Author Archives: sftbalmm

Punta Gorda

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The Suite Pea has landed. For the winter season that is. We arrived in Punta Gorda on the first of the month and thus far it’s made a pretty favorable impression on us. We’ve found only one ding, although we are only 4 miles from the ocean, we are a good 37 miles away from the nearest beach, and approximately 46 miles away from a dog friendly one. So when we go, and we will, it’ll be an all day excursion.

We’ve barely made a dent into exploring the locale. We do know there’s good music venues nearby and some pretty good eats too, many of which are puppy friendly. We also discovered the weekly farmers market on our first Saturday in the park. It’s not huge but it’s adequate. Along with the usual bounty of fruits and vegetables, there are bakery, popcorn, fresh fish and seafood, eggs, coffee, honey, and tea kiosks. There are handmade trinkets of all kinds, painters, soap makers, and musicians. There’s a hotdog peddler, a smoothie stand, and best of all a crepe maker where we are quickly becoming Saturday morning regulars. A couple of other places in the area have piqued our interest as well but I will leave those gems for a future post.

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Our site for the season

As far as the park goes we are very pleased with it and with our site. We were aware going in that Alligator Park had a large clientele of returning Snowbirds. So much so that some years there are no openings for newbies. We were fortunate. I called first thing in the morning of the first day after their seasonal renewals were due. The manager told me I was the first caller, even so there was only 4 sites available out of 164. We made our site selection using only the online park map and we are quite pleased with it.

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Park entrance looking toward the clubhouse

The RV sites are paved with a lengthy attached paved patio area.  Most are 30′ wide X 80′ deep, a few are larger.  Each has a nice grassy area with at least one palm tree. All are full hookups. The park does a nice job of maintaining them. Ours also has an attractive white privacy fence at the back end separating us from a neighborhood.

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RV sites

The facility is an ownership park with separate sections for modular homes. In the past when we have stayed in other ownership parks we found that the RVers and owners don’t mingle. Sure, they say the functions are open to everyone but when you attend you’re often not made to feel welcome. That isn’t the case at Alligator Park. Everyone has been very welcoming and friendly. People often stop by our site just to say hello and to make sure we”re aware of park functions. Several of the park’s homeowners were once RVers here themselves. Also, it is much more welcoming to visiting grandchildren and bigger dog breeds than the vast majority of other 55+ parks.

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Early morning on the lake

We can’t complain about the amenities either. There’s a huge pool that goes from 3.5′ to 8.5′, which Don likes, a good sized laundry, a lending library, a mail room, a large air-conditioned clubhouse, and a 25 acre lake that hosts activities on and around it. Because of the park’s layout it’s great for walking and biking in as well. There are a few dings as far as we are concerned, first, the laundromat is set up to accept credit cards only, I don’t like that. I prefer cash. Secondly, there isn’t an off leash, fenced play yard for the fur babies, just an on leash dog walk area. However we did locate two very nice dog parks nearby and utilize them regularly.

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Since our arrival we’ve visited 2 of the music venues. The first was a well known  spot called Center Court at Fishermen’s Village. It was just the two of us out for an afternoon of entertainment and lunch. The second venue is a popular waterfront restaurant in downtown Punta Gorda called Hurricane Charley’s. It hosted the Songwriters After Party with 2 of Don’s favorite TropRockers, Cory Young and Donny Brewer. He HAD to be there. We hooked up with friends Mardy and Carla for this afternoon outing. Mardy is a musician too. It was a lot of fun.

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The four of us at Hurricane Charley’s

 

The last music scene we took in was The Lighthouse at Stump Pass. We were invited by Mardy and Carla to go listen to The Gummy Sharks, a band that Mardy once played drums for. The Gummies played some original scores but most were old rock or Motown tunes. They’re pretty good and I really enjoyed their song selection but the thing I liked most about this place was the setting. The water setting was gorgeous. Another bonus was watching dolphins swim up through the pass. They are such a delight.

Until next time, here’s lookin’ at you kid…..

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Spotted this banyan tree downtown & couldn’t resist a photo

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The Bucket List

Thanks to our friend Steve, Don was able to check an item off his bucket list.

For many years Don has stated emphatically that one day he would like to try his hand at salt water fishing. It happened that Steve recently developed an issue with his ear that at times became enervating. He decided to take a week’s vacation of rest in hope that his condition would improve and what better way for a person to rest and relieve stress than to fish. Steve asked Don if he’d care to join him. Would he ever!

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The fishing boat

They met with the boat captain early Friday morning and headed out into Big Sarasota Bay and the Intercoastal Waterway where they spent the better part of the day fishing. Don said they caught several but not all were keepers. He named a few but couldn’t recall all the varieties they’d reeled in as he is unfamiliar with salt water fish. Something he’d like to remedy in time. All I know is he had a really good time. When he returned home he sacked out for a couple of hours, too much sun, waves and fresh air perhaps.

Evie's at Spanish Point Restaurant & Tiki in Osprey.  STAFF PHOTO / NICK ADAMS

Evies of Spanish Point

Other than sitting out on the patio and enjoying the sun’s warmth, we’ve utilized the pool and done more socializing. Thursday afternoon we met Don’s old boss Mike Oaky and his wife Sue for lunch at Evies Spanish Point Restaurant & Tiki. It was a very pleasant afternoon and the conversation never lagged. That evening Steve and Becky invited us over for dinner. They have an absolutely lovely home. It made Don and I wistful for a house of our own again. Steve made smoked chicken for dinner in his smoker that was utterly delicious and Becky plied us with mango pie for dessert that was yummy. Steve is a HUGE Civil War/ Gettysburg buff. Don too is fascinated by  both, so Steve had to have Don see is Gettysburg man cave which even I have to admit was pretty awesome. Steve is a walking encyclopedia on the subject, had he not chosen to be a minister, he’d make an excellent Gettysburg tour guide.

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Kim & I

I also had the opportunity to meet up with one of my dearest and oldest friends, finally. I missed seeing her when she was back in Michigan this past summer. Kim did go by the property to see dad and Don but I was in Indiana at the time due to our youngest having gall bladder surgery. We met for lunch at Old Castle Tavern in Ruskin, a halfway point for Kim and us. Of course the few hours we spent catching up just wasn’t enough. Hopefully we can do it again on our return trip this Spring.

Today is our last full day in Sarasota. As usual whenever we’ve been parked in one place for a while, we spend our final day cleaning and prepping to move. As I told Becky, that alone makes it the perfect reason to dine out. We asked Steve and Becky to join us for one last meal out before leaving. They agreed to meet us at Yoder’s Restaurant where we spent a very enjoyable evening with good food and endless conversation. It isn’t goodbye though, we will meet up again once we get settled in to our winter headquarters in Punta Gorda.

Here’s lookin’ at you kid…….

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Blackened Grouper

Please forgive me blog readers but I was suppose to include this recipe in my last post. A fellow blogger had requested Don’s blackened grouper recipe that I had mentioned in one of my previous posts. So here goes. This is for you Ingrid.

To make the seasoning:

1 1/2 T. paprika, 1T. garlic powder, 1 T. onion powder, 1 T. thyme, 1 t. black pepper, 1 t. cayenne pepper, 1 t. oregano, 1t. salt

Combine all ingredients together in a small lidded container & shake vigorously to blend. Generously coat both sides of 2 fillets, set aside.

To cook the grouper:

Place large cast iron skillet atop gas grill to get hot over medium-high heat.  When a drop of water to pan sizzles, it’s ready. Add 2 1/2 t. each Canola oil & butter to pan. Add fillets, cook approximately 4-5 minutes on each side until fish is done. Fish should be flaky. Do not over cook. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Bon Appetite!

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Fun in the Sun

WARNING: I’m about to inundate you with morning beach walk photos. Indulge me please.

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With only one week left, our month long visit to Sarasota is coming to an all too soon. We feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface of things to do and see in this area. One thing is for certain though, we really, really like this town and have enjoyed ourselves immensely.

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Stormy morning

We haven’t spent nearly as much time just sitting on the shore as we thought we would. This may be due to the fact that every morning we head over to beach at daybreak and walk 2 to 3 miles. What a wonderful way to start a day! We could get used to this.

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We’ve also made some progress this week. First, the air in the laundry room is back up and running. Also the park’s pool filtering system has been repaired. We are once again enjoying a refreshing dip in the afternoon. However we are no longer the only ones here, the snowbirds are beginning their seasonal migration south. Each day new ones arrive.

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Notice the rainbow

Secondly, Don had figured out what the problem was with the Suite Pea’s AC. It wasn’t the AC at all but our surge protector. Apparently ours went bad as they are prone to do eventually. Since Don removed it off our electric cable we haven’t had anymore issues with our system shutting down. We don’t like being plugged in without the protection it affords us but there isn’t a Camping World conveniently nearby where we can pick up a new one. That will have to wait until we get closer to Fort Myers. Don stated he’s pretty confident in the park’s voltage though.

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And lastly, our Ford lemon is once again fixed after spending the better part of three days in Sarasota Ford’s service garage. We had the AC modulator replaced and a few “corrections” made from our last air filter change. Not wanting to drive all over town in our tiny foreign rental car we opted instead to tackle some chores on the rig and while Don worked on his music, I read or napped.

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Friday evening we met up our friends Becky and Steve at O’Leary’s Tiki Bar & Grill for dinner and music. What a fun place! The food was good, the band Impulse Reggae was outstanding, the setting and atmosphere perfect. It’s one of those places we would return to again and again.

Saturday morning after our beach walk we opted to linger a while longer and soak up some rays. Around 11 the sandy expanse started getting a little too crowded with weekenders so we decided to return to the rig. Don spent the rest of the day working on his music while I went out to do some Christmas shopping. I like to be finished by Thanksgiving so I can just kick back, people watch, and enjoy the festivities without stress. Somehow I tweaked my back in the afternoon while treating the black tank, fortunately icing, Ibuprofen and muscle relaxers helped me to bounce back by Sunday afternoon.

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People from all walks of life enjoy a beautiful beach

Crowd is gathering for the "Drum Circle"

The crowd gathers for the “Drum Circle”

Steve and Becky came by the RV park at 5 to meet Beau then to take us with them to Siesta Key Beach. Becky said we needed to experience the Drum Circle at least once. She said it was a great venue for people watching. Boy oh boy, she wasn’t kidding. The drums were awesome and some of the “characters” were quite entertaining to watch. The little ones seemed to love it. They were running around, blowing bubbles, hula-hooping, or pretending to be butterflies. After about a half hour we all decided to go into the village to grab a bite. We chose Gilligan’s Island Bar & Grill where we each ordered a Big KaHuna burger. Gilligan’s is yet another very cool, beachy place with a band. Dinner always lasts longer than usual with the four of us since we never run low on conversation. Afterwards, Steve suggested a stroll through the village to walk off our meal which we did until the stores closed up shop. Another fantastic evening spent with dear friends.

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A small section of the drummers in attendance

Until next time, here’s lookin’ at you kid…….

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Hot, Hot, Hot

It’s been a relatively quiet and HOT week for us. The cooler Autumn temperatures have yet to arrive in Florida with our temperatures hovering between 89 to 92 degrees daily since we got here. Let’s not even talk about the humidity or heat index.  And with AC and pool woes factoring in, I don’t see any relief in sight.

Monday morning I set out to get the laundry done early so I could have the rest of the day free. Don dropped me and my five loads off at the park laundromat.  Unfortunately someone beat me to the machines and I had to wait my turn which wasn’t a problem since it was wonderfully cool inside and I had brought a book with me. Eventually my loads were washed and I got them loaded into dryers. Between me and the other woman we had all nine dryers running at once. I’m sure you know how much heat those dryers can emit in a small laundry house, then to make matters worse the air conditioner died. Needless to say by the time I’d left I felt like I’d been in a sauna. Thank goodness for the park pool.

Later that evening the three of us drove to the beach to watch the sun set over the water.

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The following day we donned our swimsuits and headed for the pool to cool off. A sign posted on the gate informed us the pool was down for repairs. The filter had stopped working. So back inside the Suite Pea we went. I won’t go into details about the how or why BUT circumstances has led Don to believe that we either have a short somewhere that is affecting our second AC unit OR our inverter may be getting ready to go. At any rate we can only run the bedroom air for an hour or so at a time, otherwise our whole system will temporarily shut down. We intend to have it looked at when we reach our winter destination. Until then the rig is comfortable most of the day as long as we keep our two oscillating fans running and our night shades drawn.

Tuesday evening we braved the heat and humidity to go back to Captain Curt’s Sniki Tiki to see Sunny Jim White perform. Sunny Jim is another well known Trop Rocker that Don listens too. We had the opportunity to chat with him awhile and found him to be very likable and entertaining.

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Sunny Jim & Joe Patti at the Sniki Tiki

Wednesday was pretty much a stay at home day. Don spent most of it working on his music. I did go out to get a bad haircut while he was doing his thing. I may start wearing a do rag for a spell. ☹️ Later Don made blackened grouper on the grill while  I prepared a spicy bean salsa to go with it. I’m not a big fish eater but I have to admit Don’s recipe tastes mighty good.

Thursday we met our friends Dennis and Janet for lunch on Anna Maria island. The Waterfront has a nice view of the bay and Tampa’s Skyline Bridge. It’s also dog friendly so we had Beau tag along with us. He enjoyed all of the diners who stopped to acknowledge him but I think he’s particularly fond of Janet who slipped him several pieces of her chicken. It was nice catching up with good friends and we will be seeing them again this winter.

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Janet & Dennis with us at The Waterfront

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Beau

On our way back we stopped to see the statue “Unconditional Surrender”  on Sarasota’s downtown waterfront. Seward Johnson’s  25′ tall statue resembles the famous photograph taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt, V-J day in Times Square. The statue has become a popular roadside attraction and is worthy of a photo-op.

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“Unconditional Surrender”

We decided Beau needed a day to do the things he loved doing so on Friday we took him for a long break of dawn walk to avoid the heat of the day, then over to the dog park to chase balls until his tongue was dragging the ground. Back at the rig he promptly crawled under his big fan and took a nice long nap. The groomer Beau saw last week told us of about a dog friendly beach nearby, we thought we’d take Beau and check it out.

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The paw park is named Brohard Park and Dog Beach. It’s located in the town of Venice which is only 14 miles from where we are parked. We found it to be very clean. The beach sand is a little grittier than the white sand people beaches but still it was a nice area with a view of the pier,  and it had restrooms close by. The beach is off leash and Beau had a ball retrieving his float and romping with other dogs. He even got chummy with another Golden when they chased after each other’s float toys. Afterwards we stopped in a shady spot to eat. Subs for us, chicken tenders for the boy.

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We followed this day up with another lazy one at home. Don worked on his music again, I read and dozed.

Sunday after church Don and I ate lunch at a Mexican grill we’d been wanting to try. It is located in Siesta Key Village, a very beachy, touristy place. The Hub Baja Grill was packed with diners and folks just enjoying the sounds of a steel drum band. We found ourselves seats at the outside bar. I’d be hard pressed to label this a Mexican restaurant since there were too few Mexican style dishes on the menu but what we ordered was good and we both liked the band, both being fans of the steel drum sound.

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The Hub Baja Grill in Siesta Key Village

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On our way back from the restaurant the AC in the truck went on the fritz. We still have cool air coming through the vents but the fan has stopped. Are you seeing a pattern here? Did I mention it’s been hot? Very hot? Looks like Don will be calling the Ford service department Monday morning. I won’t go into our feelings about our truck (again).

Becky told us that on Sunday nights just before sunset drummers showed up on Siesta Key beach. She told us it was worth seeing and a great time to people watch. We intended to go tonight but a storm rolled in right about the time we were leaving.  We still have a couple of Sunday’s left before we move on so we’ll table it for another Sunday. Until then, here’s lookin’ at you kid…….

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Don’s Happy Place

Nothing improves Don’s disposition like crossing the Florida state line. Florida’s warm sunshine, sugar sand beaches, and gentle ocean breezes call to him, and if it were up to him, we’d never leave.

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When we arrived in Sarasota on Monday afternoon we found the RV park we are staying in to be practically empty. This surprised us tremendously since the best rates for Florida RV parks near the water is during the shoulder season between vacationers and snowbirds. No mind, we’re enjoying having the pool and Tiki bar all to ourselves. When we leave the grounds though, it’s a different story. The traffic never ceases! Don says he can’t imagine what it must be like here when the snowbirds arrive. UGH!

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We have a premium site just a short walk down from the pool

Premium site

Premium site sans the rig. The locked shed holds a patio set, trash can, & recycle bins

Standard sites

Standard sites

We are currently parked at Sarasota Sunny South. It’s a small vacation home and RV park with emphasis on small. The park is extremely well cared for and the staff is friendly and helpful. The sites are ample enough for big rigs. They are level and all offer 30/50 amp full hookups. Each has a very nice patio with picnic table. The park offers standard and premium sites. The difference being that premium sites have privacy fencing around them, storage sheds, and patio sets. We opted for a premium site and are very pleased with it. The only ding is that all sites are crushed shell. We would prefer some grass if only for Beau’s sake. Fortunately we are situated near the dog walk area which is grassy. The park does try to compensate for the lack of green though with a very nice, lush doggie play yard. It has a doo bag station, water spigot, and a chest of dog toys. For fur parents there’s a comfortable swing and Tiki type gazebo with seating. Beau loves rolling in the thick grass, especially early in the morning when it’s still dew covered.

Dog play yard at sunrise

Fenced dog yard is larger than this photo depicts

Other amenities are a club house, exercise room, shower facilities, and laundry, all of which are air conditioned. All this as well as the before mentioned salt water pool and Tiki bar. As a bonus, we’re situated a mere 4 miles from the #1 rated beach in the USA, Siesta Key.

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Don really digs the Tiki bar & it’s bamboo furnishings

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As with anyplace we intend to stay for awhile, we spend the first few days getting familiar with the surrounding area. We always make a point of knowing where a reputable veterinary clinic, a groomer, a grocery, and a hospital or immediate care clinic is located. Being prepared in advance has paid off for us in the past. I admit to a few indulgences too. While Beau was being groomed Don and I lazed around on the beach, soaking up the rays for a few hours. We also did waterfront dining at Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar and had breakfast at Yoder’s Amish Restaurant. Both were recommended to us and both of which we’d highly recommend to others. Who knew Sarasota had a neighborhood popular with Amish vacationers and retirees?

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The sugar fine sand never feels hot to the feet even on the sunniest days

Above is Phillippe Creek Oyster Bar & a pic of my Fisherman’s Feast; below is the skillet breakfast I ordered at Yoder’s. I couldn’t eat but half of it.

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The following day we met friends of ours for dinner at Captain Curt’s Crab & Oyster Bar. We had met Steve and Becky shortly after Allison Transmission transferred us to Indiana. They followed their dream to move to this area a few years back. The conversation followed easily and before we knew it 3 hours had passed. We will be getting together with them again while we’re in town. I should mention too that Captain Curt’s clam chowder took first place in the prestigious International Chowder Championships in Newport, RI. I ordered a bowl and must say not only is it delicious but the Captain does not scrimp on the clams either.

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Steve & Becky & us at Captain Curt’s

We’ve spent a few days just hanging out in the RV park. The temps have been in the high 80’s to low 90’s with the heat index running 10-15 degrees hotter so we’ve been utilizing the pool a lot. I’m thinking the park must run the pool water through some type of cooling system because no matter how hot it is, the pool is always refreshingly cool.

Friday night’s sunset was glorious so Saturday night we drove to the beach to watch the sun set over the water. It was a bust. The sky was overcast and cloudy. Still, it was a pleasurable evening for the senses with the sound of waves crashing, palm fronds rustling in the warm tropical breeze, and the salty taste of sea spray on the lips. It truly doesn’t get much better than that.

Today after church service we again went out with Steve and Becky for lunch. Once  more the conversation flowed effortlessly so I was surprised when I finally realized we’d been gone from the Suite Pea almost 5 hours. Yikes! We had only recently started letting Beau have the run of the RV in our absence and thus far he’d behaved, but we had never left him this long before. So Steve drove us back to his church where we’d left the truck then we said our goodbyes.

I was certain we’d arrive home to find that Beau had gotten into mischief. Boy was I surprised! Our little boy was sound asleep under the dinette and not a thing was out of place. Perhaps Mr. Chaos is turning over a new leaf. Phew, we sure hope so.

Until next time, here’s lookin’ at you kid…….IMG_4905

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Fixin’ to Head Over Yonder

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The cotton bolls are beginning to pop

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Beau’s curiosity is piqued by a new creature on his morning walk

Our time in lower Alabama has come to an end but we did enjoy the time we had. We spent our 10 days camped at our Escapees club park where we have several friends who either snowbird or live here. It was good to catch up and see everyone was doing well. Although Don and I have parked here many times, this was Beau’s first visit. Everyone was saddened to learn of our Golden boy Tucker’s death but they soon found themselves enamored with Beau and his antics. Beau made a few fur friends too. He loved his romps with Montana, another Golden who is one year older than Beau, and sweet Belle, a Labradoodle puppy who loves to give hugs and kisses to everyone she meets, including Beau.

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Belle & Beau

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Monty & Beau romp in the dog park

We made time to relax on Gulf Shore’s beautiful pristine white sand beach. The crowds were down because the kids are back in school and the snowbirds hadn’t arrived in mass yet. Since we arrived early to avoid the heat of the day we had an entire section to ourselves. Aah. How nice to sit back and be mesmerized by the waves. Don and I rarely go into the water, there are things in there that’ll eat you, you know, but the surf was calling and the water was crystal clear, so in we went. It was like bath water. Don stated he couldn’t recall the ocean ever being that warm before. I wonder if this crazy hurricane season we’re experiencing this Fall has anything to do with it.

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Peanuts will soon be harvested

Having spent much time previously in this area, we have quite a few favorite restaurants here but other than going out for Q the day we arrived and to Don’s Gulf Shore hot spot, we didn’t dine out. His hot spot is LuLu’s, Jimmy Buffett’s younger sister’s restaurant. Anyone who knows Don knows he is a true Parrothead and loves the TropRock vibe and LuLu’s epitomizes that. On the evening we went the popular TropRocker Brent Burns was performing. Don is one of his many fans and was delighted to finally see him perform in person. It got even better, during intermission Brent came over to our table and chatted with Don about their mutual interest. Needless to say I went home with a very happy husband that night.

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Brent & Don at LuLu’s

Next on our agenda is Florida and perhaps a recording studio for Don. He’s been approached by disc jockeys at both A1A and Oyster radio stations about his songs, so we will see if this is a direction he wants to go in.

Heres lookin’ at you kid…….

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Rainbow over Rainbow Plantation RV Park

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Let’s Play Catch Up

The jacks are up and we’re rolling again. Not a moment too soon either. I have had a serious case of “hitch itch” since about mid August. I had promised my father though that we wouldn’t leave until after his final post surgery check up on September 7th. Until that time came we were really looking froward to our youngest daughter Bobbi-Leigh and granddaughter Kendra coming up for a Labor Day weekend visit.

Then 3 days before their arrival Bobbi called with bad news, she was having surgery in the morning to have her gall bladder removed. This was totally unexpected but necessary. Knowing she would need help caring for her 2 year old, I spent time both on line and on the phone trying to find us a campsite near Bloomington, Indiana. With the holiday weekend looming just days ahead, it was a bust. Not a site to be found in either state or private parks. No surprise there.

Kristi, our oldest, had the day of surgery covered. Kendra would be dropped off at her daycare, then Kristi would drive Bobbi-Leigh to the hospital and stay until she was in recovery. Afterward she would pick Kendra up and take her home with her to spend the night. I packed a bag, informed pop there was a possibility I wouldn’t be back to the property in time to go with him to his doctor appointment, I then hopped into the truck and drove 8 hours straight to the hospital. I surprised Bobbi, who had no idea I was coming down. She was so relieved to have her mom with her she started crying. I stayed the entire week until Bobbi no longer had any restrictions and could return to work.

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I enjoyed my week with Kendra

I did make it back in time to go with dad but he had already asked his friend and neighbor Sandy to go with him. So Don and I then began prepping to leave. There’s much to do after one’s been sitting for 3 months. I also had 2 weeks worth of laundry to get caught up on. The good news is dad was given a clean bill of health. 😄

Then Hurricane Irma blew into Florida, and there went our September reservations for Georgia and Florida. We decided instead to head south into Alabama. Hearing this, Kristi strongly encouraged us to stop once more in Indiana. I didn’t respond. Instead, we snuck into town, set up camp, and got a good night’s sleep. We were exhausted after making the entire trip in one day. Normally we’d stop halfway as we try not to drive more than 4 hours, 5 tops, on travel days.

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A frequent visitor to our campsite was youngest grandchild Mia.

The next day we surprised Kristi by taking her and our youngest grandchild to lunch. We lucked into having our oldest grandchild join us too since he wasn’t due into work until later that afternoon.

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Brad, Kristi, Mia & Don at Mother Bear’s Pizza

We’re glad we made the decision to spend a week visiting with our kids. Everyone had a good time. As a bonus, we unexpectedly ran into another camping couple that we had known in our previous life as travel softball parents, Mike and Patty Baker. Mike and Don used to coach sister travel teams in the Indiana Stealers organization. It was fun catching up with them.

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Gabby & grandpa.  We celebrated this youngster’s 10th birthday with a cookout and cupcakes.

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Don with Mike Baker

Then it was time to get back on the road again. Destination? Gulf Shores.

Here’s lookin’ at you kid…..

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The iconic peach water tower of Clanton, Alabama. An overnight stopping point for us.

 

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Wooden Boats

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Other than when our daughter and grandchildren came to visit, this has been the first fun outing we’ve been on since arriving in northern Michigan. Since all 3 of us are fans of classic boats, the Boats on the Boardwalk was an obvious choice to attend.

Interesting bow

Check out the unique raised panel on the bow.

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SO SLEEK! This seamless 1991 Clarion looks like it was carved from one piece of wood.

Louvered windshields to allow air flow when top is up

The hinged windshield allows for air flow when the bimini top is in use.

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Even the interiors are pristine.

Old style dock bumpers

Notice the old style dock bumpers?

Boats on the Boardwalk is organized by the Water Wonderland (Michigan) Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society annually. Held on the river walk along the Boardman River in historic downtown Traverse City, this year’s show, the chapter’s 30th, featured 50 boats from 1900 through present day wooden classics.

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A classic!

1905 Long Deck Launch

The 1905 Long Deck Launch is very different. Seats 4.

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Check out the tail fins on this 1958 Barnes Shark.

We must protect what's important!

In case it’s thrown overboard, it’s important to save what’s near & dear to us.

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Even the ribs are polished to high shine.

We arrived 30 minutes after the show opened for viewing and already parking was at a premium. We shared the narrow dock with hundreds of other classic boat enthusiasts but I must say everyone was very polite. We began our viewing with the hand built wooden boats that local Boy Scouts had assembled. We were duly impressed with the finished products. Each one was unique.  All were row boats except one which featured a small boat motor that had been handed down from the scout’s great grandfather. You could tell the boy took great pride in the motor by just how clean and shiny he kept it.

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This is the scout built boat with grandfather’s motor

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This 1950 Chris Craft caught both Don & dad’s attention.

Check out this old Evinrude. It's as old as I am.

This old Evinrude motor was built in 1956 making it 1 year older than me. I think it’s better shape than I am.

Most of the boats on display were the much coveted old Chris Crafts but there were a few others brands on display too such as Lyman’s, Thompson, and Barnes to name a few.  I noticed a couple of old wood canoes off to one side and one in particular really caught my eye. Perhaps it was the pretty blue color, my favorite. Upon closer inspection I became more enamored with it. The richness of the canoe’s interior wood, the hand caned seats, or maybe it was the style, a 1915 Waltham Courting canoe, complete with pillows, an afghan, and wicker picnic basket that I found so charming. I complimented the owner on his boat and how he displayed it.

1915 Waltham Courting canoe

The 1915 Waltham Courting canoe. Isn’t she a beauty?

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I couldn’t locate the year on this Chris Craft. Judging from the style it could be from the late 40’s or early 60’s. 

All of the watercraft displayed were beauties in their own right. The boats were polished to a high gleam, and the interiors and motors or engines were immaculate. One can truly appreciate the hard work that has gone into the restoration and maintenance of these vintage boats. Surely it’s a labor or love.

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Here’s another unique beauty that caught my eye. A 1956 Arena Craft. 

Check out the boat butler

This 1957 Chris Craft comes with an important piece of equipment, the drink butler.

On our return trip home my father insisted we pull into Don’s Drive-In and pick up cherry milkshakes for the ride back. It’s hard to believe that Don’s Drive-In has been a Traverse City institution since 1958 and that pop has lived in the area for over 20 years and had never tasted a cherry shake until 2 weeks ago when I brought him here. Now he can’t get enough of the thick fruit laden shakes. 😋

Until next time, here’s lookin’ at you kid…..

hand crafted wooden kayaks

These amazing hand built kayaks are very lightweight, about 28 lbs.

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A Quick Update

 

Blackberries are coming in

Blackberries are almost ready

Dad’s surgery went as planned on July 18. The heart team was able to go through the groin and the jugular of the neck to replace pop’s heart valve. This was wonderful news since dad was adversely against having his chest cracked open. Originally we were told dad would be hospitalized for at least 5 days before he’d be released to go home but because he opted to have the surgery using only a local anesthetic, thus foregoing being put on a ventilator, he was up and moving the very next day, and he was pain free. Pop’s rebound not only astonished his doctors but the entire heart wing staff as well. He was released in 3 days! I knew dad was a tough old bird.

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The back end of the property, soon to be select cut. 

Don and I got my father all settled in at home. Dad got his 2 X’s per week visiting nurse appointments scheduled and I recorded his doctor and rehab appointments on his calendar. Pop was given a 10 pound weight restriction, a liquid intake restriction, and a no driving for 2 weeks restriction. He was also encouraged to eat a heart healthy diet from now on but anyone who knows dad knows that ain’t gonna happen.  I assured the doctor that as long as we were in town and I was doing the cooking, dad would eat healthy. Other than that, the rest is up to dad.

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The logging continues on state land abutting the property. This is all pine. 

My father followed his regime and continued improving until the morning of the 26th. Don and I were sound asleep in the Suite Pea when the phone rang at 5:30 am. It was pop, asking me to come right away. Don and I hastily dressed and ran up the drive to dad’s. Dad said he’d gotten out of bed to use the bathroom but found himself bouncing off the walls. Included with the dizziness was numbness down both arms and in his hands. He was also complaining of feeling very hot at the base of his head and pressure in his lower chest cavity. The pressure we later determined was anxiety. I called 911 immediately.

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Don & Beau give you an idea how tall the stacks are. Don is 6′ tall.

Apparently dad’s neighbor Mike keeps a scanner turned on 24/7. He heard my distress call and came over right away. What a blessing to have a EMT right across the road! He immediately began checking dad’s vitals and relaying all pertinent information to the ambulance while it was enroute. I rode with pop to the hospital. It was one of the fastest and longest 40 mile trip’s I’ve ever made.

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The scent of pine is heavenly.

Munson Hospital began doing blood work and a series of tests right away. Later that evening we learned dad had suffered a minor stroke that morning. He remained in the hospital another 2 days for observation and testing. Dad was released anew with no residual after effects. We are so very thankful.

Cherry

Loggers are also cutting premium hardwood. These are cherry. 

So here it is the first of August and to look at my father you’d never guess what he’s been through the past 2 weeks. Don and I will remain on the property until dad sees his heart team again in September. If pop is given the thumbs up at that time, then we will break camp and depart the following morning. Don has gigs scheduled the end of September in Florida.

Here’s lookin’ at you kid…….

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Our dirty little boy

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