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.