Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Jekyll Island Georgia

March 29 - 31/10 Brunswick Georgia

We have moved into Georgia on our way up the East Coast. The weather gods were smiling on us and we spent a beautiful sunny warm day exploring Jekyll Island with our bicycles. Jekyll Island was once a favoured resort for an array of wealthy and well-known figures in Amercan history - including the Rockefellers, Pulitzers, Morgans and Vanderbilts. Their winter cottages and club house hotel compose a 240 acre historic site museum. There are over 20 miles of paved trails that circle the island. We had a delicious lunch in the Grand Dining Room of the Club Hotel. The picture on the left is of the Goodyear cottage (Goodyear was a lumbar baron from Buffalo). The picture on the right is an alligator that was sunning itself beside the bicycle path. There are more pictures posted at www.themarsdens.ca if you are interested. We had the camera with us today.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Weekend around Summerfield

Saturday and Sunday March 27 and 28/10

We moved a couple of hours north and landed in a new RV park - Southern Oaks RV Resort - south of Ocala, Florida. Through Passport America we have half price camping in this park - $15 for a night. On Saturday afternoon we biked over to a big Flea Market - which was really a gigantic dollar store.

On Sunday morning, Mary biked over 5 miles down the road to check out "The Villages". The Villages has a population of over 75,000 now. It started in the 1960's as a Census Designated Community with lots of regulations and is now the largest residential development in Central Florida - 98% white and mostly republicans. It is a golf cart community with special golf cart lanes on its roads, golf cart only parking lots at shops and restaurants and a golf cart only bridge over their main highway and a couple of tunnels at other spots. By December 2008, the residents had over 38,000 golf carts. (info from Wikipedia in The Villages, Florida). We saw a really cute golf cart at the Flea Market that looked like an old convertible. Sorry no pictures - forgot the camera on both outings.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Friends time in Florida

To March 25/10

We really haven't done too much exciting touristy sight-seeing stuff this past week but we have enjoyed time with friends. We attended a Chili Blaze event put on by the Pinellas Park Fire Department at a local park. The next day there was a "Country in the Park" event in the same park and Mary visited in the afternoon.

Sunday night we enjoyed a St Patrick's dinner at Brian and Thery's friends - Jane and Diane and their dog Fuzzy. Jane has a thing for cows and there are hundreds around in her home. We were dressed up for the occasion from Thery's tickle trunk.

On Monday we had a field trip over to the Orlando area to visit Gord and Jill Hill from Belleville who had rented a house with a pool. Gord is another retired firefighter and friend of Don and Brian's. On arrival back at the campground, Thery strained her ankle and had to unforturately back out of the week's line dancing classes with Mary. On Tuesday, Diana and Dave Twiner from Lakefield arrived from the north and stayed with us for a few days being the first overnight guests on our trip.
We leave on Saturday morning to journey north. We have the first 2 nights just south of Ocala, Florida to enjoy the weekend. By Good Friday, we hope to be in Virginia to celebrate Easter with Tom and Diana.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

First Week in St Petersburg

To March 18/10

It has been a pretty quiet week. We have been enjoying spending time with Brian and Thery King (Brian was a firefighter Don worked with) who have a mobile home here. On Sunday we went together to Sawgrass Park nearby and admired the critters, which included turtles - hard and soft shelled, armadillos, alligators and many birds. Thery and Mary have gone to 2 line dancing sessions and some shopping too. Don and Brian rummaged up some old golf and fishing equipment for Don from a mobile home that was being cleaned out. We have been biking and walking and have warmed ourselves in the park hottub because we would like the weather to be a bit warmer but we can't complain. Thursday we journeyed down to Sarasota and on the way back took some photos of a big cruise ship (Carnival Inspiration) going under the long bridge south of St. Petersburg.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

To St Petersburg Florida

Update as of March 13/10

It took 5 days of driving, through 5 states and as of tonight 4 hours of time change (with tonight's jump forward time change) but we made it from Arizona to Florida. You don't want to know how many gallons of diesel fuel we went through. It took 3 days to make it through Texas. We spent 3 nights in Texas, one in Alabama and now in Florida. We at in Robert's RV Resort in St. Petersburg. This park has over 600 sites and lots of activities. It is March Break now so I think there are some extra family members around too. Florida seems very soggy from all the rain they have received lately - Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida are all soggy right now. We are hoping we brought lots of sunshine with us and this week's forecast is for sunny weather.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bye Arizona - to East Coast

Sunday to Tuesday March 7 to 9/10

Packed up on Sunday after a lovely lunch at the famous Francisco Grande Hotel outside of Casa Grande with Tom and Lynn. This is a famous hotel and John Wayne had the penthouse suite there for many years. It was built as part of a spring training base for the San Francisco Giants but now is used more by soccer teams. It has a swimming pool that is the shape of a bat and the hot tub is the ball.

Rainy Monday morning we were on the road by 9:30 AM headed for the East Coast and more sunshine for March. South of Tuscon Arizona we travelled through the Texas Canyon - giant rocks mark the landscape - like a scene from The Flintstones. More pictures of the canyon on themarsdens.ca website. We passed through New Mexico and spent the night past El Paso Texas in the old town of Sierra Blanca (run down campground beside the railway and the highway - ear plugs needed to sleep).

Tuesday we had a bright sunny day with a tailwind and stopped for the night about an hour west of San Antonio Texas. This campground was much nicer than last night but challenging because it was on a hilltop. We enjoyed a delicious steak and shrimp dinner at the Po-Po family Restaurant down the road from the campground.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Friend Tom Retires and Shamrock Farm Tour

Friday and Saturday March 5 and 6/10

Our good friend Tom Brudnicki retired from his job as Office Manager for a Compressor Company here is Casa Grande. He worked for that company for 5.5 years and is now happy to spend his time at the projects he wants to accomplish around home. We joined Tom and Lynn for a celebration retirement dinner at a local Mexican restuarant called Rubio's on Friday night.

On Saturday morning we went with our Oshawa frends (Charmaine and Lou) on a tour of a 10,000 holstein cow dairy operation nearby called Shamrock Farms. It is family owned - started by the McClelland family in 1922 - as a guersey cow farm outside of Tuscon. Pictures of the tour can be accessed on the http://www.themarsdens.ca/ website. It was a very well organized tour that took about 90 minutes on a tram around the farm buildings. The Shamrock Farm dairy products are available in grocery stores in Arizona.
On Saturday afternoon, Charmaine and I took in the local Chili Championship Competition at a nearby park. We paid $4 for the privilege of sampling prizewinning chili made by local people and the money went to charity.
From our RV Park we had a good view of circling antique planes for the past 2 days because the "Cactus Fly-in" was being held at the Casa Grande Airport that is located a mile down the road from us. The Arizona Antique Airplane Association sponsors this event each year and about 200 planes come to be judged in the competition.
Tomorrow we will be getting ready to take off on Monday morning - headed for the East Coast along Interstate I-10.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Casino adventure

Wednesday March 3/10 Beautiful sunshine this week - pool time.
It has been a quiet week but we did visit the Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino Resort by Maricopa (about 15 miles from Casa Grande). Of course there was a deal. You had to sign up for their Total Rewards Program and you received a voucher for lunch or dinner at their buffett and they gave you $15 to gamble with. We had a delicious dinner and then spend a few minutes to feed their machines their free money. I did cash out with $8.75 and Don came out with $5. We did go with another couple - Dick and Kathy from Wisconsin - so we didn't even have to drive.

We also have fun shopping at our local grocery store called Fry's. On the first Wednesday of the month they offer seniors (over 55) 10 % off on their grocery bill. That is the day to shop. It is only 2 miles away so I can bike there. Fry's also has gas pumps and you shop there often enough you accumulate 100 points and then you get 10 cents off per gallon. They have diesel too.

One other thing to mention was that I got my haircut yesterday at the plaza that Fry's is in and my hairdresser was interesting. She was married with 4 children ranging in age from 10 to 18 and she is now 7 months pregnant with her 5 child but is having this child for family friends - a childless couple that have been married for 13 years. So she is a surrogate mother and all is going well for her and expects to be back to work about 3 weeks after she delivers. It is an interesting world.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Last weekend of Feb 2010

Friday to Sunday Feb 26 to 28/10

Quiet weekend under that exciting times watching the last events of the Olympics and the closing Gala and Ceremonies. We did make it out to Arizona College on Saturday morning for a Wellness and Craft Fair for seniors. Don and I had our glucose, cholesterol and BPreadings done and expect to be around for many more years to come thankfully. We were with Charmaine and Lou from Oshawa and took a little tour of the neighbouring desert after visiting the college. In this picture I am having them blow into some Creosote bushes and then inhale the fragrance. The scent is the smell of the desert after rain. We did get rain on Sunday morning and there has been more rain in Arizona so far this year than has fallen in all of 2009 - but that was too dry a year. The desert floor is greening up and some wildflowers are appearing and the octilla cactus are blooming too.
Saturday afternoon I took a bike ride around our neighbourhood and came upon a cattle roping competition at a corral that was at the back of "The Cowboy Church". I sat down by a woman who was from Alberta and I quized her about the event. Her 16 year old son and his partner won the event - yielding about $800 in prize money. The Cowboy Church service is on Tuesday nights at 6:30 PM and I think it might be a non-denominational service. Might be interesting to check out?

On Sunday we hosted our own little cheering section for the Canada US mens' hockey game in our trailer with two other Canadian couples - both from the Oshawa area. We were overjoyed with the Canadian victory. Now we are facing Olympic withdrawal but we are proud Canadians.