Think about this ... "be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle"

Friday, March 26, 2010

The ying and the yang of a day ...

Trying to post a peaceful sunset photo and even that doesn't want to cooperate!

So the day starts off with yet another issue with our "mail forwarding service" this morning. Yup, I'd handed over any and all dealings with them to King Richard after the last fiasco with them ~ in a long stream of costly fiascos - ugh, before I even get coffee into my system this morning they rear their ugly flippin' heads again.

The day ends with the wrong pizza ....

major stuff right (she types with what should be a smirk, but I can't even do the smirk right now after this festering crap, but I do appreciate the insignificance of it in the whole scope of a lifetime BUT) - I give up with it ... it's been a beauty of foolishness in immeasurable proportions today for sure.

The positive in it is ~ I FINISHED AMY'S VEIL TODAY and it will be on its way to MA in the morning .... now for the ultimate therapy - I am headed to work on a quilt - which absorbs tears along with creating something - guess that's a double positive (???).

Word has it there is some sort of benefit here at the Macclenny Moose Lodge tomorrow - can't get any info on it, but perhaps (hopefully) a volunteer opportunity - I sure need that kind of diversion ..

G'night all ....

Thursday, March 25, 2010

a whole lot of chillin' goin' on

On Tuesday we left the Elks Lodge in Jacksonville that we'd been at for a week and came to Macclenny to the local Moose Lodge - just down the street from our Chester. Nice rv facilities they have here - friendly (but way too smokey) lodge as well.

We got the bikes out yesterday ~ yup, even mine came out ~ and went for a ride we've done often from here over to Lake City about 40 miles west.
The main reason we headed over there was to see yet another Moose Lodge that has rv facilities.

The Elks have a great group of books that show all the Lodges throughout the country, listed by state with a map of each state indicating where the lodges are. The books also indicate the ones that have facilities and lists what type of hook ups they have.
The Moose (as well as the American Legion), unfortunately, don't have this great resource available to their members. It is often very challenging (and quite often happens by accident) to find what Moose Lodges and Legion Posts have facilities and what those facilities entail.
Alas, I digress (once again). When Rick posted our datastorm location the other day when we arrived here in Macclenny he also went to the map that shows fellow datastormers in the area and saw that one was at the Lake City Moose Lodge so that was our plan for yesterday - to explore that Lodge.
The photos in this post were all (and about 40 others!!) taken there. Isn't it lovely and peaceful?
The down side (if there is one) is that if we were there Sir would be beside himself to get into that lake (Watertown Lake). THAT would not be good - there are gators in that there lake!

We had a great ride, met friendly people at the Lodge and certainly appreciated another option of a place to be!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

El Toro and the Duck with a side of green beer

Just before we left the Palm Beach area we stopped at a great Mexican restaurant where we had dinner a few nights before with Larry, Sheila, Sam and Carol (previous post). They ~ El Toro ~ had a terrific tiki bar where we were allowed to bring Sir for a while. He was on such terrific behavior that when I was leaving with him people commented that they hadn't even known there was a dog there (as it should be).

We did have to do the usual Sir at the bar photo of course. As well as posing in front of the statues outside. There were several more statues in the pool area but I didn't think it was a good idea to bring him in there, as it was fenced and if he'd gone in there I am certain he'd have wanted to go in the pool, so it was one of those rare occasions when logic prevailed and I "did the right thing"!

Another thing we did at the end of our time in the West Palm Beach area was take a Diva Duck Tour with the Vovos.

Diva Duck had nothing on the Boston Duck Tours (on which Rick and I were married). But as Roy pointed out to me, West Palm Beach surely doesn't have the history that Boston does and that is part of the charm of the Boston Duck tours as far as I'm concerned.

The water part of Diva's route was the Intracoastal Waterway, which runs between Palm Beach and West Palm Beach. Check out these boats - ummm I guess they should be referred to as yachts right? They were in a marina (seriously, do you think!) on the West Palm Beach side ~ in fact I'm not sure marinas are allowed on the Palm Beach side!

Below are two of the homes on the Palm Beach side. I loved the bougainvillea surrounding the deck and the garages. Also, the green on the "panes" of the garage doors is actually ivy - can you imagine training all these beautiful plants like this ... oh yes, I guess that is what one would have a "gardener for" but how would I know for sure! The first time I'd seen bougainvillea was our first stay (2007) at my lodge in the Keys - I fell in love with it then. It comes in so many beautiful colors and looks like crepe paper.

The second home - I loved the dog statue, but darned if I can remember whom the home is owned by ~ yes the guide did tell us, but I'm having a senior moment.

This past week of course we celebrated, as Patrick says, the holiest of holy days! Didn't our precious princess pose so nicely when her mommy asked her to be still so she could get a photo of her wearing her festive shirt! I can't wait to see our baby again in just a few weeks! She is learning sign language so I'm certain Grampa will have fun with that - remembering his signing skills with his granddaughter! Can it get any better?

Rick and I had our own celebration at a local restaurant - with boppers of course (this time provided by the restaurant!) and the awesome corned beef (sliced deli thin) - the cabbage, well not so much 'cause it was cold cold cold and not cooked enough!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The wild things ~ part two

Computer issues computer issues computer issues - hopefully this will post!

Thank you so much Lynda for your comment on the first post about Lion Country Safari - what a terrific trip you had huh! How incredibly lucky.

Chimpanzee above - UGH I hate anything in the monkey family but what can I say, they were there so I had to take photos! They also have White Handed Gibbons there - swinging from ropes around and around and around its play area. Did you know that monkeys can't swim? So Lion Country Safari surrounded their space with a moat .... smart huh! Anyway, the chimps come from the forests and rain forests of central Africa, weigh up to 175 pounds and have a life expectancy of 60 years.
Above and below are Greater Kudus - the color is off in the photos but they are neat looking fellas - with their stripes. Kudus hale from eastern and southern Africa. They are members of the antelope family and can weigh up to 690 pounds.
Below an Asiatic Water Buffalo who can weigh up to 1 1/2 tons! Nice algae huh!?!

Ostrich with Waterbuck above, Ostrich with automobile below.

Waterbucks are from Africa south of the Sahara Desert. Males have horns, females don't. They elude predators by submerging in water up to their nostrils!

Ostrich come from African grasslands also south of the Sahara desert. They are the world's largest living birds - up to eight feet tall. The contents of ONE ostrich egg contains the equivalent of two dozen chicken eggs!
Below are Gemsbok (did I put this picture in the previous Safari post hmmmmm). Cute mask they have - do you think?

Above male lions, below females. These and the elephants are the only animals that are "caged" so to speak at the Safari. They are not in individual cages, but their large areas is fenced off and they are not allowed to roam around in the Safari where the cars drive.

A herd of water buffalo in the distance below.
We are in Jacksonville now staying at an Elks Lodge for a while - don't know for sure how long. We may be here for our entire stay in the area or we may move down the road to a Moose Lodge or a Moose Lodge down the road from Chester's in Macclenny, which is 30 or so miles west of here.

We've been here two nights, staying two nights on the way here at the second worst campground we've stayed at in our 2 1/2 years on the road - Cape Kennedy KOA Campground in Mims - 130 miles south of here. UGH, what a place at $40. night. Oh well that's part of our adventure and it sure makes you appreciate the great campgrounds even more when you come across a nasty place!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

where the wild things are ...

At Lion Country Safari - we've been at the Lion Country Safari KOA in Loxahatchee for the past five weeks and hearing the lions roaring and roaring at all hours of the day and night - NOT a complaint, it's been really "neat" and fun. It's $26. to go through the safari which pretty much irked the hell out of me that after spending copious hundreds of dollars to be at the campground they don't throw you a couple passes to the safari. Oh well, too bad, too sad .... Rick wanted to go, so we got the $6. coupon off line and off we went the other day. It was SO much fun and so darned interesting - well worth the $$$

I've loaded 40 pictures to put on blog posts so this theme may go on for several posts - which I guess means weeks from now you'll still be reading about t he Safari!!! Anyway, I'm not sure the best way to do these posts about the safari so I think I'll just identify the animal in the photo and go that way with it!

And we're offfffffff for the tour .......
These handsome fellas are Gemsboks ... they are from southwest Africa and have adapted to go long periods of time with little or no water (not a problem here these last two days as we've had major rain that apparently is in New England now)

Obviously, above and below are elephants _ always make me think of my father. I think I posted a photo of Dad riding an elephant in one of the blog posts I did from Sioux Falls when we were there in the summer of 2008 and the circus was in town. Lion Country Safari has three elephants - we only saw these two. Hmmmm how could an elephant hide?? No clue!

Below is a group of Wildebeests who are from the open grasslands of eastern to southern Africa. Information overload on them is .... gigantic herds of millions of them migrate biannually to find food and water. Calves are able to run with their mothers shortly after birth.

Below, I believe are waterbuck - from Africa south of the Sahara Desert. Males have horns, females don't. These guys elude predators by submerging in water up to their nostrils!

Now a herd of Impala (NO not the kind Chevy made/makes). They are also from southern Africa to the northern limits of east Africa. They weigh between 100 and 145 pounds. Again, males have horns, females don't.

Zebra and white rhinoceros. I know, I know they don't look white - what can I say, I didn't name them, I didn't color them - I just tell it like it's explained to me!
When I was young, about a million and a half years ago, I had a "little golden book" titled "The Saggy Baggy Elephant" .... perhaps a cousin to the saggy baggy rhinoceros! This guy was about seven feet from us when I took this photo - man he has more rolls than a bakery (as my friend Candy would say) and I think he has more rolls than I do these days!
The photo below has the newest addition to the rhinoceros population at Lion Country Safari. The cutie in the middle is "Jazi", born December 9, 2008. What a cute baby huh.

Now, some stats on rhinos - they range from the plains and bushveldt of southern Africa and weigh up to 2.5 tons (WOW). Their life expectancy is 40 years and their eyesight is poor but they have excellent senses of hearing and smell. Unlike their black rhino relatives the whites are reasonably docile. I wonder what reasonably docile means when you're talking two and a half tons!
Isn't this zebra just gorgeous - I swear a person could be hypnotized if you stared at those stripes long enough! Zebra facts - these are called "Grant's Zebras" and they hale from the East African plains. They aren't as fast as a race horse, but do have more stamina. The zebras stripes are like our fingerprints - they are unique to each animal.
Finally for this post is the giraffe. Unfortunately, I ran out of memory on my card in the camera by this point and this photo was taken with my phone - kind of dark. A shame because they really are quite beautiful - also a shame that you can not get out of your car when you ride through the safari. Trust me when I tell you it is difficult to take a photo of a creature that is 17 feet tall! Especially when you are using a phone.
Stay tuned for the next safari post. I'm going to try to load more photos now, but we are on on the campgrounds wifi and it is slow and limited time and bandwidth (we blew the time limit on our own last night - something we've only done a couple time in these last couple years - OOPS)

We are leaving here tomorrow and headed to Mims (just outside Titusville/Kennedy Space Center) for at least two nights then on to Jacksonville for several weeks. We will likely extend our Mims stay - depending on how we like the campground - to four or five nights but we shall see.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

earth, wind and fire ....

Yesterday we headed out for a "family" trip to the beach. This area of Florida seems to be quite dog friendly (surprising to me) and there are half a dozen or so dog friendly beaches within 30 miles or so. With the local edition of "Pet Pages" in hand off we went.

We "landed" at a marvelous beach in Juno - just south of Jupiter. I am still amazed at how dog friendly, really dog and people visitor friendly the area is - free parking, "poop" bags all along the beach, no signs with 30 rules and regulations listed - just the concept that perhaps, just perhaps and hopefully we will all do the right thing. What a great concept it is - so appreciated, and hopefully appreciated by the masses so it doesn't have to change.

So so windy it was, that we didn't let Sir off leash to run and frolic in the water - it was too rough for us to let him go as we normally would have in such an area. Look at his ears in the shot above - isn't that funny how they are blowing backwards! Guess the wind was blowing strongly to the east huh!

We traveled north along US 1 and A1A after we left the beach and ended up in Jupiter then Hobe Sound. Jupiter was having a day long "celebrity dog wash" event to raise funds for the local no kill shelter. One of the "headliners" (other than the multitude of dogs) was one of Patrick's "hero's" ~ Joan Jett ... Joan entertained the troops in Bosnia when Patrick was there, hence a fan was created!
Heading south after Jupiter and Hobe Sound on our way (slowly) back to Loxahatchee we got closer and closer to this fire - Man it looked like there must be about a ten square mile area on fire. We pulled over at the entrance to the Jonathan Dickinson State Park for Rick to take these photos. Come to find out this was a "controlled burn" - holy macaroni the winds were pretty darned intense and this burn went ahead as planned!?!?!?
There is a campground at this state park - as with many many Florida State Parks. When we went by yesterday there appeared to be many empty spaces, which was quite distressing because if you go on line to try to reserve a site their damned reservation system shows nothing available! Incredibly frustrating as clearly there was more than a couple sites available here yesterday - very very frustrating as our preference is usually state or county parks - they are much more spacious than private parks and usually you can have a campfire at them!!
The weather was gorgeous (70's) today - a great riding day. King Richard went out for a few hours (yes, as King is quick to point out, my bike hasn't come out of the trailer here, he forgets I don't ride alone and he was gone for five days then I left for eight days not to mention the weather not exactly conducive to riding ~ even for the King)~ and I stayed here and worked on Amy's veil for a while then headed to the outside television to watch the Red Sox .. umm not so much though because as soon as the game was to come on the channel shut off - apparently at 1:00 it became an additional fee channel!!! UGH! So Sir and I stayed out there and enjoyed the sun and warm weather - Sir enjoyed a spare rib bone left from Rick's baby backs from last night and I enjoyed a large iced coffee and a few chapters of a new book (into Nicholas Sparks these days ~ need a break from Danielle Steel and Nora Roberts for a book or two).

Tomorrow (Monday) I am off to spend half a day with the quilting ladies that I "connected" with while working on the Chad and Amy quilt ... tomorrow will be my last time with them as we will be leaving here next Sunday and heading north to Mims (near Kennedy Space Center where we were a year or two ago) for a couple nights then on to Jacksonville where we will be for a month or more - need to get Sir to the vet there for some "boosters" before he can be boarded and we will be flying out of there for THE wedding.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Muffin Muffin who has the Muffin?

Well the Vovo's and Grampa and T~T (aka Tracey P. Whelan) did for six glorious days.

It amazes me how our grand babies grow ... Well Connor will be five in a couple days and who the heck could possibly believe THAT, but he still won't talk to Grammie or his hopping pal Rick (or anyone else for that matter) - on the phone ... heart breaking, do YOU think!!! UGH enough said with that ... there's been at least an ocean of tears shed over it. Master Connor is on board to bear the rings at Uncle Chad and Aunt Amy's wedding in just a few weeks, carrying the special pillow, made by Grammie, for such a duty ~ the jury is still out (well as far as two people are concerned anyway) as to whether those rings will be guided down the aisle by Master Connor ... when he makes up his mind to do something (or not do something, as in speak on the phone) well that's it! HMMMMM there may be a long history of stubbornness here - his great grandparents on one side, his Grammie (aka - ME) his father ... is there a pattern here?

Anyway, we've been so fortunate to have Patrick, Bethie and Princess Muffin, Pieface, Paigie here since Saturday (although yes they did leave yesterday - thanks for the kick in the posterior Chester!)

So, mostly this post will be about the Whelan (New Hampster branch of the family) visit to the sunny (but not so warm) southern parts of Florida.

Ms Paige has many many nick names in case you hadn't noticed - poor child may not know what the heck to answer to in years to come. One of her names is "baby bee" coined by her Mommy in her blog, so appropriately enough her Vovo's (grandparents on Bethie's side but I can NOT get the accent marks to be properly placed in our "word" program (not on a mac) so suffice it to mean Roy and Betty) bought her this precious little ensemble with bees on it.

Alright, now for some photo explanations ... obviously our Princess. This was last Sunday (the Princess family arrived on Saturday) and Sunday was a birthday party graciously hosted by the Vovos.

One might wonder while viewing the photos above what on earth do these people have on their heads. Well let me try to explain .... many years ago, in a land far far away ....

Patrick Joseph Whelan graduated from Daniel Webster College. In a fashion encouraged and provided by his Father (oh how I wish I had a digital copy of a photo of that wonderful occasion, to post here), we all wore "boppers" to said graduation - you could see us throughout the assembled group of proud graduate supporters as we sat in our entire row, proudly wearing our celebratory boppers (for that occasion our boppers were large hands).

Then again, in the Richard tradition we all (well hopefully all) wore boppers at the celebration of the impending marriage of Patrick and Bethalene the night (or two) before their wedding ~ those boppers were hearts (see Mama Bee's blog for a photo if desired) ~ Don't worry Chad and Amy, we won't do it next month (unless, of course you give us free reign and encourage such behavior ... yeah yeah .. do you think we can get that fun and crazy and festive and celebratory???

WOW I certainly digressed on that one didn't I ... the photo above is Grampa, Princess Muffin and Vovo all decked out in their bopper finery - especially for the occasion of our Princess's first birthday.
Our Ms Muffin doesn't like anything on her head or over her eyes - so it was no small miracle that I captured this shot of her Vovo putting her new pink, ribbon embellished, cap on her head - of course the cap had "Princess" proudly embroidered on it!
Above, the cutting of the cake - no more or less involvement in this cake cutting that the one in NH a few days prior. What can I say, our baby just isn't into getting her hands dirty!!! HUH - how will she ever help us in a garden Betty??

Nor is our girl fond of her feet in the sand at the beach or the "cold" (hmmm) water of the southern Florida coast!
On Tuesday the Muffin family came to visit with Grampa and T~T (well and Sir Arlo as well) at the "campground".

Miss Muffin got to sit and enjoy a snack in her T~T's prized chair - a chair from way way way back in my childhood. When the "legend" of this chair happened my family lived in Brattleboro, VT (Sunny Acres - behind the high school ??? I'm trying to remember - look, it was many years ago and I was just a wee bit of a thing). I was sitting in this lovely little child's chair (with the caned seat, which clearly was, at one point a "potty chair") I decided to turn it upside down and declare it "my piss pot" ... well such a thing was NOT done in our household and I got my mouth washed out with dial soap for such an infraction .... It was delightful to see my Muffin sitting and enjoying herself in said "piss pot" and clearly with no threat of dial (or thankfully, any other) soap.

People who've known us for several years know the stories and adventures of Wendy and Pig (aka Babe) who've traveled far and wide with us over the years - cruise ships throughout the Caribbean, San Francisco to be there when I turned 50, Hoover Dam to scare the be-jeebers out of Rick as they posed for a photo, Gettysburg to explore the sights there (and sit/ride on the cannons) .... on and on... Anyway, they came out the other day to play and be loved by our Princess Paige - shown below doing a Muffin version of a hug .... what a serious face!
Now our girl doesn't like anything on her head or face that she hasn't put there (for a brief second) so to capture the shot below was nothing short of a miracle - not to mention her Vovo keeping her hands busy enough that she couldn't take the "shades" off .... Every girl coming to Florida must have shades ... is she a "styling" Muffin or what!
The last night the "kids" were here we went out to a Japanese restaurant. What a wonderful time we had. WE had the hibachi grill and "chef" (what is a hibachi cooking person referred to as??) to ourselves. Our girl LOVES her miso soup - although none could compare to the miso that her Uncle Tim creates just for her.

And she loves oranges as well (good thing she's in Florida to enjoy a plethora of citrus fruit), word has it she also enjoys lemons and/or limes!
And she made a new friend - "Sugar Sue" (correct Mama Bee?) who of course fell in love with our girl and gave her her very first matchbox car (or was it hot wheels?) which she thoroughly enjoyed.
On the way to meet up with the Bee Family and the Vovos we came upon this MetLife blimp. We'd seen it hovering above the area a few days ago, but jee whiz to see it this close and tethered was a nice surprise - wish we'd had time to inquire and explore but we were on our way to the Japanese restaurant above ... If you remember several posts back when we were in the Upper Peninsula with Larry, Sheila and Donnie and we stopped at the Sault St. Marie Locks on Lake Michigan I commented how intrigued I was by locks - well blimps are as intriguing to me - I guess it's all because I just don't understand the entire concept - locks maybe, but blimps, well why do you need this hugemongeous craft to soar around - a craft that only carries (I sure could be wrong with this, 'cause like I said, I don't get it) a few people? Anyway, we were stopped at a traffic light and Rick pointed it out to me - just a few feet to our left - I was much more concerned that we were late to meet up with the group!! So glad for the "photo op" - even if the photo isn't great!

So for other things that have been "happening" this week ... My daughter in law's (Trisha, mother of Connor the ring bearer) parents left the cold of Michigan with their friends Sam and Carol last week to motorcycle the warmth of Florida. They left the trailer that carried the bikes in the Florida panhandle and went down the western side of the state, spent a night in Key West (everyone should at least once in their life) then headed to Daytona for a "look see" at bike week there, after which (I think) they headed back over to pick up their trailer and unfortunately head back to the chills and drifts of Michigan. BUT, while they were passing through our area (West Palm Beach) they stopped and spent a night and we had the pleasure of enjoying a dinner together - It was so nice to be with them again - Good people, good food and a good time ... travel safe our friends ...

We will be leaving here in a week heading northward to fly out of Jacksonville in early April for the wedding of Chad and Amy. Since Jacksonville is about 300 miles from here, it is far too much for us to do in one day, so I'm investigating (without a whole lot of success) a stop somewhere in between. It is so challenging to find places that have sites long enough to accommodate us without disconnecting the trailer from the coach, further more it is a HUGE challenge to find campgrounds that have the decency to reply to an email - guess the economy isn't' all that bad in the campground world - do you think, if they can't even reply to a flippin' email?

So with all that said, we have a couple things we'd like to do in the week remaining here. Today we had a fellow wash the coach and the coach roof (UGH what a chore that is) so that can be crossed off "the" list. I thought perhaps, for "old times sake" we might do a Diva Duck tour of West Palm Beach and Rick wants to do Lion Country Safari - since we are staying here and hear the lions and monkeys/baboons (YUCK YUCK YUCK) frequently - wish I could post the sound because it really is pretty cool......... not to mention we haven't really explored the downtown area of West Palm Beach and/or used the dining certificates I bought at (one of my favorite sights that I've been using for years)

Thanks Chester for the "push" to get it done ...