Saturday, February 16, 2013

Blessed Friendship

Kissimmee - Another Week

2/10/13 - 2/16/13

Rested up on Sunday. Spent quite a bit of time at the pool and met two nice people from Canada (Lammy and Walt). They both have done lots of mission work in Haiti with their group Mission to Haiti – Canada ( Their group, which is non-denominational has been working there for many years and has helped Haitians with medical and dental care, housing, education and other areas.
Bath water temp pool
Relaxing hot tub

Later we made a trip to the grocery store. We're trying to not buy so much at one time and just get enough food for two days. Seems like we have wasted food by stocking up when we have to change places so often.

We spent early part of day at pool on Monday. Met some nice people, Lynn and Paul, who are from Wisconsin. Lynn and I talked quite a bit about how kids are raised these days with no competition for them as it could ruin their self esteem, negotiating with a two year old, etc. I thought it would be fun to have a BBQ, so asked the two couples we met if they'd like to come to dinner. We decided on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. John and I went to store and bought some nice chicken breasts that I will marinate in mojo. Got some cheese/garlic bread sticks, yams, and Valentine cupcakes. Should be fun. For our dinner I did BBQ two steaks and they turned out perfect, done just right and they were so tender. Was nice to have some grilled food.

Had great news over Facebook that Maria was accepted into the Master's Program at Florida State University. She is so excited and we are so happy for her. I think this school will be a wonderful place for her and there won't be any winter to speak of. We wish her the best as she pursues her desire to be a professional opera singer.

Evening after her audition 
Accepted to FSU,  Tallahassee!!!!!!
Ordered Robert's ticket to Cancun online, so let's hope that he gets his passport squared away. I got him on the same flight as Cathy, March 20th, even though they don't sit together they can go to airport and wait together, have company. Robert has the flu so I hope he gets well soon.

Tuesday I got up and checked e-mail and FB and my friend in PA had just posted a message that her daughter was in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. I watched the show and it was so fun to see all the fantastic dogs.  In Terrier group, Branson, my friend's daughter's dog, won best of breed.  He sure is cute and knows how to pose. 

Super Cutie

Later went to the pool, visited with our new friends and read.   Walking back to our room I saw a little squirrel digging around in the grass. I stopped and watched him for a few minutes and then started wondering about what he was doing. It is not like it gets cold or snowy here and it just sort of cracked me up. Hiding food for the winter?   How does he determine when winter is?

Back in our room and marinated chicken so it will be yummers tomorrow.   Danielle, our friend from Tampa, e-mailed that she wanted to come over on the weekend and would try to figure out when. That will be so neat to see her. A little TV and bed.

Supposed to rain and I kept peeking out to see since BBQ in the rain is not optimal. Went to the pool and visited with our guests (Lammy, Walt (from Canada), Lynn and Paul (from Wisconsin). We talked about possibility of rain and made an alternative plan just in case. Came back and John went to the store to pick up a few things. Packed up BBQ stuff and put it all on a luggage hand truck and took it over to BBQ area. Clouds getting darker and it feels like 70/30% chance of rain, but I guess we'll risk it. Can always run in pavilion close by or to one of our rooms. Folks arrived and I got chicken cooking. We had such a nice meal, garlic bread sticks, yams with cinnamon sugar and butter, mojo chicken and a great salad with garlic dressing. For dessert we had Valentine cupcakes that were quite tasty and not greasy. We all talked and had a real fun time. This is a group of talkers so there was never a lull in the conversation.

Ready to grill
left rear to forward - Walt, Lammy, Gena
right side rear to forward - Paul, Lynn & John (taking pic)
Such a fun evening together 2/13/13
Valentines Day.   John sent me an e-card, and then I sent him one. He had bought me a batik dress-like bathing suit cover for Valentine's Day present. We were up early to go into Winter Park, about an hour away, so I could participate in One Billion Rising to support ending violence against women and girls. It was a short, non structured dance with a tiny group with Peruvian flute music (a favorite of mine) in the background. In the grass, next to a lake. It was very meaningful. This was the 14th annual OBR and I had never heard of it before. The power of the internet. I'm curious to see how the participation was across the globe. Met a neat couple, Lenore and Rick, there (nice to have a man involved) who are traveling full time. Lenore is keeping a blog too, so I got her e-mail and blog address, and will send her mine. Fun to keep track of each other.

Lovely, dancing beside the lake
After the dance, John and I went to one of our favorite areas here, Park Avenue. Just the coolest area with shops that have jewelry, chocolate, pastry clothes, just all kinds of beautiful and mostly expensive things. We had lunch at Cocina 214, a highly rated, winner of best Mexican/Tex Mex food in Orlando for 2012 and several past years. John had a chicken tamale and I had enchiladas de queso with verde sauce. The food was good, just not our style of Mexican. It was a beautiful restaurant and we dined al fresco. After lunch, we went to chocolate shop looking for truffles. I love Grand Mariner truffles that are really big and hand rolled. We found some small truffles, but no GM, so we passed. Tried another chocolate shop, but not the right kind. So down the street to the little French bakery we had eaten at a few weeks ago. I got several delicious cookies and a palmier to take back to our place so I can enjoy them when hungry and with coffee. Robert called us and wished us a Happy Valentines Day and that was a pleasant surprise. Rain started in hard after Park Avenue, so we headed home for an quiet evening.

Valentine Lunch
Patio Dining - Winter Park, FL

Up early Friday to go to VA in Winter Park for blood work. I was a bit under the weather so John ventured off and got it done. Went back in the afternoon to get oil changed in car we have now put 14,000 miles on the car. Hard to believe we've driven so much. John went online and ordered us Rosetta Stone Spanish for Latin America and we are super excited about trying to learn Spanish. We do have the time, now we just have to apply ourselves and make time to work on it.

Again, up early – what's up with this up early, I'm retired. Down to our friends' room on 1st floor who were giving us a frozen pizza as they are hitting the road today and heading back to Ontario. Three day trip for them and they are part of an escort to help a friend home who was in the ICU in Orlando. They just found out that the other friends were down here, so will travel back to Canada together to be sure everything is OK. Sounds like a God thing to me.

Rushed out the door and knowing we're going to be late to our Concealed Weapons class. Thanks goodness for GPS. I've taken this class in Idaho two times, just never carried through to get paper work done and permit, so it is truly time. We were late for class, but that was OK. It was packed, about 35 people, and an equal amount of men and women. About 2 ½ hrs. class time, and then we went to the range and safely handled and shot gun with our instructor. Was proud when instructor said to both John and I twice that he could tell we knew what we were doing. I shot some type of revolver and then got to try another smaller, pink handled revolved. The trigger pull on that gun must have been 40 lbs. and I could have shot it 5 times, but opted for 3, because it was just awful to shoot. John enjoyed the class, so he can add a Florida permit to his Idaho.
All Shots Counted

We were going to head back to pool but the wind is howling, so we will do wash and clean up room since our little Danielle from Tampa and her sister are coming tomorrow to spend the day with us. So looking forward to their visit.

Observations this week are:

How fun it has been to be here awhile. We know so many streets and it is feeling familiar. We are about 1 hour from Gulf Coast and also the Atlantic. Amazing.

How precious it is to make new friends. Until you are away from home for a bit of time one doesn't always realize the importance of friends; how special it is to be connected, talk to others in a more meaningful way. I loved this week making our new friends from way up North (Wisconsin) and even another country (Ontario, Canada) and the full-time trailer travelers (South Dakota). Funny too how we didn't know any people from that upper region with the exception of our old friends, Bob and Rebecca, in Wisconsin.

How precious our old friends are. There are so many degrees of friendship and it is fun to think about each friendship and how it came about, how it developed, how it is maintained. We don't always have to be together and through the internet (the wonder that it is) we have the opportunity to communicate around the world with our friends – both people we know personally and people we may meet via the internet.

Squirrels in Florida are crazy (see above)

Hugs and Kissimmeesssssssssssss

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Visual Blog #1 - January 2013

I've decided to try a visual blog - with just notes, so that people who don't really care about all our details can get a flavor of our travels.  Hope you enjoy.

January 2013

Let's Celebrate
Happy New Year
with our friends from Daytona Beach
New Year's Eve Count Down
Ball Falling, Fireworks over the ocean
Downtown Block Party
Daytona Beach, Florida
View from our room
Ormond Beach, Florida
Ripley's Believe it or Not
Had so much trouble walking
through this tunnel of twirling lights
We just cracked up, almost fell over
St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine Lighthouse
Still active
Construction began 1871
Castillo de San Marcos
Constructed by the Spanish between 1672 and 1695
St. Augustine, Florida
Making Chocolate Covered Cherries
Toured Angell & Phelps
Founded 1925
Daytona Beach, Florida
These "shells" are made of chocolate
and they are sitting in sugar
Car show at "Old Town"
Crazy "Red Neck" truck.  You can't
 see the details but it has everything
and is so funny.
Kissimmee, Florida
John spent a week in the hospital
Had fluid on the lungs, some swelling
so he got a good week of rest
Front of Florida Hospital
Winter Park
John had very good care there
Meet with CS Tom, Clerment, FL, and his friend
Tom from Finland.  Tom took us around, we
had lunch and dinner out.  A great day.
Stopped at authentic German bakery
for pastry, coffee and sitting out
and visiting
Tom collects elephants and has them
from all over the world, every shape,
size, material.  This one is beautiful
carved wood.
Our first company on our trip
Made dinner for Tom,
Robert from Denmark
Fun to entertain
Looking my Norwegian best at
Highland Games
Caber Toss
Azalea Garden Park
Florida is so different
Eola Park
Downtown Orlando
Best Tree
Limbs touch ground - amazing
This picture can't do it justice
House in Key West
Very different balcony
Here's looking at you kid
Baby Key Deer
Key Deer Buck
He is a real beauty who just posed for us
My size lobster
Florida Keys
Sunset starting
Long Key, Florida
Florida Keys

Kissimmee - Tallahassee

Kissimmee - Tallahassee

2/3 - 2/9/13

Oh, Super Bowl. We were happily included in a Super Bowl Party with a Couch Surfer, a few of his friends and 3 young men from the German part of Switzerland. We had a nice BBQ, and watched the, in our opinion, dismal game.

Super Bowl at Tom's House
Had Mojo Chicken, Steak, Cesar Salad,
Baked Potatoes, Apple Cake with Ice Cream
Fun time with good folks

Monday, over to Orlando VA and spent several hours waiting for John's blood work to be done and for him to see the doctor to prescribe his coudamin. That done, we stopped at Logan's Roadhouse for a delicious lunch. We must be seniors for sure now as we each brought half of our food home since we got full. I remember the days when I could polish off a full meal and be looking for more.

Got up late on Tuesday and drove down to Winter Park to get our car key we had ordered. It is one of those special and expensive electronic keys and we had waited two weeks for it. We lost our spare some place in the beginning of our trip and always worried we'd lock our only key in the trunk. We then head to lunch and went to a cool Irish Pub downtown Orlando. On the way back we went to an excellent Mexican bakery with a Latin flair. We bought several pastries to take home. Went to Red Box to get our reserved movie “A Dolphin's Tale”. Back to our place, went to the pool for awhile and then watched our movie – well I watched it. John went in bedroom and watched something else. Sweet movie.

Laid around on Wednesday, went to pool/hot tub, played on computer, TV. Are we getting lazy?

Thursday, was supposed to go swim with the dolphins and manatees, but as we were heading for the coast on the freeway, we got a call saying trip was canceled because they were having a marine inspection of their boat. Will have to reschedule.

Up early on Friday to drive to Tallahassee, about a 4 hour drive. Drive went fine and it was interesting to see this area of Florida. It looks like anything but Florida. Our hotel was pretty awful (right at college and I accidentally got a smoking room, yuck). Arrived about 2:00 p.m. and gave Maria a call.

I went for a walk to see the campus which is right next door to hotel. There was the Claude Pepper Library and museum right around the corner so I went in and spent over an hour learning about this fascinating man. He served Florida for over 40 years. He was instrumental working for civil rights, Social Security, minimum wage and so many other areas. I was very impressed with his record and the caring man that he was.
He was a good politician
who helped the common man

Back to the room and Maria had just finished her audition. She came over to our room and we visited about FSU, audition. She felt it went well, is hopeful since this is her first choice for a school and she will find out on Monday if she made it. We then went for dinner at Andrew's Capitol Grill and Bar, a place that has been there for 20 something years. It is right by state capital and state buildings so lots of politicians eat there.
Maria Gubbels - hours after her
audition at FSU
Then Maria had to go to a staff recital to listen to one of the people who had interviewed her sing. It was important for her to make an appearance and after to go say hi. We picked her up after the concert and went for a drink. Went to Tomahawk Sports Bar close by. Walked in and it was so loud it was unreal – only one guy and a guitar, how could that be so loud. We sat as far away from him as possible and had to just about yell. A guy Maria had met, also a singer who had auditioned, came and had one drink with us. The special was berry shots, so I had two of those, and 2 + 2, they were so good. Maria had a couple, John was good and had one drink. We did have a fun time.
Happy Group Celebrating Maria's Audition
We loved our Berry Shots

Got up early and took Maria for breakfast. Tallahassee isn't a strong cool breakfast place so we drove around and found Denny's on campus. It says on the door, late night, but I guess they are not early morning because they were not open and didn't open until 10:30 – too late for us since we had to take Maria to the airport. So drove down main street and found a place. Discovered it had just opened day before and they obviously were not ready to open. It was a hysterical farce in service, coffee, the bill, but the food, albeit wrong orders, was good. We got up to get bill (which was wrong) and I spent a few minutes telling this family (who could barely speak English) what their problems were and that if they didn't get it together they would be out of business very fast. I did all this in a nice way. The oldest man there was even taking notes. Maria gave them a few suggestions. They were sweet, but innocent and their business will definitely fold if they don't get some good service in there. If I lived there I would actually go help them get their business up and running and Maria said she would too. They were very sweet and I wish them luck.

Got Maria to the airport on exact time needed, had some hugs and off she went. She is lucky she is going to Atlanta, then Toronto and not to NY or Boston. She would have been trapped. Her friend was going to NY and he had to stay another night (and probably another night) because his plane was canceled due to the blizzard.

John and I drove downtown to see the Old Capitol Museum and the new Capitol. It was Sunday so the new one was closed and we didn't have the energy to go into old museum. When they built the new Capitol they were going to tear down the old one and thank goodness someone with a brain said no and they got a group together and saved it. The new is ugly, cold build in the 1970's. The old one is lovely and looks like a capital. I'm so glad the old building was saved.
1972 New Capitol
Old Capitol 1845
Thank goodness it is still here
(see monster behind it)

Driving back to Kissimmee (we had another night booked in Tallahassee, but just could not stand that room and the smell), we stopped at the Suwanee River State Park. Some of you may remember the song Suwanee. I just had to stop and see the place. It was neat with a little history of the civil war and the slow, slow rivers. They used to have steam paddle wheelers on that river so there is a rich history there.
Calm, barely moving

Got home about 6:30, unloaded car and watched our Suze Orman show as we do every Saturday. Ate a little dinner and then off to bed. So glad we drove up to see Maria. We got to know her so much better and she's like a second daughter. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for her acceptance at FSU, but I feel very confident she will get in.

Until next week..................

I had to look up two words online Webster – accidentally and cancelled. Two acceptable spellings which is weird. Should be one. Must be like new math.