Friday, February 20, 2009

Anna Maria Island, February 20, 2009

We left Orlando about 10 a.m. after picking up my friend Patti. We made good time to Bradenton, which is on the west coast...and from there we hit a lot of traffic heading over to the beaches. That was despite the fact the weather was only to hit the mid-sixties. BUT, it was a gorgeous bright sunny day.

Our lunch spot...great food!

We drove north once we got to Anna Maria Island--we were basically just there to scout out the island, but, Rod had a list of things to look for and I had one too. My hiker friend, Crystal, is getting married here in September so I wanted to see her wedding pavilion. When my parents mentioned they have friends who winter here (and a neighbor who vacationed here when their kids were young) we decided to check it out. They took down some rental phone numbers just in case they need a place next year--if Annie's isn't available.

We enjoyed looking at the beach houses and when we found a place to pull off and look some more, we found the Rod and Reel Pier...a great place to bring your rod and fish for a couple hours...except on a day like today. LOL We put our name in to eat lunch--the wait was 45 minutes. There were lots of people out and even one wind surfer out in water.

We stopped at the public beach and were surprised to find a few hardy souls out sunning. Someone had left a couple of sand sculptures--a turtle, a dolphin and a big octopus. No one was in the water, but, lots of people were out walking in the sunshine. We shopped for a bit in the beach store and hit the bathrooms before braving the wind again.

Once we left the beach we headed south towards the Lido Key/Sarasota area where we discovered the St Armands Circle shopping area. We will definitely be back to check this out--WITHOUT the guys who limited Mom and Patti's shopping stops to the bare minimum! Honestly, I was kinda grateful for that too! Those two can shop, shop, shop...

We were cold and . . .

. . .

. . .

. . .even the birds were cold!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Florida in the Winter, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Everybody!

The folks, Rod and I celebrated a night early at Carrabbas--OMG! Can you say...great food. We have learned our lesson there--we split entree's, we order an appetizer (Bruschetta Carrabbas), we sometimes split a dessert and we usually make it during HAPPY HOUR, to get 2-4-1 drinks. Last night was no exception...except we drank way too much! OH, and we tried the Ribeyes, not the Sirloin Marsala as usual. It was great....the server was terrific and we gave him the Holiday Tip. That's Jackie-Speak for rewarding good service on a Holiday...just a really nice tip!

SO, I know those of you up North don't believe we actually are cold in Florida, but, I do have some pictures to prove it.

It has been really cold for Florida, I have used all the cold weather clothes in my closet once this year. And then it started warming up this last weekend. SO, yesterday we nearly finished up the yard work--clearing out all the frozen, dead stuff from the multiple hard freezes this year. AND, today we went to the beach. It was gorgeous and Jetty Park was full of people enjoying the weather, celebrating the Holiday weekend and just hanging out. There weren't more than a handful of people IN the water, but, everyone was having a good time.

So, we jumped from the upper 20's to the 80's...and can I just say I prefer the warmer end of the scale right now! :)

Lake Placid Country Fair, February 7 & 8, 2009

Mom and I traveled down to the center of the state to the Town of Murals (aka the Caladium Capital of the World!) for this weekend's craft show. We were going to try to meet up with her old boss who winters in Haines City, but, that gal took a tumble and wasn't able to join us. She is fine, but, sore!

We pulled into town Friday afternoon after lunch at Bob Evans...good salads...and unfortunately we sampled the cherry and banana breads too. Yes, they were good. BUT, it energized us to get setup QUICK. Partly because we wanted to get back to Sebring to check into the Kenilworth Lodge and partly because we wanted to go get a pedicure or see a movie. Instead we ended up shopping at their nice little Mall there. We got done after dark, so, we ate out (Bob Evans) again, and then headed back to the hotel to enjoy some TV...where of course there was nothing on!

The Kenilworth Lodge in Sebring.
Saturday was pretty chilly, but, not a cold as the prior week had been. The one where we had the fireplace running about 36 hours straight. It never made it into the 70's but it was pretty close, so it turned out to be a nice day. The crowds were really large there on Saturday...but business was down a bit. BUT, all my favorite customers from (Jan, Joan and Ann) the area showed up! Nice seeing you gals!
Saturday night we used a free entree coupon at Ruby Tuesday and went to check out the movies. Mom wasn't interested in any playing there, so, again we went back to the hotel. Tonight at least we had Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs on TV...and then a movie which I have already forgotten.

This is a bad picture, but, I had to turn around as we were driving around the Lake
at Sebring and go back to get this picture for Rod. You Gator fans will recognize a
blurry Albert...he's big like those big blowup Christmas decorations!!!

Sunday morning started out warmer and made it up into the mid-70's for a beautiful day. My day picked up nicely and with my sales from the day I made it almost to the level I had made last year. I think many of the vendors were hoping for a better show this year's past we had to contend with the Super Bowl on Sunday. We were packed up in 40 minutes and on our way home. The ride home was quick and before we know it we were in the driveway and the guys were helping us unload.

All in all a nice girl's night out weekend. Looking forward to another two weekends off to spend with the folks.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Puzzle, Jan/Feb 2009

Mom and I enjoy a good puzzle. This is NOT one of them. It took us eight days to finish it, but, in our defense--we could not work on it more than a couple hours at a time or we would have gone blind. It was a challenge to finish, but, not a fun one.

The other thing I disliked about this one was that the box didn't show the full picture. So to the left side of the sprig of what was another 8 inches of puzzle. Argh. Crystal, this one is coming to you...hope you like it better than we did!

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Manatees and Blue Spring State Park, January 31, 2009

The first bit of real fun we had with my parents started out on a cool winter morning--the perfect time to go manatee watching. The problem was--that it wasn't gonna happen on Friday (Rod's first day off) but on Saturday (his second day off). Which meant we were going to hit some crowds at the park in Orange City, FL, Blue Springs State Park. Just how big a crowd was a surprise to all of us.

We lucked out before leaving--they had spots for us on the St. John's River Cruise at 1 p.m.--a two hour boat trip that would be a good wildlife viewing thing for Rod with his cameras and lots of fun for the rest of us. We left Orlando with plenty of time--we thought!

We stopped for a quick bite before turning off to the park entrance. I thought we would have plenty of time. BUT, once we turned off on the road to the park, about a mile down it we hit backed up traffic. Apparently the park had reached capacity and you could only get in when another vehicle left. We had 30 minutes to make the boat! Eekkkkk!!

I shot a couple photos while waiting in line, thinking it would be the only site seeing we got in, but, about 1 p.m. we made it into the park, to an open parking spot...but unfortunately too late for the 1 p.m. boat trip. Which as it turned out we would not miss too much.

Blue Springs has a great boardwalk the length of the Springs with several viewing platforms for the multitudes of tourists. We started out on the end that empties into the St. Johns River, and slowly made our way past the educational exhibits to the "boil" of the Springs that puts out over 100 million gallons of crystal clear water every day. It is quite beautiful along the path and Rod and I both got several great pictures of the area. My Dad even walked the whole way without any trouble!

The "Boil" of the Springs

The log-looking things are the manatees underwater!

We saw a ton of manatees sunning in the 72 degree water. These are West Indian manatees. We even saw an adult with three youngsters heading out of the Springs into the St Johns River...oh, I hope no boat props got them!!! We saw lots of big and BIGGER fish in the Springs too...mostly gar and big catfish. But I am no expert, so don't quote me!