rare treat
9 Hole Mini Golf at our condo
John and I tied, thank goodness
Marine Science Center
Great museum and they do turtle rescue
have an ICU and rehab
Inlet Harbor Restaurant
Pone de Leon, Florida
John saw his first manatee here
Pretty simple week.  All rooms at resort were ocean front, so we were thrilled to be able to see ocean so close.  Walked on the beach about every day, picked up lots of trash to save turtles and looked at shells, birds.  Went in hot tubs twice, but never went into ocean or outside pool since they were too cold.  Played a game of mini golf.
Drove around finding Wells Fargo Bank, Walmart, grocery store.  Always fun trying to locate things in strange towns.  We were on International Speedway  (IS) probably 50 times as it is the main bridge taking you from the island over to the mainland where most stores are.  IS is the street that has the Daytona Speedway down the road from the beach about 4 miles.  We got gas across the street form the track and there were 2-3 cars racing over there and it was LOUD.
We pretty much cooked in and took it easy.  We went to the Daytona Beach Pier and Boardwalk.  Fun to see the people fishing.  Got some salt water taffy (always necessary when at the beach).
We went to Ponce de Leon to see the lighthouse and visited the Marine Science Museum.  They has some great displays and aquariums.  Got to pet bat rays.  Learned more about turtles.  They have a rescue and rehab area there and have saved many turtles.  Had a nice lunch outside at the harbor.  John saw his first manatee.  I missed it.  Exciting.  We hope to go on a manatee tour of some type later.  They are gentle giants.
Found out the Museum of Arts and Science (MOAS) has laser shows once a month and we were lucky enough to be there on the right day.  Saturday night we went to see Laser Beatles.  It was fabulous - a great and intense light show.  It ended too soon.
Sunday we went to Applebees for Veteran free meal (so nice of them) and back to MOAS that also had free entry to veterans.  A small museum, but one of the best I have ever been to.  Had enough of many different things and has so interesting and well displayed.  We walked and walked around and we got totally exhausted - ouch feet, hips, back.  I remember days when I could spend all day long at a huge museum, now it is about a limit of 2 hours max and that still hurts.  Bummer!!!!!!
Now headed off to Cocoa Beach to see what new adventures are waiting for us.  As promised, this was short and hopefully sweet.



Thursday, November 8, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

10/27/12 11/3/12
Snow falling as we drove through Virginia - this
turned into a blizzard in West VA
Electrical trucks headed for area waiting for
Hurricane Sandy to hit tomorrow and next day.
We saw hundreds and hundreds of trucks from
all over the country.
Atlanta, GA - state capitol
Inside capitol building
Columbia, South Carolina
A dream came true so off my list it goes
You can order a whole cake shipped anywhere
in USA for $100.00 - that includes postage!!!!
Forsyth Park
Turtles in rehabilitation tanks
at Jekyll Island
We left our little nest in Wells, Maine on Friday, the 27th. We talked about Hurricane Sandy and we decided that we better cancel our New York trip. We had a 3 night reservation right by the Holland Tunnel in New Jersey that ended up being the epicenter.   We had planned on touring NYC on Monday and Tuesday (the day and day after Sandy hit). We decided we can go back up that way in Spring and see coastal cities.

We spent Friday in Providence, RI, with the plan to stay Saturday night too. We watched the news and decided that we had better get on the road and move more out of the way of the hurricane. We drove all day Saturday and spent the night in Harrisburg, PA.

Sunday we spent the day in the car again and drove to Roanoke, VA. Along the way we saw hundred of electrical trucks going on the road toward NYC, along with some tree trimming trucks. Amazing to see so many people heading to help.

On our drive Monday (the day Hurricane Sandy hit NYC) we actually were driving in light snow flurries. This is the snow that turned into a blizzard in West Virginia, so we were glad we were getting South and West. Spent Monday night in Chattanooga, TN. The next morning we stopped by the Tennessee Riverpark to see the river and bike/walking paths but it was cold and windy so we decided that we best just be on our way.

Tuesday we arrived in Atlanta, Georgia. We visited the state capitol and it was pretty impressive. We also drove by the area where the Olympics where held back in 1996 and took a picture of the Olympic circles and torch. Huge city, so we just hit the road and spent the night in Augusta, GA.

Halloween, we went on to South Carolina with a stop in Columbia, the state capitol. We toured the state house, nothing great inside. More interesting history was outside with their statutes and memorials. That was about it for this city. Looked interesting, but just no energy to explore more. 

My Halloween treat was coconut cake from the Peninsula Grill. I'd seen a Bobby Flay throw down (challenge) on this famous cake back in 2008, and had wanted a piece since then. Well, I had my cake and ate it too. Not what I expected and I had bought 3 pieces 1 for John and 2 for me. I had to share my second piece with the hotel auditor. The 3 pieces of cake cost $33.75 amazing. Now I can mark that off my list of must haves.

On the road again, heading for Savannah on Thursday. We stopped by and spent the day on Hilton Head Island where we saw six or more dolphins playing in the water as we walked along the beach.  Finding a beach or parking is a major ordeal here with so many totally ritzy areas having the of beach blocked off -- resorts and gated private homes. I'm glad I saw the island, but it isn't a place that I want to rush back and visit.

Friday, up and ate breakfast. Stopped and picked up a map of downtown Savannah. Went to our appointment to get oil changed and tires rotated. Car is doing great and we have driven 10,000 miles on this trip. Drove around some of the historic area. The main street we were on is very unusual in that you drive down it about 5 blocks, then make a right turn, left turn, left, right and then straight because you are going around small neighborhood parks. It is wonderful to see all these spaces and every little park had people in them. The big park called squares.  We went to one huge square, Forsythia Park,  and they were preparing for the Rock 'n Roll Marathon the next day.  Saw them putting up tons of ports potties, setting up beer gardens and the music stage. Looks like a big production and this brings lots of people to town. There is a huge, beautiful fountain in the middle of the park (see photo).

We ended our day down on the River Front. This is the old area where they used to load cotton onto the ships for transport. It is now tourist heaven, eateries, good and fun shops. Temp was around 71 degrees, with no breeze, so it felt wonderful to be out in the sun.

There was a Tall Ship in port, the Peacemaker, that we were able to board. There was no admission, just donations. Quite a beautiful, huge sailing ship. Interesting in that it is owned by the Twelve Tribes, a cult-like religious group that I read about online. They crew the entire ship with their members who learn to sail from the smallest job to piloting the ship as part of their apprenticeship program. They use the ship as an outreach and do sail all around with the Tall Ships tour.

We had a wonderful lunch and tried fried green tomatoes  (famous Southern dish), and beignets (square fried donuts served hot with powered sugar on top  - a standard New Orleans treat). John and I both really enjoyed Savannah and hope to return for a much longer time to see all that is there. The only city so far that I have felt was so special.

Last day in the area and we decided that we needed a rest from all the walking. We headed over to Tybee Island with our packed lunch, beach towels and folding chairs. Just a day to chill. Along the way we stopped at Fort Pulaski National Monument, an amazingly renovated coastal fort and we were lucky enough to see two different cannon firing demonstrations. The fort cost $1M to build in 1829 and it contains 25 million bricks. The fort has a moat and even a drawbridge. A fascinating part of Civil War history. We ended up walking around for about three hours. Did get to the beach, looked around a bit, walked on the beach and then headed to our room. 

Sunday and our drive down to Daytona Beach. We stopped along the way at Jekyll Island (we seem to be on lots of islands lately). Drove through some coastal marshland to get to the island. Sat down and had our lunch at a picnic table and looked out at a big bridge and about 10 sail boats. So picturesque. My back started itching badly, and after we ate I asked John to scratch my back, and he said he was going to ask me the same. Guess we were in some mosquito area and they were smart because we never saw them in front. We both got attacked on our backs and had many bites that itched like mad for a little while. Went down and looked at the fishing pier and there were lots of people catching fish.

We then went to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center a nice little museum, and a rescue center. We got to see turtles that are there for rehabilitation and heard about their rescue and status. We also got to see the area where the veterinarian works on the turtles. Lots of neat displays and videos about various turtle topics. I love sea turtles so this was a very fun time for me. I got a neat T-shirt that I will treasure.

Off the island and finally headed down to Daytona. We messed about too long and it was dark when we arrived at our condo. We are trying to do all our driving during the day for safety. There are moose, turtles, deer, so best to be in at night. At least we will get to stay in one place for a week. We plan on sleeping in and trying to get a bit of rest without so much sightseeing. Our condo is right on the Atlantic Ocean, steps to the beach, and we have an ocean front view which is a nice change for us. 

Sorry this is so long, just lots happened.  I'm sure my next blog will be short and sweet.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Maine -- an Unusual State

10/20/12 10/26/12
Portland Head Lighthouse
Cape Elizabeth, Maine - First lit in 1791
Matt, Jami, Owen and George 
Maine's Capitol
Gena - scared of the lobsters
Not scared now, cooked them two at a time so they were hot
Never did tire of the leaves
Cape Neddick Lighthouse
Nubble Island, Maine - est. 1879, still in use today
Maine is kind of a funny place. We got the feeling that a penny not wasted gets you lots of pennies. Just many small things like not having public restrooms open (they do cost money and all seem to close after Labor Day), not putting out ketchup, creamer, napkins so that you have to ask for it and then they ask specifically how many you need. This frugality is also evident in their State Capitol building. We drove up to Augusta to see the statehouse and it wasn't fancy, seemed well made, sturdy, functional and it all seemed to be about usable space and practicality.   Barely any ornamentation or artistic beauty and I found it typical of Maine. No other capitol building I've ever seen was as unadorned or cold. We spent very little time there after a considerable drive to see it.  Function over form.

The beaches were no what we expected.  Most of the southern coast where we spent time is taken up by homes owned by the wealthy and there are tiny, narrow paths to the beach called Public Access. This is great, but there is absolutely no place to park within miles of the access trails. We were astounded. We did find a few places where there was access to actual beaches with parking, but they were few and far between. Their beaches, compared to the California beaches John and I are familiar with, are different too. The Atlantic is very flat and you can walk out from the shore about ½ mile and only be up to your thighs. So different, so flat.   We did see lots of clam shells, mussels, crab shells and a few lobster claws. 

We saw several light houses that were neat. You couldn't go up in them, but we looked at them from the outside. Some are totally closed to the public, and a few are out in the water on little islands. Many had been run by the Coast Guard in recent times, but now most are set automatically.

A first for us was eating lobster rolls. I had heard about them and this was on my list of musts. We had two, each from a different place, and they were delicious and a bit spendy. We also bought 6 live lobsters that I steamed for us which was another first. It was weird when I took the lobsters out of the bag and put them into the sink and they kept flipping around and scaring me. I wasn't too scared to eat them though and they were delicious. Price for the 6 was $43.16, unreal price compared to buying one lobster dinner in a restaurant.

We saw our with ex-Idaho friends Matt and Jami, and their two kids, George and Owen, who now live in Maine. We had lunch together and then spent several hours at the park visiting while the kids played. What good kids – they were funny, sweet and nice little guys.

So basically we did lots of sightseeing up and down the Southern coast, and took lots of pictures. We met a couple from Vermont who knew an old boss of mine from Boise – what a small world. Saw two huge white limos at the beach for a wedding – they were taking pictures of the bridesmaids (we missed the bride), and out by our first lighthouse, in dense fog, I saw a man get down on his knees and propose. I was astounded to see that (at least I thought that was what happened and I held my tongue realizing that this was their moment). From there we walked back to our car and the man walked by me and said, “She said yes.” I laughed and told them congratulations and said that for once I kept my mouth shut and didn't question or interfere with their moment. That was pretty neat.

Friday, Oct. 26th, our day to leave Maine.   Hearing about Hurricane Sandy and wondering what will develop. We have reservations for 2 nights in New Jersey right by the Holland Tunnel, right at the NYC harbor and we had planned to take a tour of NYC on Monday and Tuesday, but we're thinking that we will have to change our plans and come back to NYC another time. We had  also planned to go down the coast to Daytona Beach. Weird timing, but all along the trip we've had perfect weather so we can't complain. Best laid plans. Better safe than sorry, so we will make changes according to what is needed. I hope Sandy doesn't do too much damage on the Coast.  She sounds like she is going to be pretty darn powerful so we hope that everyone in her path will be safe.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Colors of Fall

Week of 10/13 – 10/19/2012
Rainy Day
One of hundreds of beautiful, old churches
in New Hampshire
John under Boise Rock
Yeah, I guess that sounds like a good idea?????
Gena & John on Conway Railroad
The great debate - cracked me up.
Spent a week in Lincoln, NH – a much needed time to be in one place for more than a few days. We arrived late Saturday after spending afternoon in Bennington, VT. We unpacked and snuggled in for the entire next day – it was raining, so it didn't feel like we were wasting the day.

Monday, foggy and sprinkling, we drove to Conway, NH, through the beautiful White Mountains that cover about a quarter of New Hampshire, so there are many sites to see, camping and hiking. All along the way they have “Brake for Moose” signs – like one is just going to say “I don't think so and crash into a moose”?????   We found it interesting that there was a Boise Rock so, of course, we stopped to see it. 

Took tons of pictures showing the Fall color. Drive, stop, drive, stop. It took us quite awhile to make progress, but we weren't in any rush . I was glad that I hadn't decided to take pictures of all white, rustic, beautiful old churches with steeples. Also decided not to take pictures of every home that had great architecture. Churches and those homes could take a life time, so hopefully I can remember lots of the beauty we saw.

We were going to go to Mount Washington which is the highest peak in the NE US and is famous for dangerously erratic weather. Until 2010, the summit held the record for the highest wind gust measured on the Earth's surface, 231 mph in 1934. John loves weather, but we learned the wind was blowing 55-62 mph, and temperature with wind chill at -2, so we decided to pass on that experience.

We saw colors, rivers, rocks, flowers, mushrooms with our big bonus of seeing two separate groups of wild turkeys – each group with 5-6 turkeys. They were just by the side of the road. It was neat.   No bear or moose and that was fine with us.

Wednesday we took a 5 hour train ride from North Conway down the tracks about 27 miles and back.  It was fun to travel through the trees and listen to the narrative history of the area and the important part the railroad played in the development of the area. After the train ride, we took a little time to see the “Return of the Pumpkin People” in the town of Jackson. There were many clever ideas (see Romney/Obama debate above) and it was fun to drive around and take pictures of the scenes.

On our last full day in beautiful New Hampshire, we took a drive south and went around Lake Winnipesaukee, the largest lake in the state at 21 miles long and from 1 to 9 miles wide. The lower elevation and being close to water gave us more orange and red color in the leaves – thus more pictures.

It is so weird as I write this and realize that without all the pictures I've taken – with each photo showing the date – I am not sure if I could say what we have done.   In writing this today, I've had to go back to my pictures and refresh my memory.   This is all moving along so fast and with the continual seeing of so many new things every day, doing new things – it just doesn't all register. That surprises me and maybe if I were younger I could hold on to each memory. We've driven over 7,000 miles so far and have been gone for 52 days.

We're still married, just a “few” arguments along the way, but still laughing and ready for our next adventure.   I know our humor is what makes this all possible – oh, and the fact that John is an angel to put up with me.

I've still got to work on …. s l o w i n g   d o w n ….. but I guess I just don't want us to miss anything.  As Willie would say, "On the Road Again"..........going places I've never been..................