February 16 – Still Not Missing the Northern Weather!

We are staying so busy … seven days a week it seems … we marvel at how we ever had tme to work.

Last Sunday back to RC sailing races which I continue to love … and thanks to Canadian friends Luc and Helen Gloutney I am generally able to sail one their boats in each race.

That evening, we treated my cousing Sandy and Jeff to dinner.

Monday, back in the woodshop followed by Petanque (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5s9BpxOsOY4) in the late afternoon. 

Meanwhile Debbie, as on most days, can be found at classical stretch, line and belly dancing, water aerobics and even knitting

Tuesday, I had a scheduled check-up with my Sarasota dermatologist … who zapped me in several spots and then exercised a suspicious looking "growth" on the back of my right hand … waiting for results of a biopsy.

Thursday, Valentie's Day and the 54th anniversary of our enggement, I was able to finish the reworked piece, since the rosewood bowl I was working on for several weeks cracked and then broke due to a natural fracture in the wood.

This evening we had a Valentine's Day dinner with Joe and Jeanne Warwick at Sun N Fun's Boondocks Restaurant.

Yesterday, Karin McElvein, a high school girl friend visisting her sister in Tampa, stopped by and joined us for lunch, the first time we'd seen her in some 40 years although we've kept in touch by email.

This afternoon, Sun N Fun hosted its annual 50th anniversary luncheon,

recognizing those couples who were married in or prior to 1969. 

The seating was arranged with four couples at each table all of whom were married the same year, giving us a chance to meet more people, inclduing a lovely 89 year old woman on her second marraige and who has been coming to Sun N Fun for thirty years.  The after-lunch musical entertainemnt was very enjoyable.

While we will be reaching our 53rd anniversary in June, one couple at today's luncheon is celebrating their 68th anniversary this year.  Just 15 more years to go for us!

 

 

 

 

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February 9 – Another Week in Paradise

A lot of retired "seniors" joke that they have no idea how they had time to work.  Actaully, we can increasingly relate to that mentality … especially since the weather has taken a turn for the better (back home in PA they call this weather late spring or early summer).

I got in three rounds of golf this week two with a frined from Cape Cod who is spending a couple of weeks in the area.  The first I shot 42-42 for an 84, my best round in years.  This was folllowed by a 40-53, during which I demonstrated the inconsistency in my game! 

Debbie, continues to knit and took advantage of today's craft fair at Sun N Fun … where she sold seven blankets (get a free baby hat with the purchase of a blanket) and one baby hat. 

Like so many other activities around here, half the fun is seeing people we've gotten to know and meeting others.  She also donated a blanket and hat to the veterans' charity silent auction coming up in a couple of weeks.

In addiiton to her knitting group, classical stretch, and line & belly dancing, she's added water aerobics to her weekly schedule.

I have spent more time in the woodworking shop where I am close to finishing the redesign of the bowl which cracked on me. 

In addition I have taken up Petanque (pronounced "Petong"), a game similar to Bocci Ball.

The Sun N Fun photography club has been my latest "obsession".  Weekly classes, where I always pick up some interesting cretive tidbits, field trips

this week at Bayfront Park in downtown Sarasota

water droplets frozen in time

a fountain backlit by the setting sun

Saraasota shoreline at dusk

After which we enjoyed dinner at

with a table overlooking the inner harbor

and shooting assignments

last week Converging and Leading Lines

Singled out as the most creative

Sarasota National Veterans Cemetery

this week, Doggie Portraits

have added to my renewed enjoyment of a near life-long hobby!

We've a family of owls on the backside of the lake we sail on, altought I've only spotted the mother.

Meanthile, Debbie captures a stork enroute back from one of her dance classes.

 

 

 

 

 

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February 4 – A Week of Cool Temperatures

This past week has seen morning temperatures in the low 40os … until yesterday, not climbing to more than the low to mid 60os.  However, our family and friends back home have shown ZERO sympathy.  Wonder why?

The best news of the week was the arrival of Joe and Jeanne Warwick, great friends with whom we RV-traveled to Alaska in 2011 and with whom we have maintained a wonderful and growing friendship.

A Friday night performance of Phil Dirt & the Dozers with their reprieve of songs from the 50s, 60s and 70s

Over the past year, Debbie has been hard at work knitting baby blankets and hats.  Many of these have been donated to Project Linus.  However, she had still accumulated nearly two dozen blankets and roughly an equal number of baby hats.  Her solution … procure a table at last week's Sun N Fun flea market

The weather was rainy and the "crowd" of lookers and buyers fairly sparce for the first couple of hours.  Eventually, more people arrived and some began to stop … mostly to talk. 

Then, her first sale and biggest grin of the day! 

Meanwhile, Debbie's exercise and line and belly dancing schedule kept most of her mornigs busy.

I got in a couple of rounds of golf, shooting an 84 on Friday, my lowest score in years!   I purcahsed another piece of rosewood

and went back to the woodshop

where I turned it into a rough bowl.

Noitce the crack in the upper edge

Well, the crack began to split and the upper half of my efforts were now KAPUT!  For a couple of nights I considered whether to throw in the towel on this piece of wood or find some way to salvage it.  Stay tuned …

I have continued to sail with the RC Sailing group … borroiwng both the No. 8 (yellow hull) SOL boat

and the No. 956 (red hull) Dragon Fly boat …

fininshing anywhere between 2nd and 8th in fleets ranging from 5 to 11 boats.  It really is great fun!

Yesterday was the park's annual Homecoming, featuering "floats" (decorated golf carts), representing many of the major activity groups; Sun N Fun's answer to the Tournament of Roses parade!   This year's theme was "Game Boards". 

In lieu of an overflight, the parade was appropraitedly led by a small group of World War II and Korean War veterans

While some entries were relatively simple,

others went "all out", often with golf carts and people elaborately decked out!

Monopoly

Jumanji

Trivial Pursuit

Candyland

Clue

Battleship (Sailing Group)

OPERATION

SCRABBLE

 

And, despite the hundred or more people in the parade, an unofficial estimate of the park residents watching had to be at least 1,000 strong!

At the end of the parade route, a free lunch was available to participants and specators, alike (beer and wine available for just $3.00).

I also went on a weekly photo field trip, this one an evening visit to the Ringling Bridge (which connects Sarasota to Bird Key, St. Armands and Lido Key.

A waarm-up has begun, although heavy fog this morning.  This evening we finally had a susnset pretty enough to photograph!

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January 26 – Our First Three Weeks in Sarasota

First,since arriving in Sarasota, the weather has varied from a few cloudless sunny days with temperatures topping out in the low 80os … to quite a few cool (as low as the mid-40os) and overcast mornings.  When we watch the frequently firgid weather reports for Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New Hampshire, we're damn glad we're here!  However, as strange as it seems, our family and friends back up north appear to have very little sympathy for us when our temperatures drop below 50o for a few hours early some mornings.

Fortunately, we've been able to get together with Debbie's brother Dick Louis and wife, Kate Morse; my cousin Sandy and husband Jeff Fitts; and friends Tom and Sharon Briggs  Missing have been our best friends Ken, who is battling cancer but has made amazing progress in regaining his strength and mobility, and Cheryl Grenier.

While I walk with a group (I'm in the minority as almost all of the others are women) most mornings, Debbie has resumed her classical stretch classes … before several line dancing and even belly dancing (but there are no bellys exposed) sessions!  Unfortunately, I have been "advised" that no pictures are permitted!

When the weather finally warms up, she'll be back to the water aerobics classes she took last year.

Unlike most of our friends and family back home who were burdened by overast skies, we were able to observe the recent eclipse.

Debbie and I also attended an annual [U.S. and Canadian] Veterans' Pancake Breakfast fundraiser here at Sun N Fun and just this past week donated blood at the bloodmoble's visit to Sun N Fun.

I have been playing some golf each week

Local residents which can be found at every Sarasota area golf course

and in a scramble at Misty Creek with Jeff, our foursome finished low net.

I am again sailing radio-controlled boats on Sunday afternoons.

SOL One-Meter Class

Drafon Fly 95

There always seem to be one or two pelicans circiling above our races, occasionally diving for a meal

For the first time, I have joined the Sun N Fun photography group.  In addition to classes, we have done still-life floral shooting

and taken a field trip to the Venice Rookery.

Great Egret

Great Blue Heron

Anhinga

Blue Heron

and, a curious squirrel watching the two-legged photographers

Meantime, Debbie spotted a moth on a neighboring RV's tire just preading its wings for the first time.

We beleive this is an Antheraea polyphemus, which will eventually look like this:

Finally, I have taken the prerequisite safety and training class for the fully equipped woodshop.  For an initial project, I started with

then cut it into a managable size

and finally shaped it into a

which now serves as our every-prominent

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January 5 – Arriving in Sarasota

Today was the first time we've had clear sunny skies since before leaving home. Our route took us along a short stretch of I-95, then I-295

Wildlife warnings

and the first real winds we've experienced

to I-10 West and finally I-75 south to Sarasota.

A fairlly severe, multi-car accident

which backed-up northbound traffic for almost fifteen miles

Colorful racing car transportation semi

The wind gusts out of the west had picked up

Another accident … a rollover

Two motorhomes pulled off the road … no idea why

Confederate Flag at the intersection of I-75 and I-4 (been there for years)

Shortly before 2:00 PM we pulled into

recognizing both its American and many Canadian visitors

and back to the same site we have called home for the past two years.

Once parked, however, we were faced with more than an hour of getting setup beyond the normal hooking up the electricity, cable,water and sewer:  our grill; patio chairs and tables; covering the tires, mirrors and wipers; taking the bikes off the car and pumping up their tires; digging the clubs out from under the bed and storing them where they are easily accessible, in our Jeep … just for starters.  Meanwhile, Debbie set up the inside of our coach to make it very extra comfortable and liveable for the next four months.

We are now making plans to catch up with firends and family living in the area.

 

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January 4 – Florida At Last

When traveling in our motorhome, we always keep a close eye on the weather.  Thus, we knew a farily strong front was due to push through the I-95 corridor today.  After checking the projected timing of it hitting Hardeeville, where we had spent the night and Jacksonville, our next destination, we decided to head out shortly after 9:00 AM.

For most of the trip, there was a fair amount of mist and fog.


Again, not much or interest to report on.

Sculls

Unusual  RVs

8th Air Force Museum B-17 Stratojet Bomber

One of several antique cars headed for a show somewhere

Rail car wheels

Georgia's and Florida's Finest (lots of speed traps along the way)

During the last twenty miles of the trip, the winds began to pick-up from the west, a warning of the approaching storm

 

We arrived at our campground in Jacksonville shortly after 12:00 PM under warm (mid 70os) partly sunny skies.

Howevver two hours later …

the Heavens opened up.

We've stayed at this RV park on several occasions when heading south into or leaving Florida.  It is notable as it sits just ½ mile off one of the runways of Jacksonville International Airport.  Depending on the direction of the winds, landing or departing aircraft soar only a couple of hundred feet above our motorhome.

If they were any lower we could talk with the passengers.

The one downside is that the noise from these aircraft can get so loud we need to use the Closed Captioning when watching television.  Fortunately, by 10:00 PM the flights pretty much stop.

By around 4:00 PM, the storm had pretty much ended.

A couple of hours later, as we were just sitting down to enjoy a glass of wine, we noticed a glow off the side of an adjacent motorhome,  Looking out of the window, we were treated to a beautiful post-sunset.

 

 

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January 3 – Hardeeville, South Carolina

We spent an extra day in Wade giving Debbie additional time to recouperate.  While cooler than on New Years Day, the weather was still much improved over that back home.  I even played another round of miniature golf.

As Debbie's temperature  back to near normal and her coughing pretty much gone, and although some showers were predicted for later this morning, with tomorrow's forecast was for potentially heavy rains we decided to continue our trek southward today.

The sky was again overcast and morning temperature a bit warmer than the past two days, in the mid-50os.

Most of the I-95 corridor between Virginia and Florida is pretty uninteresting, a ribbon of blacktop threading its way between rows of tall evergreens and cotton fields … interrupted by occasional road or river overpasses or small industrial areas.  Diversions are were you find them.

Old and abandoned buildings

The local authorities apprehending offending drivers

An unfortunate jack-knifed semi

And, when really hard up, sections grooved pavement

For most of our trip the rains held off … however, a completely dry drive was not to be.

We reached our campground in Hardeeville, SC shortly after noon

and will likely stay here thru tomorrrow before heading for Jacksonville and then on to Sarasota on Sunday.

 

 

 

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January 1 – Debbie is Recovering

H a p p y      2 0 1 9

Yesterday, Debbie became one of eight (this select group also including Jason, Jake, Krista, Sean, Meg, Will and Calleigh) of our fifteen family members who were together at Nancy's this past Christmas who has succumbed to a nasty "bug" … sporting a 100o-plus temperature and nagging cough. 

As a result, we decided to remain in Wade for at least a couple of days before continuing on to Sarasota.  Unfortunately, we will have to cancel our planned side trip to Hilton Head where we had hoped to visit with friends and family. 

While she rested, I addressed a couple of minor projects and then dug my putter out of my golf bag stored beneath our bed so I could take on the challenge of the RV resort's miniature golf course … under partly sunny skies and temperatures reaching into the low 70os.

This evening, Debbie seems to be feeling significantly better.  However, we are going to sit tight for another day to allow her to, hopefully, fully recover.

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December 31 – Ashland, VA to Wade (Fayetteville), NC

We woke early and immediately checked the weather.  The huge swath of rain which caused our day-early departure yesterday was headed toward Richmond and parts of the I-95 corridor south toward the North Carolina state line, although Debbie had had a fever last evening, it was just below normal this morning.  

So,we decided to to leave Ashland for a relatively short drive (217 mile) drive. We knew we would get in early so she could have the balance of the day to relax and tomorrow to do nothing more than watch the Tournament of Roses  Parade (which is a must for Debbie)! We could then decide on whether to go to HIlton Head, as planned or bypass it and take a more direct route to Sarasota.

While warmer than the past couple of monrings (48o), it was still overcast.  With not much in way of scenery, Debbie resorted to one of her favorite subjects, old and decaying houses and barns.

There were an unusually large number of speed traps.

Then the antique car (we wish we could have identified).

Meanwhile, while we avoided the worst of the rain, we did run in and out of several showers,

only one of consequence … but it did not last long.

This is also the first time we had seen … not one but dozens of … signs advertising a "dog park".

The traffic was again light, only slowing down once for what appeared to relate to a dog on the highway.

We couldn't tell whether it had been hit, jumped from a moving car or some other cause.  The good news is that a good samaratain seemd to have the dog under control and out of harms way; although we couldn't tell if it had any injuries.

Oh, yes, just before crossing the Virginia/North Carolina state line, we … again .. passed by Paul Bunyan and Babe!

Then about 20 miles from our destinaion FOG.

Although it couldn't hide one sign of the old south … we'll pass a total of three before reaching Sarasota.

 

The bad news — a pick-up truck which was passing us threw up a small stone which hit our RV's windshield and caused a small chip.  The good news — it is small enough to be filled and our comprehensive insurance will cover 100% of the cost, which we'll have taken care of when we reach Sarasota.

We'll spend New Years eve and day here in Wade,

giving Debbie a bit more down time to shake her temperature and cough … and watch the New Year's Day parades.

Wishing everyone a Safe, Happy and, most important, Healthy 2019

 

 

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December 30 – Heading South Toward Warmer Weather … Again

We were fortunate to spend a wonderful Christmas week at Nancy's in Bedford, New Hampshire; where Doug and Scott and their families were able to join us.

Back row (l to r)  Debbie, Dick, Scott, Doug, Ben (20 – Doug's oldest son and a sophomore at Bloomsburg University), Nancy, her husband Jason and Jake (12 – Nancy's and Jason's son)  —   Middle Row (l to r)   Doug's wife Meg, Taylor (14 – Nancy's and Jason's daughter), Scott's wife Krista, Kira (15 – Scott's and Krista's daughter), Sean (12 – Scott's and Krista's son)   —   Front row (l to r) Will (9 – Doug's and Meg's son) and Calleigh (10 – Doug's and Meg's daughter)

We truly treasure those all-too-frequent times when our entire family can spend time together, even if for only a few days!

We headed home on Saturday … and having checked the weather for Monday (our scheduled date to head for Florida) which was forecasted for moderate to heavy rain … we decided to pick our motorhome up on the way home and load it with clothes, food and other items we always travel with. 

This morning, under chilly temperatures, overcast skies and a few small flakes of snow

we left Langhorne (a day earlier than we'd originally planned) and headed south down I-95 for Ashland, Virginia where we planned to spend our first night.  

Until reaching Lorton, VA (about 10 miles south of Washington, DC) the traffic was surprisingly just light to moderate. Then, merging lanes and several crowded on-ramps created a four-plus miles traffic jam, with average speeds often reduced to under 15 MPH.  Sadly, this is not the first time we've run into a slow down in this area. 

The only item of interest we saw during our trip was a small flatbed truck hauling a propeller or set of large fan blades.  Never could figure it out for sure what we were looking at.

We arrived at Americamps RV Resort in Ashland mid-afternoon, giving us a chance to get hooked up and begin to make the bed, clean our windshield and other exterior windows and better organize our clothes and other items which we'd just tossed into drawerrs and cabinets when loading yesterday.

Tomorrow we'll check the weatehr system moving up the East Coast from the Gulf of Mexico before deciding whether to move on to Wade (Fayetteville), North Carolina or simply sit tight and watch the rain.

 

 

 

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