Friday, February 28, 2014

Photoshop Friday

We've been busy trying to pack it all in before we leave the park on Monday.

Today we dropped the bikes off for their 30 day check up at The Bike Route in Fort Myers.  If you need a bike or any service, gives these guys a visit....they are super.

On the way home we stopped off at The Brunch Place for brunch and once home got busy.

Preparing to leave is always a frenzied activity.  He went up on the roof to clean off pine needles and see what needed to be done.

I gutted out the car, vacuumed it and then starting packing up the tables, chairs, floor mats and anything we don't need for the next couple of days.

I emptied out the drawers under the bench seats since those will be leaving us in the near future and organized stuff under the bed and in the bays.

When he took off to pick the bikes back up, the cats and I took a nice long cat nap.

I believe I only received one entry from Andrea for the Photoshop Friday - if I missed any, I will post them tomorrow.

This was our starting image:

This is Andrea's rendition:

This is what I did with it:

Next Friday's project will be:

Long Live the Queen 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

One last visit to Sanibel Island

Monday we put the bikes on the car and set course for Sanibel Island.

Our mission:  bike through the J.N. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge.  We had visited this eons ago and remembered only a dirt road and not much else going on.  Now there is a visitor center and the roads were paved just last year.  This is a totally different experience.

The road is one way and only 15 mph, so biking was the coolest way to see it.  No problems as to where to park the car when there's a group of people watching the birds.

We just biked along until we'd spot a camera with a long lens or a tripod...always a sign of a good sighting.

There were an abundance of birds to shoot so the first part of the trip went pretty slow.

After leaving the refuge we headed over to Doc Fords Rum Bar and Grille.  I've just started to read the Doc Ford mystery series that take place on Sanibel Island and the surrounding area, so this stop was a must.  The author will be there this coming weekend for book signings.  But we need to prepare for our departure and only use Kindles what's the point.

Once our bellies were full we set off again for Bailey's Tract to see if we could spot some gators.  The trail along the way had alligator warnings, but there were none that we spotted....and that was a good thing.

At Bailey's Tract we hoped again to see those elusive gators.  There were many signs warning about the hefty fine for feeding or molesting the alligators.  I can barely be convinced to share my food with Left Brain...I sure wasn't going to be tempted to feed some reptilian beggar.  The path here started out hard packed but turned into much more loose sand later...mucho challenge for me on the bike.

Again there were no gators to be seen, but we did find this cute anole and a turtle.  We take what we can get.

There were also pretty flowers and butterflies along the trail.

We totaled about 15 miles on our ride, but it sure didn't seem that far.  When there's all this beauty to admire, the miles just click along.

Long Live the Queen of Sanibel Island

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday Dinner and a Movie

Being retired is so much fun…it's a bit like being on vacation all the time.

this tin of candy was from our beloved grandkids...who have the same weird sense of humor as their parents (and us)

The plan was to sleep in (that’s pretty much always the plan) and then figure out what we wanted to do.  Yup, not a lot of advance planning in our days.

We decided to revisit The Brunch Place for an earlier lunch and then head over to the movies.  Hmmm, kind of forgot about how busy it can be on a Sunday when the church crowd gets out.  The place was packed.

Left Brain was wearing his Green Bay Packers hat and the waitress refused to seat him at first because of it.  I asked for a table for one.  She laughed and guided us through the herd to a small table for two that was just being cleaned up.

Due to the crowd, the wait for our food took quite a while and we decided if the movie didn't work out, we’d just return home and try it again a different day.

The waitress that seated us came by the table several times with coffee and water and each time would reach over and turn his hat over to hide the Packers label.  I love a place with surly waitstaff…it makes it so much more fun.

Our crabmeat omelets with hollandaise sauce were wonderful.  It’s so nice to always have access to a wide variety of seafood as we’re trying to cut back on our red meat consumption.  Of course, this my main diet anyway.  When I “see food” I eat it.

As it worked out we had time to leisurely eat our brunch and made it to the movies just in time, we didn't even miss any of the previews.

Lone Survivor wasn’t an easy movie to watch.  It is based on a true story and showed the courage and bravery of our soldiers in Afghanistan and some of the tough decisions they face in war time.
It seemed odd not to have any popcorn or soda to clean up as we exited the theatre but I never really missed having it at all as we were so full from brunch.

Afterwards we had planned to stop and pick up some stuff at the store, but felt drained by the movie and instead retreated to the comfort of our patio.

Long Live the Queen of Relaxation

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Biking Pine Island

Today we went back to Pine Island to complete biking the north half.  When we scouted earlier by car we saw a restaurant at the far end and this is becoming my new mantra:  “Will bike for food”.

I love this rusty yet colorful bike adorning the shoreline

this part of the path is under a hedge of palm trees
We had a head wind as we took off, but I kept thinking about how lovely it would be at our backs on the return and pedaled onward.
The bike path provided a fair amount of shade and there was only a short stretch on the highway to deal with.  This is my kind of biking.

We arrived at Captain Con’s Fish House and walked around the area admiring the birds before going in to dine.  We’ve become accustomed to eating about 1:30 or 2:00 lately, so having lunch at 11:30 seemed too early.  But, there we were so we went in to get a table.
A sandpiper feeding along the shore line
There were many people clamoring for the few picnic tables outside and we just smiled and went inside.  We like to leave those for the tourists soaking up the Florida sunshine since we spend a great deal of our time outside every day as it is.

We managed to get a table by the window with a view of the water and fishing pier and placed our order.  Both of us opted for the coconut shrimp basket to see if it was as good as the ones on the south side of the island.  It was.

As we were waiting for our bill we were glad to have gotten in early….there was not a seat to be had any more, with long lines of people waiting just to get on a waiting list.

You know how things can be serendipitus?  I had just read a reply to my post on biking Sanibel Island from a friend who always enjoyed eating at Doc Fords because she loved the book series that featured the area.   Hmmm….a new author?  After reading this reply I promptly went on Amazon and ordered one of the earlier books by Randy White to check him out.

So who sits down next to us but a lady with a Doc Ford t-shirt on!  She is also a fan of this author and we chatted a bit about his writing, and she was gracious enough to let me take a photo of her shirt for the blog.  I can’t wait to read the first book and then revisit Sanibel Island and find the restaurant there.

After lunch I had gotten my second wind, which was a good thing as Mother Nature decided to blow from the other direction and we biked straight into the wind all the way back.  Not fair.

We spotted these charming planters along the bike path.  Hey, this is Florida….no kitsch is too gaudy here.  When we returned to the car Left Brain informed me that we had biked 15 ½ miles today.  It didn’t seem that bad – I did feel tired at some points, but with so much to see and take in you just don’t think about how far you've gone.

After returning home I rode my bike over to Ron and Nancy’s house to see if she was home as she’d wanted to do a test drive of the bike.  She was home, so I left the bike with her and walked back. 

This confused many of the neighbors who questioned where the bike went.  I just played along and said “what bike?”….”was I on a bike earlier?”  Let ‘em think I’m nuts….they already do anyway.

The kitties were happy to see is return earlier than we normally do, so they got lots of happy habitat time as a result.

Long Live the Queen of Good Eats

Friday, February 21, 2014

It’s too hot!

I know I will get no sympathy from my northern friends when I utter these words….but it’s true.  We are in the upper 80’s here in Florida and unless there’s a breeze blowing it’s hard to move….or breath.

I mean, seriously…how can we bike in this heat?  Unless we are willing to go at it the way these two have.

It’s too hot for the cats to play.  Gracie was searching through her toy box for just the right mouse to play with and was overcome with the need to take a nap. 

The best way to beat the heat is to lay low and eat cold things.  My new favorite are the fruit bars – very chilling and tasty at only 70 calories.

Of course, it’s never too hot to play pickleball.  I sweat profusely when I play anyway, so it really doesn't matter what the weather is like outside.

Not that I want it to be cold!  I’m not complaining here…just stating the facts.

Long Live the Queen of Heat 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Florida is for the birds….really

There are no shortage of birding trails in Florida, but finding them is not too difficult.

We always check the ditches when leaving the RV park to see who’s around.

There’s usually the normal assortment of ibis and egrets, but today we got to see a Wood Stork.  These birds are really tall and stick their entire beak and part of their head into the mud and muck in search of their meal.

It’s when they are in flight that they are really pretty and you can see the black feathers on their wingtips.

Along the shore you can find sand pipers.

If there are people fishing...there will be pelicans.

Long Live the Queen of Birds

And speaking of birds - the Photoshop Challenge of the pelicans won't be due until the following Friday to allow some time (mainly for me) to complete the work on it.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tired of having too much fun

We woke this morning with plans to return to Sanibel Island and bike the refuge, but it was not to be.

Feeling tired and weary we opted instead to stay in bed petting and scratching two very affectionate cats.  I think they liked the decision as well.  I know George certainly did.

I guess there really is such a thing as too much of a good thing.  We've been running around and doing so much lately that we both agreed it was time to just sit still for a while.

So instead of biking and sight seeing we went out for lunch, he took the car to be washed while I scoured the aisles of Wal-mart yet again for things needed. 

It feels good to just bang around the house fixing up some simple meals for later tonight, assessing things that need doing....and  then not doing them.

Playing pickleball three times a week seems to be taking its toll on me, especially when followed by ever increasing bike rides.

So today is a slow day of sitting around and catching up on some computer stuff.

I forgot to post the project for next Photoshop Friday, so here is what we'll be playing with:

Long Live the Queen of Sloth Like Living

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Go-Pro camera

One of more recent purchases has been a Go Pro camera.  This is the tiniest thing I've ever seen but it has a boatload of options.

My favorite is the video recorder and we purchased the headgear for it to wear it on my forehead during events.  

I confess I do feel like I'm wearing tefillin and should have a prayer shawl over my shoulders but it's getting better.

It seemed a natural way to go since I sleep in a contraption wrapped around my head all night.  

I figured I might as well strap a camera to my forehead in the daytime.

Left Brain has been working on coordinating the phones and tablet with the Wi-Fi on the camera.  Yup, it's got it's own Wi-Fi and you can watch whatever it sees on your laptop or phone.  Perhaps we can use it a nanny cam and see what the cats do when we're not watching.  On second thought...I really don't want to know.

It has a fish eye lens so takes in a lot of action.  It can function as a camera as well, but since I have a good camera already it's the video that fascinates me.

I haven't been able to get their editing software to load, so purchased some cheap video editing software.

The best feature is that Left Brain's helicopter has an attachment for this camera so he can video what the helicopter sees from afar.

It also has a waterproof case so can be used in the water.  I was trying to use this while swimming with the manatees but between my wanting to vomit and taking river water into my mouth I didn't accomplish very much that day.  The granddaughters had fun with it in the swimming pool when they came down over Christmas break.

Since much of our new lifestyle of being on the road brings many different sites our way, this just seemed like a cool way to add to the enrichment of our experience.

Long Live the Queen of the Spy Camera

Monday, February 17, 2014

Biking in Boca Grande

We have truly fallen in love with biking on these little islands, so when one of my pickleball friends recommended Gasparilla Island, we decided to check it out.

The island has a bike path created from a railroad right-of-way that once ran the length of the village.  This provides almost seven miles of bike paths and is the best way to really see the island.

We did not see any of the iguanas that inhabit the island, but ever since a resident released some in 1970 they have gone forth and multiplied.  There were many egrets and pelicans along the route, however.

We parked in Boca Grande which is located in the center of the island and headed to the southernmost point first.
walking on the beach is like walking through powdered sugar

On our way back we stopped at the South Beach Bar & Grille for lunch.  

This is the only public restaurant in the area for dining on the Gulf of Mexico.  Left Brain had a grouper sandwich and I opted for the seafood strudel, a blend of various seafood and cream cheese wrapped in phyllo dough and topped with a lobster sauce....yummy!

After lunch we strolled along the beach and enjoyed the view of the ocean.

keeping an eye on our bikes through the window

some of my shell loving friends have asked for shell photos
not sure what this was, but it was pretty and called out to have it's photo taken

After remounting our bikes we ventured to the northern tip of the island and found this cool tree.  It resembles the banyan trees but is actually a Cuban laurel tree.  I just had to crawl inside of it and look around. 

Here’s a photo of Left Brain in front of it so you can get an idea of its size.

We got through most of our ride before the sprinkles started.  I made my camera as safe and secure as possible and we waited under a thick leafed tree during the heaviest part of the showers.

Most of it were just light sprinkles and didn’t interfere with the fun of biking at all.
Since we were parked right next to Banyan Street I had to go and see if for myself.  This street is shaded by a canopy of Banyan trees and is a popular venue for island weddings.

The original trees were planted in 1915 and have since then intertwined to a point the trees blend together.

Banyans are ficus trees, nature to India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.  The “banyan” comes from the Hindi word “banian” which means trader.  That’s because many in India did their business, buying and selling wares under the shade of the banyan tree.

It is considered a sacred tree in their culture and is often planted around Buddhist and Hindu temples.  You can feel the spirituality of the trees as you walk beneath them.  They impart a feeling of harmony just being in their company.  It was a great way to end our 13 mile bike ride.

Long Live the Queen of the Banyans