Saturday, April 26, 2014

Paradise in Spring

Astounded every day by the beauty and wonder of Florida.  To drive 10 minutes and walk on a little pier and see 7 huge manatees.  To just drive down to the beach for something to do, get your chairs out, sit and see dolphins jumping and playing in the ocean right in front of us.  We do call it paradise and our favorite saying is "ho hum, another day in paradise."

In February I started a Meet Up group called "Just Having Fun" and we've been doing lots of activities and just having fun.  I have 73 members (not all active), but we've had a picnic, dinners out, painting class, drinks at sunset, visiting botantical gardens - a real variety.  There will be lots more to come.

Red Robin
Just Having Fun's First Meet Up

Sunken Gardens with JHF
One of the most beautiful gardens we've
ever been to

Lyn and me at painting class

JHF picnic at Phillipe Park

Sunset Drinks at Marker 8
JHF "Funsters" Meet Up

I've also been involved in our local Couch Surfing community.  Hosted a few people and have hosted some events - taco party, Polish dinner,

Taco Fiesta w/CS'ers at our apartment

Real Polish dinner
Everyone making perogies under direction
of Magda from Poland

French dinner at Gulf Bistro at Madiera Beach
I met Julian (on right) through CS and he's a dear friend from France.
Julian and Gaetan are from France working here.

Mini trip to Englewood, FL to meet couch surfers Debbie & Larry who had invited us to spend the night. Larry taught us how to find prehistoric shark teeth.  Venice, FL is the shark tooth capitol.

Met an interesting CS from Sweden, Mats Andren, who is walking from Stockholm to Syndey.  Probably take him 3 years.  He sold his home, and all his stuff and now everything he owns is in his cart.  He stayed with Debbie & Larry and then we invited him to stay with us if he was headed our way.

Debbie, Mats and John
Larry is in kitchen cooking for us.

Mats (person) with Max (dog)
We'd say Mats and Max would turn around
Cutest dog.  We will pet sit him in February.

I organized a Couch Surfer Meet Up
in St. Petersburg, good turnout

Glad that Mats could attend

Mats ready to take off again.
It was fun to have him stay with us two nights.
Safe travels, mate
Mats blog:  http://the-walk.se/

Over Easter weekend to see Tracy Helstowski, who had her Air Force reserves two weeks at Elgin Air Force Base, seven hours North of us.  We went up and stayed for 3 nights and got to spend Saturday evening and Sunday with her.  John and I went to Easter service in Niceville (yes, Niceville), Florida.

Saturday, April 18th
View from Pier

Pensacola Beach Bar
We were here last year with Margarita
& Henry when John was just out of the hospital 
and the three of us were headed home to Boise
 for recuperation.

Tracie - we're at Okaloosa Island Sunday
Windy and overcast, I was hoping for sun for her.

Destin Beach Boardwalk
We had fun posing for silly pictures

John is finally medically established here with the Bay Pines VA here and has all his doctors.  He is regularly going in to get his blood checked and they have ordered a "Merlin" which is a device that is set on the nightstand and it monitors his pacemaker every night.  That will be nice to have.  He just suffered from bursitis and a bit of arthritis in his knee.  His back went out for several days around New Year's so I hope we can successfully make our big 6 week trip that is coming up.

Robert is doing great in his aviation mechanic classes.  Perfect attendance and top of his class, so we are very proud of him.  He doesn't like Florida at all and can't wait to graduate and get a job somewhere in the Northwest, preferably Boise.

I've been making our itinerary and planning our 6 week trip up the Eastern Coast with a return through Kentucky and Tennessee.  I have lots of state capitols to see on the way.  Many of my must sees will be on this trip:  the Liberty Bell, Statute of Liberty and Ellis Island, 9/11 Memorial & Museum.  The big cities will probably wear us out, but we've just got to see those things.  It has taken probably over 100 hours to plan the trip up the coast.  I've decided to just play the return trip from Wisconsin  to Florida by ear because I just can't stand the thought of planning every day/night.

 We have plans to see many friends along the way and that is so exciting.  Savannah, we'll see a new friend, Stacy (and meet her husband) and Krista, a gal I used to work with in Boise.  Then to Irmo, SC to see another new friend, Charles.  I met him and his son on the plane going to Alaska.  Niagara Falls area we'll see Walt and Lammy, our Canadian friends.  Then for the real shocker, we will get to see Bob and Rebecca Sitz who live in Wisconsin.  We've been saying for years that we would get out there (which was very far from Boise), so finally we will get to visit them.

I will blog our trip, but try hard to put little text and lots of pictures in.  I have been reading Mat's blog.  He writes almost daily, but it is so short and sweet.  I will try to learn from him.  I also have another blogging friend (they are in an RV with a separate SUV, bicycles and kayaks).  She is an excellent writer and I enjoy her photo and blogs as they travel the U.S.  It is interesting to see that we all have very different modes of transportation -- I guess we fall right in the middle.

This is the beginning of a huge travel summer as we have Lake Tahoe, CA and Hawaii (3 islands) planned for Sept/Oct.  Happy trails......................