Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve

Kyle had spent the night with Dylan, so when we decided to go see "The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep" today. we invited Kyle to come with. (After all, they've been "best friends since kindergarten!")

The movie was most enjoyable - it had a bit of ET flavor, some WWII history, a dash of Scottish lifestyle and military lifestyle, and childhood fantasy. My favorite part was when Angus was riding on Crusoe's back in Loch Ness. The scary part is when the cannons are shooting at him - they must have thought he was a submarine. It was a really nice, family friendly movie - it may become a classic.

We met Chip and Dick at Carrabba's for New Year's Eve dinner - it was very mellow and satisfying. We did have to wait a while to be seated despite the call-ahead seating thing, but then again there were 7 of us and it was New Year's Eve, so it was totally understandable. I had a great time.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Jonathan Stick-in-the-mud

This was the big group geocaching day. The 10 caches that were found were all in Jonathan Dickinson State Park, which Laurie calls Jonathan Stick-in-the-mud just for fun. The Gillespies, the Hyatts, the Pratts and Dick all went out in a great group to walk the trails and also do a little bushwhacking. Dick reported that Dylan enjoyed playing with a stick - hitting trees and such- but the geocaching, not so much. The caching expedition lasted from about noon until about 4:30. It ended because the Steelers game was on and had to be watched. :)World's largest ammo can in the woods! This one was a kids' cache.

Jana and I stayed home and relaxed - reading, talking, watching TV and just chilling.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Spree

Dick gave us a shopping spree for Christmas, and today was Spree Day. The Palm Beach Gardens Mall was our target.

We went to lunch at P.F. Chang's - it was quite busy, but we were seated right away. Our waitress was a little spacey, but she was fun and the food was delicious. Have you ever heard of a lettuce wrap?

Lane Bryant was next, and Jana and I had a ton of fun. They were having great sales. We especially liked the buy two, get two free sale :)

Over at the mall we had coffee at the food court and did some excellent people watching. We spent the rest of our time and money at Sephora, which explains why the 3 of us are glowing now more than usual !!

We went to the Cobb Theater at "Downtown" to see Sweeney Todd (rhymes with Oh My God!) I wanted to see it because it had a long run on Broadway, and it's famous, and it starred Johnny Depp. But gee whiz, it's really hard for me to classify it as entertainment. Jana could actually identify some parts that are considered humorous. Laurie and I just looked away from the multiple throat slashings. Jana pointed out that the slashings were theatrical and not realistic, but....holy cow!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Red Tide Beach Day

Dick and I went to Stuart Beach on Hutchinson Island with Laurie, Dylan and Jana. The weather was gorgeous, but there was something in the water called the Red Tide. It's a growth of algae that's a real irritant, both in the water and onshore. We all were coughing, eyes watering, and noses running. It's just an irritant to people, but it can be deadly to sea creatures. We heard that as many as 46 manatees may have died this week because of it.

Jana and Dylan enjoyed the water anyway!

Laurie and I stayed on the sand, and Dick was the official photographer with his new Nikon which we all love!
Around the corner and down the road is the Oceanographic Center with nice displays and a cute gift shop. There is a huge tank there filled with stingrays. At 3 p.m. there's a nature talk about stingrays, and an opportunity for anyone who wants to participate to feed fish to the stingrays! Laurie and Jana were the only two of us who tried it.
Just down the road from the Oceanographic Center is the House of Refuge at Gilbert's Bar. It's the only house of refuge still standing. These place were a lot like the life-saving stations along the Great Lakes. After storms, the keepers would search the nearby beaches for survivors of boat wrecks and provide them with refuge. It was an interesting place in a beautiful setting.
A professional photographer was on the beach while we were there trying to take pictures of a small group of people. They had to scrap the photo session - everybody was wheezing and coughing because of the Red Tide, and it was enough to ruin all of the shots!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bye Bye Tom

Laurie drove Tom down to the airport in West Palm Beach for his flight to NYC. He's meeting Brandi there, and they have a lot of fun things planned. They have tickets to see Spamalot on Broadway, and for the Dresden Dolls on New Year's Eve. They also want to take in the Museum of Modern Art, and who knows what all. It should be a great time.

We babysat Dylan at our "villa" while Laurie was gone. Jana and Dylan tried out the hot tub, and it got good reviews.

We tried a bit of geocaching in the afternoon - tried to find "The Monster of the Deep", but we were skunked. It's a six stage multi-cache, and we're stymied on the third stage. Don't you hate that?
We consoled ourselves with ice cream at Kilwin's in Stuart. They have Mackinac Island Fudge and Traverse City Cherry flavors!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Manatee Observation and Educational Center

Tom's last full day in Florida - he wanted to see some manatees. First we had lunch at the Tiki Bar and Restaurant. It was a very Florida place full of atmosphere and local color right on the ocean.

Then we were off to the Manatee Center in Ft. Pierce . We looked and looked, but no manatees. At 3 p.m. we went on the Indian River Lagoon Boat Tour on a very large pontoon boat. We saw dolphins jumping and that almost made up for not seeing manatees.
It was a great day - good weather, fun, educational, and everybody went.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


For the first time in 10 years our whole family was together for Christmas! Laurie and Chip's tree was big and beautiful, and loaded with presents. The house was decorated and very Christmasy. Surprisingly, everybody slept in until around 7:30 - I can remember our kids getting up at 5 a.m.

The best part was watching Dylan opening his things and playing with his RoboQuad. (He named it Roboquaddie.) Everybody enjoyed everything, and we only had 2 things that had to be sent back (bike shorts & telescope). Dick got a new point-and-shoot digital camera, and he'll turn into a professional photog in no time.

Chip cooked the turkey on the grill, and it turned out great! They don't do stuffing, so it only took about 4 hours. Laurie slaved away in the kitchen most of the day - Laurie and Chip did everything - they wouldn't even let me set the table! It felt strange (in a good way).
Dinner was delicious - especially that sweet potato casserole, right Dylan? We ate in the dining room and the new table and chairs are wonderful - spacious and comfortable. Laurie said at Thanksgiving that she felt like Grandma was sitting on her shoulder.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

In Which We Arrive!

We have arrived in Palm City/Stuart! As a sign I once saw said, "Hep Hep Beret" !!

Our Florida place is in a development called Summerfield by the Champs Golf Course near US 1 and Cove Road. It's an older development - I can't tell how old, but in our "golf villa" things show signs of wear. We have three bedrooms and two baths, lots of space and lots of cloisets. It's well stocked and furnished. We really have everything we need. The one thing that's missing is an internet connection, which is very high on our priority list because we each brought a laptop, so the first thing we'll have to work on is getting the modem hooked up.

Debbie, the real estate lady, agreed to meet with us a couple of hours early because we got here sooner than we expected. She was glad because she had just found out that her office party was scheduled for the time of our original meeting! Wouldn't want to miss that! :) Laurie came with us to meet with Debbie at our house, and it got Laurie's official Okie Dokie. We got the keys, the garage door opener, and the gate code. I think that we'll be comfortable here.

Afterwards, Laurie went down to Ft. Lauderdale to pick Jana up at the airport while we were unpacking and getting acclimated. The plane was delayed for almost an hour, but other than that it was an uneventful flight and we were jumping with joy to see her - Tom arrived here on the 21st, so now we're all here.

Jana will stay with us, except for Christmas Eve when we're all sleeping at Laurie's to wait for Santa.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Findlay, Chattanooga, & Columbus (GA)

Our Christmas Odyssey -

First Day - Drove to Doug's to drop off Christmas presents - had a good cookie and a good cup of coffee, chatted a bit, and headed for Findlay. Had a free night at the Findlay Quality Inn.

Second Day - On to Chattanooga (is that the choo choo?) and the Comfort Inn.

Third Day - here we are in Columbus, Georgia - another free night - at the Comfort Inn.
Columbus is just across the Chattahoochee River from Phenix, Alabama - so we were able to find caches in two different States, and leave our coin in each State. Phenix has a beautiful riverwalk all decorated with Christmas lights.

I-75 Observances:

1. Trucking is the lifeblood of this country. There are so many trucks up and down I-75 that it boggles your mind. You actually get used to having them blow your doors off when they pass.

2. The Nissan Murano is a very nice looking car. Dick questions whether it can pull the boat.

3. The Ford Escape is the car I want next - wider wheel base than the Explorer, and more fuel efficient. Dick questions whether it can pull the boat.

4. Michigan bathrooms are generally cleaner than the bathrooms available to travellers south of Ohio.

5. Ohio is too flat.

6. When Dick is wearing his Michigan regalia, people talk to you about it. They either used to live in Michigan, have a relative who's a big fan and has season tickets, or hate Michigan with a passion. One man jokingly told Dick that there was a dirty spot on his jacket (pointing to the M). Today in Georgia a man said, "Watch that Gators game!" Yoicks.

7. On Interstate Highways, signs for tunnels are red. We don't have red Interstate signs where I come from!

8. Ohio is too gray and foggy.

9. Tennessee fans are stuck with a really ugly shade of orange for their athletic teams. Denver fans used to be called the Orange Crush and their shade of orange was Halloweeny. Tennessee orange looks like peach yogurt.

10. Georgia State Troopers have police cars that flash and blink in horizontal blue strips - all the every opportunity - they love their blue flashers!

11. The gas and lodging signs along the interstate are a big help to the traveller.

12. Dick still likes to blink his lights at trucks who are signalling lane changes, and once today one of them even blinked back to say thanks. It reminds me of when the kids used to pump their arms at truckers to get them to blow their horns!

13. Tennessee has a long stretch of an area prone to fog. They have every electronic device known to modern man set up to warn motorists of foggy conditions. It wasn't foggy when we passed by.

14. Ohio is not scenic. Cinncinnati is a mess to drive through.

15. Kentucky and Tennessee are very scenic - beautiful stretches of highway.

16. Nine hours is too long for us to drive in one day. Seven hours is more doable. We once drove from Belleville to the Florida State line in 22 hours straight.

17. Try to avoid Atlanta.

18. Can't avoid Ohio. Dick says that Ohio is like Kansas - you have to drive through it to get somewhere else.

Friday, December 14, 2007

12 Days of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Here's an old Christmas standby that you won't want to miss. It's 3 and a half minutes long, but you have to watch the whole thing! My cousin Ken sent me this bit of Christmas cheer!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas Warmth

It was a gray, damp and drizzly day - not exactly freezing rain, but very close. Later, thankfully, it turned to snow.

When we arrived at Tim and Susie's for lunch, it was a relief to walk into their riverside home. It was warm, there was beautiful Christmas music, a nice hot wood stove, and Christmasy folk art from floor to ceiling. It was just like Dorothy opening the door and seeing things in color! We all made a yummy type of egg roll - we rolled them up and Susie fried them in the FryBaby. We had a delicious lunch, some good local champagne, toured the new addition, exchanged gifts and gossip, and the whole visit had a real Christmas feeling.

Thanks, Tim and Susie. Happy Holidays and safe travels.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Goose is Getting Fat

Christmas is coming,
The geese are getting fat,
Please put a penny
In the old man's hat.
If you haven't got a penny,
A ha'penny will do,
If you haven't got a ha'penny,
Then God bless you.

Christmas is coming,
lights are on the tree,
Hang up your stocking for Santa Claus to see.
If you you haven't got a stocking,
a little sock will do;
If you haven't got a little sock,
God bless you!

Christmas is coming,
the season of good cheer,
Let's all sing a carol for the brand-new year!
If you haven't got a carol,
a jolly song will do;
If you haven't got a jolly song,
God... bless... you...!

We'll be spending Christmas and January in Florida this year! We've rented a house in Stuart, which is 10 minutes from Laurie. We're leaving here on Dec. 19th (after a dental appointment) and driving down. We have the house from Dec. 23 to Jan. 31. We're having our mail forwarded to Laurie's address.

Tom will arrive on Dec. 21st, and Jana on the 23rd. Jana will be staying with us, and Tom will be at Laurie's. Jana's staying until after New Year's Day, but Tom is going to spend New Year's Eve in NYC.

Dick kind of wanted to go Michigan's Bowl Game (Capital One Bowl, Orlando) but we talked him out of it. What chance do we have against last year's National Champions? Plus, those North Florida Bowl games just don't have the hoopla, fun, and excitement of the Rose Bowl, for instance. We've gone down there a couple of times, and it was disappointing.

We can be reached by cell - 231-392-1773 or through Laurie 772-463-0288. We don't have the phone number for our house yet.

It should be an awesome Christmas. We haven't had Christmas together since 1997, the year that Dylan was born.