Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Whistlers Visit

This morning about 7:00 we were awakened by a familiar sound in the back yard.  The Whistling Ducks were paying us a visit.  They are around most every day - but it's the first time this year that so many have gathered so close.

All but a few of them were actually on the ground, in the grass just a few feet from the edge of our back deck, but as quite as I tried to be they all scattered when I opened the screen door!  But they didn't go far.  They gathered on the roof of our boathouse (top photo) and our neighbor's boathouse, allowing me to grab a photo!

A Fun Day with Friends

We spent most of the day Saturday with our friends Dieter and Helen.  They'll be heading back to Pennsylvania on Wednesday, so this was their last weekend in Florida. It was their turn to come here, so after their arrival just after 11:00 am, we chatted for a while, had some lunch and then headed for Sebring.

Saturday was an absolutely beautiful day with temperatures around 73-74 degrees, but sunny and breezy. Perfect temperature to head for the Highland Hammocks State Park in Sebring.   We had hoped to be able to catch the tram which would have given us the opportunity to see so much more of the park, but this time of year it fills up fast and they only run twice/day.  Helen and I probably could have spent a whole day here with our camera's in hand, but I knew that Dieter could not walk real far, so we needed to go slow and keep the walking to a minimum.

We stopped first at the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Museum, not real big - but we did watch a 15 minute video on the history of the  CCC and Highlands Hammock Park from the the construction of trails in the early 30's, the botanical garden projects and the work of the CCC  in  constructing roadways, dams, bridges and planting thousands of plants and trees.  Today Highlands Hammock encompasses more than 9,000 acres.

We learned that a couple of the trails included a board walk so that would be the easier walking.  From the museum we drove slowly around the 3.1 mile Loop Drive, admiring the beauty of the park and stopping briefly at times to check out some of the signs and markers and the trail openings and then stopped at the last trail, Fern Garden.

It took us maybe 35-45 minutes to walk this trail and I got a couple of shots of some of our favorite ground cover and shrubs and wild flowers/berries.

Most impressive was the palm trees and huge live oak trees scattered through the swampy areas.  And with minimal light filtering through the tress they are covered with bromeliads and Spanish moss. Below, Dieter and Helen rest for a minute on the boardwalk bench.

One day I will come back and spend the day enjoying ALL the trails. It is absolutely beautiful!

We left the park and headed a little further north to check out "Springtime on the Mall" a small festival with music, food vendors and several booths with vendors selling their arts and crafts.  It was about 3:00, so some of the vendors were closing shop, but still enough to get our attention.  Avon Park is a quaint little town and Helen and Dieter were impressed especially with that mammoth tree in the middle of the mall, and the historic Jacaranda Hotel.  And we stopped a little longer to check out the Eagle, at one of the booths.  Beautiful!

Dieter considered stopping for ice cream, and Rich had a hard time passing the booth with the funnel cakes.........but our next stop was for dinner at the Hibachi Grill so they refrained.  Like us, Hibachi is one of Dieter and Helen's favorite places to eat, and as usual the food was fresh, hot and delicious.  Rich and I particularly like the Mongolian Grill.............where he always fills his plate with a little meat and pineapple and an abundance of lo mien noodles grilled with garlic sauce and hot sauce.  I skip the meat and just fill my place with veggies pineapple and maybe some shrimp and have it grilled with garlic sauce.

Back at the house we just sat for a while, had a cold drink and talked.  About 6:30, wanting to get back to Northport before dark, they call it a day and left for home, but not before inviting us to stop and stay a few days with them in Pennsylvania on our way to Black Lake in June.  

It was a fun day, and we look forward to our next visit.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Enjoying the company..........

On Saturday we headed into Sebring to pick up a few things at Lowe's - a handle for the slider door and a small leaf blower.

We had made previous plans to visit with Nick and Tonyia.  Seems we just don't get together as often as we used to.  But it was real nice to spend a few hours with them yesterday.  Not hard to tell why they don't get away much; they have both been working so hard getting their new home remodeled and into shape.  And it's really coming together very nicely.  Rich and Nick spent most of their time in the "under construction" Tiki Hut, talking "men" stuff and enjoying a cold beverage, and Tonyia and I sat in the sun room (where it was air conditioned!) had a glass of wine and played a little Mexican Train.  Before leaving, we enjoyed a couple of Pizza's from Hungry Howie's. First time we'd ordered from there and they were very good.   We always enjoy our visits with them.

Since the "bird man" across the canal is in town, all the birds and ducks seem to gather in his backyard most every day.  I think he throws food out for them a couple of times a day.......You can often hear him calling  "Here Bird, Here Bird!!"   They all seem to know it's dinner time.

Today Rich was sitting out on the back lanai having his coffee and called to me.  There were several mallard ducks, some on the boat house, both ours and our two neighbors, and there were four of them perched on top of the nesting house in the back yard.  A little later you could here the peck, peck, peck of the red headed woodpecker.  He was going to town on the tree in our back yard.  Wish the pictures were better!  Gotta get a better camera...........for sure!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

He's Back!

Well, I actually do not know if it's a HE or a SHE..........but it's BACK!   Our "fuzzy headed friend" as Rich calls him greets us each day, just as he did last year.  This is a Western King Bird.  I understand that they migrate to this area each year.  Obviously this one has found his summer home.  Last year we saw not sure  which of the two this is, or if the other one is also visiting.  But last year they nested in our nesting house in the back yard.  And I saw this one checking it out again yesterday.

With the window tinting, he sees his reflection, and it constantly pecking at the glass.  Then finds his way to the table/chairs, the railing and the wind chime before he takes to flight.......and returns several times during the day to do the same.  

Monday, March 9, 2015

Congratulations on your WIN!!!

One of my very favorite things to do on this Blog, besides sharing our experiences is to share and celebrate our family's  experiences and success!

This is Rich's brother Bob Donald, and his wife Diane Burger who reside in Troy, NY.  They love to play Bridge and often travel for tournament play.

 I stole this picture from the New England website where it recently appeared with fellow players on the Winners Board.
Bob and Diane were winners at the 2015 Knockout Regional in Cromwell Ct. on Sunday February 15th.


Friends, Ft. Myers, Flea Markets and Fun!

On Sunday morning we were on the road about 9:45 headed to North Port, FL, to visit with our friends Dieter and Helen, from PA.   We had not seen them since our trip up north last June - so we were looking forward to catching up and spending the day with them.   We arrived at their home about 11:15.

Helen had prepared a great lunch of turkey, salami and Swiss cheese on marbles rye or wheat flat bread, mandarin orange jello, and a plate of jelly donuts and cream horns!   They had the day all planned, so about 12:15 we were on the road again, headed for Ft. Myers.  First stop was at the Fleamasters Flea Market.  This place has been around forever (opened way back in 1986) and it's huge ( 400,000 square ft of booths!)    Just about anything you can imagine.  ( And I loved that every other booth was not JEWELRY!)  Everything from antiques to fresh produce with a little furniture, books, arts and crafts, metal,golf and fishing and tackle shops, snack bars..........and a Music Hall!  Today the Dixielanders Jazz Band was playing; Jazz with a New Orleans flair.  People were dancing too on the large dance floor. We grabbed a dish of ice cream and sat and listened for a bit.

The fishing and tackle shops were pretty nice.  Good selection of  "new" stuff.  So Rich really enjoyed that.  He was able to find a new fishing pole (finally), just the size and weight he was looking for, to go with that new reel he got for his birthday!   AND - we saw this absolutely HUGE pole. (if you look in the picture you will see Rich holding it.  Under his left arm is the fishing pole he bought for size comparison!  And take a look at the size of that Reel!!!  I do wish I'd purchased that wall plaque.  Would have made a great conversation piece down on the dock!

You know...I'm always the one who wants to go to the flea markets and always comes home with NOTHING!   I also ALMOST bought picture that would have fit and looked perfect in our guest bathroom for only $5.  Always............almost!

Next on the agenda..... was a visit to the Shell Factory.  Love this place, and almost wish we had skipped the flea market.  We could have spent the whole day problem.  As soon as we got out of the car, you could hear the music playing and see the people dancing.  It was a festive atmosphere that was very inviting.

As you enter there is a huge photo of the layout of the Factory and Nature Park.  As indicated in the picture below, it is the largest gift store in the US and the largest retail shell store in the WORLD.  Some of the exhibits are really awesome............and look so real........below is the Pirates Exhibit, and the Military Museum.

 There is definitely something for everyone.  Below are just a few, including the Home Made Fudge area, some novelty gifts, and wine center.  The Candle Shop, the Beach Shack and the Holiday Center where Helen and I take a break and chat with Santa.

A couple of the most amazing and most interesting are these next exhibits:

First" The largest collection in North America of taxidermy animals!  These were spectacular!

And the second:   The signature piece of the new Shell Museum; the the sea shell replica of All Saints Church.  This along with some of the very largest shells you will ever see.  Beautiful!

We had no idea that there was still so much more to see.  But, by this time it's very late in the afternoon, and we still had dinner and about a 2 hour drive back to North Port and then on to home.  We  had dinner right there at Capt'n Fishbones Steak and Seafood Grill.  A little pricey - but not bad considering we were still at the park.  Rich opted for the spaghetti and meatballs, I just ordered the tuna sandwich ( which was huge!), and Dieter and Helen went for the grouper; Helen with the sweet potato fries and Dieter, the Grouper Reuben!  Food was OK.  Below is Dieter and Helen in front of restaurant.

We both would really like to go back here.  There is a large Nature Park with animals and reptiles, and botanical walks and garden, a fun water area, zip lines, and dog training area that we just did not have time to see.   And we would have liked to just sit, have a drink, dance and enjoy the music outdoors.   Our next overnight trip to Ft. Myers ( when we go to the Broadway Palm) will definitely include a return trip here.

Thank you Dieter and Helen for a really fun day.  Hope we see you at least once more before you head back north.

Thank you Nick!

Saturday morning was set aside for "car repairs".  Remember that "collision" with the golf cart a week or so ago, where the golf cart won?  Well today our good friend Nick,  offered his professional services, to repair that front fender.    He and Tonyia  arrived just after 10:00 am with breakfast from McDonald's so we sat an enjoyed a cup of coffee or juice and good conversation while we ate our food.   Nick and Rich headed for the garage and Tonyia cleaned up, poured another cup of coffee and sat down for a few games of SkipBo.   I was hot today, but I did finally let her win a game!  

Here's a before and after picture of the car.  Great Job Nicholas!  Thank you soooooo much.  We love you guys!

We had hoped the two of them could stick around for a while.  It was an overcast day, and great for fishing! And Tonyia and I could have pulled out the Mexican Train game and a bottle of wine for the afternoon!  Oh well......they had company arriving early afternoon - so I guess that our afternoon of fun will have to wait for another day.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Feelin' Proud

Just want to share some pictures of our beautiful granddaughter, Chauna, performing last night at the  Davenport Show Choir Show Off.    Those of you who don't know her....Look for the *

According to those was a great performance!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Deck Construction Completed.........Well maybe.

Rich completed the construction of the new rail on the back deck.  He was so glad to have it finished!  But while he thinks it's done - I still have a few more ideas.  Nothing as major as what he's already finished.    Still needs to be painted or stained, but with the treated lumber, I'm told that we should leave it set for several weeks before painting.

Originally I was going to paint it the same color as the deck floor, but I'm really liking the way it looks, so I think I'll discuss with Rich the option of just a clear stain.   I'd also like him to add two small posts at each back corner of the deck, close to the house, just to set it off a bit, and then we need to get a couple of solar lights for the front corners.  Too much to run electric for wiring lights, so they'll work perfectly.   Then I'm thinking of a small table and some flower pots......... You get the idea.