Monday, July 30, 2012

Celebrating with Tim and Marlene....

We made plans to meet up with our pickleball friends Tim and Marlene for a "double' celebration.     This past Wednesday, July 25th was Tim's Birthday!   And on Wednesday July 25th they arrived here in The Villages to close on their brand new home, a beautiful courtyard villa in the Village of St. James.  

The celebration started with dinner at Red Sauce, a local Italian Restaurant at Sumter Landing with Tim and Marlene, and Mo and Jeanne.   Dinner was excellent!   The dessert tray was very tempting - but Marlene had already invited us to their new home for birthday cake and coffee.   Below Tim blows out the candle on his cake and Marlene and Mandy open and enjoy a few house-warming gifts.

 Tim and Marlene had already met their new neighbors, Chuck and Mary and asked them to join us for cake and coffee.  Below the guys enjoy their Carvel Ice Cream Cake in the living room. ( Rich, Mo, Tim and Chuck)

And the ladies gather in the dining room.  ( Mary, Donna, Marlene and Jeannie)

The Happy couple......and Darby. 
Happy Birthday Tim.....Enjoy your lovely new home.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Nick and Tonyia come to visit........

Well, Nick and Tonyia finally got a weekend free - and we were looking forward to seeing both of them again.  This past winter, at Peace River, we spent a lot of time with them, got to know them better and were hoping that they would come and visit with us this summer.  We sure hope they enjoyed their time here - or should I say their time away from the RV Park for a while.

They had asked us to join them at the Tampa Bay Rays game this past week at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg - but with just returning from Louisiana, and with our son coming to visit with us - we just could not commit to being available.  BUT - I did watch that game on TV and I kept looking to see if I could find them in the seats along the first base line..............  But they sent us pictures to show us what we missed!!  That's Krystal and Tonyia with Tampa Bay Rays Mascott, Raymond!

Krystal....I know you're reading this - so you and Nate better be making plans to come visit with us REAL SOON.............   Be careful leaving that little girl Miss Ava ---------I heard she had great stay with Nick and Tonyia recently.  From what I hear - I'm surprised you got her back.  She was such a GOOD GIRL.

And so back to Nick and Tonyia's visit............ Even though we could not make the ball game, they came bearing gifts!  A Tampa Bay visor for me and an "official" baseball for Rich.   Thanks Guys!  We love them!

Tonyia and I left the guys early in the afternoon - heading for Seabreeze Rec Center for a game of BUNCO.......   Tonyia had never played before but enjoyed the new game..  We tried to get Nick to stay ONE MORE DAY so we could go back on Sunday - but I guess he's a busy busy man and had to get back to work!

Both of them were pretty amazed at the number of golf carts and the roads set up specifically for  golf cart use - that we had to take them for a ride.  Rich took Nick and had him holding on for dear life around the corners.......They were supposed to stop and get Tonyia a lemon filled  donut....... but ..........  Tonyia and I made the trip to CVS to pick up some dice for later that evening.....

And then we headed down to Lake Sumter Landing for dinner.  And was back to the Lighthouse Point Restaurant and dinner was on us - as a beleated Birthday gift to Tonyia.    As expected - dinner was excellent.  Rich and Nick and I all opted for the Haddock Platter, and Tonyia had the Moonraker Mahi Mahi.    

After dinner we walked the boardwalk along the Lake......

This is the SS Minnow...........cleverly done at the end of one of the scenic docks. 

Lots of fish and turtles to be seen along the walk.....probably all looking for food!

We stopped for a bit to take in the crowd listening to music at the town center.   

And like most people who don't live here we got caught up in the abundance  and variety of different golf carts.  More golf cart traffic than automobiles. 

Back at the Villa...........It was time for an adult beverage......Tonia and Rich had the frozen Dacquari, Nick - the Pina Coletta, and holding up my drink as I take the picture is my Marguarita!    Tonyia then introduced us to a new dice game.   It's been a long time since I've been able to get Rich at the table playing a GAME....but we  played six games - The guys were best two out of three in the first - and Tonyia and I pulled off the second best of three.   

In between games - we all went outside to view the light show........a little thunder and lots of ligntening.  Nick had his phone out taking a video - so he better send me some pictures!
The guys didn't want to get beat again - so they enjoyed the evening outside and Tonyia and I played about six more games.   Tonyia and I were trying our best to come up with good reasons for them to stay one more day....

 .... IT WAS NEARLY midnight when we finally called it a day.

And they took off right after lunch for the trip back to Wauchula.....

We really enjoyed their visit.........and hope they come back again before we leave.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A few precious hours................

Our son Dennis was here in Florida for a few days for his High school Reunion.   He came in a few days ago - visited with family in the Tampa area, caught a Minor League Game over in Palm Beach, and a  Rays Game at the Trop.

Since we were away for the tournament the past several days, this was the last day he could visit with us before heading back home to Davenport Iowa.

Time just seems to fly by whenever he's here, and today was no different.   Most of the day we just sat around and talked.  Caught up with news about the grand-kids and Krystal.  Just before 11:00  he and his Dad headed out in the golf cart for Dunkin Donuts.  Rich goes there several times during the week.  Mostly guys - pickleball players who do a little trivia and solve the problems of the world. over a cup of coffee.

Denny caught up with Rich in the bedroom, at the computer and learned a little bit about the stock market, trading and financial management 101!    I on the other hand introduced him to a little Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey - one of my favorite new beverages!

It was off to Golden Corral for dinner where there's always a little bit of everything. If you can't find something you like - you're just not hungry!

And then it was time to say good bye...

Have a safe trip home

We Love You, Dennis


Monday, July 16, 2012

The Drive Home............

We were up fairly early Sunday morning and decided we would drive straight through until we got home today. Figuring it would take somewhere between 9 and 10 hours, depending on how many times we stopped, we had the complimentary breakfast at the hotel, finished packing, filled the coffee cups and were on the road just before 10:00 am.

As I said before - I had my camera in the trunk of the car on the trip TO Louisiana, and I missed a lot of good photo opportunities.   Thought I would get the same on the way home , but for some reason I didn't find as many as I'd hoped.   And when I did - the camera I have left a lot to be desired.

First landmark - leaving Louisiana and entering Mississippi

These are a couple of pictures of the Pascagoula River .  This river  is located in southeastern Mississippi and is about 80 miles long.   These pictures were taken  in the area they call a "rich network of channels an bayous" - where it empties into the Gulf of Mexico.  I read that it was #9 on the Most Endangered River List - but that was in 2009,

This first picture as we crossed the river shows a nice rain shower in the distance - some threatening clouds. 

That is NOT a water spout in the middle of the picture.... just the reflection from the window. 

Leaving Mississippi - we are now in Alabama. 

Always like to catch the skyline..........And here we are entering Mobile - near the  Bay.

Along the bay area here you can see Battlefield Park.... but before you get there you have to pass through the George Wallace Tunnel - which goes under the Mobile River, connecting downtown Mobile with Blakeley Island  and the elevated portions of I-10 that cross Mobile Bay.

As you pass along the elevated portions of I-10 across the Bay you get a glimpse of Battleship Park and the might USS Alabama Battleship. which had over 3 years of active duty during World War II.  The ship was returned to Alabama in the 60's and in 1969 opened to the public. 

 And then we were back in Florida heading for 75 South and home....

Day Three in Mandeville

The tournament was held at the Castine Center at Pelican Park in Mandeville, LA.  The venue was absolutely beautiful.  They was a large foyer area where registration tables, brackets and score keeper tables and pickleball vendor Pickleball Specialties set up.  A large lunch room was provided with tables for meeting up with friends, eating and resting between matches.  Firehouse subs, chips and pickles were provided each day for lunch for all the players.  Water and fresh fruit were available all day long.

On Saturday, the 60-64 age group started play at 7:30 am.  I managed to grab a few pictures of Rich with his partner, Winnie Momtgomery, from Texas. 

They played very well together, but missed going into the medal rounds by 3 POINTS!!  Gary and I didn't do that well.... but we played five matches and did better each match.  Unfortunately our total points were FAR short of qualifying for the  medal rounds.  But we all played our best and had a GREAT time. 

We were done early, but stayed around to referee a few more matches before we headed back to the hotel.  We said goodbye to friends.. wished them luck in their remaining matches............and we anxious to hear how everyone finished.

After a hot shower and a little relaxing we were ready for a good meal.  For the last few days it's been Firehouse subs and Subway - so we were ready to sit down and enjoy........We headed for the Outback Steakhouse where we shared a Blooming Onion.....I had the fillet and shrimp and Rich the NY Strip with Crab Legs...........EXCELLENT!!!

Day Two in Mandeville, LA

On Saturday our age group for doubles was not scheduled to begin play until about 11:00am. We arrived early because both of us had agreed to be referees when not playing. Before getting started we got a chance to chat with a few friends that had not made it to the social the night before

Below Rich with Bob Huskey - who got stuck in traffic on his way from Opelika, Al.  We first met Bob when Rich partnered with him at the National Senior Games three years ago in Ft. Lauderdale, Fl.  Also pictured is Kandy Aker and Mark Stemmerman from The Villages.

The tournament was scheduled for three days, Friday - doubles play, Saturday- mixed doubles, and Sunday - the singles  competition.   There was close to 200 players and we had 23 teams in our mixed doubles age group!

 Cindy and I played very well - but didn't medal. We played four matches and finished 2 and 2.  Our last match was the best against a team from California. It was neck and neck all the way - but we lost 21 to 20!!  We played well and had a great time and that's all that matters!

Rich and his partner Paul Coletta did much better.  They had some really tough competition especially from the team from Arkansas.  They played them first and lost, and then met up with them again in the medal rounds.  The second game was another tough round.   They came home with the Silver Medal!  


We look forward to this tournament each year - you get to meet new people from across the country and make new friends.  Then you look forward to seeing them again the next year.

The round robin format for a tournament is definitely not our favorite - especially when each match is only one game to 21 points.   The other thing is that they don't post results, so you never know where you stand - and you never know who took a medal unless you happen to run into them. With a couple of hundred people in the building, that doesn't always happen.  So I know that some of friends finished with a medal - but I'll have to wait to see the results when they are posted.  Below I did get a picture of Nancy and Marcia from Ft. Myers with their Gold Medal though.

Because I was playing in the tournament AND refereeing - I didn't get a chance to get as many pictures as I normally do.   But I managed to  catch one of Sharon Richard from Louisiana (far court) and Prissy (left).  In the bottom left is Kandy and Mark from The Villages, and bottom right I found Kathy Miller our Florida neighbor (far court left).

It was close to 7:00pm by the time we got back to our room.   We were both exhausted and hungry.  Even after the shower we didn't feel like heading back out .  Just behind the hotel is a little "plaza" with a gas station, Subway, Liquor Store... so we walked over and got a Sub, went next door and picked up a bottle of wine (and Rich got a candy bar!) and went back to our room to eat, catch the news and call it a night.

ONE more  thing!!!  We told a lot of you about our trip here last year and the store behind the hotel withe the DRIVE THROUGH -  A drive through where you can pick up your made to order Daiquiri - and drive off........ We have been told  that it's perfectly within the law -- JUST DON"T PUT THE STRAW IN!!!
And here is a picture to prove it...

And .... The Drive Through Window!!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

To Louisiana for the Mid South Regional Tourney

It's been a while since I've updated this Blog........but there has not been a lot to report about our life at The Villages...... It's pretty much pickleball, pickleball, bunco, pickleball, bunco or pickleball........... Tim and Marlene, and Cathy, and Cindy and Nancy have all gone back to their homes, so it's just me and Rich and miss them all so much!

 On Wednesday we headed out for the Mid South Regional Pickleball Tournament in Mandeville, LA.   We  drove as far as Pensacola and stopped to spend the night at a Days Inn before heading on to Louisianna.  Both of us were pretty tired so we just ordered Pizza delivery from Pizza Hut.   Crossing the panhandle of Florida we passed into the Central Time I'm not sure what time it was when we called it a night.

On Thursday morning we continued or trip into Louisianna.  I ALWAYS have my camera with me wherever I go........but for some reason I put it in my pickleball bag, and put the pickleball bag in the trunk of the car!   As we drove along I-10 through Alabama and Missippi I could have kicked myself - with the overcast sky - I could have got some great shots.    I'll have to catch them on the return trip, I guess.

We  arrived at the Microtel Hotel in Pearl River, Louisiana about 1:00 - and checked in to our room .  We stayed here last year when we came for the tournament; it's a brand new hotel - the rooms are great - the breakfast is excellent AND free, and the price is reasonable...........

Tonight , the night before the tournament begins - there was a social for all the players held in Covington, LA.  We received our tournament bags, with our t-shirts, our beads! ( Hey - we're in Louisiana!), got our tickets to win some great door prizes, and bought some raffle tickets.  

But the best part of the evening was seeing old pickleball friends, and meeting new ones. 

Below (top left) Rich with Tom Burkhart - the USAPA Regional Director for the Mid South Region, Rich with his mixed doubles parter, Winnie Montgomery from Texas, Rich with his EX Pickleball partners, Roxanne Ware ( his parter from Texas at the National Senior Games - they took the Silver!) and Cynthia Boudreau ( his partner last year at the Mid South tournament - where they took the GOLD), and Rich with his doubles partner Paul Coletta, from Flat Rock, NC.  They played together last year at this tournament and took the Gold!

The bad part was not being able to sit with all our friends.......Our table was all the players from Florida - Marcia and Byron Fresno  ( Waumauma, FL),  Cathy and Gary Miller ( Poinciana, FL) - Gary is my mixed doubles partner in the tournament.  Cindy Eddleman and Nancy Meyer (Ft. Myers, FL) - and Cindy is my doubles parter.  And the last picture is Donna and Gary Ball.  Actually - they are now living in Michigan - but are previously from Sun City Center, Fl.  Gary says they are really still Floridians!! Mark and Kandy, from The Villages should have been at our table - but Kandy got a bit of food poisoning the night before - so was resting up to play in the morning.  We missed them.

Dinner was great.......and true Louisiana style.  You had your choice of Jambalaya or  Black Beans and Rich with potato and tossed salad and bread, with cake for dessert.   Some great door prizes were given out -but ALAS..... neither Rich nor I had the right numbers tonight.

Neither did Byron - so he took to playing with his beads and caught the attention of everyone at the table.  What a ham!!

Many of you know that I am the Regional Director for USAPA for the Atlantic South Region.  That includes AL, GA, NC, SC and Florida.  We had a great group of players from our Region show up for this Mid South Tournament - and I had the opportunity before dinner to invite everyone here to our upcoming Regional Tournament in February in Naples.

Below are some of our new acquaintances from the North Georgia area.

And from Alabama - this is Jerry and Virginia Corker from Mobile.  We met them here last year.  They brought with them two younger players that will also be competing.  Bob Husky - from Opelika is also playing - but did not make it to the social tonight!

And one of the best things about the whole evening was seeing our friends Prissy and Marty Martin - from Louisiana.  We met them here in Mandeville last year and told them about The Villages.  We spent time with them last summer when they came and stayed at The Villages.  It was just wonderful seeing the two of them again.  I hope before this tournament is over that we get the chance to spend some time with them - maybe dinner one night!

Well the doubles competition begins early tomorrow morning.  Rich and I will be referees until our age group plays.......... so I guess it's time to call it a night!