13 Down; 2 To Go

One of my favorite annual events is what we refer to a Sunrise Sunset. From the time I was in high school, I said I wanted to watch the sunrise over the Atlantic and then set over the Gulf in the same day; but it wasn’t until we created our first 13 in 13 list did this become a reality. In 2013 sunrise was in Miami on South Beach and sunset was on the pier in Naples. In 2014 we started the day on the beach at Canaveral National Seashore and watched the sunset on Clearwater Beach.

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Yesterday, barely meeting the end of the year deadline, we started the morning on St. Augustine Beach. While many are complaining about the unusual December heat, 69° at 6:30 is nearly perfect for a walk on the beach.

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The mist from a foggy morning didn’t seem very promising, but by sunrise at 7:20, the orange sky made for a spectacular sunrise.

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The morning was too beautiful to just jump in the car and drive across the state without a walk on the beach.

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Followed by a walk through the old city looking for the obelisks with stops at other must see sights.

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Next stop Gainesville for a snack and a sneak peak of the 352 Walls exhibit and a sculpture called Luna (named after our sometimes dog?) Then back in the car and on to Cedar Key.

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A 3:30 arrival meant plenty of time to walk around town scouting out our sunset viewing location and even time for Tony’s world famous clam chowder.

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What looked like a perfect sunset changed to golden glow as the sun descended behind a thick layer of clouds. However, the cotton candy clouds that followed were worth the wait.

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On the way home we were already planning for Sunrise Sunset 2016.

11 Down; 4 To Go

Somehow I missed “officially” writing about adventure number 11 on our 15 in 15 list – probably because our plan for a fall camping trip changed drastically from when we first crafted our list on January 1st of this year.

We originally planned to camp in the Panhandle once the weather cooled. October or November seemed like the most likely time for such a trip. This all changed when on the spur of the moment we packed the tents and bicycles in the Suburban and headed north in search of fall instead of toward the beaches of the Panhandle.

We rode our bikes in Virginia, Maine, Vermont and Pennsylvania.

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Hiked in parks.

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Visited more lighthouses.

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And covered bridges.

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And pitched our tent seven nights in three different state and national parks.

 

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Of course, we spent our fair share of nights in hotels on the way home due to rain since we decided long ago that camping was to be a fun activity, not something we’d suffer through.

Fall camping trip ✅

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Not along the Gulf Coast, but a wonderful unexpected adventure.

10 Down; 5 To Go

With more than three months left in 2015, we met our goal of visiting 15 lighthouses. On a single day earlier this month, we went to St. Augustine, lighthouse number 14 and Ponce Inlet, lighthouse number 15.

We started the day with a bike ride on the beach at Anastasia Island State Park and took a couple of long distance pictures.

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Then we biked over to the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum to get up close views of the lighthouse we’d seen from the beach.

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What’s a trip to St. Augustine without a meal at the Columbia Restaurant? After a delicious lunch, we were ready to begin the next leg of the day’s journey.

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Our drive down A1A ended at Florida’s tallest lighthouse located at Ponce Inlet. No, we didn’t climb the 203 steps to the top of the lighthouse. It was after 4:00 by the time we arrived and the storm clouds made it unlikely we’d have a chance to get to the top before the lightning put an end to the day’s tours.

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In just over a week, we met the goal by visiting the oldest lighthouse in the state, the Amelia Island Lighthouse, the one lighting Florida’s oldest port at St. Augustine, and the state’s tallest lighthouse located at Ponce Inlet – quite a historic week.

Now that we’ve completed this challenge and visited four lighthouses in Florida (Anclote Key earlier this summer), we should shoot for 15 Florida lighthouses in 2015. We better get busy!

9 Down; 6 To Go

Family Weekend is an event that’s added to our list of “to do’s” each year. In the past we’ve always met at the lake for this event, but since that is now home, it seemed like a good idea to take Family Weekend on the road.

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This year our designated first weekend in August also coincided with Sarah’s graduation from the University of North Florida where she received her Masters in Health Administration, so it was only natural to look for a location near Jacksonville for this year’s get-together.

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We spent the weekend in a five bedroom house on the St. John’s River less than 30 minutes from the UNF campus. A place where we could swim

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go boating

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play games

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go to the beach

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relax and enjoy one another.

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It was also a great location to observe the blue moon and watch the ships moving in and out of the port in Jacksonville.

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I think we’ve forever modified our plans for Family Weekend. This will be a good excuse to find new places to visit for our yearly reunion.

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8 Down; 7 To Go

July 1st, with passports in hand, we crossed the border to enter British Columbia and start adventure number eight on our 15 in 15 list.

We quickly realized that some special event was occurring in Vancouver as large crowds swarmed the harbor and vendors lined the street in a carnival type atmosphere. What we assumed was hoopla surrounding the Women’s World Cup taking place in the city and throughout Canada was actually the celebration of Canada Day with a parade and fireworks scheduled for later in the day. What a welcome!

 

On our second day, we rented bikes and pedaled the perimeter road through Stanley Park checking out the totem poles, lighthouses and enjoying a wild place in the middle of the city. After lunch at the Fish House, we were off to Lighthouse Park overlooking Vancouver for a hike in the woods.

On the morning of day three, we started at Granville Island feasting on fruits and baked goods at the farmer’s market and checking out the shops. Buying was not an option since our luggage was already stuffed beyond capacity.

Our last stop before leaving Vancouver was at Goorin Brothers, a haberdashery, to select hats, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gifts from Emily and Brian. I know, no room in the luggage…we wore the hats on the plane.

The final stop in British Columbia, a hike in Golden Ear.

Then back to the U.S. in time to celebrate the 4th of July and looking forward to more 15 in 15 fun.

 

7 Down; 8 To Go

When John and I planned the list of 15 things we wanted to do in 2015, there were far more items on the list than 15. Nevertheless, we decided to only plan 14 of them, number 15 would be left open to allow for spontaneity. If a concert or festival or something came up that we just couldn’t resist, we could add it to the list of 15 in 15.

Well, without consulting the other half of my team, I decided that this was the year to attend the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. For years, we’ve said this is something we want to do, and when planning our 14 in 14 list we’d agreed that it would be a priority for June 2015. However, an opportunity for a trip to Seattle in June eliminated the College World Series trip…just not enough time to do both.

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But as the season progressed, I felt this was the year to go. Not only could we enjoy the Omaha experience, it seemed like 2015 may also be the year we could cheer for the University of Miami Hurricanes team in baseball heaven. So, in mid-May, before the teams had been determined, I booked a flight and purchased tickets for five games, and crossed my fingers that John would think this was a great idea.

Good news! While surprised that I made the decision without getting his input, he was 100% on board with making a trip to Omaha and the CWS the fifteenth event on our list this year.

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After flying from Orlando Sanford to Des Moines, we rented a car, drove a couple hours and were in our seats for the Miami v Arkansas game. The team didn’t let me down. They made it to the tournament, and we cheered them on as they won Game #5, our opening game experience.

We saw all eight teams compete, including two from Florida and two representing the ACC. We were two of 25,000+ spectators in the stadium each game. We watched fans celebrate the winning teams as they boarded the bus after the game. And of course there were hot dogs, hamburgers, ice cream, cotton candy, peanuts, an organist playing live music between innings, the batting of beach balls in the outfield, and the wave taking over the stadium.

And while, it would have been nice to see the Canes continue in the series, it was a great event. Turns out the College World Series was the perfect addition to round out the list of 15 in 15…7 Down; 8 To Go.

 

6 Down; 9 To Go

I must admit my enthusiasm for celebrating retirement with dinner at Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa did not match that of John’s. For well over a year, this has been a topic of conversation and while I’m always interested in a good meal, the menu for Bern’s terrified me.

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Appetizers listed ranging in price from $12.95 – $190.00, with most in the $20 range seem extravagant and this followed by soups and salads and vegetables at about $10 each, even sliced tomatoes are listed at $8.95. All I could think about was whether or not we’d be able to qualify for a loan for our dinner.

Finally I got up the nerve to look at the steak portion of the menu. After all, that’s why we’d be going to a Steakhouse…$34-$118…I wasn’t sure I could eat something that expensive, and I certainly wasn’t going to even bother looking at the dozens of pages on the wine menu.

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I didn’t voice my concerns. This was something John really wanted to do and I wasn’t going to spoil it so it was added to the list for 15 in 15…and I’m so glad it was!

This week we were joined by our good friends, Kay and Karen, fellow 2015 retirees, for an evening at Bern’s Steakhouse. No, we didn’t order appetizers. I don’t know who could eat them when the steak is served with soup and bread, salad, a baked potato, two vegetables, and onion rings. That’s more than enough food for me and best of all it was all included in the price listed for the steak. So that $40 steak was really the price of the full dinner and complete dining experience, and it was an experience.

For two hours our waiter attended to our every desire as he brought out each course of the meal. And did I mention that the steak was the best I’ve ever eaten?

Following dinner, we took the kitchen tour and visited the wine cellar on the way to the dessert room. Somehow, after all the food eaten at dinner, we managed to eat dessert tucked away in a private booth. I guess they figure guests will eat more if they aren’t worried about being judged by other diners.

I’m glad Bern’s Steakhouse made our list of 15 in 15. Sure it was pricey, but it was also well worth it. We enjoyed delicious food as well as a wonderful dining experience.

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Maybe we’ll have to make a return trip for our anniversary in August?

 

 

 

4 Down; 11 To Go

Visiting Fairchild Gardens for Chihuly Nights made our list of must do’s for 2015. Driving to South Florida just behind a storm, we worried that the evening would be washed out; but instead the post storm sky at sunset stole the show.

The Chihuly sculptures were magical as promised, but the pink clouds reflected in the art infused water was otherworldly.

When darkness finally set in, the lighted artwork served as a guide through the park.

An evening in the garden sprinkled with the illuminated artwork kicked off a wonderful weekend in Miami.

A triathlon, two weddings and Chihuly Nights…four events completed on the list of 15 in 15.

 

15 in 15

Two years ago we started a tradition of developing a list of things we’d like to accomplish during the year. The list includes places to go and activities to participate.
Time is set aside on January 1st to discuss the ideas each of us has listed throughout the year so we can choose the items for the year. This year’s list started with more than two dozen suggestions and after adding those included on both our lists, we talked about the pros and cons of each of the remaining activities.
Some of the things to consider before adding to the list:
Is it something both of us want to do?
Do we have time to do it?
Can the activities be disbursed throughout the year?
Are the costs manageable?
This year’s list includes two weddings, two big trips, monarch butterflies, lighthouses, camping, and a triathlon. Looks like it’s going to be a busy year.
In preparation for creating the 15 in 15 list, we spent time on New Year’s Eve looking at our pictures from 2014 of the 14 activities we checked the year’s list.
A trip in Birmingham to visit John’s aunt and uncle.

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Completion of the Tamiami Triathlon in the Everglades.

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Eating pancakes at DeLeon Springs.

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A camping trip in Southwest Florida during Spring Break.

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Searching for and funding shark’s teeth.

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Visiting springs of Florida.

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Learning to make paella.

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Watching sunrise on the Atlantic and sunset on the Gulf in the same day.

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Spending sunrise at the Boneyard on Amelia Island.

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Riding the Ft. Gates Ferry across the St. John’s River.

IMG_5748.JPGRelaxing and having fun during Family Weekend.

IMG_5676.JPGParticipating in a Bioluminescence Paddle.

IMG_5750.JPGSpending the day at Fairchild Gardens enjoying the Chihuli display.

IMG_5688.JPGSwimming with manatee.

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What a year!