Don’t Worry About the Gators

When Meghan heard we were going to Lakeland to spend some time with three month old Gracie, she sent me a text: Please tell me you’re not taking Gracie to Circle B Bar Reserve.

The Circle B Bar Reserve is the location of one of the most watched videos of the past couple weeks. You know, the one in which a massive alligator crosses the trail with onlookers gawking in the background.

 

Meghan knew we’d recently explored this area on visits to Lakeland and have even said it would be a great place to take Gracie for a walk on a future visit.

The Reserve is a great place for bird watching, and we’ve enjoyed walking on several of the park’s nine trails. It’s also an area with bicycle trails, fishing and picnic facilities so there are many reasons for a return visit; but rest assured, while we’ve been known to wander in swampy areas with gators bellowing in the background, we would NEVER let Gracie or Johnny get too close to a gator. (Close encounters with gators, moose and bison with our children will not be repeated with grandchildren.)

 

 

TBT: 16 in 16 St. Petersburg Daycation

As part of our 16 in 16, we decided we wanted to go on more day trips. Short daycations within a couple hours of home.

The first of these trips took place in St. Petersburg. On a warm and sunny February day we rode the city trails and visited several of the museums, starting on the trail behind the Morean Center for Clay. Since I “don’t do traffic”, I was somewhat reluctant to ride in the city. Fortunately, a concrete barrier divided the trail in the city from the traffic, so it was no problem.

We rode past Tropicana Field, through downtown, to the bay  toward Treasure Island until we reached an end of the 17 mile trail.

But we did more than go for a ride, we stopped at the Chihuly Collection at another of the Morean Arts Centers located on the city’s waterfront. A 20 foot sculpture located outside the center ushers guests into the building that was specifically designed to display the glasswork.

Our bundled ticket included a visit to the Morean Galleries as well as to the Glass Studio and Hot Shop which turned out to be an especially enjoyable part of the day.

A day of bicycling and art…just one of many successful daycations of 2016.

And a visit to St. Petersburg made our list for 17 in 17. This year it’s a visit to the Dali Museum. Who knows? It may turn into another daycation.

16 in 16:

  • Jackson Browne Concert
  • St. Petersburg Daycation

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

I gave John a hard time the other day when he tried to remind me to be careful when walking through parking lots when entering or leaving stores. His mistake was not his message but the use of the word elderly in explaining I could easily be targeted.

That one word turned an important reminder into a joke, but he makes a good point. Any of us could be the victim of a thief, purse snatcher or car jacker; but by being aware of our surroundings we may be able to avoid a potential problem.

John often retells the stories of two times that his mother’s quick thinking prevented her from an attack. On one occasion when she realized she was being followed, she called out to a man entering the building (a stranger) asking if he would wait for her. When he turned to respond, the man who had been following her changed his course so a problem was averted.

Another time as she was backing out of a parking space, a man reached in the passenger side window to grab her purse on the seat. Without missing a beat, she pushed the button to roll up the window catching his hand in the door as she hit the gas to get away. Fortunately, she lowered the window enough for the would be thief to escape, but I bet he thought  long and hard about targeting a woman in this manner again.

Children can make you a target since you have your hands full. Don’t hesitate to ask for help.

There are many things you can do to reduce your chances of being the target of a thief.

  • Before leaving your car, observe your surroundings. Look for anyone loitering nearby who could present a danger.
  • Walk purposefully. Don’t text or talk on the phone mindlessly. Look up. Watch where you’re going and make note of where you parked so you’re not wandering in the parking lot looking for your car when you return.
  • When returning to your car, again take note of others. If you don’t feel comfortable, take advantage of the offer to accompany you to your car with your groceries. In fact, always let someone carry your groceries after dark or if you are with children. Of course if leaving a store or mall without employee escorts, you can wait for others exiting. There’s safety in numbers.
  • At night park as close to the door as possible and in a space that’s well lit.
  • Get your key in your hand before leaving the store and be prepared to use it as a weapon if necessary. With keyless entry, you don’t have to worry about fumbling for keys but is there something else you can use to protect yourself or distract an attacker?

You don’t have to be “elderly” to be a victim of crime. Listen to your Dad. Be safe. Take precautions and be aware of your surroundings.

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Mom

17 in 17

16 in 16:Trips with daughters and sons-in-law

For the fifth year, John and I spent New Year’s Day developing a list of things we want to do this year. In 2013 we felt the need to make a list of fun things to do during the year because we were spending so much time working we lacked the much talked about “work life balance”.

16 in 16: Sunrise/Sunset – Miami and Key West

The list we created was meant to add some fun into the year by trying new restaurants, taking short trips and making use of our limited free time. Little did we know that this would become a well loved tradition.

16 in 16: Biking

Just as we’ve done the past four years, we sat down with the lists we’d developed to negotiate what 17 items would make the list in 2017. Since there’s no longer a work schedule to plan around, our list includes many more extended vacations, but it also includes several things that have become much loved annual events such as family weekend, our annual sunrise/sunset trip when we catch the sunrise over the Atlantic and the sunset over the Gulf on the same day and our version of a triathlon in which we take part in a biking, hiking and water activity over the course of a day or two.

16 in 16: Camping – Iceland and the Florida Keys

Camping, trips to National Parks, museums, a play, baseball and biking all made the list this year. Of course, we’ll be squeezing this year’s adventures between visits with grandchildren so it’s going to be quite a year.

Yes, I’m still speaking to him

After reading an article about an elderly woman (age 88) victimized in a local Walmart parking lot by a purse snatcher, my wonderful, concerned husband started explaining to me about how I need to be vigilant so as not to be an easy target when walking in or out of stores.

When I failed to respond, he looked over at my blank face and said, not that you’re elderly…I mean…parking lots can be…you’re not elderly…I better shut up.

My wonderful husband reading the newspaper aloud and offering advice.

My response: good idea.

I’m not sure why, but, yes, I’m still speaking to him.

TBT: 16 in 16 Jackson Browne

Last Saturday while awaiting the birth of Johnny, we were reminiscing about how we spent the same weekend in 2016.

January 16, 2016 was the date we checked off the first of our 16 in 16 adventures. We drove to Gainesville where we went to dinner and then on to the Phillips Center for a night of music performed by Jackson Browne.

During his two hours on stage, Jackson Browne sang and played music spanning his career of more than forty years to an enthusiastic, if not young, crowd. We happened to be surrounded by people we knew…parent’s of former students, former colleagues, friends from church, even though we went to the concert as a couple; and we all joked that we weren’t as old as those other concert goers. A great way to start off 2016.

Next week, as part of our 17 in 17, we’ll be attending a performance at the Phillips Center; but this year we’ll be at the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts in Orlando. Instead of a concert, we’ll enjoy a performance of Wicked. Looks like 2017 is also off to a good start.

 

Revisiting Collect – One of My Favorite Apps

I’d been looking for an app which was both a journal and a way to collect photos, and I found it when I discovered Collect – Photo Journal. It’s been a great way to collect one or more photos everyday and write a brief description of the event. It’s a quick and easy diary on my phone.

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After opening the app, you just click on the date and you get the option to either take a photo or open your photo library. If you decide to open the photo library, it opens to the pictures on your camera that were taken on the date selected on the calendar. Then it’s as simple as selecting the image to use. Add a title of up to 115 characters and if desired add tags to provide an easy way to group and find related pictures, and you can even add more detailed notes about an event.

With over 20,000 photos just hanging out on my phone, I’ve never had a hard time finding something to photograph, but with the addition of two little ones, Collect provides an easy way to save and organize these extra special images.

Of course, there are in app purchases that can be made to create videos from the daily photos or a creative pack to add designs and fonts and collages. I started with the $1.99 basic version, but after using it for two years, I’m ready to part with an additional $3.99 to try the extra features as well as to automatically back up to iCloud.

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Collect would also be an effective way of participating in the Grateful 365 Project, a way to collect a photo and reflect on something positive every day.

Looking for a way to collect and organize your photos? Try Collect.

(Unfortunately, Collect is only available for iPhone so if you use a similar app for another device, I’d love to hear about it.)

Don’t forget the bikes

So when you get the call that it may be time to head to Jacksonville to meet your new grandchild, it’s important to have a list of items to take for an overnight stay.

jeans
shirts
sleep clothes
jacket
toiletries
Kindle, iPad & chargers
magazines
gift & card

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But in addition, don’t forget the bikes, locks, helmets and bike clothes.

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Why pack bikes? Well, it’s not easy sitting in a hospital room all day with other visitors as well as a host of doctors, nurses and other hospital personnel. So instead of killing time in the lobby to give the new parents some space, we took a bike break.

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Only 45 minutes away, Amelia Island State Park was the starting point for our ride on the Timucuan Trail passing through both Big Talbot Island State Park and Little Talbot Island State Park.

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The trail passes through an area for bird watching and several short trails that lead to the beach.

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The next time we ride this trail we need to pack a hammock like others we saw enjoying the beach. A good place to ride, read and relax.

Celebrate!

Just over three months ago on October 5, we celebrated the birth of our first grandchild, Gracie Lou.

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Johnny, born January 15, 2017.

On Sunday morning, we celebrated the arrival of another grandchild.

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Sarah and Daniel welcomed John Daniel.

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A short time after his birth, Johnny was busy posing for pictures.

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Solo photos as well as ones taken with parents and grandparents.

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And while she couldn’t be there to celebrate in person, Gracie cheered the news of a new cousin.

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Can’t wait to get these two together. Another reason to celebrate.

Color Me Fall

It seems like everyone I know spent at least a few days in North Carolina or Tennessee immersed in the gold and orange leaves of fall. Since that wasn’t in the cards for us this year, we found our own Florida version of these same fall colors. First stop: Lake Jessup to slog through the mud to get a closeup look at the swamp sunflowers.

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In every direction, more gold sunflowers.

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Then we were surrounded by orange at St. Marks as the monarch butterflies migrated through the coast of northwest Florida.

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The brilliant gold and orange of fall was evident almost every morning in November as the sun rose over the lake. And we even found signs of fall in the hammock at sunset or while enjoying an evening fire.
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And who knew I’d be able to hug a little yellowjacket, complete with a tinge of orange hair.

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I found plenty of fall colors without ever leaving Florida.