Stuff 'n Nonsense! Last week in February 2013

After all the rain, days and days of drippy skies, the sun finally cracked thru the clouds -- what a welcome sight!  (We could've changed the McGuire Sisters tune, "Sugar in the Morning," to Thunder in the morning, Thunder in the evening, Thunder at Suppertime!)  With all that blatant sunshine, Tuesday morning we took off for Fairhope and, as usual, ended up on the Pier.  A cold front had pushed the clouds south and east, and that meant chilly temps and WINDY conditions for us.  Not many people were Out and About, 'cause that wind carried a bite!  Mobile Bay was a strange brown/gray color, with lots o' whitecaps.

 This Pier is nice and sturdy.

 Even the flagpole was bowed in the wind.

We pretty much had the pier to ourselves.  

After this one brief burst, these laughing gulls beached themselves on the pier.

 Only two pelicans aloft, wheeling in the wind on their 6-8 foot wingspans.

 How crazy!  It's almost March.  Someone should replace the snowman with the Easter Bunny!


Back at the "ranch,"  I offered my favorite donkey some celery.  She wasn't sure about it.  She sniffed, she tasted, she chewed for a bit, she spit it out.  Bleah!

No likee celery!  What else you got?

How about an organic carrot?  We know you like carrots.  Gimme!

Tergel and Smartie at our "campsite" while in AL.  According to this bloomin' azalea, it's springtime!

We'll be leaving Alabama on Sunday.  Time to head for our California home, tho we'll take the slow route.  Spending time with our family is why we're here.  Funny how when you get to a place, it seems like there's all the time in the world, and then suddenly the time to leave draws near.  In the next few days, we plan to pack in as much family time as possible before hitting the road, our noses aimed west.


Back to one of our Favorites: St Marks NWR -- Sunday, 2/17/13

St. Marks NWR, located 25 miles south of Tallahassee along the Gulf Coast of Florida, is a well-known oasis of natural Florida habitats for wildlife, especially birds. Natural salt marshes, freshwater swamps, pine forests and lakes provide a haven for wildlife and people.  Jimmy and I discovered this paradise soon after relocating to FL and fell in love with it at first glance.  We've hiked it, run it, biked it, kayaked it, fished in its waters offshore, photographed it, watched hundreds of Monarch butterflies being tagged in October (boy, that's interesting to see), and even waited on freezing mornings to view the whooping cranes fly in, following their ultralight "mama."  St Marks is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, as well as the Florida National Scenic Trail.  Every season offers new sights; each year something special to see.  And you just gotta love the "Senior Discount Passport," that gets old farts in free.  Just sayin...

Historic St Marks Lighthouse.

They're serious!

Two young alligators out in "winter" soaking up the rays.  

This one is so happy to see the sun, it's smiling!

Headquarters Pond.

The island back center was chock-a-block full of herons and egrets.  One of the Bald Eagle nests we used to watch is (was?) in the tallest pine tree right side of picture.  And the log near lower right isn't a log... it's a gator!

This is such a great place!  I was nearly run over by deer twice (once on foot, the other on my bike) and been a little bit too close to black bears and alligators, but found the wild pig (boar?) funny.  Didn't have to outrun that one!  We've seen rattlesnakes (Jimmy nearly stepped on one), nonpoisonous snakes, picked up a deer antler shed, caught lots o' fish in Gulf water within view of the lighthouse, watched one of the Bald Eagle nests grow year by year, and - maybe you can tell? - spent a bunch of what we think of as quality time here.  Nice to visit again! 


Happy Valentine's Day - Feb 14th, 2013

What a difference a day can make!  Today was our last full day at Disney World, and we chose to visit the  Magic Kingdom.  The morning dawned slate gray and we hoped we could get in a few hours at the Park before more rain fell.  Our low temp was 64, and the forecast hi was 65, with a slight north wind blowing - definitely not a shorts and tee shirt type of day like yesterday!  No matter, we were up for it.

  Happy Valentine's Day!

Quite crowded in this park, with swarms of children.  Lots of South Americans are here for their summer vacations, plus schools in some US states have teacher conferences this week, which, when combined with President's Day this coming Monday, makes for a looooong weekend.  Never mind, we were still up for it.  (Holiday weekends sneak up and trap us.)  

Jimmy and I have been in the Magic Kingdom in winters past and never encountered this much crowding, tho many times we were here in January while we were still running.  We reminisced about the marathon he ran in 2002 and the half-marathons we both ran in ensuring years.  All right here in Disney World, racing thru the various theme parks, while characters in costumes cheered us on.  One year it was warm enough to swim in the hotel pool after our 13.1 mile run.  One year at our early morning queue time the temperature was in the 30's.  (Well, come to think about it, sort of like yesterday and today!)  Memories are sweet.

Despite the throngs, we managed to ride our favorites, catch a bit of parade, and consume a box of popcorn each, with only an occasional sprinkle to contend with.  Long about 3ish, however, when a determined drizzle set in, we threw in the towel, so to speak, and made for home.  When we got in, I put away the small box fan and dragged out the small heater.  Such is life, day-to-day!  And then the rain began in earnest!


EPCOT @ Disney World - Feb 13, 2013 - o boy!

EPCOT opened at 9 am, and we arrived early enough to get a great parking space near the entrance (not long after the Park opened).  We packed a lunch of homemade zucchini bread and home-canned peaches, and left it in a cooler in the car.  Tasted delicious at Noon sitting next to a canal in the shade of some scruffy pine trees.  The sun was already feeling pretty hot.  After lunch, we walked around the World Showcase, stopping here and there to look.  Around 2 pm, humidity-itis struck me full on.  Jimmy bought us each an iced coffee at a coffee kiosk (after I drank enough water to float a rowboat).  Then, we found a shady place to sit (no, not here, over there where the wind is blowing to cool us off), and just people-watched.  Kids are so much fun to watch as they walk along - skipping, or holding onto Dad's hand, bumping into people as they operate their handheld gizmo's, laughing or even pouting.  We critiqued the different colored athletic shoes (we used to call 'em sneakers) - companies are making them oh-so-bright!  About time they put some color onto feet!

I don't know what time it was when we emerged from a shop and glanced at the sky.  We were ready to leave anyway.  It must have been after 4 o'clock.  We'd enjoyed the heck out of our day at EPCOT, didn't buy a thing except two coffees, and our feet still had a mile or so on 'em.  The sky grew darker and darker.

And - hallelujah - it was after we got home and ate our dinner that the black sky let go.  Down came a deluge.  Snug inside Tergel, we listened to the rain beat on the roof.  How cool is that?

Love these colors outside the Universe of Energy ride.

So many flowers to admire!

Artsy-fartsy picture!

Another nice artsy pic - of the Monorail track (lake and flowers!).

Left - The juggler at the Italy Pavilion was on the ball....   Right - I wondered if Jimmy would buy me this trinket, but nope.  Heck, the 18" glass castle was only priced at $37,500. (yikes!)

Happy duo posing in front of Poseidon at the Italian Pavilion.  Love those green shoes!

The belly dancer and the MO-rockin' guys at Morocco Pavilion.

While Jimmy was watching the group above (group? uh-huh), I was taking pictures of the loony duck that flew to this wee water-filled square near where I was sitting. Like it was a big pond!  Then it hopped into the flower area and looked at me expectantly.  I didn't bite....

Now that's a happy man with a nice smile!  He got to ride the NEW Test Trac ride and loved it.  Me, too.

 ... and here's Jimmy's dream car!

You should see these beautiful handmade glass poppies that were created for the Land of Oz garden by Craig Mitchell Smith in his Michigan studio.  Each flower is made of hundreds of hand cut pieces of glass, requiring four days to make each one!  Wow is the only word that comes to mind.

What a happy day Jimmy and I had.  Tired now, and my feet didn't fail me, so tomorrow we shall see what the weather will bring.  Bring on the new day!


Welcome to Orlando! Feb 12th - Feb 15th, 2013

So we left Tallahassee this morning under gray, gloomy skies, which turned to rain while we were hooking Smartie to Tergel (oh well).  The rain lasted for maybe 30 miles, became overcast, and by the time we turned off I-75 toward Orlando, blue skies with puffy white clouds prevailed - as in the photo below.  What we were NOT expecting was a high temperature of 87 degrees (plus humidity!).  That's plain ol' HOT in my book.

We certainly have run the gamut of temps on our winter travels - from 19 in NM to today's broiler.  Needless to say, it only took a minute to change from jeans and long-sleeved shirts to shorts and tee's.  As soon as we set up camp in Orange Grove C/G this afternoon, we hopped in Smartie, heading straight for Hollywood Studios in Disney World.  This campground is a bit further away from Disney World than the huge park we've stayed in before, but they were full, which is amazing this time of year.  However, this C/G will do us just fine.

Tomorrow is forecast to be more of the same, possibly cloudier and windy (the latter two suits me) and a chance of rain.  We plan to spend the whole day at EPCOT.  Or at least till my feet fall off.  Looking forward to it (EPCOT, not my feet falling off)!

Entrance to Disney's Hollywood Studios.  Fantasia!  The parking lot seemed full, but the Park wasn't crowded.

 One of the attractions we hit was the Studio Backlot Tour and the next sequence of pics gives you a hint of what it's about.  Fun "ride."  Here you see a set that's about to experience a big problem.

 Uh-oh!  Explosions!  Fires!

Release the water to put out the fire!

 Watch it!  Don't sit too close on that side of the tram or you'll get a wet seat!  This, of course, is all staged, but pretty darned realistic.

 After riding a new very exciting Star Tours ride, we walked the Streets of San Fransisco :).

 Here's Mickey!

We left Hollywood Studios at sundown, as we wanted to get in before dark and, besides, we were hungry.  We enjoyed this beautiful sunset on the way "home."


Snowbirds in Tallahassee, Florida - 2/9/13

Jimmy and I married in 2001 and moved to Tallahassee FL in 2002 (pretty much as newlyweds), for a job opportunity.  It's a great little city (and the state capital) to live in.  After a few months' renting, we bought the perfect house for us and really enjoyed fixing it to our needs.  The backyard, which sloped toward a teeny-tiny creek, looked like a mini-forest... and we left it as au natural as we found it.  We hung bird feeders near the house and watched many birds flock to eat sunflower seeds... dismayed at all the pesky squirrels that wanted to dominate the feeders.  We worked out a deal, however, when we bought a Wild Bills feeder and got a squirrel baffle for the other one.  Whatever hit the ground was for the squirrels!  We saw armadillos wander thru the back, tearing up the ground looking for grubs.  Veritable zoo.. and so on.  Jimmy made me a raised bed (organic) garden which fed us quite well!  We trained for road races on our safe neighborhood streets, and ran in several Disney World half-marathons, as well as local 5k's and 10k's.  Really, really liked living here (except for the weather).  Best of all, we made some true friends and now return to visit when we can.  This is one of those times.

When we retired in 2007, we sold the house, bought a condo in Daphne AL (near relatives) and began traveling in our motor home (which we call Tergel).  We sold the house and bought a condo so we COULD travel.  Staying with our good friends, Diane and Tom (who visited us in Nevada City last October!), we park our Tergel in front of their house.  I haven't posted anything on the blog for days because, I've "been too busy having fun" to get blogging!

Diane's pet, "Cricket," an Indian Ringneck, and he is quite the character.  

 One of our favorite Tallahassee spots is Southwood and their lakes trail.  If memory serves me right, one lap around both lakes is approx 1.70 miles.  And ya never know what you'll see.  First off,  we spotted two bald eagles above our heads doing their sky dance.  Awesome sight.

 The usual suspects were present (geese, gulls, cormorants, herons, egrets, turtles & hawks), but this is one guy we seldom saw and never as close as today.  This fisherman put on show for us - and the Canada geese!

 Not sure what kind of fish, but the river otter swam to the center of the smaller lake twice while we stood there, and both times brought back a juicy fish to chomp on.

After hiking around the lakes, we met our good friend, Rebecca at "Stella," her Street Chefs food truck for lunch.  She graciously offered to make the four of us her famous "Not Your Mama's Grilled Cheese" sandwiches, garlic mashed taters, and grilled fresh veggies.  Can I tell you that when we left, we were full to the TOP!  She deserves kudos not just for her cooking, but for her initiative on the successful food truck start-up.

 Yo Rebecca, thanks for lunch!

When we'd walked off the lunch (!!), we drove to the theater to see Victor Hugo's historical novel on the big screen, Les Misérables (1862).  Neither Tom nor Jimmy was especially keen to see (or listen to) the movie, but we all came away feeling that we'd something very special.  When we weren't eating, walking or at the movies, we $hopped, assisting the Florida economy.  And, of course, playing Mexican train dominoes in the evenings.  Don't ask who's ahead....

Tomorrow (Monday) we hope to spend the afternoon with friends, Mickey and Nancy, and tomorrow evening - with any luck and the creek don't rise - see still more friends.  Then, on Tuesday, we plan to leave Tallahassee for Orlando AND another old friend:  M.I.C.K.E.Y  M.O.U.S.E.  That's what a trip to Florida is for us. 


Feb 7th, 2013 -- A word...

I didn't want to do it, but an increase in spam comments has led me to enable comment moderation for now.  You, as a real person can still comment, if you want to.


Critters -- of all kinds! First week of February 2013

As we geared up to leave my sister's place in Watson, LA on Tuesday 1/29, she planted this little feller, named Bear (haha), on Tergel's dash.  He seemed quite content to become an RV dog... till we fired up the motor.  Scared him enough to WANT OUT.  He went back in the house!  Bear was visiting with his Mom, Michelle (Nannie's daughter).  I backed Smartie out of the garage, we hooked up to Tergel, and, after our good-byes, Jimmy and I continued East to Daphne, AL (approx 200 miles).

Our first three days (Wed/Thurs/Fri) in Daphne were taken up with getting set up in our campsite, as well as personal business:  annual dental and doctor visits, plus dinners with Jimmy's Mom and Sis.  Jimmy's Mom made us a delish meatloaf dinner Thurs eve and I invited them to our place for turkey soup the next nite.  We eat well!

The Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) trees are blossoming in Daphne!

I gave her an apple, which she's chomping on, and named her Fiona.  She lives next door to where we're camped while in Daphne.  She likes to be scratched, and she is CUTE!

Got anotha' apple?

My brother, Rob, introducing himself.  She's smiling.  He gave her a carrot.  Is that ass-inine?

Camilla's are in bloom all over the south.

Rob, who lives across the Bay in Mobile, came to our place (Tergel) on Sunday 2/3.  He brought his bike, and Mardi Gras beads.  I gave him a pin, which he pinned on his shirt, that reads, "Kale is cool."

Jimmy and Rob, dressed for riding bikes.  Together, these two blinded me!  I rode between the two and never worried about being hit during the brief time we were on a public road!

Me and Jimmy.  We three rode from Fairhope AL almost to Pelican Point, with a stop here at the Grand Hotel in Point Clear to admire the grounds.

Me and Rob at pool's edge.  Uh, Rob, it looks like your head is exploding!

The fabulous Fairhope tulips.  Wow!

We rode 23+ enjoyable miles on the Eastern Shore Bike Trail, and when the slanting rays of the winter sun declared it was time to turn back, we did so -- after 3 in the afternoon, the days really begin to get chilly.  One of us wasn't wearing a jacket....  We always have such fun when Rob is around, laughing and kinda acting silly, but everyone knows laughter is good for body and soul.  The weather was ideal to be outdoors -- what a nice day we all shared!