Sunday, October 8, 2017

Not much going on this week.....more baking, dinner out, family football

The week went by really fast.  Lots and lots of rain which means more and more weeds!!  So pulling weeds is about the most active I've been all week, when it wasn't raining or 100 degrees outside.  Sure do wish we'd start getting some cooler weather.  Neighbors called about our pesky gator out back, and they are supposed to be coming to take him away.

Ran out of all those goodies that Rich made last week ( actually one more loaf of homemade bread still in the freezer) so I did a little easy baking: 2 dozen peanut butter/chocolate chip cookies, and 2 dozen oatmeal raisin cookies. ( I know the picture says Oatmeal chocolate chip - but that is wrong!!)

Tried a couple new recipes this week too: a meat sauce for hot dogs, and a really good pork chop and gravy crock pot recipe!

On Thursday we met up with Buddy and Dianne at the Hibachi Buffett in Sebring.  Just the four of us this time.  Haven't seen them since before the hurricane, so it was a nice evening just catching up...............and we're starting to make plans for Thanksgiving.  These two keep so busy........during the winter with Music and Church.........They've already informed us that starting in November they are booked every night except Saturday!  And then NOT the third Saturday of the month!  Whew!

Friday seems to be our Pizza night.  No.......not every Friday, but it seems that whenever we plan's always a Friday!  I do cook the sauce ( with supervision from Rich) - but he does the preparation, and I clean up the mess!!  This week was a meat lovers'  pizza with ground beef, sausage and pepperoni!  Nice job Rich....................and delicious!

Always like to keep up with what the kids are doing.  And of course, now that it's football season, that's where the family hangs out when it's a home game.  This week was homecoming...........

Dalton plays in the marching band and this week they did something special.  The children's hospital is right next door to the stadium, and at half time everyone in the stadium waves to the kids, watching from their windows!  This week the band made a waving hand on the field.  AWESOME!

Click on the link below to see the video!
Hawkeye Marching Band has a new move - a giant wave to the kids.❤️

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Meanwhile..more cleaning up!, cooking, baking and a fun night out with friends.

We're still cleaning up around the house.  And working outside is still no fun!  Fall has arrived, but you could never tell by looking at the thermometer!  It's been hovering around 100 degrees almost every day, until the last few.  Most of the brush is out front waiting for the country to take away...........We thought our yard was bad....they had three times the amount of tree limbs across the street!  And just a few days ago, Rich got the ladder out to clean out all the gutters that were clogged - or close to it!   

Our neighbors, Jim and Patty have a handyman that does work for them, most recently putting up and taking down storm shutters, and repairing their lanai roof and replacing the screen.  Ronnie, will be helping us out as well, and we expect that within the next week or so, he will be replacing the fascia board on the roof, and repairing the screens on our back sliders.  

I really enjoy cooking so made a couple special dishes this past week.

One of my newer recipes for Crock Pot Pork Tenderloin was delicious..... Thickened the sauce which made a great gravy for the mashed potatoes.

.but  while the Pasta e Fagioli looked very good we were both a little disappointed.  Next a little less tomato, and a bit more Chicken stock.   

Or try a new recipe!!

Friday we headed to Fort Myers to meet up with friends Nathan and Krystal at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater.  We hit some pretty wicked rain storms on the way, and got stuck in traffic about a mile and a half from the theater.

But arrived in plenty of time to enjoy and adult beverage, an awesome buffet that included chicken, pork with a cherry sauce, white fish and Beef Sirloin, complimented by veggies, potatoes, rice, varied salads, lobster bisque and every desert imaginable!  The show was "Groovin' The 60's & 70's Musical, and it was excellent!  They have two more coming up soon that I'd like to see; Pippin and Chicago. 

Since it's only an hour and a half away, we decided not to spend the night.  A bit late when we finally got home, so we both slept in later than normal the next morning.  Saturday was a fun day!   Rich wanted to make some home made yeast risen bread, so I made a quick trip to the grocery store since I had no yeast... and picked up a few other items. (Also stopped at the hardware store and picked up some new house numbers to replace the sign over the mailbox).

Funny though.......I did not fix a meal at all, all day Saturday.  We threw a hot pocket in the microwave at lunch time ( which was after 1:00 o'clock....and sometime after 6........we sliced the still warm bread...........and that was dinner!!

Well..............we did have dessert a little later..............A small banana split, with vanilla ice cream, crushed pineapple, chocolate or hot fudge, peanuts and whip cream!!!!  We were sooooooooo bad!!   But it was soooooooooo  good.

Sunday was a bit more of the same...

Rich was still in the mood for baking so together we made cream puffs with a whip cream and french vanilla pudding filling.Mmmmmmmm...  delicious!  Yes, I had ONE!........Monday, I definitely must go back to being good and eating better!

Checking out some of the shows coming soon.  There are a lot of good ones this year at the Broadway Palm, Visani Comedy Club, and the South Florida Performing Arts Center.......

Just a few favorite pictures~

This past week, Dennis' job took him to Hawaii........... I know  - real tough job, right?   He sent pictures from Waikiki, Honolulu.  Here's just a few of the many

And I swear this guy has a t-shirt for every occasion!! While in Hawaii, he ran into an Army Brother and softball teammate from when he was stationed at Fort McPherson, Ga.  They have not seen each other since 2001, 16 years ago! Dinner together at Buffalo Wild Wings in Pearl, Hawaii!

Long flight back to Iowa on Saturday!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Back Home........Cleaning up after Irma!

We left Chiefland, Fl and headed for home on Sunday.  It was only a little better than 3 hours and we were anxious to get back, see the neighborhood, and the neighbors and start to get back to normal.   Heading toward Ocala, and then along the Fl Turnpike and into Clermont we saw some nasty damage and flooding.  Being further north in Florida and Alabama we had not yet witnessed the real wrath of hurricane Irma. So it was really sad to see the damage to homes, the electric poles about ready to topple, the flooding and the thousands of trees toppled to the ground.

Not having any food at home we decided to make a stop at Denny's near Haines City, near I-4. and have breakfast.  Continuing on down US 27 through Avon Park, Sebring and on into Lake Placid, things just seemed to get worse, the further south we travelled.  So many trucks working on the electrical poles and the massive amount of trees down.  We saw the electricians all working along Catfish Creek, not far from home. Heard from neighbors that every electrical pole along that road had to be replaced!

The damage at home was ugly, but nothing really bad.  We feel so blessed that while we had a real mess to clean up......we had a undamaged house to come home to.  Several of our neighbors had roof damage and were covered with blue tarps.  Our closest neighbors Jim and Patty had some minor damage to their lanai roof and screen cage, and Phil and Dorene lost a few roof shingles.

Our damage was limited to the yard, with the exception of one piece of fascia board on the back of the house.  The palm trees were totally flattened...and I'm not real sure exactly what we need to trim, or if they will be OK. Half of the tree down by the boat house was laying across the yard.  The other half is leaning far left!  That was the biggest mess!

So far we've got the tree and all the tree limbs out front to be hauled away. We hosed down the lanai and moved the furniture back. (We had not taken down the new shades, but Rich had tied them up pretty good, and they were still just like new!!)  Lots of raking around the yard and around the bushes.  Today we hosed down the front porch and that is still drying as I type. 

The best news is that we've heard from all our family and all our friends and they are all safe with minimal damage.   Most of the businesses along Interstate Blvd are still not opened. But the grocery store and the drug stores are open and so is Yums Chinese takeout which is where we ate our first night home.  It was grocery shopping today.............and the meatloaf is in the oven!

In the meantime the family in Iowa is keeping busy.  Over the weekend Dennis and Crystal headed to Iowa City, Kinnick Stadium, where the University of Iowa Hawkeyes beat North Texas......... and where Dalton now performs with the marching band. 

And Chauna was home for the weekend and with Dad they volunteered at the King's Harvest  Pet Rescue No Kill Shelter! Dennis and Crystal both volunteer there, as does Chauna when she's home from school.  So proud of this family!!!

 Today Dennis takes off to northwest Alabama!  ( Of course - that where we just left!!! )  That's for work, and from there he flies to  Hawaii!  Can't wait to see the pictures he shares from Hawaii!!!  Safe travels, Dennis!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Last stop...........

Thursday was our last night in Tallahassee.  We chatted with a few people who were staying there.  Rich helped a gentleman and his wife from Fort Myers with finding gas stations on the way home using Gasbuddy.........and spent a lot of time talking with Douglas from Jacksonville, who was in the business of helping failing businesses.  They had a lot in common and traded e-mails to stay in touch.

We had dinner at Ruby's Diner and Catering the night before and it was sooooo good that we decided to go back for dinner on Thursday.  I enjoyed the Country Fried Steak so much.........that I ordered it again; this time electing the mashed potato instead of fries.  Rich opted for the daily special Chicken and Dumplings.  Again........absolutely delicious.

We didn't get on the road until after 10:00, and headed for the Quality Inn in Chiefland, Fl.   On the way we stopped in Perry, Fl for lunch.   Looks like the place that most of the locals go for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Daily specials.  Rich ordered a burger and onion rings.  The onion rings were HUGE.....and delicious!  I had the Reuben sandwich which was not the best I've ever had, but it was good.


 Another very nice hotel, fast friendly staff, hot breakfast, clean and spacious rooms, nice area with a variety of places to eat, and a really nice outdoor pool. 

It was about 7:39pm and we still had not made any plans for dinner.  After having such a big lunch we opted to stay in.  I had 2 hot dogs left in the cooler, and one Hot Pocket. There was a little sharp cheese, some pretzels and some oreo cookies!!!  Yes folks, that was dinner.  We had one bottle of water left, and I bought a bottle of sprite at the vending machine!   Nothing else exciting. 

Tomorrow morning, whenever we wake up, we'll head for home. It's only about 31/2 we'll take our time and hope the traffic isn't too bad.   It will be so good to be back home!!!  

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Starting the trip back homo

Fortunately we were out of Florida and safe in our room in Tuscaloosa, AL, when Hurricane Irma started her destruction on the peninsula of Florida.

It got really scary when they actually showed Wauchula and Sebring on the Weather Channel because  of  the velocity of the winds in that area. And as I check Duke Energy every day it is both Highlands County and Hardee County that will probably be waiting the longest to get power restored.  All they are saying right now, is that the areas are being "assessed" and restored power will be AFTER September 17th.

On Tuesday we decided to begin the trek back home, booking three nights at the
Quality Inn in Tallahassee, FL.  Ran into some very very slow traffic on I-10 E.... but finally made it back to the Sunshine State.

The hotel was easy to find, just off  I-10.  We were lucky to book when we did.  The hotel was completely sold out!  Decent hotel, friendly staff, rooms are very clean and comfortable, nice hot breakfast......and most everyone here is heading back home, either to Florida or Georgia.

Unfortunately, there are not of places to eat around here.......and Rich was hurting pretty back from the drive.  There was a Waffle House next door ( I swore I would never go back here!!!).  We were hungry and tired.............and surprisingly, the food was very very good.  Because of recent outages they did not have a full menu, so we just ordered the special..... WOW  That included eggs, hash browns, sausage/bacon, toast and waffle!!

Tonight we found this great little Diner - Ruby's Diner.  Really great staff, delicious food!  We both had the Country Fried Steak.  We just may go back there tomorrow!!

On Friday our plan is to go a little further south - still staying of I-75.  Everyone right now is trying to get home, and the traffic is just bumper to bumper and cars are getting stranded, running out of gas.  And better than 65% of the gas stations are still empty.   So the plan is to stay in Chiefland, Fl.... down on  US- 19.  We are hoping to be able to head for home Sunday or Monday???????  Again that will depend on the status of power!


Monday, September 11, 2017

Hurricane Irma cont......

People here at the Quality Inn in Tuscaloosa, AL are just as friendly as can be.  We've spent time chatting with families from Miami, Tampa, a couple from Venice, and another couple from Ocala.  Gena - the lady that works behind the counter is a sweetheart.........been working here for 12 years.  

We decided to order in tonight and she suggested the Broadway Pizzeria!  Rich ordered spaghetti and meatballs/garlic bread, and I ordered an 8"pizza with chicken, onions and peppers.  Excellent.  I ordered by phone for delivery and the lady called back ..........she previously lived in Polk County in Florida and wanted to do something for us.......and personally delivered our meal along with a litre bottle of Dr. Pepper!!

Irma made her way north today, but fortunately just brought rain to the area.  The temperatures were in the 60's today, so between that and the rain - you can imagine how happy Rich was. (Especially since he forgot to pack long pants!)

We decided to try and start heading back towards home so booked a few nights at the Quality Inn and Suites in Tallahassee.  We'll leave for there tomorrow morning.

Our neighbors Phil and Dorene across the canal called today to tell us that Lake Placid was a mess and everything was shut down.  Several electric poles laying across the roads.  He wanted to know if he could get in our house to take out any garbage and get food out of our refrigerator.  What great neighbors!   We told him to take anything that was still good, anything he needed from the pantry, and to take the extra tank of propane in the garage.  What a relief........ I could not imagine what that would smell like when we're finally able to get home!

The other good news is that everyone we know, family and friends is safe with little, minimal or no damage at all.  Prayers really do work!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Hurricane Irma...........

And then there was Hurricane Irma...This one will be remembered for a long time.  I think it's the biggest to hit the US.  And it's been a pretty scary time.  I think everyone was glued to the weather channel as this one made it's way from the shores of Africa to the Florida Keys, growing by the day into a dangerous Cat 5 Hurricane.

On Thursday the 7th we finally made the decision to leave home.  It was at that time predictions were to have the hurricane follow a path up the spine of the state of Florida, and Storm surges for the east coast would be large enough to have Lake Okeechobee overflow its banks. So we packed our bags, some food and water, our important papers etc. and hit the road on Friday morning, the 8th.

Trying to find a hotel had not been easy.  Motels were book throughout the northern part of the state and well into Georgia and Alabama.  I was finally able to find a room for one night at the Rodeway Inn in Perry, Fl, just south of Tallahassee.

A pretty old building, and definitely nothing fancy - but we were not in a position to be too fussy.  The rooms were huge, and very clean, but the beds were very very uncomfortable.  From home to Perry would normally be a 4 1/2 hour drive, but it took us about 10 1/2 hours to get there.  At one point on US 19 N it took us 2 1/2 hours to move 12 miles!  Gas stations that were open and still had gas were very hard to find, and with the gas we had left in the tank we knew we would not make it to the hotel.  Finally found one open.  Waited in line for more than 45 minutes to get to a gas pump!   Needless to say we were exhausted when we arrived, and Rich's leg was really bothering him.  We called Dominoes to have a pizza delivered, and called it a day.

We left Perry before 7:00am, headed for Tuscaloosa, AL.  Stopped at McDonald's about 1/2 mile from the hotel to fill the thermos with coffee. I waited for 2 cups of coffee for about 25 minutes. They made one pot at a time and the place was full.  During that time they ran out of most food.  The only thing left was Egg Mcmuffin, Sausage Biscuit and McGriddle.  And you could only get Black Decaf Coffee .  Sugar yes, cream - NO!  So by 7:30 we were back on the road.

Didn't take a lot of pictures on the road.  But I don't remember every driving through Alabama!  Passed this red antique car on this Alabama back road!

The drive to Tuscaloosa was not as bad as the previous day.  And we arrived at our hotel early afternoon.  Very nice hotel, very clean, comfortable rooms.  Great area to sit and relax near the lobby, and a very nice hot breakfast each morning.

Rich got to talking with a couple people who here for the Alabama football game, but most everyone else we talked to was evacuating from Florida.   Original plans were to leave here on Monday, hoping we could start the trip back home........but we know that's not going to be possible, so we were able to book a couple more nights.   The only thing we know right now about "home" is that we lost power about 5 this afternoon.  And as we watch the weather station now, they continue to talk about Sebring and Wauchula.  Just heard that Wauchula is getting winds over 100 mpr!  Friends, Buddy and Diane live in Wauchula in a modular home............but are in Montgomery, AL right now watching this!!!

Tonight we did wander out long enough to get something to eat.  Went to the Grand Buffet (Chinese).   It was TERRIBLE!  I know..........I complain about food most everywhere we go...........but even Rich said that it was the worst Chinese Buffet he's ever been too...........

OH Well.............about time to call it a day.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Meeting Friends, Dinner & Show, and Football

Our resident Black Snake - headed for the Aloe Plant....................Looks like he's getting bigger!

On Thursday we met up again with Buddy and Diane and Nathan and Krystal at the Hibachi Grill in Sebring.   Krystal has be recouping from the surgery and while she still has bad days, she's doing real good.  Buddy and Diane have been away most of the summer, their last trip to the Florida panhandle.........So it was our first get together since May.  Great time catching up............and laughing!  And having such a good time that no-one remembered to take a PICTURE!!

We'll get together again this month........and Nathan and Krystal are going to Ft. Myers with us again to the Broadway Palm near the end of the month.  Already planning on our "yearly" Thanksgiving get together.

On the way home from Hibachi on Thursday, it looked like a pretty bad storm the closer we got to home........Really dark clouds to the south, and then a big spot where the sun broke through onto the lake.  But didn't look like we got any rain at home...........not until about midnight!  And now we're all waiting to see where Hurricane Irma is heading.

Saturday was the first home game at the University of Dennis and Crystal headed to Iowa City for the game.  Looks like they had a great time.

Here they are boarding the Hawkeye Express Train, that will take them to Kinnick Field.......

It's Game Time......and then Half Time.  Dalton makes the "big screen" during Half Time!

  The marching band ready to take the field.......  The picture at the far right is the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital.  On "Game Day"  all the children watch the game from the window's.  The Kids always look forward to this tradition.  And there is  "new" tradition at Kinnick stadium this year!  At the end of 1st Quarter the WHOLE stadium waves at the children in the hospital.

Our granddaughter was moved by this new proud of her.  This is what she had to say:

" It may not seem like much, but being at the game and waving at the children caused me so many emotions and gave me chills.  Looking up and seeing them watch the game, holding up "Iowa" signs is completely amazing. 
I pray for these children and their families, that one day they will be able to watch from the stands or their house.  What the hospital does is truly amazing and the support they give, and get, is incredible. I'm extremely proud to say that I'm a Hawkeye and will forever be one. ❤💙💕

Today, Rich and I took a trip into Sebring to see the Movie, Wind River, "a chilling thriller that follows a rookie FBI Agent who teams up with a local game tracker with deep community ties and a haunted past." 

Excellent move; we enjoyed it very much.  After the movie, we enjoyed a delicious meal at the Outback Steakhouse......

Of course we just HAD to order the Bloomin' Onion!  Rich did the Steak and Lobster.....said was good, but the lobster not as good as Red Lobster!  My Fillet was not as tender as I'm used to getting it, but it was still very good.  Besides the gift card we got using our points from Choice Hotels paid for most of the meal. !

When we left for Sebring it was POURING RAIN........very hard and very very windy.  But on the way home, the sunset over the lake was really pretty!

Well there is one more day before the Labor Day Holiday Weekend is over.  But no plans for tomorrow.....just grocery shopping and a little baking.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Screens for the lanai

First..............a visitor on the back slider!  This has to be one of the largest grasshoppers I've ever seen!

He spent a good amount of time on the window.... have not seen him since!

We have been putting off getting blinds for the back lanai, ever since we had someone come and measure and then try to install...............and we sent them back!  Whoever built the attached screened lanai did one really bad job.  There are NO square corners - and nothing is a "normal" size.  So about a week and a half ago, I got on  After Rich talked with them for a couple of minutes to make sure he understood how they would be cut............he did his measurements and we ordered to blinds..

Before they arrived he bought and installed  a couple one inch pieces of the white frame on each side, and lowered the horizontal one at the top.    He installed the blinds on Friday........... I am very very pleased with the way they look.  Given the frame that he had to work with - I think he did an awesome job!

What I like is that they do a great job keeping the sun out.....and you can still see out them.

The last couple of days I've been doing some research on lakefront cabins in both Wisconsin and Minnesota............. We are considering an extended stay there next summer, as it is closer to Dennis and the kids.     We still have a two or three options at Black Lake too.............But it WOULD be a nice change..........

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Grand-Kids are both off to college..........

Last Tuesday was the first trip for Dennis and Crystal to the University of Iowa.  This trip was to get Dalton settled in his new dorm.....for his Sophomore year.  Dalton's girlfriend Sara ( we call her extended family).... was also back for her Sophomore year!   Here's the group photo before Mom and Dad head back home.

(Picture:  Dennis, Dalton, Crystal, Chauna, and Sara in the front)

On Thursday they were back in Iowa City to get Miss Chauna settled into her dorm, as she starts her Freshman year.  Lots of stuff to move in........and a little grocery shopping too.  There's Sara again!

Back home at the "empty nest"  Dennis and Crystal toast to Success!

Dennis: "  Very rarely do this but gonna toot the horn.  Did a success toast.  The kiddos Dalton and Chauna have fledged the nest (but will drop in)! Think we did pretty "daum" good!  W couldn't be more proud that they have went out and on to adulthood!  I'm not gonna list their success bcuz it would take a lot of time bcuz they are that good!  Our guidance, their accomplishments!  We Miss & Love YOU dearly but also know that you will continue to Succeed!"💕

Great Parents!  Great Kids!  (Well, young adults!)

 It's been less that a week.................and Dennis is showing how much he misses the "kiddos"!    This is what he posted on the kids face book page today!😄😄

As for Rich and I...........not much going on. Ordered some new smoke detectors for the house, ordered new shades for the lanai ( they should arrive tomorrow!).  Yard work is about done......but the walks still need to be power washed!

Originally planned dinner with Nathan and Krystal for tonight - but Krystal is not doing real well........and has had a couple pretty bad days.  We'll try again next week.  Rich wanted to pick up a few things at Lowes to have what he needs to hang the outdoor shades, so as long as we were making the trip into Sebring, we stopped at Hibachi Grill.  First time back to our favorite place to eat since we got back from NY!  And we'll probably be here again next week!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Fun night out.........

Rich and I have been cooped up in the house ( too hot outside) or working our butts off outside ( too hot to work) since we got home from NY.   Time to get away!!!

So we headed to Sebring for  Movie and Dinner.  First stop was a late afternoon movie at the AMC Theater at Lakeshore Mall.   Decided to see Kidnap, with Halle Barry!  Very enjoyable picture........lots of action and suspense!  We enjoyed it.

With all the travel over the past couple of months, we earned a few extra perks/points when we stayed a Choice Hotels.   For every two stays before July 31st, you earned a free gift card.  Because we enjoy eating out, we opted for the gift cards for restaurants near home.  We got $200  (4  $50 cards) for Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and Outback Steakhouse.

So after the movie we headed for Olive Garden.  Rich had the Pasta fagioli, and Shrimp Scampi, and I had the Salad and Shrimp Carbonara.  Add the bread sticks and a glass of wine..................and dinner was excellent.

As we were finishing up our meal, our neighbors Phil and Dorene, who live across the canal from us, stopped by the table.  Chatted for a while and then stood outside for quite a bit longer just catching up on what we've all been up to.  Dorene and I promised to get together for bingo this week or next.  Sounds like a good plan............haven't been in quite a while.

A couple of stops before heading home, Home Depot and Lowes looking for some blinds, and a replacement Smoke Alarm for the hallway.  No sweets at home, so a quick stop at Publix  to take some cookies home.

Fun night out...........and nice to see friends.

Oh yeah!    I new drink I've got to try!  

Friday, August 11, 2017

Just getting work done............and trying to stay cool!

OK - so another week has gone by since we got home from up north.  And I still don't understand WHY we come back so early.  Trying to get anything done outside is almost impossible, when both the temperature AND the humidity are in the 90's!

But it was nice yesterday getting a nice rain shower.........actually a pretty awesome thunderstorm.  It was raining so hard and the wind was blowing so fast that the water coming of the roof  looked both like really thick fog in some places, and like a waterfall in others!    Look at the rain running off the neighbors roof!

  And .......... late afternoon on Thursday, our neighbor Jim knocked on the back slider and motioned for us to come out.  Patti almost caught an alligator, when it tried to take her bait while she was fishing off the dock!!  It was only a small one, about 3 1/2ft to 4 ft. long.   Pretty sure that someone has been feeding this fella.... he was  a bit too friendly.

Today I'm just back is pretty sore after the vacuuming and moving of furniture yesterday!    Rich is making pizza for dinner!  Tomorrow - maybe dinner and a movie!

And........... Sending off Happy Anniversary Wishes to our friends Nathan and Krystal.  Hope you're having an awesome day!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Back Home............

We left Black Lake on Saturday July 29th 😢 at 7:39AM.

Decided, especially with Rich's back bothering him, that we would take our time going home.  So our first leg of the trip took us to Falling Waters, West Virginia  Had to make a few stops!  First to fill up the gas tank, then drop off the change of address at the post office, and at about 10:30 we stopped for breakfast at Denny's!  ( Love getting the 15% AARP discount)!

PA State line by noon, Gas in PA ( $2. 53/gallon at Pilot!), about a 15 minute delay with road work,  and McDonald's for a milkshake for the road.  Maryland State Line about 3:20 and arrived at the Quality Inn-Spring Mills about 3:30, ordered a Pizza delivery and called it a night!  Great Hotel!

Sunday morning we were back on the road about 8:27, to the Virginia state line before 8:45.  Stopped at Denny's again for breakfast about 11:30 and gas again about 1:00pm.  We were only about 20 miles from the hotel when  we encountered our second traffic jam...... but fortunately it didn't last REAL long.   Finally checked in to the Rodeway Inn, in Charlotte, NC.   Do NOT recommend this hotel at all!  The building is fine, the rooms are very nice, but no coffee, no hairdryer in the room and a  very very uncomfortable part of town.  It was Subway for dinner.

Love the hills of Virginia!..And that's Lake Norman in N. Carolina.

Back on the road about 8:45 on Monday morning Hit a little bit of traffic around Charlotte, but no too bad. Gas at the Pilot station in Orangeburg ( $1..97/gallon). About 1.7 miles from our exit on to I-95 south, we hit yet another traffic jam.  An accident just past our exit.  It took us 43 minutes to go 1.7 miles!!!   A quick lunch and McDonalds, and arrived at the Econo Lodge in Brunswick, GA.  We had stopped here a couple of years ago on our way home.  Excellent hotel, and great hot breakfast.  ( But no coffee in the room!)  And Denny's was just across the street, so it was pasta for Rich and the Bourbon Chicken Skillet for me!

Tuesday, our last leg........On the road about 8:30, and hit the Florida State Line about 20 minutes later.  Back in the home state, so the sky was getting dark ( as you can see in the above picture, taken near Jacksonville. Last stop for gas, breakfast at Bob Evans, near Orlando, and home around 2:00 in the afternoon! The rest of the day - unpacking, unpacking, unpacking...........Chinese Takeout (no food in the house) and to bed early!

Wednesday and Thursday was grocery shopping, doing laundry, cleaning the back lanai and putting the furniture back out. Cleaning the front porch ( O my God!!!!  it was soooooooooooo dirty!). Friday, Saturday and  again tomorrow  ----- working in the yard!    (Haircut for Rich~~~)  Grass was mowed on Wednesday, and the Pest Control Guy came and sprayed on Thursday..........  The weeds were a foot high, I swear!  The palm trees had tons of new growth that needed to be cut, and the topiary in the front yard looked like a wild ugly bush!    And so after a hard day's work, we treated our selves to some delicious Strawberry Shortcake!

Nice to be home.  Well, kind of, anyway.  Love the comforts of home, but can't say much for this rainy, HOT weather!  We're already starting to plan for next year's trip..........and  while we've got three options for an extended stay at Black Lake - we are looking at other alternatives ( N. Carolina, Virginia, Main - or out Denny's way again).. But for right now, I need to contact our friends.....for a dinner date, and check out what's going on around town,  at the Show Palace, or down in Ft. Myers...................