Monday, January 28, 2013

Little RV on the Prairie

We needed a place to hunker down for a few days before our 2 week stay at Jonathan Dickinson State Park.  I figured that after Disney World we would need some down time and plenty of peace and quiet. That's how we ended up at Kissimmee Prairie State Preserve for a few nights.  :-)

Located near Okeechobee, it's a 54,000 acre state park and it is very, very quiet!  After driving miles and miles on state and county roads and seeing virtually nothing but potato and cabbage farms, there is a 5 mile dirt/crushed shell road to get to the preserve.  Despite it's location in the middle of nowhere, it is well worth the visit.  We spent three days at the prairie hiking, riding our bikes, geocaching, viewing wildlife and enjoying down time.  There was also a night sky program being offered by one of the volunteers.  We stopped by one night and enjoyed his presentation.  He had a huge telescope and was showing us different things including Jupiter.  It was so clear and you could see the rings on Jupiter as well as it's moons.

We also enjoyed meeting Al and Karen and spent two afternoons at their site chatting and getting to know one another.  Hope to see you "down the road" again!

The last night that we were at the prairie, we saw the coolest sight.  We were actually watching TV when a "live" blurb came on with a countdown of a NASA rocket that was being launched over at Cape Canaveral.  As soon as Dan saw that, he headed outside to see if we could see it.  As soon as he indicated that it was visible, I went outside to join him.  It was an absolutely amazing sight seeing the rocket come up over the horizon and then head up into the night sky.  It was actually carrying a tracking and data relay satellite. It sure is something that I doubt I will ever forget.

I didn't take any pictures at the prairie as I was still having problems with my camera.  There's a speck of dust on my lens on the inside of the camera and (at that time!) had not had a chance to try to fix it.   :-)

We really enjoyed the prairie and hope to visit again!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

More Disney fun

Whether we were at the campground, Downtown Disney, or one of the theme parks, we had fun. We made sure that we didn't do back-to-back "busy" days and that we had time to chill.  One day, we went on an outing for ice cream.  Nancy and Bill had told us about a ice cream parlor that was at one of the Disney resorts.  One of the advantages of staying on Disney property is that you can utilize their transportation system.  We sure did get our moneys worth using their monorails, boats, and buses!  We're not sure exactly how it happened but our little outing for ice cream turned into a 5 hour trip.  But, we had soooooooooooo many laughs :-)

Happy Birthday Bruce!

Banana Splits all around!
I swear that Nancy and Bill ate ice cream too!  Not sure how I missed getting their picture.  Must have been too busy enjoying our banana split!

Hmmmm...what happened to Bruce's blue birthday balloon???!!!!
One afternoon we headed to Downtown Disney to explore....

Hmmmm....where do we want to go first?

This was outside a "make your own" t-shirt place.  We definitely made it our own! 

World's largest TInkertoys being held up by Bruce, Bill , and Dan
There is a Lego store in Downtown Disney and since both of my kids loved Lego's, I had to snap a few pictures of the creations that were on display.... 
Cool dragon in the water

Some of the Seven Dwarts

To infinity and beyond!!!
On Saturday, we headed over to Epcot.  We had a grand time and wore ourselves out!  We left the campground around 8:30 am and didn't get home until after 11:00 pm!  Whew!  But we had so, so much fun exploring the park.  I was having a few issues with our camera so didn't take too many pictures but was able to capture a few of the night sky and the fireworks/light show.
Epcot at night - beautiful!
The "world" amidst the fireworks

Lots of smoke but well worth the sight of the fireworks and laser lights.
Thanks Bill, Nancy, Gin, Syl, Bruce, and Laura for a wonderful few days at Disney World.  :-)  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Magic of Disney

And what memories they are! We had a great time with friends Gin, Syl, Nancy, Bill, Laura, and Bruce.

Gin, Dan, Bruce, Nancy, Laura (hiding behind Syl!) and Bill
Mickey and Minnie topiaries
This was our first time staying at Disney's campground, Ft Wilderness, and we really enjoyed exploring.  It's a great place to ride bikes and we did that every day.  We even went swimming in one of the pools one afternoon!  It was very relaxing after the craziness of the Magic Kingdom and Epcot!

The eight of us acted like big kids most of the time and there were tons of non-stop laughs.
Nancy and Bill are oh so happy to be at the Magic Kingdom!

Laura is all smiles!

Bruce, Gin, and Syl enjoying themselves!
We all wanted to "drive" the of us even got yelllow flagged for doing an unsafe maneuver!
Dan and Bruce looking back! Shouldn't they be looking forward?!



Bruce with Gin right behind!

Of course, we had to "taste" our way through the Magic Kingdom!
Chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwhich

Dan, Bill, Syl and Gin with Mickey Mouse pretzels.  Delicious!

We had a grand time watching the parades.  It was Bruce's birthday and he sure did get a lot of attention with the birthday button he was wearing.  He got so many birthday wishes, high fives and I saw so many kisses blown his way!
Yes, dreams do come true!

Minnie sure is cute!
Mary Poppins
Alice in Wonderland - this one is for you, Bill!
Pinochio and Jiminy Cricket
The electric parade was equally awesome!  We actually got to see it twice...once with thousands of our closest friends (ha!) and the second time with much smaller crowds!

Bill and Syl to the left....Gin and I wearing our AWESOME mouse ears!
The electric parade has beautiful lights and sounds
One of the Seven Dwarfs

Is this Pete the Dragon of Puff the Magic Dragon?  ;-)
The fireworks at the Magic Kingdom are an amazing sight to see.  Right before the fireworks start, the castle is lit up in various colors and scenes with music playing.  
Walt and Mickey Mouse in front of the castle!
What a magical night!!
Lights and fireworks!
We had a fantastic day at the Magic Kingdom and headed home to get some rest!  We were going to have a busy few days ahead of us!

Nancy and Bill headed home hand in hand

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Hi ho...hi ho....

it's off to Disney we go!  We have been at Hillsborough River State Park the past 6 days and will head to Ft Wilderness in the morning.  We'll go to the Magic Kingdom and one other park (undecided at this point!).   The last time I was at the Magic Kingdom, my daughter was quite young (maybe 3 or 4) and got kissed by Snow White.  She didn't want her face washed for days!  :-)

We've had a blast these past few days with our friends Bill and Nancy (only one day!) and Gin and Syl (all of the days!) and are ready for some more fun. Our friends Bruce and Laura are already at Ft Wilderness and are holding down the "fort" until we arrive in the morning.

I didn't take a single picture of our stay at Hillsborough River because we've been too busy laughing!!  We've enjoyed a few bike rides, a campfire, a visit to the Tampa RV show, shopped for necessities at Harbor Freight, Camping World, Lowe's and Home Depot, enjoyed good meals and drinks, and played quite a number of games of Sequence.  Gin, Syl and I are becoming pros at this game and really enjoying playing it.

I doubt that I will have time to blog while we are at Disney because we'll be busy again having more fun!! Life is indeed good!!


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Paddling the Rainbow River

This past Monday, a bunch of us took off for a day trip to Dunnellon to paddle the Rainbow River.  The weather was beautiful and it seemed fitting to enjoy it on the water.  On the way there, we saw 2 Bald Eagles...yep - it was going to be a great day.

We quickly got on the water and started up stream.
Becky, Charlie, Dot, Mo, and Mack

Maggie and Vel

We saw tons of birds on the river and quite a few otters. The otters definitely didn't want their picture taken...they were too quick for me!  The birds cooperated though and these three pictures stood out to me.

Beautiful hawks!
A whole tree full of Anhingas and their nests
These two were chattering up a storm!
It was a great day with great friends and know that we will be back for another paddle sometime this Spring.

We have left Cedar Key for a 5 week adventure to some areas in Florida that we have been wanting to explore.  It's sure to be more fun times ahead!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Settled in and having fun.....

Not only have we settled in, our time here is flying by.  We leave here on Thursday for a 5 week adventure :-) and are running out of time to get some things done.  Good thing we will be back in Cedar Key in late February!!

So...what have we been up to?
Making a sidewalk

Learning how to do stained glass
We haven't finished with our "projects" yet so I don't have a finished picture....yet!  Stay tuned....

In addition to our projects, we've been riding our bikes with our posse!  The criteria to be in the posse is simple....have a bike, a bell/horn, and a great attitude and outlook on life!  We ride all over the park and Cedar Key and recently pedaled a portion of the Nature Coast Trail.
Dot, Mack (hamming it up!), Charlie, Mo, and Dan on the Historic Suwanee Bridge
It was a beautiful day for a bike ride.  The weather was so warm and the sun shining brightly. We saw quite a few Gopher Tortoises along the way but they were too quick for my camera!  I think they felt the vibration of our footsteps whenever we got close to their mounds!

After the bike ride, we drove over to Fort Fanning and relaxed for a bit.

Part of our biking posse....
Charlie and Dot in the back
Dan (hodling my spot!), Mo and Mack in the front
Here I am!
We've got a busy few days ahead of us....grilling out with friends tonight, kayaking the Rainbow River with a bunch of friends tomorrow, potluck Tuesday night and who knows what else! Pedaling for sure!

No wonder we're so pooped at the end of the day!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Starting fresh.....

Yep - we are starting 2013 off with a new blog.  Why you ask?  Check out this link....

I've also had a bit of blogger burnout when we were in SC and NC.  Hopefully I will do a better job keeping up with this but know that  "living in the moment" is important to me.  I don't want to be so tied to this blog that when we go places and do things I am always thinking "got to blog about this!".

We were in NC for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.  We really enjoyed catching up with family and friends......

Ashleigh, Brandon, and Amanda
 "The kids" came over on Christmas Eve day and we had a grand time.  In addition to opening presents....
Live, Love, Laugh 

God watches over every nest
we had a variety of hor dourves and played games.  Ashleigh gave Brandon and Amanda a new game for Christmas...Bananagrams.  It is fun to play!

On Christmas morning, we went over to my friend Linda's house for a breakfast feast.  After eating way too much, I was able to get a few pictures....
Great friends

Linda and her "boys"  
The weekend after Christmas has always been when my parents and siblings celebrate.  This year was no exception.  We headed down to the coast and got settled into one of our "home bases"...Cedar Point campground.  We spent the next few days hanging out with the family and enjoying some good times.  An added bonus (and a great one at that!) was that my brother and his family were able to come.  He came home from his deployment a few days before Christmas (surprising his wife and kids as well as us!).
Mom, me, Elaine, Patrick
Barbara, Dad, Cathy
I'm not sure when the tradition started but Mom seemed to always liked getting a picture of her 5 kids with the girls "holding" their brother.  Of course, this was much easier when he was a scrawny little kid.  Now he always makes sure that he pokes us with knees and elbow to make us as uncomfortable as possible!   I think it's revenge!

And of course, we always have to act up....

Acting silly

Me and my "little" brother!
It was then time for pictures of the grandkids.  Ashleigh was not able to join us this year as she was in Atlanta for a Christian youth conference.
Brandon, Nick, Sammie, Amanda
Dad, Mom, Ciara
 And yes, they had a crazy picture too!

Not sure how I missed it (could have been all of the craziness!) but I didn't get one picture of my great sister-in-law Jen.

Sunday morning (the 30th), we headed south bright and early.  Our goal was to get to Cedar Key to spend New Year's Eve with friends.  Traffic on the 30th was thick but we made it to our overnight stopover (Walkabout Campground) safe and sound.  After a short drive the morning of the 31st we arrived at our destination....our lot in Cedar Key!  It was so nice to be back and the sun and warm weather were very much welcomed.  Dan was in shorts and flip-flops within hours! I was in flip-flops too but had not yet dug out my shorts.  Ahhhhhh!

Our good friends Nancy and Bill popped over to see us as well as Gin and Syl and we had a nice afternoon getting caught up.  Nancy and Bill left early to get back to their campground before dark.  Cedar Key is a bit off the beaten path and some of the roads around here can be a bit creepy at night!  New Year's Eve we went up to the clubhouse to celebrate.  Friends, food and drink...doesn't get much better than that!  We had a great time celebrating with Gin, Syl, Mac, Mo, Connie, Cliff, Dot, Charlie, Vel, Maggie, and Ken.   One of the campers here brought his karoake set-up and we had a blast singing and dancing.  We made it to midnight by the skin of our teeth and the party broke up shortly after we rang in the new year.

New Year's Day was sunny and bright and our Cedar Key "bike gang" pedaled in the afternoon. We were also able to find a geocache at the cemetary (thanks Charlie!).  It was a great day to start the new year!!