Saturday, September 6, 2014

Our First Summer in Florida - July - August, 2014

It was scary for us to even think about a Florida summer.  We'd heard horror stories.  Well, we have survived.  Yes, it can be super humid and hot, but I think it is a mind set.  You walk out, feel the shock and then just carry on.  Relief comes with the car A/C that usually cools us by the time we arrive at our destination.  Overall, it is OK and I think we can live with this.  I was really and truly scared about the heat and feel happy that all is well.

We've had company this summer with Dave and Paula coming down to see their daughter and then coming over to Dunedin.  We spent a fun day out on a huge pontoon boat that we all rented.  The Tampa Bay is extremely shallow in many places and I know I drove everyone on the boat nuts as I worried us all to death about the depth of water or lack thereof.  We made it back safely and with the boat in tact.  My great fear was us getting beached, but all turned out fine.

Shallow water

Started the month (8/2/14) with a Just for Fun Meet Up dinner at German Bistro 2, a delicious meal. I'm such a fan of German food.

Tiny, cute restaurant

Had special visitors for lunch (8/15/14). Julian's family (Julian, mom, dad, sister and cousin) came over and I made a typical American meal of Baby Back Ribs, cole slaw, corn muffins, cantaloupe -- and strawberry shortcake for dessert. Julian's mom and dad are just such great people. They brought wine, an extra bottle for us, along with an apron & oven mit for me and lovely mugs that had French writing on them for John and Robert. Poor Julian, we wore him out having to interpret the entire time. Dad showed pictures of their home in France, their city and surrounding areas. We shared some of our vacation photos too. We had a lovely afternoon.

A great family
(Une grande famille)
Had a couchsurfing event Saturday, August 16th with Polk County and Tampa Bay, meeting up for the Lakeridge Winery Grape Stomp.  Some tasting, tour, live music. stomping, one huge rain storm that roared through.  Overall a super day at the winery.

Couch Surfers

Fun time

One minute of stomping is
a long time

After this we headed over to our friend Tom's house for a visit.  Robert wanted to thank Tom for the poster he was given of the Berlin Wall.  Robert was born the day the wall came down (11/9/89).  Tom's house is magical, filled with hundreds of elephants he has collected in his world travels, along with many other interesting items that all come together in perfection.  Always fun to visit Tom.

We then headed to Davenport, FL to meet up with our friends Larry and Deb, who are from Englewood, FL.

Deb & Larry

 Deb rented a villa for a week for $150.  This place was a huge 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom condo in a gated community with a pool, water slide, hot tub and lazy river.  We had such a relaxing and fun time -- with the exception of our day at Universal Studios.

Lazy River

Larry and Deb's grandson, Garrett, was visiting from Texas and Robert was on a week vacation from school and came with us.  So we took the guys to Universal to see Harry Potter.  They had a great time and went their separate way.  Were we  not going to 1) slow them down; or 2) try to keep up with them.  What an exhausting day standing in line again and again.  It would be so nice if they could just put some little benches along the line.  The Harry Potter worlds were so cool.  Now I can say "been there, done that" and put it in my memory banks.  It was amazing to have Robert join us on this trip. and he and Garrett had a good time together.  We enjoyed spending time with Robert and it really made our trip.

John, Robert & Garrett

Harry Potter Dragon

I love the Grinch

Monday evening met for dinner in downtown Kissimmee with Josh and Barb and had a good visit. They are driving over for Danielle's party so we'll get to see them again.

On the 19th we celebrated John's birthday.  Robert baked brownies and we had two candles and could not find a match or lighter.  It was funny because the four adults were all past smokers and not a fire stick to be found -- that was good.

Happy 69th Birthday!!!!!

August 23rd we went to Danielle's going away party.  She's moving to Shreveport, LA for work.  We will miss her.  She is one of our first Florida friends.  We hope to be able to stop in and visit her on our way back to Boise in April.

Danielle, our first Tampa friend
Good bye, enjoy Shreveport

 On Tuesday, August 26th, we were invited to Julian's house for dinner.  Julian and his sister cooked us paella.  This was Julian's mom's recipe and she is Spanish.  It was delicious.  We had some good wine and then a chocolate cake that Julian baked from scratch.  Julian's brother was there, just arrived from France, so we all had a fun evening of talking, laughing and feasting.

Great company, great food

Next night John and I ate at Red Robin.  He had his free birthday burger.  We live about 5 minutes away from Red Robin that is at the Countryside Mall.  Very tasty meal.

John had VA appt. on Friday, so after that since we were close we headed over to St. Petersburg to check out the downtown.  We have been around various areas, but not right downtown.  It was a scourching day so we only looked around for about an hour.  We'll have to go back in November. There are several big and special museums there, MFA, Dali Museum, Chihuly, and Holocaust.  This city will take several trips to explore properly.

Magnificent Banyon tree

Open Air Post Office in St. Pete was opened in 1917, its mail carriers delivered letters on bicycles
 to addresses within a reasonably short distance from downtown. Today, as one of a handful of
 cities in the entire U.S. to continue this tradition.

Some of our  Meet Up group, Just Having Fun, met in Gulfport for a good breakfast and then we attended the "Geckofest" a fun festival that was celebrating its 14th year.  Great streets acts at several intersections, booths, art, fair food.  It was blazing hot and we only lasted about 2 hours.  A very fun day.

FUNSTERS, Gulfport Cafe

Gecko & Geico

Ending the month with a great trip to Egmont Island, a Florida State Park and bird sanctuary, on a 45 foot yacht. A total of 10 CSers had a once in a life time day. It was super hot, but the water felt so good. Home for a nap and then next door for a BBQ with our neighbors, Diana and Doug.

Sunshine Skyway Bridge - Tampa Bay

Commute to shore

45 foot beauty
Our host, Dan, lives aboard in St. Pete.

Last day of the month - we got up late, and stayed in our PJs all day long.  We need some rest.  I'm planning a very mellow September since August was really pretty nuts (but fun).