Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Day

Well, we planned to wake up early to join our Kentucky grandchildren for gift exchange. So, yesterday, my son made sure our technology worked. Everything was checked out and tested. Time was agreed to be 8:00 AM in Kentucky and 6:00 AM in Arizona.

We are having guests join us for turkey this afternoon, so we planned to put the bird in early. Linda had never used to the program on the oven, so she carefully set the buttons.

All is set for a long winter's rest.

Well, the timer on the oven did work. At 5:30 AM the oven must have started. Linda was still sound asleep. Jim was dozing. First the phone rang, about 5:40 AM. Yep, the kids couldn't wait much more. Next, every smoke alarm in the house went off. Of course, it was the oven getting hot. I guess it is the first time it has been used since March or April. Next, the neighbors dogs are barking because our smoke detectors are still alaming. Next, the neighbor's light comes on (Oh what a way to start Christmas Day). Fortunately, no one jumped the gun and called the fire department. Whew! We try to find the fan button on the kitchen fan and eventually found it is one of the 50 buttons on the microvave. Next, we tried to turnt he furnace fan on to stir the air, but you know.... We have a programmable thermostat and you almost have to get the software manual out to change things. Actually, we did get the furnace fan turned on and the smoke detectors quit.

We were pretty alert by now and really enjoyed (virtually) being with the grandkids as they opened gifts.

So the rest of the day....

Coffee at our neighbor's house. They open their garage and house. Serve coffee and people bring things to share. It is as much of a brunch as you want.
More Later....

Sent from Jim's iPad

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Visiting Grandchildren

We spent two weeks off and on in the Houston, Texas area visiting our grandchildren.  Both girls lead quite active lives and keep their parents running. Besides attending the swim meets and musical performances, we helped Lina celebrate her 10th birthday.  During the week of Thanksgiving both were out of school, so we helped shuttle them to their activities and took them shopping for Christmas gifts.  Lina helped Grandma and Grandpa look at new Honda CRVs, an activity she seemed to enjoy.

During the two week stay in Houston, we flew back to Louisville to help our son and his wife when her father passed.  We spent two full days with their family trying to support in some small way.  The family hosted a "Celebration of Life" event with attendance at full capacity.

We made it back to Houston just before the big change in weather.  The big change was not what we wanted.  Jim likes to wear shorts and sandals, not winter parkas.  Within a couple of hours after we were safely back to the RV, the cold wind and the rains began in southeast Texas.  Unfortunately, this weather lasted for five days.  The nights were in the low 30s with the days only 10 degrees warmer.  Texas seemed to be the recipient of two fronts, one from the North and the other from the Pacific coast.  The day before Thanksgiving the weather finally changed for the better.  The sun broke out and the wind and rain finally stopped.

Following an exceptionally wonderful Thanksgiving dinner prepared by our daughter and granddaughter, we left the Houston area at about 3:45 pm bound for our Arizona winter home.  After being gone since late April, both of us are anxious to return.  Provided the weather cooperates, we hope to be back in 4-5 days and begin enjoying the snowbird life with our winter friends.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Which Way Do We Go?

We had thought we would continue on to Houston to our daughter's house today, but she has called to say she is home from work due to illness.  Our son in Kentucky has also called with more bad news about his father-in-law.  As we pulled out onto I-10 heading west, we decided to stop at the tourist information in Beaumont and make our decision as to which direction we should go.

We arrived in Livingston at our RV lot shortly after noon and enjoyed seeing people on our street and other SKP friends.  It was a beautiful day.  Our decision at this point was to wait to go to Houston until Saturday morning to watch the swim meet; however, later in the afternoon Lina called asking us to come in the evening to play with her.  Grandpa and Lina played Monopoly.  Grandpa won by luckily avoiding Park Place and Boardwalk. 

Saturday, we enjoyed seeing Lina swim and attending Minali's middle school regional orchestra concert.  Sunday was Lina's piano recital.  


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Alabama and a change in weather

Monday, we drove with little traffic as it was on Sunday.  We had forgotten it was Veterans Day!  Our goal for Monday was to try and stop at the beach in the Florida Panhandle, but it was too late in the afternoon for us to spend adequate time there.  Instead, we drove further on to Alabama and stopped at the Escapee park to see some Michigan friends.  We enjoyed a short trip to Fairhope

The forecast for the following afternoon was for the cold front to drop south with wind gusts of  20-30 mph.  By 5 pm, the temps had dropped from a pleasant 75 to low 60s; and at bedtime it was only 45 degrees with lots of wind.  For the first time this year, we ran our heat in the evening and the following morning.  The temperature in the morning was 35, and now at 10 pm in Louisiana it is only 39 degrees.  Luckily, the wind died down enough we were able to drive.  We enjoyed entertaining friends in our RV during the cold weather in the evening.  I made chilli to go with the cold weather.

Our granddaughters in Houston have a swim meet this weekend, one has a piano recital and the other has an orchestra concert.  We will definitely be busy with their activities while we visit.

We will be 'home' in Livingston next week and part of the following week while we visit our daughter's family.  It is always good to see our friends in Texas too.  However, I am starting to get homesick for Arizona too.  We have been gone since April and this is the latest it has been when we return.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Naples, Florida and North

Yesterday, we had a few hours of RV maintenance to do before we could leave today so Jim and I stayed at our upscale motor coach park for the morning.  It was cloudy and even rained for awhile so it made it hard to get going.  My cousin and his wife also enjoyed the 'down' morning. Since the day was generally cloudy, our 2 hours at the beach did not happen.  A change in plans, and we got together after lunch.  The 'boys' took an excursion to Best Buy to look at electronic toys, and the girls took a 1+ hour walk around their new housing development.  Afterward, we had a mid-day meal in downtown Naples at The Dock at Crayton Cove.  We had another wonderful seafood extravaganza followed by an evening sunset walk on the Naples pier to watch sunset with a large number of other people.

This morning, Jim and I awoke at 6:45 am and got things ready for the drive today.  Traffic was light at 8:30 am, and it wasn't until we were south of Tampa that traffic really picked up.  Since it is a holiday tomorrow, there were very few semi-trucks on the road making it less stressful.   We alternated driving 60-75 miles each and had a fairly easy travel day.  Our destination was a small town on US 27 southeast  of Tallahassee, Florida.  The RV park has only been open two seasons.  The people here are very nice and are doing a great job making people enjoy their time here on the Suwannee River.

We'll be setting out tomorrow with the hopes of stopping by the beach in the Destin area for a couple of hours and spending the night in that general area.  We think we can manage this and provided the weather also cooperates with our plans.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Escorted Tour of Naples, Florida

We set out this morning for Everglades City.  Our intent was to check out the boat tour of the Ten Thousand Islands of the Everglades National Park.  As we arrived at the national park office, we noticed that the water was fairly calm and people were loading for the first tour of the morning.  We rushed into the concessionaire, bought tickets and loaded onto the pontoon.  Our eco-tour included seeing many types of birds, dolphins, and several raccoons living on an island in the distance.  All of us had hoped to see more of the islands so we were a bit disappointed.  But the day was absolutely gorgeous and sunny so it was a great day for a boat ride.

After a small bite to eat at The Oyster House  we headed down to the old town of Naples and a relaxing walk onto the Old Pier to see the brown pelicans, terns, and cormorants fishing.  There were lots of people swimming in the Gulf here and many people also fishing from the pier.  Our guide took us for a drive down along the gulf to see the many million dollar homes.  Then, we headed to a county beach park that is inhabited by gopher tortoises and a cute little raccoon that knows how to get his food out of the waste cans.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Big Cypress Swamp National Preserve

We said good-bye to the Florida Keys on Wednesday, November 6 in rain showers and 20-30 mph winds.  Our last full day in the Keys was cloudy, windy and intermittent rain--so much so we couldn't spend our final day on Sombrero Beach.  So, we invited two couples to go to Keys Fisheries for dinner.  As is most common, the three RV couples enjoyed one another's company and the wonderful fresh seafood of the Keys!

Our drive northward from the Keys took us to the Everglades.  We had printed a Groupon, and we proceeded to the airboat tour for our introduction to the national park.  Both of us enjoyed the ride and decided to also make a stop at Shark Valley.  Here, we took the last tram ride of the day to see the wildlife as the sun was setting.  Back in the 1980s, we drove our car in this area; but now, you either pay to take the tram, bike, walk or run the 15 mile loop.  We left the National Park as it turned dark and drove an additional 13 miles to the Midway Campground which is located in the Big Cypress National Preserve.  We had done some research and saw that this park offered power and water.  And, the bonus was the clear, dark skies of the Everglades and Big Cypress area.

Thursday, we drove the car to the Oasis Visitor Center of the Big Cypress Preserve to see the movie, learn more about the preserve, and observe from the boardwalk the alligators, great white egrets, great blue herons, the tri-color herons, cormorants and anhingas.  This boardwalk viewpoint is a do not miss.  We enjoyed watching the herons and egrets catching fish and the alligators stalking the birds.

Afterwards, we made a stop at the Clyde Butcher Gallery to see the wonderful collection of black and white photographs on exhibit and for sale.  Clyde Butcher's pictures are similar to those we have seen by Ansel Adams.  He has done not only various national parks, but many scenes from Florida.  We returned to the RV, hitched up the car and continued along Tamiami Trail towards Naples.  Our final stop at the Kirby Storter boardwalk to see the cypress and epiphytes (air plants) growing in the swamps. 

After a quick lunch, we drove an additional 37 miles to the Naples Motorcoach RV Resort on the edge of Naples.  Linda's cousin and his wife live less than 5 miles from here in the winter.  The first couple of hours of our afternoon here, the four of us explored our new home for a couple of hours followed by a short drive to see their home.  After dine at Alice Sweetwaters Bar and Grill, Jim and I returned to the rv park to relax in the hot tub and meet some other people here in the park.