Not Exactly What We Planned

A three week trip begins with planning so we started researching destinations and activities in January for a May departure. With plans penciled in, we encountered our first stumbling block. The church conference John would be attending in June was a week earlier than we thought resulting in five days and two National Parks being eliminated from our itinerary.

Then just a week before our departure flooding in Missouri meant another change. We wouldn’t be riding our bikes on the Katy Trail. Instead, we decided to spend those days in Rocky Mountain National Park. And while we knew it would be cold with a couple of inches of snow possible, we were surprised by the events on this leg of the trip.

We pulled into Aspenglen Campground in the Rocky Mountains. Snow started to fall immediately after we set up camp. The couple of inches of snow predicted before we left home turned out to be a foot when we awoke in the morning.

Our first reaction: amazement, not only by the amount of snow but by the beauty.

After building a snowman and taking a selfie,we quickly packed so we could follow the snowplow out of the campground.

Since snow was still falling, we were afraid we could find ourselves unable to drive if we didn’t hit the road when we had a chance.
Our next problem, where could we stay? Hotels were not taking additional guests due to concerns about taking care of those already registered, campgrounds said their sites were inaccessible and roads were closed so leaving the area was not possible.

Finally Elk Meadows Campground in Estes Park agreed to clear a path to a campsite. Safe place to park. Electricity, water and heated bathroom. Time to settle in for a bowl of taco soup, a little reading and then some games.
The next morning was time to make our escape. John worked with campground employees to dig the RV out of the snow that was now almost three feet deep, and after lunch in Estes Park and hearing reports of clear roads to Cheyenne, we were back on the road.

Cheyenne was not on our original plan, but it turned out to be a good stop. We got the last campsite. Took a hot shower. Filled the RV with water and propane and emptied holding tanks ready for our days in the Tetons.

However, we decided to pass on taking a dip in the pool.

Don’t click it!

Another day, another scam opportunity.

I open Safari on my phone ready to search for a lab coat. (That’s another story.) But instead of a list of shopping sites, I’m greeted by a warning: Your Apple iPhone is severely damaged by (6) viruses.

The pop up appears to come from the App Store with its official icon shown in the upper left hand corner of the message, and it instructs the user to click the Remove Virus button at the bottom of the screen.

While not impossible, it’s unlikely that an iPhone will be infected by a virus, much less six of them…especially if your apps were downloaded from the Apple App Store.

Don’t get scammed. To protect your phone, don’t jailbreak it and DON’T CLICK THE REMOVE VIRUS BUTTON.



If you have a pop up that just won’t go away, try this.




It’s Best Friends Day!

So today, June 8th, has been declared National Best Friends Day or just another strange, fun, unique reason to celebrate. A day to join National Ferret Day, National Beer Day and National Picnic Day, but it’s also a day when we can tell a friend or maybe more than one friend that we appreciate their friendship.

As defined by Urban Dictionary: Best Friends are very special people in your life. They are the first people you think about when you make plans. They are the first people you go to when you need someone to talk to. You will phone them up just to talk about nothing, or the most important things in your life. When you’re sad they will try their hardest to cheer you up. They give the best hugs in the world! They are the shoulder to cry on, because you know that they truly care about you. In most cases they would take a bullet for you, coz it would be too painful to watch you get hurt.

“Throughout life you meet one person who is unlike any other. You could talk to that person for hours and never get bored, you could tell them things and they won’t judge you. This is your soulmate, your best friend. Don’t ever let them go.” ~Unknown (Certainly this is how I knew I’d met my best friend since only months after we met, John and I could talk for hours.)

“My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.” ~Henry Ford”

I like you because you join in on my weirdness.” ~Unknown

“Best friends are people you can do anything with and nothing with and still have the best time.” ~Unknown

And, they’re even there for you when you throw out your back. 😉

The goal of this special day, to celebrate National Best Friends Day by letting your best friends know how much they mean to you!

To John, my best friend of forty years, happy National Best Friends Day.

It’s time to childproof!

I can’t believe it’s been a full month since I’ve seen either of my adorable grandchildren. We had a great time camping in some of our country’s most beautiful places, but it’s been difficult to go so long without seeing Gracie and Johnny.

Today Gracie’s eight months old, and she’s become mobile while we’ve been away…lots of pictures and videos of her scooting and crawling have kept us connected.

And while Johnny at nearly five months, isn’t moving anywhere on his own, he’s sitting and playing and will be joining his cousin traveling under his own power in no time.

Mobile babies mean one thing, time to childproof their surroundings.

We’ve already changed the utility room door knob to one with a lock and key in anticipation of this new phase. The utility room is one that’s off limits for these two, and it will serve as a place to stash items removed from other rooms when they come to visit, but there’s a lot more to be done.

Childproofing Checklist:

  • Put safety plugs on electrical outlets.
  • Hide electrical cords behind furniture and keep phones and other devices out of reach when charging and make sure lamps are out of reach.
  • Find safe places to keep remotes for all electronics as well as any other items with batteries.
  • Anchor TVs to the wall or to other furniture to prevent from falling on child.
  • Secure furniture that can topple (chest of drawers, bookcases) to the walls.
  • Install safety gates at stairs and in doorways to establish boundaries of safe rooms and close doors to rooms that are off limits…especially bathrooms.
  • Cut off or tie up dangling cords on drapes and blinds.
  • Move cleaners, medicines, hand sanitizer, vitamins, dishwasher and laundry detergent and other potentially toxic items out of reach or better yet, lock them up.
  • Use doorstops to prevent doors from pinching finger.
  • Put locks or latches on accessible cabinets and drawers that contain unsafe items, and let’s face it, almost everything in the kitchen and utility room fits this category.
  • Remove tablecloths and placemats. Babies can pull them off the table and bring other items on the table down as well.
  • Don’t leave babies unattended even for a moment in or near a pool or other water, even small amounts of water, cleaning solutions, or other liquids in buckets or other containers create a danger.
  • Sweep, mop and vacuum and then sweep, mop and vacuum again to minimize the nasty things a child finds on the floor.

This is by no means a complete list, but it’s a good start. And while it’s impossible to prevent every bump, bruise or mouthful of dead bugs, we certainly want to do all we can to make sure our homes are safe.

Now’s the time…time to childproof your house.



And remember, even your purse or a visitor’s purse can create a danger since it may contain medicines, toiletries, or other hazardous items – move them out of reach.

Finally, it’s a good idea to post the number for the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ national emergency hotline, (800) 222-1222, on your refrigerator, and add it to your phone. Hopefully, it’s a number you’ll never call, but having it accessible makes sense.

6000 miles later…

Continue reading “6000 miles later…”

Barbara…look familiar?

In April 1977, my college roommate Barbara and another friend, Jill joined me for a Spring Break trip to South Florida. I don’t remember if Jill had been to Florida before, but Barbara hadn’t been out of her home state of North Carolina (with the exception of Myrtle Beach) until she accompanied me on trips home from Western Carolina University.

So I really shouldn’t have been surprised when she was excited by the pretty blue bubble floating next to her in Biscayne Bay. As John was maneuvering his Hobie Cat to pickup Barbara from the middle of the bay after she flew off the trapeze of the boat, he started yelling to Barbara to stay away from the blue bubble…don’t touch it…it’s a Portuguese Man-of-War…it will sting.

So yesterday, 40 years later, when we encountered more of those blue bubbles, this time on Flagler Beach, John and I enjoyed reminiscing about the first time he took me sailing.

I’m glad Portuguese Man-of-War washed up on the beach today to bring back memories, but I didn’t touch those beautiful blue bubbles…they really do sting!

Sunrise Sunset 2017: One of 17 in 17

Make it five years in a row! Yes, for the fifth straight year, we awoke on the east coast of Florida to watch the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean and then ended the day by watching the sun sink into the Gulf of Mexico.

This year we began the day at Hillsboro Inlet watching the sunrise only minutes from the house I lived in while in high school.

Boats parading through the channel and a lighthouse were an extra bonus, and the sunrise did not disappoint.

Cooking and eating breakfast on the picnic tables at Hillsboro Inlet Park served as fuel for our cross state road trip.

Next stop: Corkscrew Swamp for a stroll among wild things on the boardwalk cutting through the path of Landmark Cypress.

Then on to the island for a bike ride, walk on the beach

and obligatory sundae at Dairy Queen.

Waiting for sunset included a few casts and even a couple of trout.

With waves washing over our feet, the sky changed from gold to orange and finally pinks and purples as 2017 Sunrise Sunset came to an end.

Where would you suggest we plan this adventure in 2018?

Nurture Your Talents: A Look Back

Yesterday we received word that John’s 91-year-old uncle passed away, so it seems like reposting a blog written in January of 2014 in which I reminded you to nurture your talents.

I’ve always known that Uncle Bud is a talented artist. In fact, one of his sketches and one of his paintings hang on the walls of our house, but when I entered his apartment, it was obvious that creating art brings him great joy.

IMG_2219A painting of three girls caught my attention first, but as I looked more closely, I realized Uncle Bud created much of the artwork on the walls.

Paintings of flowers and scenes from nature

IMG_2222as well as a sketch of his mother.IMG_2221It served as a great reminder that we need to make time to sharpen our skills and share our talents with others.

IMG_2224 Paint, draw, write, sing, dance, play an instrument, take photographs, cook, sew, garden, design. Be like Uncle Bud and nurture your talent.




Parking Headaches

Why have parking meters become so complicated? I’d read articles in the newspaper recently about the confusion caused by the new parking meters in downtown Ocala. My first thought, what’s wrong with these people? Can’t use a parking meter?

Then a couple of weeks ago, I had my first encounter with the new meters. To start, I nearly walked right past it. I exited the car and didn’t notice the meter. When I passed a second meter, it occurred to me that parking along the street in front of Brother’s Keeper is no longer free. I returned to the meter to see a list of payment options. I finally decided that searching for a couple of quarters would be easier than figuring out the other choices.

Upon returning to my car, a woman approached me and asked if I could help her with the parking meter. She’d deposited money but couldn’t determine how much time she’d paid for or if perhaps she’d paid for the wrong space (easy to do since each meter manages two spaces).

Another meter, another problem…this time at Hillsboro Inlet Park. The sign reads: pay with your phone, download the app, pay by web, use apple pay, and warning that if paying with cash, no change would be given.

A couple of years ago, we came across a similar meter in Miami and were happy to download the app, Pay by Phone. This is a great idea. Paying for parking will be so much easier.

But then, on the same trip a different meter required a different app, this time Park Mobile. Grumbling, we downloaded a second parking app, set up another account and paid for parking.

Not long after, another trip, another city, and you guessed it, another parking app, Green Parking. And, yes, we downloaded yet another parking app.

However, when the parking meter required a fourth app, we decided against it. Instead, we dug around the in the car and the bottom of my purse until we found sufficient change to pay for parking.

Of course, the meters at Hillsboro Inlet are connected to an app we don’t have, and we’re done with app managed parking. We now carry a change purse full of quarters.

Going to the beach on Sanibel or Captiva? No app required. And quarters won’t do the job. Instead, pay the $4.00 per hour fee with a handful of one, five, ten or twenty dollar bills ($4.00 minimum, no change) or just insert your credit card.

I really don’t mind paying to park. Just make it easy.

Explore a Different Kind of Corkscrew

In the heart of the Everglades ecosystem, the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is home to the largest old growth Bald Cypress forest in North America making it a worthy stop on a cross Florida road trip.

Located 30 minutes east of Naples, The Sanctuary is home to not only a magnificent cypress forest, but a wide variety of plants and animals. Of course, you’ll see alligators and a wide variety of birds.

But, this is also panther habitat so visitors are encouraged to be on the lookout for prints of the endangered cat as well as prints and scat of bobcats and bears. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any of evidence of these mammals.

The 2.25 mile boardwalk winds through the Bald Cypress forest with trees which reach as high as 130 feet and a circumference of up to 25 feet. Their branches are covered with moss, lichens, bromeliads, ferns and even the elusive ghost orchid.

As part of the Florida Birding Trail, songbirds, wading birds, woodpeckers and raptors are visible throughout the trail.

We were even lucky enough to see two young barred owls.

Of course, the cypress trees are the stars, with the Landmark Cypress marked along the trail. Named for environmental heroes, trees bear the names Muir, Roosevelt, Calusa (home of a ghost orchid) and Hemenway, named for Harriet Hemenway who worked tirelessly to convince women not to wear feathered hats.

Three of the Legend Cypress

It’s hard to call a visit to the Corkscrew Swamp a hike. With the numerous stops to view the flora and fauna, take pictures, and learn about the Landmark Cypress, it’s more likely to be a stroll through the forest.

This Audubon Park is open seven days a week from 7:00am to 5:30pm and is well worth the admission price of $14 per person.

Thanks to John for sharing his pictures.