Thursday, January 28, 2016

Show Boat

One of the top ten attractions for the Fort Myers area is the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater.  With all this rain lately we needed a diversion so I signed us up for a Wednesday matinee.  That's right, there's no pickleball or volleyball on Wednesdays.

The cost is $53 a person and we had a delightful four hour experience so felt it was quite a steal.  When you enter you are shown to your table and then you can start hitting the buffet.

Usually buffets don't appeal much to either of us, but this is a one time buffet and stuff isn't sitting out there all day long.  We had to sample a little bit of everything and each item tasted better than the first.  

The meats were chicken Lombardi, pulled pork, and coconut white fish.  I wasn't sure what the chicken Lombardi was all about, but it sounded Packer related so it had to be good...and it was.

There were several sides such as cilantro lime rice, broiled potatoes, corn casserole and steamed carrots.  There was also a salad bar with soup, but I went for the hot stuff right away.

And then there were the dessert areas.  One had ice cream, hot apple cobbler, brownies, whipped cream and hot fudge toppings.  On the other side of the room were all the cakes and pies.

I was starting to wonder if anyone ever hurt themselves by stuffing themselves to the point of bursting, mainly because I thought I may be the first fatality.

At one o'clock the food is put away and beverages are refilled.  The show started at 1:30 and everything ran like clockwork.  I love performances that start on time.

Left Brain made the choice to see Show Boat, the next one during our stay is Sister Act.  The stage set was beautifully done, great lighting, orchestra pit, costuming and sound system.

These performers acted their little hearts out and the man who sang Ole Man River had the lowest voice I've ever heard, it gave me goosebumps when he started in.

It was a great diversion for a rainy day and now I'm thinking we may need to go back in February for Sister Act as well.

Long Live the Queen

Monday, January 25, 2016

Edison and Ford Winter Estates

We skipped going to see this exhibit the last time we were in Fort Myers, but it was highly recommended by some friends so we decided to give it a go....and I'm so glad we did.

The central trunk is in the middle of this photo.  As you can see, each shoot that comes off the branches and touches the ground becomes another tree trunk ...and so it goes on and on, creating its own personal forest.
Edison and Ford were good friends and ended up having their estates next door to each other.  I couldn't help but think if it were not for these two geniuses we wouldn't be driving to the movies as often as we do.

We did the audio tour and learned more about these two men as we wandered about the estate, enjoying the sunshine and beauty all around us.

The first thing you notice when arriving are the trees.  They are massive and awe inspiring.  I'd been wishing for a good example of a banyan tree to show the grandkids while they were in Florida, and wish these had been closer. 

There are guided tours available and the inside tours are on specific days, but it was fun to glimpse into the rooms and see an era from long ago.

Orchids are attached to many of the mango trees and could be seen blooming everywhere.

The Caloosahatchee River is behind the property and the benches positioned along the trail allow for a leisurely view of the water.

My favorite part of the tour was in the museum where a video presented the camping tours of the Vagabonds, which gave rise to the concept of recreational vehicles.  Of course, they did it wearing suits and traveling with servants and cooks.

I was able to have a short chat with Mina Edison about our husbands before leaving the estates.

Long Live the Queen

Friday, January 22, 2016

Tastee Treat

I'm nostalgic about this kind of architecture, from a simpler time and place in my childhood.

On the side of the building it proudly proclaims you have a choice of six flavors.  That was a lot of options back in the day!

Here is the shot of the building as it stands, but I couldn't stand all those nasty poles and wires, so I tried to tidy it up via the magic of Photoshop.  Not a very clean job, but after posterizing it to hide the major flaws it was good enough for the web.

This is a short distance from where we live, just around the corner from the recreation center where I play pickleball.

Have I visited this establishment?  Nope.  I much prefer a Dairy Queen blizzard instead.

Long Live the Queen of Nostagia

Monday, January 18, 2016

A Day of False Starts

Our plan for today was to play tourist and visit the Edison Winter Estates after a nice lunch out.

We were so smug thinking how lucky we could do this during the week and not deal with crowds on the weekend.  It never occurred to us that it was Martin Luther King Day.

The day was cool but sunny, not good for visiting beaches and that may have led to the crowds as well.  Our other idea was to bike on Sanibel Island, but due to the high water and flooding problems we're going to wait a while on that option also.

Since we are here for another month and a half, we decided to forgo the crowds and try it another day.  But I did get some photos of the trees on the property.

This is the Cuban Laurel and I've included the description beneath the photo for you.

This is the Kapok tree and its shear massiveness is impressive.

But my favorite of all times is the banyan tree.  Note how each offshoot that goes down to the ground becomes yet another tree trunk.  You can have an entire forest from one tree.

More photos will follow after we do the actual tour...on a less crowded day.

Long Live the Queen of Flexible Scheduling

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful

We've missed two tornadoes so far but the forecast was for a tropical storm with high gusts of wind, so the awning came down and chairs got stashed in the back of the car.

Surely the tables and cat tent would be okay, so they were left up.  During the night I listened to the wind howl and the felt the RV shimmy and shake as the rain and wind pelted our humble home.

This is what we saw when looking outside our window in the morning.

The cat tent is staked down, or I'm guessing it would have been somewhere down the street.  The tunnel was not secured so it blew to the side.  The tent collapsed but thankfully no poles were destroyed and it sprung right back up.

The table flipped completely on its back and the table skirts are drenched.  I was going to post my newest project, but now it will have to wait until they are dry again before taking the photos.

The tailgater was knocked off its table and both bikes were laying on their sides, but everything appears to be okay.

Thanks to El Nino we are experiencing the summertime thunderstorm season, something we would not normally get to do.  Aren't we the lucky ones?  I'm hoping this storm system lets up soon as the retention ponds are full and I'm not sure where they're going to put any more water.

Long Live the Queen of El Nino

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Pickleball Magazine

I am a member of the Pickleball USA group, no surprise there I suppose.  They just issued their first issue of Pickleball Magazine in an online format and I'm so excited!

But I find it awkward to reading this on my Kindle and would like to have a paper form to read and share with friends to encourage them to join the organization, so I muddled through the website to do just that.

As I'm reading it I was struck by how many people mentioned in the magazine that I know personally.

There was an article about Kelly Kirk who owns and operates Riverstyks, based in Winona MN.  They are producing some of the newest types of paddles and have a line of brightly colored balls.  I can't wait to get a new paddle when I'm back in the area and playing with her at the YMCA in Winona again.  Hmmm, I think I'll go online and order some fun indoor balls for use while I'm here in Florida.

Another article featured Palm Creek RV in Casa Grande AZ, where I definitely will be spending some time next winter!  They have 32 pickleball courts and the past president is Tom Gearhart, who I play with when in Minnesota for the summer months.

There were several articles about the winners of the Senior Nationals, and one of them was my neighbor while we were in Hemet CA - Rosalie Knutsen.  She plays in the National tournaments and took a bronze in the 75+ singles category.  Yup, those ladies are between 75 - 79 and there is a category for over 80.  Before you envision any kind of dottering old people, I dare you to try a game with them...they are wicked good!  I had the good fortune to receive some coaching and training from her during my stay in California.

The magazine has lots of articles on how to improve your game, where the tournaments are and how to find the right paddle.  It is just chock full of information and I get excited just thinking about it.

Long Live the Queen of Pickleball

Friday, January 15, 2016

Time to catch up again

We've been having a lot of storms lately and just last Saturday dodged the tornado that hit about five miles from here.  Today there was heavy rain and severe winds along with our second tornado watch in one week.  
Here's a link to the newscast about the first tornado.

It was a bit tense for a while, but it passed and as soon as we were able we both went to the center to play pickleball.
Left Brain hasn't played in quite a while, but it came back to him quickly and it was nice to show people that I really do have a husband.

Earlier in the week we met up with Becky and Patrick for lunch at Ford's garage.  They were vacationing in Fort Myers Beach with Patrick's brother and his wife, so there was six of us for lunch.  Even though the air was chilly we managed to sit outside in their screened in area next to the heaters.

We had such a good time and were talking so much that I completely neglected getting any photos taken of the group.

Other than that we've mostly been goofing off and enjoying being lazy.

Long Live the Lazy Queen

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Same Old Same Old

Nothing really to report here, but figured I'd better post something before people thing we disappeared into some Florida swamp.

I've been messing around with some of the photos I've taken recently and I'll post a couple just to give a little visual element to this post.

Left Brain has been biking.  I've been playing pickleball.  Nothing else really matters.  The play times on Monday and Thursday are from 7:00 am to 2:00 pm.  I found that Left Brain gets a little upset when I stayed for the full time.  Yes, Stephanie...I was there for the full seven hours.

But due to the crowds waiting to get on the courts it takes hours to get in enough playtime to be satisfying.  

We've caught up with some of our movies we've been missing and recently saw "Concussion", which was very appropriate during football season.  It was a very interesting and though provoking movie.

Today I took off to see "Daddy's Home" and I feared it would be totally stupid, but needed a diversion during the rainy days we've been having.  I actually enjoyed it much more than I thought I would, funny and with a good message.

On Tuesday I'm looking forward to having lunch with some friends from Wisconsin who will be in the area.

Long Live the Queen

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

What a difference a coast makes

Although there were many things to see and enjoy on the Atlantic coast during our stay in southern Miami, I found the area a bit depressing.  Everything seemed dirty and disorganized.  The Joanne Fabrics there was less than adequate and pretty much a mess.  The Publix, which I usually enjoy shopping at, didn't seem well stocked and the vegetables were not looking good.  

But here on the Gulf of Mexico side, in North Fort Myers, it has all changed.  The Joanne Fabrics here is one of the nicest I've ever been in.  The Publix is once again a store I'm pleased to shop for my groceries.

We set up the first of January and spent the next couple of days reacquainting ourselves with the area and getting to know the neighbors, who are some of the friendliest people I've ever met.  We were welcomed immediately and introduced to everyone here.

On Monday I was able to go to the Community Center where I acquired a lifetime pass while here two years ago and check out the pickleball.  There were a couple of people I recognized from before and met some new people as well.

One couple I played with are also staying here in Tamiami RV and are very nice.  I'll be going with Don today to the Community Center to play volleyball.  It's a good thing I've got a volleyball playing granddaughter, because without watching her play I'm not sure how much I'd remember from those days in high school.  I'm betting our style of play will look quite different from hers, but I'm sure we'll all have fun.

The weather has cooled down and we actually need to close windows and use the blanket at night to sleep, which is a real relief.  The daytime is sunny and warm and about as perfect as you could hope for.

We still haven't checked out activities in the park yet, he's been too busy biking and I've got my pickleball to enjoy.  The internet here is much better than we had in Miami, so it should be easier to keep up with blogs and Facebook again and that is a real blessing.

So, to sum it up...things are good here and while we were threatening never to return to Florida again, we may have to reconsider that idea.

Long Live the Queen of Contentment

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Campers and their pets

We've seen a lot of pets during our life on the road.  They are usually of the cat and dog variety.

We've even seen a lady walking with her chicken in a stroller.

But this was the first time I'd ever seen a horse.  Granted it was a very tiny little horse, but still a horse.

We were wondering if they brought it inside during the bad weather or how it was housed.  Perhaps it had lodging in the trailer they pulled behind the RV.

So many questions, but there was nobody available to ask and now they have moved on...I assume to greener pastures.

Long Live the Queen

Friday, January 1, 2016

Living a nightmare

Spoiler alert:  Happy Ending

We had just sat down to have lunch when I noticed the tunnel was open and Gracie was gone.  The Houdini cat had pulled it off again, managing to remove two clips and unzip the opening.  So, off we went calling her name and checking with neighbors to see if they had spotted her.

Pete saw her in the thicket of palms and junk behind our RV but couldn't get within two feet of her before she'd run off deeper into it.  This is a very dense area with lots of sharp edged plants, cactus, broken bottles and miscellaneous junk.  There was a fence on the back edge, but with several gaps near the bottom.

This has happened before and she's always come back by nightfall.  The major problem here is that we must vacate our lot before 11:00 the following morning.

We had many neighbors helping us look for her, one man even brought over his German Shepherd to see if he would be able to spot her.  All to no avail.

I put on my jeans and tennis shoes to protect myself from the hazards and wandered around as best I could, walking through several nasty spider webs in the process.  Yuck!

The sun was starting to go down and we hoped and prayed she would show up before we have to leave the park.  There is no option of staying as the park is full.

Plan A was:  ask if we could park in the overflow dry camp area for another day or two and then sit near where we last saw her.

Plan B was: send Left Brain to Ft Myers with the RV and I'd stay with the car and tent, begging permission to camp near the spot we last saw her.  I was sure several of the neighbors would give me permission to do this.

She has been micro-chipped but given the large feral cat population here I doubt anyone would give her a second look. But I prepared Lost Cat flyers to hang in the area, the office and cabana if we had to finally leave without her return.

Needless to say I was beside myself with grief.  During a nice long hot shower I sobbed my heart out and begged G-d to please have her return safely.  I probably made promises to Him that we both knew I'd never follow through on.

New Year's Eve has always been a sad day for me, as my cousin (more like a sister) died unexpectedly on this date many years ago.  I have always hated the loud noises and fireworks that come with this celebration, especially here in south Miami as the news has been asking people to please not shoot their guns at midnight.  What?  Apparently it's a tradition here to shoot your guns up into the air.  Yikes.  What goes up must come down...this was not comforting.

Before long it was dark and we kept the door open with the light on as we tried to distract ourselves with the TV.  I noticed George was sitting by the door and staring outside.  He was missing her also and I was wondering how to deal with a despondent feline if she failed to return as they are inseparable.

About 7:15 I spotted her looking into the tunnel from which she had escaped earlier.  Trying to be as calm as possible so as not to spook her I went outside and told her it was late and she should come in, walking slowly towards her as I spoke.  I was ready to do a Clay Matthews style tackle if necessary.

She seemed very satisfied with her six hour jaunt and came in willingly and after a long drink of water nibbled on a few crunchies.  I got her brushed out and removed some of the debris she had picked up, but otherwise she seemed no worse for wear.  I think Left Brain and I suffered much more from her escapade than she did.

Happy New Year!

Long Live the Very Relieved Queen