April 7 – 8, 2017 – Debbie’s Friends

Two of Debie's closest friend came to Sarasota on Friday where she spent a couple of "girl's days" with them on Lido Key.  Saturday night I joined them for dinner at the Crab and Fin Restaurant on St Armand's Circle.

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March 28 thru April 6, 2017 – David’s Funeral

A 3-day trip to Phoenix earlier this week for Debbie's brother's, David Louis, funeral was a time of mixed emotions.  On the one hand, it was a sad time for the family as they said, "Goodbye" to David.  Still it provided us a chance to see many relatives, reflect on his life …. which inlcuded his many accomplishments over the course of his 77 year life as well as many funny memories and stories which were shared.  As a result, laughter outweighed tears … as it should.

After the funeral service, preformed by his son, Brett, a siren-filled police escort (which he would have loved) led David's family and friends from the funeral home to the National Veterans Cemetery in Phoenix where his burial service was held prior to his internment.

Note that there are no above ground headstones

Flag being presented to David's oldest son, Todd … with daughter Lisa to his left

David's son, Brett, an ordained pastor, officiated at the burial service

The flowers ourside David's home that afternoon were never so brilliant!


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March 27 – The Passing of Debbie’s Brother David

Sadly, Debbie's brother David passed away last evening in Phoenix after a serious illness.

Our thoughts are with David's children, Todd & Stephanie, Brett & Molly and Lisa and Greg as well as with his thirteen grandchildren.

David, thanks for the memories … you will be missed!

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March 14 – 26 – Downtown Sarasota – The Legacy Trail – Hidden Figures – Shuffleboard

Last week, Debbie and I took a walking tour of parts of old and eclectic sections of Sarasota.  Surrounded by high rises

government buildings

and the dramatic spires of historic churches,

we found ourselves walking along sidewalks in which tile art was embedded

building were often painted in bright colors,

pipe and other sculptures were everywhere,

interesting fountains,

and creative wall murals were incredible.

At the intersection of Pineapple and Main Streets … "Five Points",

A glimpse of Five Points in 1909, shortly before Owen Burns (1869 – 1937)

was born on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. He was an entrepreneur, banker, builder and land developer who at one time owned the majority of Sarasota, Florida and developed or built many of its historic structures, developments, roads, seawalls, and bridges. He became a leader in the community, contributing to its growth and development. He arrived in Sarasota. The trough in the center of Five Points was replaced in 1917 with a flagpole.

Yesterday, we biked

a 10.8-mile paved trail running between Sarasota and Venice, Florida. 

The railroad line was originally built in 1911 as part of the Seaboard Air Line Railroad's extension to Venice.  The railroad line provided passenger service to Venice up until 1971, and most notably carried The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which was headquartered in Venice from 1959 to 1992.  The circus was the last consistent service the rail line carried.

Due to decreased demand for service and the heavily deteriorated condition of the tracks and bridges, CSX (Seaboard's successor) and Seminole Gulf Railway, who had been leasing the line from CSX since 1987, collectively decided to abandon the line south of Palmer Ranch around 2004. Sarasota County, in conjunction with the Trust for Public Land, acquired the right of way for $11.75 million for use as a trail. The Legacy Trail was opened to the public on March 28,  2008.

In some places, remnants of the original railroad tracks can still be found.

One of two repair pedestals located along the Trail

The only remaining rural church in southern Sarasota County dating from the 1910s, Johnson Chapel was built as the Osprey Missionary Baptist Church, in 1915 on the west side of the Tamiami Trail in Osprey, six miles north of Laurel, by Bertha Potter Palmer. When a new church was constructed in 1947, the Johnson Chapel Missionary Baptist Church purchased and moved the one-story, wood frame vernacular building to its present site. It has since served as a church, community center and a meeting place for the Lily White Lodge #22 (an African American association established to provide burial benefits and health care).

Along the trail were a number of signs describing the flora and fauna as well as history of the area.  Among the most interesting was the history of the Turpentine Industry in Venice.  By the beginning of the 20th century, the turpentine industry had moved from North Carolina to the virgin pine stands of Florida where longleaf and slash pines were slashed and sapped to death for their turpentine sap. 

In order to tap the sap-producing layers of a tree, the pine bark was removed. 

Once debarked, pine trees secreted oleoresin to seal the opening, reduce exposure to organisms and insects and prevent sap loss.  Turpentiners cut V-shaped cuts along the length or the trunks in order to channel the oleoresin into containers. 

It was then collected and processed into spirits of turpentine. 

Applying herbicides could increase the yield by almost 40%.

The distilled sap produces turpentine, resin, pine oil, tar and pitch that are then used to produce varnish and paint.  It takes only six to ten years to kill a tree by bleeding it of its sap. 

In the Venice area, there were at least three camps harvesting the pine saps.  They employed primarily black labor and leased convicts who lived in company towns.  The convicts lived in a stockade.

Wages were $1.00 to $1,75 per day, and convicts could be leased for $150 a year; pay scales which lasted into the 1940s.  Governor Napoleon Broward stopped the leasing of convicts in 1923 after a young white boy was killed.  However, a new law allowing employers to retain workers for debts continued the hard labor until the industry died after World War II. 

It took less than 50 years for Florida to loose over 80% of these valuable trees. 

Despite Florida's current drought, there are still animals to be seen along the Legacy Trail.


Wooly Bear Caterpillar

Coral Snake

Gopher Tortoise

Although Florida Panthers have been occasionally spotted and even photographed, we disappointingly saw none.

In 2011, an overpass was built to carry the trail over the Tamiami Trail (US 41) a major six-lane highway.

Prior to the overpass's construction, trail users had to use a crosswalk at an adjacent intersection.

The Legacy Trail's southern terminus is at the Venice Railway Station.

Nearby we spotted a welcoming water tower

and another incredible building mural.


After grabbing lunch at a restaurant which has been popular with the "locals" for thirty-nine years.

We headed back to Sarasota.

Today, Ken and Cheryl joined us to see a truly exceptional movie.

Hidden Figures

followed by lunch at Phillippi Oyster Bar Restaurant.



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March 6 – 13, 2017 – Arcadia All-Florida Rodeo – Veterans’ Luncheon

The highlight of this past week was attending the 89th edition of the Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo last Friday.  Never having been to a rodeo before, it was a "hoot"!

The events began with The Shootout Gang, actually the least interesting part of the show.

It was followed by one of the most endearing events … Muttin Bustin'.  The contestants are ages 4-6 years old and the winner is the contestant who rides the sheep the longest … and receives a shiny new belt buckle!

Next up was the Saddle Bronc Riding.  In Saddle Bronc Riding, the rider uses a speacialized saddle with free swinging stirrups and no horn.  The saddle bronc rider grips a simple rein braided from cotton and polyester and attached to a leather halter worn by the horse.  The rider lifts on the rein and attempts to find a rhythm with the animal by spurring forwards and backwards with his feet in a sweeping motion from shoulder to flank.  The rider attempts to stay on the horse for eight seconds without touching the animal with his free hand.  On the first jump out of the chute, the rider "must mark the horse out".  This means he must have the heels of his boots in contact with the horse above the pont of the shoulders before the horse's front legs hit the ground.  A horse who bucks in a spectacular and effective manner will score more points than a horse who bucks in a straight line with no significat changes in direction.  A rider that manages to complete an eight second ride is scored on a scale of 0-50 and the horse is also scored on a scale of 0-50.  Scores in the 80s are very good and in the 90s are exceptional.

In Steer Wrestling (or Bulldogging), a horse-mounted rider chases a steer, drops from the horse to the steer and then wrestles the steer to the ground by grabbing its horns and pulling it off-balance so that it falls to the ground.  He then ties three of the steer's legs together. 

The Rodeao also had a Clown who both interacted extremely well with the crowd and also did a solo prefromance.  He was great!

Bareback Bronc Riding presents some additional challenges for the riders.  They (obviously) do not use a saddle or rein but use a rigging that consists of a leather and rawhide composite piece oftencompared to a suitcase handle attached to a surcingle and placed just behind the horses withers.  The rider leans back and spurs with an up and down motion from the horses' point of shoulder toward the rigging hadnle, spurring at each jump in rhythm with the motion of the horse.  As with Saddle Bronc Riding, the rider attempts to stay on the horse for eight seconds without touching the horse with his free hand.  He must also "mark the horse out".  This means he must have the heels of his boots in contact with the horse above the pont of the shoulders before the horse's front legs hit the ground.  A horse who bucks in a spectacular and effective manner will score more points than a horse who bucks in a straight line with no significat changes in direction.  A rider that manages to complete an eight second ride is scored on a scale of 0-50 and the horse is also scored on a scale of 0-50.  Scores in the 80s are very good and in the 90s are exceptional.

We'd never heard of Team Roping.  Also known as "heading and heeling", the event features a steer (typically a Corriente) and two moounted riders.  The first rider is referred to as the "header", the person who ropes the front of the steer, usually around the horns … but it also legal to let the rope go around the animal's neck.  Once caught by a leagal head catch, the header must dally (wrap the rope around the rubber covered saddle horn) and use his horse to turn the steer to the left.  The second rider is the "heeler" who ropes the steer by its hind feet after the "header" has turned the steer, with a five second penalty assessed if only one leg is caught.

The Team Riding exhibition was amazing!  Eight pairs of riders were in arena at the same time … "square dancing", going through other difficult formation and then running a "figure eight" at full speed.

They then held an event for the young kids in the audience.  All those under six were invited into the arena.  Three sheep with ribbons were then released.  The first three kids retrieving ribbons were winnder.  Not surprisingly, three of the oldest and largest boys in the group reaped the rewards!

Calf Roping, aslo known as tie-down roping, is a rodeo event that features a calf and a mounted rider.  The goal or this timed event is for the rider to catch the calf by throwing a loop of rope from a lariat around the animal's neck, dismount from the horse, run to the calf, and restrain it by tying three legs together in as short a time as possible.  If the calf frees itself in less than ten seconds the rider is assessed a penalty.

The Barrel Racing event featured all ladies … one group of adults and another between 11-16 years old.  The rider and hores attempt to complete a cloverleaf pattern around preset barrels in a triangular pattern in the fastest time. It combines the horse's athletic ability and the horsemanship skills of the rider.

The final event was the Bull Riding.  This sport involved a righr getting on a bull and attempting to stay mounted while the animal attempts to buck the rider off.  As in the other bucking events, the rider must stay on the bill for eight seconds to count as a qualified rider.  The rider tightly fastens one hand to the bull with a long braided rope.  It is a risky sport and has been called "the most dangerous eight seconds in sports".

We are absoluttely amazed at the condition of each of these cowboys, as most compete in multiple if not all of the rodeo events, and how quickly they bounce up after taking some pretty bone-shattering fallss. 

Unfortunately, the final rider of the day was not as lucky as the others competitiors.

You may have noticed from the above photos that in the Saddle and Bareback Bornc Riding and the Bull Riding that there is a sinch tied around the animals midsection.  It is pulled tight just before the chute's gate is opened and becomes a major impetus to making the horse or bull buck.

Tonight we're its been raining (for only the third time since arriving in Florida in early January) and we were under a TORNADO WARNING … which, fortunately has passed.  Meantime, we're watching the Nor'easter heading for Pennsylvania and New England.  Tomorrow, while our friends and family back home are shivvering and counting 12" to 20" of snow, we'll be relaxing in shorts!


Earlier today, we attended a luncheon at our campgournd honoring more than 200 U.S. and Canadian veterans.  Photos were taken of those who had served in World War II (two US Navy sailors), the Korean War (a larger number), Vietnam (the largest group, inlcuding yours truly) and the Afghanastan/Iraq Conflicts (again, just two vets).

The person in the black shirt and hat

The real hightight of the afternnon was our speaker, Michael Jernigan.

Corporal (Retired) Mike Jernigan was born in St. Petersburg in 1978 and after spending the first 14 years of his life moving with the military, he returned to St. Petersburg and graduated from St. Petersburg High School in 1997.  Mike is a third generation Marine

His grandfather retired in 1974 as a Colonel, his father left the Marines as a Staff Sergeant, completed his bachelor's degree and retired in 1993 as a Major in the U. S. Army.  Mike enlisted in the Marines on his 24th birthday in 2002.  He was sworn in by his father, Major Michael V. Jernigan, Ret, United States Army. He completed boot camp in Parris Island, South Carolina and went to the School of Infantry at Camp Geiger where he received the MOS of 0351, Infantry Assaultman.  Mike’s first duty station was Camp LeJeune with 1st battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment.  He soon became an active duty augment to Weapons Company, 1st battalion, 25th Marine Regiment and completed a 6 month deployment to Camp Schwab on the island of Okinawa.

At the end of this deployment he volunteered to transfer to Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment.  He then  deployed to Iraq where he served as a squad leader with Weapons Platoon.  Mike served in Mahmudiyah, Zaidon, and Fallujah during the summer of 2004.  On August 22, 2004 his Humvee was struck by an IED (roadside bomb).  Mike lost both eyes, suffered a crushed cranium and severe trauma to his right hand and left knee. 

He recovered at the National Naval Medical Center, in Bethesda, MD, completed the Traumatic Brain Injury program at James A. Haley VA hospital in Tampa, FL, and then completed a 16 week blind rehabilitation program in Augusta, GA at the VA.  He was medically retired December 29, 2005. 

Mike subsequently attended Georgetown University in 2008/2009.  He graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, majoring in History.  He started his first job after college as a Community Outreach Coordinator for Southeastern Guide Dogs immediately after graduation in the spring of 2012.  He is scheduled ot be married next month!

He has written a book, "VISION", which Debbie and I would recommend to everyone!  Amazingly he was able to autograph the copy of his book which we purchased;

To Debbie and Dick

Thank you for your support.

Semper Fideles

(Marine Corps Motto – "Always Faithful")


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February 7 – March 5, 2017 – It’s Tough to Spend the Winter in Sarasota

The past month has seemingly flown by as we continue to discover that since retirement it’s increasingly hard to recall how we had any time for work!

While Debbie continues her yoga, line dancing (more later) and stretching exercises, I have managed to hit the golf course several times a week; often with wildly varying results.  Debbie got in one evening of Bingo, where she was a winner and I have discovered two versions of shuffleboard, which I really enjoy.

We have also spent time with Debbie’s brother Dick and his wife Kate; my cousin Sandy and husband Jeff; and our best friends for over 50 years, Ken and Cheryl.

I had a one –day trip to Jupiter, FL to meet with the Els for Autism foundation and its Center of Excellence,

founded by former world’s No.1 PGA golf great, Ernie Els and his wife Leizl after their son, Ben was diagnosed with autism spectrum,  

They will be the primary recipients of our Rotary Club’s annual charity golf outing this coming June.   Seeing what they have accomplished and what is yet to come was an amazing experience into this extraordinary project designed to show the world what resources can be available to children and young adults on the autism spectrum (which affects 1 in every 45 children between 3 and 17) as well as the numerous program elements and research plans that will expand its reach far beyond South Florida.  More on the event can be found at www.rotaryclubofshadybrook.com.

We made a couple of trips to Fort Myers to visit with friend we met and became close to during our winters in Naples as well as a trip to Naples to visit with Debbie’s friend, Wendy

and also for another reunion with Naples’ friends.

We had to put our new Jeep in the shop for several days to have a “base plate”, wiring and auxiliary breaking system installed to we will be able to tow it behind our motorhome.

Sometimes $2,000 doesn’t look like much!

Sunsets which paint the sky in a variety of … sometimes pastels and at other times brilliant colors … whether at the beach or when seen form our motorhome, are almost always an example of Nature’s beauty.

Here at Sun N Fun, they held a 50th Anniversary luncheon for all couples who had been married fifty years or more.

While we’re in our 51st year,

one of the couples was married in 1947 (Debbie was just 1)  and were celebrating their 70th!

We also took in a movie, the first time I have been to a movie theater in several years.

This past week, I actually joined Debbie at one of her line dancing classes.  While I was able to catch on to a couple … I decided to sit out others as the circuity between my ears (to listen to the cuing and music), brain and feet was out-of-sync!

Last evening, the campground put on another very lovely event … for cancer survivors.  

While there was a dinner … where we met several couples and singles, one a 30-year survivor … and some “fun” entertainment

and dancing … including a line dancing demo (from which I was self-excluded) …

there was a somber yet celebratory side which celebrated those who’ve beaten or are presently battling cancer.  It began with the presentation of US and Canadian colors

followed by a symbolic parade of survivors

and ending at a pathway lit by luminaries in remembrance those who had lost their battle with cancer.

This morning we went to see a chalk art contest.  Upon arrival, we discovered the drawings were mostly done by young children.  However, it was fun and some of the sketches were quite good.

Tonight, we and friends

Robert, Ken, Cheryl, Debbie and Sue Ann

headed to Siesta Key Beach for the Sunday “Drum Circle

and sunset.  Where people watching is concerned, these weekly events rate a strong 8.0 and above.  This evening, the “free spirits” dancing, twirling, hula hooping, and otherwise just having fun to the incessant beat of the drums were a far larger group than usual and spanned from young children

to, teenagers, college students and adults (some “regulars” who not surprisingly seem to have a need to be noticed),

Mother and Son

We never could figure out what this guy was doing!

to “seniors”!

Away from the Drum Circle …

While tonight’s sunset was less colorful than usual, it was still a wonderful show of nature’s beauty!

From there, we made a stop at Sub Zero,

a unique ice cream shop where they actually make your ice cream

“to order” … right in front of you!









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January 24 – February 06, 2017 – Friends – Golf – Dancing – Highland Games – Fruitville Grove Farmer’s Market – Siesta Key Beach Drum Circle and Sunset

Debbie recently commented we might have to go home to find some time to relax!  Seem like we’ve been busy almost every day since arriving in Sarasota.  However, we’re really not complaining!

In late January, Frank and Lynn Fowler, friends from our years in Naples arrived at Sun N Fun for a week’s stay.  Meantime, Joe and Jeanne Warwick, one of the couples we traveled to Alaska with in 2011 checked-in for the month of February. 

We decided on getting together with both couples and took them to Linger Lodge,

an eclectic restaurant set amid large, live oak trees dripping in Spanish moss.  Untouched by time and located the picturesque banks of the Braden River, Linger Lodge is "Old Florida" at its best.  With preserved native Florida animals

adorning every inch of the restaurant, it was also named by Forbes as one of the "Most Unusual Restaurants in the World" and Al Roker as one of the "Top 5 Weirdest Restaurants in America”.

Joe, Jeanne, Debbie, Dick, Lynn and Frank

Turns out that Jeanne worked in the school system where Lynn lived many years ago.  We’re always amazed at what a small world it really is!


Not surprisingly, Debbie has continued the Yoga and stretching classes as well as joining in on not one but two line dancing groups.  Meanwhile, I have been playing far more golf than I’d have a chance to play if back in Pennsylvania.

Dick, Jim DeCarlo (a frined from Cape Cod), Tom Briggs (golfing buddy from Newtown PA) and Ken Grenier (best friend for more than 50 years)

With many of our friends from Naples staying in the Ft. Myers area, we were invited for a mini-reunion … some we’d not seen on 2-3 years.

Wayne & Joyce Sorrel, Nancy & Morley Kenway, Dick & Debbie, Weldon and Nancy Wallace and Lynn & Frank Fowler

We also discovered a local Farm Stand

less than ½ mile from our campground … with incredible grapefruits and a menagerie of Billy goats,







This past Saturday we went to the 23rd Highland Games held in Sarasota … which featured Scottish, Celtic and Irish music and dancing.

We also continue to make a trip to Siesta Key Beach on Sunday nights for the Drum Circle

with its hard-to-beat people watching,

Just an hour before the 2017 Super Bowl

Sand sculptures,

and predictably spectacular sunsets.

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January 16 – 23, 2017 – 999 Days on the Road

Tomorrow will be our 1,000th day of RVing since we head out on our first trip in 2010.

Meanwhile, Debbie continues to find things to do here at Sun N Fun in Sarasota … a stretching class, yoga and even gospel line dancing … who knew!

I have found time to play another three rounds of golf … one a disaster (after losing eleven balls, Ken suggested I try for an even dozen … inspiring me to aim my tee shot directly into a nearby lake.  After striking the ball, I turned only to hear, “I can’t believe it, the ball struck a tree and bounced back in play.”  I couldn’t even hit a bad shot when I wanted it to) … and yesterday the best round I’ve played in months!

On Saturday, we drove to Tamps to visit with Bill and Carol Irvine.

one of the incredible couples with whom we traveled to Alaska in 2011 and whom have seen  during a several reunions since then, including coordinating our monthlong trip across Michigan's Lower and Upper Peninsulas.

Sunday, we joined friends Ken and Cheryl to visit Sarasota's

which showcases the research of the Mote Marine Laboratory.  With its scientists working in waters all over the world, the organization is investigating new cancer-fighting substances from the sea; finding innovative ways to restore, in our lifetime, dwindling coral reefs; explaining and mitigating the impacts of climate change, ocean acidification and major oil spills; educating the public on conservation techniques and marine science; developing new technology and expanding vital ocean observation efforts; uncovering threats to sharks, sea turtles, marine mammals and other imperiled wildlife; and seeking ways to sustain fisheries while boosting sustainable seafood farming.

It is a well laid out facility with a host of volunteers prepared to answer any questions one might have.

Just some of the marine life we were able to observe and learn about included;

Bubbletip Anemone

Bullhead Sharks

Cannonball Jellyfish

Cownose Rays

Diamondback Terrapin Turtles

Garden Eels

Gray Angelfish



Moon Jellyfish

Queen Angelfish

Kemps Ridley Turtles

Spiny Lobsters


Striped Burrfish


Sandbar Sharks

Nursing Sharks

An “Inquisitive” Turtle

A Visiting Sparrow

and … of course

A Trio of Playful River Otters

Since mid-afternoon , we’ve been in one of the bullseyes for the storms racing across the southeastern United States and  into the late evening remain under heavy rain, high wind and possible tornado warnings. 

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January 8 – 15, 2017 – Our First Week in Sarasota

After arriving at Sun N Fun and getting settled in, we’ve had a hectic and productive week.

Debbie has discovered and gotten involved with both Stretching and Yoga classes while Dick joined Tatum Ridge Links, a local golf course just a mile-and-a-half from our campground.

We’ve also spent time with the Ken & Cheryl (the friends we met on our honeymoon in 1966), Dick Louis (Debbie’s brother) and his wife, Kate Morse, and Sandy and Jeff Fitts (Sandy is Dick’s favorite cousin and was like a second sister to him growing up).

We also had time for some shopping this past week …

Replacing our 2008 Jeep Liberty with its 125,000 miles (which does not include nearly 70,000 additional miles we towed behind our motorhome) for a 2017 Jeep Cherokee Trail Hawk

which seems to have every imaginable doodad we could have asked for and then some; including air conditioned seats, a heated steering wheel and even the ability to self-park both perpendicular and parallel.  It’ll take us weeks to figure out how to operate all of the systems on it!

This evening, Ken and Cheryl joined us in going to Siesta Beach for the “Drumming” and spectacular sunset.   The Drum Circle, in which anyone with a drum can participate,

takes place every Sunday evening from an hour or so before sunset to shortly after the sun’s orb disappears beneath the Gulf of Mexico’s distant horizon.

As enjoyable as the pulsating sounds of the drums are, the people watching is second-to-none!  

Youngsters ranging from young elementary school aged to seniors  proudly “demonstrate” their dancing,

martial arts,

and hula hoop skills (some incredibly talented)

for a crowd of several hundred onlookers!

Meanwhile, fifty to one hundred yards away along the beach and at the water’s edge, occasional sand sculptures can be found

as hundreds more

wait with anxious anticipation … most with smart phones in hand … to capture the last rays of the day’s sun.


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January 7, 2017 – Sarasota

After some torrential overnight rain storms, we woke to cool and overcast skies.  A bigger problem were the 16-17 MPH winds which, when hitting us broadside, made driving a challenge. 


We were again passed my more Clemson

clemsonand Alabama fans that were making their way toward Tampa for Monday night’s game.


Unfortunately, too few of them seem to know how to use their directional signals when changing lanes!

Still flying is a Confederate Flag at the intersection of I-95 and I-4 in Tampa.


We made it to Sarasota around 2:00 PM … and which will be our “home” for the next 3½ months.



While it’s still cool and the temperatures are forecast to drop to the mid-30s by tomorrow morning.  However, not complaining as we have heard that it’s snowing with wind-chills in the teens back home … and the temperatures here in Florida are predicted to rebound to the 70s over the next couple of days!

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