Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

Since Don and I are usually in Arizona for New Year’s Eve, we’re accustomed to celebrating with the ball drop in New York City, where it’s midnight there and 10 pm in AZ. We worried that we might have to miss the celebration in Florida because we are in Eastern time zone, the same time as NYC. It’s been many years since either of us stayed up till 12 midnight to celebrate anything, as we’re usually in bed sometime between 9:30 and 10:30 pm.

We went to the New Year’s Eve party in the activity center, arriving at the start time of 7 pm. We enjoyed sharing the champagne I got at the Christmas party with the Forbes’, the Jarvis’ and a few other folks at our table.


Larry J. spilled his wine…


…so Marilyn brought him an ‘adult sippy cup!’ (It’s a thermal plastic tumbler with a wine glass as the internal part.)


I didn’t spill my wine, but Larry caught me getting the last drop of champagne! He dared me to publish this picture, and I’m not one to walk away from a challenge. (He also got me to pose for the pic!)


Conversations were animated and we enjoyed getting to know some new friends as well as sharing with those we already know. There were lots of goodies to share, but I didn’t even take a look at the food, as Don and I had dined in tonight on some of our faves: pork chops with caramelized onions, applesauce, zucchini and red potatoes. I simply couldn’t eat another bite.

We needn’t have worried about staying up late to celebrate the New Year, however. We noticed that the clocks in the room were showing that time had passed more quickly than expected! IMG_4073

At the stroke of 12, lots of hugs and kisses were shared. Awww, isn’t this sweet?


It was such a fun party, and we were back home by 12:15…or 9:15, depending on which clock you used!

Happy New Year, Everyone! We look forward to seeing you in our travels during 2015.


Monday, December 29, 2014

New ‘Home’ for the Forbes

We were on site to witness the ‘big move’ from site 27 to site 69 in the Escapees Sumter Oaks RV Park this afternoon.


Larry & Marilyn Forbes have been on a waiting list for about 5 years for an ERPU (Escapees Rainbow Parks Unlimited) lot. This program offers a renewable lease for certain designated sites in three parks: Rainbow’s End in Livingston, TX; Sumter Oaks in Bushnell, FL; and Dream Catcher in Deming, NM. Today was the day their lot became available. It has a nice elevated deck and Florida screened room as well as a storage shed and yard with lots of trees, including orange and grapefruit trees.



And there’s a nice view of the cypress swamp where the Ibis and Sandhill Cranes hang out, as they are on a big corner lot.


After Larry got the coach on the lot, Marilyn did the fine-tuning of backing it in exactly where they wanted it.


We played with the leveling jacks a bit to get the coach level, and at one point we heard a loud Pop! Larry thought the 4th jack had broken, as have the other 3 in the past, and of course it happened when I was at the controls, making it my fault! They have the Atwood jacks that we had on our 36’ Phaeton, and 3 of ours had to be replaced too – one of them twice. Needless to say, none of us are fans of Atwood jacks. Fortunately, the jack was fine and did its job the next time the coach was re-leveled.

Later, we helped initiate the deck at happy hour with the Forbes and Larry & Carolyn Jarvis.


Congratulations, Larry & Marilyn! We’re glad we were here for this momentous occasion and look forward to enjoying more good times with you!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Merry Christmas!

We enjoyed a very different Christmas than we’ve had in the past several years, spending it this year in Florida. It was nice to be among friends, some long-time, some new.

There were three gatherings in the activity center here at the Escapees Sumter Oaks RV Park. The first took place on Christmas Eve – we had heavy hors d’oeuvres and a Yankee Gift Exchange.

Don and Larry always enjoy trading stories.


Park managers Margie and Charlie Krull seemed to enjoy the evening, too.


Here are pictures taken around the room so friends might spot some people they know.







There were quite a few bottles of wine brought as gifts. As usual with this type of gift exchange, there was a lot of ‘stealing.’ Phil Devonshire was ‘robbed’ of the first bottle (the one I brought) and then found a second one.


And guess who stole the first bottle from him?


Marilyn found a bottle of wine among several goodies in this large bag.


But it wasn’t long before her (former?) friend Carolyn Jarvis stole it from her. Marilyn seemed to be serving as a ‘shopper’ for Carolyn, who not only stole that gift for her hubby Larry, but also the pillow Marilyn chose later, for herself!



Charlie was happy with his peanut brittle…


…until Don found out it was sugar free, and turned around and stole it!


My first choice, a bottle of wine, was stolen, then I got this bottle of champagne. It will be fun sharing it with friends on New Year’s Eve.


On Christmas Day, we sat at the table hosted by Carolyn and Larry Jarvis, which also included Marilyn and Larry Forbes, plus some new friends. Here’s a great shot Larry F. took of the table, with Peg & Paul Gifford in the foreground, my Don and Larry Jarvis on the far side, Carolyn and Marilyn standing, Frank & Maureen Halliday and Maureen’s daughter Donna on the other side.


The meal was delicious: ham and gravy supplied by the park (for $2/person), and accompanying dishes brought by those at each table. The system worked well, without long lines that typically occur at potluck meals. However, our choices were limited to our assigned table – no stealing allowed today!


Larry’s enjoying his new-to-him Canon camera with a powerful zoom lens.


He had to get a shot of me taking a shot of him!


Don looks great in the new Aloha shirt Santa brought him.


It seems that red was the most popular color to wear for Christmas. Carol Mercer came over the chat after dinner.


Carole and Bernie Patton stopped by, too.


Our third and final Christmas gathering was the night after Christmas, with a potluck supper of leftovers from the previous day. It was yet another fun time to share, but I didn’t get any pictures. Don and I enjoyed chatting with three solo women, Carol, Shirley and Audrey, and trading funny stories from our years on the road as lone travelers.

Now we have another couple of weeks to hang out at Sumter Oaks before getting busy with activities in the New Year, which promises to be full of new adventures!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

More Fun in Florida

We’ve been enjoying our stay in Florida and haven’t been in a hurry for anything. It seems that when I have plenty of time I get less done because I allow myself to procrastinate. So I’ll try to hit the highlights of the past week.

Today we met Nick and Terry Russell for lunch at one of their favorite places, Green Garden restaurant in Clermont, FL. Our lunch was so good, I think it’s become one of our faves, too. Not many Chinese restaurants become a favorite of mine, but this one definitely qualifies. And Don loves any place that has Peking Duck on the menu!


The best part of lunch, though, was being able to sit and chat with these wonderful friends. It has been a long time since we’ve seen them, and it seems like we’re all usually busy with something and rarely have the luxury of visiting for very long. Our lunch stretched into more than 3 hours, and the restaurant staff (who know Nick well enough that he doesn’t have to place his order) allowed us to relax for as long as we wanted. We told them we might just stay for dinner, but we did leave before that happened!

Last Saturday we went to Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park with Lonnie and Becky. She wrote a great blog about the day – please click the link to read it as she got some pictures I didn’t, and you can read her point of view.

We took a 20-minute boat ride from the visitor’s center to the park entrance. The day started out a bit chilly, so we were grateful for the sunshine and slow speed of the boat.


Becky took this picture.

DonSharonLonnie in boat

The water was so calm, we got lots of mirror-effect pictures. It was hard to tell the dividing line between trees and water in some places.



This turtle sure enjoyed sunning itself.


This sign advertises one of the primary reasons we came – to go under water to see fish and manatees.


When we came to this fountain inside the entrance to the park, we mistakenly followed the sign pointing to the left for the manatee program, scheduled to begin in a few minutes. It turns out the program was being held in a different place today! Oh, well, we caught the program later in the day when it was repeated.


We made our way to the unique underwater observatory, which includes the above-water deck, and went downstairs.


Through windows blurred from 20 years of algae being scraped off, we could see thousands of fish!


Some views looked like a huge dark cloud because there are so many fish in one place!


Returning to deck level, we were better able to see the manatees, but it was hard to get good pictures because of reflections in the water.


We spotted a mother and baby, and at times as many as 11 manatees at once. In the picture below you can also see fish swimming amongst the manatees.


The park is home to many types of wild animals. One of the most interesting is Lu the hippopotamus.


Lu (aka Lucifer) will be 55 years old next month. If you’d like to attend his birthday party, it will be held on January 26, 2015. He has an interesting history – he’s been in movies, and he’s the only non-Floridian in the wildlife park. Here’s what the signboard says:

“Lu was born at the San Diego Zoo in 1960, and has been a resident of Homosassa Springs since 1964. In his youth, Lu was part of Ivan Tors Animal Actors and starred on television and in movies. When the State of Florida purchased the former attraction in 1989, it set about finding homes for the exotic animals. Hundreds of letters were sent by local residents to the then Governor, Lawton Chiles, asking him to allow Lu to remain at the park. The Governor declared Lu to be an Honorary Citizen of the State of Florida so he could live out his days at the park.”

This sign needs no explanation.


Lu weighed 90 pounds at birth and now exceeds 6,000 pounds. Some days I feel like I’ve grown at the same rate…let’s see, 8 lbs at birth, now I would be over 500 lbs – thank heavens that’s NOT true! And Lu got that way as a vegetarian!

The rest of the wildlife park was equally interesting, but in order to keep this blog post from getting way too long, I’ll just add some more pictures for your enjoyment.

Alligators in the sun.


Baby alligator having lunch so he can grow as big as the one above!


Pelican with an interesting bump on its bill.


Flamingoes. Lots of flamingoes – after all, it IS Florida. But the real thing is so much prettier than the ones in people’s front yards.





Black bear.


Bald Eagle.


Finally, I’ll close with a picture of my latest craft. It helps make the motorhome seem more festive, since we left all our Christmas decorations in Benson.