A lot happened in 2013. We got married! We went on a cruise for our honeymoon. We did several mud runs. We held a ballroom dance event. I’m sure there’s more but I never did get around to posting about things. Several people have asked about my blog so I’m going to start posting here again, starting with writing an entry in my gratitude journal every day. Thank you for reading!
We traveled down to Lake Wales (a two hour drive) to participate in a 5k mud/obstacle run. It was a lot of fun!
The obstacles were good and the camaraderie was awesome. We waited at the start line for nearly 30 minutes so we could be in front, and on one of the obstacles we had to wait almost half an hour to go on it, so we talked to quite a few people and watched everyone go over the obstacle in front of us. Some of the people were quite amusing. They encourage crazy costumes at Warrior Dash; we found Nemo and Waldo, too! We also saw men in suits, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, men dressed as fairies, beauty queens, and princesses, and all sorts of people in tutus.
While waiting, we talked to one guy in a kilt… I was wondering if he followed the tradition of men in kilts being bare under there but he said he kept it family friendly. This same guy had already run a 5k earlier in the day and had a soccer game to coach in the evening. Whew! The lady behind us was 55 and we were quite impressed with her physical abilities.
Here we are, nice an clean before the race:
They took pictures at various points of the run so hopefully we can get some good ones and post them.
For obstacles, there were several mud pits and a couple of places to wade through knee deep water. After the first mud pit, my mud-caked shoes felt like bricks on my feet but I was able to stomp it off as we went. I was amazed at the number of shoes left laying around after each mud pit! People also seemed to shed clothes on a regular basis. Running through the deep sand was very difficult so we’re going to try and find places to train around here where we can run in loose sand.
My favorite obstacles were climbing ones. One was a big plywood A-frame with knotted ropes, up and over! The other one was near the end… 3 A-frames that started and ended by climbing a net, with rock climbing-type walls in the middle. My little legs had trouble on parts of that but Trav helped me! He’s a great teammate and partner. I want to challenge myself physically and get over the obstacles on my own, but his help is appreciated very much when I need it.
One of the other obstacles I enjoyed very much was an up and down balance beam where we were getting blasted with freezing cold water. So refreshing! And one was a little nerve-wracking because as we were going over one where you climbed over a frame using chains, there was a guy underneath with a nail gun, putting the obstacle back together!! Whoops.
We were pretty dirty at the end.
Sticky, sticky mud! It just kept coming and coming when I tried to rinse off. On the way home, we went to dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s and I still had dirt on my ears, neck, and arms. Luckily, the rest was hidden by clothing.
Also at Ruby Tuesday’s we saw the people that were behind us in the obstacle line. They came over to thank Trav for being such a standup guy, because while were were in line, a kid cut in front of the ladies behind us. Trav noticed and told the kid that he was very rude for cutting in, and the kid just shrugged and continued to stand there!! Ugh. But the ladies were grateful he said something, and they did manage to get in front of him, but he still jostled and cut in front of people while actually ON the obstacle. It was nice that they came over afterwards to say thanks, for that, and for helping the 55 year old over the obstacle, too.
Oh, and the last obstacle was jumping over fire!! I’m hoping the pics for that came out good. Trav and I jumped over them hand-in-hand, and also crossed the finish line that way. Awesome!
English was always one of my favorite classes in school. I love reading, vocabulary, grammar… all that stuff. One of my newsletters had a good infographic about 15 common grammar mistakes. I see these every day and it annoys the heck out of me. I suppose I’ll post this on Facebook, too. Maybe it will help people! Click below for the full infographic.
We arrived about five minutes before Kelly got home from work. Nice timing! For a lovely welcome, Kelly shared a special bottle of wine with us – one she brought back from Italy.
The wine was delicious and went perfectly with dinner – rack of lamb! Kelly is such a good cook – the food was yummy and we had a good time chatting.
Here is Kelly’s new kitchen! It’s awesome… granite counter tops, spacious cupboards and a stove to die for.
The next day we went to Philadelphia. First stop – Kelly’s work. We met many of the people she works with – all very nice. I wish I had taken their pictures! Here we are near her building, with City Hall in the background.
Kelly treated us to lunch at one of her favorite restaurants – Barbuzzo. Kelly & I had pizza (hers with a fried egg on it and mine with lardo) and Dad had a burger. We really enjoyed the meal and it was an interesting place to visit. The chef sent over an antipasto platter when we got there, and boy was it good! Olives and vegetables and cheese – nom nom nom.
After lunch we decided to spend the afternoon at the Camden Aquarium, just over the river in New Jersey. It’s a very nice place! They had a HUGE tank with all kinds of interesting stuff in it – various sharks, stingrays, huge turtles and big schools of fish. Our favorite in that tank were the fish riding on the wake of the stingrays.
Here we are touching the stingrays. It’s surprising how they are velvety soft.
The piranhas better watch out for Kelly!! hehehe
I loved this part of the aquarium. It was very tranquil, being surrounded by all that water.
There were so many awesome creatures to see. I took lots of pictures but won’t bore you with a whole bunch of them – unless you come over and ask to see! There’s video, too. I did want to include this beautiful sea dragon, though.. he’s just stunning. The picture doesn’t really do him justice.
The last “show” we got to see was the Penguin March. The penguins knew it was 4:30 and time for them to go in, eat and bed down for the night. They lined right up and marched in when the door was opened. Each penguin has its own spot inside and I think they said they enter in the same order every day… they have a hierarchy thing going. So cute!
I don’t remember what we did for dinner that night, but in all, it was a fun and relaxing day spent in good company.
The next day we planned on driving up to Rochester to visit with Dad’s family there, so that will be my next post! You can also read about the entire trip here.
Dad and I set out for New Jersey on Saturday morning. Our first destination was St. Augustine, Florida, to visit the Fountain of Youth. Here we are at the entrance, with Don Juan Ponce de Leon.
It was a nice little place to explore, with exhibits about the native Indians and the Spanish people who landed there in 1513. We were welcome to take a drink from the Fountain of Youth. It tasted of sulfur.
The park guy said we were lucky it only stank a little because some days it was just terrible. We finished our tour and after driving all afternoon ended up in Savannah, Georgia, where we camped at a little RV place just off Route 16.
There was a bad storm during the night and a very large tree came down near the entrance. It rained so hard some of it got under the slider covers and when Dad pulled out, it spilled down his back in the driver’s seat when he first braked! Luckily it wasn’t overly much but it was sure enough to wake Dad up fully!
We made our way down to the beach in Tybee Island and it was a very pretty drive. Some of the streets of Savannah are very narrow… we took up the entire lane.
Tybee Island is a beautiful place and I would love to go back someday. It’s full of little artsy shops and stuff. We parked a block away from the beach and walked down to put our feet in the sand. Here’s Dad on the beach.
On the way back we saw these cats doing what cats do best… laying around and looking pretty.
I drove from the beach on the very narrow roads (only hit one curb, whew!) and then we went all day. For Dad’s Father’s Day dinner we found a steakhouse in Smithfield, Virginia, where I treated Dad to two of his favorite foods – steak and ribs! The food was very yummy.
It was almost dark by the time we left the restaurant and got to the RV park in Selma.
We camped by a lake and in the morning, some ducks came by to see if we had anything for them.
We had another pleasant day of driving, conversation and listening to music. We went under the Baltimore Harbor. I’m always amazed by these feats of engineering… driving under a big body of water like that is incredible.
I’m also a big fan of bridges but some of them were a little scary in the RV… the ones that had very low sides made me pretty nervous. Seems like you could go right over the edge if something bad happened. Even just looking at the picture now gives me the willies!!
Here’s a spectacular bridge that goes from Delaware into New Jersey – the Delaware Memorial Bridge. There was a lot of traffic but we kept moving.
Yay! After crossing the bridge, we were very close to our destination.
I was so excited when Dad, Greg & Adrianne pulled into the driveway!
They arrived in good spirits, ready to tour our little part of Florida. With no clear plan (hey, it’s vacation!) we set out to enjoy the next three days together. The day of arrival was spent visiting and enjoying a delicious dinner expertly grilled by Trav… ribeye steak, baked potatoes and salad.
Each morning, Sadie was the guide for Crews Lake Park.
The next day, we went to Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin, Florida. Here’s Dad enjoying the sunshine on the beach.
Adrianne and Greg on the beach.
The waves were the biggest we’ve ever seen in the Gulf! If we had known, we would have taken the body boards.
After the beach, we went to Dunedin Brewery. The beer and food were delicious!! The vanilla bean beer was soooo good. Adrianne & Greg had the 7.9% apv honey beer. Dad had a delicious apricot peach ale. And Trav, our designated driver, had lemonade! I’m so happy we found a good place to eat down there.
Day six started with 18 holes of frisbee golf at Word of Life Camp in Hudson. It was a first for me, and fun! I took a picture of the map and it helped us find some of the tees. The course was pretty well maintained and we got to see a bunch of birds, including a pair of Sandhill cranes, pretty close up.
After golf, we prepared for canoeing down the Weeki Wachee river. We arranged to rent a canoe and a tandem kayak at Weeki Wachee Kayak Rental. We usually rent from the state park right at the launch site, but they were all sold out for the day. We were very happy with the service from the rental place and would go there again. Here we are at the beginning of the trip.
The water in this river is crystal clear and 72 degrees. We saw lots of birds and fish, and a merganser of some sort accompanied us for a while.
We stopped to play on the rope swing about halfway through the trip. There were some kids using it and we just joined right in. Dad got some really good pictures. I especially like this one… everybody looks so happy over Adrianne’s big splash!
As we got closer to the Gulf, we saw 7 manatees! A couple of them were pretty big and we also saw a baby with his mama. The rental guy picked us up at Davis Park and took us back to our car.
We got home with enough time to pick up Greg & Adrianne’s luggage and get them to the airport, where they left feeling satisfied and happy with their vacation… they got to do a lot of stuff and see some neat things.
On Friday, I had my RV driving lesson in the parking lot of an empty warehouse. I did pretty good but got a couple of fails on right turns going over the curb. Then I drove it around on the street a bit and did just fine. I love the view from the front windows in the RV!
That evening, we went to the Elks Club for dinner and dancing. Dad & I did a great polka plus a couple others and line dancing.
Dad got to meet a lot of our friends and we all had a good time. The early night at the Elks allowed us plenty of time to get home and get to bed for a good night’s rest before our departure.
On the morning of 9/11/01 I was working and Kevin called me and said, “Turn on your TV, to CNN, now!” I asked why and he said, “Just turn it on!!” Then I sat and cried for the next three days. Such a dark time… and we have lost so much because of what happened that day.
This year, my Dad fulfilled a lifelong dream when he bought a 30′ RV. Way to go, Dad! I’m so happy for you.
His first major trip was in June, to vacation and visit family on the east coast… first us in Florida, then to my sister Kelly in New Jersey, and his sisters in New York. The plan was for Dad, my brother Greg & niece Adrianne to come to our house, stay for a few days, and then fly home. Then Dad and I would drive up to Kelly, pick her up and continue on to New York. Then back to New Jersey and I would fly home.
When Dad arrived at my brother’s house to pick them up, Zoey jumped right in and was ready to go!!
She had to stay home, though. Kinda hard to get a big dog like her home on the plane.
The first leg of the trip was a leisurely 4-day drive from Tucson, Arizona to Spring Hill, Florida.
Day one brought them to Texas, where they camped overnight and then went to The Caverns of Sonora before hitting the road for the day. They said it was the most spectacular cave they had ever been in… a beautifully preserved, living cavern with so many interesting formations!
Everybody took turns driving. Here’s Adrianne behind the wheel!
Next stop – New Orleans, Louisiana. They were able to park pretty close to the French Quarter and spent the afternoon touring Bourbon Street and seeing other sights, such as a giant lubber grasshopper and a sign at a park warning of no swimming due to alligators.
I love this picture Dad surreptitiously took of the t-shirts hanging outside a shop. The second one is especially good!!
The end of day three found them in Pensacola, Florida.
They stayed in an RV park right on the beach and after taking a little dip in the Gulf of Mexico, they set off for our house. My next post will be about the time we all spent together here.
Last night, Trav & I performed a ballroom dance routine for the “Dancing with the Stars” show at the Timber Pines community, for their Newcomer’s Club. Our dance teachers Bonnie and Chris were hired to put on the show. Bonnie did a wonderful job with my makeup, hair and costume. And Trav looked so handsome and dashing… my latin lover!
About 200 people were in attendance, and we were the first couple to go on stage. We did the merengue, with the other couples dancing Rumba Bolero, Cha-Cha and Swing. We took pictures, did pre-show interviews, and recorded the whole show, and Trav made an amazing DVD of the whole production! We can watch it when you come over. Click below to see our dance!
I was shaking like a leaf the entire time we were on stage… thank goodness Trav had himself together!! After our performance, we all went to Carrabba’s and had a delicious dinner. What a wonderful evening… everything a girl could want.
I just had to try this when we last went to Denny’s… a sundae with bacon and maple syrup on vanilla ice cream. The combination of salty and sweet is sublime! I couldn’t finish it but I did fish out all of the bacon.
This is the remains of a plaque I made for my parents when I was a child. It appears to be a flower made of glass tiles, corn husk, and beans. On the back it says in pencil, “To mommy & Daddy From Emily” (click on the picture for the large version, if you like).
A couple of weeks ago, we went down to Tampa to visit our friend Barb, and she took us over to Lake Wales to visit Bok Tower Gardens. What a beautiful place! Among the gardens, there is a 205 foot carillon bell tower made of pink marble and coquina. It sits on a hill called Iron Mountain, which at 295 feet is one of the highest points in peninsular Florida.
I laid on the ground to get that one. Here’s a closer view of some of the extremely detailed and gorgeous carvings:
And here we are the entrance:
On our way out, we took some time to go over to Spook Hill, where you can make your car seem to roll uphill. We didn’t get it. But I looked around and found this video and now it makes a lot more sense! Pretty silly but also entertaining.